12 North Third st., 6:53 PM yesterday by MEGAN MATUZAK
News, Media, Politics, Music, Culture, Gossip, In The 215 And The Great Beyond
If you are one of those people who watch CNN you’re a better man than I, and that’s just not because I’m a woman. Somewhere along the way CNN went from 24/7 pre-Internet news ticker to non-stop eye roll-inducing exasperation factory. Much of the blame for that can be placed on the shoulders of Don Lemon, former Philly news talking head and currently Twitter’s favorite whipping boy, who plays Tweedle Dee to Wolfie Blitzer’s Tweedle Dumb. There he is tsk tsk-ing Ferguson protesters for the whiff of marijuana smoke in the air — even donning a gas mask, god forbid any gets in his lungs and he turns into a drooling Deadhead on live television — while mollycoddling the white racist stormtroopers training the barrels of their tanks on unarmed black men, woman and children. There he is asking a Cosby rape accuser why she didn’t just bite the Cos’ cock off when he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him — you know, just so we’d know for sure that she wasn’t secretly enjoying her oral rape. There he is getting shouted down on live television by black protesters in Charleston calling him out for his Uncle Tom foolery during CNN’s insufferable coverage of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre. When President Obama dropped the N-bomb on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast while trying to make a larger point that rendering the N-word forbidden in polite society is not the same thing as ending racism, Lemon responded by holding up a sign with the word NIGGER on it on live television and asking viewers “Does this offend you?” Yes, Don, just about everything you do offends reasonable, thinking people everywhere, which is why we are introducing a new and, sorry to say, recurring feature called DON LEMON WATCH wherein we will catalog and critique the journalistic high crimes and misdemeanors that Lemon routinely commits in the heedless pursuit of ratings. We will not rest until this man is re-assigned to a job better suited to his skill set, such as ice cream scoop operator or dog poop sanitation engineer. Please standby. — MEGAN MATUZAK
HIGHLINE: Jamie, whose mother was addicted to crack cocaine, was adopted when she was 3. At high school, she fell in with a wayward crowd and started drinking and smoking weed. Since she didn’t always get along with her adoptive mom, she lived with a close family friend from her church whom she referred to as her sister. One fall day in 2011, they got into a bad fight over their living arrangements. The friend told police that Jamie threw a brick at her, hitting her in the chest, and then banged the brick so hard on the front door that she broke the glass mail chute. Jamie denies the assault—and the police report notes that the brick may not have hit her friend—but she admitted to officers that she was “mad” and “trying to get back in the house.” The Wayne County court gave her two concurrent six-month sentences, for assault and destruction of a building.
In a wealthier Michigan county, kids convicted of minor offenses are almost always sentenced to community service, like helping out at the local science center. Doug Mullkoff, a criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor, told me that prison in such circumstances is “virtually unheard of.” But Jamie is from Detroit, and in January 2012, she was sent to the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, a prison that holds inmates convicted of crimes like first-degree homicide. From this point onward, her world was largely governed by codes and practices and assumptions designed for adult criminals.
Jamie is 20 now, but her soft brown eyes make her seem younger. When she first came to prison, women old enough to be her mother told her she was cute and promised to take care of her. “They rub on you and stuff, I can’t stand it,” she said. In the seven months before her 18th birthday, prison records show that Jamie was housed with at least three adult cellmates, including one in her 50s who had a history of cocaine possession. Jamie said she was also around adults in the showers and the yard. She had a bunkmate who did drugs she had never been around before, “something you snort.”
In this environment, Jamie found it hard to stay out of trouble. And when trouble came, she didn’t know how to explain herself to the guards. According to Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), Jamie “failed in every instance” to meet good-behavior standards that under Michigan law allow certain inmates to have their records scrubbed clean after they serve their sentences. In June 2012, Jamie’s special status was revoked and she was resentenced to up to five years in prison for her original crime.[…] When this news sank in, Jamie snapped. On June 15, 2012, she started yelling so loud and for so long that a correctional officer complained in the logbook that the noise was giving her a headache. Then she climbed on her sink and threatened to kill herself. A group of officers in gas masks hauled her out of her cell as she begged them to put her down. Chemical gas that had been used to subdue another inmate lingered in the hallway, Jamie later recalled, and she started to cough. The officers pressed a spit guard on her face and fastened straps on her arms and legs and chest, a practice known as five-point restraint. Jamie became more and more distressed, but at no point did the officers attempt to calm her or even explain what they were doing. “[There was] snot coming out of my nose. I’m trying to sit up,” she said. “I’m coughing and crying at the same time, and basically the officer said I spit on her and they still tied me down.” She recalled pleading with the guards, “I’m like only 17, you can’t do this to me.”
