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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Hedonism
Posted: January 9, 2022 at 3:56 pm
January is understood as the time for self-improvement, and year after year many of us fall into the same trap. We proclaim that this is the year when we become better, healthier versions of ourselves for good before promptly letting our goals slip away.
Why are resolutions so notoriously easy to break? Is it because the goals we set are unrealistic and lofty? Or because being healthy is harder than being unhealthy? Maybe both. However, I believe that the true barrier to self-improvement is in the way we see ourselves and our health.
I was sitting in the Old Fourth Ward skate park on January 1 when I overheard a conversation between two men who were running on the BeltLine in which one said to the other, I see youre punishing yourself today. The conversation went on to detail the copious New Years Eve drinking they had done, and the punishment in question was the run they were now on.
This sentiment is the heart of the problem with resolutions and health culture in general. Food and movement feel good. It feels good to be energized after eating a filling meal. It feels good to eat something with nutritional value that doesnt upset your stomach or make you crash later in the day. It feels good to stretch, run, lift heavy things, play sports, bike, or do physical activity that is within ones ability. Typically, however, new years resolutions and diet culture dont focus on feeling good in ones body. They focus instead on losing weight, punishing bad behavior like eating junk food or lying in bed all day (both of which also feel good), or becoming a better person, the object of others admiration and envy.
DaShaun L. Harrison echoes this in their book Belly of the Beast(about which you can learn more on page 12): Of people who diet, 95 to 97 percent fail. Not because they arent committed, not because theyre following them incorrectly, but because dieting demands that you do whatever it takes to shed pounds even if what it takes requires you to harm yourself instead of encouraging one to do what makes them feel good.
Life is primarily a somatic experience; the foundation of our consciousness is feeling. We experience the world through our senses before interpreting it with our minds. The way we feel physically sick, energized, comfortable, tired, etc. impacts our mood, thinking patterns, ego, and sense of self. Our healthiest self, therefore, is the one that feels good. This doesnt necessarily mean we devolve into hedonism; aligning your behavior with your morals, being a good and loyal friend, giving back to your community, or getting good sleep can feel just as good as having sex, partying late into the night, doing drugs, staying in bed all day, or eating fast food does.
If you are one for resolutions, this year I implore you to step away from the ego the projected social self who isnt skinny, intelligent, healthy, or successful enough, whose identity is in relation to others and toward the inward somatic self, the primary filter through which being alive is experienced. Instead of seeking to improve yourself as defined by society, try to improve your quality of life as defined by you.
The best way to improve our personal experience of being alive is to first be mindful of how our habits make us really feel. Maybe you want to cut down on drinking, not because its bad to drink, but because your hangovers feel worse than being drunk feels good. Maybe you want to be more active, not because its better to be thinner, but because it makes you feel good, capable, and strong. This requires us to be present in our bodies, which can be difficult, but when our goals are oriented toward feeling as opposed to being, its easier to stick with them because feeling good, well, feels good!
This year, my resolution is to stop shaming myself for not being enough and to instead reconnect with what it feels like to be alive. I know my personal experience of life feels worse when I have low energy I engage more with passive activities like social media that can negatively impact my mental health, I am less socially confident, and I am more prone to feelings of depression. So, Im going to try to eat fewer processed foods (but not stopping entirely!) and regulate my sleep schedule so I have more energy throughout the day to invest in activities that make me feel good, like yoga, reading, writing, and engaging with my community.
For me, 2022 will be the year I design my life around my desires, needs, abilities, and feelings, because nobody gets to experience my life but me. If you havent yet, I hope you do the same. Happy New Year!
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Posted: December 27, 2021 at 4:17 pm
We live in strange times. Consumer goods are flying off the shelves faster than ever, yet an entire generation of young people are stricken with anxiety and depression. While Elon Musk is the richest person in the history of the world, so many are struggling to just barely get by. And while the stock market hits all-time highs, small businesses are shutting down left and right.
In this period of simultaneous excess yet existential struggle, it is worth revisiting perhaps the greatest song ever written about the duality of the American experience and the human condition: Hotel California by The Eagles.
What was the original inspiration for Hotel California?
