PHAWKER.COM – Curated News, Gossip, Concert Reviews, Fearless Political Commentary, Interviews….Plus, the Usual Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll


You Report, We Decide

News, Media, Politics, Music, Culture, Gossip, In The 215 And The Great Beyond

BEING THERE: Chairlift + Kristin Kontrol @ UT

April 23rd, 2017



If the name Chairlift doesn’t ring a bell, search your memory banks for “Ch-Ching” and/or “Bruises,” both of which appeared on Apple commercials and probably burrowed into your brain. Still don’t recognize them after a quick Google search? Well, that’s too bad, because the band’s breaking up, and their show at Union Transfer on Friday night was their second-to-last. There’s good news, though, and it’s twofold; 1) we live in a digital world in which their music can be easily accessed, and 2) the art-pop duo is breaking up on good terms, so that bassist/drummer Patrick Wimberly and frontwoman Caroline Polachek [pictured above, right] can pursue more ambitious projects. Chairlift has been a difficult band to categorize since their inception, considering they’ve been a part of the Brooklyn-based indie music scene, but have been signed to Columbia records since their initial 2008 release of Does You Inspire You?, not to mention those aforementioned Apple commercials. It’s a pretty bold play for a band signed to a major label like Columbia to dissolve in order to go after something bigger, but if the show is any indication, it’s the right move. Chairlift was a great vehicle for Polachek to get her career started, but seeing her perform at Union Transfer on Friday night was almost like watching a Giant Tortoise trying to squeeze itself into a Hermit Crab shell. Fuck shells, though, because this woman is breaking out of all of them, and I won’t be surprised if she ends up playing the Wells Fargo Center next time she plays Philly. Now let’s get to the show.

Polachek strutted on stage in four-inch heels, wearing some sort of high-fashion poncho, which she shed after a couple songs to reveal a skin-tight unitard, bedazzled with rhinestones. It would have been completely ridiculous, except she rocked it like the bonafide pop-goddess she’s transformed into. This being Chairlift’s penultimate show, there was certain gravity to the proceedings. It was like being at a rocket-launch for Polachek’s post-Chairlift career.  Standing behind her synth, she displayed masterful control of her Regina Spektor-meets-Bjork voice, which somersaulted through Patrick Wimberly’s drums/bass, Danny Meyer’s baritone sax, and Brian Kelly’s electric guitar. Pulling no punches, the band played both their commercial-famous pop hits “Ch-Ching” and “Bruises,” to a very appreciative, dancey crowd. Among the roar of the applause, though, there was the weight of the knowledge that it was among the last times that these songs would ever be played live for an audience. But, if anything, it fueled Wimberly and Polachek’s performance, lending it a vitality and sense of urgency. Shedding a few tears between songs at one point, Polachek powered through the set with the confidence of a little girl singing alone in her room into a hairbrush microphone, dreaming of pop grandeur. Adorned in that sparkly unitard, Polachek postured her slender body as sculpture throughout the night, striking some poses that expressed her power. A power that comes from being really, really fucking talented and realizing her dream, singing into a real microphone to a crowd of adoring fans.

The burly, bearded bartender I talked to said that Chairlift’s music wasn’t what he normally listened to, but that he was getting swept up in the sound and the energy. The mountainous, tatted-up bouncer I talked to effectively said the same thing. Even if Chairlift’s not your cup of tea, it’s hard to deny the skill of the musicians, and, last night, it was impossible not to at least sense the band’s inertia. I ran into Kera and Jason, a pair of old friends who had flown to Philly from Georgia just to see the show. Worth it, they said. While Kera and Jason’s level of devotion is an outlier, I did see a hell of a lot of devotion in the crowd’s facial expressions, their dance moves, and their body language. I shit you not, there were several times throughout the show that I saw people hold their quavering hands up in the air with the zeal of worshippers. In its request for an encore, the crowd screamed and clapped, as per usual, but they also stomped their feet on the up-beat of their claps’ downbeat. It was really cool, and just one more indicator that Caroline Polachek’s wave is swelling. She invited Kristin back on stage to tackle “Ghost Tonight” as a duet. Shit, how could I not have mentioned the opening act sooner, ya know, like at the beginning? That would have been too easy.