After Jamie had been restrained, the logbook shows that she was left tied to a bed for nearly 24 hours. No therapist appears to have visited her during this time. Jamie said that on another occasion, she was restrained for days and urinated on herself. “I’ve had dreams about being held down; nobody can hear me or nothing. It’s terrifying,” she said. The MDOC declined to comment on detailed questions related to her treatment because they concerned “pending litigation” and “personal medical information.” Jamie had never attempted suicide until she went to prison and her fellow inmates taught her how to cut herself. Over the course of several weeks in June, according to the prison log, she tried to hang herself with socks tied around her neck, to cut herself with wall scrapings and rocks and a comb, to eat paint chips off her door, and to scratch a wound on her arm with empty mayonnaise packets. She told a staff member she wanted her arm to get infected, amputated, and sent to her parents. MORE
MERGE RECORDS: With its release still 28 days away, The Most Lamentable Tragedy (hereafter TMLT) by Titus Andronicus (hereafter +@) is already the most feverishly / breathlessly discussed rock and roll record of 2015. “The open-hearted response to TMLT has opened my own heart—it means everything,” says +@ singer / songwriter Patrick Stickles, counting out another fresh stack of Blue Bens. “Still, people do not necessarily know the real story…” [he pauses, making a productive cough into a cupped hand] “…but they will.” Now—once again—the seemingly deluded words of the oft-misunderstood Artist snap from vague fantasy to vibrant reality. It’s just another one of those days. “The Magic Morning” is a short film, the action of which encompasses and demonstrates the action of the second act of TMLT, “Beside Himself.” The component songs of this act (tracks 7–12 [CD/DIGI] / side b of the first disc [vinyl]) make their official debut with this film along with the previously released “Dimed Out.”
“The Magic Morning” was written and directed by +@uteur Patrick Stickles in a display of artistic hubris that no buzz band today could begin to attempt. Side by side with Stickles in the Welles / Toland tradition stands Director of Photography / Editor Ray Concepcion, who brought the hyperkinetic (yet somehow supremely patient) style that made him a legendary fixture on the late ’00s NYC DIY scene, his epic portrait of which stands as a powerful testament to that now-bygone era. WATCH “Our Hero” awake to a world of wonder! GASP at the shocking secret of “The Lookalike!” MARVEL at the mysterious transformative powers of the Vernal Equinox! DANCE to those which are already being called “+@’s Greatest Hits Yet!” UNDERSTAND the underlying themes and motifs that elevate TMLT far beyond the petty constraints of a mere “rock album” and into the realm of that which the German philosopher K. F. E. Trahndorff first called, in 1827, Gesamtkunstwerk (“total art”—look it up)!!! “People have been putting +@ in a box for too long,” Stickles says, having taken a little time out and feeling a lot better. “We can do anything we decide to be our will, and I am proud to say this little movie was done entirely ‘in-house,’ in one day. Doubt and deny +@ at yr own peril.” Then he falls asleep.