It all started with Glenn Frey wanting to do something strange, just to see if he and the band could. So they turned to a hazy and nightmarish novel written by John Fowles in 1965, called The Magus, where a depressive yet eager young wanderer with nothing finds himself charmed by a wealthy Greek recluse whose powers of splendor and decadence end up detaching the young man from reality as he knows it, resulting in tragedy and loss.
The same novel is said to have inspired David Finchers 1997 film starring Michael Douglas, The Game.
So what is the true meaning of Hotel California?
The same narrative arc found in The Magus, going from sincere idealism and earnest curiosity to a sense of darkness and despondence, runs parallel to so much. Like coming of age and the loss of innocence. Or the sparkling allure of golden age Californias dashing but dangerous lifestyle of cash and drugs. Or the energetically revolutionary but eventually fleeting spirit of the 1960s. And maybe even the entire American experience.
You start with nothing. It all looks so good! Then you get everything. And you get crushed under the weight of everythings excess. What was it all for to begin with?
So Hotel California is a sort of broad allegory for rising and falling? Maybe.
Here is what the band members themselves have said about the songs meaning:
The band members themselves have offered a variety of different explanations for the meaning of Hotel California. Theyve said its a socio-political statement. Theyve said its about darkness and light. And theyve said its about the self-destruction that comes from greed and hedonism.
But of course, all of those things are hard to put your finger right on. And maybe that is why the song has been interpreted in so many different ways over the years. When art so perfectly reflects the experience of life, it can be about everything and one specific thing at the same time, depending on the consumer of the art. Like a sort of lyrical Rorschach test.
The songs true meaning, like life itself, is elusive. And maybe that is exactly the point.
What does Hotel California have to say about modern times?
Even if the exact meaning of Hotel California is subject to some degree of individual interpretation, there are certain themes deeply imbued in the song. Chief among them is the danger of excess.
California. America. Rock and Roll. The 1960s. Even The Eagles themselves. All have suffered from excess in some way, whether it be drugs, wealth, success, and even a desire for change.
As it is today, we find ourselves locked in a time of extremes. No middle ground. No moderation.
If Hotel California has anything to tell us about modern times, maybe its that we need to take things down a notch. Dont get too high and dont get too low. Focus on the little things in life. The things that matter most.
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Posted: at 4:17 pm
The Lorax (Jan. 6)
If you talk to a parent of young children, you will likely not hear much affection for Illumination Studios, the purveyors of some of the laziest, sloppiest and most obnoxious childrens entertainment around. (Sing 2, in theaters now! New Minions movie next summer!) The studios two best films are most likely its adaptations of Dr. Seuss books unsurprising, as his texts provide such fertile material for animators. This 2012 animated take on Seusss 1971 environmental fable gets a big boost from Danny DeVitos robust vocal performance as the title character; this is an actor whose voice was built for cartoons, and he makes his Lorax into a showstopping creation.
Stream it here.
Its not hard to make fun of the Twilight Saga (five films total, all leaving Netflix mid-month): Plenty of people have, from lazy film critics to hacky stand-up comics to smarmy YouTube hosts. And, to be clear, these are not great works of cinema; the plotting is silly, the tone is all over the place, and performances are uneven. But there are virtues as well: solid filmmaking (especially this first outing, from the Thirteen director, Catherine Hardwicke); a rare dramatization of budding female sexuality; and most of all, the power the series success gave its stars, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, to make whatever weird art movies they wanted afterward. Did you enjoy The Lighthouse, Personal Shopper, Spencer, or Good Time? Thank Twilight.
Stream it here.
This 2013 effort from Sofia Coppola effort plays like a culmination of all of her previous work: the celebrity satire of Lost in Translation, the hedonism of Marie Antoinette and the California alienation of Somewhere, stirred into a soup with the real-life story of four young Hollywood hangers-on who supplemented their party lifestyle by burglarizing the homes of famous people. A lesser filmmaker could have turned this story into a broad, dumb comedy or a stern lecture about the morals of todays fallen youth. Coppola goes in another direction, capturing the glitz and glamour of this sleek world and its shiny surfaces before exposing the emptiness underneath.Stream it here.
The writer David Mitchell has been a key collaborator of the Wachowski siblings in recent years, working with them on their Netflix series Sense8 and co-writing Lana Wachowskis recent The Matrix Resurrections. But they first worked together less directly, co-writing and co-directing (with the Run Lola Run filmmaker Tom Tykwer) this 2012 adaptation of Mitchells vast novel Cloud Atlas. Its an ambitious piece of work, combining multiple narratives across time and space and placing its main cast (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant) in multiple roles. It doesnt all work, but its such a big swing that its hard not to fall under its spell.
Stream it here.
Clint Eastwood was in a rough spot as a filmmaker in the early 2000s after several years of turning forgotten best-sellers like True Crime and Blood Work into forgettable movies. But he struck gold in 2003 with his adaptation of Mystic River, a Boston crime novel by Dennis Lehane, which netted Oscars for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. They star, along with Kevin Bacon, as friends since childhood who have dealt with a shared trauma in wildly different ways, and Mystic River expertly folds together its present-day and flashback timelines to reveal how the pain of the past is never far away.
Stream it here.
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Posted: at 4:17 pm
Hedonism has been in short supply in recent times, so it's little wonder that so many are yearning for the party palaces of Ibiza, Dubai or Hollywood. Here's hoping the 2022 is the year when people can really let their hair down once and for all.
For spotting celebs in the bar, getting that perfect poolside Insta snap, or simply dressing up to the nines and hitting the nearby nightclubs, few places can beat these four glamorous hangouts.
Best for: Rocknroll vibes
This cool, low-key hotel, just off Sunset Boulevard, is THE place to sight A-listers. Celebs have been known to hang out by the discreet rooftop pool, which has comfy loungers (perfect for posing), a buzzy bar and views over the whole of La La Land. Our room was enormous big enough for an after-party with a dramatic black living room area, rocknroll music posters and guitars on the walls, along with a bar trolley and giant gold hand-shaped chair. The highlight, though, is its location in Los Angeless most star-studded neighbourhood, a stones throw from the citys most iconic nightclubs, including The Viper Room (once part-owned by Johnny Depp) and Whisky-a-Go-Go, which has live music: glam-rock band LA Guns are playing on New Years Eve.
Stella loves: The staff full of local knowledge and recommendations, whether you want to know the coolest live music that evening or the best bagel store.
Out and about: Its a 10-minute stroll (or two-minute Uber no one walks here) to members club Soho House West Hollywood, which is the place (if youre a member, of course) to soak up the city: all slouchy sofas, excellent cocktails, beautiful people and a buzzy vibe (sohohouse.com). If you still havent spotted enough stars, join a Celebrity Bike Tour, a gently paced 10-mile ride (easier still if you upgrade to an electric bike) that takes you past Rodeo Drive, Paul Smiths Pink Wall, and homes of the rich and famous, led by a charismatic actor-guide (from 55 per person, bikesandhikesla.com). Stock up on reading material for the flight home at local indie bookshop, Book Soup, which has great recommendations from knowledgeable staff and regular live reading events (booksoup.com). And for more ideas for New Years Eve parties, see visithollywood.com
How to do it: Rooms from 215 a night; montrosewesthollywood.com. Read the full expert review here
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Posted: at 4:17 pm
MONICA KAYOMBO, Lusaka
SINCE Covid-19 came to the fore in 2020, it has managed to change lives of many people across the globe; the pandemic has thus compelled many people to make adjustments in life. As we start 2022 in a few days, we expect to see more changes because of the pandemic whose duration on mother earth is unknown. Marian Salzman, a globally recognised trendsetter and communicator recently had a virtual meeting dubbed: What we thought we knew, where she predicted 22 trends for the year 2022. She highlighted some of the changes expected to take place in 2022 due to Covid-19 and shared some ideas on how best to cope with the fresh challenges. She said 2021 definitely made many people question lots of things they had taken for granted before Covid-19 stormed. The population has remained divided on economic and political lines while conspiracy theories have become the order of the day. Ms Salzman said in 2020, the pandemic sparked a great research in which the countries were headed and people started re-setting their priorities as they were presented to adjust with the new environment. Without listing all the 22 trends for 2022 as predicted by Ms Salzman, I will restrict myself to the following topics: mental health and wellness, the skills squad, the roaring 2020s post Covid-19 muted hedonism, change agents, meet cohesion cultivators and social inequalities. On mental health and wellness, she said as the world gets used to mental illness, time is ripe for widespread adoption of programmes, tools, technologies that tackle anxiety and depression. She said rates of substance abuse, alcohol dependency, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors now known as diseases of despair made headlines. Of course, the local and international media has reported on how the pandemic has brought about anxiety, un ease and un