A conversation with Jeff Slate

 

    We spoke with Jeff Slate about the bandwidth of the 20th century, why history is cruel to nuance, allowing himself a single life direction and what it means to be a hybrid artist.

    I remember thinking that the greatest thing in the world was to be this guy who is so revered as a writer and performer, and yet able to live his life in relative anonymity.


    Part I: Connection

    1

    Morgan Enos

    When I was younger, it felt like my be-all-end-all was to gain success as a songwriter. But after some life shifts, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I actually gain just as much fulfillment from music writing as I do songwriting. So, I identify with how you exist in those two realms simultaneously. It seems pretty 50/50. Was there any point in your life in which you felt you had developed into a hybrid artist?

    Jeff Slate

    No, it’s funny. It was more out of necessity. Other than when I was a really young kid and had discovered the Beatles, I think fame wasn’t really all that interesting to me. By the time I started playing an instrument, I was really into the Clash, the Jam, the Who, the Small Faces and the Kinks, and none of those bands screamed “I want to be famous.” They’re more about the quality of the art, saying something, an image and a perception. Elvis Costello, too, who I came to later. When I was in college, I remember seeing him at a coffee shop in the Village, and nobody noticed him. To my mind, he was a pretty famous guy, in a loose form of the word. Well-known.

    I remember thinking that was the greatest thing in the world. To be this guy who is so revered as a writer and performer, and yet to be able to live his life in relative anonymity! The idea of Beatlemania or any of that thing was never on the radar. But to answer your question, I had always written about music as a very young guy, and I think I used it as a way to get free tickets in the early days. One of the first acts I ever wrote about was the Clash, and I remember that they just gave away tickets. They were the most magnanimous guys. You could interview them and they’d talk for as long as you wanted. They were so opinionated; they had no filter. It was amazing.

    I used that as a way to supplement my income as a young guy living in New York City, and then I put it all into music and had some ups and downs. I worked with Pete Townshend and Sheryl Crow and had all those “Ooh, it’s about to happen!” moments. It kind of did, on an indie scale when I formed the Badge. And then the bottom dropped out. A lot of things happened. Our guitar player had some difficulties, and we became kind of big overseas and that became untenable as a way of existing as this young guy with a family.

    At the same time, the bottom dropped out of the industry. I remember this really vividly. I was really struggling. I was consulting at a law firm about patent and trademark stuff related to the music industry to pay the bills, and then trying to keep the writing and music thing going at night. I went to this event that Tom Petty was at. It was the first time I met him, and I had a really long conversation with him about it. He said something to me that Townshend had told me really early on, but I didn’t take it seriously.

    Tom said, “Look, when I left Gainesville, I sold my car, let my lease go, sold all my possessions and just hightailed it out to Los Angeles. I never went back and I never left myself any other option.” Well, I thought that was easy for him to say because he was successful and, obviously, super-talented and already on a path. But I thought about that. It really gnawed at me for a while. Then, one day, I just walked into the HR office at the firm I was consulting at and just said, “I’m putting in my notice.” They said, “Well, how long? A month? Two weeks?” It was 3:00pm on a Friday and I just said, “No, I’m done today.” I walked out not really having a plan, but knowing that I had some talent and really liked to hustle.

    Within a really short time of working just on the music and writing stuff, it became feasible economically. It was rough for the first year or so, but giving myself no other option was the key. Some people have said I shouldn’t give that advice to everybody who comes up to me after a show, because not everybody can do it. Not everyone is capable of just quitting everything in life and putting it all into this basket. It’s not sustainable living, necessarily, unless you can finesse your way through by utilizing the contacts you have. A kid came up to me about a year ago and I gave him that advice. In retrospect, I know he’s not going to be the next Eric Clapton, which I think he wants to be. It’s just not there. That doesn’t mean he can’t find his own way, so I stick to my advice — with caveats.

    That doesn’t really answer your question, but I don’t really ever think about it. Once you’re on the treadmill of the hustle of trying to sustain any career where you’re basically self-employed, you don’t really reflect all that much. I’ve been doing it now almost 10 years, and it was only during an interview last week in which I stopped and said, “Maybe that’s not for everybody. Maybe that doesn’t work for every person.” Some months, it’s 70/30. In others, it’s 30/70. It’s hard to be reflective when you’re thinking about all the deadlines and projects you’re juggling. No doubt about it, it’s a gift to be able to live my life the way I do. I never sit in a cubicle. I don’t have an office, per se.

