Tag Archives: books

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

  

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

See Jane Win & Strange Harvests. Two Important Books On Our World, Now

 

                       

Every so often, you can visualize a guest’s emotions as they recount their story over the airwaves to Norman B. You’ll definitely be aware of the huge smile on Caitlin Moscatello’s face as she recounts the wondrous parts of her new book, See Jane Win: The Inspiring Story Of The Women Changing American Politics. And, you’ll also catch a glimpse, albeit audible only, of the sadness, the deflation, the shock felt by so many women across the USA after the outcome of the last presidential election

After November 8, 2016, first came the sadness; then came the rage, the activism, and the protests; and, finally, for thousands of women, the next step was to run for office – many of them for the first time. More women campaigned for local or national office in the 2018 election cycle than at any other time in US history, challenging accepted notions about who seeks power and who gets it. Journalist Caitlin Moscatello reported on this wave of female candidates, closely following four candidates throughout the entire process, from the decision to run through Election Day, See Jane Win takes readers inside their exciting, winning campaigns and the sometimes thrilling, sometimes brutal realities of running for office while female. What she discovers is that the candidates who triumphed in 2018 emphasized authenticity and passion instead of conforming to the stereotype of what a candidate should look or sound like, a formula that will be more relevant than ever as we approach the 2020 presidential election. Caitlin’s exuberance for her story and the women involved is engaging and we urge you not to miss this edition of Life Elsewhere.

Fascinating! Intriguing! Extraordinary! Excuse us if we cannot help but repeat these words over and over when talking about Edward Posnett’s fascinating, intriguing and extraordinary new book, Strange Harvest – The Hidden Histories Of Seven Natural Objects. On reading the title, the first question you feel obliged to ask is why? Then, what? What in the world made this seemingly sensible young man go off to Borneo to find out why eating bird’s nests are considered a delicacy. And, what pursued him to unravel the horrors of plucking feathers from live Eider ducks? Thankfully, Mr. Posnett explains why he journeyed to some of the most far-flung locales on the planet to bring us seven wonders of the natural world–eiderdown, vicuña fiber, sea silk, vegetable ivory, civet coffee, guano, and edible birds’ nest. He wanted to tell human stories against our changing economic and ecological landscape and discover what do they tell us about capitalism, global market forces, and overharvesting? How do local microeconomies survive in a hyperconnected world? Is it possible for us to live together with different species? Strange Harvests makes us see the world with wonder, curiosity, and new concerns. Blending history, travel writing, and interviews, Edward has compiled a fascinating, intriguing and extraordinary book and you need to hear our interview.

Show #339

 

Another Conversation With Nathaniel Popkin

After Nathaniel Popkin first appeared on Life Elsewhere in 2018 to talk about his novel, Everything Is Borrowed we didn’t hesitate to invite the Philadelphia-based author back. Then, in response to the American political crisis, the movement, Writers Resist proved a renewed interest amongst writers in political discourse and prompted Stephanie Feldman and Popkin to co-edit, Who Will Speak For America? The eloquent and intellectually curios Nathaniel Popkin returned to our show to discuss the anthology. Now Nathaniel is back to talk about his latest work of fiction – set against the backdrop of 1976 Philadelphia, The Year Of The Return follows the path of two families, the Jewish Silks and African American Johnsons, as they are first united by marriage and then by grief, turmoil, and the difficult task of trying to live in an America failing to live up to its ideals. Both hyper-real and feverishly imagined, and told in the unfiltered voices of the characters themselves, Popkin summons the electric dimensions of racial conflict, sexual liberty, and economic collapse during America’s post-Vietnam urban meltdown. Paul Silk and Charlene Johnson are journalists whose love for each other and commitment to social justice were formed in the peace movements of the 1960s. But the idealism of that era leads to the urban deterioration of the 1970s. Mayor Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia is a place of crime, white flight, and class resentment that is inhospitable to their interracial marriage, forcing them to move away. But when Charlene dies of cancer, Paul returns. Unmoored and unable to let go of Charlene, he wades back into the lives of the two families, with the hope of helping Charlene’s younger brother Monte, once a prodigy and now a troubled veteran of the Vietnam War. Their explosive reunion leads to the baring of personal revelations and dangerous secrets. This is a vivid story of families trying to reconnect with and support each other through trauma and loss, and a meditation on the possibility of moving on to a better future. We are delighted to welcome Nathaniel Popkin back to Life Elsewhere.

Plus new music from Felicia Douglass and Eric Gundel out Brooklyn who perform under the moniker, Gemma. You’ll hear Love Trade from Feeling’s Not A Tempo, their latest album, which we highly recommend. Montreal-based, multi-talented singer-songwriter, Sarah Krier gives us Wrap from her new long-player, Avoidable Injuries. Digital Vagabond hail from Denver, Colorado, Patrick Boyle is the composer, producer, and knob-twiddler on The Tyndall Effect, featuring Carly Lynn Meador aka Spirah on vocals. 

And, Norman B voices an opinion on guns, he first aired on a talk radio show in the early ’80s.

Show #336

Portrait by Peter Woodall

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