A quick aside: Kristin Kontrol is a synth-pop threesome in which the members were wearing all black. The dude on the synth and the dude on the drum pad both had hair longer than frontwoman Kristin’s chic bob ]pictured, above left]. If the opening act is meant as an amuse bouche for the headliner, well then 10 out of 10 for Kristin Kontrol. With their synth foundation and strong female vocals, the band was definitely, like Chairlift, nostalgic for 80’s synth sonics, but distinguished themselves with a steadier sound, and darker undertones. Check out their album, X-Communicate. Now, where was I?

Chairlift closed the set with one of the first songs they wrote, “Planet Health.” Before starting, Polachek taught the crowd the chorus, “We’re feeling great tonight,” sung four times. When we got it down, she played the sad, sleepy hook on her synth, and the audience showed up and sang along. The song’s melancholy tone was compounded by the fast-approaching end of the show and Chairlift’s looming dissolution. I felt, in my belly, a childish sense of loss, witnessing the end of such a tight band, but Polachek has more in store for us. She wrote that song “No Angel” for Beyoncé for god’s sake. And, as that dude Jason from Georgia said, “I think after you write a song for Beyoncé, you just wear heels for the rest of your life.” I’m looking forward to watching Caroline Polachek kick down some damn doors in those heels, ponchos, unitards, or whatever else she sees fit, on her quest to realize her post-Chairlift sound. – DILLON ALEXANDER


[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

INCOMING: Mad Scientists

April 21st, 2017


WASHINGTON POST: Saturday’s March for Science is political, but not partisan. So say the organizers, who insist that they can walk that fine line even in an era of ideological rancor and extreme polarization. “We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, a cell biologist who will be among those with two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.”

The Science March, held on Earth Day, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Mall, and satellite marches have been planned in more than 400 cities on six continents. The crowd will gather on Saturday near the Washington Monument for five hours of speeches and teach-ins, culminating in the march at 2 p.m. The march will follow Constitution Avenue along the north edge of the Mall to the foot of Capitol Hill. The weather forecast is a tricky one — it’s not an exact science, apparently — but attendees should be prepared for rain, particularly in the afternoon.

Protest marches may be common in Washington these days, but one centered on the value of science is unprecedented. The march is part of a wave of activism in the research community. Scientists are jumping into the political fray by running for public office — such as in southern California, where geologist Jess Phoenix, a Democrat, has announced her candidacy for a congressional seat held by a Republican.

Many mainstream science organizations — such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Chemical Society — have signed on, despite their lack of experience in going to the barricades.Rush Holt, head of AAAS, said there was initial hesitation about whether this was the kind of event a scientist ought to be joining but that members of his association overwhelmingly support the decision to participate.

This is not simply a reaction to President Trump’s election, Holt said. Scientists have been worried for years that “evidence has been crowded out by ideology and opinion in public debate and policymaking.” Long before Trump’s election, people in the scientific and academic community raised concerns about the erosion of the value of expertise and the rise of pseudoscientific and anti-scientific notions. Science also found itself swept up into cultural and political battles; views on climate science, for example, increasingly reflect political ideology. MORE

RELATED: March For Science

RELATED: Philadelphia March For Science

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

ONE YEAR GONE: Purple Reign

April 21st, 2017

NEW YORK TIMES: Last August, when Angie Marchese became director of archives at Paisley Park, the rock star Prince’s studio and residence, one of the first things she did was to get rid of all the candles. Festooning nearly every room of the compound, they came in all sizes, shapes, colors and scents (including a few of Prince’s own aromatic blends).

“We replaced all the real candles with artificial candles,” Ms. Marchese said in an interview this week in an anteroom at the compound, as her team prepared for a series of events marking the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death on Friday. (Her crew cataloged and archived the originals.) “We still wanted the essence of the candles, and how they made the rooms feel, without the fire hazard,” she explained. “Prince can burn Paisley Park down, but I can’t.”

