NEM #42: Karla Kane: Don’t Choose Princess

Karla has put out four albums since 2006 with the Corner Laughers, a Bay Area band that has been categorized as “twee” given Karla’s ukulele, sparkly Brit-pop ornamentation, and similarly colorful lyrics.

We discuss “Queen of the Meadow” from Matilda Effect (2015), the Nov. 2016 single “Don’t Hush, Darling,” and “Grasshopper Clock” from Poppy Seeds (2012). We also listen to “Fairytale Tourist” from Matilda Effect, and the opening/closing music is from that album’s “Midsommar.” Learn more at cornerlaughers.com.

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Episode 162: James Baldwin on Race in America (Part Two)

Continuing on I Am Not Your Negro, “Notes of a Native Son” (1955), and The Fire Next Time (1963).

We (and Law Ware) discuss Baldwin’s critique of the American dream, how to oppose the inhumanity of others without becoming inhuman yourself, and Baldwin’s take on religion. Plus, was the the documentary actually good as a film?

NEM #41: Glenn Mercer (Feelies): Produce Yourself!

Glenn’s albums with the Feelies since 1980 have a unique sound, due to his insistence that production is part of the composing process.

We discuss “Been Replaced” and “Gone Gone Gone,” from The Feelies’ new album Here Before, then “Larmaie” from Glenn’s instrumental solo album Incidental Hum (2015). We conclude by listening to “Should Be Gone” by the Feelies from Here Before (2011). Intro music: “The High Road” by the Feelies from The Good Earth (1986). Outro music: “Like Yesterday” by Wake Ooloo from Stop the Ride (1996). Learn more at thefeeliesweb.com.

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Episode 162: James Baldwin on Race in America (Citizen Edition)

On the film I Am Not Your Negro and the essays “Notes of a Native Son” (1955) and The Fire Next Time (1963). With guest Law Ware.

Baldwin diagnoses our racism-related psycho-social maladies, but how can we best translate his observations into generally applicable philosophical theory?

End song: “Dawning on Me” by Mark Lint feat. Ken Stringfellow, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music ep. 39.

NEM #40: Clive Farrington (When in Rome): One-Hit Wonderful

Clive is the guy who dreamt up the melodies and initial motifs for “The Promise” and other songs for When in Rome in the late ’80s, and after leaving the business for a while, the continued use of that one big song (most notably for the Napoleon Dynamite closing sequence) enabled his return to touring and recording.

We discuss two songs from his solo album Independence (2013), “Fall” and “Just Another Love Song,” and then look back to the 1988 self-titled When in Rome album for “Something Goin’ On.” We close by listening to a 2016 single performed with his fellow WIR frontman Andrew Mann, “Lost (Driving All Night).” The intro/outro music is of course “The Promise.” Hear more Clive at soundcloud.com/clive-farrington1.

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Episode 161: White Privilege (Peggy McIntosh, Charles Mills, et al) (Part One)

Is the rhetoric of “White Privilege” just the modern way of acknowledging historical and systemic truths of racism, or does it point to a novel way for acknowledging injustice, or does it on the contrary obscure these insights by involving confused claims about group responsibility and guilt?

Readings include articles by Peggy McIntosh, Charles W. Mills, George Yancy, Tim Wise, Lewis R. Gordon, Lawrence Blum, and John McWhorter. With guest Law Ware.

Episode 161: White Privilege (Peggy McIntosh, Charles Mills, et al) (Citizen Edition)

Is the rhetoric of “White Privilege” just the modern way of acknowledging historical and systemic truths of racism, or does it point to a novel way for acknowledging injustice, or does it actually obscure these insights with confused claims about group responsibility?

Readings include articles by Peggy McIntosh, Charles W. Mills, George Yancy, Tim Wise, Lewis R. Gordon, Lawrence Blum, and John McWhorter. With guest Law Ware.

End song: “Power” by Narada Michael Walden, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music ep. 16.

