Tag Archives: podcast

Us & Them & Them & Us

                                

Ian Buruma – The Churchill Complex – The Curse of Being Special, From Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit

It’s impossible to understand the last 75 years of American history, through to Trump and Brexit, without understanding the Anglo-American relationship, and specifically the bonds between presidents and prime ministers. FDR of course had Churchill; JFK famously had Macmillan, his consigliere during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Reagan found his ideological soul mate in Thatcher, and George W. Bush found his fellow believer, in religion and in war, in Tony Blair. And now, of course, it is impossible to understand the populist uprising in either country, from 2016 to the present, without reference to Trump and Boris Johnson, though ironically, they are also the key to understanding the special relationship’s demise. There are few things more certain in politics than that at some point, facing a threat to national security, a leader will evoke Winston Churchill to stand for brave leadership (and Neville Chamberlain to represent craven weakness). As Ian Buruma shows, in his dazzling short tour de force of storytelling and analysis, the mantle has in fact only grown more oppressive as nuanced historical understanding fades and is replaced by shallow myth. Absurd as it is to presume to say what Churchill would have thought about any current event, it’s relatively certain he would have been horrified by the Iraq War and Brexit, to name two episodes dense with “Finest Hour” analogizing. In The Churchill Complex, distinguished author, Ian Buruma offers more than a reflection on the weight of Churchill’s legacy and its misuses.  It’s never been a relationship of equals: from Churchill’s desperate cajoling and conniving to keep FDR on the side in the war on, British prime ministers have put much more stock in the relationship than their US counterparts did. For England, resigned to the loss of its once-great empire and the diminishment of its power, its close kinship to the world’s greatest superpower would give it continued relevance, and serve as leverage to keep continental Europe in its place. And now, even as the links between the Brexit vote and the 2016 US election are coming into sharper focus, the Anglo-American alliance has floundered on the rocks of the isolationism that is one of 2016’s signal legacies. Ian Buruma is a keen observer and a delightfully informative guest.

Wendy Holden – The Royal Governess  – A Novel Of Queen Elizabeth Ii’s Childhood

In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose.  Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she brings some doses of normalcy into their sheltered and privileged lives. At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral, Marion defies stuffy protocol to take the princesses on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy, she witnesses twentieth-century history’s most seismic events. The trauma of the Abdication, the glamour of the Coronation, the onset of World War II. She steers the little girls through it all, as close as a mother. During Britain’s darkest hour, as Hitler’s planes fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is present when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip. But being a beloved confidante to the Windsors comes at huge personal cost. Marriage, children, her own views: all are compromised by proximity to royal glory. Best known for her comic novels, Wendy Holden’s diversion into what she calls “hybrid” writing, is almost a self-effacing description of a brilliant melding of fact and fiction. You’ll be enchanted by the bestselling author’s enthusiasm for her story of a progressive young teacher who became governess to children of a family frozen in time.

Show 388

Conversations On Fascists & Fascism

                                

When Attilio Teruzzi, Mussolini’s handsome political enforcer, married a rising young American opera star, his good fortune seemed settled. The wedding was a carefully stage-managed affair, capped with a blessing by Mussolini himself. Yet only three years later, after being promoted to commander of the Black Shirts, Teruzzi renounced his wife. In fascist Italy, a Catholic country with no divorce law, he could only dissolve the marriage by filing for an annulment through the medieval procedures of the Church Court. The proceedings took an ominous turn when Mussolini joined Hitler: Lilliana Teruzzi was Jewish, and fascist Italy would soon introduce its first race laws. In The Perfect Fascist: A Story of Love, Power, and Morality in Mussolini’s Italy Victoria de Grazia pivots from the intimate story of a tempestuous seduction and inconvenient marriage―brilliantly reconstructed through family letters and court records―to a riveting account of Mussolini’s rise and fall. It invites us to see in the vain, loyal, lecherous, and impetuous Attilio Teruzzi, a decorated military officer, an exemplar of fascism’s New Man. Why did he abruptly discard the woman he had so eagerly courted? And why, when the time came to find another partner, did he choose another Jewish woman as his would-be wife? In Victoria de Grazia’s engrossing account, we see him vacillating between the will of his Duce and the dictates of his heart. De Grazia’s landmark history captures the seductive appeal of fascism and shows us how, in his moral pieties and intimate betrayals, his violence and opportunism, Teruzzi is a forefather of the illiberal politicians of today. Professor of history, Victoria De Grazia is an exuberant story-teller – a wonderful guest who passionately shares her treasure trove of research – and opinions. 