certainty among citizens of various countries across the world. Ms Salzman recommends that people need to accept the complexities and new norms. She said some multi-national companies such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Philip Morris International (PMI), and Whirlpool Corporation had put in place support systems for their workers, including employee resource groups (ERGs) that foster diverse and inclusive workplaces and create a closer feeling of community. This innovation by the above named companies reminded me of our Zambian scenario where most people lost their jobs and no companies put in place support systems such as ERGs. Hope some Zambian companies will soon consider some of these innovations. On the skills squad, Ms Salzman said people all over the world have been investing in formal education to get ahead. Of course, this is also the case with many Zambians that have decided to go back to school to advance their studies in various disciplines. The question Ms Salzman asked is: how many tertiary institutions equip students with up-to-the-minute skills they can apply right away at work, how many people are finding that the skills they do have are outdated or not in demand, how many are facing the prospect of being replaced by robots or artificial intelligence? The answer she gave is that virtually, all information is now available to anybody with an internet connection, knowledge about will become less valuable, while knowing how they will become more highly prized and priced. On hedonism, she simply stated that the last time the entire planet was hit by a deadly virus was a century ago when the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people. The doom and gloom of that pandemic gave way to a period known as the Roaring 20s when exciting new technologies such as cars, radios, gramophones went mainstream and seeded a new economy and a new culture full of exuberant energy. Equally, the world is shaping up to emerge from the dreary lockdowns and restrictions of COVID-19. New technologies are going mainstream like zoom, augmented virtual reality, crypto currencies among others giving rise to new fortunes and cultures. On change agents, she said they will still have a role in the post-pandemic world. These people are no less valuable but another type of catalyst will also be in high demand. As organizations and employees experiment with infinite permutations of hybrid working, cohesion cultivators will bring the scattered parts together in new and fruitful ways either from within the organization or as external consultants, she said. On social inequalities, Ms Salzman said after decades of just accepting the way things are, the public is getting increasingly more sensitized to inequities and less willing to tolerate them. This is going to shape political, social, and even corporate developments. Her statement reminded me of the topical issue where African countries have started lobbying for patent to locally manufacture their own Covid-19 vaccines and other essential drugs. Ms Salzman has also estimated that the future of schools will be hybrid, online and offline. With global education and training expenditure forecast to reach at least $10 trillion by 2030, there are plenty of incentives to find winning approaches. In conclusion, she said Covid-19 has helped her to gain back the four hours; she has more time with her family and the development has enabled her acquire more knowledge and hands-on skills. I am operating in my timea COVID-born phenomenon that has enabled many of us to work to our natural biorhythms throughout 24-hour cycles, at intervals when we are at our most productive, creative, and receptive, she said. As we continue battling with Covid-19, let us learn one or two things from Ms Salzmans catalogue of trends to adapt to the new environment.
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Posted: December 22, 2021 at 1:29 am
Purity, sweetness and entrancing textures: the prized virtues of mature Scottish grain whiskies.
At their best, aged in good quality American oak casks, brimming with vanilla and echoing rich pastry cream on the finish, grain whiskies are amongst the most delicious whiskies in the world.
They are the perfect whiskies to name...Hedonism.
Hedonism will always be lush, soft and creamy but each year we use different whiskies, in different combinations, to achieve this. To learn what exactly is in your bottle of Hedonism, click the RECIPE & FACTSHEET download link below and check the code on the back label.
The inspiration behind our whisky HEDONISM is just that pleasure, enjoyment, a celebration of that ideal marriage between distilled spirit and high quality oak maturation.
The aromas and flavours hint of vanilla, caramel, a delicate fruitiness, accented by flashes of coconut in the finish.
This is a whisky that will appeal to both the ardent whisky enthusiast and newcomers to whisky alike.
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Liberated from their frames, paintings snap, crackle and pop in Florence Peake’s irreverent dance performance at National Gallery, London – Art…
Posted: at 1:29 am
The National Gallery in London's exhibition Poussin and the Dance (until 3 January)the UKs first significant show of the 17th century French painter for nearly 30 yearsclaims to reveal a new fun-loving side to this most erudite of artists artists. But while many of the paintings on show feature Dionysian revels and Bacchanalian cavortings, these shenanigans of gods and mortals are organised with a meticulous precision that seems the opposite of exuberant abandon.
