My name is Leighton Akira Woodhouse. I’m a freelance journalist and a documentary filmmaker, based at the moment in Oakland, California, which is right next to Berkeley, where I grew up. A long time ago I was a labor organizer, and almost as long ago, a doctoral grad student in Sociology at UC Berkeley (I got my MA and dropped out). Then I went into filmmaking and journalism.

I used to freelance a lot for places like The Intercept and The Nation, and from that experience, got sort of a half-inside, half-outside view of what’s been happening to the media industry since Trump’s election. I watched the journalism profession abandon its curiosity about the world and slide into lazy political activism and boring party line orthodoxy. I started this Substack newsletter to see if I could write with intellectual integrity and political independence and scratch out a living doing it. So far it’s working out fairly well.

This newsletter is a mix of original, reported-out stories and essays where I’m just trying to puzzle things out (“think pieces” would be the somewhat unflattering phrase for it). Even though dropping out of academia was one of the best decisions of my life, I still relish the education I got in grad school and continue to make sense of the world primarily through the perspectives of the theorists I studied there: Weber, Marx, Durkheim, Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Erving Goffman, Karl Polanyi, Norbert Elias, Barrington Moore and others. I write about them quite a bit here, and part of my goal with this newsletter is to help bring their ideas out of the Ivory Tower and into mainstream public debate.

I write a lot about the two opposite extremes of American society: the professional managerial elite (from whence I come) and the “lumpenproletariat” — homeless street addicts. I think I’m interested in each because they throw into sharp relief how power operates in society. The professional managerial class is where raw power is laundered into virtue and legitimate authority, and the addiction crisis is where the impact of that laundered power is at its most grotesque. Figuring out the relationship between those two worlds is a work in progress for me.

I encourage you to sign up for free emails, and if after a couple of months you decide you value what you’re reading, consider paying for it. I appreciate every one of my readers, but it’s the ones who chip in who make this whole project physically possible to do.

Thanks, in any case, for reading.


Leighton Woodhouse 
Leighton is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker.