Category Archives: Interviews

More Questions Than Answers?

What happened? How did we get to where less than one percent have more wealth than everyone else in America combined? Why are so many people holding down jobs but living in their cars because they can’t afford rent? Who are the people panhandling at every busy intersection of every American city? How is it possible that we spend gazillions of dollars on weapons that will never be used while children starve across all fifty states? Why is health-care debt the number one cause of bankruptcy in America? Questions. So many questions. Dale Maharidge has spent the last couple of decades asking these questions. He has written extensively about all of these problems and more. Dale has traveled the length and breadth of the USA to investigate, to interview, to experience, to learn—to attempt to understand the downward spiral of the American working class. His latest book, Fucked At Birth delves deep into all these issues. He explores the realities of being poor in America in the coming decade, as a pandemic, economic crisis, and social revolution up-end the country. Maharidge channels the history of poverty in America to help inform the voices he encounters daily. With Fucked At Birth, he dares the reader to see themselves in those suffering the most and to finally, after decades of refusal, recalibrate what we are going to do about it.

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To begin the show, new music from Cathal Coughlan an Irish singer-songwriter who is not shy about sharing and exposing his opinions. As you’ll hear with Owl In The Parlour from his latest solo album, Songs Of Co-Aklan. The Irish Times described Cathal as the “genius of Irish rock”, noting his earlier and acclaimed bands, Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions. Make sure you check out Norman B’s Conversation With Cathal Coughlan. We close the show with a powerful new singer-songwriter discovery from London, YVA with a beautiful acoustic version of her debut single, I Won’t Wait. Amy Holford performs under the moniker of YVA, and we suggest you keep a watchful eye out for more releases from YVA.

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A Conversation With Charlie Nieland

Divisions, the title track from his new album of the same name begins with a steady pounding drum beat, hovering underneath a treated guitar appears but doesn’t intrude, then Charlie Nieland sings. His deadpan voice sounds familiar yet as the song moves along you realize this is new, not reworked codas from a past decade or three. Nieland has a smart knack for referencing identifiable sounds and making them his own. Charlie is comfortable talking about influences, while almost swooning as he recounts working with New Wave diva, Debbie Harry. Renowned for tastefully blending post-punk, dream pop, and progressive rock with sweeping melodies and restless and visceral rhythms, Charlie Nieland has been writing, playing, and producing music for decades, with a focus on the atmospheric and the imaginative. Nieland played power dream pop with the band Her Vanished Grace for over 20 years before establishing himself as a solo artist with a mix of nuanced songwriting and sonic exploration. He is currently half of the literature-inspired songwriting and performing duo Lusterlit with Susan Hwang. Over the years, Charlie has written and produced material with such notable artists as Debbie Harry, Rufus Wainwright, Dead Leaf Echo, Blondie, and Scissor Sisters. He scored the feature film The Safety of Objects (starring Glenn Close), the pilot episode of The L Word on Showtime, and the VH-1documentary NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell. Charlie was awarded a Gold record (UK) for his production work on Blondie’s Greatest Hits Sight & Sound and achieved a Top 10 Billboard Dance Chart Position with Debbie Harry’s single Two Times Blue, which he co-wrote and produced. Charlie Nieland and Norman B connected via Zoom for this conversation.

LEM Vol 221

Two Important Books

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

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 ex-President’s Twitter feed.

Laura Levitt  – The Objects That Remain

Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies, and Gender, Laura Levitt was raped in her own bed. The police arrived too late to apprehend her attacker. When they left, investigators took items with them—a pair of sweatpants, the bedclothes—and a rape exam was performed at the hospital. However, this evidence was never processed. Decades later, Laura returns to these objects, viewing them not as clues that will lead to the identification of her assailant but rather as a means of engaging traumatic legacies writ large. Her book, The Objects That Remain is equal parts personal memoir and fascinating examination of the ways in which the material remains of violent crimes inform our experience of, and thinking about, trauma and loss. Considering artifacts in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and evidence in police storage facilities across the country, Laura’s story moves between intimate trauma, the story of an unsolved rape, and genocide. Laura Levitt talks frankly about the trauma of her rape and reveals how these objects that remained the stories that surround them enable forms of intimacy. In this way, she models for us a different kind of reckoning, where justice is an animating process of telling and holding.