A more hedonistic sensuousness is to be found in the stunning antique pieces which have been juxtaposed with the paintings inspired by them, most notably two vast marble vases from the first century CE: the Salpion of Athens, on loan from the archeological museum in Naples and the so-called Borghese Vase loaned by the Louvre. These are adorned with friezes of sensuously carved nymphs, satyrs and maenads who, several centuries later, crop up rather more clinically in Poussins compositions.
Poussin's Bacchanalian Revel Before a Term (1632-3). Courtesy of National Gallery, London
But while we might admire Poussins carefully choreographed frolickings, or appreciate the more ancient renderings of flesh into stone, its also impossible to ignore the dark side to all this mythical merrymaking and figurative grappling, where female flesh is served up in abundance and hedonism so often tips into orgy, abduction and rape.
Of course these old- masterly conundrums play out way beyond Poussin and the Dance and run throughout the entire National Galleryand indeed every museum in the Western world. Before so many of art historys greatest hits we now have to negotiate uncomfortably mixed feelings as painterly brilliance and sculptural gorgeousness distracts from what is actually being depicted, and the circumstances and value systems that shaped their form and content.
Performance of Florence Peake's Factual Actual (2021). Courtesy of Florence Peake
It was therefore an utter joy to see these vexed issues getting a robustly irreverent seeing-to in Florence Peakes Factual Actual (2021), a live work which involved striking and unexpected physical encounters between paintings, performers, and audience members. This multilayered performance took place upstairs from the Poussin show, in a gallery that, deliciously, was directly adjacent to Velazquezs Rokeby Venus (1647-1651). Here five dancers interacted with four giant vivid canvases painted by Peake, which were first suspended from the ceiling before being winched down to the floor to be dragged, crumpled, propped and used to cover, hide and house the performers.
Liberated from their gold frames, these giant lumps of cloth, which Peale had emblazoned with colossal tumbling multi-gendered figures bearing all manner of body parts, became further reanimated as active participants in the piece. No longer passive objects of veneration, the paintings took on a new role, getting down and dirty with the dancers and even, at one point, having their surfaces bumped and scratched with a microphone to form an aural backdrop to the action.
Here, despite being at the heart of the National Gallery and in close proximity to so many precious and revered masteryes masterpieces, nothing was sacrosanct: not even the audience, which often became engulfed in, or touched by, all the swooshing canvas-action. At times spectators were even forced to budge up to make room for one particularly disquieting performer, an impassive adorned and slightly sinister paint deity, covered Samurai-style in vivid scale-like armoured plates of painted canvas.
Factual Actual is part of Dance to the Music of Our Time, a programme of live works commissioned by National Gallery curator Priyesh Mistry in response to their Poussin exhibition. The other artists exploring assumptions around art history and messing with the canon are Hetain Patel, Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo and all of their performances as well as Factual Actual can now be viewed here.
Dance to the Music of Our Time is one of the many inventive initiatives take by the National Gallery in recent years to involve contemporary artists in its collection, with Kehinde Whileys exhibition The Prelude (until 18 April), a reclaiming and reframing of the sublime landscape tradition, another notable example.
More historic highlights include Michael Landys animatronic Saints Alive in 2013, Chris Ofilis 2017 Weaving Magic tapestry and wall paintings and George Shaws deliciously glum landscapes in 2016. However despite the debunking challenges to the white male establishment made by many of above, as well as Peake and her performers, the fact that the National Gallery saw nothing amiss in its decision to blow up Poussins postcard size pen and ink Study for the Abduction of the Sabine Women (around 1633) to more than metres high as part of its Poussin-themed caf dcor shows that there is still much work to be done.
