Recalling Reality. A Tale Of Revenge. Passionate Music.

             

Two engaging conversations in this edition of Life Elsewhere with two authors who have written two completely different books. One is an intimate, revelatory memoir, exploring the ways we can care for and repair ourselves when life knocks us down. The other takes us into the well-trodden path of noir set in Los Angeles. Only here we find the narrator is a seemingly tough-as-nails woman who may be far more vulnerable than she appears. Plus, new music about the passion and intensity of a doomed yet all-encompassing relationship.

Katherine May Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times 

Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break-up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time but embraced the singular opportunities it offered. A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters, and sailing arctic seas. Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.

Halley Sutton The Lady Upstairs

A modern-day noir featuring a twisty cat-and-mouse chase, this dark debut thriller tells the story of a woman who makes a living taking down terrible men…then finds herself in over her head and with blood on her hands. The only way out? Pull off one final con. Jo’s job is blackmailing the most lecherous men in Los Angeles–handsy Hollywood producers, adulterous actors, corrupt cops. Sure, she likes the money she’s making, which comes in handy for the debt she is paying off, but it’s also a chance to take back power for the women of the city. Eager to prove herself to her coworker Lou and their enigmatic boss, known only as the Lady Upstairs, Jo takes on bigger and riskier jobs. When one of her targets is murdered, both the Lady Upstairs and the LAPD have Jo in their sights. Desperate to escape the consequences of her failed job, she decides to take on just one more sting–bringing down a rising political star. It’s her biggest con yet–and she will do it behind the Lady’s back, freeing both herself and Lou. But Jo soon learns that Lou and the Lady have secrets of their own and that no woman is safe when there is a life-changing payout on the line. A delicious debut thriller crackling with wit and an unforgettable feminist voice, The Lady Upstairs is a chilling and endlessly surprising take on female revenge.

Miranda McCarthy From Loving You

Inspired by the wildness of West Cork and life in profound transformation, Miranda McCarthy has in her new single, From Loving You created a moving, beautiful song. Her words and the exceptional arrangement work as a perfect segway between our conversations with Katherine May and Halley Sutton where both authors explore deep and perhaps hidden emotions.

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A Conversation With Philip Parfitt Part 1

“Do you think you have a distinctive voice?” Norman B asks British musician, Philip Parfitt. “I don’t really think about it” Parfitt replies, adding “I guess I can’t hear myself.” From the moment the conversation with Phil Parfitt begins his distinctive timbre catches your attention. Is it world-weary, years of smoking and drinking, a theatrical veneer? Or is it the voice of a man who is way beyond fronting a pose? Is this the comfortable voice of a fellow who enjoys a good conversation? A man who has a lot of stories he is eager to share? As you listen, you’ll come to your own conclusion, yet the striking black and white portrait by Jean-Charles Feunteun is as intense as it is mysterious. Phil Parfitt is an open book with many chapters to discover. This will explain why our conversation will air in two parts, but there is far more to learn from a musician, an artist whose ideas cannot all be gathered in one sitting. More conversations with Phil Parfitt are planned for the near future. 

In part one, Phil traces back to being around six-years-old listening to his older brother’s selection of Pretty Things, Rolling Stones, and Kinks records. The lure of rock ’n’ roll was infectious. He knew he wanted to part of it. He jumped in, naively, with Punk and formed Varicose Veins and released the Incredible EP. A limited-edition venture, not by choice but because of limited funds. A record that Phil is loathed to hear these days, despite that collectors are willing to fork out up to 500 pounds for the rare 7” single. His non-de-plume at that time was Henry Crank, but that got old very fast and he morphed into his real name and a new band, a three-piece, sans a live drummer, Orange Disaster. They made the sublime, Something’s Got To Give. Five minutes of heartbroken bliss. An extraordinary record that sounds just as relevant today as it did back in 1980. A name change was next, with Architects Of Disaster seeing their line-up come and go till 1984 when The Perfect Disaster was formed. From there, a number of albums were released, while Phil Parfitt admits to being disillusioned with touring and personnel changes. By 2014, the solo album, I’m Not The Man I Used To Be was released under the moniker of Philip Parfitt. This brings us up to Mental Home Recordings by Philip Parfitt, released on October 30, 2020. Music archivists and simply lovers of good music will enjoy our conversation with Phil and the eclectic record choices he makes for the program.

Portrait of Philip Parfitt by Jean-Charles Feunteun

LEM Vol 206

Reactions To Election 2020

For the last four years on his nightly MSNBC show, Brian Williams has counted down the days of the Trump presidency. As November 3, 2020, drew closer, the polls and the pundits were giddy with excitement as they predicted a blue wave. Of course, true to form as in any soap opera or reality TV show, things never go as you expected. The producers make sure there is a dastardly twist at the last minute to keep you attached to the screen for yet another episode. In this scenario, the wicked villain had already telegraphed that he would make sure that there wasn’t going to be a ball unless he could be crowned princess and accompanied by his ugly sisters. (Ok, that’s a reference to traditional British pantomimes, but the concept is the same – the bad guy messes things up and has a tantrum). By around 2.20 am Eastern Time on November 4, when Trump slouched forward to the podium in the White House he assured the world he follow through on crying foul when not a single chicken had crossed the road. So it was with many votes still to be counted across numerous counties in a number of states, we asked a panel of guests to share their immediate reactions to Election 2020.