    But it’s a pretty amazing existence. I spend time with Jeff Beck, Roger Daltrey, Tony Visconti and whoever because those are people I want to write about, not because someone’s sending me to write about them. Because I feel there’s a bigger story to be told, as well as that I’m able to utilize what I get from those conversations in my own art and craft. There’s a lot of people I don’t interview because I know there’s nothing for me there. Therefore, I feel that there’s nothing for my followers, my audience, either. You can interview anybody if you have any sort of platform. Certainly in EsquireThe Wall Street Journal or any of these places.

    But if you say “yes” to every interview that comes down the pipe, it sort of does a disservice to yourself and your craft as a writer. When you’re trying to build a conversation with your readership, you’re not just writing for a banner. You’re writing to build an audience is well.

    2

    You’re in a really unique position here in the New York music and journalism circles. Do you ever see others’ perception of you as being more about who you know than, perhaps, what you make. Like, “Oh, that’s Jeff. He knows Paul Weller,” or whoever. Is there anything you’d like people to know about you besides the baseline understanding of your connections, your writing, your music?

    I’ll be totally honest, I’ve never thought about it. This goes back to the original thing about Elvis Costello being anonymous. I really enjoy having the access I have. I love that people come to my shows without me twisting their arm. I’ve built this kind of audience. By the same token, it’s not a lack of self-awareness; there are two kinds of artists that I love. I would read any biography about John Lennon, or McCartney. Probably most of the artists that I love. I may not read them cover-to-cover, but I’m a sucker for those. Conversely, I couldn’t care less about a biography of Bob Dylan. It kind of speaks for itself. You either get it or you don’t.

    Are there things I’d like people to know? Absolutely. I’m certainly not equating myself with Bob Dylan. But by the same token, you can be the most marginal artist — and I’m pretty marginal! — and people know a lot about your personal life. Your politics, what clothes you wear, what concerts you go to. What more do people need? I’m accessible. People certainly pigeonhole me. But you’re right; the more I think about it, when I’m at shows, I do get the “Hey, can you get me in to meet so-and-so?”, or somebody will be a little more clever than that. “What’s so-and-so like?” Or I’ll be pigeonholed about the news of the day or what I’m listening to. But to me, these are just people who are like-minded and curious. I don’t think of them as fans, because I wouldn’t be so big-headed as to say I have fans. I think they just kind of identify.

    I think that’s why I get along with some of these guys. I would never put any of the artists I love, barring very few, on any kind of pedestal. I just treat them like people, and I think they appreciate that and like that kind of sincerity. I expect that from people. Maybe that’s expecting too much, but I would never be so big-headed as to say I have a fan base or anything.

    3

    Sometimes, I find the “hidden need” in my interactions in media to be frustrating. I’ll get some message that seems genuinely appreciative of my music, this website, something I wrote for Billboard, and I’m like, “Well, thank you!” I really feed off that energy. Then I realize it’s mostly a front; a stranger saw my byline and wants me to do something for them. I guess that’s not a question.

    It’s a question! I don’t let that bother me. My agent has a rule to not respond to anybody. It just simplifies life. But I think in this world of social media, there is a way to have a conversation with those people. I generally have a rule of not listening to most stuff, unless I have a sense that there’s something worthwhile there. Otherwise, as you know, I’ll get 50 albums a day. Between the music and the writing, it’s overwhelming. You know, I’ll dip in, and if something strikes my fancy, I’ll dip in. But I’m pretty clear that I can’t help people.

    Also, it takes a certain amount of a real lack of self-awareness for somebody to write to you in response to a Billboard article and then want you to write about their music. They therefore have a lack of understanding of not how you work, not how your choices work, but how the media platform works. That a place like Billboard is limited to covering Kanye, McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, and they do not care, zero percent, they give zero fucks about some guy in his basement with GarageBand in Indianapolis.

    I’m sure he’s good! To somebody. There is still a gatekeeper mentality, and there are ways for him to get heard with Twitter and SoundCloud. If he’s putting his efforts into getting somebody from BillboardEsquire or The Wall Street Journal to write about him, he has not grasped his place in the ecosystem and how he can leapfrog. Because you can! You can get to a million YouTube views. And that’s not how you do it.

    How important or meaningful music is to someone gives me a window, rightly or wrongly, into who they are as a person.

    4

    Do you know anybody who simply doesn’t seem to care about music? How does that affect your personal relationship with them? How would your enjoyment of life be affected if music had to be removed from the equation?

