Month: July 2018

Fortuna in Finland

Political theorists and other readers of the classics will recognize the advice, to use torture, do the “unthinkable,” and to “Be rougher and you’ll see a different relationship;” all of it said by Donald Trump in interviews stretching from the 1990’s to the 2016 campaign and then, most recently, in Europe at the NATO meeting. It strikingly echoes Machiavelli’s counsel in The Prince regarding how best to deal with Fortuna, Machiavelli’s term for the lucky break or random chance event that makes or breaks a man of action. Machiavelli personifies Fortuna, the prince’s frenemy, as a woman and he...

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Let’s Eat Grandma — I’m All Ears

Let’s Eat Grandma I’m All Ears Transgressive I love Let’s Eat Grandma’s name.  I love even more that Let’s Eat Grandma are two teenage girls.  First, the name.  It’s a comment on the importance of punctuation, noting the difference between ‘let’s eat Grandma,’ and ‘let’s eat, grandma.’  As an educator, I can tell you, I appreciate it when the younger generation gets it.  The two young women behind the band are Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth.  Walton and Hollingworth are 19 now, and have known each other since kindergarten. Their first album, the absolutely bloody brilliant, I, Gemini, came out in 2016 and was close to the greatest thing in music that year.  It was deep and dark, and twisted.  It also prompted Walton and Hollingworth to purposefully cultivate a public image based on what music critics and journalists read into their music.  This just makes me like them even more. So, two years on, they come back at us withI’m All Ears.  My first go through of this album, I wasn’t all that impressed, I have to admit.  I was listening to teeny-bopper music. But, I went back.  I gave it another chance, which was a smart move.  I’m All Earsis both musically and lyrically more accessible than was I, Gemini.  It’s also more mature.  They note the mundanity of life, but they also challenge gender and femininity, particularly...

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Container — LP

Container LP Spectrum Spools I’ve been digging on Container now for a few years, Ren Schofield, the man behind the name, makes some immediate, in-your-face, pounding electronic music. Schofield is from Providence, RI, but has spent a long time in Nashville, which makes me just like him more. Nashville has a burgeoning, exploding music scene, as anyone can tell you.  But Nashville’s music scene is more attuned to country and roots rock, not techno. There is, of course, a thriving scene in the city, but it’s underground.  Way underground. Schofield is getting clever with LP. This was also the title of his last release, in 2015.  It was brilliant, by the way.  Reviews of that album talked about moshpits and hard-rocking beats, like I was reading reviews of the Crystal Method c. 1997.  That does Schofield a disservice.  He is most certainly not the second coming of the Chrystal Method, nor even of the Chemical Brothers.  He is something else entirely. On 2018’s LP, he ratchets it back just a tiny bit.  There is more melody overtop of the fuzzed out, syncopated beats.  The distortion remains just as heavy.  On some tracks, though, like ‘Peppered,’ he even slows things down a bit to give us a bouncy, loopy and even trippy beat, over which the distorted noises skitter and dance.  But, for the most part, it is the same unrelenting battering. Container are...

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The small, bright lake shone every morning, even when it rained. You could see the sky without looking toward heaven. All souls were reflected there. I walked its two-mile circumference every day for almost a month. I was in exile, upstate, estranged from my wife, waiting for her to move out of the apartment in the city. Only once was the water roused enough by wind to punctuate the surface with neat white-tipped commas. It was late in my stay. That was when I noticed the withered forest in the lake. The trees were still standing, so I supposed their island had been recently swamped. They didn’t bend in the wind that day, they just broke off and hurried toward me in serried rows that looked like rafts. I bent to retrieve one sliver, a crooked timber smoothed by drowning. I used it as a walking stick. It kept me upright, for a few days, anyway. The dwellings facing the lake were all at a much higher elevation than the water, as if they had been warned by those trees. Some of these houses were serenely perched on hilltops, surrounded by green lawns and accompanied by wind chimes. Most were backed a hundred yards up into dark overgrowth, protected by chain-link fences against everything except the weeds and the saplings. All displayed the same blue sign: NO TRESPASSING. The...

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From the Vaults: The Charlatans — Tellin’ Stories

From the Vaults: The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories The Charlatans have long been one of my favourite bands, if not my outright favourite. Though they’re not from Manchester, they burst onto the scene with the Madchester Sound in the late 80s/early 90s, together with the Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, and the like.  Unlike all those bands, which imploded/broke up/etc., the Charlies have kept on trucking for the past 30 years.  They recently celebrated their 30thanniversary in their hometown of Northwich, hosting the North By Northwich festival. This summer, I was living in an extremely rural area, no cell service, and about a 20 minute drive to find a signal.  The car is where I do my serious music listening; I usually just stream it. Not an option that far in the boondocks.  So I dug up a bunch of CDs and threw them in the car.  But the one that remained in the disc drive (my car model year was the last to have a disc drive) was the Charlatans’ 1997 album, Tellin’ Stories. This album is a moment in time for the band.  Founding member, keyboardist Rob Collins, died in a car accident whilst recording the album in Wales.  But it was also the band’s most successful album, hitting #1 in the charts in the UK and Ireland and yielding 3 Top-10 singles in the UK,...

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