Posted: at 1:29 am
Theres a bit of a musical theme to this years fizzy Christmas gifts. Veuve Clicquot has gone retro, packaging up its Brut NV in a box shaped like a cassette tape that can be personalised with a message (its also 100 per cent recyclable); Krug has collaborated with Belgian musician and 3D composer Ozark Henry on an immersive audio experience that will tell you the story of Krugs Grande Cuve 169me Edition while you sip it; while Dom Prignon and Lady Gaga, straining every sinew of their shared belief in absolute creative freedom, bring us a 2006 ros and 2010 blanc. And for lovers of the visual arts, theres David Shrigley characteristically deadpanning it on two paper second skin cases for Ruinart: choose between You can judge the bottle by the label and Each bottle is the same. Each bottle is different the wrappers are recyclable, but maybe dont just toss them in the bin...
Krug Grande Cuvee 169me Edition, with a QR code for an immersive binaural sound experience telling the wines story by 3D music pioneer Ozark Henry, 174,clos19.com
Veuve Clicquot Brut NV in a personalised 100 per cent recyclable cassette tape box, 59.99, selfridges.com
Dom Prignon x Lady Gaga Dom Perignon Rose Vintage 2006, 380, harrods.com
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV with a second skin label by artist David Shrigley, 76, clos19.com
Louis Roederer Cristal Ros Vinothque 2000, 2,000, hedonism.co.uk
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Posted: at 1:29 am
December marked the passing of Robert Michael Nesmith and Robert Warren Dale Shakespeare two musicians whose names, Im pretty sure, will be unfamiliar to most readers. I never met either man, but both had, upon reflection, pretty profound impacts on my life.
Nesmith is best known as the tall, wool-cap wearing guitarist of The Monkees, the 1960s bubble-gum pop group. Four actors were hired for the gig, each one to fit a type: Nesmith was the quiet thoughtful guy. They were to play the role of musicians in a TV show that would re-create each week the manic insanity of the Beatles movie A Hard Days Night. The joke may have been on the producers. While the four were actors, they were also real musicians who quickly tired of being the public face of a manufactured band that had no say over their material.
They soon staged a coup, kicked out the musical mercenaries some of the top studio talent in LA and started writing, performing and producing their own songs. Despite starting out with more sales than the Beatles at their launch, The Monkees flamed out after two years and Nesmith moved on to more challenging projects.
He quickly formed another group, the First National Band, which while short lived, is credited with creating the country-rock sound that the Eagles used to fill stadiums and establish an image of blue-jean hedonism that remains the standard. (Nesmith probably didnt worry too much about the financial success: His mother invented Liquid Paper, a correction fluid for typewritten copy that became a staple of office life in the pre-computer era. She left him a $25 million inheritance.)
Nesmith is also credited with pretty much inventing the music video. There is a hilarious backstage MTV interview with Nesmith when he reunited with The Monkees for the first time in 20 years, joining the band for the encore after a 1986 performance. The interviewer is seemingly incredulous that he didnt join the band for the entire tour, and that he turned his back on the chance to go onstage every night. He pointed out that he had a (very successful) business to run and couldnt just drop everything for a 100-date tour, no matter how many screaming fans. His attitude that fame and adoring crowds arent everything is utterly foreign to the interviewer and she seems a bit flummoxed. As I think about it, its also pretty alien to our current culture.
The really funny part comes when she asked him about his business, a video production company called Pacific Arts Corporation. It is often credited with inventing the music video genre in other words, it pretty much spawned the entire industry within which she worked. In response to her question, Nesmith says, with a tone of bemusement, ask your bosses.
I didnt identify with Nesmith: He was the guitarist (I play drums), he was tall (Im not) and he wore a wool cap. But he was part of the group, and that is what he and the rest of The Monkees gave me: a powerful desire to be part of a band. I loved music before I heard The Monkees but they were the first group that I encountered watching them on TV and I wanted in on that action. It wasnt the fame, the money or the chicks (I wasnt even 10 then), but I craved the feeling of being on the inside as the rest of the world looked on. I didnt have to be in front being in the back had its own attractions but I wanted to be part of the group.
The camaraderie was always a big part of the attraction when I played music. I founded bands, joined groups that cycled through drummers, and was a hired gun for specific gigs, but the most important thing for me, regardless of the music and I played just about every genre was the degree to which I felt like I was part of the group. Watching The Monkees helped crystallize that desire and showed me what it meant to be part of something bigger than just me making noise, no matter how therapeutic it was to bang on the drums.