Plus, new music from UK-based singer-songwriter, Léanie Kaleido with All The Things I’m Made Of a cut from her new album, How To Weigh A Whale Without A Scale. With a stellar musical heritage – her father is Top Topham of The Yardbirds fame, Léanie says “I’m an indie freak who makes music that isn’t very indie at all”. Her album was produced by Mark Gardner of Ride which kind of contradicts her not so indie claim. Expect to hear more from Léanie Kaleido on an upcoming Life Elsewhere Music show.

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Two Questions About Love

 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when Hallmark cards make most of their money for the whole year, red roses are sold for extortionate prices and we all get misty-eyed and serenade beautiful sonnets to each other. OK, I’m exaggerating just a little – yes, it’s the annual Life Elsewhere Valentines Show. We have two questions about love for our distinguished guests. Question number one, “What is love?” And, question number two, “What is your favorite love song?” Seemingly simple questions or are they? Our guests are Tom Leaper, Shanaz Dorsett, and Joshua Idehen, who perform as Benin City. The trio are amazing talents individually, together they make music that is inspiring and joyous. As they say, “We believe dance music is a form of protest!” Their latest single, Freaking You Out is a fine example. Listen carefully to the conversation that unravels as Tom, Shanaz, and Josh consider the questions and give their answers. You’ll hear intimate and sometimes revealing answers. Later in the show, a singer-songwriter who digests everything with deliberate care, just as he creates his very personal and reflective music. Phil Parfitt is a man who has a lot to be proud of, after all, his plaintive Somethings Got To Give by Orange Disaster released in 1979 remains an extraordinary and timeless song. Phil’s long musical career included, Oedipussy, Varicose Veins, Psychotropic Vibration, The Architects Of Disaster, The Perfect Disaster, and his solo recordings with his highly-rated new album, Mental Home Recordings

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Thoughts On Our Eco-Crisis Responsibility & A Chilling Account Of Motherhood

 

Nathaniel Popkin loves writing. And he is passionate about delivering his thoughts to his readers. He agrees that his latest book is a guidebook to what we need to be thinking, not what to do, but what to think about the eco-crisis. In To Reach The Spring – From Complicity To Consciousness In The Age Of Eco-Crisis, the Philadelphia-based writer doesn’t lecture, he shares his own thoughts on responsibility. In the shadow of an escalating eco-crisis—a looming catastrophe that will dwarf the fallout from COVID-19. Popkin asks, how can we explain our society’s failure to act? What will we tell future generations? Are we paralyzed because the problem is so vast in scope, or are there deeper reasons for the widespread passivity? Nathaniel Popkin explores the moral, social, and psychological dimensions of the crisis, outlining a path to a future spring, using a smart technique of writing a letter to an as-yet-unborn grandchild. We welcome Nathaniel back to Life Elsewhere and urge you to listen carefully to what he has to say.

It would be accurate, if not seem contradictory to suggest that Ashley Audrain is demure yet vivacious. Not unlike her debut novel, The Push, engaging yet chilling. In our Zoom conversation, the Canadian author smiles sweetly a lot then responds to questions with animated laughing. All the while we are talking about a dark tale about a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for—and everything she feared. “The women in our family, we’re different,” Says Blythe Connor, this is the central character in The Push. Blythe is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter—she doesn’t behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Ashley prompts the reader to ask, is this a novel that manipulates and exploits the fears and insecurities almost every mother has, however happy her own childhood? 

Over on our other show, ingeniously titled, Life Elsewhere Music we have 60 minutes of new releases, expertly curated for your listening enjoyment.

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