Category Archives: Arts

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

 

Unprecedented Times

                              

No President in the history of the United States has inspired more alarm and confusion than Donald Trump. As questions and concerns about his decisions and qualifications for office have multiplied, they point to one primary question: Does Trump pose a genuine threat to our country? In his book, Trump On The Couch, Dr. Frank answers this question by observing Trump’s actions through a psychiatric lens, using years of study to connect Trumps’s actions to the psychosis of narcissism, misogyny, pathological deception, racism, and lack of empathy. While for years the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule has precluded psychiatrists from offering diagnoses on public figures who are not patients, Dr. Frank feels the actions of our President are too destructive for him to remain silent. According to Dr. Frank, Trumps’s Presidency caps a lifetime of dysfunction and disorder, stemming from his childhood. His mother was known for riding around Queens in a rose-colored Rolls Royce with vanity plates to collect the change from laundry machines in her husband’s buildings. His ruthless father and grandfather made their fortunes in dubious ways – brothels during the gold rush, seedy housing deals during the Great Depression – and took financial advantage of government-funded programs originally meant to benefit WW11 survivors. Cut to the present day, Dr. Frank observes that we find ourselves with a President whose verbal idiosyncrasies range from deception to hyperbole, and a whose inability to experience empathy permits him to express misogyny and racism/sexism toward anyone he sees as a critic. 

There are questions that the Mueller report couldn’t—or wouldn’t—answer. What actually happened to instigate the Russia investigation? Did President Trump’s meddling incriminate him? There’s no mystery to what Trump thinks. He claims that the Deep State, a cabal of career bureaucrats—among them, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok, previously little known figures within the FBI whom he has obsessively and publically reviled—is concerned only with protecting its own power and undermining the democratic process. Conversely, James Comey has defended the FBI as incorruptible apolitical public servants who work tirelessly to uphold the rule of law. For the first time, bestselling author James B. Stewart sifts these conflicting accounts to present a clear-eyed view of what exactly happened inside the FBI in the lead-up to the 2016 election, drawing on scores of interviews with key FBI, Department of Justice, and White House officials and voluminous transcripts, notes, and internal reports. In full detail, this is the dramatic saga of the FBI’s simultaneous investigations of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—the first time in American history the FBI has been thrust into the middle of both parties’ campaigns for the presidency. Stewart shows what exactly was set in motion when Trump fired Comey, triggering the appointment of Robert Mueller as an independent special counsel and causing the FBI to open a formal investigation into the president himself. And how this unprecedented event joined in ongoing combat two vital institutions of American democracy: the presidency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. At stake in this epic battle is the rule of law itself, the foundation of the U.S. Constitution. There is no room for compromise, but plenty for collateral damage. The reputations of both sides have already been harmed, perhaps irrevocably, and at great cost to American democracy. Deep State goes beyond the limits of the legally constrained Mueller report, showing how the president’s obsession with the idea of a conspiracy against him is still upending lives and sending shockwaves through both the FBI and the Department of Justice. In this world-historical struggle—Trump versus intelligence agencies—Stewart shows us in rare style what’s real and what matters now. And for the looming 2020 election.

                      

From two excellent books focusing on these Unprecedented Times, we focus on talented folks making noteworthy music. Arizona-based dark rock outfit Audra return with Dear Tired Friends their first album in 10 years. They say the LP deals heavily with loss and letting go. A testimony to the effect the last decade had on each band member. Comprised of 10 tracks, this album was mastered at The Cage Studios in Coventry, UK by Martin Bowes of Attrition, well known for his work with Nine Inch Nails, Psychic TV and Steven Severin of Siouxsie & the Banshees. You’ll hear two cuts from Audra, Drinking Yourself To Sleep and Sunglasses. Shore Dive Records is an enterprising indie label based out of Brighton on England’s south coast. They have an optimistic tag-line we appreciate, “We hope to surprise you.” This is an imprint that appears to be open to different genres and where music or artists hall from. For this show we selected Privative Heart out of Brooklyn with, Dying To Live (Memoryhouse Remix). With an exciting catalog, you can expect to hear more from Shore Dive on Life Elsewhere and Life Elsewhere Music.

