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ALBUM REVIEW: King Gizzard Infest The Rat’s Nest

August 18th, 2019

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is an insanely prolific seven-piece from Australia that combines psychedelia, garage rock, jazz, prog and now thrash metal to create a sound that is wholly theirs over the course of 15 albums. In 2017 alone, they released a mind-boggling five uniformly great albums. After a relatively silent 2018, King Gizzard returned earlier this year with Fishing for Fishies, an LP of soft, environmentally-conscious blues rock with songs about feeling bad for the fish you catch and boogie-oogie-oogie-ing. Fishing for Fishies may have had a few duds buried in its tracklist, but it also held some of the best King Gizzard songs yet, including: “The Bird Song,” a thoughtful track about perception in nature built around a nice, addictive piano riff, and “Cyboogie,” the sprawling, electronic centerpiece of the whole record. Just four months after the release of Fishing For Fishies, they have returned with yet another new LP. It’s called Infest the Rat’s Nest, and as you might surmise from the title, it is an audacious 180 degree turn from the mellow tones of Fishing for Fishies. A full-length experiment with thrash metal, Infest The Rat’s Nest is the band’s most consistently punishing yet, with one rager following another, and also one of their best.

Infest the Rat’s Nest opens with “Planet B,” a monstrous song with multiple sections wherein lead vocalist Stu Mackezie bellows a simple one-line chorus that you will never forget: “THERE IS NO PLANET B!” Message: there is no Earth 2 to fall back if we destroy this one. Mackenzie forgoes the light, filtered vocal style of Fishing for Fishies and instead opts for an aggressive, primal scream, wedded to harsh instrumentation, which fits the grim and apocalyptic tone of the album. A prime example is the futuristic dystopian sci-fi camp of “Mars for the Rich,” a track that tells the story of a poor boy stuck on the dying Earth while the rich live happily on Mars with massive, chugging guitars, a great refrain and a nice bass solo at the end. “Organ Farmer” is an insane, fast-tempo, mind-melting nightmare of a song with gruesome lyrics about mutilation that’s thousands of miles away from the songs about boogie-ing that they were releasing just months prior. “Superbug” is a nearly seven-minute odyssey that grows in intensity until it peaks with a massive chorus at the end. “Venusian 2” is yet another rager about a group of rebels escaping Earth to live in the atmosphere of Venus. Although the comically sci-fi narrative and intense genre-hopping of the band may make this phase of their discography seem like a gimmick, don’t be fooled, because this band definitely has the chops to back up the camp. – CHARLIE COLAN

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD @ FRANKLIN MUSIC HALL AUGUST 30TH

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Tonite They Ride The Eternal Highways Of Valhalla

August 17th, 2019

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Artwork by THOMAS POLLART via Easy Rider

VARIETY: The first significant step Fonda took in the path toward the success he would achieve through “Easy Rider” was a starring role, with Nancy Sinatra and Bruce Dern, in Roger Corman’s 1966 Hells Angels drama “The Wild Angels.” It was the first of a series of successful biker pictures produced by American International Pictures that screened at drive-ins across the country.

The next step was the 1967 feature “The Trip,” directed by Corman and written by Jack Nicholson. This piece of what has been termed psychedelic cinema follows a young director of commercials played by Fonda who goes an LSD trip together assisted by Dern’s character. Later Fonda’s character visits the groovy pad of a guru-dealer played by Dennis Hopper.

In his 1998 autobiography, “Don’t Tell Dad: A Memoir,” Fonda said that he got the idea for “Easy Rider” while staring at a poster for “The Wild Angels.”

“I understood immediately just what kind of motorcycle, sex, and drug movie I should make next,” Fonda wrote. “It would not be about one hundred Hell’s angels on their way to a funeral. It would be about the Duke and Jeffrey Hunter looking for Natalie Wood. I would be the Duke and (Dennis) Hopper would be my Ward Bond; America would be our Natalie Wood. And after a long journey to the East across John Ford’s America, what would become of us? We would be blasted to bits by narrow-minded, redneck poachers at dawn, just outside of Heaven, Florida, and the bed of their pickup would be full of ducks. I mean really full of ducks.”

With Fonda and Hopper exchanging ideas and planning the film, Fonda went to Europe to appear in “Metzengerstein,” a segment of the film “Spirits of the Dead,” starring Jane Fonda and directed by her then husband, Roger Vadim. On-set he met author Terry Southern, with whom he became fast friends. Fonda, Southern and Hopper would together write the Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Easy Rider,” and Fonda would produce. Hopper directed. (Jack Nicholson scored the film’s second Oscar nomination for his supporting performance.)

The film won the “best first work” award at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1969. And in 1998, “Easy Rider” was added to the National Film Registry, having been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Fonda and Hopper would fight for decades over who really came up with “Easy Rider.” MORE

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CINEMA: Blackbird Singing In The Dead Of Night

August 16th, 2019

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THE NIGHTINGALE (Directed by Jennifer Kent, 136 minutes, AUS, 2019)

BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC After wowing Sundance in 2014 with The Babadook, Australian director Jennifer Kent had Hollywood knocking down her door. But instead of going more mainstream, Kent opted for a much darker, more personal take on a bit of Australian history largely unknown to most non-Aussie audiences. The Nightingale is a western set in 1825 that is bitingly relevant to present day America in the wake of the #metoo movement. Set in Tasmania during the brutal British colonization of The Land Down Under known as the “The Black War,” a bloody guerilla conflict between the British colonists and Aboriginal Australians, the film is based on historical accounts and told through the eyes of those that endured violence in the name or progress. During its festival run, The Nightingale sparked controversy and spurred walkouts due to its unflinching portrayal of racism and violence.

In the early 19th Century, Australia was a British Empire penal colony where prisoners were shipped to serve out their sentences in indentured servitude, never to return home. The film’s protagonist is Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish convict who recently completed her seven year sentence and is now attempting to secure her release from her master, British Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). Clare, known as The Nightingale thanks to her singing voice, is held captive by the abusive Hawkins who refuses to let her go. When Hawkins is denied a promotion because of rumored transgressions against the young woman in his charge, he shows up one-night drunk at Clare’s with some soldiers who proceed to rape her and kill her family, leaving her for dead.

When Clare tells the Lieutenant’s superiors what happened, they are skeptical. It’s not simply because she is a convict, but Irish and a woman as well. When Hawkins flees the village and heads north to take a new post, Clare pursues him to exact her revenge. This will be no easy feat given that the island riven by war and teaming with hostile wildlife, criminals and the indigenous. Clare hires an Aboriginal guide named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who calls himself “The Blackbird” to guide her way under the guise of “finding her husband.” Because they can only communicate in the language of their oppressors they tell each other the story of their struggle through songs in their native tongue. These lyrical moments lend some much needed humanity to the bleak story.

While we have seen iterations of this story before, it has rarely been told by someone who would suffered under the tyranny of the colonizers, which gives the story a much more authentic voice. It doesn’t try to make anyone into a heroes or a savior because it’s too busy making the point that while we may be more civilized today, racism, sexism and brutality is woven into the fabric of our DNA. The journey of the two outsiders and how they connect in their loss is what ultimately drives the story as the pair wend their way north in pursuit of Hawkins who leaves a trail of carnage in his wake. There will be blood, to be sure, but the story doesn’t end like you would expect, which is one more thing that makes this film as great as it is.

The Nightingale isn’t an easy watch, but it rewards those brave enough to endure it. Kent, here turns in a sophomore effort that solidifies her as a powerful voice in film thanks to not only her vision, but the fearless performances led by Aisling Franciosi that is simply gut-wrenching to watch. Kent has made a film that solidifies her status as a powerful storytelling voice in film thanks in no small part to a fearless performance by Aisling Franciosi that is simply gut-wrenching to watch. Sam Claflin is the lynchpin as a cruel and controlling heavy with a lot going on underneath the handsome bad boy exterior. Like Aisling he’s not afraid to go to some very dark places for his character and their back and forth creates a harrowing dynamic that is rarely explored in stories of abuse. The Nightingale is a grim masterwork that, in the process of showing us how far the human race has not come, lets us know there is still the possibility of salvation down this path.

