Daniel (the homeless bookseller), Thomas Frank, and Henry GirouxJul 18, 2022
Pigeon Shit Bookstore
On Street Bookselling, Populism, and Public Intellectuals
New Books Network 2022
Hi! This is Darts and Letters. We’ve just become a part of New Books Network, so we want to introduce ourselves.
Fundamentally, This is a show about the politics of ideas. Another way to say that would be “intellectuals”, but we don’t really gel with this classic idea of intellectuals being white guys at Harvard. We’re more populist than that, and we have a whole segment in this episode about what we really mean by populism.
This is our first episode, and we made it in 2020 in the run up to Biden’s election. We’ve had 60 episodes since then and our production is tighter and we have a much clearer idea of who we are as a show, but we wanted to start by playing you this because I think we have stayed pretty true to our original goal of democratising ideas, and looking for them in unusual places.
We’re taking a bit of a production break right now for summer, so until September we’re going to catch you up with our favourite episodes from the catalogue, then on September 18th we launch the new season of Darts and Letters.
Until then we’re doing a different theme each week and our theme for this week is what I said before - ideas in strange places. Starting with episode 1, and the owner of the Pigeon Shit Bookstore. An intellectual of the street, who the show’s host Gordon found selling books in downtown Toronto.
- First, host Gordon Katic asks: what is an intellectual? Hard to say, but to quote the Supreme Court justice who tried to define pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
- Next (@10:48), we meet Daniel—the homeless bookseller of Bloor St, who might just be one of the most well-read people you’ve ever met.
- Then (@21:26), journalist and historian Thomas Frank rights the distorted historical record and redefines “populism.” We discuss his most recent book “The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism.”
- Finally (@47:32), critical educational scholar and dissident Henry Giroux celebrates academics who are true ‘public intellectuals,’ and he attacks the neoliberal educational reforms that have made that kind of work so difficult.
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