One of our most frequently downloaded Life Elsewhere Podcasts from the last year is The Ten Pillars of Fascist Politics.  Jason Stanley, a scholar of philosophy and propaganda and as a child of refugees of WWII Europe, understood Fascism means the dividing of a population to achieve power. But even he was surprised by its prevalence at home. First, with the rise of the birther movement and later the ascent of Donald Trump, he observed that not only is the rise of fascist politics possible in the United States, but its roots have been here for more than a century. Drawing on history, philosophy, sociology, critical race theory, and examples from around the world from 19th century America to 20th-century Germany (where Hitler was inspired by the Confederacy and Jim Crow South) to 21st-century India. How Fascism Works identifies ten pillars of fascist politics that leaders use to build onto power by dividing populations into an “us” and “them”. Stanley uncovers urgent patterns that are as prevalent today as ever and pins down a creeping sense that fascist tendencies are on the rise. By recognizing them, he argues, readers might begin to resist their most harmful effects. For this show, we have included an excerpt from our original interview with Jason Stanley.

Show #387

The Artist Who Says The Art World Isn’t A Good Place For Artists

 

“If you’re an artist, the art world is not a good place for you. If you’re an accountant, the art world is a good place for you.” Says Peter Harris who also happens to be an artist, film-maker, and musician. His work often involves experimenting with new ways of making self-portraits, many of which become collaborations.  In 1998 he began working ‘by proxy’, inviting family and cultural icons who have had an influence on his life to give him ideas for paintings, searching for his identity through those who had played a part in constructing it. His longest-running and most well-known association is with Jamaican music legend Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Since 2003 they have been working on a series of drawings, paintings, and films as well as music projects. In 2003 Harris collaborated with the London Mennonite Society to make the short film Hymn which was screened at the National Film Theatre. His feature-length cult documentary Higher Powers (2004) features interviews with a host of eclectic personalities including the future Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ken Russell, Uri Geller, a gangster, police chief, religious leader as well as artists interspersed with performance art pieces and animations. In 2018 he began working with Trashmouth Records and released his first solo album Adverts which included guest performances by Lee Perry and Vic Godard. Each album contained an ‘art advert’ in the form of a one-off painted collage. He is also working with Zsa Zsa Sapien from the South London band Meatraffle on a collaborative music project under the name ‘The Hi-Fi Twins’. 

BombArt, is Peter’s current project with Mark Stewart, artist, vocalist, producer, and songwriter from Bristol, widely known as a founding member of The Pop Group, Mark Stewart & The Maffia, and as a soloist. 

Peter Harris spoke with Norman B about BombArt, his art, and music, dealing with Covd19 and his views on the art world. 

The music included in the program:

1.Peter HarrisYou Will Be My Dad, mixed by Adrian Sherwood, from the album, Adverts on Trashmouth Records

2. Unreleased track, BabymanBabyman, an art and music collaboration with Them Driver

3. Peter Harris and Lee “Scratch” PerryGod Save The Queen, mixed by Adrian Sherwood

4. Mark Stewart & The MafiaJerusalem produced by Adrian Sherwood (1982 12” On U Sound) 

5. Max Romeo, Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Norman (1976 12” produced by Lee Perry) 

Learn more about Peter Harris, Mark Stewart, and BombArt 

Show #386

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 178 Isolation Mix 4

This self-distancing business continues, so we have to compromise in putting together the Life Elsewhere Music shows.  Which means the quality of the voice-overs, (Mr. B’s erudite comments) are not to our usual high standards, using fabulous mics and a cool hi-tech mixing consul. As interesting as he may think his wordy-words are, we’ve reduced the jibber-jabber to the opening and closing messages. Instead, you can read everything you would hear Mr. B say, here:

We begin LEM Vol 178 with a relaxed instrumental courtesy of Nick Manasseh & Praise from their new album, Manasseh Meets Praise on the Roots Garden label out of Brighton, UK. Produced and mixed by Nick at his Yard Studio in West London with virtuoso violin-viola player Praise. Not your typical reggae player, yet along with being a long-time fan of the music, Praise’s musical experiences have been diverse from playing on Ravi Shankar and George Harrison’s last album ‘Chants Of India’ to gigs with Gorillaz and many more star credits. Next up, we stay in a techno vibe with LA-based musician, Aryan Ashtiani, aka Mareux with Roses from his fine EP, Predestiny. From the US west coast, we head down under to Australia’s south coast, Melbourne where we hear from self-named “experimental group” Squaring Circles with Circumambulate. Brendan Anderson and Lilibeth Hall are the couple behind this project and we suggest you check more of their work out. The curiously-named Wished Bone & Spencer Radcliffe out of Athens, Ohio give us Help My Brother from the equally curiously-named EP, A Bug Crawled In The Piano. (Special note, listen to this one again on a headset – wonderful). English musician, Stephen James Howard lives and works in Amsterdam and performs under the moniker of Ten Katestraat. We’ve played his music on the air before and were impressed enough to invite on for a chat. His latest release is titled, Dust and we approve. Paris, France is next where Sydney Valette says, Here are the musings of a soul somewhere in-between silver lights”. From his LP Brothers, we selected, Ambiance Survivaliste. Sing along and practice your French at the same time. A little knowledge of French may impress Nico of Shore Dive records. On the other hand, this entrepreneurial Frenchman speaks English so fluently and is so busy putting out terrific releases he probably won’t have time to notice. His busy label out of Brighton (again!) gives us Velveteen with Fall Under from the Bluest Sunshine EP. The close of this cut is quite simply a magnificent noise. Norman B is insistent that the next song and artist are referring to a past love affair of his. We have no idea if this is his fanciful imagination, but we do know this is one brilliant song and production. Out of London, Felixity gets straight to the point with, Twisted Love a banger that needs to be on repeat play. Big thumbs up on this one. Next, Trappist Afterland & Grey Malkin say, An Error This Time. We disagree, this track is from a superb album, The Trappist & The Hare from Adam Geoffrey Cole & Grey Malkin out of Scotland. Only Diamonds was written and recorded by Diana Rivera, also known as Lotusotus and Camille-Paulette Odell, on Hjördis-Britt Åström out of Moscow. The EP, Only Diamonds is worth investigating as is the label. The unassuming James Smith of Fox Food Records sent a nice message along with his latest release as Good Good Blood. His music always reminds us of the old saying of “less is more” and how true that is. James should be discovered by a much wider audience. Listen up all those indie shows out there. From, There Are Wolves Here we selected, The Pieces Of My Heart You Hold. Listen carefully, then listen again. To close LEM Vol 178 you’ll hear, Lord Of The Isles ft. Ellen Renton with, Passing. Scottish poet Ellen Renton joins forces with Lord Of The Isles for a reflective record that touches on themes related to climate change, both in the present and future. Available on Whities, a London label you need to know about.

Thank you for listening to LEM Vol 178 Isolation Mis 4. Be safe.

Two Questions About Love

With Valentines Day just around the corner we gathered together a stellar cast of participants to share their thoughts on love by asking two questions:

1. What is love?

2. What is your favorite love song?

Dr. Jennifer Mercieca from Texas A & M University teaches classes on politics, media, and propaganda, but she also uses her academic acumen to answer our questions about love. Acclaimed creative director Robert Newman always has fascinating, cultural information to share, so you can expect his take on our love questions to be notable. Laura Palmer operates the impressive online station, WNRM The Root, her encyclopedic music knowledge suggests she will come up with a treat for What is your favorite love song? The distinctive voice of legendary singer-songwriter, Ronny Elliott suggests he has seen his fair share of love, so how will he answer our two questions? In our recent conversation, the unbridled honesty of new-discovery, Sylken Somers, we knew her views on love had to be included. The man who works with words for a living, Penguin-Random House copy chief, Benjamin Dreyer was an obvious candidate to answer two questions about love.

All of our guests tackle the first question, “What is love?” In a similar fashion, yet their answers are distinctive and clearly personal. For question number two, ‘What is your favorite love song?” Their answers are as surprising as they are different. Try and see if you can match the guest with their favorite love song:

Laura Nyro – Sexy Mama

Judie Tzuke – Under The Angels

Santana with Rob Thomas – Smooth

Sade – By My Side

Ella Fitzgerald – Always

Dayna Kurtz – Venezuela

 

Show #359

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