Tag Archives: culture

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 Assange Problem

What will happen to Julian Assange if he is extradited to the US? In the event of that happening, the future looks dire for the Wikileaks founder, says Dr. Binoy Kampmark in his recent Counterpunch piece titled, Dangerous Detention: Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison. As if Assange’s present situation were not awful enough, being held in solitary confinement in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison, after seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over seven years. Assange had exercised his rights to asylum, based on a genuine, and now proven fear, that he could be extradited to the United States to face charges with a cumulative prison time of 175 years. Dr. Kampmark broadens the conversation to include commentary on the troubled governments of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Julian Assange is crucially important to both countries and no matter what happens next, he will remain a problem. We always look forward to the often alternate, but well-considered opinions of Binoy, a frequent contributor to Life Elsewhere.

Also in this edition, we pose the question, “What Do You Do” to Ray Roa, editor-in-chief of Creative Loafing in Tampa Bay. Until just recently, Roa was the music editor of the weekly paper. As with many cities across the USA, Creative Loafing is available for free each week, providing a rundown of upcoming entertainment attractions, including music, movies, theater, dance, galleries, food, and drink. Local, social and political issues are also covered, but the vast majority of the paper features advertising for bars, clubs, restaurants, tattoo parlors, dating sites and all of the periphery of modern, urban living. We ask Ray about his job and what it entails. The editing process for selecting stories on music and how much his personal taste matters. And, how much input do advertisers have on the paper’s content? One topic that comes out loud and clear in our conversation is how much the new editor-in-chief is focussed on promoting the local scene.  

Illustration by Nathaniel St. Clair

Show #344

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

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

 

Graphic Design In The Age Of Unrest – Redux

As the Midterm Election Day progressed social media was very much alive and well with almost everyone it seemed rushing to let the rest of us know what they had been doing mere moments before by posting selfies with “I Voted!” stickers, front and center. If you were not already sure how our world has changed in the age of Trump, then the cacophony of “I Voted!” stickers should have convinced you. The omnipresent stickers came in never-ending varieties, from the generic to the overtly partisan and the downright ornery, “I Voted – Have You?” No matter if we accept or not, that all of these tiny, little graphic messages were designed. Someone somewhere produced artwork that had to be sent to a printer. A perfect example of graphic design being used to make a point, to get a message across. Which is exactly what graphic design is meant to do. These miniature statements in mostly red, white and blue may not be the pinnacle of brilliant graphic design but they initiated a discussion on graphic design in times of unrest.  Acclaimed New York-based creative director, Robert Newman suggests the anonymously-designed “I Voted!” stickers are not too far removed from the bold, unforgettable graphics of Emory Douglas for Black Panthers in the ’60s. He adds, “In times of unrest, graphic designers always shine.”

Robert Newman discusses graphic design in the age of unrest on our next edition. Below are links to many of the graphics we mention in the show and illustrated above.

Edsel Rodriguez

Black Lives Matter

Home Made Graphics

Act Up

Gun Control

Feminist Graphic Design

Afropunk

Pink Pussy Hat

Trump Magazine Covers

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