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BEING THERE: Dylan @ The Academy Of Music

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: No cameras were allowed last night, hence this artist’s rendering

The Academy of Music opera house in Philadelphia opened in 1857, which is where and when Bob Dylan first went electric — much to the consternation of the stovepipe-hatted folkies, who felt he was selling out the purity of good ol’ steam-powered protest music. It is said that Stephen A. Douglas was so incensed he attempted to chop the cable supplying power to the Academy stage with an axe and had to be wrestled to the ground by none other than Abraham Lincoln, who “licked him,” as Huckleberry Finn used to say. Historic records indicate that the mutton-chopped Whig Judge Theophilus Lyle Dickey shouted out ‘Judas!’ from his stage right second floor luxury box. A yellowed and wrinkly YouTube of the incident records Dylan responding with a laconic “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar.” Then he turned to Robbie Robertson and yelled “Play fuckin’ loud!” as The Band kicked into “Like A Rolling Stone” with amps set on KILL. Thus began the The Never-Ending Tour, which, after 157 years, came full-circle with a three night stand at The Academy Of Music that kicked off last night.

Never one for nostalgia or sentimentality, Dylan made no reference to those historic events of 157 years ago when he took the stage last night dressed in a cream suit and matching, wide-brimmed hat, as the band launched into the slow-gait gallop of the ironically-titled “Things Have Changed.” In fact, the only thing Dylan said all night was “We’ll be right back” before exiting the stage and signaling the onset of intermission. Many of us declined bathroom and smoke breaks to parse Dylan’s gnomic utterance for generational import on our newly acquired iPhone app designed specifically to parse gnomic Dylan utterances for generational import. Results were inconclusive. The only things that’ve changed about Bob Dylan shows in the last century and a half that he shuffles his feet instead of picking them up when he walks and he doesn’t wear a guitar anymore, which used to give him something to do between verses. Instead he steps back from the mic, takes a wide stance and puts his hand on his hip like an old man at a urinal and nods slightly to the crowd as his magic band takes flight. “Look, Bob’s dancing!” the fellow next to me enthused to his wife. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that wasn’t dancing, that was rheumatism.

After 157 years of howling in the wilderness, his voice sounds like the proverbial emphysemic cow with its leg caught in an electric fence, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Beyond that, the Platonic ideal of Dylan remains immutable and all the eternal verities still hold true: He’s still tangled up in blues. His hat still balances on his head like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine. He’s still keeping company with jokers and thieves and sword swallowers and sideshow freaks. He still has many contacts among the lumberjacks who get him facts when someone attacks his imagination. Willie McTell is still blind. The levee still breaks — high water everywhere — and there is still plenty of thunder on the mountain. Down in Ferguson they’re still selling postcards of the hanging and the beauty parlor is still full of sailors whenever the circus is in town.  The fiddler still steps to the road, writing that everything’s been returned which was owed, on the back of the fish truck that loads while my conscience explodes The harmonica still plays the skeleton keys and the rain and these visions of Johanna are now all that remain. – JONATHAN VALANIA

Setlist after the jump…

CINEMA: The Fox In The Madhouse

Friday, November 21st, 2014



FOXCATCHER (2014, directed by Bennett Miller, 130 minutes, U.S.)

BY DAN BUSKIRK It’s hard to live in the state of Delaware and not say the name “DuPont” every day or two. Highways, hospitals, chemical plants and state parks all carry the name. In fact, the DuPonts own their home state in a way that few old money families can claim. Residents of Delaware have made peace living in the shadow of these modern day Dukes and Duchesses but there was something unnerving to discover in 1986 that the DuPont name had been affixed to homicide. The news broke that John E. DuPont, a high-profile direct heir to the family fortune, had murdered an Olympic gold medalist wrestler in some sordid little world that had been conjured on the family’s 800-acre Foxcatcher Farms estate in Newtown Square. The incident and its high-profile news coverage raised the question: what if those wise elders who invisibly run our society are actually bat-shit crazy? You don’t have to be a local to be morbidly fascinated by director Bennett Miller’s telling of the story in his new film Foxcatcher, but for audiences in the Delaware Valley, DuPont’s story takes on an extra dimension of fascination.

BEING THERE: The New Pornographers @ UT

Friday, November 21st, 2014



Ten minutes before arriving at Union Transfer to see the New Pornographers, I was dumped. Denied. Kicked to the curb. Or whatever you want to call it. Not to worry, “we can still be friends” I was told. Great. That’s just great. Having taken a crash course in the New Pornographers greatest hits and misses shortly before my arrival, I knew the show was going to feel like getting slapped upside the head with a happy stick. Great. That’s just great.

But enough of me feeling sorry for myself, there were more important things to worry about, like finding parking that wouldn’t set me back a week’s non-existent wages, and getting from my car to the venue un-victimized. Unfortunately, the only spot I could find was under a dark and dangerous-looking bridge on Hamilton Street, where shady-looking men that I’m guessing weren’t New Pornographers fans paced up and down the sidewalk. It was pitch black and terrifying and most likely filled with registered sex offenders, but the price was right. I got out of my car, slammed and locked the doors in one fluid motion as I ran off to the venue like a screaming banshee.

I got my ticket and photo pass at WILL CALL and walked inside. It was only 8:15. Somewhat distracted by my newly-minted single status and the near-death experience under the bridge, I wasn’t thinking clearly, and the backdrop of the band onstage was clearly the album art from the new New Pornographer’s album, Brill Bruisers. Oh no! They’re already on! In a panic, I pieced my DSLR together in the dark, weaving through the dad-aged crowd, leaving a zig-zag trail of dirty looks and spilled beers in my wake. When I made it to the photo pit, I asked the security guard about letting me through. Or I tried to — I’m sick right now, and my voice sounds like a little boy going through puberty. (Ordinarily I sound like a medium-sized boy going through puberty.) The security hunk said, “Sorry, photo pit’s open for the first 3 songs only, this is, like, the fifth.”


How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love Bob Dylan

Thursday, November 20th, 2014



BY MIKE WALSH Let me make this clear up front: I’m not a Dylan-head, Dylan-ite, Dylan-phile, Dylan-ologist, or any other kind of extreme Dylan fan. In fact, I never bought a Dylan record or CD until just a few years ago. I never saw the need. Growing up in the 60’s, Dylan was on the radio all the time —“Blowing in the Wind,“ “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right,“ “The Times They Are a Changin’,“ “All I Really Want to Do,“ “It Ain’t Me Babe, “Mr. Tambourine Man,“ etc., etc. Plus, many other bands had hits with his songs, like Peter Paul and Mary, Hendrix, and The Byrds. There was no escaping Dylan back then. You listened to him whether you wanted to or not.In college, it seemed like everybody in the dorm except me owned Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 and 2. So I had to listen to the same songs all over dylancartoon.jpgagain at just about every dorm party. One kid down the hall even had a guitar, a neck stand with a harmonica, and a music book of Dylan’s greatest hits. So I got to hear the same songs played and sung live — quite amateurishly, to put it kindly. By the mid-70’s I’d had quite enough of Dylan — so much so that I did a nasally, slurred vocal rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone“ just to torture the Zimmermanites, even though they never seemed to mind. In fact, they joined in no matter how obnoxiously I wheezed, “How does it feeeeeeeel?,” so the joke was always on me.

What I wanted to hear was something different, something that wasn’t on the radio. Soon punk and new wave surfaced, and I’ve been a slave to indie rock and the underground sounds ever since, as my record collection can attest. My opinion of Dylan stayed the same during all that time, even though I didn’t sing “Like a Rolling Stone“ quite so often (although I did work up an even more annoying version of “The Needle and the Damage Done“ but that’s another story).

Then about five years ago I met this kid at work. About 25 years my junior and with 80 gigs of remastered 60’s classics by The Who, Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Hendrix, and Dylan on his iPod. We worked together and made quite a pair: a young kid who listened to nothing but 60’s rock heroes and a middle-aged guy still looking for the latest underground thing. It didn’t compute. We had arguments about Roger Daltrey, who I cannot abide, and The Replacements, who the kid just refused to enjoy. It was The Odd Couple Revisited.

I grudgingly agreed to listen to his ’60s music, and behold — I became enraptured with Dylan, especially early Dylan. I pored through documentaries and books. I studied the deep LP cuts. I endured I’m Not There, and I tried my best to understand The Basement Tapes. Eventually even Dylan’s harmonica playing no longer made me cover my ears and hide. Part of Dylan’s appeal for me is the history and the myth, of course: Al Kooper, The Hawks, ‘Judas!’, Baez, Newport, Suze, Ginsburg, the whole crazy scene. I mean, aside from Brian Wilson who else from the 60s can claim to have influenced the Beatles? In fact, the Beatles were still singing about holding hands when Freewheelin’ came out.

So when I heard that Dylan was appearing at the Mann, I figured it was my last chance to see him. I mean, the dude is 70, and it’s a miracle he’s still alive dylancartoon.jpgand touring. Plus, I wanted that one memory of Dylan, something to remember whenever I listened to another Dylan song. Wednesday night did not start off well. A traffic jam and parking confusion meant that we got to our seats just as the Leon Russell’s set was ending. But it did give me an opportunity to gaze in wonder at Russell’s astonishing appearance — a glowing white pyramid of hair, like some cross between Gandalf and ZZ Top. However, the covers of rock standards with which he ended his set, like “Roll Over Beethoven,” were eminently forgettable.

The Night Bob Dylan Got The Beatles High On

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

At the very moment a race riot is breaking out in North Philadelphia, the Beatles are camped at the Hotel Delmonico in New York for a two-day run at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Something is happening in the hotel room that, had he found out, would have given Rizzo apoplexy: Bob Dylan is passing a joint to John Lennon. This act of stoner generosity will almost single-handedly light the fuse of the psychedelic ’60s. Dylan just assumed the Fab Four were all seasoned pot smokers, having mistaken the “I can’t hide” line in “I Want to Hold Your Hand” for “I get high.” Lennon warily hands the joint to Ringo Starr. Blissfully unaware of pot-smoking etiquette, he proceeds to bogart it down to the ashes. Another joint is quickly rolled. Giddy with the “profound” philosophical insight of the newly high, Paul McCartney announces he has figured out the meaning of life. He asks an assistant for a pen and a piece of paper. He simply must write this down before he forgets it. The next morning he’s disappointed to discover that the only thing written on the piece of paper is the cryptic phrase, “THERE ARE SEVEN LEVELS.” MORE


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BOOKS: Q&A With Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist David Kinney, Author Of The Dylanologists

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally posted on July 17th 2014

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Sometimes I think Dylanology — the obsessive study and consumption of all things Bob — is the new (and improved) Scientology. Think about it: Both are non-denominational pop cults formed in the latter half of the 20th Century that rally around a charismatic leader and rake in boatloads of believer money. Both have celebrity acolytes and promise extraordinary insight. But there is one vast and crucial difference, as vast and crucial as the difference between The Old Testament and The New Testament: L. Ron Hubbard wrote Battlefield Earth and Bob Dylan wrote “Like A Rolling Stone.” And that, kids, is why your mother and I are not Scientologists. That, and Tom Cruise. Besides, as L. Ron Hubbards go, you could do a lot worse than Bob Dylan. Plus, the music’s better. To prove my point I got Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Kinney, author of The Dylanologists: Adventures In The Land Of Bob, on the horn. It went something like this:

PHAWKER: So where did the idea to write about Dylan obsessives come from?