JENNIFER KENT’S THE NIGHTINGALE NOW PLAYING @ RITZ 5< /a>

 

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Q&A: Aisling Franciosi From Game Of Thrones

August 15th, 2019

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Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC The Nightingale, director Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to her 2014 breakout hit Babadook, tells an intimate story about the history of her home country Australia. The gritty western takes place in 1825 during the ‘Black War’ with the British attempting to colonize the Island of Tasmania and drive out its Aboriginal inhabitants any way they can. The film stars Aisling Franciosi as Clare, a young Irish convict shipped to Tasmania to serve her seven-year debt to the British government, which when the film begins, she has just completed. The problem is the abusive British lieutenant Hawkins refuses to release her from his supervision. When Hawkins loses a promotion due rumors of his behavior towards the woman in his charge, he takes everything possible from the young woman, which sends her out for revenge.

If you’re not familiar with Aisling Franciosi, who you may have caught as Lyanna Stark on Game of Thrones, judging by critical reactions to her performance in The Nightingale you will soon be. She imbues the role with an unflinching fearlessness and emotion as she takes us through this very brutal story. Aisling was born in Italy and grew up in Dublin, Ireland and got her big break playing Katie Benedetto in the BBC crime series The Fall. I got to speak with her last week about her role in The Nightingale and some of the controversy surrounding the subject matter the film tackles, which is still very relevant and poignant even today.

PHAWKER: We rarely get a story like this about colonialism from the voice of someone who would have been part of the oppressed, unlike most stories there are no saviors or heroes. Was this bit of history something you were familiar with? I know I spent like an hour online reading about it after I finished the film and was awestruck.

AISLING FRANCIOSI: To a certain extent. I have a relative who works a lot with Aboriginal communities, nightingale_xlgbecause unfortunately a lot of them still live in, in terrible poverty and you can see the ramifications of Colonialism years later. It’s still unfortunately very visible. So, I knew a little bit, just by my aunt, and I knew a certain amount about the convict’s history in Australia. But when I really started doing research, I’ll be honest by that I did not want to be ignorant Aboriginal history at all. I did look into that, but that was much closer to filming because I really wanted to get Clare into my skin before, you know, being kind of academic about the Aboriginal side of things. Because Clare, you know, she ignorant at the start of the film basically in regards to the Aboriginal people, and ton racism.

But the more I looked into how systematic, the sending of convicts to Australia I frankly was so furious, you know. Of course, they were terrible criminals who did get sent there. But there were also those who just committed petty survival crimes, stealing food to survive or clothing or whatever it was. Maybe it was only worth a two- or three-year sentence, but they got sent there and, the British knew that there was no way they would ever get home. They were sent to the other side of the world. So essentially, I think as well, when women and girls were sent to Tasmania it was, to essentially populate the island.

There was a ratio, and I think at one time it was something like crazy, like nine to one, men to women. And you can only imagine how horrific, a circumstance that is to arrive in, as a woman. They sent women there to fix the ratio and populate the island, but also, they sent the absolute worst criminals, the most dangerous ones. So, it was basically that combination making it the worst, hellish place to be. So yeah, it really fed into my anger when I kind of delved into the historical research.

PHAWKER: It’s hard not to see the obvious and very chilling echoes to the #MeToo movement here, but its feels very organic to Clare’s story. Do you feel like some of the reactions to the film might be because of its very real approach to what happens to Clare and how it eventually plays out?

AISLING FRANCIOSI: Yeah, definitely. I mean, our film is definitely confrontational. But I think that it should be. You know, I find it very fascinating particularly the human reaction to the violence to our film, because, there are plenty of very popular TV shows or films that are hyper violent, that don’t shy away from showing the gore. But they don’t show the human side, the human being that’s there behind it suffering frequently, obviously there are exceptions today.

Particularly with the sexual violence in this film I think we really wanted to focus on the fact that that rape is violence, first and foremost. We really wanted to get away from the sexual aspect of it, because it’s too easy then to attribute the shameful side of the conversation to it and when you put it in a sexual bracket, it just, it feels like it becomes harder to talk about. Rape is a violent act, the sexual part is the weapon and rape is like dominance and power and destruction and I’ve said this before, it’s no surprise that rape and war go hand in hand. It’s the fuel for domination, for power, for keeping the powerful in power. We really wanted to focus on the experience of the human being and the emotional intimacy. Obviously, there’s a physical trauma too, but it’s the emotional destruction of being raped.

