Anxious and Angry and Helping Others so Very Much

2015 July 11

I am a voracious consumer of podcasts. Zillions of podcasts are just waiting to tickle my earbuds on a daily basis. I use Downcast to manage them all as it’s a pretty full feature “podcatcher” (I guess that’s what those in the know are calling this kind of tool).


I listen to a whole bunch of stuff. From comedy shows to psychology lectures and of course, the obligatory Buddhist podcasts to stay sharp. There’s one podcast that has really stood out for me lately in this bottomless feed and that’s one called Anxious and Angry. Yeah. Doesn’t sound very Buddhist huh? Stay with me. It kind of is without even knowing it.

It’s a show by Ryan Young (front man of the majestic punk rock band Off With Their Heads) which is a mix of punk rock music, glimpses into his life both on and off the road, interviews with folks in the scene and a listener participation segment with people writing or calling in asking Ryan for advice. The running thread through this podcast is Ryan’s bare honesty in speaking to the emotions he feels given his life experiences.- past and present. Much like the raw, rugged and heartfelt lyrics he writes, this podcast is a sort of behind the scenes of his joy, anger, sadness, frustration – you know, all the subject matter that’s currently making boatloads of cash with a certain Pixar movie.

All the favorite Buddhist themes are wrapped up in this podcast- old age, sickness, death, separation, suffering, seeing the joy in small moments, helping out others, being authentic. Yup it’s all in here. This is where I see it as a Buddhist podcast hosted by a angry and anxious, yet possibly atheist or agnostic guy.

This podcast is essential because the punk rock scene I think is only starting to embrace its ‘feels.’ For so long it had that angry, nihilistic outlook associated with it with only a few outliers who were speaking truth to the heart of the scene. There are damaged and hurt people in every group and sometimes that is what brings us to the communities we become a part of. Homophobia, sexism and racism have been both embraced and shunned by the punk rock community. I do hope that for every skinhead there’s a sharp skin. For every meathead singing about fucking and killing bitches, there’s another on stage singing about their single mom working 3 jobs to keep food in their family’s bellies. For every jerkface asshat beating up on a trans woman, there’s someone out there seeing Laura Jane Grace for the first time and recognizing that they too need to be their authentic self – before it kills them.

Beyond being entertaining and featuring awesome music and guests, this podcast is helping people to break the stigma around talking about mental illness and doing so much to encourage people to get help. It’s helping listeners discover the suffering that others are facing and brings a sense of empathy to the punk scene. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a miserable show. It’s smart and funny and goofy too!

You should check it out if all this sounds like your kind of thing. If not, well then NPR have a great selection of podcasts as well!

Side note: Ryan has been printing up some great tshirts and I just happened to score this one right here.


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