Category Archives: Culture

Jailhouse Psychiatry During Covid-19. The Story of Coffeeland

Cuyahoga County Jail

As the concerned amongst us continue to practice self-isolation there are those who deliberately thumb their nose at directives to go about our lives safely – then, there are those who have no choice – they are incarcerated. Worse still, many suffer from mental illness. Dr. Joseph Baskin, staff psychiatrist with MetroHealth in Cleveland and an assistant professor with Case Western Reserve University works as psychiatrist at the Cuyahoga County Jail. His work under relatively normal times means doing his best to advocate both for the individual and society at large; not interfering with justice, but providing insight and support when possible. Dr. Baskin explains treating mental illness is the last safety net. Many of his patients don’t have insight, they don’t think they are mentally ill and a judge is a final authority they will understand. He compassionately treats antisocial personality, high rates of trauma and ADHD. In his work, he tasked with managing behavior. With Covid-19 in full effect, the doctor’s work is made all the more stressful and, he has to continually be aware of and monitor his own well-being. Dr. Baskin shares his thoughts and gives critical insights to his work with people who are unable to willingly self-isolate.

What do you know about coffee? A wonderful new book will change how you look at – or taste coffee again. Augustine Sedgewick takes us on an extraordinary adventure of discovery, revealing details and history, even the most ardent coffee lover will be surprised by. In Coffeeland – One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug the learned Augustine Sedgewick has brilliantly chronicled the most consequential revolution by telling the global history of one family. His book is both innovative and factual as he effortlessly untangles the routes that carried coffee from the slopes of El Salvador to the shelves of US supermarkets. Augustine exposes a realm of ruthless entrepreneurs, hardworking laborers, laboratory chemists, and guerrilla fighters. Plus, he is a wonderful and enthusiastic guest. 

Show #369

LIFE ELSEWHERE MUSIC VOL 177 ISOLATION MIX 3

 

Perhaps I’ve had more time on my hands because of this self-isolating predicament, I know I’ve listened to far more new music than usual. And, usually, I listen to more new music in a week than most people have had hot dinners. OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the truth is, I do listen to a shitload of new music. Curating the cuts for a 60-minute show can prove exhausting. For this volume, I eliminated on average a ratio of 5 to 1. Am I being too harsh? Does listening to more music mean I’m extra critical? A massive amount of new music is being created daily. Most of it well-intentioned by talented people, yet I’m always searching for the cuts deserving repeated plays – and your attention. We begin volume 177 with a positive, upbeat single from Abakush with Cush, produced by Jah Fingers at Mark Angelo Studio on the Common Ground International imprint, out of London. Staying in a UK reggae vibe, Nick Woodmansey, aka Emanative along with Tamar Collocutor gives us Energy. Next, Remi Wolf out of LA delivers her pugnacious lyrics in rapid style, including, “…you run out of Oxycontin” on Woo! (Porches Remix). From the LP farawayfromeveryoneyouknow, New York-based, Altopalo says Am I Am. There was a time in my life when the world was dark and hope seemed to evade me, but then Love met me at the Well and out of all the mess came Victory!” Says ThandiwekaYah from Johannesburg, South Africa. You’ll hear Babylon, You Great City from her EP, Well.Love.Victory. Colombian artist Gabriela Jimeno presents as Ela Minus. Her debut single for Domino Record Co is, They Told Us It Was Hard, But They Were Wrong. Despite the long list of credits of I’m sure wonderfully talented people, the official video for this song is, unfortunately, a terrible mess. Arqestry from California proclaims, The questioning of my beliefs, spirituality, relationships, and existentialism” we are not sure if that refers to the LP Pale Blue or the cut Small – or both. Hippie mom makes daughter with hippie songs,” Says the notes to Lalande with Delusional Trip from the EP Osglim. This is the work of Lia Braswell who started playing drums at eight years old, she began to enjoy it more than any other outlet (besides singing, which she took on by listening to her mom, Jo Alice Braswell, sing all around the house). After many years in the music business, Lia currently resides between Los Angeles and New York. Half Waif is the musical home of singer/songwriter/producer Nandi Rose. We’ve raved about her on previous volumes of LEM and Blinking Light for her latest LP The Caretaker hasn’t changed our minds. Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang perform as HTRK, based in Melbourne the duo released Venus In Leo in 2019, we love Into The Drama. Their latest release is Rarities which includes Blending’ (Demo) recorded in London 2010. We love that too. “Groovy, lumpy, sonic shit” is how Sleepy House a duo from California describe their music. Do you agree after listening to Concussed? Little Spoon, Who Are You Drinking is by Fuvk from Austin, Texas. We promise Spellcheck will correct you on that name. Dutch frontwoman Michelle Hindriks of Ciel says she moved back to her adopted hometown Brighton and gained inspiration to write the songs that form the band’s debut EP, Movement. We selected, It’s Not All The Same. To close out LEM Vol 177, we go to Denmark to hearSurreal synth noise and depressive field recordings” courtesy of Rölling Stëins with They Brought Mich Jägër In for Questioning from their LP: Rölled Göld. The line-up is worth noting: Mich Jäger (Leslie Singer): Theoretical Vocals, Këith Rikkard (Ditlev Buster): Theoretical Leed Geetar, Bïlly Prëston (Carrie Beyer): Theoretical Steinway. Available on Tribe Tapes out of North Carolina.