I’m really interested because in people’s reaction to, because you rarely see two bodies in the frame, that it’s almost always nightingale_xlgon Clare’s face or Hawkins or Ruse’s face. I think that’s why people get quite angry about, it makes them feel uncomfortable feelings, because they’re forced to live it with Clare and in a very emotional way. Honestly, I feel like we show what it actually truly is, not the act, we see the emotional ramifications. But it’s interesting how people don’t want to feel those feelings. I understand that it, it’s hard to watch, but I think as Jen and I said before, if you can watch a rape scene on screen and not think twice about it or not feel that uncomfortable about it, it was probably filmed wrong, and it happens a lot.

I’m also reluctant to call the film a rape revenge movie, for many reasons. One is because I feel like in a lot of rape revenge movies, you have, the rape and then the woman just moves onto the revenge part and apart from anything it’s not just an isolated incident in a moment of time. Then you get over it, and move on to getting your revenge. You know, I think we show that with Clare. Women and men who are victims of sexual violence, of abuse, of trauma, they suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and in a big way, sometimes for life. It just shows the complexity of what someone goes through and I just don’t think that Clare is getting her revenge, just for the rape. She’s getting revenge because he took everything possible from her, her sense of self, for her family, her baby, her dreams, her future.
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BACK STORY: The Complete Oral History Of Spoon

August 14th, 2019

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meavatar2BY JONATHAN VALANIA In the last 26 years, Spoon has gone from great white hype to major-label train wreck to “the most consistently great” band of the last decade, according to Metacritic. Algorithms can tell. They are the one band upon which we can all agree. The lion’s share of the blame and the glory rests squarely on the shoulders of singer/songwriter/guitarist Britt Daniel. Spoon is essentially a one-man band that’s had 11 members come and go or stay the course since 1993. MAGNET got all Spoon hands back on deck—not just the currently Spoon-fed, but the exiles and the mutineers, the ex-girlfriend, their first fanboy, the men who recorded their albums and the inimitable Gerard Cosloy—for this brutally honest oral history of the beast and the dragon adored.

BRITT DANIEL (Spoon singer/songwriter/guitarist, 1993-present): I grew up in Temple, Texas. Population: 45,000. There weren’t a lot of Velvet Underground fans around town. My dad was really into music, and when I was finally allowed to run the record player, that kind of sorted out a lot of boredom. But it was a long time before I was allowed to. I was in a band called the Zygotes in Temple when I was in high school. But that was mostly a cover band: lots of Doors, lots of Zeppelin, Cure and Ramones. Then I moved to Austin for school, and Skellington was the first band. I also performed and recorded solo under the name Drake Tungsten. Then there was a country/rockabilly band called Alien Beats. That’s where I met Jim.

JIM ENO (Spoon drummer, 1993-present): I only knew Britt as a bass player in this rockabilly/country band. So, he asked me to go over there and check out some of the songs he was writing, and I was pretty blown away. His songs were pop, but weird and angular, too.

ANDY MAGUIRE (Spoon bassist, 1993-1996): I answered an ad in The Austin Chronicle looking for a bass player. The band clicked very fast; we were playing out within a month. Everyone is Austin was a slacker, but Jim and Britt were willing to work very, very hard to get what they want, and that was very attractive.

JIM ENO: I think we had our very first show booked on a Friday night. We all got together Thursday night and tried to think of a name, and Britt had put on one of the cards, “Spoon,” after the Can song. I think if we would have known it was gonna stick 20 years later, we might have thought a little harder about it.

GERARD COSLOY (Matador Records co-owner): I remember my girlfriend and I were killing time between “official” spooncover_magnet_112SXSW ’94 events, and stopped at the Blue Flamingo to see a more metal-ish combo that had been recommended. We saw Spoon instead. Other than making a mental note to give the charismatic vocalist plenty of shit for wearing sunglasses in a dark room, I thought they were awesome.

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER (Fiery Furnaces vocalist): He used to wear sunglasses onstage because he didn’t want people to see him looking at his hands when he played guitar.

BRITT DANIEL: Eleanor was my girlfriend at the time. Anyway, getting back to Gerard — Cosloy is the kind of guy who would go see punk-rock bands play in a drag-queen bar, because that’s more interesting to him than seeing Beck, who was playing that night two doors over at Emo’s, you know? He didn’t come up to me, but someone told me that he liked us. The next year he invited us to play the Matador showcase at SXSW. And then after that happened, all these labels knew that we weren’t signed to Matador, and a couple months later we had Interscope, Geffen and Warner Bros. all trying to sign us. Which, for a band that was having difficulty getting weekend gigs in our hometown, was fucking exciting.

