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Win Tix To See John C. Reilly & Friends @ WCL!

January 28th, 2015


Photo via @AllSONGS

Oh stepbrother, where art thou? Of the many hats worn by veteran entertainer John C. Reilly — actor, producer, comedian, screenwriter — perhaps his least-known/best-hat is the white felt Stetson he dons when picking and a-grinning his way through old timey American roots music with like-minded sidekicks Becky Stark and Tom Brousseau, each accomplished singer-songwriters in their own right, and upright bassist extraordinaire Sebastian Steinberg. Tomorrow night, JCR and company will gather around the World Cafe Live campfire and deliver an unplugged set filled with eternal folk songs, classic country weepers and bluegrass standards. Becky Stark is an artist, singer, songwriter and entertainer from Los Angeles. She is the voice of the band Lavender Diamond. In an article about Stark in the New York Times called “North American Songbird,” Zoe Wolf wrote “Picture Lucille Ball and Tinkerbell engaged in a duet and you have an apt metaphor for the neo-folk singer Becky Stark, who suggests an impish fairy from a faraway land.” As for Tom Brousseau, ‘if David Lynch was an alt-country singer’ may not be the most original comparison in the post-Wilco world, where many a scarf-wrapped ragamuffin undergrad strums the sepia-toned magic-realism blues in the hopes of attracting the attentions of the fair maidens of academia. But when Tom Brosseau opens his mouth to sing, it becomes immediately clear the stakes are much higher than birdoggin at Starbucks, and that this man is playing for keeps. His music is very gentle — and kinda spooky, in a pretty way — but if you listen close can you hear the hellhounds on this man’s trail. No wonder he sounds like he crawled out from the covers of a Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music, like a frozen caveman slowly thawing in the hot, hot heat of the dirty future. Hurry, before he melts. We have a pair of tickets to give away to some lucky reader who can answer the following John C. Reilly trivia question: In Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby JCR’s character Cal Naughton Jr. says he like to think of Jesus with giant eagle wings singing lead vocals for _____ and Cal is in the front row, “hammered drunk.” What is the name of the band Jesus sings lead vocals for in Cal’s fantasy? Send your answer in an email to FEED@PHAWKER.COM along with your full name and a mobile number for confirmation and the magic words OH STEPBROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? in the subject line. Good luck and godspeed!

PREVIOUSLY: 13 Things You Aren’t Supposed To Know About Tom Brousseau

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SORRY CHARLIE: Snowmageddon & The Angry Inch

January 28th, 2015


Artwork by CHARLIE C.

Charlie-head-shotBY CHARLIE C. I woke up yesterday morning with the towering urge to see how much snow was outside. I lunged out of my bed expecting at least a foot of snow. To my disappointment, I saw an inch. An angry inch. Some snowpocalypse! I saw on the news that we would be hit by a ‘potentially historical’ snowstorm! And we just get this little flurry! Still, I tried to make the most of it for what it was. Within the course of a second (or something like that), all my snow gear was on, and I was ready to go. I flung open the door, and dived right in to it! I decided to make a good ol’ fashioned snowman. Here is a list of things that I have learned while building one:

1. Try not to use powdery snow for it, because once you put the top part on the middle one, both will collapse.

2. If you stick the carrot nose too far in to the head, the head will fall apart.

3. Try to build it away from you dog, because they will bark at it once it is done.

4. If you make a snowman looking in to the window, like he is peeping in, someone most definitely will have a heart attack.

So, I guess if you read between the lines, you could tell that my snowman turned out disastrous. I ended up just going inside for a little bit, but I was rudely interrupted by an invite to my friend Jacob’s house. Because of that, I went, and brought two sleds. Once we arrived, I saw him standing at the doorway with an evil smirk across his face. His left hand was behind his back, and once I saw him, I knew: Snowball fight!

He attacked, and threw a snowball at me. I retaliated and my uncoordinated throws made him laugh, but his made me laugh even harder. I set up a base inside his front yard, and he made one in the back. A couple of minutes of making snowballs went by, until I finally saw him creep over the side of the house. He threw one at me but for an odd reason, sand came out of it. “Did you put sand in this?” I asked. He replied, “Yup.” And that, my friends, was the origin of the sand-ball. Now you know how to make your very own.

Afterwards, we went to the high school next to his house to go sledding on the hills there, and even though I begged him not to, he brought his little ramp. The hill was already long and steep enough. We didn’t need a ramp! Once we arrived, he gave me the ‘honor’ of taking it to the ramp first. I kindly declined, but he insisted I do it. I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to be hurling towards a large wooden object at an outdoor speed! Once I reached the top of the hill, I sat down on my sled, and slightly loosened my grip on the ground below me. And, then I went! Faster and faster, and the ramp was right there. ‘Hi’ I thought to myself. But then, I just realized I would go flying! What was to be afraid of? My nervousness was washed away, and then I finally hit the ramp. I shut my eyes, but when I opened them I saw I was just pushing the ramp down the rest of the hill.

