Episode 21 of Tales From the Dropbox is not about Prince. Although his death is mentioned, it is mentioned in this episode as a marker in time, i.e. as evidence of our own relative position in the space-time continuum. We measure time in relative terms such as trips around the sun, rotations of the earth, the distance between two points on a continuum, and by the births and deaths of persons in our lives who have some meaning beyond presence. Prince’s contributions to music are subject to the collective remembrances of how certain songs or performances resonated in the minds of those who bore witness to his gift. And such is the relevance for this podcast. Are the bands featured in each episode of Tales from the Dropbox any less important than Prince? While you are pondering this question, here are a few other important questions you can tussle with as you listen to this episode:
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Do we have free will?
How do we know anything?
What is consciousness?
Why do we dream?
Is justified true belief knowledge?
If a man born blind is able to distinguish by touch between a cube and a globe is then made to see, could he now tell by sight which was the cube and which the globe, before he touched them?
Is the color blue the same for all people i.e. is the perception of that particular color assigned by the mind?
If there is good music and we believe the music is good, then is there a rational reason that good music is not played on radio to be admired by the masses other than the knowledge that good cannot occupy a place where evil exists? (The consequence of this assertion is reason for the existence of Tales From the Drop Box)
And the bonus question following Chris Paul’s injury last night:
Will the Clippers ever win an NBA title? ( This one is easy, the real question is why?)
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #21:
PVRIS – “Ghosts” (White Noise (Reissue))
Admiral Freebee – “Kim Basinger” (Wake Up and Dream)
A day late but not a dollar short, Episode 20 of Tales from the Dropbox has some great ear candy to take you through the day. I’m a day late after my iPhone had a seizure forcing me to reexamine the philosophical underpinnings behind a company that can produce genius technology and then introduce a seriously flawed operating system that drives the user to violence. Oh well… lengthy into today!
Saw a news story today that caused me to pause. Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik won part of a human rights case against the Norwegian state with a court upholding his claim that some of his treatment amounted to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Breivik, a right-wing extremist, killed 77 people in 2011 including dozens of young center-left political activists in an attack on the island of Utoya in July 2011. Earlier that same day, he set off a car bomb in the capital, Oslo, killing eight people. Breivik had challenged the government over his solitary confinement, which saw him kept alone in his cell for 22 to 23 hours a day, denied contact with other inmates, and his only communication with prison staff was through a thick glass barrier.
This news story raises two questions of some import: what actions can a government take that a civilized society will tolerate in the punishment of its murderers and, as a consequence of that choice, what other constitutional rights of a people is a government willing to ignore until challenged?
In Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F. Supp. 2d 855 (S.D. Tex. 1999) the court, in assessing the Texas prison system, noted: [i]t goes without question that an incarceration that inflicts daily, permanently damaging, physical injury and pain is unconstitutional. Such a practice would be designated as torture. Given the relatively recent understanding of the primal necessity of psychological well-being, the same standards that protect against physical torture prohibit mental torture as well-including the mental torture of excessive deprivation. In the eloquent words of Judge Thelton Henderson:
We thus can not ignore, in judging challenged conditions of confinement, that all humans are composed of more than flesh and bone-even those who, because of unlawful and deviant behavior, must be locked away not only from their fellow citizens, but from other inmates as well. Mental health, just as much as physical health, is a mainstay of life. Indeed, it is beyond any serious dispute that mental health is a need as essential to a meaningful human existence as other basic physical demands our bodies may make for shelter, warmth or sanitation.
Madrid, 889 F. Supp. at 1261. (37 F. Supp. 2d 855 at 914.)
As the pain and suffering caused by a cat-o’-nine-tails lashing an inmate’s back are cruel and unusual punishment by today’s standards of humanity and decency, the pain and suffering caused by extreme levels of psychological deprivation are equally, if not more, cruel and unusual. The wounds and resulting scars, while less tangible, are no less painful and permanent when they are inflicted on the human psyche.(Id. at 914.)
Before the court are levels of psychological deprivation that violate the United States Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It has been shown that defendants are deliberately indifferent to a systemic pattern of extreme social isolation and reduced environmental stimulation. These deprivations are the cause of cruel and unusual pain and suffering by inmates in administrative segregation, particularly in Levels II and III. (Id.)
The court concluded: Texas prison inmates continue to live in fear-a fear that is incomprehensible to most of the state’s free world citizens. More vulnerable inmates are raped, beaten, owned, and sold by more powerful ones. Despite their pleas to prison officials, they are often refused protection. Instead, they pay for protection, in money, services, or sex. Correctional officers continue to rely on the physical control of excessive force to enforce order. Those inmates locked away in administrative segregation, especially those with mental illnesses, are subjected to extreme deprivations and daily psychological harm. Such practices and conditions cannot stand in our society, under our Constitution.(Id. at 941.)