Ms. Marchese and her team — the same group that oversees Elvis Presley’s Memphis mansion-turned-tourist-stop Graceland — have been tasked with maintaining the grounds of Paisley Park, which Prince built in this remote suburb of Minneapolis in 1987. Once a commercial recording studio, with a soundstage also available for hire, Paisley Park became Prince’s residence during his final years, and throughout its history he hosted hundreds of private concerts and dance parties for fans. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

EUREKA: A Q&A With Bill Nye, The Science Guy

April 20th, 2017



BY JONATHAN VALANIA On Friday April 21st, Bill Nye — bow-tied science communicator, advocate for reason and critical thinking skills, wouldbe astronaut, bane of creationists and climate science denialists, not to mention superstitious kooks and cranks of every ideological stripe — returns to the small screen with Netflix’s Bill Nye Saves The World. To mark the auspicious return of reason and fact to American airwaves, we present this encore edition of our 2014 interview with Dr. Nye. DISCUSSED: Why he believes in evolution and you should too, Carl Sagan, marijuana, why he wouldn’t sign up for the one-way trip to colonize Mars, why better batteries and sea water de-salinization technology are crucial to the survival of the human race, the moral cowardice of climate science denialism, the societal dangers of literal interpreters of the Bible, whether or not UFOs have been visiting Earth and probing the rectums of rednecks, why GMOs make him nervous, and why he is the U.S. patent holder for the ballet slipper.

PHAWKER: You recently published a book called Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Let’s play devil’s advocate and pretend I’m a creationist: Give me your elevator pitch as to why I should believe in evolution.

BILL NYE: It’s not something you believe in or not; it’s a fact of nature. I would ask you, “Why don’t you believe in Evolution? What makes you think that the Earth could somehow be 6,000 years old? What made you think, for example, that a bookUndeniable written about 5,000 years ago that has been translated a number of times [and for hundreds of years was stored on nothing more reliable than people’s memories — The Ed.]. What makes you think the information in there is more scientifically reasonable than everything we can observe in nature?

PHAWKER: Every Sunday, my minister says it’s so.

BILL NYE: Well, I strongly encourage you to look at the facts: How could we have light from distant stars that are clearly more than 6,000 light-years away, that are only 6,000 years old? How could we have radioactive elements incorporated in frozen lava flows, if the radioactive elements weren’t chemically the same as the calcium and sodium that they replaced? What entity would rig it up so all of those systems would not work? It’s magical thinking, and I find it completely unreasonable, especially since we’re talking on the phone, which depends in every way on our understanding of science. How can you accept all of this technology without accepting the way that works?

PHAWKER: That’s true. If Alexander Graham Bell was a creationist, we probably wouldn’t be able to have this argument over the phone, would we?

BILL NYE: No. That’s interesting to me.

PHAWKER: One more question in the area of evolution and we’ll move on to some other topics— Evolution seems entirely understandable and reasonable, up until you reduce it to the very beginning. The only difficulty I personally have as far as grasping all of this is, how is it when you go back to the very beginning, to the Big Bang, how is it that something came out of nothing? Which is what happened, according to most scientists. For eons, there was nothing. Then — BOOM! — there was something, which was the beginning of the universe.

BILL NYE: How do you know there was nothing?

PHAWKER: Don’t we have to assume that was the case? Are you saying there’s always been something, the universe has always been here? Is that what you’re saying?

BILL NYE: I’m saying that whatever happened before the Big Bang we don’t understand. We know that something happened before the Big Bang. We just don’t know what that is. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The fundamental difference between my side of it and the creationist side of it is that just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Because it’s really hard to get your head around four and a half billion years doesn’t mean there weren’t four and a half billion years [between the beginning of Earth and now]. There were four and a half billion years. The thing about science is that we don’t know drives us forward, instead of making us cower in the corner.
Read the rest of this entry »

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

April 19th, 2017



DAVID BIANCULLI: The 1996 Coen Brothers movie Fargo was so good, and so original, that when the FX cable network announced it was making a new version for television, I expected FreshAir-ON_BLK-RGBit to be awful — especially since the creator of the adaptation was Noah Hawley, a writer-producer who hadn’t really done much. But Hawley’s Fargo wasn’t a straight remake — it was a sly and fond salute, capturing the mood and spirit of the original movie without borrowing any of its specific plots or characters. Billy Bob Thornton starred as a malevolent hit man and Martin Freeman was the quiet Midwesterner caught in his web. That Fargo miniseries wasn’t just good. It was great.

