Monday, December 9, 2013

Reflections on the 'Smells Like Human Spirit' podcast

In the information age, there are enough podcasts around now to spend an entire lifetime listening to people talking about the things that interest you, but this particular podcast, hereafter referred to as 'SLHS', has found an ever-growing niche and struck a nerve in the podcast community. It started in May 2012 though i didn't personally become aware of it until February 2013 so had plenty of episodes to catch up on and enjoy. The podcast, and the accompanying website, are primarily run by Guy Evans, with appearances by James Wilson and contributions from 7/7 author and researcher Tom Secker.

In its infancy, SLHS featured Guy and James simply talking about current issues with no particular introductions, theme music or pretence of prior preparation. Rather than being a problem, this was one of the strengths of the early episodes as they gave them an immediacy and spontaneity that people could, and still can, relate to. So, interesting topics like the public obsession with Facebook, the role of advertising in our lives and the use of language as a tool of deception were discussed in a manner reminiscent of a chat at the pub with 2 intelligent, down-to-earth, open-minded guys who happened to be from Wales and also happened to have an interest in Ekhart Tolle and spiritual issues, hence the podcast name which most of a certain age would recognise as a pun on the famous Nirvana song. Aside from a touch of early self-consciousness about talking about things that are 'deep, man!', the boys were very natural and the conversations flowed well from the start. Episode 5 saw the first guest, James Corbett of 'The Corbett Report', a well-known figure in the alternative community but not a 'famous' person with baggage and expectation. Other early guests, some of whom have made multiple appearances, included author and historian Michael Parenti, 7/7 researchers Keelan Balderson and the aforementioned Tom Secker, and the CIA whistleblower Susan Lindauer. The format of the podcast changed to a mixture of interviews with guests and episodes with Guy and James discussing topics as they originally had, reviewing recent episodes and reading out listener feedback. Episode 16 was a discussion of the phenomenon that is David Icke, and in this episode like many others, Guy and James seemed to be able to express what myself and surely other listeners were thinking, which created a lot of what are called 'a-ha moments', or simply the warm feeling that you are not alone and not a freak or a 'conspiracy theorist' but one of a growing community.

SLHS went up a notch in Episode 30 with Guy interviewing no less than Noam Chomsky, the first famous name and a mainstream legend as well as alternative thinker. This interview took place at the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and from here SLHS became largely a solo effort from Guy Evans due to his relocation to New York. This year the podcast has seen Guy continue with his interviews, including the returns of previous guests and also appearances from 9/11 whisteblower Sibel Edmonds, 9/11 activist Ian Henshall and former LAPD officer Michael Ruppert among many others, but also tackle particular issues such as the Obama administration's drone attack policy and alarming NDAA legislation. James has made occasional appearances and despite a slightly more polished production, the podcast has retained a down-home flavour and an easily-digestable style.

One more thing to note about the podcast's content is that since Episode 60 Guy has been reviewing, generally on a weekly basis, the very significant but not widely-known book, 'Propaganda', authored in the 1920's by 'the father of public relations' Edward Bernays (himself also very significant but not widely-known!, which should raise eyebrows once his work is read). Guy started by simply reading the book and commenting on each paragraph, but acting on listener feedback he has expanded this podcast series to include clips linking the book to the present day. This is one of the impressive things about Guy's attitude, that he genuinely appreciates his audience and realises that they are essentially the point of the podcast and the people he is serving, something that many in positions of power would do well to note.

In summary, this highly-engaging podcast, which has now passes Episode 110, should be heard from the start to see its development and appreciate its wide range of thought-provoking content and interesting ideas for greater awareness and, in the end, a better world.

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