DAVID KINNEY: I’ve been a Dylan fan for like 25 years and it grew a little bit out of that fishing book in that both of them are about this subculture that I was maybe on the fringes of. I’ve been a fisherman for a long time but not at any level near these guys at Martha’s Vineyard. So, to go up there and fish wish them and watch them and to go see how the professionals do it. With Dylan it was kind of the same thing. I would listen to him for a long time and I think my wife and my friends would have said I was a hardcore Dylan fan. I had all the records and I’ve seen him a bunch of times in concert. I still felt like a piker, I guess. So, I had at some point started searching for some of his unreleased recordings. I think it was maybe like 10 or 15 years ago when I discovered I had everything already and that there was other stuff out there that I heard like the ’66 concerts and that sort of thing. Searching for those recordings I kind of realized that there was this whole world out there of people who took it far more seriously than I did. So I found a ramp for another book idea. I thought it would be fun to write about them. And also for selfish reasons I wanted to go deeper into Dylan than I had before. So, I spent all this time — I could have locked myself in my attic I guess with all the CDs and a library of Dylan books and done it that way, but I wanted to go out and meet these people and immerse myself in this world to see what other people who are smarter than me had to say about Dylan. That was the fun of it. That was the genesis of the idea.

PHAWKER: You spend a lot of time following these people around while they followed Dylan, kind of like Deadheads. You’re married — to former Inquirer columnist Monica Yant-Kinney —  with children. I’m curious how ‘Honey, I have to go sleep out for Bob Dylan tickets at Madison Square Gardens’ or ‘Honey, I can’t go to your mothers I need to go to Big Pink’ went over at home.

DAVID KINNEY: Well, I call this ‘work.’ Quote unquote. It was a little less crazy than the fishing tournament. That lasted for five weeks straight. So I went to Martha’s Vineyard for six straight weeks while Monica was working at the Inquirer. We had a three-year-old at that point at home. So she was sort of a single mom for six weeks. This time, even though the book project took a lot longer, I was away for shorter periods of time. Probably if you added it all up I was gone for a couple of months traveling all over the place. I did a week of following Dylan through the Great Plains from Austin, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, all the way to Sturgis in South Dakota where he played that biker rally. I went up to New York more times than I could count. I went to England for a week and hung out with the fanzine writers there and editors. [Monica] did come with me to Vienna. There was a Dylan academic conference one year that we went out to together. She didn’t go to any of the Dylan-related stuff. She sort of saw the city while I went and geeked out on Dylan.

DYLANOLOGY: Ballad Of Bob’s Dylan’s Bag Man

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Bob Dylan & Victor Maymudes in Philadelphia 1964. Photo by DANIEL KRAMER/STALEY-WISE GALLERY

NEW YORK TIMES: The most vivid passages go back further — to 1964, the pivotal year when Mr. Dylan broke out of the East Coast folkie bubble and made a cross-country journey. Victor took the wheel of a blue Ford station wagon, also joined by the folk musician Paul Clayton and the journalist Peter Karman. “It was a group of friends, all in the know, a nucleus of hip in America,” Mr. Wilentz said of the 1964 tour. “It was something special. The civil rights movement was going on.” The stops included a visit to the poet Carl Sandburg, in North Carolina, and a stay in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, where Mr. Dylan was denied entrance to a blacks-only bar. Back on the road, they heard early Beatles hits on the car radio, and Mr. Dylan feverishly scrawled lyrics in a spiral notebook. The first inkling of Mr. Dylan’s new fame came in London that May, when he performed at the Royal Festival Hall to an audience much larger than he normally drew in America. Victor draped his large frame over Mr. Dylan as they slipped through the ecstatic crowd. […] Returning to New York, they rushed to a studio, and Mr. Dylan “blurted it all out,” running through 11 new songs, “one after another without rehearsing.”

Improbable though this account seems, it squares with the one in Howard Sounes’s book Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, which describes a single six-hour session, lubricated by Beaujolais, that resulted in the album “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” Mr. Dylan’s farewell at age 23 to the blues-inflected folk idiom he had conquered. Two songs — “Chimes of Freedom” and “My Back Pages,” with its soaring refrain, “Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now” — signaled the next, visionary phase in Mr. Dylan’s work. Later that summer, he was invited to meet the Beatles at the Delmonico Hotel. The Dylan entourage brought along some marijuana. Mr. Dylan sat down to roll a joint, as Victor and others have reported, but he proved all thumbs, and Victor expertly took command. It was the first quality weed the Beatles had smoked, but the giddy conversation went on without Mr. Dylan. Exhausted from a string of late nights and a few drinks, “he passed out on the floor!” Victor remembers. Not that the book is an exercise in skeleton rattling or score settling. On the contrary, Victor reverently speaks of Mr. Dylan’s “greatness” and “genius” and rejoices in the “magical mystery tour” Mr. Dylan opened up for him — even as he remained curiously remote. The book suggests that the closer one got to Mr. Dylan, the more unknowable he became. MORE

BOOK EXCERPT: By 1955 a twenty-year-old Victor was entering the new culture of beatniks, music, art and drugs that Jack Kerouac would capture in On the Road, which was published in 1956. He and his friend Herb Cohen decided to open a coffee shop. They would become partners in the traditional sense; Herb would manage the business, and Victor would design and build the look and feel of the cafe. That year, in all of the city, there wasn’t a single counterculture hangout or coffee shop. What they were planning was the first of its kind for Los Angeles: a home for live music and poetry; a reading room with a collection of hip books and ample space to play chess. It would quickly become a place where rebellion could thrive.

They found a perfect location in the heart of Hollywood at 8907 Sunset Blvd, the center of the Sunset Strip. Together they named the cafe: the Unicorn. For marketing they put posters up in liberal bookstores, music venues and any place that had a sense of hipness and a taste for folk music. Their posters were hand drawn with large hippie-looking characters playing guitars and sipping espressos. Swirling lines intertwined with slogans such as, “Where casual craznicks climb circular charcoal curbs for cool calculated confabulations” and “Espresso espression sessions on the patio.” The cafe was painted entirely black inside and pictures of nude women hung upside down on the walls. They were defining what hip was and they nailed it. Once the place was built, Victor would reach out to musician friends and poets to book performances at the cafe.

When they opened the doors, the Unicorn was instantly a hit. Queues would stretch down the street and around the block. They had tapped right into something bigger than themselves, a cultural divide precipitated by the strict mentality of the 1950s. What they created didn’t happen by chance, it was built by the entropy of a jaded youth reaching out for something to identify with. My father told me on many occasions about the feeling in the air at this time, as if everyone was waiting for something to happen. Some change of consciousness, like a giant wave that starts way out in the middle of the ocean. You know it’s coming, you just don’t know when it’ll arrive or how big it’s going to be. The venues for this revolution were being built, like the Unicorn; Victor would say they just needed a figurehead, a voice. They were waiting for someone to show up on the scene, someone who could reach across the oceans and connect people. MORE

RELATED: In an interview via Skype at the exhibit opening last weekend, [photographer Daniel] Kramer, 83, explained from New York City that he was intrigued by the power of Dylan’s lyrics after seeing him perform “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1964. Not a music or showbiz photographer, Kramer tried to contact Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, to arrange a photo session. After six months of negotiating, Kramer went to visit Dylan at his home in Woodstock, N.Y., for a one-hour shoot. He stayed for five or six hours. Kramer mentioned that he hadn’t seen Dylan perform, so the singer-songwriter invited the photographer to a concert in Philadelphia [pictured, top of the page] . Dylan and his road manager picked up Kramer at his New York City apartment. That trip was when he really got to know Dylan. MORE


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WORTH REPEATING: How Dylan Got His Weird On

Thursday, November 20th, 2014


NEW YORK MAGAZINE: You have to start by disregarding the well-told narrative: The soi-disant vagabond’s rise through folk music to a place of utter domination at the highest level of literate, passionate, and difficult pop and rock music, all by 1966; a retreat and Gethsemane until 1974, when he came back, roaring and vengeful, more passionately focused than before, adding a remarkable personal dimension to his ’60s work. After that, depending on how generously you view his career, there has been either a long decline or decades of remarkable and kaleidoscopic creativity, culminating in the triumphs, late in life, of his five most recent albums.

For an artist as rooted in our musical culture as Dylan, the linearity of a narrative works more to disconnect him from the influences and traditions his work comprises than to explain him. First, you have to appreciate the many layers that make up his peculiar but unmistakable aesthetic. His work is grounded in acoustic folk-blues—­ballads, chants, and love stories, populated with mystical or just plain weird meanings and themes, rattling and farting around like tetched uncles in the attic of our American psyche. To this add the dread-filled dreamscapes—unexplainable, ­unnerving—of French Surrealism, and then, arrestingly, the punchy patois of the Beats, who originally intuited the substratum of social stresses that would whipcrack across the ’60s and into the ’70s. Then factor in personal songwriting, a strain of pop he basically invented, doled out first with obfuscations, payback, tall tales, and lies—some by design, some on general principle, some just to be an asshole—and then the signs, here and there (and then everywhere, the more you look), of autobiographical happenstance and deeply felt emotion.

Dylan Words Older


And remember that some of his narratives are fractured. Time and focus shift; first person can become third; sometimes more than one story seems to be being told at the same time (“Tangled Up in Blue” and “All Along the Watchtower” are two good examples). And then there’s plain sonic impact: Even his earliest important songs have a cerebral and reverberating authority in the recording, his voice sometimes filling the speakers, his primitive but blistering guitar work adding confrontation, ease, humor, anger, and contrariness, presenting all but the most unwilling listeners with moment after moment of incandescence. […]

He came to New York in early 1961, telling anyone who’d listen he’d ridden the rails, played with Buddy Holly, all sorts of nonsense. In reality, he was a fairly middle-class kid who’d hitchhiked, in winter, from the far north of Minnesota; in a way, this single act of propulsion toward reinvention by a 19-year-old is braver and more interesting than all his later tall tales of travel. He arrived in New York on the coldest day the city had seen in many years. He was a prodigy, with a natural affinity for a medium that would, unexpectedly, afford a few people like him international acclaim and a permanent place in the cultural firmament, and lots of money too. His uncanny musicianship—producing enduring melodies and lovely harmonica solos—included an ability to effortlessly transpose keys that would impress professionals throughout his career. He also had a first-class mind, quick (almost too quick) of wit and relaxed enough to let inspiration flow without forcing it, yet also wiry, retaining permanently the complex wording of many hundreds of tunes. He soaked up the songs and the lore of folk and blues, cobbling together a shtick—an Okie patois, a shambling affect, and a fixation with Woody Guthrie, the socialist troubadour of the ’30s and ’40s and the author of “This Land Is Your Land,” who at the time was dying in a New Jersey hospital. It all served to disguise, at first, a mysterious charisma—with eyes, as Joan Baez remembered them later, “bluer than robin’s eggs”—and an apparent ambition that left a few damaged friendships, and egos, in its wake. MORE

RELATED: An Open Letter From ‘Mick Jagger’ To Keith Richards


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RIP: Mike Nichols, Creator Of Much Of The Greatest Cinema, Theater & Comedy Of The 20th Century

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Mike Nichols and Elaine May [3]


NEW YORK TIMES: Mike Nichols, one of America’s most celebrated directors, whose long, protean résumé of critic- and crowd-pleasing work earned him adulation both on Broadway and in Hollywood, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 83. Dryly urbane, Mr. Nichols had a gift for communicating with actors and a keen comic timing, which he honed early in his career as half of the popular sketch-comedy team Nichols and May. An immigrant whose work was marked by trenchant perceptions of American culture, he achieved — in films like “The Graduate,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Carnal Knowledge” and in comedies and dramas on stage — what Orson Welles and Elia Kazan but few if any other directors have: popular and artistic success in both film and theater. An almost ritual prize-winner, he was one of only a dozen or so people to have won an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy.

His career encompassed an entire era of screen and stage entertainment. On Broadway, where he won an astonishing nine Tonys (including two as a producer), he once had four shows running simultaneously. He directed Neil Simon’s early comedies “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple” in the 1960s, the zany Monty Python musical, “Spamalot,” four decades later, and nearly another decade after that, an acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller’s bruising masterpiece, “Death of a Salesman.” […] By the end of Mr. Nichols’s career, he was bravely casting THE GRADUATEthe star Hoffman of a different generation — Philip Seymour — with whom Mr. Nichols made the rollicking political film “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007) and, later, more provocatively, the Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman.” He cast Mr. Hoffman, then 44, to play Miller’s tragic American in defeat, Willy Loman, a man in his 60s. […] In June 2012 at age 80, he accepted the Tony for directing “Salesman.” When his name was announced at the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the neighborhood where he grew up, he kissed Ms. Sawyer, stepped to the stage and recalled that he once won a pie-eating contest in that very theater. “It was nice but this is nicer,” he said. “You see before you a happy man.” MORE