ANDY MAGUIRE: : It was a bit of a bidding war. They all took us to dinner.

BRITT DANIEL: I remember I ordered eggs benedict for the first time.

ANDY MAGUIRE: : Tensions were high, Britt was only 22, and it got pretty heavy—people were telling him he was a genius, and it kind of went to his head. I had more experience. I was 10 years older than him, but he didn’t want to listen to any advice, so one day they sat me down and told me they were replacing me, and I walked out. And then I got a lawsuit filed against me. They sued me for leaving the band after they fired me, and they lied and told everyone I quit. They just lied openly to their friends; even his ex-girlfriend, she said to me, “No, no, you sued him,” but she worked for a lawyer and looked it up and came back to me and said, “Oh my god, he lied to me.” Nobody really won. I mean, it killed the first album. It was a really stupid move.

JOHN CROSLIN (Spoon producer 1994–2000): The first album was recorded in my garage. Had an eight-track one-inch machine, a fairly crude set-up. But it was a blast. They were a great band for that set-up because they were pretty minimal.

BRITT DANIEL: Telephono was basically just our live show. We would just record it after work for three to four hours a night. That kind of deal. It was good, fun. It felt pro. A lot of people think it’s a picture of me on the cover but that’s Phillip Niemeyer on the cover, he was in a bunch of bands in Austin — he was just a buddy. He’s wearing, like, Dracula teeth in that photo. The title was his idea. I was always checking my messages on the phone all the time. I was like a phone guy. It was before internet. And then he crossed that with phonograph and that was Telephono.

SEAN O’NEAL (Onion A.V. Club senior editor): Freshman year of college, I started the first Spoon fan site. It was called The Sort Of Official Spoon Web Page, and it was hosted on a school server and had this mile-long URL with like a million tildes, so it was impossible to find.

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER: I remember Britt and I took a trip to New York together and went to the Matador office, and he was very nervous about that. He loved that label; it was the epitome of cool at the time, and he was very nervous about living up to that. I remember him getting a margarita on Broadway at some Mexican place downstairs from the Matador office to steel himself before we went up.

BRITT DANIEL: I loved Gerard and loved (Matador co-owner) Chris (Lombardi), and they were putting out all my favorite bands’ records, and I thought, if we could get to be half as big as Pavement or Guided By Voices, I will be very, very happy, and things will work out in the end. Even though that record sold, like, less than 2,000 copies in its first year and was deemed very much by us and by the label as a failure, I think it was a good move.

JIM ENO: I think it was closer to 1,300, I think I found a SoundScan from the year after it came out. I think it was about 1,300. That blows my mind now—to be out on Matador and only sell 1,300 copies. And we toured a lot on that record, too. We did two tours with Guided By Voices.

BRITT DANIEL: Yeah, we did so many tours on that first record. I don’t know what the people who managed and booked us thought, but they were sending us through North Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama. It fucking sucked. It was not a fun experience. A lot of shitty nights opening for really shitty metal bands. We played for the bartenders many, many times.

JOHN CROSLIN: I filled in on bass for a few tours after Andy left. Telephono had just come out and nobody was there to see Spoon; nobody had heard of them. Some shows there were five people in the audience.

GERARD COSLOY: They had the very dubious “next-Nirvana” tag hanging around their necks without ever asking for it. Things got kinda hype-y through no fault of theirs—and I think most sensible people were suspicious. Some writers and fans alike immediately derided them as Pixies clones (a charge that seems especially hilarious today, but at the time, did Spoon no favors). And to be very fair, it should also be said that not everyone at the record label was totally behind those guys. In those days, we employed a publicist — an otherwise very talented and insightful person — who upon being told by a journalist, “Those guys kinda suck,” would’ve been apt to say, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
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CINEMA: Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life

August 13th, 2019

This looks pretty great, due out December 13th.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Bon Iver i,i

August 13th, 2019

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Illustration by MIKKEL SOMMER