There you have it, Isolation Mix 3. Enjoy and stay safe.

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 176 Isolation Mix 2

Being in isolation means I’m listening to even more music, including going into my archives to revisit cuts worth playing for you. You’ll hear a fine example at the end of this volume. This isolation thing has changed our daily habits too, like going to the gym. So I’m taking long walks, exploring the neighborhood, selecting different routes every day. But, before I set off, I offload to my iPhone a random mix of older volumes of Life Elsewhere Music. Briskly padding past sedate, silent homes where I imagine families ensconced trying to cope with this deadly plague, all the time attempting to continue some form of normalcy. See the photo above.

We begin this mix with a large tip of the hat to Nico over at Shoredive Records, his Brighton-based label. His latest stellar release is Heirloom from Forever Vessels, who are Craig Douglas & Dani Mari, also known by her moniker Primitive Heart. You’ll hear the first single, Tide. Marketplace are next with Hard 2 Love, the second single from this quartet from Hartlepool. Nathen Jenkins follows using the name Bullion, the London-based artist says, We Had A Good Time. The photo of Delv on her Bandcamp page and her cryptic message, “on letting go” suggests the title of her album, Waning, is right on target. To See (My Heart) is a perfect example of the LA-based singer’s doleful songs. Bristol, the wonderfully vibrant city in the west of England, has long been a hive of creative activity, Charlie Satchell aka, Fiend proves his worth with Glow EP. We selected the top-notch title cut. This recording is on Chord Marauders a label look out for. Special note, the sleeve is cool. Succulent is LP title from Washington DC singer-songwriter, Be Steadwell. The title cut while being explicit about oral sex, is also, thankfully honest as are all the songs from Be who says, “With roots in jazz, acapella and folk, Be calls her music queer pop. Be’s original music features earnest lyricism, and proud LGBTQ content”. What I Want, is the cut selected – and we love it! Would it be too bold to mention that some of the finest soul artists are from the UK? Soul and R & B has always been a mainstay of British performers and the talented Cleo Sol is no exception. Her latest album, Rose In The Dark is worthy of playing all the way through without stopping and then repeating, again and again. You’ll hear the title cut and you are advised to hear the rest of this masterful recording. “I’m a cancer sun pisces moon take that how u will” writes Alexa Casino. We take it to mean we are lucky to have discovered the Wellington, New Zealand talent. Erase Embrace is an example of how to make minimalism sexy and listenable. The writing credits go to Alexa Casino and brownboymagik – is he the male voice? When we first heard Fear by Jacqueline Tucci we cranked the volume way up. That instrumentation works so well – (you gotta play it loud for full effect). This is a track from the  Toronto singer’s debut EP, Jungle Sounds, due for release later this year. Next, originally released in 2010, now remixed and remastered, Honey by Open Hand. We chose the title cut. Laura Marling’s exquisite seventh album Song For Our Daughter proves why you should check the London-based singer’s catalog. Strange Girl perfectly demonstrates Laura’s talent. Limpid from Birmingham, UK is Anna Palmer who makes electronic, experimental music we like. From the EP cleverly-named EP, we selected Game Changer. It’s always a pleasure to receive a new recording from singer-songwriter Neev. The Scottish artist now based in London continues to put out excellent music, deserving of your attention. Her latest song is Black Over Grey, (please listen carefully). To round out this mix, Curtain Maker from Wild Hxmans the 2018 album by Christian Kjellvander. The Swedish artist says he embraces the foreign, the unknown and seeks out the most profound sense of humanity.