When the sun started to set, Jacob wanted to make a snowman. I tried to get Jacob to believe that it won’t work because all of it was powdery snow. But, not all of it was, so we began. We rolled up all three pieces, and put the head on top. I really did expect it to collapse like my last one did. But, I had to wait and see. Since we didn’t have any coal to use, we used a permanent marker to make the eyes, and an average carrot to make for the nose. Again, there was no coal available, so we aligned three carrots to look like a mouth. Jacob had a hat for his head. Even though there were many patches of dirt that we picked up while rolling around it, and that it was basically the color brown, at that moment, our snowman was perfect. And that was all I needed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Like any normal 10 year old kid from Haddon Heights, Charlie C. goes to school, loves his dog, likes Minecraft and leaves a mess wherever he goes. He also writes better than most adults and has keen insight into the human psyche that borders on the paranormal. You can check out his blog THE UNIVERSE ACCORDING TO CHARLIE. We’ve hired Charlie to provide Phawker with some much-needed perspective on the world through the eyes of a 10-year-old.

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ARTSY: Happy Nightmare, Baby

January 28th, 2015



THE GUARDIAN: One little girl has pigtails and a Hannibal Lecter mask, another wears a bacon blindfold, while a boy has a moustache made of maggots. In Shi Mohan’s illustrated worlds, everything – even childhood – is bizarre and sinister. MORE

There is an unnerving quality to Shi Mohan‘s paintings, as though they are capturing daydreams, complete with all the surrealness and subconscious metaphors that come with the territory. According to Art Seasons, a gallery in Singapore and Beijing that has previously shown her work, “Shi Mohan jocularly calls herself a life Illustrator. Pleasantly and sensitively, she documents the nity-gritty of her own life, portraying many bizarre and outlandish thoughts and desires on the canvas.” There is a certain playfulness to Mohan’s art, though the off-kilter imagery can make it seem more sinister. Her paintings are snapshots of a more innocent yet stranger time: the weird days of youth. MORE

ART SEASONS: Shi Mohan jocularly calls herself a life Illustrator. Pleasantly and sensitively, she documents the nity-gritty of her own life, portraying many bizarre and outlandish thoughts and desires on the canvas. MORE

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The 15 Most Disturbing Reveals About Scientology In Alex Gibney’s ‘GOING CLEAR: The Prison Of Belief’

January 27th, 2015



DAILY BEAST: When he was 23, Hubbard married Margaret Louise Grubb, or Polly. To support his family, he began writing pulp fiction with tremendous speed and imagination. On New Year’s Day, 1938, he had a dental operation under gas anesthetic, and he believed the secrets of the universe were revealed to him, and he began to concentrate on writing science fiction. He also longed for fame as a screenwriter in Hollywood, but had no success despite a few attempts. “It is one thing to make that universe believable, and another to believe it. That is the difference between art and religion,” Wright writes.

After the war, Hubbard abandoned Polly, and wedded 21-year-old Sara Northrup while still married to his first wife. He beat her often. Once while she was sleeping he hit her across the face with his pistol because she was smiling in her sleep—and therefore must have been thinking about someone else. He frequently threatened suicide. Then, in 1949, Hubbard finished his book Dianetics. One of the original self-help books, it shot up the bestsellers’ list, and made him rich and famous. Hubbard’s view of women in the book “betrays a kind of horror,” as he seemed to reserve the worst circle of hell for “attempted abortions done by some sex-blocked mother to whom children are a curse, not a blessing of God.” (His eldest son often charged his father of attempting two abortions on his mother, one being his premature birth. Sara says Hubbard, while he was writing Dianetics, kicked her stomach several times to attempt to cause a miscarriage. Hubbard also once told a lover that he himself was born from an attempted abortion.)

When Sara wanted to leave him, Hubbard and a man who might have carried a gun abducted their baby daughter, Alexis. Then they kidnapped Sara. He told her that if she tried to i-want-you-for-scientologyleave him, he’d kill Alexis, then later claimed he had killed the baby already—“cut her into little pieces and dropped the pieces in a river,” Sara said. In 1951, she filed for divorce, claiming Hubbard to be “hopelessly insane.” Polly wrote a letter of support, saying, “Ron is not normal.” Hubbard took the baby to Cuba and kept her in a crib with wire over the top of it. Later, Sara was able to trick Hubbard to get her child back, and she walked out of his life on “the happiest day of my life.” […]