Show #346

 

 

A Conversation With David J On His Most Personal Album, Yet

“It’s descriptive of a period of time, the last five years in my life.”
“A journey I’ve been on.”
“The whole thing is a love letter.”
“I dedicated it to my wife.”
“It’s all there in the lyrics.”
“The most personal recording I’ve made.”

Gather together these small fragments David J allows himself to say about his forthcoming double album and very quickly you’ll feel as if you’ve been granted a peek into the man’s heart and soul. Listen to all sixteen tracks from
Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure for confirmation. With a celebrated heritage beginning with Bauhaus, then Love & Rockets and a vast catalog of his solo work, you may believe David has poured his heart out in the studio at least a couple of times. There can be no doubt he has on occasion suggested to the listener that his emotions were on display in his music. The boldness of the title for his latest release could be a warning. Don’t expect a collection of neo-BowieSylvian maudlin-style odes to unrequited love. The opening cut, Mosaic tells of a jaded rock star’s cocaine-fueled fractured life, complete with an exotic violin refrain. A simple-sing-along Blues Eyes In A Green Room underplays the serious lyrics as the seeming laissez-faire snare drum gives space for the pristine piano leading the melody. David’s only cover on the album of the late Peter Laughner’s Baudelaire is both poignant and reverent, while he manages to craft what essentially could be mistaken as his own composition. “Like a kid in a candy store, I want to lick what I like”, sings David in I Don’t Want To Destroy Our Beautiful Thing. Self-confession and reflection while away from home. There is an unnerving wavering quality to his voice on this cut. How many takes? Was this the first and last? Lovelorn comes next. Surprisingly jaunty albeit with a raw biting story.

At this point in listening to the record, an overwhelming thought sweeps in – how come we don’t listen to whole albums from start to finish anymore? The accordion(?), then the strummed acoustic guitar, the up-close vocals, the piano, and the plaintive violin all deliver Clandestine Valentine as if as a familiar song. And, that’s a good thing. With references to Pasolini and arty-farty girls, you know you’re in for a “triple X” adventure as David says in Purgatory and Perfume, masquerading as Blood On The Tracks era Dylan. The story behind the evolution of Migena And The Frozen Roses is best told by David J, which he does in our conversation. The collaboration with The Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman, Anton Newcombe and actress Asia Argento on this song is indicative of the brilliance of David’s ability to co-opt the talents of other artists to accomplish an exceptional body of work. Oh, and yes, this is the song that unabashedly explains so much about this double album. In No Floods Can Drown, an honest statement, simply presented. “Morning wood” may not be your typical idea of love. Yet, David does suggest it’s all part of thinking about love, a Pre-Existing Condition. “She bats her lashes and a hurricane starts in China. You’re on your knees at the vestibule of vagina.” Sings David J in Copper Level 7. The power of a woman who uses hair color apparently. Rhyming China with vagina is just part of his flavorful word-play – “She slips on her stockings and initiates a coup d’etat.” The tune breaks down halfway through into a mock ragtime interlude before easing back into the original melody. The positively-poppy tone of (I Walked Away From) The Girl In Yellow disguises Mr. J’s self-questioning or is it congratulation of being able to avoid getting into trouble. Beginning with a quasi-western guitar sound, Best Western Blues proves how smart David J’s writing can be. In the end, he is still checking in to find love as the song closes with an electronic wind sound, the ascending violin(s) and the clippity-clopping beat. The sound of rain recorded on David J’s iPhone begins the title cut Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure. The somber violin coming to the fore as an acoustic guitar strums behind compliments David’s woeful but assured voice. Is this the album’s tour de force? I would argue that it could well be, yet David gives us two more tracks to contemplate. The Auteur (Redux / The Starlet’s Cut), an older song from his library of work has been revisited adding the voice of actress and activist, Rose McGowan. It’s a haunting song, disturbing in that Ms. McGowan has featured at the forefront of the #MeToo movement and David has not shied away from exposing his interaction with women. Finally, the beautiful voice of Emily Jane White joins David on I Hear Only Silence. Listen carefully to the words and reflect on what you have heard already on this album. A simple piano coda plays and the quietness, the vulnerability comes scorching through with the two voices.

In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, David J talks openly about Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure with Norman B. Plus you’ll hear a Life Elsewhere exclusive, a world-wide premiere of the title cut.

Show #341

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