[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the 190th episode of the Atlas Society asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit introducing young people to the ideas of Ayn Rand in fun, creative ways. Graphic novels, animated videos, music videos. Today, we are joined by Roger Simon. Before I even begin to introduce our guests, I really want to remind all of you, this is important.
If you're watching us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, x, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, use the comment section. We're going to be talking about american refugees. And so, especially if you have just moved out of an oppressive state, you're thinking of making a move. This is going to be a really fun forum to talk about some of those questions you may have. Our guest today, Roger Simon has had quite the storied career. An Academy Award nominated screenwriter, mystery novelist, this was before becoming CEO and co founder of the pioneering blog, news and opinion website PJ Media. As a novelist, he received a claim for his Moses Wine detective series, and his non fiction books include turning right at Hollywood and Vine, the perils of coming out conservative in Tinseltone, and I know best how moral narcissism is destroying our republic, if it hasn't already. He joins us to discuss his latest book, American Refugees, the untold story of the mass exodus from blue states to red states. Roger, thanks for joining us.
[00:01:56] Speaker B: Thank you for having me. It sounds like going to be a lot of fun.
I would say one thing to your introduction or one gloss, not just people who have made the move from blue states to red states, but I think the book is going to be interesting to people who are contemplating such a move. I didn't write it intentionally as a consumer report, quote unquote, but I realized halfway through that people will use it that way, and I think they should, because it's an experiential book about what it felt like to move. And it talks mostly about Tennessee, talks also about other red states where I have been and talked to people in, principally Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia.
I would put a blinking yellow light.
[00:02:49] Speaker A: On Georgia for many reasons, and it's a very personal book, and you bring up a lot of these issues through the lens, know, gosh, concerns about health care. If I'm going from New York or California, where I know my experts and I'm going to a totally new state, there are a lot of Atlas society donors and trustees who've made those moves and others who are contemplating it. So I think we're going to have a great discussion. Before we even get into that, we'd love to begin with our guests origin stories. So where were you born, what kind of family you grew up in, and what originally inspired you to get into the movie business?
[00:03:39] Speaker B: Okay, well, here's.
I grew up upper middle class, New York City jewish boy whose father was a doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital on Fifth Avenue. And I grew up in the building right next door to that hospital. And it was kind of weirdly fortuitous because we were on the second floor.
Most of those buildings were around 16 stories at that point in Manhattan history. And I would look up at a window about, I guess, on the 10th floor of the building, right across the street. And every day I would see a man wearing a sports jacket sitting at a typewriter, just typing away for hours on end.
Where, to me, my father was never home because he was a doctor. So he was, like, at the hospital from four in the morning to four at night.
[00:04:47] Speaker A: My dad's a cardiologist.
[00:04:48] Speaker B: Younger doctors, they're slaves to the work. And all his friends were doctors. So therefore, the only adult other than my mother that I ever saw was this man at the window. And I couldn't figure out, what is this guy doing? Is that work? And then finally I said to my mother, who is that guy up on the 10th floor? And she said, don't you know who that is? That's Herman woke.
[00:05:14] Speaker A: Oh, my goodness.
[00:05:18] Speaker B: And I actually, interestingly enough, the first adult book that I ever read was the Cain mutiny, which was written by woke. He also wrote quite a number of well known books, was actually also in the jewish world well known, although I didn't know that at the time, for writing books about that. And then he wrote Marjorie Morningstore. Blah. But anyway, also, my parents, although my mother was a housewife, my father was a doctor who was actually involved in the Manhattan project. So I was around physicists a lot when I was little.
I didn't know at the time that a movie would be made about him. But I am told, and I cannot remember it, that I was introduced to J. Robert Oppenheimer when I was three.
I have no memory of this.
Anyway, my father wanted me to be a doctor, but he was so brilliant at all this stuff. Obviously, in that Manhattan project, he treated the Hiroshima ladies because he was a radiologist.
I realized I was totally outclassed in that, so I went off in another direction. But he was still determined that I would be a doctor.
So when I told him at the age of 15, I wanted to be a writer, he said, well, he said, why not still be a doctor? I mean, Chekhov was a doctor. I'm thinking Checkoff. I mean, never in my wildest imagination to this day could I ever be mean. That's like saying, oh, you know, that Superman was know. It was like, ridiculous. I mean, I already knew that Chekhov was the greatest playwright since Shakespeare. It's probably easily that. So I'm going anyway.
