Nostalgia Trap

David Parsons


Weekly conversations that reflect on the trap of American history, survey the purgatory of the present, and look forward to a terrifying, beautiful future

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384 episodes

TRAP TV - Imagineering World War (PREVIEW)

On this episode of TRAP TV, we examine a critical moment in the history of the Walt Disney Company, when the tremendous success of in 1937 gave way to a period of rapid expansion and ambitious, ultimately unsuccessful projects that nearly bankrupted the business and ended the Disney era. Then, the war came. This is the story of how World War II not only rescued Disney from financial ruin, it sharpened the company’s aesthetic and ideological purpose. With an unprecedented animator’s strike nearly paralyzing production in 1941, the war and its fallout on the homefront began a new period for both Disney the man and Disney the cultural product, as hyper-nationalism, militarism, and explicit anti-communism entered Disney’s bloodstream and brought the company to unimagined new heights of profit and influence.  Subscribe to watch/listen to the whole episode:

Dec 06
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 12.2.22: I've Been Working on the Railroad w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

This week Justin and I talk about the fight between labor, management, unions, and the state now being waged in the railroad industry, and trace the longer history of rail and transport as central spaces for navigating the class violence bubbling under the surface of the American economy. Plus, Christmas nostalgia for all the boys and girls! Full episode: 

Dec 02
Gender Trap - Ep 10 : Demon Child (PREVIEW)

This week Yasmin and I watch (Roman Polanski, 1968) and (Jonathan Glazer, 2004), two films about trapped women, pixie haircuts, beautiful New York apartments, stifling bourgeois social norms, and creepy children born of Satan. There’s plenty for us to chew on here—from architecture and occult power to deeply unsettling notions of childhood, death, and sexuality—as we consider how these films locate an atmosphere of dread and horror in the fantastic spaces of elite New York.

Dec 01
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 344: Capital's Terrorists w/ Chad E. Pearson

Chad E. Pearson is a labor historian and writer whose work focuses on ruling class organizations and violence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this episode we discuss his latest book, Capital’s Terrorists: Klansmen, Lawmen, and Employers in the Long Nineteenth Century (UNC Press, 2022), which explores how elite capitalists evolved new strategies of violence and repression during the Second Industrial Revolution, employing extralegal terror—from book burning and blacklists to kidnappings, arson, and murder—as a means of securing their power over a rising population of wage workers. 

Nov 29
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 11.18.22: Owned by the Storytellers w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

This week Justin and I consider the possibility that news of Twitter's imminent demise may be premature, which leads to a discussion of tech bro culture's connection to the wider history of consumer capitalism and the series of swaggering men who promise utopian escapes from the very nightmare they've created, producing an endless cycle of technological baubles that attempt to remove us from linear time and distract us from the inevitable march toward death. Does it work? You tell me! Listen to the whole episode 

Nov 18
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 343: A World of Shit w/ Shane Burley (PREVIEW)

Shane Burley returns to the Trap for a challenging conversation about Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam war mindfuck , a film that asks deep, dark questions about violence, masculinity, racial imperialism, and other persistent features of human history. From its prolonged opening training sequence of horrific, hilariously choreographed ritual abuse to the oddly staged final battle sequences and bleak, abrupt ending, we explore how Full Metal Jacket’s relentless tone of removed, sarcastic cynicism offers a fractal view of war that remains one of Kubrick’s most punishing visions. Subscribe to listen to the full episode

Nov 17
Housing Trap - Home Is Where the Bank Is w/ Andrew Schustek and Benjamin Teresa

On this installment of Housing Trap, Andrew Schustek talks with Benjamin Teresa, a professor in the Urban and Regional Studies and Planning program at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at UVA. In this conversation, Teresa explains the role of finance and real estate in shaping the possibilities and limits of housing policy, and offers some ideas on how community engagement might open a trapdoor to a more livable future.  Subscribe to Nostalgia Trap to access our entire catalog 