He’s not done explaining himself, though! Today, the complete lyrics to TMLT, transcribed by The Artist’s own keystrokes, are available for you to read on Genius, along with annotations from the master himself i/r/t the “officially released” TMLT tracks up to this point. Go ahead—name a buzz band who would drop their lyrics before the album, thereby putting the words to their ultimate challenge: standing alone. Still trying? Stop trying. Simply watch the site between now and July 28 for the complete anno+@tions and finally understand #TheTruthAboutTMLT. “I just want to be understood,” Stickles wrote on a note he’d given us in the event that he disappeared or became otherwise indisposed. “I know people are listening to TMLT somehow—I just know it—I want to share it with them, but I want them to understand it—help me—tell my story—” and then the bottom of the page is burned off. MORE
Photo by EMMA TILLMAN
EDITOR’s NOTE: To mark the release of Father John Misty’s I Love You Honey Bear we are reprinting my 2013 FJM MAGNET cover story and, for the first time, a link to download a PDF of the complete story
MAGNET: Father John Misty lives in a red-clay adobe pueblo on top of a low mountain in Echo Park. Good luck trying to find it without GPS and a helicopter. Down below the cloud line, the hazy glittering grid of Greater Los Angeles recedes into the infinite. From the vantage point of this fairly Olympian perch, Los Angeles looks like flecks of diamond embedded in a filthy sidewalk. Like most wise men atop mountains, Father John Misty’s possessions are few: his beard, his acoustic guitar, his vinyl copy of On The Beach and a mason jar filled to the brim with psyilocybin mushroom caps. There is no internet access, cellular service is intermittent at best, and in Father John Misty’s world there is no such thing as TV—just Richard Brautigan novels. There is a black 1972 Cadillac Hearse parked out front that he literally bought for a song. His sole companion, besides his thoughts and psychoactive fungi, is Emma, his gorgeous twentysomething gal pal, currently a grad student at UCLA film school, and last seen in the “Nancy From Now On” video in a black bustier and garter belt, slapping Tillman around and forcibly shaving off his beard, Delilah-like, in a room at the Chateau Marmont. She makes a helluva kale smoothie.
Father John Misty is the nom de soft rock of one Joshua Tillman, a.k.a. J. Tillman, ex-drummer for Fleet Foxes and author of eight largely ignored and invariably joyless solo albums of pious folk rectitude. These were the songs of innocence, the whispery bedroom folk he made on the sly between globe-trotting tours wherein the Fleet Foxes charmed the pants off the world, but could barely stand the sight of each other. Those albums remain a well-kept secret. And then one day in 2010, he blew up his life. Killed off J. Tillman, quit the Fleet Foxes, let his raging id off the short leash it had been kept on since his tormented childhood spent trapped in a fundamentalist Christian house of pain. Instead of muting his wicked sense of humor and bottomless appetite for the absurd, he turned it up to 11. He changed his stage name to Father John Misty. Threw his guitar and a family-size sack of magic mushrooms into the van, and set the controls for the heart of Babylon.
Look out Hollywood, here I come.
Fear Fun (Sub Pop), Father John Misty’s debut, came out a year ago, and after 12 months of trippin’-balls touring, four cinematic high-concept videos (in his latest, he dances to “Fun Times In Babylon” amid the ruins of a 747 crashed into a suburban subdivision, a set piece left over from Steven Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds), inclusion on innumerable year-end best-of lists and a lot of swooning word of mouth on social media, the album has become the sleeper hit of the year. This despite a very public gloves-off Twitter war with Pitchfork. But more than any of those things, the reason Fear Fun has legs is because it’s front-loaded with earworms dressed up in stoned-in-the-Canyon harmonies, scuffed-denim twang, and acid-witted Nilsson-ian soft-rock pastiches. And, most importantly, The Voice. Dude sings like an angel wrapped in velvet and smothered in honey. His voice is characterized by something extremely rare in modern music: the unstrained quality of mercy. To quote the Bard, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Or, as Tillman puts it, he can sing like a motherfucker.
It is shortly after 10 a.m. on yet another glorious, sun-kissed day in Babylon when I show up at Tillman’s compound high atop Misty Mountain. His publicist assured me via text when I deplaned that he was awake and eagerly awaiting my arrival, but he seems surprised and unprepared when I get to his front door. For one thing, he is completely naked. “Sorry,” he says sheepishly after pulling on some pants. “I’m sure you’ve seen worse.” I tell him it will make for a colorful opening scene for the story. MORE
Despite being strongly urged by his doctors to cancel The Foo Fighters’ impending four-month/40-date US tour and let his broken leg heel, Dave Grohl is going to bravely soldier on like the bold rock warrior that he is. Which means The Foo Fighters will be at The Susquehanna Bank Center on July 6th and then again on the 13th. We’ll be sending our intrepid cub reporter Dylan Long to cover it. Here’s a video of Dylan getting a stage-side handshake from Dave Grohl at the Wells Fargo Center back in 2011 — when Dylan was all of 14. On July 6th, the circle will be complete.
BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Recently I’ve been adding a “comment” or two to some of Ann Coulter’s bigoted articles (does she write any other kind?). I admit to it being a rather nonsensical exercise in as much as nearly all of the “replies” I get are insultingly lame retorts from one or more of her cretinous sycophants all of whom exhibit significantly less cranial content than Coulter’s, which, in and of itself, can hardly be considered of rocket scientist dimensions. But I digress.
It’s interesting to note how with all accomplished bigots — Coulter, Limbaugh and Hannity are classic examples of the genre, as are Savage and (was) Breitbart — their utterances always include: 1) a tinge of “truth” for effect, invented or contrived if need be, and always exaggerated, 2) the impression of “justified” anger (at least they’d like you to think so), and 3) the implication of deliberate intent to harm on the part of the target of the anger. All three are straw dogs, of course, but absolutely indispensable to any professional hate monger.
So, why do so many Americans fall for it? Because they’ve been programmed to believe that way since childhood (for many it no doubt started with scary anti-liberal bedtime stories) unless, of course, they happen to be of the Bryan Fischer species, all of whom apparently received their hatred as a gift from God. Like nearly all of her ilk, Coulter’s furnace (and those of her followers) is fueled by an all-consuming fear and loathing of anyone and anything perceived to represent a threat to their “entitled” lifestyle — which in Ann’s case happens to include a home in Palm Beach, a condominium in Manhattan, an apartment in Los Angeles, and a comfortable net worth of some $8.5 million. Just as the Nazis selected a visible scapegoat for all of Germany’s problems, today’s bigots use anything at variance from their idea of acceptable norms as the cause of all of America’s problems. It can be one’s color, ethnicity, religion (oh, boy, can it!), social/economic status, sexual orientation (including simply being a woman) or political affiliation. It can be one’s style of hair or dress, skin decor, taste in music, or simply one’s accent. For certain, if you can’t be readily identified as WASPish (as far as the “P” is concerned, it should be noted that Coulter won’t admit to membership in a particular denomination but vehemently claims adherence to “Christian” ideals and principles in literally everything she says and does, but coyly refuses to let us in on how and why God allows her to get away with such a whopper) you are automatically assumed to be dangerous, alarming, devious and/or deceitful!
Here’s a sampling from the Coulter repertoire of hostility: On the Affordable Care Act, “My friend’s sister died from Obamacare.” Well, not exactly. On gay rights, we pretty much know where Ann stands, and maybe wealth and position can, in fact, heal all wounds. On immigration reform, you needn’t go any further than the title of her latest book, “Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole.” On minorities, “Since when have black people been able to speak foreign languages?” On the opposite sex, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.” On “charity” and race, “Why are medical missionaries working in the disease-ridden cesspools of Africa?” On being poor, “It’s a cruel and Selfish thing…for the upper classes…to refuse to tell poor people ‘keep your knees together before you’re married – that would solve so many of life’s problems.’” On 9/11 widows, “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities.” On being a liberal, “Liberals are ‘going gay’ so they need immigrants to outbreed ‘Christian America.'” On domestic terrorism, “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.” On a woman’s right to choose, “I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don’t want to impose my moral values on others.”