But I always wanted to be a writer, either. And then pretty soon, because of the time I grew up, I wanted to be a writer director of movies. I failed at the director part. I've done it, but I failed at it. And the reason I failed at it, I know now, was I was so taken with the idea of the director that I thought the director, like Fellini or someone like that, did it all on the.
You know, if your script wasn't there, it didn't matter because you were the maestro. So when I wrote scripts for other people, I made sure it was there. When I did it for myself, I think I can do this anyway.
And then later on, I met people like Paul Mazurski and Willie Allen.
I told them that story. They said, were you crazy?
Because the old Hollywood thing was, if it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage, it's right.
[00:08:31] Speaker A: Well, you have it.
[00:08:32] Speaker B: The secret to the whole thing is about the writing, not about the directing.
The claim in the girls.
[00:08:39] Speaker A: So, it's interesting. As I mentioned at the top, Atlas society obviously directed.
It's geared towards engaging young people with the ideas of Ayn Rand, who herself had her beginning in the movie industry. That early meeting with Cecil Di DeMell ended up working in wardrobe and then as an extra, eventually reading scripts, then writing scripts and writing screenplays. Many were produced.
You have read Ayn Rand. Any thoughts on her literature or nonfiction? The two of you also went from fiction to going on to.
[00:09:23] Speaker B: Well, you know, I think Rand has a natural movie business personality, actually, but on the good side of the political arena, what happened to me was I came in on what was supposedly the good side of the political, I'm not embarrassed to say, because I've written about it very extensively in turning right at Hollywood and Vine. I was very left wing when I came into this. I was left wing in the way a lot of people in my generation were.
And to say that we were stupid is the easy thing.
Yeah, I wasn't really stupid. I went to IBD. School is a big deal is that I was part of the team, and then they rewarded me for that I was early because I made money screenwriting very young, like 25 in an era of Hollywood, when they threw money at you, I mean, it was kind of weird. It also made you if somehow or other they thought you had it. And there were people who went for years making fortunes without having a movie made. But, yeah, I don't think that happens now. But anyway, it happened then, and I was making money. I didn't know what to do with it. So I became a financier of the Black Panther breakfast program, now a libertarian. I knew people on the. So far, on the other side, it's silly. I mean, I knew some of the big Panthers. I knew the Chicago seven and Tom Hayden and all those people, and they thought I was the coolest guy around. And they loved my detective stories. And this is partly why I essentially got thrown out of Hollywood and started writing the things I do now, because.
[00:11:27] Speaker A: They felt there was like a sense of an apostate.
And that's kind of really the one thing that can't be forgiven. So let's talk a little bit about that conversion, so to speak. Your book turning right at Hollywood and Vine, the perils of coming out conservative in Tinseltown, though I understand you consider yourself more of a libertarian.
I understand the original title was blacklisting myself. So let's talk a little bit about the.
And one question is, are the common impressions that we have of Hollywood and the entertainment industry as overwhelmingly left, are those accurate, or do you think they're overblown?
[00:12:14] Speaker B: They're relatively mean, and there are quite a number of people, probably not so far from where you're sitting, who think otherwise and shut up about it.
[00:12:28] Speaker A: True.
[00:12:29] Speaker B: In fact, you know, I know of some who do. And, you know, that's kind of sad way to live your life.
And for me, as a writer, it was impossible because I wouldn't know how to write fake stuff. I mean, I just wouldn't know how to do it. I think it would be terrible. It would give itself away in two minutes. But maybe I could, but I wouldn't even want to try.
It's like, why do you want to be a writer and do that? Then go do something to.
[00:13:04] Speaker A: I want to get to your latest book, but I just can't gloss over your achievement of the Moses wine detective series, the first of which, the big fix, you adapted into a screenplay with Richard Dreyfus as the lead. Where did you get the idea for the series? Were there elements from your own life?
[00:13:30] Speaker B: But I got the idea. I was working with the folks at Rolling Stone at the time. How cool is that? Those days, it was cool. Nowadays you look at Rolling Stone and it's like a fossil. But anyway, I told the guy, you know what we want to do? We want to do an old style Raymond Chandler, except that there's a hippie boat detective, he's got a beard, he smokes dope, blah, blah, blah. All the things everybody did in 1970, and they said, wow. And that's how it happened. I mean, I literally then wrote the big fiction, six weeks, but it didn't get made into a movie for several years. That's always true with movie business anyway.