So when Hawley and FX decided to reboot, start from scratch, and do a second season of Fargo with new actors and characters, once again, I wasn’t expecting much. After all, I’d seen season two of HBO’s True Detective, which proved how hard it was to get lightning to strike twice. But season two of Fargo, with Jean Smart and Ted Danson among its many treats, was just as wonderful — and just as delightfully unpredictable. Then Hawley went off and made another FX series adaptation, of a Marvel Comics character named Legion, and it, too, was a major creative success.

So now, with a third season of Fargo arriving tonight on FX, my expectations are in danger of being too high, rather than too low. But based on the opening hour, Fargo is on track to be three for three. For starters, there’s a death scene worthy of a Road Runner cartoon. Also, there are two instant standout female characters and actors: Carrie Coon, fresh off HBO’s The Leftovers, as small-town police chief Gloria Burgle, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, fresh off CBS’s BrainDead, as ex-con competitive bridge player Nikki Swango.

There are also two breakout male characters: brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy. Both of them are played by Ewan McGregor, and it’s a very impressive acting display. Emmit is sharp-looking and successful. Ray is gone to seed, and out of money — and still resentful of the fact that when their father died and left the brothers an inheritance, Emmit ended up with a valuable stamp collection, while Ray got a little red Corvette. Decades later, as Ray comes to Emmit to ask for money to buy Nikki an engagement ring, the brothers are still fighting about it. The jealousy over the stamps leads, in the opening episode, to a botched theft, which, in turn, leads to murder, and sets another intriguing season of Fargo in motion. The acting here is as good as the writing, and the visuals — built, as with season one, around the isolated snow and ice of the Midwest — are like paintings that move. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Q&A: Simon Tam, Frontman/Founder Of The Slants

April 17th, 2017



MaxAbramsBY MAX ABRAMS The Slants claim to be the first all-Asian-American rock band in the secret history of Asian-American rock bands, and they wear that title like a badge of honor, even when it might work against them. Based out of Portland, Oregon, The Slants have been blasting out high-energy synth-pop-punk since their inception 11 years ago. With a long track record of working hand-in-glove with Asian-American advocacy groups and repping Asian-American identity politics in their music, The Slants were shocked and righteously annoyed to learn that the federal government refused their application to trademark their band name, claiming that it was “disparaging” and “hurtful” to the very people they were working to represent. This resulted in a protracted eight-year legal battle that climbed its way to the Supreme Court, and is still going on today, and necessitated bands members holding down two or three jobs each just keep up with their mounting legal bills. They are currently on a tour in support of their new EP, the aptly-titled The Band Who Must Not Be Named, which brings them to Kung Fu Necktie on Tuesday April 18th. Recently, we got Slants frontman/founder Simon Tam on the horn to discuss their long legal odyssey, the new EP, and the state of racism and identity politics in America in the awful Age of Trump.

PHAWKER: Alright, so before we get started I just wanted to make sure if I have this down right. You guys decided to call yourselves The Slants, at least in part, to reclaim a dehumanizing slur, right? Or, you know, a stereotype against Asian-Americans.

SIMON TAM: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, I picked it because of a couple different reasons but that was definitely one of them.

PHAWKER: Right, but was that the forefront reason, or was it kind of a side thing? Did it even occur to you guys, I mean, your band has been around for awhile now, when you guys first started was that a thing you were aware of?the-slants-press-2017

SIMON TAM: We never considered it to be a racial slur. Most of the time people don’t view “slant” as a slur, they say the whole phrase like “slant eyes”. I came up with the name when I was asking people, “hey, what’s something you think all Asians have in common?” because I wanted to just bring up issues of representation and Asian-American identity, and a lot of my non-Asian friends would be like, “Asians all have slanted eyes”, and I’d be like, “Actually, we don’t.” Asians aren’t the only people who have any sort of slant to the eye, and not all Asians have slanted eyes. So I thought, this is real interesting because it could be brought up as perspective, like a slant on life, or what it’s like to be people of color. And at the same time, I could pay homage to Asian-American activists who have been re-appropriating the term for decades.
Read the rest of this entry »

