A Private Conversation With Amy Rigby

 

Amy Rigby has been crisscrossing the USA promoting her memoir, Girl To City, stopping at music venues and book stores from upstate New York to the Pacific North West. She reads from her book, often she plays her guitar, sometimes she is accompanied by musician friends.  The acclaimed singer-songwriter loves the experience as evident by her enthusiastic social media and diary posts. Of course, not all of Amy’s fans have been able to enjoy her personal appearances, which is why we are delighted she took the time to talk with Norman B about Girl To City.

Amy Rigby, Girl To City – A Memoir – Summer Of My Wasted Youth

When I lived on East 4th Street, the staircase had been clogged twice a month with tenants waiting for the mailman to bring disability and welfare checks. My 14th Street neighbors were more of a mix of writers and musicians, the employed and the unemployable. Above and below and on either side of me, people were reading books, painting, making clothes. I also saw a lot of them hustling to the subway or bus in the morning dressed in business attire, off to do their day jobs. I won’t be like that, I thought. I’m only tempting until I’m successful at music. Then I won’t have to work another job.

In this short, brilliantly written example from Amy Rigby’s memoir, you cannot ignore her raw honesty. Even describing humdrum, day-to-day scenarios she doesn’t wander off into fanciful wordplay. Instead, Amy has a marvelous knack for not only conjuring up the scene but also her feelings at that moment. It’s a powerful skill, she modestly acknowledges. “I write better than I say it.” She announces with a slight giggle. Conversing with Amy is always a treat because you never know what tangent you’ll go in. Reading Girl To City is not unlike having a private conversation with the much-loved artist. She speaks directly to you, sometimes wistfully:

He wore a tank top in winter and summer.
But I loved him.
He gave me a crash course in art and film history.
He also gave me crabs, gonorrhea and herpes.
But I loved him.

And she always speaks with a wink in her eye. Never jaded, often knowing and occasionally with a tartness that catches the reader by surprise. Her memoir is packed full of information, details, names, cultural references, a history of rock and roll as seen through Amy’s almost always bright-eyed vision. There have been a lot of memoirs from the rock fraternity, Girl To City deserves its own unique category, as Lenny Kaye says, “Amy Rigby writes the way she performs and sings, laced with insight, humor, self-awareness, and above all, heart”.

During the conversation, Norman B asked Amy to select some music to play during the show. She decided on two cuts from A One Way Ticket To My Life, a companion album to her book, Girl To City, featuring unreleased tracks and demos. Plus she requested we play, the Summer Of My Wasted Youth from her 1998 album, Middlescence.

Show #351

Demystifying The Science Of Hearing

Our sense of hearing makes it easy to connect with the world and the people around us. The human system for processing sound is a biological marvel, an intricate assembly of delicate membranes, bones, receptor cells, and neurons. Yet many people take their ears for granted, abusing them with loud restaurants, rock concerts, and Q-tips. And then, eventually, most of us start to go deaf. Millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Faced with the cost and stigma of hearing aids, the natural human tendency is to do nothing and hope for the best, usually while pretending that nothing is wrong. In Volume Control, David Owen argues this inaction comes with a huge social cost. He demystifies the science of hearing while encouraging readers to get the treatment they need for hearing loss and protect the hearing they still have. Hearing aids are rapidly improving and becoming more versatile. Inexpensive high-tech substitutes are increasingly available, making it possible for more of us to boost our weakening ears without bankrupting ourselves. Relatively soon, physicians may be able to reverse losses that have always been considered irreversible. Even the insistent buzz of tinnitus may soon yield to relatively simple treatments and techniques. 

Olivia Taylor Smith – What Do You Do?

Unnamed Press is an independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction, based in Los Angeles and co-founded by Olivia Taylor Smith. “Our books represent a diverse list of voices—ones that challenge conventional perspectives while appealing to a broad general audience: exciting, radical, urgent. We nurture emerging talent and partner with more established authors to help their platform grow.” Says Olivia, who is also executive editor of Unnamed Press. For our ongoing series, we asked Olivia, “What Do You Do?” We wanted to learn more about the enterprising woman who had directed our attention to a wide variety of exceptional authors, like Elizabeth Tan, Tim Orchard, Adam Popescu, Hope Ewing, and Adam Nemett.

photo of Olivia Taylor Smith by Jaya Nicely

Show #350

Nature’s Lessons & A Surprising Label.

Looking around at the world today—a world of skyscrapers, superhighways, melting ice caps, and rampant deforestation—it is easy to feel that humanity has actively severed its ties with nature. It’s no wonder that we are starving to rediscover a connection with the natural world. With new insights into the inner workings of nature’s wonders, Gary Ferguson presents a fascinating exploration into how many of the most remarkable aspects of nature are hardwired into our very DNA. What emerges is a dazzling web of connections that holds powerful clues about how to better navigate our daily lives. Through cutting-edge data and research, drawing on science, psychology, history, and philosophy, in The Eight Master Lessons of Nature, Ferguson suggests a feeling of hope, excitement, and joy. Lessons about mystery, loss, the fine art of rising again, how animals make us smarter, and how the planet’s elders make us better at life are unforgettable and transformative. 