But I wrote eight of them altogether, although I could have written more and would have been more successful. I just wanted to do other things. But the character evolved as I evolved. And part of the reason that pajamas media, PJ media came to be was that the last in the series, which was called Final Cut, I noticed that the publisher, which was a branch of Random House, excuse me, wasn't very enthusiastic. I mean, at that point, you know, I had written a number of books, so you could tell.
Hard to get the publicist on the phone, all that kind of stuff. Anyway, so I thought, well, you're going to have to do something for yourself by this one.
Now, author websites, I mean, I have one, but they're really boring. Who wants to go static? Nothing. But just about then, the blog thing was happening with this guy, Glenn Reynolds, who has since become a very close friend of mine, also in Tennessee.
In Tennessee, he started the instapund, and the Instapunet was started just like a week before 911, and it got incredible traffic. And I said, well, maybe I could do that, and that'll promote the book. Well, so I started my own blog. It became very successful because I just talked honestly about my political change.
And a lot of people in those days were undergoing similar kinds of things after 911. So the block became very popular. But the book didn't sell.
[00:16:16] Speaker A: Well.
[00:16:16] Speaker B: It didn't go back, but nevertheless, that started me on in a whole new direction. It changed my life.
[00:16:26] Speaker A: That was a political change.
This was a geographic and cultural and, I guess political change as well.
Want to talk about american refugees? And again, I want to encourage those of you who are watching, who have moved, who have a story one way or the other, maybe thinking of moving. Please type your questions, and this will be a great forum to discuss them. So you're among the refugees, and the book is, in part a chronicle of your experience leaving California for Tennessee in the pre COVID wave. So let's start with your decision to join the great migration. Why did you and your wife make the move in 2018?
[00:17:13] Speaker B: Good question.
First of all, it took us a fair amount of time. We talked about it for a long time because it's hard to leave in some ways.
[00:17:24] Speaker A: It's hard to leave California.
[00:17:26] Speaker B: Hard to leave California. It's hard to move, period. And it's also, I mean, California has its obvious allures. You're sitting there in maybe the best part of the other. You know, we were living in the Hollywood hills. We were living up near Moholland Drive, not quite there, but gradually the homeless started living on Moholland and they would be coming down. It was hard to walk the dog. But what had happened before was after I had started PJ media, I got a note in my mailbox that said, we know where you live.
[00:18:11] Speaker A: My goodness.
[00:18:12] Speaker B: Yeah. Not particularly a heartening note.
I have no idea to this day who wrote it. It was just scrolled and thrown to me. But I used to hang out at the farmers market all the time at a table that became quite famous. The BBC would film it and everything. Writers and directors would hang out, you know, even like fancy visiting directors, like Bertolucci shows up one day or something. But I became Persona non grana. I mean, I could see when I would have come to people, you know, those are just.
We were looking for new horizons and finally we decided to do it. I was pushing toward Charleston, South Carolina, where I had been several times, and think it's a beautiful place, but my wife and daughter were like crazy country music fans. I like it. And they were opting for Nashville. I'm glad Nashville is a bigger place and the metro Nashville is bigger. So I think the second reason that we're glad we did that is one week after we moved, there was a big hurricane down in Charleston. And the places that I wanted to live, which were down by the water, all got 2ft of water in their house anyway.
[00:19:46] Speaker A: Yes, geographically, you've had good timing. You left Malibu right before your house there burned down. You dodged the bullet of the hurricane in Charleston.
[00:19:59] Speaker B: I leave. Watch out. Follow me.
[00:20:03] Speaker A: Well, would you ever leave at this point?
[00:20:07] Speaker B: Here's the thing about moving. I'm not planning on it, but never and ever are big words, but moving itself. This is people listening who are contemplating moving. And moving is a big deal, especially if you have a household. I'm looking at all the books that are behind your head here now.
I think I got rid of 1000 books before we moved just because. And we still got thousands more. You never have enough bookshelves. That's one of the things that people who like books learn quickly.
And it's not just books, it's every bit of stuff that you've got.
Plus disrupting everything about your life, your friends, family, work situations. For some people, I mean, I was fortunate because being a writer, I can sort of move where you are.
[00:21:08] Speaker A: Yeah, but I think that's kind of part of the problem. I think I feel this especially when I talk to some young people where they say I can't find a job that I like here, or they complain about where they are. And in the mean, growing up, my father was a cardiologist, know young, and we were moving all the time. North Carolina, then New York, then Boston, then Philadelphia, wherever.
And you compare the kind of rates of american interstate migration and mobility with that of immigrants to the country, they're much more willing to make the move. And I think that if people didn't just feel so rooted where they were planted, that they would have a lot more options.
