Binoy Kampmark on Assange, Bannon, COP26 & Guns. Heather Greene on Whisk(e)y.

The Julian Assange story has become muddled in part because so many other news stories have jumped to the fore. The reason the founder of Wikileaks is being held in Belmarsh prison, the UK’s equivalent of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, after being forcibly dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was almost overlooked by the mainstream media until recently. Assange’s partner Stella Morris drew much-needed attention to his case as the US Government made further moves to extradite him. The Assange case has far-reaching implications which cannot be ignored. Dr. Binoy Kampmark once again joins Life Elsewhere to share his insights into the Assange case. Plus, Binoy suggests the indictment of Stephen Bannon should be viewed soberly because his designs on democracy in America are far more than crazy-talk. Dr. Kampmark also has opinions on the absence of China and Russia’s leaders at COP 26 – the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. And, we pose this question to Dr. Kampmark, “Are white males with guns an American problem?” His answer, as with all Binoy Kampmark says is articulate, well-considered, and thought-provoking.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban, and Social Studies, at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. 

Whisk(e)y is in the midst of a huge renaissance. Ten years ago, the United States housed sixty-nine craft distillers; today, there are more than four hundred. Exports of Scotch whisky grew 12 percent just last year. Sales are skyrocketing, and specialty bars are popping up around the country, from New York City to Chicago to Houston. Whisk(e)y expert Heather Greene, author of Whisk(e)y Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life will explain to Norman B, (who admits to being a novice) the mysteries of Whisk(e)y, the crucial importance of “nosing” Whisk(e)y and the spelling.

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 260

When you rave about a band and try to encourage all and sundry to join in with your enthusiasm, it’s gratifying to learn that at last, that band is getting the attention they deserve. I’m talking about King Hannah, their debut LP is out in February and already they are receiving accolades. More about Hannah and Craig later. To begin volume 260 we travel to Wuppertal, Germany to hear Dead On The Inside by Casino Garden from their LP, Oliver Oliver. They were founded in 2017 by singer and guitarist Matthias Wiercinski, keyboardist Helene Ballke, bassist Oliver Kroker, and drummer Alexander Alaimo Di Loro. You know this album has to be worth a serious listen because it’s on the very smart, Shoredive Records imprint. Another label and management outfit that never disappoints is Mammal Sounds out of Sydney who bring us, Clovo a new project via Australia’s Gold Coast. This is Chloe Magee with her debut single Girls, which she says was written on International Women’s Day (March 8th) and is an anthem for all women who stand against sexual assault and discrimination (something that not just women should be doing of course). Clovo directed a captivating for Girls and says, “The music video portrays the toxicity of a male-dominated culture, set in a dystopian parallel universe where women are subjects to men, the video narrates Clovo as a prisoner trying to escape, only to be caught and put back in her ‘place’ in society.” Next is a charming cut from José González out of Sweden with the title cut from his album, Local Valley. Make sure you listen to the whole album and admire the cool artwork. Originally from Scotland, Olivia Rafferty is now based in London where she has produced her excellent Hurricane EP. The title track is almost unassuming yet Olivia’s beautiful voice and arrangement deliver a powerful forlorn love song, “You don’t remember anything” she gently admonishes. Impressive. Neither Is, Nor Ever Was is the debut album by Constant Follower, and what a gem this is. Stephen McAll says this was written after ten years of isolation on the west coast of Scotland, following a violent attack by a gang in Glasgow. And, in adolescence, McAll suffered a very serious head injury, was temporarily semi-paralyzed, and lost his long-term memory. While in isolation, he had to, with patience and a lot of calm, start over, write on the blank slate of his memories, learn again to compose music, and play the guitar. Stephen goes on to say, Neither Is, Nor Ever Was is the culmination of a slow and tiring healing journey and every single note is a testament to that painful process”. The album was co-produced by Shimmy-Disc founder Kramer. The Merry Dancers On TV is a perfect example of exquisite production, superb songwriting, and masterful performance. American singer Juliette Rapp and British singer-songwriter Chris Marks (also known as Lake Michigan) met in Rome at an unlikely time, just before the global pandemic brought the world to its knees and stopped time. During the long lockdown, the two found themselves staring out the window at the empty streets, the idea for Permanent Vacation was born. Now based in Mexico City, the duo suggests their LP, Hymns From The Backseat is in many ways the concept album for your twenties. Trying and failing at love, enduring the pressure of getting our shit together, getting older, and just trying to make sense of it all. Reading into things, looking for meaning in everything. I love what they are doing so much, you’ll hear two songs from Permanent Vacation, Strange Pets, and the title cut, Hymns From The Backseat. Take note, the LP is available on the excellent, Z Tapes. From Ireland comes the exceptionally talented Keeley, who is back with a new EP, Echo Everywhere. On Dimple Discs. I admit to being very fond of this artist not least of all because I like her music but also because she is a terrific conversationalist. To A London Sunrise caught my attention from her new EP. On the cover of Pili Coït’s new LP, Love Everywhere, Jessica Martin Maresco appears to be raising her shirt to display her breasts to the world. It’s a beautiful bold statement, in keeping with the music she makes with Guilhem Meier. The Lyon-based duo will have you moving along to Endless Make Love Everywhere. The constantly energetic Alex of Blackjack Illuminist Records fame sent us his latest outing as Fir Cone Children, featuring Krissy Vanderwoude on Knees In The Sand. This rousing cut demonstrates the attention to detail Alex invests in everything he does. The Blackjack Illuminist is a treasure trove of delights you need to explore. Here is a sad story, a couple of volumes back I raved on about I Can’t Bike by Pictoria Vark. This is so good I said. And it is. Since then, I have been following Victoria Park on Twitter because her tweets are often funny, observational, and always honest. Then the other day, I read that Victoria (AKA Pictoria) had been in a car accident in Chicago. This was her second accident in recent weeks. Worse still Victoria collided with a cop, while she was driving a rental car, the damage and trauma from the collision resulted in abandoning the tour she was on and a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. Victoria says, “I’m physically okay but am having a tough time. struggling to process it after the last one I was in and as a “touring musician” who can’t even do that right”. Why don’t you send a few words of encouragement to Victoria? To remind you why I think Pictoria Vark is so important, take a listen to I Can’t Bike. Before she abandoned her tour, Pictoria Vark asked on Twitter if there were any headlining bands she could open for if they were going on tour. I suggested Pictoria Vark would be perfect to open for King Hannah if they were setting off on a tour of the US of A. That may not be so far off if the recent media attention Hannah and Craig are getting is anything to go by. Their debut album, I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me does not come out until February next year, but there is a definite buzz about this exceptional band. We were lucky enough to spot them some while back and captured a refreshingly honest conversation with the pair from Liverpool. All Being Fine is from King Hannah’s album. We love it! Well done, Hannah and Craig, we look forward to your much-deserved success in 2022. 