BEING THERE: Why? @ Union Transfer

April 14th, 2017



Why? is a band that I usually appreciate most while drinking alone in some dimly lit room, curled up in a ball, leaning into masochistic tendencies I picked up as a teenager. A musical project that started out as sound collage experiment, and evolved over the years into a white-guy-rap, post-rock, indie-pop amalgam, Why? won me over with Yoni Wolf’s nasal-vocals that never shied away from taboo subjects like suicidal ideation or masturbating in the bathroom at the art museum. The authenticity of Yoni’s voice in Why?’s bizarre, genre-fluid music engendered the band with a magnetism that attracts people who feel alienated by taboos, and other people, and shopping malls, and small dogs, and you-name-it. So, on Thursday night at Union Transfer, I found myself surrounded by bespectacled middle-aged loner dudes, youthful girls wearing Brand New and Wayne’s World t-shirts, and a horde of withdrawn hipsters wearing baseball caps; all congregated at Union Transfer to hear Yoni Wolf deliver a confession of his deviant ways, his depression, his suicidal ideation couplets. This was maybe going to be a problem though, considering that Why?’s latest album Moh Lhean is in Yoni’s post-health-scare-new-appreciation-of-life voice.

Going in, I still didn’t know how I felt about hopeful Yoni, because often times when an artist finds a sense of peace, it dulls their artistic output. I wasn’t sure if this was the case with the new album, and found myself going to the show fixating on my hope that they’d play a bunch of tracks off the band’s seminal album Alopecia. It was, however, as if Yoni had anticipated that fans would feel this way, and designed a set list that presented the new material in a way that made it more accessible than it is on the record, while also satisfying the crowd’s hunger to hear favorite tracks in Yoni’s destructively-depressed voice from the past. Are you with me? Okay, allow me to take you to the stage at Union Transfer, and through the masterfully paced show that Yoni put on for those who beat down their depression, got out of bed, and made it to Union Transfer on Thursday night.

Yoni started the set with “Easy,” a song from the latest Moh Lhean that contains essential Why? themes like suicidality, and can even be read as a continuation of “Simeon’s Dilemma” from 2008’s seminal Alopecia, where Yoni is now seeing the girl he once stalked on his shitty one-gear bike through the rear window of a limousine, an expression of his improved self-esteem and renewed appreciation for life. The stage was riddled with Edison light bulbs, their glowing filaments serving as reminders of the ideas ad infinitum that permeate the atmosphere. Or maybe they were just there because they looked cool. Anyway, about halfway through the set, around the time that girl wearing the Wayne’s world t-shirt sparked her second joint, Yoni left his post behind the drum set, picked up a bass, and started playing a hand-picked selection of songs from the Why? discography. He drew heavily from Alopecia, playing the first five songs from the album, save “Good Friday,” but also sharing gems like “Strawberries” from the 2012’s critically-trashed Mumps, Etc., in which the “I am not okay” refrain of the chorus echoes one of the essential sentiments of classic Why?

Upon hearing the old tunes, the people around me started breathing easier, knowing they weren’t going to be subjected to a straight run-through of the new album. It was funny to watch the muted affects around me start to brighten with the more depressing songs, as if Yoni was working some sort of musical alchemy over the audience, interweaving the lighter, new material, in with the old, blunt depression wallows to produce a light-hearted, joyful feeling. On my walk over to the show, I had bemoaned that Union Transfer is standing room only, thinking who the fuck is going to dance at a Why? show? Well, in the beginning of the show there were, as there always is, the people who dance at any show they ever go to, like they have definitively answered that they are indeed not humans, but dancers. But by the middle of the set, Yoni’s laser focus and masterful pacing had summoned a light-hearted and fun energy that morphed my rhythmic weight-shifting into a dorky two-step, joining in with a large swath of the audience who also couldn’t help themselves. Why? closed the set with the closing track on Moh Lhean, “The Barely Blur,” a fitting denouement that shares Yoni’s newfound outlook, finding peace in life’s infinite unknowns rather than feeling destroyed by them.
Read the rest of this entry »