[00:22:09] Speaker B: I think in the end, and I think I make this clear in the book, moving is good for you, it's good for your head.
The most simplistic analogy I can give is it's supposed to be good. And I have more trouble with this than moving. Using your mouse with your left hand.
But moving is not entirely similar to that because especially in this day and age. And one of the problems, of course, in this day and age is we all have gps. So to this day, I know my way around metropolitan Los Angeles better than I do here, simply because.
[00:22:51] Speaker A: You have that memory, right?
[00:22:56] Speaker B: Gradually, of course. I know it in a lot of areas now, but not as quickly as I could litter without having that crutch. But that's only a minor part of mean. The other thing is that you learn, people who live mostly coastal lives that I did because I was a New York LA person forever, is that you learn what America is and what America is alive. And southerners, of course, there's something different, although this area has very. There's so many people moving in that you get them for everywhere, but still some of the old south here. And the other thing is, when I first arrived here five and a half years ago, the first big shock was people are so nice. I thought it was at, you know, if you lived in New York and LA all your life, you're not used to people normally being.
[00:23:52] Speaker A: Is. That sounds like quite the refreshing, you know. According to the most recent census data, eight states saw population declines. New York California, Illinois, among the biggest losers. In the case of California, it seems like the population decline started about a dozen years ago, but then it really took a nosedive in 2020 with some of the most restrictive pandemic interventions in the country. From the California expats that you have talked to, some of who you interviewed for the book, what do you feel are the main drivers? Quality of life values? All of the above.
[00:24:36] Speaker B: Now you've hit the heart of the book because previously a lot of people down here took a stance, you can come here, but don't bring your California values with you.
And that was the classic part of it. It turned out to be the reverse. Now this is generalization, but nevertheless, as a generalization, it was the reverse. In other words, the people who moved here were more constitutionalist, more tending libertarian, a lot of them, than the people who were here because the people who were here were sort of lulled.
And also, as in almost all political situations, the leaders at the top are worse than the people that they're serving.
That's true. Not completely. We have decent senators, example, but a lot of the local government here is just God, awe and is really rhinoesque. Or another way of looking at it in a better way. It was explained to me was they're just the old southern democrats wearing new.
And, you know, that's common throughout the south is a lot of that.
There's nothing that the left would rather like than turn these states blue.
And they do that from the bigger cities outward.
[00:26:10] Speaker A: Right? Well, and of course, yeah. The education and the indoctrination that we're seeing at these universities.
So that is one of the biggest misconceptions that people might be looking at these refugees from California or from New York and thinking of it as an invasion. But you actually use the metaphor of the cavalry arriving. So that's one misconception. What are some of the misconceptions that you or other refugees from blue states have had about their new homes? What was the biggest wake up call for you that you thought, oh, I didn't think it was going to be like this.
[00:26:59] Speaker B: My kids are not school age anymore, but I'll get to that in a second. But the general misconception that a lot of us had was that places like Nashville were maybe purple, right?
Actually they're really blue. I mean, they're blue blue and they're not blue like la or mean.
They're not mass robberies going on and people being let out in the streets.
It's not that.
But if you listen to the Metro National Council on closed Circuit tv, which you can do. You're looking at a kind of low rent, poolish borough.
And it can be funny, too, if you're in the right mood. But it's not what we expected. A lot of us expected. Now, also in terms of expectation, not far from where we are is the city of Franklin, Tennessee. Now, Franklin is sort of like a bedroom community for Nashville, but it's in Williamson county, which has, as many people think, it may still be the per capita richest republican county in the country. It's where a number of country stars live. Marshall Blackburn lives there. A lot of well known people that are almost household names live there to die forest, know hundreds of acres with their own cattle and all kinds of stuff. And it's a really beautiful area. But at the same time, so people who are coming to Franklin and the downtown Franklin, I describe in the book as sort of Norman Rockwell meets sushi bars, so you can have the America that you dreamed of as wholesome and beautiful. Also, you got the modern conveniences. You got a thai restaurant if you need one, in wall or that's great. Okay.
And also was said to have a great public school system. So people are coming from all over to Williams county because it had this great public school system. Slow down. What turned out, that turned out to have its own levels of infection, including it's been taken down now. But kids going home with iPads, teaching the ABCs as the GABCs.
[00:29:42] Speaker A: That was probably not quite what you were expecting.
Some of the cultural challenges that are shaking out is being driven by people that are coming in and have a certain set of expectations.
