It’s one week until THE EVENT and I’m so excited I’m hyperventilating. To celebrate its 200th episode, Radio War Nerd is having a live recording at the Bell House on Monday August 12 at 7pm August in Brooklyn, New York and everyone is welcome. Tickets are $15 and are available at Eventbrite.
Radio War Nerd, RWN for short, is a weekly podcast that views conflict from socio-political perspective with mordant humor and intellectual rigor. My husband John Dolan and Mark Ames are the co-hosts and have run it since 2015. Not only does it provide context for current news stories (Sudan, Syria, Iran), it also casts new light on old and lesser known wars (the 100 Years War, the Imjin Wars, Ethiopia-Eritreia). Former guests have included the late Robert Parry (famous for covering the Iran-Contra affair), Patrick Cockburn (Middle East correspondent for the Independent) and Kris Newby (author of the explosive and disgusting new book Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease). If you’d like to listen to an episode to get a sense of the tone, there are several posted on Youtube. Here is an episode about the destruction of Yemen.
Mark Ames is an independent journalist who led investigations into the phenomena of rage murders and the extent of billionaire interference in US politics. His book Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond (2005) is a powerful critique of the unique socio-political conditions that have led to so many rage murders in the USA. Together with Yasha Levine, Mark was the first journalist to expose the scary extent to which billionaires like the Koch brothers secretly interfere with US politics. In the 1990s Moscow, he was co-founder and editor of the satirical newspaper the eXile, which documented a decade of decadence and post-Soviet plunder in a satirical style reminiscent of the UK’s Private Eye. The newspaper was shut down by government agency in 2008. The rise and fall of the eXile has been profiled in Vanity Fair.
John Dolan is (apart from being MY HUSBAND) the OG war nerd. In 2002, Mark suggested he start writing about war as a counterpoint to all the articles written by media hawks capitalizing on the 9/11 attacks. Gary Brecher aka The War Nerd was born. Since then, he’s written hundreds of articles and newsletters in a style that delivers brilliant analysis in the voice of a disaffected Californian data-entry clerk. Many of these articles are freely available online and some are collected in the book War Nerd (2008). In 2017 Feral House published his version of the greatest war story of them all, The Iliad. In his searingly honest memoir Pleasant Hell, now available as an audiobook, you can read about how it all began when he pored over copies of Aviation Week in the periodical room at the library.
Dr. Eileen Jones is a writer and reviewer who combines irresistible humor with deep scholarship. Formerly a professor of film at the University of California at Berkeley, she now co-hosts bi-weekly podcast Filmsuck with Evgenia Kovda. A popular contributor to The eXile, she wrote dozens of reviews that are laugh-out-loud funny and that you can read in Filmsuck, USA (2013). Recently she has written reviews for Jacobin including ‘Against Meryl Streep’, which sent James Wolcott of Vanity Fair into a giant tizzy. If you are stuck for a good read, you could do a lot worse than browsing her reviews so here is a link.
Dan Larsson aka ‘Cannon Dan’ and my Brother-from-Another-Mother is an example of the American Spirit of the not-dumb kind. Imagine if Animal from the Muppets and Hunter S. Thompson got together in the body of an ecology major. At the Bell House he will be describing in lurid detail how he bought a two-pound cannon and fired it in the desert wearing nothing but bright-yellow undies and a parasol. Yay Dan!
Brendon Anderegg is the musician and sound engineer behind Telescope Audio, which produces Radio War Nerd. He has produced soundtracks for several movies and Emmy-nominated documentaries 102 Minutes that Changed America and 9/11: the Days After. Each episode of Radio War Nerd features one of Brendon’s pieces (he tells me some were actually composed especially for the show). For a taste of his atmospheric, multi-layered electronic, listen to “Remain” , which reminds me of the experience of floating over a coral reef. His latest album June is available here.
One of the things that makes the podcast so appealing and dynamic is the community that has grown up around it on social media. Listeners and supporters from around the world share their feedback, insights and experiences in a way that enriches the show and augments the fund of common knowledge. They include academics, writers, politicians, locksmiths, caregivers, musicians and scientists all united by a shared curiosity about the world and off-kilter sense of humor. Notable Friends of the Show who will be there include Gabriel Uriarte, Michael Pollak, James Dahl and lots of others. Several people are flying in from other states and even from Canada and will be setting up a ‘barracks’ led by Officer Becky (let me know if you’re thinking of coming–she can help with logistics and materiel). This event will be a chance for these birds-of-a-feather to come together irl, which I think is a beautiful thing!