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Archive for February, 2012


Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: Jahan Zeb Malik, “Zeb” to friends, was living in his tiny practice space on Columbus Boulevard, sleeping on a dirty mattress he’d crammed in amongst the maze of gear and the straggle of guitar cords. He had no shower. No fridge. No stove. No closet.

His diet at the time mostly consisted of gas station hot dogs. Though sometimes he’d splurge for a gas station hamburger. The year was 2008, and everything had pretty much gone to shit. […]

Opening for Nine Inch Nails as early as they did, as green as they were, was more a curse than a blessing. Being hand picked by Reznor, Zeb says, “was detrimental to the band.”

It made them less hungry. They were handed something out of the gate, given a first-place trophy just for showing up. They hadn’t earned it.

“We got to see the end of this long race before it started,” says Zeb of the music business. “Trent was really angry that tour. He didn’t hang out with his band at all. We saw the view at the top of the mountain and the people up there didn’t seem all that happy. We began to wonder if it was what we wanted. We—my brothers and I—never wanted the band to come between us. Fuck that. We’ve been through too much together.”

After Athens, when the crew got back to Philly, they hooked back up with Diplo. They began playing basketball regularly together at the courts next door to Diplo’s Mad Decent Mausoleum near 12th and Spring Garden streets.

Mad Decent signed the group. Diplo made the brothers some of his early, near-legendary psyche rock mixtapes, curated from deep cuts of rare gems he found while crate digging. Upon Diplo’s invitation, PO PO moved into the Mausoleum, which was quickly redubbed “the Mosque-oleum.”

“There was a shower!” says Zeb. “We were finally clean enough to pray.” MORE



Produced by Jahan Zeb Malik.

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WES ANDERSON: ‘Baby, Step Inside My Hyundai’

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

RELATED: Moonrise Kingdom Trailer

PREVIOUSLY: The Magnificent Anderson

DAN BUSKIRK: In past films Anderson’s childish, self-involved characters could be frustrating as they moped around his immaculately dressed rooms yet this sort of navel-gazing magically transforms itself when transposed to sweet little woodland creatures.  And thankfully Roald Dahl’s original novel (adapted by Anderson with The Squid and the Whale‘s Noah Baumbach) gives them enough to do as they tunnel, fight and argue through their battles against the evil farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.  Some of the film’s funniest moments are when the kvetching ends and the characters briefly behave like the animals they are; spitting, screeching and clawing their way through life. This makes Mrs. Fox’s frustrations hit their peak; why is Mr. Fox bringing such tumult into their lives?  “I’m an animal”, Mr. Fox replies apologetically. Perhaps the most perceptive insight any of Anderson’s likable-but-flawed protagonists have voiced about their long-nagging foibles. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Natalie Portman Is Happy With Wes Anderson Nude Scene And, Hey, We Are Too

MAILBAG: Less Anderson

Normally i wouldn’t comment, but man, by my watch – phawker were the only ones that nailed the review. love wes anderson, but i thought critics by and large gave this movie a huge pass. when a movie’s is this dull, and strangly lifeless; anderson’s whole thing starts to feel like a formula to me. and when it starts to feel like a formula – it cheapens the memories of movie’s past.. and that is a drag. nice job on stepping out on this one.

PREVIOUSLY: The Royal Dressing Down
PREVIOUSLY: Live And Direct From The First Annual Philadelphia Wes Anderson Press Conference
PREVIOUSLY: We Had To Kill Wes Anderson, To Save Him

PREVIOUSLY: Near the end of The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson’s storybook cinematic fable of wasted potential, the character of Richie, a disgraced world-class tennis player with a dark secret, looks soulfully into the bathroom mirror. It’s impossible to say what he’s thinking–he looks scared, confused, angry, on the verge. A tensely strummed acoustic guitar spirals in the background, accompanying a hushed, faintly ominous vocal. It’s Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay.” Richie picks up a scissors and methodically, if crudely, crops his shoulder-length tresses down to the scalp. He lathers up his lumberjack beard and shaves it clean. He stares hard in the mirror, unblinking, trying to recognize the face he sees. The music swells, whispery and unnerving. He nods slightly, pops the blade out of the razor and slashes his wrists. In the end, Richie Tenenbaum is saved. Elliott Smith was not. MORE

ELLIOTT SMITH: Needle In The Hay

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Romney Meets Black People, Possibly For 1st Time

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

BUZZFEED: Mitt Romney’s “who let the dogs out” moment from when he marched in the Jacksonville, Florida Martin Luther King day parade already lives on in YouTube infamy. This extended version of the clip shows even more painful Romney moments, including the former governor telling a young baby he is wearing “bling-bling” and a girl she should be a boy scout, to which she replies, “Why a boy scout?” MORE

PHAWKER: Why do we get the distinct feeling this is the first time Mitt Romney has been around black people that weren’t taking his Big Mac order or cleaning his hotel room?