Brighton, on the south coast of England, features again as the home-base for an exceptional creative record label. (A few months back we focused the spotlight on enterprising reggae label, Roots Garden). Now, we take a close-up look at Shore Dive Records with owner-operator, Nico Beatastic, who confidently admits to being contrary. When pressed to classify the label’s catalog, Nico easily offers a few train-spotting name-checks, but, (thankfully), he refutes the notion of Shore Dive having one genre. With his charming, hard to define accent, the English-French musician, producer, promoter and label boss readily admits to considering The Smashing Pumpkins as his go-to band for inspiration. “Not that I want to imitate them!” He adds. In his native French, Nico may say his label is égalitaire, with artists from places far and wide — Primitive Heart, fronted by Dani Mari is out of Brooklyn; two dudes and a drum machine are Fleur du Mal based in Paris and Swimming Pool hail from Sevilla, Spain; Purple Dynamine reside in Southern California; Nico’s own project, Xeresa combines the pop songs of The Postal Service with the chiming guitars of American Football and the sonic scapes of shoegaze. In the publicity blurb for Shore Dive, Nico writes, “…we hope we surprise you.”   

Show 349

A Test On Morality In The Age of #MeToo?

“I thought about Lolita in reverse,” announces Liska Jacobs, adding, “why shouldn’t a 43-year-old woman desire a 17-year-old young man?” Her pronouncement sounds provocative, yet Ms. Jacobs’ almost reticent demeanor suggests she hadn’t thought of such a shocking idea. The Worst Kind of Want is Liska’s second novel, the publication day is almost here and she cannot hide her excitement. Her story tells of fastidious Cilla rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, she dashes off to Rome to keep an eye on her wayward teenage niece. Instead of babysitting, she throws herself into her niece’s youthful, heedless world – drinking, dancing, smoking – relishing in the heady atmosphere of the Italian summer. Then Cilla quickly begins an ever-escalating flirtation with 17-year-old Donato. As she rationalizes her selfish behavior with Donato, the story moves slowly toward disaster. Is Liska Jacobs testing our perspective on morality as she talks of a woman’s desires, death, and sex in the age of #MeToo? Make sure you don’t miss our conversation on the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

Patrick O’Neil – What Do You Do?

Patrick O’Neil

In punk’s heyday, Patrick O’Neil worked at the legendary Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco’s premier punk venue. He then went on to become a roadie and eventually the road manager for Dead Kennedys and Flipper, as well as the Subhumans and T.S.O.L. But that was before his life got totally out of control. O’Neil was a heroin addict for eighteen years, incarcerated for two and a half years, went to two long-term residential rehabs for a total of three years, and has been clean and sober for the last eighteen. His memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon follows his desperately out of control life from punk rock pioneer to his slide into drug abuse and life as an armed robber, all the way through to life in recovery and what it’s like to look back on those times, knowing all the while that he is still under the threat of three strikes, a twenty-five-to-life prison sentence waiting. For our ongoing series, What Do You Do, we asked Patrick to talk about his life now. His forthright answers and obvious passion for life should not be missed.

Also in the show, we present the new single from a London-based trio we have been keeping a watchful eye for some time, Richard Price, Roberto Sainz De La Maza and Elisa De Leon who together are known as The Loss Adjusters. Tidy Up The Scene is the latest offering from their forthcoming album. This thankfully, this hard-to-classify group deserves your full attention. And, while you are checking out new notable music, do make sure you listen to Life Elsewhere Music Vol 155 featuring brand new releases from some of our big favorites including, Arlo Parks, Benin City, Neev, Luc Seacroft, Eliza Shaddad, Cate Ferris and more.

Shoe #348

Frank, Honest, Real, Authentic & Phony

                          .   

Celebrated singer-songwriter & social activist, Ani DiFranco, has written a memoir, No Walls, & The Recurring Dream. We are especially delighted to have been able to chat with Ani while she dashes about on a hectic schedule. In her absorbing book, Ani recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. Her writing is frank, honest, passionate, as she tells the tale of one woman’s eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Her enthusiasm for life and her beliefs comes across so evidently in our conversation and she does not hesitate to comment forcefully on the recent anti-abortion move is some Southern States. “We should have a constitutional amendment ensuring women’s rights for reproductive freedom!” She announces, adding, “Choosing when to reproduce is the most fundamental right a human being should have!” Make sure you do not miss Norman B’s conversation with Ani DiFranco.

Does an authentic Andy Warhol painting need to be painted by Andy Warhol? Should we be outraged that some of those famous scenes in Blue Planet were filmed in a lab? Who are the scientists putting ever-more improbable flavors in our Jelly Belly beans? Welcome to the world of “genuine fakes”–the curious objects that fall in between things that are real and things that are not. Unsurprisingly, the world is full of genuine fakes that defy simple categorization. Whether or not we think that those things are authentic is a matter of perspective. In Genuine Fakes, historian Lydia Pyne explores how the authenticity of eight genuine fakes depends on their unique combinations of history, science, and culture. The stories of art forgeries, fake fossils, nature documentaries, synthetic flavors, museum exhibits, Maya codices, and Paleolithic replicas show that genuine fakes are complicated and change over time. Drawing from historical archives, interviews, museum exhibits, science fiction as well as her own research, Pyne brings each genuine fake to life through unexpected and often outrageous stories. You will be captivated by Lydia’s unabashed enthusiasm as she chats with Norman B about her remarkable book.

Show #347

 

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