    There’s levels of that. I do know people who it’s not important to, or that it holds very little significance in their day-to-day lives. It’s sort of shocking to me. People talk about how it’s not important to millennials, teens, tweens, whoever. And I don’t find that to be the case at all, but I’m in an ecosystem where the people I know and their kids and my kids grew up surrounded by musicians and music. So, it’s pretty rare that I come across somebody who holds it to zero importance.

    By the same token, how important or meaningful music is to someone gives me a window, rightly or wrongly, into who they are as a person. I was born in 1967 and grew up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. That year-zero ethos where it was like we were going to change the world and tear down the old infrastructure really affected me. I always gravitate to music like that, even though I’m not a “words” guy. I subscribe to the Lennon notion, where the record is the document. Does it move you? Does it sound cool? Is it unique and different? The words are just another part of that painting.

    Joe Strummer, John Lennon, Bob Dylan… those people are a benchmark for me. It’s hard for me to understand somebody who loves The Eagles, Bon Jovi or Billy Joel. They’ve made a lot of great records, but they’re not in my record collection. There’s a long list of things I would put on my to-dos before I got to them. And that’s not to say I’m not familiar with their catalog. I’m a musician; that’s the lending library. You’ve got to know what’s out there. But by the same token, I can say that Ray Davies as a songwriter really is meaningful to me just as a fan, whereas a lot of people don’t say anything. Their art is just commerce.


    Part II: Bandwidth

    5

    You contributed liner notes to the 50th anniversary boxed set of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I feel like we’re in an interesting time in Beatles fandom, in which most “respect them” but will never put them on. Personally, I put them on every chance I get, and I still feel surprised by what I hear from time to time. What would you say to a Beatle-neutral person for whom they aren’t really a significant force in their lives? Do you feel there are still new things to say about a body of work that’s been absorbed by most of humanity multiple times over?

    People who are Beatle-neutral don’t realize that all the music they listen to comes from the Beatles. It no longer really comes from Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Little Richard, “Rocket 88” and Bill Haley. It did for a time, but there’s no music we listen to — hip hop, classical, jazz and everything in between — that the Beatles didn’t experiment in and change the scope of in their artistry. For somebody to be Beatle-neutral is just ignorance, and God love ‘em.

    Look, I don’t listen to the Beatles that often. You don’t need to. At a certain point, you’ve absorbed every album, you’ve absorbed the mono and the stereo, you’ve absorbed the outtakes and the bootlegs and the live tracks and you’re at your maximum. It’s just in your DNA. It’s in your brain. It’s not to say I don’t go through phases where I’ll listen to them. But I’ve been asked to write certain things in which I don’t need to go back and listen to them to write about it. It’s just sort of there. I think it’s the same thing for those people. They’re neutral. They take the Beatles for granted.

    When I first met my partner, Lynn, she said something that was totally outrageous. 100 or 200 years from now, or longer, when all of this is dust and history, none of these artists will be relevant. There will be no Rolling Stones. There will be no Who. There will be no Neil Young. There will be no Tim Buckley. None of them will be relevant. Probably not even Elvis, except for the fact that he existed. There will be, in the history books, Bob Dylan and the Beatles as the cultural movements and artists of the late 20th century, and all these other acts.

    If you think about it, any great composer from any period in history — Beethoven, Mozart, whoever it is — you don’t know their contemporaries because they’re irrelevant. The Beatles will be relevant. I’ve argued this with people, but usually after a half hour of them saying “No, Neil Young and the Beach Boys will be relevant!”, you pick into that catalog, and that diversity and artistry just doesn’t exist alongside a band like the Beatles or an artist like Dylan because it’s a limited scope. It was relevant for the time and place, but not so relevant to history.

    These artists will all be mentioned, maybe. But you think of kids’ history books and how they learn about World War II, or certainly World War I. There’s the more obscure events, like the Russian Revolution or the War of 1812. You’re cherry-picking just the top-line information. And if we’re looking for the top line information on music of the 20th century, it’s only the Beatles and Bob Dylan. So for someone to say “They’re not important to me,” they don’t even realize how important they are. I’m not saying that out of ego, because I love them and I’ve had the benefit of working for them. As a fan, that’s a huge thing. But it’s more than that.