Robbie Shakespeare showed up in my life a decade later. He was a Jamaican bass player who teamed up with drummer Lowell Sly Dunbar to form Sly and Robbie, a rhythm duo that helped make reggae accessible to the world and transformed that genre in the process.
After the two men met in 1972 they were inseparable and indefatigable. Shakespeare once estimated that they had taken part in 200,000 recordings in one role or another, from musicians to producers. Their collaborations ranged from Bob Dylan to Peter Tosh. They are perhaps best known for their work with Grace Jones as disco raised its ugly head, but their rhythms defied easy categorization and they backed performers like Joe Cocker, Carly Simon and even Yoko Ono.
Sly and Robbie opened my ears to the possibilities in blending musical forms and styles. I had long been a fan of reggae, but it was, for me, a separate genre. Their ability to go into any studio and turn out something recognizable you can tell when they are playing without even seeing their names and simultaneously new was jaw-dropping. They had played with the hardest of the hard rockers in Jamaica, yet they could then go into a studio with Mick Jagger or Madonna and fuse their island-honed chops with the lead singers more traditional rock n roll inclinations. As one critic explained. Their whole career has been geared toward creating new stuff, what no one else had done before.
I saw Sly and Robbie a couple of times when they backed Black Uhuru, the group that they produced and whose 1983 album Anthem won them a Grammy. Dunbar had long been an inspiration, but I didnt appreciate the power of the partnership between drummer and bass player until I saw them perform. Good drummers are one thing, good bassists another; put them together as a single unit like those two, however, and its new musical territory.
I spent a lot of time trying to find my partner but it never happened. But they gave me a sense of what was possible and the fact that it remained beyond my reach may have been one of the frustrations that prompted me, like Nesmith, to move on from music.
I apologize to readers who have stuck with this contribution to this point: I dont have any profound insights, just a thank-you to two musicians who had an impact on my life that went well beyond the rhythms and the melodies. Funny, how music can do that.
Brad Glosserman is deputy director of and visiting professor at the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University as well as senior adviser (nonresident) at Pacific Forum. He is the author of Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions (Georgetown University Press, 2019). His musical ambitions remain unfulfilled.
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Penfolds has released a stellar line-up of reds and whites for holiday quaffing, says Des Houghton.
A tasting of two supremely glamourous superblends of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz was one of the highlights of my wine year.
Penfolds was in a creative mood designing both these experimental blockbusters to stand alongside its iconic Grange.
Penfolds 2018 802A Cabernet Shiraz (68% cabernet, 32% shiraz) was unashamedly bold said the firms chief winemaker Peter Gago. 802A components were aged separately in new American oak for 22 months prior to blending.
There are scents of cola and exotic spice leading to a palate of blood plum, fig and goji berries that add notes of cranberry and cherries.
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Penfolds 2018 802B Cabernet Shiraz (55% cabernet, 45% shiraz) was treated entirely differently with the components co-fermented in French oak for 19 months.
Scents of blackberry, spice and milk chocolate billow from the glass. Gagos tasting notes speak of a fruit-driven wine with a savoury demeanour; a textural dryness and a sprinkle of chocolate dust and sweet paprika.
The superblends were released in Adelaide alongside the 70th anniversary vintage of Grange.
The Grange ($950) may be this nations ultimate expression of hedonism, but there are more affordable options.
A personal favourite is Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2019 ($99.99), an unashamedly old-fashioned Barossa shiraz with sweet, inky, juicy fruit with spicy oak and fine tannins.
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2018 ($135) is a multi-regional blend and this is a superb vintage, effortless, and mouth-watering.
Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz 2019 ($45) is another gutsy, old fashioned offering to be devoured by red meat lovers.
Some said Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2019 ($175) was the white wine of the year. Agreed. Its elegant and refined.
On the nose Yattarna delivers a wet stone minerality. On the palate there are citrus, white peach, pear and nectarine flavours. While Yattarna is a multi-regional blend the Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay 2020 ($125) is solely from Adelaide Hills fruit.
Bin A is more ostentatious. It and the Yattarna will improve with age. There was more peach and nectarine on the palate and a talc and chalk minerality in Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2020 ($50).
Schroeter and his team were also responsible for the Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling ($40). Cool fermentation and early bottling preserve the fruit quality. Bin 51 smells vaguely of lemon curd, honey and poached pears, and delivers attractive lime and barley water flavours..