Author Archives: normanbradio

Antisocial! Interlude! Kavanaugh!

                      

Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz

For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded in two worlds. The first is the world of social-media entrepreneurs, who, acting out of naïvete and reckless ambition, upended all traditional means of receiving and transmitting information. The second is the world of the people he calls “the gate crashers”–the conspiracists, white supremacists, and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. Antisocial ranges broadly–from the first mass-printed books to the trending hashtags of the present; from secret gatherings of neo-Fascists to the White House press briefing room–and traces how the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then how it becomes reality. Antisocial reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been erased, resulting in a deeply broken informational landscape–the landscape in which we all now live. Marantz shows how alienated young people are led down the rabbit hole of online radicalization, and how fringe ideas spread–from anonymous corners of social media to cable TV to the President’s Twitter feed.

Elizabeth Owens – Rabbits | Spartan Jet-Plex – Meant both available on Grimalkin Records

Nancy Kells has been featured a number of times on Life Elsewhere over the last couple of years. Not least of all because of talent and hard work at putting out uniquely different and uncompromising music. Nancy now owns and operates the Grimalkin label releasing recordings by those who share similar ideals. Their most recent press release says, As an LGBTQ centered label, it is extremely important to us to affirm the genders of the artists we represent. We understand that mistakes can be made, but do ask that you double-check to ensure you are using the correct pronouns in coverage. So included in this edition, Richmond, Virginia-based, Elizabeth Owens, they/them’s Still Coming Of Age record is the baby sister of Elizabeth Owens’ debut release, Coming Of Age. This 4 track EP includes unique, unplugged versions of songs from the original release and a new track, Rabbits. Spartan Jet-Plex is one of Nancy Kells’ musical monikers, from  Resurrected, they/them’s album of alternate versions, we selected, Meant.

The Education Of Brett Kavanaugh – An Investigation by Robin Pogrebin & Kate Kelly

In September 2018, the F.B.I. was given only a week to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. But even as Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime position, many questions remained unanswered, leaving millions of Americans unsettled. During the Senate confirmation hearings that preceded the bureau’s brief probe, New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly broke critical stories about Kavanaugh’s past, including the “Renate Alumni” yearbook story. They were inundated with tips from former classmates, friends, and associates that couldn’t be fully investigated before the confirmation process closed. Now, their book fills in the blanks and explores the essential question: Who is Brett Kavanaugh? The Education of Brett Kavanaugh paints a picture of the prep-school and Ivy-League worlds that formed our newest Supreme Court Justice. By offering commentary from key players from his confirmation process who haven’t yet spoken publicly and pursuing lines of inquiry that were left hanging, it will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand our political system and Kavanaugh’s unexpectedly emblematic role in it.

Show #345

The Girl To City Conversation With Amy Rigby

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.

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

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 acclaimed singer-songwriter. 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.

Amy Rigby, Norman B & Eric Goulden, Hudson NY, 2016

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.

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 152

  

The Assange Problem

What will happen to Julian Assange if he is extradited to the US? In the event of that happening, the future looks dire for the Wikileaks founder, says Dr. Binoy Kampmark in his recent Counterpunch piece titled, Dangerous Detention: Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison. As if Assange’s present situation were not awful enough, being held in solitary confinement in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison, after seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over seven years. Assange had exercised his rights to asylum, based on a genuine, and now proven fear, that he could be extradited to the United States to face charges with a cumulative prison time of 175 years. Dr. Kampmark broadens the conversation to include commentary on the troubled governments of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Julian Assange is crucially important to both countries and no matter what happens next, he will remain a problem. We always look forward to the often alternate, but well-considered opinions of Binoy, a frequent contributor to Life Elsewhere.

Also in this edition, we pose the question, “What Do You Do” to Ray Roa, editor-in-chief of Creative Loafing in Tampa Bay. Until just recently, Roa was the music editor of the weekly paper. As with many cities across the USA, Creative Loafing is available for free each week, providing a rundown of upcoming entertainment attractions, including music, movies, theater, dance, galleries, food, and drink. Local, social and political issues are also covered, but the vast majority of the paper features advertising for bars, clubs, restaurants, tattoo parlors, dating sites and all of the periphery of modern, urban living. We ask Ray about his job and what it entails. The editing process for selecting stories on music and how much his personal taste matters. And, how much input do advertisers have on the paper’s content? One topic that comes out loud and clear in our conversation is how much the new editor-in-chief is focussed on promoting the local scene.  

Illustration by Nathaniel St. Clair

Show #344

A Conversation With Martin Metcalfe Of Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie

As you listen to Martin Metcalfe talk, you soon learn that beneath his charming, if not, exotic Scottish brogue, an engaging storyteller dwells. On any topic or question, Martin seamlessly unravels his perspective. With a certain wit and honesty, the frontman of Goodby Mr. Mackenzie doesn’t hesitate to announce he had issues with drugs and alcohol, “Some people are more susceptible,” he notes. Then, on his thoughts about the success of one-time bandmate, Shirley Manson of Garbage, he offers unabashed praise, pausing to acknowledge that he could sound a wee bit disingenuous. “But, I’m not, I mean it, I’m pleased for all the success Shirley has had.” 

Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie released their first album, Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, in 1989. It entered the UK charts at No.16 and the band quickly attracted a large, loyal support north of the border. Incredible live shows and singles like the top 40 hit The Rattler, in particular, further cemented a fond place in many a Scottish heart. A colorful and varied career followed that involved amongst other things, releasing 2 more major-label albums, further UK singles chart positions, working and recording with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads, and touring and playing with bands like Blondie, The Ramones, Afghan Whigs, etc.

Currently, on their 30th-anniversary tour, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie are set to reissue Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, remastered and with previously unreleased bonus tracks. Martin Metcalfe took time out from his busy schedule to chat with Norman B about the history of Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, life on the road, the music biz, Scotland and why the band are back together again.

Show # 343

Angry, Yet Scathingly Funny

“If you have a President who comes from reality TV, why would anyone be surprised there would be a specious relationship with the truth?” Asks Jarett Kobek in our conversation about his latest novel, Only American Burn In Hell. Truth and reality versus lies and fantasy criss-cross in Mr. Kobek’s vision of the current state of our world. The present occupant of the White House is omnipresent in Jarett’s novel as his foul tentacles and clawing apologists clog the air of every landscape on every page. What if your country had elected as its leader a shameless millionaire who was stealing your money, your democracy, and your dignity? What if the media were owned by filthy-rich men who didn’t give two shits about any of it as long as it continued to make them filthy rich? Wouldn’t it be enough to send you certifiably insane? To make you write a novel about an immortal lesbian fairy that mimicked the conventions of movies like Wonder Woman but became an accidental allegory for #MeToo? To write a savage death wail of a satire about how the rich stole everything from us?

The delight of conversing with Jarett Kobek is the tangents you can go to, just like his writing. Does he commit rock ’n’ roll blasphemy by relating incredible details about the unrelated track, “Doing’ The Dookie” from Lou Reed’s Berlin sessions? His pastiche of Reed’s austere lyrics is masterful.

Show #342

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