[John] Travolta’s personal liaison and best friend at the church was a woman named Spanky Taylor, who would soon run afoul of the leadership of the church even as Travolta became a superstar with Saturday Night Fever. The church took away Taylor’s 10-month-old daughter and crammed her, along with 30 infants, in the Child Care Org, a small apartment with wall-to-wall cribs. “It was dark and dank and the children were rarely, if ever, taken outside,” Wright notes. Taylor was put into the pitch-black basement of Scientology’s new Advanced Org building in L.A., where about 120 to 200 people were huddled. They were serving time in the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). In July 1977, the FBI raided the building. But despite federal laws against human trafficking and unlawful imprisonment, the agents just moved on. Much of the human-rights-abuse charges against Scientology would be related to the RPF. Just a few months earlier, one of the few black members of Sea Org, Jesse Prince, had said he’d had enough of the church, but before he could leave six people grabbed him and put him in the RPF—for 18 months. Few tried to escape, but Taylor managed to slip away to see her daughter across the street. “To her horror … the baby’s eyes were welded shut with mucus, and her diaper was wet—in fact, her whole crib was soaking. She was covered with fruit flies,” Wright writes. MORE

RELATED: ‘I’d like to start a religion, that’s where the money is.” — L. Ron Hubbard, Founder, Church Of Scientology

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Cobain Doc ‘Montage Of Heck’ Wows At Sundance

January 27th, 2015



ROLLING STONE: We get the unfiltered Kurt experience, all disturbing sketches, poems in progress and aspirational lists. We also get a disjointed, disorienting look at fame through his eyes, seen as a jumble of shows, news reports and vapid TV interrogations that all bleed together. And we get an uncomfortably intimate look at his life with Courtney, including self-shot close-ups of the couple making out, bitching about their treatment in the press and a pregnant Love showing off her breasts. This is a couple drunk on love, and per the glossy-to-tabloid reports that Morgen sprinkles in, often high on drugs. But it’s that first part that really comes across, especially when Frances Bean Cobain enters the picture. “Frances told me that, ‘People act like my dad was Santa Claus,'” Morgen said after the screening. “‘And he wasn’t Santa Claus.’ I think she realized that after seeing the movie.” Kurt was a doting dad, even when outside pressures put him on edge or his health problems zonked him out. His love for his child was always public knowledge, but witnessing him rolling around on the floor with her as she cracks up drives the point home. This is not a spokesman for a generation. This is a human being, and a husband, and a father. Which just makes it that much more heartbreaking to watch Kurt unravel via violent voicemails and pages of his notebook that attest to a cry for help — one entry is simply the phrase “Go kill yourself” repeated over and over. The most haunting moment comes when Rolling Stone’s David Fricke can be heard over the soundtrack asking Cobain about the In Utero outtake “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”: “Either you’re being really satirical, or you’re going to a real dark place here.” Kurt’s response is a laugh that’s positively chilling. MORE

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Meet Charlie C., Our Snowmageddon Correspondent

January 27th, 2015



Meet Charlie C. Like any normal 10 year old kid from Haddon Heights, he goes to school, loves his dog, likes Minecraft and leaves a mess wherever he goes. He also writes better than most adults and has keen insight into the human psyche that borders on the paranormal. If this kid can keep his head on straight, he is going places. You can check out his blog THE UNIVERSE ACCORDING TO CHARLIE. We’ve hired Charlie as a columnist wherein he will provide Phawker with some much-needed perspective on the world through the eyes of a 10-year-old. For his first assignment, we’ve duly deputized him as our Snowmageddon2015 correspondent so standby for a complete report on the charming Norman Rockwell-esque monkeyshines he gets up to on his snow day(s), which, god willing and the creek don’t rise, will include chestnuts roasting on an open fire, a proper snowball fight and the construction, care and feeding of a snow man. Look for it Wednesday on a Phawker near you!

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EARLY WORD: The Resurrection Of Lux Interior

January 26th, 2015



Lux Lives East Coast is a celebration of the life of Lux Interior, lead singer and co-founder of the genre-defining band The Cramps (1976-2009). February 4, 2015 marks the 6th anniversary of Lux Interior’s passing. Lux Lives events are an opportunity to celebrate everything “The Cramps.” Fans gather to hear the music that inspired The Cramps and to see bands that were inspired by and are covering Cramps songs. DJ Kogar the Swinging Ape will be spinning some of Lux and Ivy’s favorite records before, between and after live performances of two of Philly’s own bands, DIXY BLOOD and THE SCOVILLES. New Jersey’s garage devils THE BRIMSTONES will also perform.

The first Lux Lives event was held in the UK in 2009 shortly after Lux passed away. Lux Lives has developed into annual events in the US and in locations across the globe. In 2014 there were 5 Lux Lives East Coast events in the US; NYC, Boston, Providence, Portland Maine and Philadelphia. Bands, DJ’s and fans came together to celebrate the life of Lux Interior. Lux Lives East Coast raised almost $4,000.00 for Best Friends Animal Society, the favorite charity of The Cramps.

