Friday, October 15, 2021

ZB's YouTube Cavern #10: A Lovely Wormhole

The other night I had a splendid little run on YouTube that started off with a quick search for a live version of Nikki Lane's tune "Send the Sun". I found this one below and it's amazing - her voice is angelic and the backing musicians do a terrific job at accenting and complimenting her vocals. Always awesome when an artist can strip down a song and crush it.

Nikki Lane - Send the Sun - 1/25/2017 - Paste Studios, New York, NY

Naturally after that video the all-powerful YouTube algorithm had a juicy suggestion for me. And I couldn't help but click it, thus opening up the wormhole. It's an OG rendition of "In Dreams" by Sierra Ferrell from 2018. I think this is the video that went viral-ish and eventually lead to her getting signed by a label and ultimately releasing her debut album this year. She is a master of her craft - great guitar playing, thoughtful lyrics, and a voice that will send chills down your spine. She's in Holyoke, MA in November (with Bella White opening) and I will 100% be in attendance.

Sierra Ferrell, "In Dreams" // GemsOnVHS

Next up was a group that I wasn't familiar with called The Staves. It's a trio of English gals (I believe they're all sisters) and they play a live rendition of their song "In The Long Run" in the middle of a meadow. The lead singer/guitarist has a stunning voice and the backing singers come in with well-placed harmonies all throughout. And that chorus - my lord. Pure folk bliss plain and simple.

The Staves - In The Long Run

After a trip across the pond I found myself hopping back over to the backwoods of the USA watching Cat Clyde's rocker "Mama Said". The melody instantly reminded me of "Where Is My Mind?" by the Pixies and the music video itself gave me Into the Wild vibes for sure. It's a cool song structure that feels icy thin, and the song subject is heavy af. This is sort of where the tone shifted in the wormhole and I'm glad it did (stay tuned to find out why).

Cat Clyde - Mama Said (Official Video)

Last but certainly not least I stumbled upon my final epic video of the night: "Hertz" by Amyl and the Sniffers. There've been a handful of moments the last decade plus when the stars aligned and a new musical artist presented themselves to me within a cavern. There was Gorillaz back in the OG days of YouTube - I remember watching Feel Good Inc over and over and just marveling at this new website and all it had to offer. Then there were the college years when Reggie Watts and Dub FX truly blew my mind - their looping style was perfect for the medium. Then Ty Segall came later on - I'll never forget hearing "Feel" in my bed at Hathorne Crescent late one night just completely floored. And then came Amyl and the Sniffers - what a freaking hilarious yet badass hodgepodge these guys are. Lead singer Amy Taylor is mesmerizing and the bringing-it-back-the-old-school swagger they have is infectious.

Amyl and the Sniffers - Hertz

I proceeded to watch about another dozen Amyl videos, as one does once they've found that "it" factor within the wormhole lol. And while it can be a bit of a time suck I must say the YouTube suggestion bar is a great place to discover new artists and videos. I'm on a never-ending quest to find good tunes I've never heard, and a quick little cavern can really do the trick. It was a late bedtime that night, but totally worth it.

- ZB James

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Reusable Packaging: What Some Publications Are Ignoring in Their Evaluations

    As the people of the world continue to realize the growing need for environmental rehabilitation and stewardship, I have seen a number of large publications evaluating the costs and benefits of reusable packaging vs single-use. I do not know whether big oil goes so far as to lobby against reusable packaging - they probably do - but from the majority of the publications I’ve seen (specific post inspiration came from this TIME article: Reusable Packaging Is the Latest Eco-Friendly Trend. But Does It Actually Make a Difference?), these evaluations are shortsightedly from an energy-use-only standpoint.

The main argument is “you would have to use a reusable product X amount of times before it would save more energy than it took to create single-use product Y”. While energy-use may be the most important factor at the moment, it is not the only concern that requires acknowledgement when assessing the costs of reusable vs single-use, especially when a large percentage of consumers and services (accidentally or not) are not properly disposing of waste.

What I have not seen many of these publications include in their assessments is the impact that single-use packaging has on wildlife, specifically marine wildlife. When you have massive swaths of single-use packaging blanketing portions of the ocean, suffocating animals, being mistaken for food, and entering their bodies (which enters ours if we consume them), the problem is bigger than just energy. To ignore that incalculably complex issue in these publications is irresponsible. *This is not to say there aren’t plenty of people and organizations out there raising awareness about the issue; just that I’m not seeing it in this conversation.*

I know not everyone cares about the suffering of marine wildlife, or even recognizes that marine life can suffer, but the problem is a symptom of a bigger environmental issue if nothing else. Habitat and biodiversity loss threaten to exponentially increase the speed at which these emissions freely enter our biosphere, pushing the world past its tipping point at even greater speeds.

The more (overwhelmingly single-use) waste that collects in our oceans, the less viable a host it becomes for marine flora, which sequester enormous amounts of Carbon. This leads to increases in overall ocean temperature and acidification, further clearing the path for greenhouse gasses to enter our biosphere and raise global temperatures beyond repair.

No matter how you slice it, there is more to consider in the “reusable vs disposable” debate than the amount of energy it takes to create or recycle the product. It concerns me to comb through these articles and see little-to-no recognition of this problem, which could easily outweigh energy-use issues once we’ve ditched fossil fuels as an energy source.

As a leading publication, I think printing any article that leads people to believe they should go on using single-use packaging is a harmful misstep when complete ecosystems, species, and the suffering of wildlife are at stake. As of right now, there is no comprehensive way to calculate the long-term impacts that plastic pollution will have on our oceans and its inhabitants, which is all the more reason why it can't be ignored.

- Moth