RELATED: Especially consistent was his wry and savvy sensibility regarding behavior, derived in part from his early success in nightclubs and on television with Ms. May. Their program of satirical sketches depicting one-on-one moments of social interaction reached Broadway, where “An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May” opened in October 1960 and ran for more than 300 performances; the recording of their show won a Grammy Award. Developed through improvisation, written with sly, verbal dexterity and performed with cannily calibrated comic timing, a sharp eye for the telling gesture and an often nasal vocal tone that both of them employed, their best known routines became classics of male-female miscommunication and social haplessness: a mother haranguing her scientist son for not calling her; teenagers on a date in the front seat of a car; an injured man and a doltish emergency room nurse; a telephone operator and a desperate caller in a phone booth. Their work, along with the cartoons of Mr. Feiffer and the stand-up routines of Bob Newhart and a young Mr. Allen defined comic neurosis for the American audience before it became a staple in the hands of Albert Brooks, Richard Lewis and countless others. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: ‘No One Wanted to Talk About Bill Cosby’s Alleged Crimes Because He Made White America Feel Good About Race’

Thursday, November 20th, 2014



THE NEW REPUBLIC: the possibility that this extremely rich man lambasting poor people for everything from stealing pound cake to wearing low-slung pants to how they named their children—might have drugged and raped more than a dozen women would have made our heads pop off. It would have made us question every single good, reassuring, optimistic thing that Bill Cosby ever made us think about ourselves and our country. It might have made us rethink the way he had held up wealthy people as model feminists, and about exactly how screwed up it was that that his progressive cheerful vision of post-racial America had never addressed the structural realities faced by non-wealthy people.

What’s more, America’s terrible history of discrediting black men via charges of sexual misconduct was precisely the kind of thing that might lead white liberals to not want to engage such loaded allegations about a black man who had assuaged their guilt over precisely this kind of history. To wrestle with the merits of those charges—the kinds that have too often been deployed falsely to justify everything from lynching to stand your ground laws—would force America to acknowledge that deeply set, incredibly complicated patterns of injustice Cosby TIMEaround race and sex and power are far from erased. It would also force us to concede that, in this case, they might not be false.

So we didn’t truly allow ourselves to think about any of it. Until now. MORE

PLAYBOY: Cosby wouldn’t be able to get away with these crimes simply because he was valuable. He could only do so because America sees women as being the exact opposite. Anonymous people, for a range of reasons, get away with rape every day. They, like Cosby is alleged to have done, treat woman as if they were disposable before and after sex, and like they were merely props for the act itself. Apparently, they can see why Cosby was enamored by “Spanish fly” for decades.Why else would anyone defend a man who, as appearances are being cancelled and his comedy special is being pulled by Netflix, won’t defend himself? How else could Don Lemon, ostensibly a journalist, find it appropriate to ask one of Cosby’s alleged victims why she didn’t bite his dick off, as if that would end an encounter during which she was drugged?  That extreme benefit of the doubt isn’t simply reserved for television stars or athletes, so it’s dangerous to evaluate reactions to Cosby simply in the context of fame. It’s probably soothing, as it’s easier to consider capitalism protected Cosby rather than apathy. MORE

DAILY BEAST: “[There was the time] in Atlantic City, which was the final incident, where he came straight out and attacked me in his suite and tried to rape me and tried to tear off my clothes and he was trying to tear off his belt buckle and his pants,” the 47-year-old actress recounted. “I was screaming and yelling and scratching and wrestling to get away from him, and at one point he just got angry and viciously mad and threw me out.” MORE