Playlist

  1. Casino Garden – Dead On The Inside
  2. Clovo – Girls
  3. José González – Valle Local
  4. Olivia Rafferty – Hurricane
  5. Constant Follower – The Merry Dancers On TV
  6. Permanent Vacation – Strange Pets
  7. Permanent Vacation – Hymns From The Backseat
  8. Keeley – To A London Sunrise
  9. Pili Coït – Endless Make Love Everywhere
  10. Fir Cone Children – Knees In The Sand (ft. Krissy Vanderwoude
  11. Pictoria Vark – I Can’t Bike
  12. King Hannah – All Being Fine

Artwork by Patricia Burrell 1951 – 2002 “Flower study #43” 1983 giclée print on archival paper 20” x 23” Courtesy of Norman B’s collection 

Index Funds Explained. Drug God’s Ruse. 

               
Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever by Robin Wigglesworth

Fifty years ago, the Manhattan Project of money management was quietly assembled in the financial industry’s backwaters, unified by the heretical idea that even many of the world’s finest investors couldn’t beat the market in the long run. The motley crew of nerds—including economist wunderkind Gene Fama, humiliated industry executive Jack Bogle, bull-headed and computer-obsessive John McQuown, and avuncular former WWII submariner Nate Most—succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Passive investing now accounts for more than $20 trillion, equal to the entire gross domestic product of the US, and is today a force reshaping markets, finance, and even capitalism itself in myriad subtle but pivotal ways. Yet even some fans of index funds and ETFs are growing perturbed that their swelling heft is destabilizing markets, wrecking the investment industry, and leading to an unwelcome concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands. In Trillions, Financial Times journalist Robin Wigglesworth unveils the vivid secret history of an invention Wall Street wishes was never created, bringing to life the characters behind its birth, growth, and evolution into a world-conquering phenomenon. This engrossing narrative is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand modern finance—and one of the most pressing financial uncertainties of our time.