Dixy Blood, fresh off the release of their new CD “Songs of Love Lust and Loss” have been playing to Philadelphia crowds for almost 6 years after its predecessor The Sickidz called it quits. Before that The Sickidz held a special place in the hearts of Philadelphia’s punks. Starting in the latter part of the 70’s, the Sickidz played with The Cramps countless times throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Sickidz 1984 album, “I Could Go to Hell For You” was produced by Lux and Ivy for Big Beat Records. For this show, Dixy Blood will be playing a tribute to The Cramps in a very decidedly “Sickid” kind of way.

This year, Lux Lives East Coast hopes to reach more people and raise more money for the Best Friends Animal Society. A new addition to the Lux Lives East Coast line-up for 2015 is the opportunity for fans to view “The Human Fly,” a very rare film featuring The Cramps made in 1979. The film, made by Alex de Laslo, was played for audiences before The Cramps live shows in 1979 but has been almost impossible to see since then. It is NOT available on YouTube and is considered to be the Holy Grail amongst Cramps luxivy_1fans. Proceeds from the sale of Lux Lives East Coast merchandise such as t-shirts, posters and pins as well as a fee for viewing the Human Fly video will go directly to Best Friends Animal Society. More info HERE.

PREVIOUSLY: Lux Interior, the singer, songwriter and founding member of the pioneering New York City horror-punk band the Cramps, died [February 4, 2009]. He was 60. Interior, whose real name was Erick Lee Purkhiser, died at Glendale Memorial Hospital of a previously-existing heart condition, according to a statement from his publicist. With his wife, guitarist “Poison” Ivy Rorschach, Interior formed the Cramps in 1976, pairing lyrics that expressed their love of B-movie camp with ferocious rockabilly and surf-inspired instrumentation. The band became a staple of the late ’70s Manhattan punk scene emerging from clubs like Max’s Kansas City and CBGB and was one of the first acts to realize the potential of punk rock as theater and spectacle. Often dressed in macabre, gender-bending costumes onstage, Interior evoked a lanky, proto-goth Elvis Presley, and his band quickly became notorious for volatile and decadent live performances. MORE

Bad Music for Bad PeoplePREVIOUSLY: It would be almost impossible to have never heard of The CRAMPS. Their career has been the stuff of legend. Dangerously bizarre but most of all cool, The CRAMPS represent everything that is truly reprehensible about rock ’n’ roll.  Founding members Lux Interior (the psycho-sexual Elvis/Werewolf hybrid from hell) and guitar-slinging soul-mate Poison Ivy (the ultimate bad girl vixen) are the architects of a wicked sound that distills a cross of swamp water, moonshine and nitro down to a dangerous and unstable musical substance. In the spring of 1976, The CRAMPS began to fester in a NYC apartment. Without fresh air or natural light, the group developed its uniquely mutant strain of rock’n’roll aided only by the sickly blue rays of late night TV. While the jackhammer rhythms of punk were proliferating in NYC, The CRAMPS dove into the deepest recesses of the rock’n’roll psyche for the most primal of all rhythmic impulses — rockabilly — the sound of southern culture falling apart in a blaze of shudders and hiccups. As late night sci-fi reruns colored the room, The CRAMPS also picked and chose amongst the psychotic debris of previous rock eras – instrumental rock, surf, psychedelia, and sixties punk. And then they added the junkiest element of all — themselves. Their cultural impact has spawned a legion of devil cults and dance-floor catfights, and created in its wake a cavalcade of cave-stomping imitators. As punk rock pioneers in the late seventies, they cut their teeth on the stages of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City and recorded their first record at Sam Phillips legendary Sun Studios, funded mainly by Ivy’s income as a dominatrix in NYC. They coined the now popular term “psychobilly” on their 1976 gig posters. Their hair-raising live performances are still a total, no-holds-barred rock’n’roll assault. After a quarter century of mayhem, they’re too far gone to even consider any other course. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: The evening’s manly-man tone quickly evaporated when Cramps’ frontman Lux Interior took the stage clad in pearls, high-heel pumps and whiteface PoisonIvyRorschach_1make-up. (Attention all homophobes: Lux has long been married to the dangerously beautiful Poison Ivy Rorshach, the Cramps’ guitarist and principle songwriter. Rorschach, the Morticia Addams of rock n’ roll, was a smoldering vision of carnality in her velveteen catwoman outfit, candy apple-red wig and pouty lips. Her fishnet-clad thighs quivered as she nursed washes of tremolo-laden distortion from two small Fender amps. Ivy was actually seen reducing males in the crowd to a pile of warm vitals with her piercing, she-devil stare. What a woman! The Cramps are the undisputed champs of the whole psychotronic-hillbilly-white trash-monster movie-garage-punk thing, and Saturday night they tore the roof off the joint. During the strobe-lit psychosis of “Surfin’ Bird,” the set’s finale, Lux destroyed two microphone stands, crushed his mike underfoot, smashed a wine bottle, shredded all his clothes with the jagged bottleneck, tore off what remained of his clothing, covered himself with his pumps, shook hands with the adoring crowd and said good night. It was a Jesse Helms nightmare to be sure, but that night all the punk boys and punk girls went home and no doubt had pleasantly subversive dreams. And in a country founded on revolution, that is a very good thing. MORE