Our panel of guests, each with an abundance of acclaim in their chosen fields are:

Jared Yates Sexton Author and political commentator. He is an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University. Latest book: American Rule – How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People

Dr. Jennifer Mercieca Historian of American political rhetoric. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M. Latest book: Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.

Dave Hill Comedian, actor, musician, radio host, and author. Latest book: Parking the Moose: One American’s Epic Quest to Uncover His Incredible Canadian Roots

Steve Brodner Caricaturist, illustrator, educator & political commentator

Dr. Binoy Kampmark Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne. Author & commentator

Mark Haskell Smith Author, fiction & non-fiction, including, Blown, Naked At Lunch, Raw, Moist, Delicious, Salty & Heart Of Dankness. Educator and cultural observer

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Four Traumatic Years Later

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, we asked a panel of distinguished guests to share their opinions on the outcome. Dr. Jennifer, Mercieca, professor of communications at Texas A & M University questioned the media’s involvement, “They put the camera in front of Donald Trump for a year and a half and they gave him over five billion dollars in free advertising, and they helped to normalize him as a credible candidate when he was a reality TV star.” Dr. Binoy Kampmark, senior lecturer & researcher in Global Studies at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia opined, “The very individuals who did matter in this vital and different election, call them the forgotten people, or the invisible ones, did actually turn up to vote. The blue-collar, white voter, a strange species who have been neglected by policymakers over the years. They were in the states that mattered.” Best-selling author, Mark Haskell Smith chastised the DNC, “We have to take the super delegates to task, they chose Clinton before there was even a vote in the primaries. She has turned out to be a complete disaster.” Famed caricaturist, Steve Brodner was angry, “Trump will damage the constitution! His backers are the alt-right!” Entertainment entrepreneur, Terry Morgan was saddened, “The number of people who did not vote, that was shocking. It’s the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’.” “I shocked and depressed.” Said talented author Stephen O’Connor adding, “One of the best things to come out of this is that we on the left have a common enemy, we know what we have to fight for.” Comedian, actor, musician, author, and radio host, the irrepressible Dave Hill did not hold back, “Less than 25% of the country has helped to put the greatest piece of s*+t in office! This is without question the saddest week of my life! This is a triumph of ignorance and hate!”

All of those quotes are from four years ago. Yes, four undeniably traumatic years have passed by. And here we are facing another election. The “most important election of a lifetime” is heard ad nauseam. We are less than three days away from Election Day, but it may be days, weeks possibly before the official result is announced. Yet by Wednesday, November 4th we should all be certain of the outcome. This is why we will once again ask our panel of esteemed guests to share their opinions on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. 

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Considering America’s Soul

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In his new book, American Rule – How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton takes us on a journey through the history of the United States, from the nation’s founding to the twenty-first century. He examines and debunks the American myths we’ve always told ourselves. In recent years, Americans have faced a deluge of horrifying developments in politics and culture: stolen elections, fascist rallies, families torn apart, and locked away. A common refrain erupts at each new atrocity: This isn’t who we are. Jared Yates Sexton upends those convenient fictions by laying bare the foundational myths at the heart of our collective American imagination. From the very origins of this nation, Americans in power have abused and subjugated others; enabling that corruption are the many myths of American exceptionalism and steadfast values, which are fed to the public and repeated across generations. Working through each era of American growth and change, Sexton weaves together the origins and perpetuation of these narratives still in the public memory, and the acts we have chosen to forget. Stirring, deeply researched, and disturbingly familiar, American Rule is a call to examine our own misconceptions of what it means and has always meant, to be an American. Here we are on the eve of the most consequential of elections, listen carefully to Jared’s conversation with Norman B. He does not shy away from displaying his concern and emotions.  

The subtitle to David Treuer’s latest book, Heartbeat Of Wounded Knee, explains the American history you should know: Native America From 1890 To The Present. Sadly, as Treuer meticulously shows in over 500 pages the history of Native Americans is the history of the United States. David Treuer grew up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, he trained as an anthropologist, and researched his Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, he uncovered a different narrative from what he had been told. His heritage had not disappeared, despite but rather because of the intense struggles by Native peoples to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence–the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. In The Heartbeat of Wounded KneeTreuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes’ distinctive cultures from the first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don’t know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. Make sure you do not miss Norman B’s interview with David as he talks emotively about the past, the present, and the future of Native America.

Show #395

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