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Conversation ex Nihilo

Author: Billy

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A bit of a social critique from a man who likes talking with people.
91 Episodes
Michael Belfer was the guitarist of The Sleepers and Tuxedomoon both highly influential San Francisco bands from the late 70's. He is also the author of When Can I Fly?  a book chronicling his time with these two bands as well as his stint in Black Lab in the early 90s. Michael lead the proverbial rockstar life and has lived to tell his tale. Michael joins Billy via Zoom to discuss the book, seeing the Sex Pistols live at Winterland in 1978, Jello Biafra, rehab, receiving recognition from Joey Ramone and John Cale, his long friendship with The Sleepers charismatic frontman Ricky Williams and more. Listen to the Sleepers here 
Dr. Bahman Baktiari is the executive director of the Baskerville Institute an organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening the bonds of friendship between the people of Iran and the United States.  He joins Billy via Zoom to talk about the institute's origins, the assassination of Quasem Solemani and its impact on U.S. / Iran relations, the need to mutually "deSatanize" one another in the eyes of each country's populations and much more.Learn more about Dr. Baktiari and his work here
Since 1994 Wendi was worked as a hypnotherapist. Her work has been featured in GQ, on HBO, The Man Show, Men's Health and several other outlets. She joins Billy via Zoom to talk of her humble beginnings as an unemployed single mother of two and how she became a success in the early days of the internet. She offers some insight into how to treat addiction and trauma as well as dealing with the underlying conditions of feeling unworthy. They also touch on the subject of the poor outcomes of commercial rehab centers. Learn more about Wendi's work here
Christopher Boorman is a public speaker and host of Christopher Boorman Speaks.  He joins Billy via Zoom to talk about his views on Christianity as a marginalized group, our over reliance on technology, his experiences with bullying and his discovering confidence through public speaking. 
Tim Tortora has worked in Hollywood for over 30 years. He started as a tape operator who worked his way up into the executive world, primarily as a CFO. He has worked for Harpo Films, Mandalay Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Disney, TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures. Some of his movie credits include Terminator 2, Total Recall, Bugsy, The Doors and Tuesdays with Morrie among others. Tim joins Billy via Zoom to talk about his experiences working in the industry. He makes a great case for the creativity inherent in film financing and he gives some practical business advice applicable in any field. He also shares some wisdom he learned first hand from Oprah.Check out Tim's blog and pick up his book A Hollywood Accounting here
Jeff Roth is the author of the book Fires, Floods and Taxi Cabs part memoire and part how-to manual on navigating leadership roles (especially in government.) Jeff has served for 20 years in the U.S. National Guard, he holds a master's degree in public policy and urban planning from Harvard University in addition to the 12 years he has spent in city government. Jeff joins Billy via Zoom to talk about his role in the New York City mayor's office where he worked on fire and flood mitigation as well as taxi regulation. Jeff was there at the height of Uber's ascendency and speaks about the work that he did on that, as well as the Deutsche Bank fire in 2007 which killed 2 firefighters and injured 115 more. Jeff's insight into emergency management and planning as well as his pragmatic yet positive attitude toward public service makes for a thought provoking conversation.   
Danielle Agami is the founder of Ate9 Dance Company based in Los Angeles, CA. She started dancing at the age of 3 and has traveled the world as a professional dancer. Originally from Israel she danced for the prestigious Batsheva Dance Studio before moving to America.  She is a highly sought after choreographer and her work has been featured in many commercial projects, operas and other venues. In addition to sharing some of her personal story, Danielle joins Billy via Zoom to talk about the blending of art and commerce, meeting the many needs of performers and audiences, defying expectations of beauty in dance, running a successful company while staying true to one's artistic vision, the virtue of laziness, how art is consumed throughout the world, and why we need to continue to support the arts. Check out Danielle's work here  
Kim is an author and speaker who had spent 33 years in the radio broadcasting industry before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 50 effectively ending his career. Kim decided to turn his attention to writing. He published the memoir, "Come Get Me Mother, I'm Through," in 2019 and a book about the consequences of the rescinding of the Fairness Doctrine, The Death of Fairness in 2020. Kim joins Billy via Zoom to talk about his M.S. diagnosis, the rescinding of the fairness doctrine, the power of youth voting, radio groupies and Peter Frampton's zipper...Learn more about Kim "Kid" Curry here
Dr. Adam Key is an author, a speaker, a scholar and an educator. He spent nearly a decade teaching in some of Texas's toughest prisons. He currently teaches at The University of Arkansas at Monticello where he continues his research on academic deviance. Adam joins Billy via Zoom to talk about his background in education, teaching in prison, the current state of affairs in prison reform, the concept of "survive to subvert," and he offers up a few ideas on how to make some changes such as buying a prisoner a fan. You can do so right here 
Karl Smith has worked in journalism since high school. He has been on the bleeding edge of the design revolution and also at the forefront of online journalism and  user-generated content. He designed the front page in Lexington, KY the day Secretariat died, was running a newsroom the night of the Bush-Gore election, and led a newsroom in an area that strongly felt the impacts of the 9/11 attacks. He is the author of the book Anchored in Tradition: An Unofficial Collection of Fun, Facts and Figures About Life at the United States Naval Academy  He also writes the blogs My Kid the Mid and My Kid The Cadet. Karl joins Billy via Zoom to talk about it all. 
We talk conspiracy on Conversation ex Nihilo, when Anthony Hoyes joins Billy via Zoom to talk about the flatness of the earth and other alternatives to our common societal narratives. Anthony is a musician, business man and flat earth enthusiast. He is passionate in his desire to have people think for themselves rather than accepting conventional wisdom and orthodoxy. 
Eric Beser is the program director for The Jewish Film Project, an organization that supports Jewish artists in their endeavors to tell bold and innovative stories. Eric joins Billy via Zoom to talk about the founding of the organization, his father's role in the dropping of the atomic bombs, Eric's son's work with the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the struggles over which narratives to share when developing a project and much more.  
Rage of the Age is a podcast about politics, religion, economics and history with a conservative bend and it's  hosted by Philip Sharp. Philip joins Billy via Zoom to talk U.S. history, federalism, socialism v. capitalism (a love story), those slave owning founding fathers of ours, and the importance of educators in a young person's life. It's a spirited talk that will make you want to participate no matter what way you politically lean.   
Empress is a musician, dancer, singer and actress. She danced for the San Francisco Ballet and joins Billy via Zoom to talk about her experiences as a performer. In addition to telling her story and how she fell in love with music and dance, she speaks of: The notorious ill treatment of ballet dancers, Black Swan, her own experiences with the diet and heavy regimen of a professional ballerina, the making of her first EP We Own This Crown as well as her desire to empower listeners to take control of their lives and become the empresses/emperors of their own realms. Check out her work here
Jason LaFarge runs Seizures Palace Recording in Brooklyn, New York. He is also the bassist in Pants Exploder.  He joins Billy via Zoom to talk about his Georgia roots, playing with Pineal Ventana, his work with SWANS and Michael Gira. Billy and Jason reminisce about brick and mortar music stores and ponder what is lost when they go away. They also go into what it is about the atmosphere that helps make a good record. Jason works out of the famous BC Studios, which has captured Billy's imagination in ways few run down canning factories have and Jason is quite indulgent in telling Billy more about the enchantment of this iconic music recording institution. 
Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man is the first solo album by Finnish musician Mauri Dark. Mauri blends influences such as Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen to craft an album of personal reflection. The album comes on the heals of his mother's death and the separation ration from his long-time girlfriend but also basks in the hope of a new marriage and child. Mauri joins Billy from Turku, Finland via Zoom to talk about the making of the album, the essence of Finnish culture and humor, touring through Europe, the impact of WWII on his family and their mutual reverence for the rock music of the 90's. Check out the video for the title song "Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man" here. 
Paul Kahan is a historian and the author of the books Eastern State Penitentiary: A History, The Bank War: Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Biddle and the Fight for American Finance and Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln's Scandalous Secretary of War among others. He joins Billy via Zoom to talk about the history of one of America's earliest and most notorious prisons, the fascinating aspects (believe it or not) of President James Buchanan and the magic of Pennsylvania. It's a spirited conversation with lots of good ol' American history. It's healthy for brains of all ages and weights.   
Katherine is the host of A Few Bad Apples Podcast a podcast that spotlights the crimes of police officers with an eye toward research and neutrality concerning the subject. Katherine is also an educator. She has a doctorate in education and she teaches English in Hawaii. She returns to Convo ex Nihilo via Zoom to talk to Billy about the unexpected opportunities that have been presented to her as a result of her podcast, her experiences in higher education obtaining her doctorate, and her current experiences teaching in a public school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course there is some talk and opinion exchanging on the topic of police reform.  
Regina Hanson is the author of the books Sexual Intellectual Female and Racism: The Real Reason I Left the South. She has a B.A, in American history with a minor in women's studies, she has an M.A. in American studies. Originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia she currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, from where she speaks to Billy via Zoom about her experiences growing up in the south, her discovery that she has autism relatively late in life and how it has effected her life and work. They talk about the driving factors behind her writing her first two books and the major conclusions that she has reached after completing them. They also talk about her current project a book about black entertainers in 20th century America. It's a conversation about racism, sexuality, music, and starting fresh.   
Kalonica McQuesten is a writer, graphic designer, artist and a Jill of all trades. She is a third-generation San Francisco Bay Area resident and she joins Billy via Zoom to talk about her fabled family history, her great-grandfather came to the Yukon territory to sell supplies to minors during the gold rush. Kalonica discusses the changes to the lifestyle of San Francisco residents during the city's various booms and busts and they also delve a little into the movie Tombstone, the work of David Graeber and the worst parts of their previous jobs.   
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