As I write this, there is less than a week to go in 2020. I imagine the history books will be filled with seemingly never-ending footnotes about the past twelve months. And the headlines will probably start with something like, “A Year Like No Other”. Yes, it has been an extraordinary year, one we all wish was already over. At Life Elsewhere we covered so many topics and spoke with a wide variety of guests. So, to begin the last edition of Life Elsewhere of 2020 we start with a journey back in time to the first week of 2020 when we asked seven guests to give their predictions for the coming year. First up is, Anthropologist Agustin Fuentes who was not referring to a pandemic when he suggests, “Here’s the big one, a lot more people are going to lose hope!” Musician, Erika Bach speaking from her home in Greece continued in the same vain with, “Most of my predictions are going to be negative.” While Penguin – Random House chief copy, Benjamin Dreyer was little more optimistic. Film critic, Bob Ross said he was out of the loop and self-proclaimed hillbilly soul singer, Ronny Elliott predicted more hope, but little change. Author and regular contributor to Life Elsewhere, Mark Haskell Smith reasoned that we would all work towards a more healthier planet. Then rising-star British singer-songwriter, Arlo Parks predicted young people would get together to make a change in our world, yet she modestly did not predict her own success in 2020.
I interviewed many authors in 2020, John Tierney co-authored the timely, The Power Of Bad – How the Negative Effect Rules Us And How We Can Rule It, and Caitlin Moscatello almost brought me to tears with the opening of her book, See Jane Win. For our Valentine’s day special we asked the guests two questions. You’ll the honest and moving answers from the talented Sylken Somers.
No matter how many topics we covered in 2020, we couldn’t get away from you-know-who. A fitting example is Shakespeare In A Divided America by James Shapiro. Conversations with new music discoveries are always a feature of Life Elsewhere, so it was a pleasure to gather together the members of Brighton-based, Slum Of Legs. Their music was, of course, discussed but our chat veered off into other areas, including body image. Vagablonde, the brilliant debut novel by LA-based author, Anna Dorn led us into learning about the author’s opinion on sex and sexuality.
2020 will be remembered for a long long time for Covid. Agustin Fuentes gave us his anthropologist’s take on what it all means for the future and how we can learn from the past.
As “social distancing” became an everyday phrase, we talked about it on the show, often. Comedian, Dave Hill alarmed by the restriction on earning a living shared his idea for coping – learn to play an instrument, well – like a banjo. If there has been any good to come out of this horrible global situation, it has to be the outpouring of creative talent. In Italy, Andrea Vascellari compiled a superb benefit album, Love In The Time Of Covid from musicians he loved. To close the show, beautiful music from an artist featured on the album, Barzin.
Much will be written about 2020, we all have our own stories, some of us have lost dear friends, partners, lovers, relatives, it has all been far more than we deserve. I have been in isolation for over nine months producing Life Elsewhere we have covered an enormous number of topics on the show and spoken with wonderful guests, far too many to include in this brief overview of 2020, you can hear all the shows from the past year over at Mixcloud or right here at the Listen page. I look forward to producing more Life Elsewhere shows in the coming year and I thank you for your continual support. I wish everyone a wonderful and happy new year.
Norman B 12.25.2020