I think it's probably going to continue to change politics for years to come. So we're going to try to get to some of these audience questions. I was having such a good time with you, I didn't realize that we'd already gone through half of our time together. So in terms of that interaction and some of those maybe unexpected conflicts, my modern gault on Instagram asks, as a northern Texan, housing prices have skyrocketed with this migration.
What would you say to those who have a negative sentiment to the wave of people coming into their cities?
[00:30:42] Speaker B: Well, I'd be a liar to say that the housing values have gone up here, too, obviously. And I know from Texas, friends, it's through there.
This is the market in action, and there's little we can do about it. My advice to that person is stay put in your house and enjoy the fact that if you have to sell it in 20 years when you retired, you're going to get a bigger check than you got before otherwise.
[00:31:14] Speaker A: Or get into the housing and construction business. As my old boss David Murdoch, used to say, any fool can make a fortune when there's a boom. And when you have these sort of really unprecedented events like this mass migration that we are seeing people find a way to take advantage of that are going to make a lot of money.
[00:31:40] Speaker B: If Trump loses in the fall, the migration will only increase.
That's my prediction. Because people are going to flee these blue, blue states.
[00:31:55] Speaker A: All right, another question from Xavier Collins on Facebook. Do you think these migrations are shifting things in America and making the country more split along geographic, ideological.
[00:32:13] Speaker B: People? I have a lot of stuff in the book that I talking to this guy pseudonymously named Rocky. I call him Rocky Top. He calls himself Rocky Top because he once had a blog called Rocky Top. Rocky Top is the name of a very famous bluegrass song that is the Tennessee state song. Anyway, the real rocky top is, I would say, I have never met anyone who knows the inside of politics better than this guy. He adviser to presidential candidates in Washington and also gubernatorial candidates in Tennessee and Nashville in the Capitol. So he knows state politics and Nashville very, you know, he talked about all this stuff all the.
We were, the whole time I was writing the book, he was very aware. He was sort of my guru for the book. And we were talking about, know, speaking of the question that's up there on Facebook, what we are looking at is a kind of new divided USA, or scarily the potential for civil war, at.
[00:33:28] Speaker A: Least a kind of civil cold, know, just kind of like we had an international cold war. Okay.
Our friend Liberty Shamrocker on YouTube is asking Roger, now that you're in Tennessee, are you thinking everyone else stop coming?
[00:33:51] Speaker B: Oh, no. First of all, a lot of empty land in Tennessee in America. They like to pretend that there isn't. But I would say, though, people who are listening to this show, I would welcome to Tennessee anytime because you know what they're going to be like, and I'd like to have them as neighbors.
[00:34:17] Speaker A: And you have this book that you can read before you go.
We had our gults gulch in Nashville last year, and it was absolutely delightful. It was hard to get our staff to leave and go back to their various states.
And we were just talking about this before we jumped on grown Castri says, greetings from Argentina, the new land of so grown. Roger wants to visit you, and he may consider moving liberty, if things don't.
All right, Jsik Isaac Monterose on X asks, what do you think about republican states pledging support for Texas with the immigrant crisis? Do you think the blue to red migration has helped reinforce these?
[00:35:16] Speaker B: Well, look, at the most, it's quite obvious here in Tennessee, but it's even more obvious it turned Florida completely.
Know Texas has always been in jeopardy because they just want to get think the, the left just has a lust for Texas is terrible.
But yes, in every case it's helped shore up and it's kind of wonderful.
Since I'm in Edward epic times, I get to go around to all these states and I have a great time talking to the people.
It's the politicians that sometimes creep me out, but the people who are there. America is a great place. It really mean. I spent a lot of time in Europe and I love America.
[00:36:06] Speaker A: Kissing me for me on Instagram asks, would you ever go back to writing fiction, or is politics your main focus these years?
[00:36:16] Speaker B: Thank you for asking.
I'm thinking very strongly of going back to fiction or screenwriting in the next year because I'm not going to stop writing politics because I have a contract with the epoch times that makes me deliver them a column like every hour, not quite that bad.
So I will be doing that, but I'm going to go back to fictional writing because it's who I am. It's in my fabric. And also, if I thought I couldn't do it anymore, I'd feel depressed.
[00:36:55] Speaker A: Well, and then sometimes when you are depressed with the way things are around you or you're dissatisfied with the state of the world. And depending on what happens next year, you can either move to Argentina or you can create your own magical or wonderful or capitalist or constitutionalist world of your own. Ayn Rand, when she talked about writing Atlas Shrugged, part of her motivation was that she was lonely. She wanted the kind of world that she created in the gulch, the kind of geniuses and brilliant, uncompromising people that she wished that she would meet in the real world. So I do think that it's also part of the romance of know.