INCOMING: The Last Jedi

April 14th, 2017

Like the teasers for The Force Awakens, this doesn’t reveal much plot. Out of context battles between The First Order and The Resistance are shown but other than X-Wings, TIE Fighters and stormtroopers shooting each other, we know nothing. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) tries to escape a Resistance base alongside his orange robot ball and Finn (John Boyega) is still asleep in some medical pod. Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) whispery Obi-Wan-esque voiceover as he trains Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the ways of the Force and presumably the Jedi is the bulk of the trailer. I say presumably because Luke says “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” My eyes widened when I heard it. Will Disney have the balls to really end the Jedi in Star Wars? One could argue without Jedi there is no Star Wars. But the Jedi are also a bit of a problem (hear me out before you shoot first). Star Wars has enough cool bounty hunters, aliens like the Wookies or whatever Yoda is, and other Force users who aren’t Jedi enough to sustain it, especially given how central to the Skywalker family the Jedi were in the films. I tried to picture what Star Wars is without Jedi and I am not entirely sure. And that is all the more exciting given we had eight movies and a billion expanded universe novels/comics/cartoons to see how awesome Jedi are. May The Force be with us all. – RICHARD SUPLEE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]


April 14th, 2017

Nothing says ‘Happy Easter’ like the goddamn Jesus & Mary Chain, amirite? From the excellent new Damage And Joy. Adds a little Sabbath-ian sweetleaf to the usual psycho candy. And we all get stoned and enthroned. Go loud or go home.

PREVIOUSLY: Q&A W/ Jeus & Mary Chain Frontman Jim Reid

PREVIOUSLY: How Fresh Air Critic Ken Tucker Hated On Psycho Candy And Wound Up On The Wrong Side Of History

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

WORTH REPEATING: Suffer The Children

April 13th, 2017


UPDATE: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia is guilty of serious failings in the Beslan school siege in which about 330 people died in 2004. It says officials failed to take action to prevent the siege. The operation to end it and the investigation that followed were also strongly criticised. In the siege, Chechen rebels took more than 1,000 hostages, mostly children. It ended when Russian forces stormed the building. Survivors say the troops used excessive force. No Russian official has been held responsible for the high number of deaths, which included 186 children. MORE

WIKIPEDIA: The Beslan school hostage crisis (also referred to as the Beslan school siege or Beslan massacre)[2][3][4] of early September 2004 lasted three days and involved the capture of over 1,100 people as hostages (including 777 children),[5] ending with the death of over 380 people. The crisis began when a group of armed separatist militants, mostly Ingush and Chechen, occupied School Number One (SNO) in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia (an autonomous republic in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation) on 1 September 2004. The hostage-takers were the Riyadus-Salikhin Battalion, sent by the Chechen separatist warlord Shamil Basayev, who demanded an end to the Second Chechen War and Russian withdrawal from Chechnya. On the third day of the standoff, Russian security forces entered the building with the use of tanks, incendiary rockets and other heavy weapons.[6] At least 334 hostages were killed as a result of the crisis, including 186 children,[7][8] with a significant number of people injured and reported missing.

The event led to security and political repercussions in Russia, most notably a series of federal government reforms consolidating power in the Kremlin and strengthening of the powers of the President of Russia.[9] According to American non-governmental organization (NGO), Freedom House, these reforms consolidated Russia as a politically non-free, authoritarian state since the mid-2000s.[10][11] As of 2011, aspects of the crisis in relation to the militants remain contentious; including how many militants were involved, the nature of their preparations and whether a section of the group had escaped. Questions about the Russian government’s management of the crisis have also persisted; including allegations of disinformation and censorship in news media, whether the journalists who were present at Beslan were allowed to freely report on the crisis,[12] the nature and content of negotiations with the militants, allocation of responsibility for the eventual outcome, and perceptions that excessive force was used.[6][13][14][15][16]

ESQUIRE: The place was a horror. Each element of the siege — from the capture of the children to the enforced conditions of their captivity among the bombs to the murders of their fathers and teachers in the literature classroom to the explosions that ripped apart people by the score — had been a descent deeper into cruelty, violence, and near-paralyzing fear. Now they had reached the worst. Women stood at windows, screaming and waving white cloths. Bullets struck the walls. Dust and smoke hung in the air. Glass covered the floor, much of it splattered with blood. The room stunk of gunpowder, rotting food, and sweat. Terrorists raced through the haze, bearded, whooping, firing, and yelling instructions. Larisa had her son, Zaurbek, by the hand, and apprehended their new conditions; Madina had the two children she had brought from the weight room. She did not know their names. They rushed around a corner near the dish-washing room, where at least twenty other hostages were massed tight. Two girls were trying to squeeze themselves into a massive soup pot. Dead women and children were strewn on the kitchen tiles. The Kudziyeva family took a place on the floor. […]