Roxy by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman

The freeway is coming. It will cut the neighborhood in two. Construction has already started, pushing toward this corridor of condemned houses and cracked concrete with the momentum of the inevitable. Yet there you are, in the fifth house on the left, fighting for your life. The victim of the bet between two manufactured gods: the seductive and lethal Roxy (Oxycontin), who is at the top of her game, and the smart, high-achieving Addison (Adderall), who is tired of being the helpful one and longs for a more dangerous, less wholesome image. The wager – a contest to see who can bring their mark to “the Party” first – is a race to the bottom of a rave that has raged since the beginning of time. And you are only human, dazzled by the lights and music. Drawn by what the drugs offer – tempted to take that step past helpful to harmful…and the troubled places that lie beyond. But there are two I Rameys – Isaac, a soccer player thrown into Roxy’s orbit by a bad fall and a bad doctor, and Ivy, his older sister, whose increasing frustration with her untreated ADHD leads her to renew her acquaintance with Addy. Which one are you? Roxy is authored by the best-selling father and son team, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

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Chris Connelly. An Ongoing Conversation Part 3

“I admit it!” Asserts Chris Connelly, “I’m addicted to collecting records!” We were deep into part three of our ongoing conversation, the topic of drugs couldn’t be avoided. Chris had recalled his early days in Chicago, hanging with Al Jourgensen and cohorts. The craziness surrounding the young lad from Scotland was fun at first, but there was a limit he soon discovered. “When it was time to stop, I did and went to bed.” Chris says, adding, “I didn’t get addicted, except for cigarettes.” Then, he admits to his addiction to records. It’s obvious from our conversations and Chris’s music selections his knowledge is immense. And, Connelly’s appreciation of so many genres of music prompts unabashed enthusiasm as we veer off on yet another tangent. This is why chatting with Chris Connelly is so rewarding, the man does not hesitate to share his opinions on whatever topic we are discussing. In part three, we cover Sex and Drugs, and Rock ’n’ Roll, but not in the same order as Ian Dury’s legendary song. Again, here is another reason to enjoy listening to Chris as he can comfortably move from one topic to another. For this edition, Chris picked music from Killing Joke, Durutti Column, and Roxy Music. Enjoy.

About the photo above: Chris Connelly with Sons Of The Silent Age performing, David Bowie’s Joe The Lion at Metro’s TopNote Theatre in Chicago 2018

LEM Vol 258

Conversations With Vegans

                

Imagine for a moment, the following scenario: You are a guest at an elegant diner party. You’re seated with the other guests at an ornately set table. The room is warm, candlelight flickers across crystal wine glasses, and the conversation is flowing freely. Mouthwatering smells of rich foods emanate from the kitchen. You haven’t eaten all day, and your stomach is growling. At last, after what feels like hours, your friend who is hosting the party emerges from the kitchen with a steaming pot of savory stew. The aromas of meat, seasonings, and vegetables fill the room. You serve yourself a generous portion, and after eating several mouthfuls of tender meat, you ask your friend for the recipe. “I’d be happy to tell you,” she replies. “You begin with five pounds of golden retriever, well marinated, and then…”

This is the opening paragraph of Dr. Melanie Joy’s, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows – An Introduction To Carnism. The best-selling author does intend to shock the reader as she recounts facts and figures with true, yet albeit at times all-too-graphic anecdotes, Melanie isn’t evangelical as a vegan. Instead, she lays out the information and asks the reader to consider what we eat. She addresses readers with empathy. She reminds us of who we are. Melanie Joy is gently authoritative, and a wonderful, informative guest. 

“In the Vegan ManifestoSue Coe, human champion of rights for those whose voice most humans do not hear, has crafted a masterpiece: at once visually stunning and spiritually invigorating.” – Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die Sue Coe is the most important and prolific political artist of our time. Her work explores and exposes every form of injustice suffered by both humans and nonhumans. With respect to the latter, her incisive eye-both trenchant and gentle-lays bare the profound immorality of animal exploitation and constitutes a clarion call to us all to reject it. Coe understands that the moral status of animals requires that we go vegan and no one who looks at the stunning work in this book will be able to disagree.” – Gary L. Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy, Rutgers School of Law. Sue Coe also garners impressive accolades from distinguished figures in the world of graphic design, including famed art directors, Robert Priest and Robert Newman, and political caricaturist, Steve Brodner. Plus, Life Elsewhere creator and host, Norman B says, Sue Coe’s extraordinarily powerful work has intrigued me since my art school days! What a treat to be able to welcome her to the program.” 

To hear the original unedited version of this conversation with Sue Coe, go here

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