[00:37:46] Speaker B: The truth of the matter is I make jokes about moving to Argentina because I think this guy Milai is an incredible person, but I'm not doing mean. No matter what happens, I'm staying here to fight.
[00:38:05] Speaker A: Zach Carter on Facebook asks, looking at the state of modern films and entertainment, what would you say to young writers looking to enter the field? Because, Roger, you are still on the voting for the academy, is that right? So you're reviewing the films?
[00:38:25] Speaker B: Yes. Well, I don't want to be too discouraging.
I came into writing both fiction and film at a time. It was a lot easier, I think, right now.
And right now you have to be an entrepreneur more.
When I came into it, first of all, I was a liberal then, which made it easier, but the world was much more open to anybody.
And also there were going concerns. Now, the movie business was then run by filmmakers. I mean, all those jews from Eastern Europe loved movies and they loved America.
These are all run by multinationals now, and the networks are awful. The publishing houses are not so great. So I would recommend, actually, it's not easy, but self publishing is something. But I don't like it because I'm spoiled.
[00:39:39] Speaker A: Right.
[00:39:40] Speaker B: A young person coming into it learns how to do it, because self publishing takes a lot of different skills than being published by Random House.
[00:39:51] Speaker A: Yeah. Or know the politics of a publishing house or the studio system. I mean, I would say, zach, that maybe the optimistic part of what's changed, because you're asking Roger, what has changed since the time he entered screenwriting and entertainment and now? Well, on the positive side, one thing that's changed is the Internet and social media and the democratization, demonetization, dematerialization of how content is distributed. I mean, that, I think seizing on that is what has propelled the Atlas Society to be in the prominent position that we're in today, is because, hey, we want to do an AI animated book trailer of Atlas Shrugged and put it out there. And we do. And now people are approaching us and wanting us to do full length treatments of various types of content and bringing the money. So I think what Roger's saying is being entrepreneurial about it is probably the right way to go.
All right, Candice Morena has an interesting question for you, Roger. She's watching us on Facebook, and she asks, when do you know when it's time to move on to the next project or career? Because, Roger, you've had several different kinds of careers.
[00:41:23] Speaker B: Right?
[00:41:23] Speaker A: And now we hear the news that you're actually the wonderful news that you might at some point return to.
Is there, is it that you get bored, or is it.
[00:41:38] Speaker B: I learned it young because when I was in Hollywood, I used to alternate very deliberately between writing novels and screenplays.
So that started me off in that direction. One of the reasons I did that is my novels were pretty well known, but they didn't get that much money.
But the Hollywood people, because they saw my name in print a lot, thought I was making a fortune from these.
[00:42:03] Speaker A: So they needed to pay you more.
[00:42:06] Speaker B: Sold on me when I come in for a meeting. Well, I can always write a book, but I really need the money of a script. But that's giving away a little trick that happened to me, but it did set me up into the world of realizing you can do other. First of all, life is long. It's not short. So, I mean, if you stay healthy, I've been doing this for years and I'm healthy, so I'm going to do it for more.
And the other thing is, don't be afraid. And also, rejection is nothing.
It took me years to realize that, because in the beginning, people get rejected, get their writing rejected, get whatever it is they're doing rejected. They take it personally and think it's a reflection on them. It's usually not. Sometimes it might be, but usually it's not.
And to even dwell on it for a second is a waste of time, because what just done is killed your opportunity to do something else. You just killed time.
My reaction to rejection of any sort, to this day, right now, is a very simple four letter word. Next.
[00:43:31] Speaker A: Well, you know, and Roger and I were talking right before we went live about some of his takeaways from Ayn Rand and the Fountainhead, which is his favorite of her novels. And of course, think of all of the rejections that Howard Rook had to deal with and the rejections that he dished out, too. No, I'm not going to work on that crummy project just for the pay to follow his original. You know, might be a good time to brush up on the fountainhead to fortify your inner fortress.
[00:44:04] Speaker B: Right in the fountain. I mean, just move on. And don't even think about if someone rejects you, because I'll give a little gloss on it. And that is, there might be some useful information in that, but only look at it that way. Do not look at it personally. Look at it factually. Oh, the fifth chapter wasn't. Oh, look at.