Less than fifteen minutes after Irina Naldikoyeva and her son found refuge in the auditorium, the terrorists forced them downstairs to the cafeteria and its tableau of misery. Hostages crowded the room, partially dressed, soiled, riddled with shrapnel, shot, burned, dehydrated, and stunned. Irina saw her niece, Vika, slumped beneath a window, her long black hair matted with sweat. “Where is Alana?” she asked. “Here,” Vika said, pointing to a child, naked except for dirty panties, curled under a table. Bullets were coming in from the Russians firing outside. Irina grabbed her children and scrambled with them along the floor, stopping against a large freezer, panting. A terrorist handed her a bucket of water, and she tilted it and gave each child a drink. They gulped voraciously. At last it was her turn, and she put the bucket to her lips, poured the cool water onto her tongue, eager for it to hit her parched throat. But instead the water splashed onto her floral blouse. Irina did not understand and reached under her chin and felt the place where shrapnel had passed through. The bottom of her mouth was an open hole. Blood and water soaked her torso. She put the bucket aside. Around her were at least six dead children, and she knew this place was not safe. She crawled to the dish-washing room, pushed the children under the sinks, and lay her body across them. Bullets kept coming. Some skipped off window frames or iron bars and whirred by, ricochets. MORE

RELATED: Timeline Of The Beslan School Hostage Crisis

48 HOURS: While working in Beslan, filmmakers were given a remarkable tape discovered by teenagers in the rubble of the school after the siege. A video camera brought to school that September morning by a proud Beslan parent, found its way into the hands of the terrorists. The tape reveals never-before-seen details of the drama unfolding inside the besieged school. The video lets us see, first hand, the absolute horror of the takeover, including a pile of bodies dumped out of a classroom window after having been shot by the terrorists on the first day. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

NAOMI KLEIN: Culture Jamming Trump’s Brand

April 13th, 2017

THE INTERCEPT: for the first time in history, the president of the United States is a fully commercialized Superbrand, with family members who are best understood as spin-off brands. From an ethics perspective, this is as swampy as it gets, since the Trump dynasty is already profiting significantly from the presidency, whether from the free publicity it is getting for properties that have been transformed into White House satellites, or simply because the Trump brand name is repeated in the global press about a zillion times a day. More worrying are the many opportunities for backdoor lobbying and influence peddling — what better way to curry favour with the First Family than by selecting one of No Logoits properties for a lavish event, or by paying an inflated price to lease the Trump name for a new development?

Journalists have pointed out these conflicts many times, and Trump and his spawn have responded with a defiant shrug. This is happening for very simple reason: Trump isn’t playing by the normal rules of politics, in which elected representatives are accountable to voters and to an agreed upon set of standards. He’s playing by the rules of branding, in which companies are only accountable to their brand image. Here’s the good news: as the recent travails of Pepsi, United, and Fox News tell us, brands have their own special vulnerabilities. And that can be useful, as long as you understand precisely what promise a brand has made to its customers.

It’s a phenomenon I’ve been studying for a long time, ever since I started writing about brand-based pressure campaigns and boycotts in the mid-1990s, research that turned into my first book, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. What I learned is that any brand – no matter how seemingly amoral – can be significantly weakened with the right tactics. So, with that in mind, here’s a quick-and-easy guide for doing battle with the president in the only language he understands – his own brand. MORE

RELATED: No Logo 10th Anniversary Edition

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

STAND-UP COMIC Q&A: Charlie Murphy’s Law

April 12th, 2017


EDITOR’S NOTE: To mark the sad passing of Charlie Murphy we present this encore edition of our 2014 interview with the comedian. Goodnight Mr. Murphy, wherever you are.

mecroppedsharp_1.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA The first rule about interviewing comedian Charlie Murphy is DO NOT ASK WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED WITH DAVE CHAPPELLE. The second rule is much the same, as is the third. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure that out until it was too late. Live and learn. Judging by his reaction to the Chappelle inquiry, I chose not bring up my other hot button question: What the hell ever happened to your brother? He used to be so fucking funny and then somewhere along the way he became this bitter hack seemingly intent on proving Mencken’s dictum that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Alas, that is a question for someone to else to ask. What we did talk about however was Rick James (bitch!), his first blow job, Caligula, getting paid, Norbit, growing up with Eddie, big pimpin’, and the tragic death of his wife.