Twelves years ago, Justin Vernon emerged from a self-imposed isolation in the woods of Wisconsin and presented to the world his sadcore masterpiece For Emma, Forever Ago. Since then, Bon Iver has become a staple of indie-folk sound. His body of work always sounded to me like rustic lullabies, digestible background noise and easy to ignore. However, his latest album i,i breaks that pattern. Upon first glance, the tracklist appears senseless, made up of Biblical-sounding phrases and abbreviations. The song titles could be interpreted as poking fun at Vernon’s style of singing, the way he stretches vowels beyond recognition, muddling words into raw sound. There’s a possible nod to technological giant Apple with the repetition of stylized lowercase ‘i,’ like the slow dissolve of personhood into a distorted, digital self. bon-iver-ii

Sonically, the new album experiments with a blend of electronic and acoustic elements. Vernon clones himself on “iMi,” harmonizing with echoes of his own voice as it jumps between octaves, from rumbling bass to piercing soprano. “Holyfields” is filled with the hazy white noise of a blank television channel, while the choppy synths of “Jelmore” mimic the stutter and skip of a scratched record. “U (Man Like)” is a bursting gospel track that features Moses Sumney’s airy falsetto over soulful piano. Drums and trumpets rise to a roar on “Naeem” until the crescendo peters out sweetly. Songs like this round out the album, leaning into fuller-sounding instruments and orchestral elements reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens.

“Hey, Ma” is sensitive and optimistic, delving into childhood memory. The lyrics explore the theme of communication and the importance of connecting with other humans while the accompanying music video is a series of strung-together home videos of Vernon’s family. Vernon departs from his manipulated murmur on the album-closing “RABi” where his words come through clear and firm. He speaks to the fear of death that haunts all of us as he describes the sands of time slipping fast through a clenched fist. Vernon seeks shelter from fear and loneliness, grabbing the nearest person’s hand and clutching to life itself. — MARIAH HALL

PREVIOUSLY: Bon Iver @ The Met Concert Review

BON IVER + FEIST @ WELLS FARGO CENTER FRIDAY OCTOBER 10TH

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REST IN POWER: Kurt Wunder 1966-2019

August 12th, 2019

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PENNSYLVANIA BURIAL COMPANY: Upon realizing that his medications would never involve tequila, Kurt William Wunder acquiesced and peacefully surrendered his battle with glioblastoma and leptomeningeal disease on August 10th, 2019. He was the loving son of Dolores and the late William, youngest brother to Robert and William. Kurt was the devoted husband of Margo and adoring father to Georgia and Spencer. He is also survived by his faithful pets Shiloh and Parumpapumpum, as well as a hefty collection of sinks.

Captain and founder of the Hatboro Horsham High School ice hockey team, Kurt imparted his great passion for the sport to his IMG_3325wife and children. He taught them how to play and to love the game that was so dear to his heart. Kurt volunteered his time as a coach in the Rizzo Rink Ice Hockey program here in South Philadelphia, striving to foster not only skill, but also sportsmanship and a bench culture of affirmation and equity.

It was recently said of Kurt “he could have been mayor,” and that was mostly true. He saw potential in everyone and everything. Along with two likeminded visionaries, he built the 700 bar. Within a brief period of time and with their bare hands, Kurt and his partners Tracy and Chris turned a shell of a building in a desolate part of Northern Liberties into the cornerstone of a thriving community of artists, musicians, trades people, pundits and drunks for some twenty-plus years. MORE

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REDD KROSS: When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’

August 12th, 2019

BROOKLYN VEGAN: Redd Kross‘ upcoming album, Beyond the Door (August 28th, MERGE), closes with a cover of Sparks’ 1994 single, “When Do I Get to Sing ‘My Way,” which they transform from glittering synthpop disco into a triumphant rock anthem. It also comes with the creators’ approval. “Redd Kross has always been one of my favorite bands and that opinion was cemented when I heard their amazing version of our ‘When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way,’” says Sparks’ Ron Mael. “To do a version of that song with a completely different musical approach from the original while keeping every ounce of the original sentiment was an amazing feat. I love it!” They play Underground Arts w/ The Melvins on October 12th.  MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Q&A W/ Jeff McDonald Of Redd Kross

REDD KROSS + THE MELVINS @ UNDERGROUND ARTS OCT. 12TH

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RIP: Gar Joseph, Legendary Daily News Editor