Episode 160: Orwell on Totalitarianism and Language (Part Two)

Continuing with 1984. How does the book relate to real-world politics? Is this something that we should actually be afraid our society will turn into? Was he predicting history, or was it satire, or what? We discuss the the realms of intimacy vs. surveillance, how a state might “contain” a mind that it controls, and “doublethink.”

NEM #39: Ken Stringfellow: Posies, Big Star, etc.

Since 1988, Ken has put out several sparkly/grungy albums with The Posies, more under his own name and in various collaborations, played in the revived version of Big Star and in the touring band for R.E.M., and much more. He’s a busy guy!

We discuss “The Sound of Clouds” by the Posies from Solid States (2016), “Shittalkers!” and “Jesus Was an Only Child” from his solo album Danzig in the Moonlight (2012), and “Turn My Back on the Sun” from Big Star’s In Space (2005).

We close by listening to “Whatever Hell” by Holly and Ken from The Record (2015). Opening/closing music: “Solar Sister” by The Posies from Frosting on the Beater (1993).

Hear more at kenstringfellow.com.

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Episode 160: Orwell on Totalitarianism and Language (Part One)

On the novel 1984 (1949) and the essays “Politics and the English Language” (1946) and “Notes on Nationalism” (1945).

What’s the relation between language and totalitarianism? Orwell shows us a society where the rulers have mastered the art of retaining power, and one element of this involves “Newspeak,” where vocabulary is limited to prevent subversive speech, and ultimately thoughts. Do our linguistic habits and the Orwellian lies of our leaders point to a slippery slope toward the world of 1984?

Episode 160: Orwell on Totalitarianism and Language (Citizen Edition)

On the novel 1984 (1949) and the essays “Politics and the English Language” (1946) and “Notes on Nationalism” (1945).

What’s the relation between language and totalitarianism? Orwell shows us a society where the rulers have mastered the art of retaining power, and one element of this involves “Newspeak,” where vocabulary is limited to prevent subversive speech, and ultimately thoughts. Do our linguistic habits and the Orwellian lies of our leaders point to a slippery slope toward the world of 1984?

End song: “Civil Disobedience” by Camper Van Beethoven from New Roman Times (2004), written by Jonathan Segel as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music ep. 38.

NEM #38: Jonathan Segel’s Long-Form Songs

Jonathan played in the ’80s with Camper van Beethoven and has since put out 40+ solo albums, sometimes with songs, sometimes guitar improvisations, or instrumental music for dance or film.

We discuss his lengthy art-rock songs with political content: “Sleep for a Hundred Years” and the title track from Superfluity (2017), then look back to “Civil Disobedience” from Edgy not Artsy (2003). End song: “Hey You (I Know You Know Me)” from All Attractions (2012). Opening music: “Auspicious Circles” from Site (2008). Closing music: “Still Wishing to Course” from Camper Van Beethoven (1986).

Learn more at jonathansegel.com.

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Episode 159: Confucius on Virtuous Conduct (Part One)

On the Analects, compiled after 479 BCE.

How should we act? What’s the relation between ethics and politics? Can a bunch of aphorisms written in the distant past for an unapologetically hierarchical culture emphasizing traditional rituals actually give us relevant, welcome advice on these matters? Are we even in a position to determine the meaning of these sayings? With guest Tzuchien Tho.

Episode 159: Confucius on Virtuous Conduct (Citizen Edition)

On the Analects, compiled after 479 BCE.

How should we act? What’s the relation between ethics and politics? Can a bunch of aphorisms written in the distant past for an unapologetically hierarchical culture emphasizing traditional rituals actually give us relevant, welcome advice on these matters? Are we even in a position to determine the meaning of these sayings? With guest Tzuchien Tho.

End song: “Please Allow Me to Look at You Again,” from The Edge of Heaven (2013) by Gary Lucas, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music ep. 7.

Episode 158: Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Part Two)

Continuing on the Consolation, chiefly books 3 and 4, on virtue ethics (we all naturally aim at the good but can be mistaken about it or too weak to follow it), theodicy (even the apparent bad is actually good from God’s perspective), and the weird way in which those interact (fame, pleasure, wealth are really all the same thing, i.e., happiness, i.e., God).