PHAWKER: You’ve probably been asked this a million times but I have to ask you – what ever happened to David Chappelle?

CHARLIE MURPHY: You gotta ask Dave that question. I seen Dave and he seems pretty happy to me. He does stand up still, he’s out in the Bay Area a lot, Chappelle.jpgand he seems to be pretty happy.

PHAWKER: But he doesn’t wanna do the show anymore or didn’t wanna do the show anymore?

CHARLIE MURPHY: I don’t know if they didn’t wanna do the show no more, if Dave didn’t wanna do the show no more, I don’t know what the story is at this point you know? That stuff I let go a long time ago, know what I’m saying? The show’s been out of production like eight years now you know? So, I don’t really think about the Dave Chappelle Show on a daily basis. That’s far removed from my reality right now, the reason why I get to do all the beautiful things I’ve been blessed to do, like going to Scandinavia, going to Canada, and people have love for me, you know? I don’t really know what happened, you know what I’m saying? There’s so many different rumors, you know?

PHAWKER: Can you tell me your Rick James story real briefly for our readers that might not be familiar with it?

CHARLIE MURPHY: Rick James story?

rick_james_1.jpgPHAWKER: The time he came over and put his shoes on your couch?

CHARLIE MURPHY: When I met Rick James I was 24 years old and just getting out of the Navy. I was at that point where I couldn’t figure out how to get a woman to give me a blow job. They just wouldn’t do. I had the wrong approach or whatever but I just couldn’t master the art of getting a woman to give me a blow job. Then I met Rick James. I’ll never forget the night I met rick James — I was shocked. ‘Rick James, wow!’ you know? I’m hanging out with him and my fellas and the night that I met him I got my first blow job from one of the chicks that was around him. He was tellin’ them, “go over there and have sex with Charlie.” I had never been around anybody like that before, know what I’m saying? Never. This person was like Caligula, know what I’m saying? We’ve all seen that movie Caligula andI don’t care who you are, you can say what you wanna say outwardly, but all men really wish they could walk into a Caligula-like environment at least one time in they life, you know what I’m saying? So here, me and Rick James are real tight. I didn’t realize he had access to that kind of lifestyle. We became real tight. He was a real playful dude, you know we always used to rough house, beat on each other, kick each other, punch each other, whatever we was both young then. If you hit me now, at the age I am now, you’d probably get stabbed. But you know back then we used to rough house around like that.

Read the rest of this entry »

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

April 11th, 2017



FRESH AIR: On Nov. 18, 1978, an itinerant preacher, faith healer and civil rights activist named the Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 of his followers to kill themselves by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their Jonestown settlement in the jungle of Guyana. Nearly 40 years later, questions still linger regarding the Jonestown massacre and the man who inspired it. Journalist Jeff Guinn details how Jones captivated his followers in his new book, The Road to Jonestown. He calls Jones a the-road-to-jonestown-9781476763828_hr“tremendous performer” who exhibited “the classic tendencies of the demagogue.” Guinn says Jones, who founded Peoples Temple church, would take current events and exaggerate them to create a sense of fear and urgency. He drew his followers to Guyana by convincing them that America was facing imminent threats of martial law, concentration camps and nuclear war. After claims of abuse in Jonestown surfaced, Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., came to Guyana to investigate. A number of Jonestown residents sought to return to the U.S. with Ryan, but others opened fire on the delegation, killing the congressmen and four others. The mass suicide followed. Guinn says the lessons of Jonestown still resonate today. “Jim Jones epitomizes the worst that can happen when we let one person dictate what we hear [and] what we believe,” he says. “We can only change that if we learn from the past and try to apply it to today.” MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Via BuzzFeed