    I’ve spent about 15 years thinking about it after that first conversation, and the more I tell that anecdote to people, the more I know it to be true. Because you think about times in history, whether it’s music, culture, art or politics, and in 100 or 200 years, there’s no place in the bandwidth for the Rolling Stones. There just isn’t. However much people love them. And I love them too; I don’t mean to denigrate the Stones. I’m looking at their Mono box on my shelf right now. But their relevance to artistry in the late 20th century is infinitesimally small next to the scope and bandwidth and mark over the long arc of history that artists like the Beatles and Bob Dylan will have made.

    It doesn’t mean that music won’t exist. It doesn’t mean there won’t be people who won’t discover, love and cherish it. It will probably exist, in some form or another, forever. But if you go to Spotify and look at the streams for the artists you love, it’s interesting because a band like Creedence has a lot of streams and the Stones are small-ish in relative scale. Not next to Creedence, but next to artists who are big in this moment. So you can see that as the Boomers drop off, the next generation and the third and fourth generations drop off, history will be cruel to these artists that we love and admire. No matter what Keith Richards says, they will just be a footnote. It will just be “Oh yeah, and there were these other bands, too.”

    The idea that there’s room in history for all the people we love is based on our own ego and adoration and nostalgia. I include in this all the people I listen to daily.

    6

    The Stones are such a commercial empire. Thinking about anything of that size turning to dust is remarkable.

    There is absolutely no arguing that the early singles and their 1968-1972 run of albums is some of the best rock ’n roll music ever made. Period. However, the scope of it, from an artistic standpoint, is very, very, very, very limited. So, they’re a brand now, and they’re also these sort of cultural icons and caricatures that we love and admire. But history doesn’t do that. It doesn’t do nuance. It doesn’t do subtlety. There will be a place for it; we’re discovering all these minor characters from the Native American Wars, the Underground Railroad, World War I and II. And we’re fascinated by them because they give us a window into those times.

    That’s Keith Richards 200 years from now. He will be this kind of minor character who people will fascinate over. But he won’t be held up to Lennon and McCartney, because there just isn’t the bandwidth for it. And people won’t even remember Lennon and McCartney! That’s the thing. It will just be “The Beatles.” The idea that there’s room in history for all the people we love is our own ego and adoration and nostalgia for the period. I include in this all the people I listen to on a daily basis. Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, the Small Faces. Wiped clean. Gone. They will not exist.

    And that’s a shame, but I’m just talking about the broad scope of the culture. Of course, there’s people like me who collect every Stax single. That’s 60 years later, or whatever. But the reality is that that group becomes smaller and smaller over time. For the people who are historians or your average person, they will only know a few names. Look at how wholly irrelevant Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley have become in the last 10 years. There are still millions of people who love and admire them. No doubt about it. They both have their place in the cultural firmament and they were peerless artists in their time.

    The culture has changed so much in the last five years, and the conversation is no longer about what a great artist Elvis was, but why he didn’t do more with that art. Why didn’t he break out from the Colonel? Why didn’t he change over time? If he was such a fan and lover of black culture, why did he waste the ability to bring that to the masses? Why wasn’t he more of a friend to that population? Now, of course, we’re trying to put this idea of the “woke” artist on to Elvis, a humble country boy. But you can see how, over time, that will erase his significance.

    7

    Wouldn’t projecting those modern ideals onto the past create a sort of retrograde amnesia about art?

    Yeah. But also, if you look at his catalog, there will only be five to ten songs that will be relevant 100 years from now. You’re going to have “Jailhouse Rock,” “That’s All Right” and “Hound Dog” because they were moments that kind of launched him. There’ll be some later songs because they were beautiful and well-constructed and his voice was in great shape. That’s the beauty of the Beatles — they were such a compact story. There’s a neat beginning, middle and end. That serves history really well. It’s such an easy story to tell.


    Part III: Resistance

    8

    You seem to have a complicated relationship with the suburban part of Connecticut you spent much of your childhood in. Can you talk about that at all?

    My experience is that it’s super-negative and myopic, in that for anyone who has big dreams, big ideas, wants to see the world, wants to experience culture, the answer is inevitably no.

    I’ll tell you a perfect example. I grew up there, had a band and moved to New York City. That was kind of inevitable, because at a certain point, you just reach saturation in a place like that. You can only play Connecticut College so many times. I went to New York City in the mid-’80s, and by ‘93-ish, I was working with Pete Townshend. My best friend, who was in that original band, came to visit, hung out, met Pete and saw me play with him.