Nov 15
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 11.11.22: Can't Get it Up w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

The livestream returns to a week full of exciting collapses: MAGA, Twitter, Meta, all run by men who talk a big game but suddenly can't seal the deal. Is this a temporary blip, "something that happens to all guys sometimes," or are the big swingers of the digital era reaching their limits? Join the Nostalgia Trap Patreon and listen to the whole episode

Nov 11
Campus Trap Ep 8 - The One About Third Places

This week Ryan and I watch an incendiary viral TikTok and debate the idea of “third places” – those special spaces where a human being can be a human being, around other human beings. Does such a space exist anymore? Who knows! But it seems like the degradation of public space in the past few decades just MIGHT have something to do with the decline of liberal social values – or is it the other way around? Let’s ask Mike Davis… Subscribe to access the entire Campus Trap catalog

1h 3m
Nov 01
Housing Trap - How to Build a City, Part Two w/ Andrew Schustek and Samuel Stein (PREVIEW)

Andrew Schustek and Samuel Stein continue their conversation on the inner workings of American housing policy, this time focusing on subsidies, affordable housing, and signs of weakness/vulnerability in the “real estate state.”  Subscribe to listen to the whole episode

Oct 27
Housing Trap - How to Build a City, Part One w/ Andrew Schustek and Samuel Stein

Nostalgia Trap fellow traveler and guest host Andrew Schustek continues our series of conversations on the political economy of housing in the 21st century. This week, Andrew talks with geographer, urban planner and housing policy analyst Samuel Stein, whose book is already a classic of modern urban studies and required reading for anyone interested in a progressive vision of city planning. In this episode, Andrew and Sam introduce us to the major structures of the “real estate state” and imagine pathways to a future of lower rents and better living. Subscribe to listen to Part Two

1h 4m
Oct 25
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 10.21.22: You're Just an Object to Me w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

This week Justin and I watch the first few episodes of Adam Curtis' latest documentary provocation, , as we consider the different ways to imagine "collapse," both ideologically and aesthetically.  Listen to the whole episode

Oct 21
Campus Trap Ep 5 - Behind the Paywall (PREVIEW)

Do you need a college degree in order to understand T.S. Eliot poems? Does subjecting a work of art or literature to academic analysis ruin our enjoyment of said work? This week Ryan and I talk about the “point” of a humanities education in a technocratic neoliberal world, and reflect on the increasingly dominant view of college as a transaction rather than an education. How do we put the heart back in higher ed? Listen to the whole episode 

Oct 20
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 342: Why We Fight w/ Shane Burley

Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker whose work explores the contours of 21st century fascist movements. His latest book, (AK Press, 2021), covers the rapid shift in organizing tactics on the right and left in the years since the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. In this conversation we reflect on the fascist, antisemitic vibes now permeating pop culture and political discourse, and Shane shares his experiences as a journalist covering radical politics at an increasingly fractured historical moment.  Subscribe to Nostalgia Trap to access bonus episodes, livestreams, and more

1h 5m
Oct 18
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 10.14.22: Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

This week Justin and I talk about the UFO documentary (2020), and get into the multiple UFO narratives currently circulating in online/media/state intelligence discourse. As always, we apply the Trap method of entertaining many different layered truths (an ecology of realities is one way to put it), but also tell some stories about our own "contact" experiences that shaped our personal perceptions of what's out there. Listen to whole episode 

Oct 14
Gender Trap - Ep 9 : Marilyn Monroe, Trauma Puppet (PREVIEW)

This week Yasmin and I endure Andrew Dominik’s much over-hyped Netflix #content , a fictional passion play “about” Marilyn Monroe, based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Our reactions are analytical and emotional, and we work out the intense feelings about celebrity, power, and gender brought up by the film’s often absurd provocations. And by the way, what the gender dynamics at work here? Is this Andrea Dworkin sex-negative feminism disguised as arthouse shock therapy, or a brilliant, radical take on fame and desire? One thing we can agree on: Marilyn deserves better.  Listen to the whole episode 

