Col. Tom Parker / Extinction of Species

Col. Tom Parker / Extinction of Species

Date

HostGeorge Knapp

GuestsAlanna Nash, Ashley Dawson

In the first half, Elvis biographer Alanna Nash discussed Colonel Tom Parker, his dark past, and his manipulation of the King. Although Parker was best known as Presley's larger-than-life manager, Nash explained, his life before and after Elvis was intriguing and colorful as well. Born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, Parker grew up in the Netherlands, where he honed his skills as a shrewd wheeler-and-dealer—or, less charitably, a con man. Questions remain as to the mysterious nature of his time there, which included a hasty departure for the United States following an incident Nash described as "very serious, that he could not fix—and he could fix anything."

Once he arrived in America, Parker created for himself a new name and persona, claiming to be from West Virginia, exploiting his honorary title of "Colonel," and building a career as a music promoter and manager. His roots sometimes showed, however, with his European accent, his affinity for figures on society's fringes, and his cynical, transactional view of human relations. After hearing of the young Elvis's local popularity, Parker convinced him and his skeptical family of his good intentions and expertise, and their relationship, which served as a blueprint between managers and artists for many after them, was formed. But following Presley's death in 1977, Parker refused to discuss his time as his manager with her, Nash said.

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In the latter half of the program, Ashley Dawson, Professor of Postcolonial Studies at City University of New York, argued that the current extinction rate is nothing short of catastrophic, with the Earth losing about a hundred species every day. At the heart of the issue is human activity that, unlike the waves of extinction of the past, has resulted in intertwining problems of shrinking biodiversity, pollution, and climate change. Consequently, as Dawson contends in his book Extinction: A Radical History, the number of wild animals on Earth has been cut in half in the past 40 years alone.

However, the accelerated extinction of the past few centuries isn't merely a problem of careless stewardship of the planet, Dawson said. Instead, he elaborated, the same capitalist forces that drive colonialism, slavery, and corporate greed ensure that the cycle of exploitation and degradation will continue. Although the situation is bleak—with recent developments like the recent lifting of certain EPA requirements adding to the environmental challenges we face—Dawson argued that history has shown that significant progress can be made in reversing the damage that's been done to the natural world.

Knapp's News 7/24/22

George Knapp shares recent items of interest, including articles about the Department of Defense's investigation of anomalies and the relationship between psychedelic drugs and telepathy.

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