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Love & Mercy tells the harrowing, heartbreaking story of the life of Brian Wilson — Beach Boys auteur and resident genius — which goes like this: Angel-headed boy from Hawthorne, California, at the dawn of the 1960s, smitten by the harmonic convergence of The Four Freshman and the shimmering Spectorian grandeur of “Be My Baby,” forms band with his two brothers and asshole cousin, calls it The Beach Boys, writes uber-catchy ditties of Zen-like simplicity about surfing, hot rods and girls (despite being slapped deaf in his right ear by his sadistic tyrant of a father), boy becomes international pop star, boy has nervous breakdown and retires from touring and retreats to the studio where he gets into a pissing match with the Beatles and the race is on to get to the next level first, boy takes LSD, boy blows mind, boy sees God, boy starts hearing strange and beautiful music in his head, boy plays the studio like an instrument, sings choirs of angels, creates music of overarching majesty, astonishing beauty and profound sadness, boy makes greatest pop album of all time (Pet Sounds) and the greatest song of the 20th Century (“Good Vibrations”), boy starts hearing terrifying voices in his head, beset by demons from within and without (his sadistic tyrant of a father, his asshole cousin) boy loses mind and, eventually, the confidence of his band mates who pull the plug on his game-changing “teenage symphony to God” originally called Dumb Angel, but later re-titled Smile, boy retreats into a years-long bedroom hermitage of Herculean drug consumption, morbid obesity and sweet insanity, columnated ruins domino, family hires Mephistophelian psychiatrist/psychic vampire Dr. Eugene Landy (played with satanic aplomb by Paul Giamatti), who switches out boy’s steady diet of cocaine, LSD, sloth and self-pity for a zombie-fying regimen of prescription narcotics, fitness Nazism, and 24-7 mind control, boy meets girl (Melinda Ledbetter, his soon-to-be second wife, played by a big-haired, puffy-shouldered Elizabeth Banks) at a Cadillac dealership and falls in love, girl rescues boy from the clutches of evil doctor, boy lives happily ever after, or a reasonably close approximation thereof.
Pretty simple, really.
Granted it’s not a story that lends itself to the linear-flow cradle-to-grave biopic treatment, which is no doubt why Love & Mercy director Bill Pohlad (executive producer of Brokeback Mountain, 12 Years A Slave and Tree Of Life) and screenwriter Oren Moverman (I’m Not There, Jesus’ Son) elected to craft a bi-polar narrative that switches back and forth from the middle-aged Brian (played with aptly vacant affect by John Cusack, who eschews impersonation for for understated evocation) and young genius Brian (played with doughy intensity and uncanny resemblance by Paul Dano, who does not so much impersonate young Brian Wilson as inhabit him), in a race to the middle where they collide in the time-space-continuum of Brian’s bedroom in a mind-bending montage that is both loving homage and direct quote of the mysterious metaphysical endgame of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ancient, iconic moments of Wilsonian mythos — the barefoot, white Chinos- &-blue-Pendelton shirt-wearing, surfboard-toting photo shoot idylls; the terrifying nervous breakdown at 20,000 feet; the acid-fueled, poolside transfiguration; the Wrecking Crew’s adoration of his otherworldly compositional prowess; the drug den wigwam in the living room and the piano in the sandbox; the fireman-hatted Smile session meltdown; the prison of belief in Landy’s methods (less a therapist than a sinister puppeteer) — are recreated in arresting, picture-perfect period detail. The cinematography nails the shifting tone and color and tint of the times and the score and sound design is suitably mind-altering. Pedestrians may quibble, but that will fall away in time. Love & Mercy is a grand and lasting monument to the noble beauty wrung from one man’s epic suffering. It is the story of Icarus on the beach, of the boy who got too high — flew too near the sun on wings of wax — and the man who fell to Earth.
Love & Mercy will be in local theaters for just one more week. Brian Wilson will only be in town for one night — Monday night at the Mann, to be exact, along with Rodriguez of Searching For Sugarman fame. We have a coupla pairs of tickets to give away to some lucky Phawker readers that are able to answer this mildly difficult Beach Boys trivia question: What are the names of the lyricists Brian Wilson worked with on Pet Sounds and Smile? To qualify to win, send an email to FEED@PHAWKER.COM with the magic word SMILE in the subject line, along with your answer, your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!
Photo by DAN LONG
1. At some point in the last decade Paul McCartney assembled a team of pop imagineers and big-picture media strategists to re-brand his act from ‘The Cute One drum majoring a Boomer-ific oldies parade of warmed-over shimmy-shimmy shake moptoppery’ to ‘Sir Paul, doe-eyed Elder Statesman of Pop with one of the greatest songbooks in the history of recorded music, who is also an Important Artist who continues to make challenging and inventive work that is still relevant to The Kids,’ which is to say everyone under the age of 72. So, in addition to re-animating the Lennon/McCartney songbook, he jams econo with Nirvana and scores first person shooter soundtracks. Judging by his sold out performance at the Wells Fargo Center, I’d say mission accomplished.