Oct 11
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 10.7.22: Gimme My Meat Space w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

Is the era of tech utopianism over? Does anyone believe that Zuckerberg's Hail Mary plan to trap us all in some nightmarish alternate digital reality is actually going to work? This week Justin and I consider the social and cultural elements of tech as a driver of the US economy, and wonder if virtual reality is really the future, or the dead end of Silicon Valley's grip on the popular imagination. Listen to the whole episode

Oct 08
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 341: Enter the Housing Trap w/ Andrew Schustek and Kevin Rogan

Special guest host Andrew Schustek kicks off a series of conversations focused on housing and urban policy. Andrew is joined by Kevin Rogan, a writer whose work covers the world of tenants, landlords, real estate developers, and city officials, as we dive into the political economy of a 21st century housing crisis that’s not going away. Yes, the rent is too damn high. But why? WHY??!! Subscribe to Nostalgia Trap for bonus content, including our weekly livestream w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

1h 24m
Oct 06
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 340: The Tampa Bay Yucks w/ Jason Vuic

Historian and author Jason Vuic returns to the Trap to talk about his book , which tells the incredible story of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ disastrous, legendary first season as a professional football organization. Marked by appalling working conditions, a colorfully brutal head coach, a penny-pinching owner, and a winking gay pirate mascot, the Bucs’ 26-game losing streak is a bizarre piece of sports history that, as Vuic explains, paints a striking picture of 1970s American entrepreneurial culture and the chaotic politics of building and promoting Florida.  Subscribe to Nostalgia Trap and access bonus episodes, our weekly livestream, and more 

1h 28m
Oct 04
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 9.30.22: Behind the Wall w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

As we continue into the "wormhole" opened up by COVID and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Justin and I consider the positions of those "behind the wall" of empire. How will we experience the future shocks now coming more clearly into view?  Subscribe to listen to all our livestreams whenever you want

Sep 30
Campus Trap Ep 6 - Toward An Academic Grindset (PREVIEW)

How much American bootstrap ideology are we obligated to deliver to students? This week Ryan Boyd and I take a look at some “practical advice” about “surviving college” from a couple of recent popular books on the subject, and we discover a disturbing strain of self-help/New Age/Protestant work ethic/grindset philosophy that, perhaps unsurprisingly, fails to acknowledge structural and material barriers (money, food, housing, etc) to student success. So what’s a teacher to do? Sell the hustle or sell the trapdoor? Subscribe to hear the whole episode 

Sep 28
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 9.23.22: The Death of the Four Cheaps w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

This week on the livestream we continue our discussion with Justin Rogers-Cooper on the end of the neoliberal order in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the "wormhole" we're entering. Justin offers some context and insights from environmental historian Jason W. Moore's (Verso, 2015), and we listen to some groovy stuff from JPW's excellent new album . Subscribe to hear the whole episode and access all our bonus episodes, livestreams, videos, and more

Sep 23
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 339: Black Tar America w/ Hit Factory

Aaron and Carlee from the 90s movie podcast Hit Factory join us for a conversation about Oliver Stone’s 1994 maximalist murder-fest . Is this a masterpiece of postmodern satire, or a mindlessly self-indulgent pastiche? As we discover together, this movie is trickier than its cartoonish surface, painting  a disturbing vision of American violence and celebrity that, nearly thirty years later, still burns like acid.   Subscribe to the Nostalgia Trap Patreon for bonus episodes, livestreams, videos, and much more

1h 39m
Sep 23
Gender Trap - Ep 8 : Comfortably Powerless (PREVIEW)