BRIGHAM YOUNG: “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind …. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the ‘servant of servants’; and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.”[12] MORE

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RIP: Davy Jones, Monkee, Dead At 66

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

MSNBC: Singer Davy Jones of The Monkees has died of a heart attack at 66, the medical examiner’s office in Martin County, Fla., has confirmed to NBC News. Jones was most famous for his role in the pop group The Monkees, which was put together in 1965 for the TV show of the same name. Their hits included “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” The Monkees sold more than 50 million records. In 2008, Yahoo Music named Jones the top teen idol of all time. After “The Monkees” disbanded in 1971, Jones sang solo as well as with various reincarnations of the group. He also acted on stage and screen, with his most famous TV appearance as himself on “The Brady Bunch,” in an episode where Marcia Brady was the president of his fan club and tried to get the singer to appear at her school dance. MORE

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BREAKING: N. Korea Agrees To Nuke Moratorium

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

REUTERS:  North Korea agreed on Wednesday to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches, and to allow nuclear inspectors to visit its Yongbyon nuclear complex to verify the moratorium has been enforced. The breakthrough, announced simultaneously by the U.S. State Department and North Korea’s official news agency, paves the way for a resumption of six-party disarmament negotiations with Pyongyang and follows talks between U.S. and North Korean diplomats in Beijing last week. It also appears to mark a significant policy shift by North Korea’s reclusive leadership following the death in December of veteran leader Kim Jong-il – although analysts cautioned that Pyongyang has backtracked repeatedly on past deals. “The DPRK, upon request by the U.S. and with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere for the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks, agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activity at Yongbyon and allow the IAEA to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment while productive dialogues continue,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said. North Korea is known formally as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The State Department said that in return the United States was ready to go ahead with a proposed 240,000 metric-ton food aid package requested by North Korea and that more aid could be agreed to based on continued need. MORE

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NEWSPAPER: Israeli PM To Pressure Obama To Threaten Iran With Pre-emptive Airstrike

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

HAARETZ: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to publicly harden his line against Iran during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on March 5, according to a senior Israeli official. Israel wants Obama to make further-reaching declarations than the vague assertion that “all options are on the table,” the official said. In particular, Netanyahu wants Obama to state unequivocally that the United States is preparing for a military operation in the event that Iran crosses certain “red lines,” said the official; Israel feels this will increase pressure on Iran by making clear that there exists a real U.S. threat.Officials in both Jerusalem and Washington acknowledge a serious lack of trust between Israel and the United States with regard to the issue of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. A senior U.S. official who is involved in preparing Netanyahu’s visit to the United States – and who asked to remain anonymous – said intensive preparations are underway to guarantee the success of the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama and to bridge this lack of trust. MORE

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JP MORGAN CHASE CEO: Journalists Way Overpaid

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

HUFFINGTON POST: The chief executive of the biggest bank in the United States says journalists are ridiculously overpaid. At the company’s annual investor day, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon called the percentage of newspaper company revenue paid out to employees “just damned outrageous,” according to Bloomberg News. “Worse than that, you [the media] don’t even make any money!” Dimon then defended his company’s own pay levels, arguing it necessary in the struggle to retain top talent. “We are going to pay competitively,” he said, according to the WSJ. “We need top talent, you cannot run this business on second-rate talent.” Dimon himself took home roughly $23 million in 2011, about the same as the year before, according to Bloomberg. Compare that to newspaper reporters, who earn an average salary of $43,780 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or between $20,000 and $60,000 per year according to Payscale. For fun, let’s just compare a bit more. The average reporter at The New York Times earns about $93,000 per year, according to The New York Times Company reported an operating profit of $56.7 million in 2011. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: Facebook Will Not Replace Advertising As We Currently Know It Any Time Soon

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

AD AGE: The common view that Facebook “likes” equate to brand engagement took a hit last month when the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute shared some interesting data with us. Researchers found that less than 1% of fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook actually engaged. Their conclusion was based on a six-week study of Facebook’s People Talking About This metric, with researchers considering the number as a proportion of fan bases. Only 0.45% of fans engaged, if you subtract likes to isolate for more meaningful activity, including shares and comments. This confirmed something many readers already suspected: Facebook fan bases and actual engagement aren’t the same thing.One of the more interesting questions arising from the study is whether the findings apply to passion brands, like Nike or Harley-Davidson, as opposed to ubiquitous products that, loyal as their audiences might be, don’t get folks lathered up at the mere sight of the logo. Though the short answer is that passion brands might get slightly more engagement, it’s not enough to throw off the overall findings. Looking at 10 passion brands — including Nike, Old Spice, Harley-Davidson, Porsche, Ford Mustang, Jack Daniels and Tiffany & Co. — the researchers found an average engagement of 0.66% The average engagement for the 10 brands with the largest fan bases was 0.36%. MORE

Think about it.