    He went back to the bar we used to play at and was telling this story to people. “Hey, Jeff’s working with Pete Townshend!” And they said, “No, he isn’t.” He said, “No, you don’t understand. I was there. I saw him. He played with him last night at this club in New York.” They said, “You’re a fucking liar.” The idea that anyone could succeed and get out of what is a known quantity within the construct of those environments is anathema to the vast majority of the people who live there.

    I know there are people who break out, and I know there are people who see the world differently and chafe at that. I love them for doing it, because a lot of them stay there. But by the same token, it’s like, “Why did Dylan leave Hibbing?” And, again, I’m not equating myself with him. But there was nothing there for me. You know, I was pretty involved in politics there and the area’s great, but it breaks my heart because I see places like that kind of stuck in this retrograde mentality because there’s a staunch few who say “no” to every movement toward the future.

    As a person who has the great gift to have any platform at all in this world, to not speak truth to power in this day and age is a dereliction of that gift.

    9

    Of course, that’s devastating to an artistic person.

    I think it was crushing. It took 10 years off my development to break out of that mentality and finding that there were like-minded people and that you can be whatever you want to be. I run into people I grew up with, and first of all, they look 15 years older than I certainly perceive myself. They also are incredulous at the life I’ve lived. Not just that I’ve done these things, but why would I want to? It seems so complicated!

    I do have to say that by and large, the people I was friendly with have now come around and seen enough of the world, though they’re still mostly based there, to be like, “Wow! You’re doing what you said you would do when you were 15. That’s so amazing! You’re hanging out with Ringo! What the fuck!” So, there’s that. Look, I think people often have it much worse. There are people who deal with not just artistic things, but gender identity and other questions of who or what they are.

    And they live in places that are not accessible to New York City or L.A. or wherever. I was literally getting on a train alone at nine years old to come to New York City, and to most people, that’s just a dream that drives them crazy at night. It was Amtrak, I’ll give it that. But my best friend who was in that band used to joke that Benedict Arnold, who burned New England to the ground during the Revolutionary War when he was a turncoat, was the greatest American hero because New London deserved nothing better.

    10

    You have a pretty outspoken voice on social media about the woes of 2018. What do you think about people who seem so unaffected — dare I say comfortable — with atrocity?

    There’s a couple of levels to that. The first thing is that as a person who has the great gift to have any platform at all in this world, whether as a writer, musician or artist, to not speak truth to power in this day and age is a dereliction of that gift. I do get hate mail — there’s no doubt about it! — because I don’t hide my political feelings. But to play it safe, as many artists do? Taylor Swift has not benefited from trying to have it all ways. It has not been good for her career.

    Then, to talk about average people in their average lives, it is hard for us in New York City who are in media to identify with that life, other than retrospectively. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by people who are almost universally like-minded. We get to go to the march this afternoon in Union Square and say whatever we’re going to say. But just that myopia, safeness and just being overwhelmed by the daily catastrophes on the world stage, people almost can’t compute at a certain level.

    But there is no doubt in my mind that there is literal, individual and institutional racism at work in places like that. I know because I grew up with the people who remain, live and work there, and I’m still in contact with them. Many, as well-meaning as they may be, will shrug their shoulders and say “There’s nothing I can do about it.” Actually, there is. There is something we can collectively do.

    I think for many people, particularly those ages 60 and up who I think are largely who you’re talking about and who have informed the successive generations, that idea and hope that a person can make a difference died in 1968 with Bobby Kennedy. It was this moment in time where people thought if they could get together, they could change poverty, they could change race relations, etc. And then Malcolm X was shot, and King was shot, and he was shot, and it was just like, “Okay, we’re done. We’ll end the war, and that’s all we can manage.” And even that took seven years.

    Very few people on the world stage, or even on the local stage, can speak to people of all races, backgrounds, genders and religions. Those kinds of people come along very rarely. You can’t compare Bernie Sanders to Bobby Kennedy because he really doesn’t speak across races at all. It’s an unfortunate product of our times. People are numbed by the news, television and the Internet. It’s just easier to sit at home and enjoy the World Cup and not think that Putin’s killing journalists.

    11

    Wouldn’t that just be human nature?

    It’s self-preservation. Everybody only has so much bandwidth, and it’s exhausting on a day-to-day basis. I have to take breaks periodically. I had this conversation a few months ago with Eric Idle where told me he periodically takes breaks from Trump. He said, “I’m going to write, and do this, and do that, and in order for me to be productive, I’m going to take a break. I’m so outraged all the time that it makes me wholly unproductive and not present for my family and friends, and my work, to be caught up in the myriad daily occurrences that would have been unfathomable just 18 months ago.”