RELATED: During a 1978 tour, psychobilly punk band The Cramps created one of the strangest moments in the history of both rock n’ roll and psychiatry when they played a gig inside Napa State Mental Hospital. It’s hard to believe it actually happened. The story sounds more like an exaggerated rock legend than an account of a real concert, but no suspension of disbelief is needed. Someone filmed the gig. We can only guess how the band got permission to play inside one of California’s biggest mental institutions, but play they did, to a few supporters and a fired-up crowd of psychiatric inpatients. The footage is grainy, black and white, and chaotic; the onlookers look bemused at first, a few start dancing, a few just wander. As the first song fades, the lead singer, Lux Interior, addresses the crowd: “We’re The Cramps, and we’re from New York City and we drove 3,000 miles to play for you people.” “Fuck you!” a patient yells back. He cracks a smile. “And somebody told me you people are crazy! But I’m not so sure about that; you seem to be all right to me.” The gig ascends into pure punk rock chaos. Patients jump on stage and pogo like they were Saturday night regulars. Lux suddenly duets with a member of the crowd who grabs the mike and adds her own improvised lyrics to the mix. One song finishes with the lead singer sprawled on the floor with two female members of the audience. One of them shouts “I got the Cramps!”  MORE

WFMU BLOG: Ok, I got kind of sick of repeating this story 1000 times. So figured I’d include this in the latest volume. I’m the guy who compiles the Lux and Ivy’s Favorites Compilations. It started as a way to keep track of some of the songs Lux, and or Ivy, mentioned in THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE MUSIC BOOK. It was never really intended as anything but a way for a friend of mine and me to have 2 really kick ass compilations. So we went about the arduous process of finding all the songs mentioned in that interview. It took a loooong time. We used the file sharing program, Napster, as well as our own personal collections. So, one thing lead to another and when word got around that these compilations were out there, they started being traded from fan to fan to fan. So, at some point I decided to put them up on Napster and let anyone who wanted them have them. As the years went buy, more interviews with Lux and Ivy kept popping up, and the list of songs they mentioned got longer and longer. This resulted in new volumes. MORE



Produced by Alex Chilton.

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SMUS: The Biggest Balls Of Them All!

January 24th, 2015



BY WILLIAM C. HENRY I’m definitely siding with New England on this one if for no other reason than the very idea of “deflategate” is utterly stupid and outlandishly hypocritical on SMUSits face. In fact, should it turn out that the Patriots were in fact complicit, I’d support a celebratory toast to them with cups of heavily spiked Orange Pekoe! Why? Because EVERY team in the NFL CHEATS, and they do it in EVERY game they play, and contrary to this preposterous “deflategate” bullshit, that kind of CHEATING actually HAS a bearing on the outcome of games! Huh?, you say. Come on, people, they’re called “penalties”! Last year’s biggest CHEATERS were the Seattle Seahawks with 144. Well, at least that’s how many times they got CAUGHT. Only the football God knows how many times they didn’t. New England came in second with 133. Indianapolis took third with 127, and so on down the line to Jacksonville with 73. Overall, NFL teams CHEATED a “known” total of 3,514 times!

That’s right, folks, every time a team “holds,” or commits “illegal use of hands” or “pass interference,” or “grabs a facemask” (and the list goes on) they are CHEATING! They’re knowingly BREAKING THE RULES! Sure, they get penalized. But more often than not they don’t get penalized “proportionally.” For instance, if your opponent would or is likely to catch a pass and take it in for a touchdown, you’re a hell of a lot better off to interfere with him and prevent him from doing so. The risk or certainty of getting caught is far less than the opponent’s reward would be for catching it. Giving up some penalty yards is a whole lot better than a guaranteed 7 points! Not to mention that there’s absolutely no guarantee that your opponent is going to be able to score on succeeding tries anyway! Ah, but you CHEATED! You knowingly broke the rules. You knowingly did it in order to ILLEGALLY gain an advantage, and you damn well may have CHANGED THE OUTCOME of the game to boot! But guess what? your team isn’t going to lose a draft pick or be fined a quarter of a million dollar$ as a result. Such is the utter stupidity and outlandish hypocrisy.