The world is filled with Pete Campbells – people whose wealthy families and social connections allow them to coast through life, easily opening doors that are locked tight for the rest of us. Doesn’t that just burn you up? On this week’s Gender Trap, Yasmin Nair and I talk about Episode 4 of Mad Men (“New Amsterdam”), in which we are forced to come to terms with the archetypal privileged son, and see him as but one part of a marvelous, odious machine that traps us all. Can we learn to love Pete Campbell?  Listen to the whole episode and access all our weekly bonus traps

Sep 20
Nostalgia Trap - Livestream 9.16.22: Goodbye, Neoliberal World w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (PREVIEW)

We're back on the livestream circuit with Justin Rogers-Cooper, talking about the fragile set of historical circumstances upon which the neoliberal era was built, and how those circumstances are rapidly deteriorating/disappearing into an era of pandemic, imperial war, energy depletion, and planetary emergency. Buckle up, motherfuckers: the age of neoliberalism is dying, and something new is being born. Subscribe to listen to the whole episode and all our livestreams/bonus content

Sep 17
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 338: Millennials Killed the Video Star w/ Amanda Klein

Amanda Klein is a professor of Film Studies at East Carolina University and the author of a number of works on American media and society. Her latest book, , is a detailed history of MTV’s abrupt evolution from music-centered content to non-stop reality programs in the late 90s and early 2000s. In this conversation, Klein discusses how MTV executives chased the elusive millennial dollar in a rapidly changing media landscape, producing shows like , , , and many others, offering a young, largely white audience an opportunity to imagine themselves occupying a wide range of non-white identities. Which MTV did watch?   Subscribe to Nostalgia Trap to access our library of bonus content:

Sep 14
Record Trap Ep 4 - Bowie's Last Act (PREVIEW)

This week Justin and I consider the life and career of David Bowie, casting him as a master practitioner of pop magick, who harnessed the occult energies of art and celebrity to implant himself permanently in our cultural DNA. Nothing in Bowie’s work expresses this more clearly than his final album, , released on his 69th birthday and two days before his death from liver cancer in January 2016. In this conversation we talk about Bowie’s life, art, and final act, as we reflect on how his particularly curatorial, affectionate, subversive, playful approach to music and stardom resonates in pop culture literally everywhere you look. There's lots more to this episode for subscribers, including links and playlists to accompany the Bowie-fest:

Sep 07
Nostalgia Trap - Episode 337: Keep On Rockin' In the Free World w/ Penny Von Eschen

In her incredible new book , historian Penny Von Eschen identifies nostalgia as a corrosive, reactionary force in global politics and popular culture since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and explains how the lingering ghosts of the Cold War haunt our era. From George H.W. Bush hosting an official White House screening of in 1990 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Von Eschen traces how Cold War nostalgia distorts our vision of the past and forecloses on possibilities for a peaceful future.  Subscribe to Nostalgia Trap to access our whole universe of bonus content:

1h 23m
Sep 01
Campus Trap Ep 5 - Whither the Wonder Boys? (PREVIEW)

This week Ryan and I watch (2000), starring Michael Douglas as a professor struggling to write a follow-up to his successful first novel while juggling personal relationships with students and faculty and ingesting massive amounts of drugs and alcohol. The movie depicts a romantic vision of campus life that seems miles away from our respective experiences in 21st century academia, while still reflecting a lot of the things that drew us to academic life in the first place. Is longing for the world of just another nostalgia trap?  Subscribe to listen to the whole episode and gain access to our giant library of bonus content:

Aug 24
Gender Trap - Ep 7 : Inside Doesn't Matter (PREVIEW)

Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel , about a 1980s Wall Street serial killer, is one of the sickest acts of American satire I’ve read, and Mary Harron’s 2000 movie adaptation starring Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman nails the book’s tone while excising some of its most graphic violence. This week Yasmin and I ask: What is really about? Is Bateman an aberration, or a perfect representation of American masculinity? What does it take to “fit in” a psychotic society? Click here to listen to the full episode.

Aug 18