August 12th, 2019

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THE INQUIRER: The first few times Gar Joseph applied for a reporting job at the Philadelphia Daily News, the editors turned him down. On paper, he was a solid candidate, a whip-smart 30-something assistant metro editor at the Wilmington News Journal. But there was some disagreement over whether he was too buttoned-up for the tabloid, which proudly wore its irreverent heart on its sleeve. What was clear to the paper’s editors was that Mr. Joseph didn’t give up easily, even if the odds weren’t in his favor. He kept on telling them he belonged at the Daily News, as simple as that. They finally relented in 1981, hiring him to work on the education beat. It quickly became apparent that Mr. Joseph was more than just a good fit for the newsroom: He lived and breathed the place, and seemed to understand better than anyone what made it tick. In the 34 years that followed, Mr. Joseph established himself as a Daily News legend, creating the popular political column Clout, editing the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of police corruption, and shepherding the careers of countless journalists upon whom he dispensed a unique blend of unblinking support and withering sarcasm. “I got a lot of s—, in retrospect, for not hiring him sooner,” said former Daily News editor Zack Stalberg, now retired and living in New Mexico. Mr. Joseph, 71, who held the title of assistant managing editor by the time he retired, died Saturday, Aug. 10, after a nearly four-year battle with glioblastoma, a particularly ruthless form of brain cancer that often leaves patients with a survival span of less than 24 months. That he wound up beating the predicted range by almost two years surprised no one who worked with him. He didn’t know how to give up. MORE

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THE CROZ: Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

August 9th, 2019

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Photo by MICHAEL OCHS via TUMBLR

meavatar2BY JONATHAN VALANIA In advance of his headlining appearance at the 2019 Philadelphia Folk Festival next week, and upon the release of Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed documentary, David Crosby: Remember My Name (now playing @ Ritz 5), we got Mr. Crosby (The Byrds, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young) on the horn. DISCUSSED: Choice chapeaus, kool capes, walrus mustaches, marijuana, Cameron Crowe, Monterey Pop, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, that badass hat he’s wearing in the “Eight Miles High” video, The Wrecking Crew, Terry Melcher, seeing John Coltrane blow mad horn in a men’s in Chicago while on LSD, The Sky Trails Band, Chris Thile and the last song that knocked his motherfucking socks off.

PHAWKER: First of all, it’s a great pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for all the great music over the years. I just watched the documentary. Really loved it. I know you’ve done a lot of press for this and probably had to answer a lot of the same questions over and over again. So I’m gonna ask you some questions that are a little bit more off the beaten, if that’s alright with you, and this will be a little bit more fun.Crosby_Hat

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, sure. Do anything you like.

PHAWKER: First of all, I want to talk about some of your looks as a young man. I wanted to ask you about, first, the origin of the walrus mustache, which has been sort of your–

DAVID CROSBY: It just appeared on my lip. I don’t know. It grew there, and I didn’t know what to do. You know, I’ve had it for a long time, and I love it.

PHAWKER: Was that like a Wyatt Earp thing, or?

DAVID CROSBY: No, man, it just grew on my lip!

PHAWKER: Okay. Alright. I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of the clothes that you wore in The Byrds — I’m a big fan of The Byrds. That flat wide-brimmed cowboy hat you wore in the “Eight Miles High” video? That is one of the greatest looks of the 1960s anyone had going.

DAVID CROSBY: Now, listen, it was a Borsalino — an Italian hat that I squashed down to the ground into a cowboy hat.

PHAWKER: Crushing it down really made the difference. It was a really cool look. I mean Tom Petty was rocking that hat, in tribute, many years later. The cape. Where did the cape come from? Or what was the inspiration for that?

DAVID CROSBY: Friend of mine. I was living in Chicago on Wells Street, and it was very cold and I had an old coat that wasn’t really very good and I had a leather-maker friend. John Brown. He was in a place called Piper’s Alley on Wells Street, and he made me that cape, and I loved it, and I wore it all the time.

PHAWKER: The cape was made of leather?

DAVID CROSBY: Yes.

PHAWKER: What’s the story behind the furry hat you were rockin’ towards the end of your tenure in The Byrds?Crosby_Cape

DAVID CROSBY: It was a furry hat. I can’t take all the fashion questions too seriously, because I don’t take fashion very seriously. I’m so not a fashionable person. But yeah, it was just a good Russian hat. You know, one of those rabbit fur hats.

PHAWKER: But do you remember where you saw it? In a store? Where did it come from?