[00:44:30] Speaker A: Yeah, exactly. I think that's important because I think, know, again, looking back at Ayn Rand and her career and her trajectory as an artist in dealing with rejection, remember, the fountainhead was rejected twelve times before it was published, but then also all of the criticism that she received. And I think now, again, this is just my personal opinion, but at some point that the ability to shut out that criticism and to just concentrate on the tightrope ahead of her and to get the work done, that was a strength. But at some point, if that becomes your default and you're not open to hearing criticism or getting know you're into that vision of the anointed and not being able to know a helpful voice that says, watch out, that step's going to make you fall, then that is not a good thing either.
[00:45:30] Speaker B: There's a balance to it. I mean, Ned Tannen, who was running universal when I was there, had a thing.
If one person says you're drunk, ignore him. If six people tell you you're drunk, sit down.
[00:45:46] Speaker A: All right. Georgia Alexopoulos on Facebook. What has life been like since you left PJ Media and joined the Epic Times? Sounds like it's been a lot of travel and quite busy and productive.
[00:45:57] Speaker B: Yeah, well, the busy part is absolutely true. The epic times, I left PJ Media because it was sold. I ran it. And if you run something and then it's sold out from under you, you don't want to stay there because you've lost authority and it's not going to be fun.
The epic Times made me an offer. I sort of suspected something was true. That just turned out to be true. The epic Times is everything I wanted PJ Media to be. It is the best newspaper of our times. It has now become the number four subscriptions in America, just behind the Washington Post is about to pass it. The only ones with more subscribers are the New York Times, that frightening art, awful american and the Journal.
So really it's quite a remarkable place. And the fact that it was started by refugees from communist China is a quite interesting thing.
[00:47:04] Speaker A: It attracted a lot of talent, including talent that's appeared previously on this show, like our friend Jeffrey Tucker.
Okay. Tamara Cordiero on Facebook asks, have you kept up with Hollywood after leaving? Do you watch the Oscars or Golden Globes?
[00:47:21] Speaker B: I don't watch the Golden Globes. Never did.
The reason I don't watch the Golden Globes is partly personal. When I wrote enemies of Love story, which got a fair amount of award nominations and everything else, it got nothing from the Golden Globes. And the reason is that Angelica Houston, who started it, so hated the Golden Globes, she wouldn't do what they wanted her do those days and have lunch with them. Therefore they got no nominations. Therefore, I never watched the Golden Globes. They're kind of stupid, but I don't watch the Academy Awards that much. But I do vote in them and I've just watched all the best pictures finally. And I just watched one that I thought was quite amazing that people haven't been talking about called past lives.
[00:48:20] Speaker A: So I'm going to put that on my list. So in about the twelve remaining minutes I just had a couple more questions about your book that I'd like to get to.
As you mentioned, you are communing and sharing insights from a mysterious wise sage, rocky Top, who has his own reasons for wanting to stay anonymous. One of his most disturbing insights was that, quote, the normally passive right looking to create that the left will continue to intensify their push to punish the normally passive right looking to create incidents they can use as an excuse to ramp up the authoritarian push. This echoed the theory of another recent guest on this show, Andy Bernstein, that he sort of saw the harassment as intentional, seeking to provoke victims into anger and violence, which can again provide a pretext for authoritarian control. Do you agree with that? And if so, what are some examples?
[00:49:30] Speaker B: Well, I don't have any ready examples of that because I agree with it. I sense it.
I vacillate on how much of this stuff is planned against us or how much of it just happens.
I think it's a combination, actually. But one part of my book that I'd like to bring in, one of the last chapters in the book is called Steeples.
[00:50:04] Speaker A: Yes.
[00:50:05] Speaker B: And one of the most amazing things that happened to me from moving, having lived all my life in New York, Los Angeles, I was not a religious.
I went to, occasionally I would go to Passover. I did things that most casual Jews did, but I didn't do anything. I didn't think about it.
I arrived in Nashville and there were steeples all over the place. And I started to realize that everybody went to church and the Jews actually went to synagogue. And it started to affect me in a strange way because I noticed that also it had to do with how people took care of each other and how nice they were. And now I've joined up with Abad in Nashville, and I'm feeling much better because of it. Not just feeling better. I think the world is better when it's like that.
We can be as libertarian or objectivist as we want, and I think that's good, 100% for it. But I think the other aspect of it actually fits in, and they feed each other. And I think one of the interesting things about moving for people who've been living in the coastal world in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, well, Boston's a little different maybe, but those cities, they would spiritually profit. I hate to say this because I'm the least spiritual guy. If you're looking at my life, they would profit spiritually by moving.