CNN: A former prosecutor who declined to bring charges against Bill Cosby a decade ago said Wednesday that he wishes he could’ve nailed the comedian on an allegation that he drugged and molested a woman at his Pennsylvania home. Bruce Castor also told CNN that he believed Cosby — a beloved figure who, with his wit and boyish smile, has charmed audiences as a family-friendly stand-up comic, the voice of Fat Albert, the host of “Picture Pages” and the star of a wildly popular eponymous sitcom — lied to authorities. In January 2004, Andrea Constand, then a 31-year-old staffer for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater, was at the comedian’s Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, home when Cosby provided her medication that made her dizzy, she alleged the following year. MORE

RELATED: In October, he was unanimously reelected to Temple University’s board of trustees. Over the summer, a statewide poll ranked Cosby the second-greatest Pennsylvanian in history – behind Benjamin Franklin.

PREVIOUS: When Bill Cosby Joked About Drugging Women For Sex And Everyone Laughed And Laughed

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014

He plays the RUBA Club Studios on Friday with Carter Hulsey as part of the Folk Catastrophe Tour.

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RIP: Jimmy Ruffin, Motown’s Silken-Voiced Shepherd Of The Broken Hearted, Dead At 78

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

DETROIT NEWS: One of Motown Records’ most memorable voices is gone, as balladeer Jimmy Ruffin died at a Las Vegas hospital late Monday. He was 78. Ruffin’s most enduring hit has to be 1966’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” with its majestic, stately rhythm and Ruffin’s deeply soulful, sorrowful vocal. He followed up that Top 10 hit with “I’ve Passed This Way Before” in 1967. In 1980 he enjoyed a comeback hit with “Hold on to My Love.” Ruffin was born May 7, 1936 in Collinsville, Mississippi, the older brother of singer David Ruffin. The brothers made their way north, eventually settling in Detroit, where each (separately) ended up signing with Motown Records, Jimmy as a solo artist and David as one of the Temptations. The Ruffin brothers collaborated on a 1970 album for Motown, “I Am My Brother’s Keeper.” David Ruffin died in 1991, at age 50. MORE

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

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014



listenFRESH AIR: Dave Davies speaks with Foxcatcher director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball)

DAILY BEAST: Bennett Miller’s tragic, true-life saga Foxcatcher is about many things: Familial strife, American exceptionalism, the corrupting influence of money, and Steve Carell’s prosthetic schnoz. It will also introduce many viewers to one of cinema’s most unstable and chilling villains in John du Pont—an ornithologist, philanthropist, conchologist, philatelist, sports enthusiast, and murderer.  The film centers on Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). In the wake of his gold medal win at the 1984 Olympics, he’s depicted living in relative poverty, subsisting on a diet of ramen and accepting $20 for speaking engagements. He’s eager to escape from under the shadow of his older, more amiable brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), who also took gold in ’84. Desperate, Schultz falls under the wing of du Pont (Carell), a cocaine-snorting, gun-toting, psychopathic Svengali who provides him with state-of-the-art training facilities at Foxcatcher Farm in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and even offers to have Dave and his family live on the estate grounds so he can help coach little brother. On January 26, 1996, du Pont drove to his guesthouse, approached Dave while he was working on his car in the driveway under the watchful gaze of his wife, and shot him three times, killing him. In real life, John Eleuthère du Pont had creeped out Mark from the very beginning. “When I first met du Pont, I thought he was the biggest loser on Earth,” Mark recently told People. “His head was caked with dandruff. His teeth were caked with food. He had these little twig arms. It looked like he had swallowed a basketball… I knew I couldn’t be around this guy.” The du Pont family descended from Huguenot nobility in Burgundy, emigrating to the United States in 1800. There, they used their considerable means to establish E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1802, a war-profiteering gunpowder manufacturer that grew to become the largest producer of black gunpowder in the country. The family also believed that inbreeding was central to both preserving the family fortune and ensuring “purity of blood.” MORE

RELATED: The Philadelphia Daily News/i> later described the atmosphere at Foxcatcher as “a scene out of the corrupt Emperor Caligula’s Roman bathing spas.” MORE

THE PSYCLONE RANGERS: Little Man With A Gun In His Hand
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