DAVID CROSBY: I don’t really think about all that stuff very much, man…

PHAWKER: Well, I know you don’t, but that’s why I’m asking. Work with me here, I’m going somewhere with this.

DAVID CROSBY: Okay [laughs].

PHAWKER: Alright, so, moving onwards. Tell me about that night that Dylan played with The Byrds at Ciro’s. What do you remember about that, or what can you tell me? Set the scene a little bit.

DAVID CROSBY: You know, he was coming around, when he was in L.A. and he knew that we were there. He came around to see us and played with us a couple of times, I think. He came to the studio to see us. He came to Ciro’s to see us and actually sat in with us. You know, he was a hero, to us and to the crowd. So, for him to show up was like a blessing on our hands. It was really totally wonderful.


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TRAILER: New David Bowie Documentary

August 9th, 2019

ROLLING STONE: The film, Finding Fame, directed by Francis Whately (who previously worked on David Bowie: Five Years), will premiere Friday at 9 p.m. ET and PT. It focuses on the period in Bowie’s life from the late Sixties through the emergence of his Ziggy Stardust character. In the middle of that period was the release of his breakthrough single, “Space Oddity,” in 1969. In addition to archival interviews with Bowie, the film also features commentary from the singer’s collaborators in the early days. Some of these people include members of Bowie’s early backing group, the Lower Third, his school chum and collaborator Geoffrey MacCormack, and Dana Gillespie, for whom Bowie had originally written the Hunky Dory track “Andy Warhol,” among others. MORE

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CINEMA: Dog’s Life

August 9th, 2019

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THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN (Dir. by Simon Curtis, 109 min., USA, 2019)

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 1.07.47 PMBY JASMIN ALVAREZ Garth Stein’s philosophical, tear-jerk 2008 novel starts at its end. The senile narrator, a dog named Enzo (named after Ferrari founder, Enzo Ferrari), reexamines his own life as he lies in a puddle of his own urine and awaits the arrival of his owner and his own inevitable euthanization. He proceeds by playing back, in a series of heartfelt vignettes, both the most crucial and endearingly mundane moments of his life, which was spent with a family that considered him as human as themselves. Remembering his beginnings in a bachelor-paradise shared with his owner, the amateur Formula-One racer, Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us), Enzo indulges us with memories of riding laps around the racetrack and meditates on his self-education about karmic reincarnation (vis a vis The National Geographic). As Enzo ages, however, Denny marries Eve (Amanda Seyfried, Mean Girls), and life moves forward, Enzo (given his sage, gruff voice by Kevin Costner) is forced to face his demons, deal with losing the people he cares for most, and learn the limitations of his own body. Much more than a heart-wrenching hallmark tale, the story employs the act of defiantly racing at unsafe speeds despite earth’s harshest elements as a metaphor for navigating our lives’ most unforgiving “rainstorms”–our biggest emotional letdowns, our failures.

Stein’s contemplations about humanity within the novel affected me long after I finished reading it in 2008, so naturally, news of the novel’s 2019 film-adaptation invoked serious apprehension. Walking away from the theatre with a wet face, however, I was pleased to find my assumptions were mistaken. The film was produced for Disney by Patrick Dempsey (a.k.a. McDreamy)—and truthfully, who could have done a better job than an actual competitive race-car driver? I was thrilled to see his beautiful translation of the tale vividly portrayed on the big screen, and pleased with the adaptation’s loyalty to Stein’s original.

While the novel has the benefit of engrossing its reader with several of the dog’s deeply-affecting soliloquies—once-removed observations about the human condition, our methods of interaction and communication with one another, and our reactions to life’s spontaneous storms, the reproduction tends to focus far more on the story of the family. As producer Simon Curtis told the Hollywood Reporter at the film premiere, “In these uncertain times, this is a story of real people with real emotion leading their best lives” — and that’s exactly what it is. A soul-stirring story, with optimistic and hopeful overtones, about real people navigating the tragedies and betrayals life hands them—told from the perspective of the silently scrutinizing observer who is closest to it all. With the inclusion of several of Stein’s racing anecdotes like “The car goes where your eyes go” and “No race has ever been won in the first corner; (but) many have been lost there,” the story will surely shake the heartstrings of animal lovers, racing fanatics, and philosophers of humanity alike.

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