The real question should be: what the hell difference does it make how much or how little the football is inflated except possibly for punts or extra points?! Why shouldn’t EACH quarterback be able to use his own footballs and whatever inflation pressure he so chooses?! Who gives a damn?! What goddamn difference does it make so long as EACH quarterback gets to use his own footballs with the pressure of his choice whenever he’s got the ball?! As a matter of fact, why should ANY quarterback be penalized unduly for having been born with smaller hands? Trust me, in all of professional football you’d be hard pressed to find two sets of quarterback hands that are the same size and strength. Talk about your unequal playing fields!
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CINEMA: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory

January 23rd, 2015


(2014, Directed by Ava DuVernay, 128 Minutes, U.S.)

ZACH SHEVICH AVATARBY ZACHARY SHEVICH FILM CRITIC Selma opens with Martin Luther King Jr. practicing his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in the mirror, anxiously second-guessing his choice of tie. It’s a rare departure to portray the revered leader of the civil rights movement as a complex, all-too-human being no more immune than the rest of us to life’s trivialities, rather than a messianic figure delivering his people from bondage — although, in fact, he was/is both.

Director Ava Duvernay (I Will Follow, Middle of Nowhere) projects a nuanced perspective of the events surrounding the historic Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches. She captures the ambiance of the era with minimal flourishes, but the film still feels motivated by situation rather than a need to recreate history. Pomp and hagigraphy has killed lesser films overdetermined by the profound historical import of its subject, but Selma’s focused look into a single period of King’s life allows Duvernay to depict these events with the blood, sweat and tears of authenticity.

After King receives the Nobel in 1965, the movie jumps back in time to the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. Here, Duvernay’s altering of the timeline works to contextualize as well as dramatize MLK’s pursuit of the Voting Rights Act. It’s a slight change to history that sets the stage for the showdown in Selma, and one that evokes a thematic truth rather than a perfect chronological assembly of events. Given the film’s unapologetic application of creative license to history’s cause and effect, it’s hard to imagine why the criticisms of Lyndon B. Johnson’s portrayal have become such a large part of Selma’s off-screen narrative.
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Wanna See John Oliver @ The Tower On Friday?

January 22nd, 2015



Despite the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, speaking unvarnished truth about the shadowy corporate-funded shell game known as American democracy is simply not permitted on corporate-controlled broadcast media, unless your name is Jon Stewart — and even he avoids certain third rails that jump-start the dark heart of the corporate/military/police/prison industrial complex like a pacemaker of doom. There is just one other comedian/commenter who is allowed to speak truth to America’s face, John Oliver — and that’s only because he’s British, which protects him from Fox News-derived allegations of heresy in much the same way the court jester’s crown and pointy shoes protected him from the guillotine, a fate that awaited nearly everyone who had the temerity to speak truth to power in the king’s presence. Which is what makes John Oliver so dangerous to the power’s that be, he makes us swallow the unvarnished truth whole and do it with a smile, and perhaps a guffaw or, on a good night, a deep belly laugh. As per NPR’s Fresh Air :

After serving as a correspondent on The Daily Show for 7 1/2 years — and hosting it last summer while Jon Stewart took a break to direct his movie — British comedian John Oliver now has his own show. Last Week Tonight, a political satire, airs on HBO on Sunday nights. Much like Stewart, Oliver takes complicated issues, explains them and makes fun of them. Recently, Oliver tackled Net Neutrality, or the idea that the Internet should be a level playing field with all data treated equally, whether it’s coming from a big corporation or a startup. The Federal Communications Commission is endorsing rules that would end net neutrality and create a data “fast lane” for companies willing to pay a premium. The issue is sometimes discussed in hard-to-follow technical and bureaucratic language, which is where Oliver comes in. “Internet neutrality is the most important thing that is honestly too boring to care about, and yet it is a pivotal moment in a very, very key issue,” Oliver tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “It took a week of sifting through almost paralyzingly dull footage to try and work out how to present it.” But present it he did in a 13-minute rant, and at the end of the show, Oliver encouraged viewers to comment on the FCC website to change the rule. The FCC site received so much traffic, the agency had to send out a few tweets saying it faced “technical difficulties” on its servers. As a comedian, Oliver says, his job is to remain an outsider. “There should be a kind of awkward tension whenever a journalist walks into a room that politicians are in, because you should’ve done things that annoyed them in the past,” he says. “It’s the same as a comedian. You’re no one’s friend.” He also talks about tasing his leg for comedic effect, working a temp job for a thief and how HBO gives him a “confusing amount of freedom.”

