For our final Chainlinks of the year, we bring you recommendations from Justin Smith (guitarist of Graf Orlock, Ghostlimb, and Dangers, and founder of Vitriol Records) and Jon Nix (film/video director and founder of Turnstyle Films).
Justin Smith of Graf Orlock
1) Free Solo
This is about Alex Honnold's 2018 free climb of El Capitan in Yosemite. This means with no ropes, harnesses or anything going up 3200 ft of sheer granite. Not only am I a fan of extreme outdoor activity and punishing hikes/climbing, but also find inspiration in the complete insanity that surrounds doing something that no person has ever done before. This day in age there are few spots on the planet unexplored by the Shackletons of the world, so this is something that I find amazing, pushing the strangeness and fragility of the human body against the mercilessness of nature.
2) Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska
I am reminded of this every year because I made it a point to listen to this thing every Thanksgiving twice. There is no reason for this except that I like it and revisiting it regularly reminds me of the trueness of a well written song and a fucked up story. This record came out the year I was born and is situated between the super depressing, The River and the somewhat overdrawn Born in the USA. I love the imagery and the torn down perfection of four track songs. To me this is something that very clearly depicts the internal plight of people struggling in the US, without bowing to the trajectory of a bullshit arc in what was ostensibly the glory of Reagan’s America. Top ten for sure.
3) Revolutions Podcast: The Mexican Revolution
By a dude named Mike Duncan who has been doing this for a number of years, covering the French, English, American, Haitian, Bolivarian and now Mexican Revolutions. He formerly trudged through 170 some odd highly exacting episodes in the History of Rome podcast. Excellent. Very direct, informed and hyper detailed. Being from California, our state essentially avoids that this was ever part of Mexico and does its best to wipe it clean from the curriculum of youth. As a historian this is right up my alley, perhaps a bit much for the casual listener, but sick as hell and full of stabbings and gnarly demographic disasters.