Do let us know what you think of the music we curate, write to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Please be safe and be well.

LEM Vol 176

A Conversation With Slum Of Legs

“The undercarriage of chairs and tables in a typical interior makes an ugly, confusing, unrestful world. I wanted to clear up the slum of legs.” A quote from Eero Saarinen, the acclaimed Finnish-American architect and industrial designer on his neo-futuristic tulip chair, designed in 1955 for the Knoll company. At first glance, it may be difficult to equate a post-war space-age creation with a queer, feminist noise-pop DIY band. But when lead vocalist, Tamsin Chapman unfolds the story behind her band’s moniker, everything makes perfect sense. Slum Of Legs says this about themselves and their music, “One of our songs is a live séance. We’ve performed on a Norwegian mountain and in many, many basements. We like pylons and onstage pile-on. We’re interested in modernist architecture, art & literature. We use collage & cut-up in our artwork and this also reflects the fractured nature of our songs and how the 6 of us, who all bring completely different influences to the band, have been stuck into a blender with the controls jammed. We are a giant pop-psych, punk monster with twelve legs. Our songs are melodic and dissonant, anthemic and experimental. Our debut album ‘Slum of Legs’ is a manifesto for compassion and defiance in a confusing, unrestful world”.

Violinist, Maria Marzaioli, drummer, Michelle Steele, and Tasmin Chapman joined Norman B via Skype for a conversation. Although one fan describes Slum OF Legs as “The Fall meets The Raincoats in this noisy, bloody-minded, defiant, lo-fi collage art-punk” we wanted to look beyond the references and learn who the band really are. Three of the six members, Kate, Emily, and Alex couldn’t make the group chat, all the same Tamsin, Maria, and Michelle were eager to speak for everyone. The conversation weaves from discussing the band’s beginnings to writing the songs, to performing live and ending up in a “slum pile-up”. We also explore sensitive topics – being transgender; the unreasonable demands put upon women; illness and low self-esteem. All the, while their audacious honesty and humor come across as Tasmin Chapman recounts on starting the band, “I went to a festival and there were all these bands with lots of beards & I thought this is boring! I wanna form my own band!” Adding, So many beards. So much smell of farts”.

Don’t miss this conversation!

Show #368

A Self-Isolating Conversation With Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The fourteen-hour time difference hardly seems to matter when you are self-isolating. Days seem to run into each other. Cable news doesn’t help, everyone is jibber-jabbering from their homes via Skype or Zoom, etc. The only slight relief from the monotonous drone of doom and gloom from the endless rotation of hostage-like videos is peering into a pundit home. Is my home interior as predictable as Chris Cuomo’s basement? Is historian, Michael Beschloss’s perfectly manicured office in what appears to be a pristine home in Westchester.? Self-isolating has created a whole new way of living, including producing a radio show without going into the studio. Our first Life Elsewhere show produced without all the usual technical bells and whistles was recorded and mixed on a laptop. Our guest, Dr. Binoy Kampmark is used to speaking to us from the future, Melbourne is fourteen hours away, so one of us may be getting ready for bed. 

We reached out to Dr. Kampmark for his learned take on current world events. How is Covid-19 being addressed in Australia? The US response to the pandemic? Can we foresee the aftermath? The world’s reaction to the claim of a hoax by Trump? The coming US election – will it happen? The extradition of Julian Assange and an update on his critical condition? Dr. Binoy Kampmark is very well versed in the Assange case. His insight into the physical well-being of the Wikileaks founder is alarming. No matter what your opinion of Assange is, you will be shocked by the gruesome details and legal maneuvering involved in his plight shared by Dr. Kampmark

To round out the show, music for a few minutes of contemplation, for taking a much deserved deep breath, for reflecting on the wonderful and special people in our lives. From the exceptional album, I Will Not Be Sad In This World, Djivan Gasparyan with A Cool Wind Is Blowing, followed by Klive and Nigel Humberstone, also known as In The Nursery with Pacify from their gorgeous album, 1961.

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

LE #367

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