Oliver comes to town Friday for two shows at the Tower Theater and we just happen to have a coupla pairs of tix for the 10:30 show to give away to some lucky Phawker readers. To qualify to win you must A) join our emailing list B) follow us on Twitter C) Friend us/me on Facebook. And then email us at FEED@PHAWKER.COM to let us know you have just completed A, B & C, or did so long ago. Put the magic words THE LIMEY MAKES ME LAUGH in the subject line. Include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

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EXCERPT: The Hunting Of Billie Holiday

January 22nd, 2015

The Hunting Of Billie Holiday FINAL
The following is an excerpt from CHASING THE SCREAM: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs by Johann Hari, via POLITICO:

From his first day in office in 1930, Harry Anslinger had a problem, and everybody knew it. He had just been appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics—a tiny agency, buried in the gray bowels of the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.—and it seemed to be on the brink of being abolished. This was the old Department of Prohibition, but prohibition had been abolished and his men needed a new role, fast. As he looked over his new staff—just a few years before his pursuit of Billie Holiday began—he saw a sunken army who had spent fourteen years waging war on alcohol only to see alcohol win, and win big. These men were notoriously corrupt and crooked—but now Harry was supposed to whip them into a force capable of wiping drugs from the United States forever.

Harry believed he could. He believed that the response to being dealt a weak hand should always be to dramatically raise the stakes. He pledged to eradicate all drugs, everywhere—and within thirty years, he succeeded in turning this crumbling department with these disheartened men into the headquarters for a global war that would continue for decades. He could do it because he was a bureaucratic genius—but, even more crucially, because there was a deep strain in American culture that was waiting for a man like him, with a sure and certain answer to their questions about chemicals.


Jazz was the opposite of everything Harry Anslinger believed in. It is improvised, relaxed, free-form. It follows its own rhythm. Worst of all, it is a mongrel CHASING THE SCREAMmusic made up of European, Caribbean and African echoes, all mating on American shores. To Anslinger, this was musical anarchy and evidence of a recurrence of the primitive impulses that lurk in black people, waiting to emerge. “It sounded,” his internal memos said, “like the jungles in the dead of night.” Another memo warned that “unbelievably ancient indecent rites of the East Indies are resurrected” in this black man’s music. The lives of the jazzmen, he said, “reek of filth.”

His agents reported back to him that “many among the jazzmen think they are playing magnificently when under the influence of marihuana but they are actually becoming hopelessly confused and playing horribly.”

The Bureau believed that marijuana slowed down your perception of time dramatically, and this was why jazz music sounded so freakish—the musicians were literally living at a different, inhuman rhythm. “Music hath charms,” their memos say, “but not this music.” Indeed, Anslinger took jazz as yet more proof that marijuana drives people insane. For example, the song “That Funny Reefer Man” contains the line “Any time he gets a notion, he can walk across the ocean.” Anslinger’s agents warned that’s exactly what drug users were like: “He does think that.”

Anslinger looked out over a scene filled with rebels like Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk, and—as the journalist Larry Sloman recorded—he longed to see them all behind bars. He wrote to all the agents he had sent to follow them and instructed: “Please prepare all cases in your jurisdiction involving musicians in violation of the marijuana laws. We will have a great national round-up arrest of all such persons on a single day. I will let you know what day.” His advice on drug raids to his men was always simple: “Shoot first.”

He reassured congressmen that his crackdown would affect not “the good musicians, but the jazz type.” But when Harry came for them, the jazz world would have one weapon that saved them: its absolute solidarity. Anslinger’s men could find almost no one among them who was willing to snitch, and whenever one of them was busted, they all chipped in to bail him out. In the end, the Treasury Department told Anslinger he was wasting his time taking on a community that couldn’t be fractured, so he scaled down his focus until it settled like a laser on a single target—perhaps the greatest female jazz vocalist there ever was. He wanted to bring the full thump of the federal government down upon that scourge of modern society, his Public Enemy #1: Billie Holiday. MORE

TIME: “Strange Fruit” is a tragic song famously performed by Billie Holiday, one of America’s most tragic singers. The devastating image of “strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees” is the mournful heart of this antiracism song. Named song of the century by TIME in 1999, the lyrics were written by Abel Meeropol, an English teacher from the Bronx who in 1937 ran across a photograph of a lynching that both disturbed and inspired him. The resulting poem became the basis of the song two years later. Holiday’s live version of “Strange Fruit,” with only a piano backing her, is even more raw and heartfelt than the recording. You can feel her anguish, you can feel her sadness, you can feel her anger. It’s a song that is complicated in a unique way — such beautiful humanity in such a shameful topic. MORE

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CINEMA: Meet Messenger Of God‘s ‘Guru In Bling’