2. The show is grand spectacle on every level. For an hour prior to the commencement of Macca’s set, DJ Chris Holmes spun a mesmerizing turntablist tapestry of shimmering Beatles re-mixes and mash-ups interpolated with chop-shopped Beatles covers — from the likes of Chubby Checker, Nancy Sinatra, the Langley Schools Music Project and, most notably, Esther Phillips’ Billie Holiday-meets-Mantovani rendering of “And I Love Her” — while an artfully photoshopped dual montage of Macca imagery scrolled down the two giant iPhone-shaped video monitors that bookend the massive stage, seamlessly morphing motion pictures into stills that span the pre-dawn of the Silver Beatles to the end of Wings and beyond. Those three story high iPhone-shaped monitors deliver an endless feed of smartphone-friendly, selfie-ready Sir Paul imagery tailor-made for instantaneous Twitter/Facebook/Instagram social mediation. Quite brilliant, really.
3. Paul still puts asses in seats — a lot of asses — which is not only crucial to the perpetuation of brand Macca but more importantly the survival of the concert industry itself. The dirty little secret of the concert biz is that it’s always been, and is now more than ever, all about gathering a moneyed mass of humanity under the roof of an industrial-scale revenue-harvesting machine disguised as a performance venue and charging them confiscatory prices for hot dogs and beer and branded baubles. I played along Sunday night, consuming conspicuously with a $10 cup of Stella Artois and a $5 club soda for my sober concert-going companion before being unwittingly upsold to the $15 tub of beer the second time around. For a mere $30 I purchased a grand total of two beers and a club soda. This in a country where wages have not risen, not-coincidentally, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. This is how peasant uprisings get started.
4. More importantly, Paul’s still got it. Thanks to clean living and a decades long vegan diet, not to mention the contracted services of a cosmetological engineer adept at the art of masking his mule grey locks in chestnut mare brown, Paul looks fit, trim and decades younger than his 73 years on this earth. Either that, or in some attic in Liverpool there is a painting of an aging Paul McCartney dessicating into decrepitude. And while the top end of Macca’s range has been somewhat diminished by the inevitable ravages of age, use and a half-century of (until very recently) unrepentant dope-smoking, Paul can still shred on “Helter Skelter” and “Live And Let Die” and break your heart with “The Long And Winding Road” and “Hey Jude.” I’m not ashamed to say that a single tear rolled down my cheek during “Hey Jude.” You can’t fake that shit.
5. The only stumble of the evening was the inexplicable raising of “Temporary Secretary” from the gratefully dead, aka 1980’s McCartney II, which best I can tell was Macca’s ill-conceived attempt to get his Devo on and get his New Wave bonafides stamped. This song should be forcibly asphyxiated in a shallow bath and replaced with “Jet” or “Coming Up” or even “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” Immediately.
6. Hands down the bestest/funnest/freshest song of the night was the bouncy singalong of “All Together Now” from Yellow Submarine which prompted me to posit out loud that ‘By Jove, Paul should do a children’s album!’ only to be corrected by my $5 club soda & lime-tippling concert-going companion who astutely pointed out that all his songs are children’s songs.
7. While Macca and his crack backing band were zooming through the mighty “Band On The Run” a film of the faux-prison break cover shoot for that album unspooled behind them, revealing cameos from not only the preternaturally cool James Coburn (which I remembered) but also the recently dearly-departed Christopher Lee (which I’d forgotten). And then the undertaker drew a mighty sigh seeing no one else had come and a bell was ringing in the village square for the rabbits on the run.
8. Paul ended Sunday night’s epic, 39-song, two and a half hour rock n’ roll fantasy camp for Beatlemaniacs by playing the second half of the second side of Abbey Road: “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and, fittingly, “The End.”