[00:51:53] Speaker A: Interesting. Yeah. I mean, as an objectivist, I'm an atheist, but as I was telling you. I do often go to Habad, and I think what I took away from the book, whether it was that chapter or talking know your new tennis partners or talking about the gentleman's groups that you've come across was friendships and communities. And whether you're an atheist or agnostic or religious or spiritual, that finding a place where you can commune with people who share common values. And that's certainly something that it sounds like you've been able to do with your move.
Now, we didn't spend a lot of time. We've talked about Tennessee.
We've talked about some of the other people that have made the move there. We didn't talk a lot about Texas or Florida, but in the conversations that you include in the book and that you've had with others, what about people that are considering moving to one of these other states or even just like Colorado? I mean, sometimes maybe they're not going to.
[00:53:14] Speaker B: I would not advise if you're trying to avoid a blue state.
I think we've gotten a lot of Colorado lately. I would investigate Idaho and Montana and places like that. Ixnay on Colorado. And the problem with Georgia. Georgia is fascinating, actually. But Georgia, because I spent a lot of time in Georgia.
One of the unknown stories about this book, a little bit, I can say, is that three pages had to be excised for legal reasons. So the book was printed.
Yeah. It was a very heart wrenching experience for me. I can assure you the three pages were accurate.
We live in a day and age when people get sued for things that are true all the time. And anyway, especially by companies and people with fat pockets.
But some of that had to do with Georgia. And what I discovered Georgia is that it's a place with a lot of great people. A lot of great people, but both on the left and at the high end of the right in the office holders.
Interesting. I mean, it's a very interesting, complicated, mean, Atlanta has most of the bad aspects of Los Angeles with few of the good ones.
Savannah is a different thing because you can go read about it, the knights of good and evil. And it's, it's a very romantic. That's, if I lived in Georgia, I'd go to Savannah. But it's interesting how parts of the country evolve. And the other thing people do is you should read your southern fiction because it tells you a lot. Robert Pen Warren. Fantastic. Harper Lee. Fantastic.
[00:55:32] Speaker A: So what about those? I've seen some people who claim to represent the liberty movement in some aspect or another who say that the blue parts of red states are the parts that give them culture. The parts that make them interesting are the places that have the symphony and the ballet and the museums.
[00:55:59] Speaker B: True to some extent, but not completely true, because the thing about Tennessee is country music is pretty great.
I mean, if you go to a bluegrass festival, you get your head blown off by the level of musicianship. And that didn't all happen right in the downtown Nashville. I had it up in the hills.
There was that documentary that was done on PBS about the history of country music a couple of years ago, that famous documentarian, his name did it. It was great. And most of that music came out of rural areas. And it's beautiful on the snob sense, and I don't mean that negatively.
Yes, I like going to symphonies. I like museums.
And yes, they're in the big cities, unless you consider distilleries museums.
[00:57:02] Speaker A: There's an argument to be made for that. We had our final afternoon of our Gueld sculpt in Nashville at a wonderful, huge distillery. I can't remember the name of it, but we had a blast. So in the minute or so that we have left, Roger, is there anything that I didn't ask you about in terms of your book or any other subject that I didn't get to touch on?
[00:57:27] Speaker B: Everyone always does that to me in interview, and I always feel boxed.
[00:57:32] Speaker A: Yeah, actually, I usually never do, but I feel like I've kind of dominated this conversation. And your book is very rich and there are a lot of aspects to it.
What are the best ways for us to follow you, particularly as there's going to be some of us who will be waiting with bated breath to see your return to fiction, Twitter or epoch.
[00:58:02] Speaker B: Times or a blog to some degree like fiction, not that it's fictional, but the style of the style of a fiction writer.
That's part of why I need to entertain people.
I have to have at least one joke every three pages.
[00:58:26] Speaker A: Well, this has certainly been more than entertaining, so thank you, Roger. Thank you very much, and congratulations on your magnificent accomplishment, folks. Go out and buy american refugees. And thanks to all of you who joined us for this hour. Thanks for all of the great questions from our regulars. And I saw some new faces as well. As always, I'm going to put it to you, if you enjoyed this program, if you're not already donating to the Atlas Society. Guys, we are a nonprofit. Start your 2024 off right with a tax deductible donation of any amount to the Atlas Society. And be sure to join us next week when author Jan Heke joins the Atlas Society to discuss his latest book, out of the melting pot into the fire, multiculturalism in the world's past and America's future. We'll see you then.