January 21st, 2015

VICE: On Tuesday, Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed India’s Censor Board chief after his predecessor, Leela Samson resigned, citing “interference, coercion, and corruption.” The cause: The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal had overruled her decision to keep the movie MSG: The Messenger of God, out of theaters. MSG: The Messenger of God is a terrible name for a movie that isn’t about Moses delivering cheap Chinese food (producers, call me), but the actual issue is that the goofball protagonist of the film is a thinly veiled stand-in for the actor playing him. That actor is the so-called “Guru in Bling,” or Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the leader of Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), an enormous and shadowy spiritual organization that says it’s the”confluence of all religions,” and has been embroiled in endless controversies for (among other things) allegedly stockpiling illegal guns and castrating hundreds of its members. But none of that is readily obvious in the innocuous trailer for the film. It features a “Guru in Bling” of its own—who resembles a cross between comedian Matt Berry and Macho Man Randy Savage—being attacked by gangsters, and dispatching them with crazy motorcycle antics and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon–style martial arts moves. In other words, it looks incredible. MORE

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THE SONICS: Black Betty

January 21st, 2015

Never thought we’d be typing these words but Pacific Northwest proto-garage-punk avatars The Sonics have a NEW album coming out March 31st and they will be playing the TLA on April 12th! To wit:

Recorded in “earth-shaking mono” by noted producer Jim Diamond of Ghetto Recorders at Soundhouse Studios in Seattle, “This Is The Sonics” (release date: March 31, 2015) reunites original members Jerry Roslie on keyboards and vocals, Larry Parypa on guitar and vocals and Rob Lind on sax, harmonica and vocals. They are backed by a powerhouse rhythm section, bassist Freddie Dennis (the Kingsmen, the Liverpool Five) and drummer Dusty Watson (Dick Dale, Agent Orange).

“This Is The Sonics” follows 50 years after the legendary “Here Are the Sonics” (1965) and followup “Boom” (1966), which rocketed the Tacoma garage rock band into sonicsmusic history with a gritty, sped-up, brutal rock & roll attack that sounded like nothing that had come before. The Sonics singlehandedly defined the genre of garage rock with their debut single “The Witch” (1964) at a time when upbeat, positive ditties were still the standard rock fare. Instead, Roslie howled a primitive cri de coeur that took teenage desperation into far darker waters in the vein of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, with ominous, drug-soaked, even Satanic themes, anticipating punk, heavy metal and grunge in its sonic force.

Broken up in 1967, the band’s legacy remained frozen in time, with classics like “Psycho,” “Strychnine,” and “Have Love, Will Travel” awaiting discovery and directly inspiring countless generations of garage bands the world over, including names like Springsteen and Cobain. Last year “Have Love Will Travel” was used in a Modelo beer commercial as well as the promo for the 2014 season of Anthony Bourdain’s well-loved CNN series “Parts Unknown.” The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl highlighted the Sonics and interviewed Parypa in the Seattle episode of the HBO series “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.”

Now, “This Is The Sonics,” released on their own Tacoma-based label Revox Records, picks up where the band left off with 12 savage new songs. Producer Diamond, the Detroit force best known for his work with the White Stripes, Dirtbombs and Electric Six, recorded the new Sonics record in mono, live in the studio, with minimal overdubs, for a raw sound experience that befits their indelible legacy.

PREVIOUSLY: The Woggles are a garage band in the wooly, frat-rock party-animal tradition of ’60s bands like the Sonics. All the songs sound like steroid-fed mash-ups of “Louie, Louie” and “Shout,” and on a good night, it’s all you can do not to stand up between songs and shout, “Otis! My man!” Based in Atlanta, the Woggles are fronted by a Don Imus lookalike named Manfred Jones, who, on this night, is hands down the hardest-working man in garage rock. By the second song his sweat-soaked black tuxedo shirt is glistening like a Woggles.jpgseal in an oil slick. His voice wails with leathery R&B hoarsepower, and he moves like a one-man soul revue, darting from the stage to tabletops to midair, leaving behind a particle mist of spilled drinks and overturned ashtrays, not to mention a conga line of boogalooing Tritone revelers. If only the kids still had access to this kind of rock ‘n’ roll, the likes of Korn would never bother us again. MORE

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Check out Ticket Liquidator's Live Toast blog, it's one of the coolest company blogs out there. Not just your usual candy-coated array of dead-end zzzzzzzzz inducing rubbish, Live Toast brings you all the funniest and wackiest original content that you won't see anywhere else on the web. Plus, Ticket Liquidator's team will bring you lots of other articles on concerts, sports and music, including news on ticket prices, plus articles about cool music from firsthand perspectives. All in all Ticket Liquidator is evolving, into a new kind of ticket company. And leaving the rest behind...