    12

    Do you think it speaks to our adaptability? The last election was so shocking when it happened, but it’s reached a point of background ambience. “I’m still mad,” people understandably seem to say, “but I’ve got other things to worry about!”

    I think part of that is the media’s fault. The normalization of Trump, his family and his acolytes has done real damage to the media as a concept, but also to our democracy. I’m not sure how quickly we’ll snap back, but I do have to say this. A friend of mine, who counts himself, if you asked him, as one of the biggest Trump haters in the world, went to see the Journey show last week. He’s friends with Jonathan Cain, an apocalyptic evangelical whose wife is Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” whatever the fuck that means. He was there hobnobbing with these people, and he heard Eric Trump was in the next room. He went running into the room to get a selfie with him because he thought it would be ironic, or whatever.

    He said, “Well, what do you think I should do?” I said, “I would have made a scene, but in lieu of making a scene, you can politely leave.” Because it’s incumbent on us to speak with one voice and to not normalize this behavior and these people. People make these analogies to Nazi Germany and everybody gets all bent out of shape, but in any kind of authoritarian rule, this is exactly the kind of creeping authoritarianism in which the end product is the loss of life, liberty and democracy. It just is.

    13

    It’s remarkable how blatant nonsense or falsehoods can be stated in a way that would make a thoughtful person question themselves.

    There’s a larger number of the population who don’t believe it’s false. They call it out when you or I or anybody posts about it on Twitter. They will take umbrage. I was looking this morning at Twitter at people defending the current immigration policy. I thought it must have been a couple days ago, before it reached a fever pitch. Nope, it was current. This one guy had a string against whoever made the post, and it was happening in real time. I was watching it happen. I was thinking “This guy, wherever he is, is sitting in his house and he truly believes that this is best for America.”

    14

    Many, many people believe that everything in mainstream news is made up and that suffering kids are actors. What does it take for the mind to reverse itself on consensus reality?

    It is very literal brainwashing. It’s shocking and distressing, but it’s not an aberration. It’s the policy of the United States government. That’s the worst part. You and I can sit here and say it’s an aberration, and maybe historically it is. See, we don’t know where this ends up. We don’t know how resilient our democracy is. As somebody pointed out on Twitter this morning, which I thought was great — “There is nobody who has turned out to be on the right side of history who is arguing the difference between fencing and a cage.”

    15

    Would you say we’re all headed into uncharted territory?

    We’re neck-deep in uncharted territory. I don’t see where this goes. It feels like the rule of law is resilient, but this is a guy who’s never paid any real or meaningful consequences in his life. We’re all counting on the national security apparatus and Mueller to save us, and that’s a pretty low bar. I just don’t know if that’s how that plays out. We’re close to the midterms and people have to get out and vote. I hope he draws a primary challenger, because now they’re saying the plan is to double down on the immigration policy in the fall, right before the midterms.

    I hope some Republicans draw a conscience. They seem to be so greedy and feckless that they can’t help themselves. That they’re so intent on destroying the social safety net and everything about what democracy has given us in the last 50 years that they will side with this guy is beyond me. But there was a great piece the other day in, I think, Business Insider about how everywhere in the world that has embraced the democratic social contract, where you pay a fair wage, support unions and give people health care, they’re thriving. They’re really thriving and growing at a really prosperous rate. The social contract, which is certainly strained because of race issues and the refugee crisis and all these other things, is still intact. Whereas we are a dwindling world power at best, on the verge of at least a socioeconomic civil war.

    If you look at the congressional districts, you’re always going to be in a position where the Congress and Senate are pretty close. So then, if you don’t control the executive branch, which is installing hundreds and hundreds of young and federalist-leaning judges that will have an impact on policy for the next 50 or 60 years, that sort of snap-back idea isn’t that obvious. How do you recover from that?

    Thank you.

    Data


    Conversation: 207
    Curated by: Morgan Enos
    Conducted by: Email
    Published: June 29, 2018
    Total questions: 15
    Word count: 5833
    Reading time: Twenty-one minutes
    Imagery: 3

    Metadata


    Magnanimity: ∞
    Caveat: Accessed
    Finesse: ∞
    Resilience: Accessed
    Conscience: ∞
    Incredulity: Reversed

    Relation


    About the subject


    Jeff Slate is a songwriter, musician and music journalist who writes Esquire and many other platforms. He resides in New York City.

    About the curator


    Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.


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