GONZO: Street poets and beignets in Nola (E8)

GONZO heads into the home of fracking, Denton, Texas, to chat to Dr. Adam Briggle, author of ‘A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking’. The idea of field philosophy is to take ideas about ethics and justice and bring it to the real world. Fracking is a justice issue and both the politics and the economics of the alleged bonanza turned out to be a big dud and a land use planning nightmare. They talk about the philosophy of hubris and narcissism and find that fracking is about the lesson of Frankenstein – we create something without considering the wider ramifications and without plans to deal with the out of control nature of our inventions. Denton voted to ban fracking but the state government then intervened with legislation to prevent citizens from having the democratic right of local self-determination on such matters related to Big Oil. We are waiting for a tech fix but fracking was a tech fix to declining oil reserves. Max and Dr. Briggle ride their bike off into the distance with plans to go form the church of no fracking.

Max and Stacy leave Texas on the way to New Orleans while discussing the frackers versus ranchers battle brewing in Texas as each vie for limited water resources. In Nola, they discuss the aftermath of about Hurricane Katrina which Obama’s education secretary considered the best thing to ever happen to public education in America as it opened up an entire city to the charter school movement which, in turn, opened the city up to privatisation and gentrification. They also discuss the legacy of Huey Long and how we now dismantle public infrastructure rather than build it. Blumenthal mentions ‘Cancer Alley’ in one of the first town of freed persons where cancer rates now are so high due to industrial pollution. They also ask, “How did we end up with Trump?” And the role of John Hagee and the evangelical Christians in putting him in power in order to get them the Supreme Court, which they now effectively own. Finally, Stacy and the two Maxes eat beignets, talk about the swamp expanding, the legacy of Bourdain and then talk to some street poets who compose a poem for GONZO.

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GONZO: American Stonehenge (E7)

GONZO arrives at Billy the Kid’s gravesite on the former estate of one of Max’s distant ancestors in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. They discuss the path to evil that the fight for survival might bring, whether in the case of the fictional Walter White of Breaking Bad or the Wild West mythical character that was the ‘Boy Bandit King.’ They also look at Max’s distant relative’s tombstone and note that the ‘great builders’ of America are no longer with us, but, in fact, we have a more locust private equity model of the great fortunes going to those who dismantle and hollow out all that was built before them. Max and Stacy then drive out for Denton, Texas but first make a detour to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. They discuss ‘American Stonehenge,’ and whether or not it is art, an homage to the time when America made great cars and now it is all run into the ground. In Denton, TX, they meet banker and author, Mitch Feierstein, on an old, rickety bridge. They discuss the myths of America being Big Oil once again as figments of our imagination built upon a real pile of unpayable debt. Mitch also talks about his experience with the rise of anti-Semitism and where the fault lies. After some serious conversation, the group heads out for some Texas brisket.

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