9. All you need is Paul. Paul is all you need.
10. The fact that I sorta-kinda know his ‘people’ and they were on site Sunday night triggered a brief glimmer of hope that I might be invited to a post-show meet & greet/photo-op with Sir Paul. Didn’t happen, sad to say. Hoping to of have my own Chris Farley Moment, I had come to the show equipped with a two-page (one for Paul to hold and one for me) sharpie-scrawled sign that read:
Text by Jonathan Valania
NPR: In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union just months after Abraham Lincoln, from the anti-slavery Republican Party, was elected president. In April 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C. Ten other states would eventually follow South Carolina in secession, forming the Confederate States of America. However, of the three flags the Confederacy would go on to adopt, none are the Confederate flag that is traditionally recognized today. The “Stars and Bars” flag, currently the subject of controversy, was actually the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. After the war ended, the symbol became a source of Southern pride and heritage, as well as a remembrance of Confederate soldiers who died in battle. But as racism and segregation gripped the nation in the century following, it became a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups. It was also the symbol of the States’ Rights Democratic Party, or “Dixiecrats,” that formed in 1948 to oppose civil-rights platforms of the Democratic Party. MORE
THE ATLANTIC: Dylann Roof walked into a Charleston church, sat for an hour, and then killed nine people. Roof’s crime cannot be divorced from the ideology of white supremacy which long animated his state nor from its potent symbol—the Confederate flag. Visitors to Charleston have long been treated to South Carolina’s attempt to clean its history and depict its secession as something other than a war to guarantee the enslavement of the majority of its residents. This notion is belied by any serious interrogation of the Civil War and the primary documents of its instigators. Yet the Confederate battle flag—the flag of Dylann Roof—still flies on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…
This moral truth—“that the negro is not equal to the white man”—is exactly what animated Dylann Roof. More than any individual actor, in recent history, Roof honored his flag in exactly the manner it always demanded—with human sacrifice. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Those who have defended keeping the Confederate flag flying at the Capitol have often described it as merely a commemoration to the Civil War dead. But as the writer K. Michael Prince documents in “Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys!,” flags were not used in this way at the Confederate memorial on the Capitol grounds in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Only in later decades was the flag introduced — and steadily elevated in importance — to bolster the idea of white supremacy at moments when South Carolina’s Jim Crow-era government came under federal pressure to allow black citizens even nominal civil rights. Hence, the Confederate battle flag was displayed in the South Carolina State House in 1938, after angry Southerners in Congress managed to defeat a bill that would have made lynching a federal crime. They saw that law as an intrusion on what was often called “the Southern way of life.” The flag was brought into the State Senate two years after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. The flag was quietly moved up to a position of pride on the dome on the Capitol in 1962, after President John F. Kennedy called on Congress to end poll taxes and literacy tests for voting and the Supreme Court struck down segregation in public transportation. By this time, of course, the flag had been closely associated with racial tyranny. MORE
CNN: Now that the so-called Stars and Bars is linked to last week’s church massacre in Charleston, S.C., some flag manufacturers are having a serious discussion about whether they should continue to make it. “We don’t want to cause someone continued pain because what it represents,” said Reggie Vanden Bosch, president of the Flag Manufacturers Association of America in Wayne, Pa. “We’ll definitely spend time as an industry group discussing that.” The group represents about 38 flag manufacturers and retailers. Vanden Bosch is also vice president of sales for Valley Forge Flag, a 133-year-old maker of flags from more than 200 countries, states, territories, and also branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. He said sales of the Confederate flag comprise a “miniscule” part of his overall business. MORE
THE COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS: Again, we utterly condemn Roof’s despicable killings, but they do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed.” The council’s site also has a statement from the organization’s president, Earl Holt III, saying, “The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.” MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Many of the themes promoted on the council’s website resonate through an online manifesto apparently written by Dylann Roof, who has been charged in the killings last week in Charleston. The manifesto traced the motivation for the shootings to a twisted epiphany: a Google search that led to the council’s website, where “pages upon pages of brutal black on White murders” were tallied and described. “I have never been the same since that day,” the manifesto attributed to Mr. Roof said. MORE
THE ATLANTIC: The manifesto is wrong on the facts. A 2014 report by the Sentencing Project found that the media empirically tend to over-report crimes with black offenders and white victims. But the group he cited, the Council of Conservative Citizens, has spent a great deal of effort trying to convince people that black-on-white crime is a real menace. (Journalists are often bombarded with publicity materials for White Girl Bleed a Lot, a book purporting to reveal the truth about black-on-white crime.) MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Since it rose in the 1980s from the ashes of the old and unabashedly racist White Citizens’ Councils, the Council of Conservative Citizens has drifted in and out of notoriety. But it is clearly back in: Last weekend, three Republican presidential candidates — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky — announced that they were returning or giving away donations from the council’s president, Earl Holt III.
