Take Me Down to the Sanctuary City

For our last big episode of the season, Doomed to Repeat is touching on one of the most polarizing issues in American politics: immigration and so-called "sanctuary cities." In the age of the Dreamsicle President, matters of law and migration have taken a vastly greater political, economic, cultural, and emotional valence that at any time in recent memory.  In dissing Trump, we do not mean to belittle the issue at all.  People are afraid.  One of our two co-hosts, in fact, has family who are now unable to flee violence and disorder in Libya and come to join their relatives in the United States because of the administration's appalling "Muslim ban." But it's hard to recall a time when people … [Read more...]

America and Russia: The Real Story Is Not What You Think

We here at Tropics of Meta--and our sister podcast Doomed to Repeat--have been thinking about Russia for a while. Remember when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried a goofy PR gesture of handing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov a "reset button," meant to symbolize a desire to renew relations between the US and Russia?  (The Russian word on the button actually meant "overcharged," not "reset." Foreshadowing much?) Remember when Mitt Romney said Russia was our "number one geopolitical foe"--and everyone laughed at this weird Cold War throwback? Well, when we sat down to start mapping out our new podcast series in the Summer of 2016, we were casting about for ideas, and we … [Read more...]

The Deep, Frustrating, Complicated History of the Anti-Vax Movement

Do you feel feverish? Impotent? Suffer from ADD? You might have been vaccinated! Call the attorneys at Tropics of Meta at 976-HOT-TOMS to join our class action lawsuit against Big Science. In the latest episode of our sister podcast Doomed to Repeat, we delve into the gory glories of the anti-vaccination movement.  We obviously have strong feelings about the issue (all of our kids are enrolled at Los Feliz Daycare, after all).  But we wanted to talk to some bonafide historians of science, medicine, and public health to understand the contemporary movement to get to the bottom of this problem, and really understand the deeper historical and cultural roots of vaccine skepticism.  In the … [Read more...]

Ben Parten on America’s Other Founding Father: Nat Turner

In the 2014 film Top Five, Chris Rock's character has set out to make a film called Uprize, about the Haitian Revolution.  He sees it as his way of changing his image and being a more serious artist, rather than merely the star of a series of ludicrous comedies about a bear who becomes a cop.  Little does he realize that much of America has little appetite for a movie that's basically about black people killing a bunch of white people.  It doesn't "play in Peoria." Ironically, two years later brought The Birth of a Nation, director Nate Parker's ambitious attempt to tell the story of another slave uprising: the 1831 revolt led by Nat Turner in Virginia. The movie met with a relatively … [Read more...]

The Long History of Americans Getting Their Drink On: Our Interview with William Rorabaugh

Last week, we talked with Jonathan Baker of Atlanta's Monday Night Brewing about the ins and outs of getting into the beer business, amid the revolution in American drinking habits over the last decade or two.  We also pondered broader shifts and currents in Americans' attitudes toward booze over time, especially regionally within the United States and as compared to other countries. To go a little deeper, we also decided to talk to the great historian William Rorabaugh of the University of Washington, whose seminal 1979 book The Alcoholic Republic is basically the Citizen Kane of historical whiskey bingeing.  Alex's interview can be found here, with some really fascinating insights … [Read more...]

The Real Drunk History: Exploring the Rise of Craft Beer in Atlanta

Episode 2 of Doomed to Repeat Live from Young Augustine's, the great professor haunt in Atlanta's Grant Park, we delve into the history of beer and the revolution in American drinking habits in the last thirty years.  People have become beer snobs in just the way people have always been wine snobs, but the upside is that we all have a vastly greater range of tastes to sample, from double IPAs to goses to summer ales.  What prompted these changes in the beer market, and how have they changed American culture? We talk the long history of booze and politics in American life, such as the stigmatization of drinking with respect to immigrant and religious groups and rural … [Read more...]

Ansley Erickson and Kevin Kruse on the Many Histories of Segregation

A few weeks ago, we shared the first episode of the new podcast series Doomed to Repeat with a circle of our friends and colleagues--a sort of "soft open."  But we're ready to begin rolling out episodes of the first season on a regular basis over the next few months.  We're hoping to offer conversations with historians and other experts on issues as different as the history of craft beer, the anti-vaccination movement, and the long and fascinating evolution of America's relationship with Russia.  And we hope to do so in a loose and informal way, with a bit of humor and an eye toward how these histories intersect with the problems facing the world today. In our first episode, we get to chat … [Read more...]

Introducing Doomed to Repeat, the Podcast with a Toothache in Its Heel

Listen to episode one, on the promise and pitfalls of school desegregation, here. Why, hello there! Glad you could check in! Have you ever wanted to hear what this blog would sound like in audio form? Have you wanted to hear experts talk about what they know best, but brought into a conversational style? Aren’t you at least a little curious about what editor Alex Cummings sounds like? It’s not as awkward as you might think! (Editor's note: it is.) Over the past few months Alex and I have been developing a podcast companion to Tropics of Meta that we are calling Doomed to Repeat. My name is Nic Hoffmann. You may have seen me on this blog before, and now I am here to talk in a much more … [Read more...]