Category Archives: Interviews

Predictions & Resolutions 2020

Do you believe part of Nostradamus’s prophecies has come true? The famous French doctor and alchemist from the 16th century, apparently predicted the beginning of the Second World War, Hitler’s ascension, the fall of communism, President J. F. Kennedy’s assassination, India’s independence and the occurrence of Israel State on the world map. According to Nostradamus 2020, the much-touted sage had a lot to say about the coming year, including Trump will win again; Destructive earthquakes; Economic crisis; The UK will fall after Brexit, and a new king will take the throne; Wildfires on a staggering scale; Record storms; Kim Jong-Un will be removed from office; Sea level rise; Big war; Implanted chips; Humans will live on the moon. Although Nostradamus is certainly one of the most illustrious personalities in history, we here at Life Elsewhere are fortunate to be able to bring to you a distinguished panel of credible guests to offer their well-considered predictions. But, we didn’t stop there, our esteemed guests were also asked to share their resolutions for 2020. You’ll hear from film and media critic, the venerable Bob Ross; Binoy Kampmark, the learned professor and social commentator; Best-selling author, screen-writer and ex-art-punk-rocker, Mark Haskell Smith; distinguished anthropologist and author, Agustin Fuentes; Erika Bach, Athens-based musician, and videographer; Self-named hillbilly soul singer, Ronny Elliott; Copy editor, author and master of Tweets, Benjamin Dreyer; London-based, singer-songwriter & star, Arlo Parks.

 

Show #354

Peter Bergen. Jordan Ellenberg. Tana French. Matilda Mann.

Peter Bergen Trump And His Generals

Journalist, author and CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen’s timely new book, Trump And His Generals reads like an outrageous fantasy thriller, set in Washington DC. The antics of the president and his cohorts as they proceed without customary norms to select generals for major posts in his administration could be sub-headed, “Truth Is Definitely Stranger Than Fiction!” Bergen, without unnecessary titillations, soberly lays out the course of events before Trump sets foot in the White House, until the present day. Peter’s almost deadpan narrative is occasionally interrupted by a slight chuckle when the dark humor of the story is alluded to by Life Elsewhere host, Norman B.

Jordan Ellenberg How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

“I believe you have Dyscalculia”, mathematics Professor, Jordan Ellenberg tells Norman B, who admits to having difficulty with numbers and being daunted by interviewing the author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. The professor’s book, now out in paperback is all about math, but not the math we learn in school which can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. Instead, Jordan Ellenberg explains to us how terribly limiting this view is. “Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it, the math.” the professor says.

Tana French Dublin Murders

All seven of Tana French’s books are set in Dublin, and six of them form the loosely connected Dublin Murder Squad series.  Instead of featuring a static cast of characters solving every case, the cast is a daisy chain, with each new book narrated by a supporting character from a previous volume. 2007’s In the Woods is narrated by one detective; in The Likeness, his former partner takes over; in Faithful Place, her former boss becomes the narrator; and on it goes. That evolving cast allows French to escape from one of the great problems of the detective story: namely, how to make the detective into someone who changes and evolves over time, while also preserving the status quo enough to allow them to continue building their lives around solving mysteries. French’s detectives are undone and remade by their cases. In every novel, they are taken apart and then put back together again by mysteries that are fiendishly designed to reveal their very worst tendencies. Now, Starz has adapted her first two books, In the Woods and The Likeness, into the new TV show Dublin Murders. Tana always a welcome guest on Life Elsewhere each time she releases a new book. So, for this edition, we have gone back into our archives for a conversation with the celebrated crime novelist.

Matilda Mann Loch Ness Monster; Nothing At All

Matilda Mann

Talented London-based, Arlo Parks is a good example of a singer-songwriter we spotted long before she had risen to major acclaim. With 2020 just ahead,  Arlo is already poised to become a serious headliner. So, it’s with great delight we bring you another name we rate highly,  19-year-old Matilda Mann from West London. From the small examples of her singer-songwriting abilities, we are suggesting Matilda could be another name to watch out for. You’ll hear two cuts, Loch Ness Monster and Nothing At All, both songs have depth, yet with enough pop sensibility for us to give serious approval and ask you to make sure we hear your feedback.

 

 

Show #353

 

 

A Conversation With Ten Katestraat

He makes excellent music under the name Ten Katestraat, he lives in Amsterdam, has a day job in The Hague and hails from the UK. Stephen James Howard comes across as an amiable chap who is slightly bemused that his recordings have been getting attention recently, not least of all on our shows. He writes the songs, plays the instruments and produces in his “spare-room” studio. His wife, Brigitte takes care of the artwork while Stephen handles the promotion, which is how we first came to hear about him. A short, but charming email arrived accompanied by a sound-file for download. “I hope you might be interested?” Wrote Mr. Howard, adding, “I’ll be listening.” We were interested and he didn’t have to wait too long to listen, we added, The Commander Told You to our next Life Elsewhere Music playlist. We were intrigued by his (thankfully) hard to categorize music and his notation that he “was a Brexit refugee”. Stephen quickly followed up with another single and we obliged by promptly giving Leaving Everything Behind airplay. Then, after a rapid flurry of emails, we decided it would be a grand idea to have a chat with Stephen. Coming up on Life Elsewhere Music Vol 159 our conversation with Stephen James Howard, where he talks about music, creativity and explains his take on Brexit and UK politics. And yes, you will learn the meaning of Ten Katestraat.

Also in the show, new releases include The Ghost Wolfes, a duo from Austin, Texas, husband and wife, Carley and Jonny Wolf. We love what Carley and Jonny are doing, so you’ll hear two cuts, Crooked Cop, and Fist from their Crooked Cop EP, available on Third Man Records. This is a band we hope to see live soon. Jon Jones of Roots Garden Records, the adventurous reggae label based out of Brighton on England’s South Coast kindly sent us a powerful-lyric heavy single, Run This Nation by Manasseh & Skari. Jacksonville, Florida-based Brenna Erickson gets airplay with Making Memories Alone, a love song with references to London. And you’ll hear 19-year-old West Londoner, Matilda Mann with The Loch Ness Monster. We predict you’ll be hearing more from this up and coming singer-songwriter.

LEM Vol 159

Belief & Climate Change

Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities. But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned anthropologist, Agustín Fuentes argues that the capacity to be religious is actually a small part of a larger and deeper human capacity to believe. Why believe in religion, economies, love? In his new book, Why We Believe – Evolution and the Human Way of Being, Agustín presents a fascinating observation on the most common misconceptions about human nature, his book employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief—the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea—is central to the human way of being in the world.

Robert Hunziker a regular contributor to Life Elsewhere, writes about climate change, headlines from his articles of the past year suggest he is a forecaster of doom – Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold; Climate Confusion, Angst, and Sleeplessness; Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World; Earth 4C Hotter; The Coldest Spot on Earth Melting. Hunziker shrugs off the daunting moniker, ready to launch into a passionate monologue full of facts and alarming details. So, we asked Robert to give an overview of the crucial points on climate change during the past 12 months.

Show #352

A Private Conversation With Amy Rigby

 

Amy Rigby has been crisscrossing the USA promoting her memoir, Girl To City, stopping at music venues and book stores from upstate New York to the Pacific North West. She reads from her book, often she plays her guitar, sometimes she is accompanied by musician friends.  The acclaimed singer-songwriter loves the experience as evident by her enthusiastic social media and diary posts. Of course, not all of Amy’s fans have been able to enjoy her personal appearances, which is why we are delighted she took the time to talk with Norman B about Girl To City.

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

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.

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 much-loved artist. 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.

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.

Show #351

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