And this state – a prison system where inmates are tortured – is precisely where things stand today. So, what is the acceptable level of torture for inmates convicted of mass murder?
As a nation about to go to the polls in a general election – consider your options for President in light of this mostly irrelevant political issue (prisoner rights is a political nonstarter). If we as a nation are willing to accept the torture of prisoners what other constitutional rights will the next President conveniently abrogate in the land of the free?
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #20:
T-Rextasy – “I Wanna Be a Punk Rocker” (T-Rextasy EP)
Spoilers – “Punks Don’t Die” (Stay Afloat EP)
Woodpigeon – “Canada” (T R O U B L E)
Sweden – “Oh, Dusty” (Oh, Dusty)
Hurricane # 1 – “Has It Begun (Imitating Life) (Find What You Love and Let It Kill You)
The Coathangers – “Perfume” (Nosebleed Weekend)
Woods – “Creature Comfort” (City Sun Eater in the River Of Light)
Tokyo Police Club – “Losing You” (Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness (Part 1))
Face to Face – “It Almost All Went Wrong” (Protection)
Adult Books – “I Don’t Think I Can Stay” (Running from the Blows)
Culture Abuse – Jealous” (Peach)
The Dandy Warhols – “Semper Fidelis” (Distortland)
Parquet Courts – “Outside” (Rough Trade Sessions)
Paradise Found – “All Go Home” (Paradise Found)
The Julie Ruin – “I Decide” (Hit Reset)
This uphill battle I’ve been fighting my whole life …you’ll figure it out and know that you got time before you figure it out…
Ah…can you smell it? Episode 19 smells like spring…and … “at that moment I knew, surely and clearly, that I was witnessing perfection. [It] stood before us, suspended above the earth, free from all its laws like a work of art, and I knew, just as surely and clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last” (adapted from the quote in the film version of A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean).
And that got me to thinking…what is it about music that stimulates the mind to try to identify that perfect combination of sounds that bring joy? There are certain sounds that I enjoy apart from music, and can instantly recall the sounds, smells and feelings that instantly bring back crystal clear memories of that moment of perfection – even though it is more than 40 years have lapsed. For example, I can still hear the whisper of night sounds highlighted by the call of the loon on a summer’s night while sitting with my father on Turtle Island in the middle of the Lake of the Woods when I was a child. I can still see the still water and the last rays of the sunset while a cooking fire crackled by my feet and the slow ripples of the waves not more than ten feet away gently lapped against the canoe anchored in the beach. A fish had just broken the water to snap at some insect and the loon’s call interrupted it all…
Life is full of these moments of perfection . . .we just need to spend some time reflecting on those moments, treasure them, and bear witness to them, so that others can also discover their own moments on the pathway to joy.
Perhaps these fifteen moments from Episode 19 of Tales From The Dropbox will help guide you on your own journey. Here is what you’ll find in Episode #19:
Worriers – “Unwritten” (Imaginary Life)
Sunset Sons – “Somewhere Maybe” (Very Rarely Say Die)
Feelings – “On In A Million” (Be Kind, Unwind)
Cardinal Moon – “Carousel” (Tarot)
Cape Cub – “Keep Me In Mind” (Closer)
Town of Saints – “No Place like This” (No Place like This)
San Cisco – “Snow (Miura Keys Radio Mix)” (Snow EP)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – “Robot Stop” (Nonagon Infinity)
Moberod – “Into Blue” (Ransom Notes)
The Sky We Scrape – “White Whales” (Obsolete EP)
Royal Headache – “Really In Love” (Royal Headache)
The Von Rebels – “Borrowed Time” (Killing Machine)
Tacocat – “I Hate the Weekend” (Lost Time)
Treetop Flyers – “It’s A Shame” (Palamino)
Jenny Woo – “Hated and Proud” (Proud of Every Scar)
About this time, a year ago, we were walking through the snow . . . give up the dream you’ve worked your whole life…this isn’t love you’re just a memory.