Since 2011, Mr. Holt has also contributed at least $3,500 to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who is expected to run for president. A spokesman for Mr. Walker said he would donate the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, which is helping families of the Charleston massacre. All told, Mr. Holt, who did not return calls for comment, has given at least $57,000 to Republican candidates for federal and state offices. But those contributions, first reported by The Guardian, tell only part of the story of the council’s ties to Southern Republican officeholders. In the 1990s, the council counted influential Republican friends from town halls to the halls of Congress. Among those who have addressed its meetings were Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, at one time the Senate majority leader; Haley Barbour, a former national Republican chairman who was campaigning for governor in Mississippi at the time; and Mike Huckabee, the presidential candidate who was then Arkansas’ lieutenant governor.
More recently, Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina dropped a council official in her state, Roan Garcia-Quintana, from her re-election campaign’s advisory committee in 2013 after his ties to the group became public. In 1999, a cascade of reports linking Mr. Lott and other prominent Republicans to the council led the party’s national chairman, Jim Nicholson, to urge all Republicans belonging to the group to quit the organization, calling it racist. MORE
NPR: A two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate is required to remove the flag. However, there may be a workaround, and the law itself could be changed by a simple majority. The Post & Courier has a running tally of state lawmakers and how they stand on the issue. At her press conference, Haley said if the legislature doesn’t finish its session by acting to remove the flag, she will call an additional session. Also under the 2000 compromise: lowering the flag requires approval of the legislature, which is why even after Haley ordered the American and South Carolina flags ordered to half staff following last Wednesday’s massacre, the Confederate flag remained at full staff. MORE
THE POST & COURIER: The Post and Courier has reached out to lawmakers across South Carolina to find out where they stand on removing the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds. This is a work in progress, and we encourage you to keep checking back as we reach more legislators and update our results. We encourage any lawmakers reading this to get in touch with us and weigh in with their thoughts. We began polling lawmakers at about 9:00 am Monday, and have been updating this page with responses as we receive them. The collection of responses remains on-going. The page will update in real-time, no need to refresh. MORE
PARLAPHONE: On this day in 1971, David Bowie performed for the first time at what was then known as the ‘Glastonbury Fair’. Today in 2015 as the Glastonbury Festival approaches once more, Parlophone Records are proud to announce DAVID BOWIE FIVE YEARS 1969 – 1973, the first in a series of box sets spanning his career. The ten album / twelve CD box, ten album / thirteen-piece vinyl set and digital download featurs all of the material officially released by Bowie during the nascent stage of his career from 1969 to 1973. All of the formats include tracks that have never before appeared on CD/digitally as well as new remasters. Exclusive to the box sets will be Re:Call 1, a new 2-disc compilation of non-album singles, single versions & B-sides. It features a previously unreleased single edit of All The Madmen, which was originally set for a US release but was never actually issued. Also included is the original version of Holy Holy, which was only ever released on the original 1971 Mercury single and hasn’t been available on any official release since. Also exclusive to all versions of Five Years 1969 – 1973 will be a 2003 stereo remix of ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ by the album’s original co-producer, Ken Scott, previously only available on DVD with the LP/DVD format of the 40th anniversary edition of the album. The vinyl box set has the same content as the CD set pressed on audiophile quality 180g vinyl.The box set’s accompanying book, 128 pages in the CD box and 84 in the vinyl set, will feature rarely seen photos as well as technical notes about each album from producers Tony Visconti and Ken Scott, an original press review for each album and a short foreword by legendary Kinks front man Ray Davies. MORE