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NPR FOR THE DEF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012


Almost one year ago, the Fukushima nuclear disaster nearly led to a global catastrophe, if not for the efforts of a small group of engineers, soldiers, and firemen, who risked their own lives in the days after the disaster to prevent a complete nuclear meltdown. Investigative reporter Dan Edge wanted to find out what it was like for the workers who were inside the Fukushima Dai-icihi Nuclear Power Plant when the meltdowns began. His new Frontline documentary chronicles what happened to those plant engineers, as well as what happened to the small corps of workers who entered the power plant in the days following the nuclear disaster. Edge talked to reactor inspectors, local Fukushima residents and nuclear scientists in the Japanese government to piece together Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown, which premieres Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 on PBS at 10 P.M. EST. He tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies that after the tsunami hit, power went out in Fukushima Dai-icihi, leaving the remaining workers stranded in the dark. “It must have been horrific for them,” says Edge. “Not only do they have no power for the cooling systems, they have no lights for the instrumentation. They do not know what is happening inside the nuclear reactor. They feared the worst.” Improvising, the workers went out into the parking lots of the plant and ripped car batteries out of their cars in order to bring some of the instrumentation in the plant back to life. “They discovered that the pressure in the reactor is out of control,” he says. “It’s much, much, much too high. And this is a nightmare scenario for someone who works in nuclear power plants.” MORE

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SIDEWALKING: Angel Of Harlem

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

125th Street, NYC, 8:01 AM by JEFF FUSCO

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EXPLAINER: Van Halen & The Brown M&Ms

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Brown M&Ms from Van Halen on Vimeo.

Van Halen plays a sold out show the Verizon Center on Monday.

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THE PEACE CORPS DIARIES: I Survived A 36-Hour Psychedelic Dance Party In The Heart Of Darkness

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is finishing up a two year hitch in the Peace Corps doing health counseling in rural Paraguay. He sends Phawker intermittent dispatches of his adventures whenever he gets close enough to civilization for Internet access.

BY ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH SOUTH AMERICAN CORRESPONDENT Paraguay’s Chaco is a forbidding plain of mesquite, baking heat, and swirling dust. The last time I visited, I promised myself I would never return. But last month, after I heard about the Arete Guazu – a type of indigenous carnaval – I once again found myself spending eight cramped hours on a bus heading north-northwest, bobbing over uneven asphalt, and sweating into the overstuffed upholstery.

I arrived in Mariscal Estigarribia, “The heart of the Chaco” (translation – good luck getting home if you miss your bus.) Mariscal is the last major stop before Bolivia, even though it’s still 200k to the border. It’s also the site of the Arete Guazu (Big Party), or the Chaco Carnaval.

The festival is a three day long party. I woke early the first day and drank some mate. It was cool and the sun had barely risen. The normally dusty tracks had flooded with rain from the torrential storms that hit so hard and uncharacteristically frequently last month, turning to the landscape to a sticky goo.

After walking the five kilometers to Santa Teresita from Mariscal, I crossed 100 yards of slimy muck, arriving at the tail end of Mass. Though the Arete Guazu has its roots in Indian harvest festival, the Catholic Church (which came to the region decades ago), has left its mark. The party started with a church service. The priest (or pa’i here) started a “Hail Mary,” and everyone filed out.

Then the dancing started, a three step shuffle, everyone holding hands in a large circle. A group of eight or nine drummers stood off to the side, beating out a steady tattoo. First there was one small circle of the revelers who’d showed up early. But as I watched, dozens of people started trickling in, and the circle became two, three, four. A small cloud of dust appeared, we all kept shuffling. The older woman carried flowers and wore floppy hats.

Traditionally, dancers follow the drummers, who visit every house that prepares Chicha – a traditional, yogurt-y drink made of fermented corn. (And involves chewing the corn and then spitting it into a communal cauldron to ferment. Mmmm, yummy.) An elderly woman walked on the outskirts of the circle, smearing cheeks with white talcum powder. “It represents good,” the pa’i told me. “On the third day [during the cuchi-cuchi] they will smear black on our faces too.” “It has lots of symbolism,” he said, representing the fight between the forces of good and evil. MORE

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RICK SANTORUM: Ignorance Is Bliss

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012


NEW YORK TIMES: Most of that attention has focused on his complaint that President Obama’s stated goal of making higher education accessible to all is a snobby one that assumes academic inclinations where they may not exist. But Santorum has also decried universities as enemies of faith, environments that leach some of the unquestioned piety out of young adults who are, in this new setting, being prodded to ask questions. He went so far as to call colleges “indoctrination mills” that ridicule and isolate young conservatives. […] If you couple the selectiveness and stridency of Santorum’s lament about college with his and his wife’s decision to home-school all seven of their children, you have to wonder if his real beef with higher education is that it threatens the indoctrination that has sometimes occurred already around the kitchen table. It does what it’s supposed to do, encouraging young adults to survey a broader field of perspectives, exhorting them to tap into a deeper well of information, inviting them to draw their own conclusions, and allowing them to figure out for themselves what they believe and who they are. About 1.5 million American children were home-schooled in 2007, the latest year for which the Department of Education provides an estimate. When their parents were asked why, they most commonly cited moral and spiritual reasons. There’s a positive way to regard that: these moms and dads are making a greater personal investment in their kids. There’s a negative way as well: they’re not so much impressing as radically imposing their values on their offspring by cutting them off from alternative viewpoints. Is that really good parenting? MORE

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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