Another month of very strong releases that as usual show the diverse range of sounds that can be produced in the “rock” genre. Highlights, in my mind, this month include releases by The Last Shadow Puppets, Bleached, Parquet Courts, Violent SoHo, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and the Muncie Girls, but I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on this month’s list. If you are following the Tales From The Dropbox podcasts, then you should have a really good idea of what to focus on in the never ending search for awesome tune-age…. Here is the list:
Bloody Knives – I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This 
Day Wave – Hard To Read 
Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light 
Bleached – Welcome the Worms 
Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come to Expect 
Dead Skeletons – Live in Berlin [Fuzz Club Records, FC35CD] 
Bloody Gears – Shallow Remains 
Dropkick – Balance the Light 
Cardinal Moon – Tarot 
Parquet Courts – Human Performance 
White Denim – Stiff 
Meat Bodies – Valley Girl [7”] 
Gotobeds – New Dress (Debutante) b/w NY Swagger 
Foreign Films – The Record Collector 
SPC ECO – All We Have Is Now 
Bob Mould – Patch the Sky 
Film School – June 
Tacocat – Lost Time 
Saint Johns – Dead Of Night 
San Cisco – Snow 
Tancred – Out of the Garden 
Parquet Courts – Live on KEXP 
VanDeRocker – Jupiter’s Kiss 
Thermals – We Disappear 
Unloved – Guilty of Love [Rough Trade Edition] 
Joy Formidable – Hitch 
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity 
Violent SoHo – Waco 
Scott Sorry – When We Were Kings 
Cape Cub – Closer 
Social Studies – Live From the Banana Stand 
Von Rebels – Killing Machine 
A Call at Nausicaä – Grand Feu 
Jenny Woo – Proud of Every Scar 
Brian Fallon – Painkillers 
Generators – Earn Your Stripes 
Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing 
Dead Cannons – Nothing Does Until It Is 
Jennifer O’Connor – Surface Noise 
Muncie Girls – From Caplan to Belsize 
Pete Yorn – Arranging Time 
Lucius – Good Grief (Deluxe Edition) 
Feeling – The Feeling 
Mind Spiders – Prosthesis 
Struts – Everybody Wants (2014, US Reissue) 
Black Mountain – IV 
Town Of Saints – No Place Like This 
Electric Century – For The Night To Control 
Episode 18 of Tales From The Dropbox is a return to normal. Normal for this podcast anyway. I needed the raucousness of the last episode to shake out the cobwebs of that week and start anew with more energy. And let me tell you, there is also a ton of energy in this episode but it is more indie/pop/alt/rock directed energy with only a sprinkling of punk rock. You know…the normal.
Not normal are the latest happenings in the EU. A story that caught my attention today was the news that Greece has started deporting migrants to Turkey as part of a deal reached to ease the mass migration into Greece and the island of Lesbos arriving from a number of countries over the past two years. More than 1 million migrants have created a human crisis in Greece. The economically depressed Greeks are financially ill equipped to handle mass unplanned immigration. The consequences of the world’s failure to prevent mass killings from zealots in the lands the migrants are fleeing create unintended consequence in the recipient countries. What is most shocking is that the citizens in these recipient countries are divided in their perception of the migrants with many resentful of the migrants whom are, in significant numbers, only children. According to the BBC, of the 150,703 migrant arrivals to Greece in 2016 (as of March 30), 37% of 2016 arrivals are children, 53% arrive on Lesbos, 366 died on Turkey-Greece route and there were 853,650 arrivals in Greece in 2015.
Glaringly, there is no news coverage in the United States about the crisis. Out of sight out of mind. Relevant to the United States, however, are the parallels to America’s own treatment of migrants. The perception that immigrants create competition for jobs and resources leads to the conclusion that migrants negatively impact the economy regardless of the numbers. This ignores the reality that illegal immigrant populations have stabilized over the past 10 years comprising approximately 3.5% of the U.S. population while foreign born citizens, according to the U.S. Census, comprise only 12.9% of the total population (2010). These numbers are relatively small and yet the furor over immigration is disproportionate to the reality that lawful immigrants contribute to the overall economy and success of a nation and illegal immigrants do not put the strain on the economy as frequently decried in discussions regarding their illegal status. This ignores the reality that a number of U.S. citizens are also “economic migrants” as they seek jobs in other countries. We must remember that immigration is the natural consequence of the continuing human struggle for a better life and we (the royal “we”) should not view immigrants as threats to our way of life. We should do better.
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #18:
Social Studies – “Moment Is Dead” (Live From the Banana Stand)
A Call at Nausicaä – “Soldier” (Grand Feu)
Parachute – “Without You” (Wide Awake)
The Saint Johns – “Falling Back To You” (Dead of Night)
The Last Shadow Puppets – “Bad Habits” (Everything You’ve Come To Expect)
Bob Mould – “Pray For Rain” (Patch the Sky)
The Dirty Nil – “Wrestle Yu to Husker Du” (Higher Power)
The Foreign Films – “Tear Drop Down” (The Record Collector)
Parquet Courts – “Dust” (Human Performance)
Golden Daze – “Never Comin’ Back” (Golden Daze)
Generators – “City of Angels” (Earn Your Stripes)
The Joy Formidable – “Radio of Lips” (Hitch)
Thermals – “Thinking Of You” (We Disappear)
Hooverphonic – “Badaboum” (In Wonderland)
Jennifer O’Connor – “Down To the Wire” (Surface Noise)
Nothing left to do but pray for rain … I don’t care about your boyfriend he don’t like me anyway.