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EARLY WORD: The Resurrection Of Lux Interior

Monday, January 26th, 2015



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Produced by Alex Chilton.

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SMUS: The Biggest Balls Of Them All!

Saturday, January 24th, 2015



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

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

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

CINEMA: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory

Friday, January 23rd, 2015


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

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

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

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

Wanna See John Oliver @ The Tower On Friday?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015



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

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

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

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EXCERPT: The Hunting Of Billie Holiday

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

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

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THE SONICS: Black Betty

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WORTH REPEATING: The Day Martin Luther King Had To Explain To His Daughter Yolanda That Little ‘Colored’ Girls Are Not Allowed In Funtown

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015



PLAYBOY: Dr. King, are your children old enough to be aware of the issues at stake in the civil rights movement, and of your role in it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Yes, they are—especially my oldest child, Yolanda. Two years ago, I remember, I returned home after serving one of my terms in the Albany, Georgia, jail, and she asked me, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” I told her that I was involved in a struggle to make conditions better for the colored people, and thus for all people. I explained that because things are as they are, someone has to take a stand, that it is necessary for someone to go to jail, because many Southern officials seek to maintain the barriers that have historically been erected to exclude the colored people. I tried to make her understand that someone had to do this to make the world better—for all children. She was only six at that time, but she was already aware of segregation because of an experience that we had had.

PLAYBOY: Would you mind telling us about it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Not at all. The family often used to ride with me to the Atlanta airport, and on our way, we always passed Funtown, a sort of miniature Disneyland with mechanical rides and that sort of thing. Yolanda would inevitably say, “I want to go to Funtown,” and I would always evade a direct reply. I really didn’t know how to explain to her why she couldn’t go. Then one day at home, she ran downstairs exclaiming that a TV commercial was urging people to come to Funtown. Then my wife and I had to sit down with her between us and try to explain it. I have won some applause as a speaker, but my tongue twisted and my speech stammered seeking to explain to my six-year-old daughter why the public invitation on television didn’t include her, and others like her. One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her that Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized that at that moment the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky, that at that moment her personality had begun to warp with that first unconscious bitterness toward white people. It was the first time that prejudice based upon skin color had been explained to her. But it was of paramount importance to me that she not grow up bitter. So I told her that although many white people were against her going to Funtown, there were many others who did want colored children to go. It helped somewhat. Pleasantly, word came to me later that Funtown had quietly desegregated, so I took Yolanda. A number of white persons there asked, “Aren’t you Dr. King, and isn’t this your daughter?” I said we were, and she heard them say how glad they were to see us there. MORE

DAILY KOS: I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech. My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.” Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about. […] It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus. You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment. This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people. White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which MLK ABERNATHY MUG SHOTcould be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn’t do it alone. So what did they do? They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down. Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed. If we do it all together, we’ll be okay. They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms fredshuttlesworthmuglargeand take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad. Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened? These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail. That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. MORE

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ARTY: Look On My Works Ye Mighty, And Despair!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015



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Monday, January 19th, 2015



NEW YORKER: Barry Blitt drew this week’s cover, inspired by the photographs of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that are everywhere again. “It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,” he said. “In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.” MORE

WASHINGTON POST: Barry Blitt’s drawing, which will adorn newsstands and coffee tables next week, evokes the famous photos of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. On this cover, King’s arms are linked with those of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after being placed in a police chokehold, and Wenjian Liu, the New York City police officer gunned down with Rafael Ramos as they sat in their squad car last month. They are joined on the cover by Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, who were shot and killed in Florida and Missouri, respectively. This cover specifically arrives the week of the holiday honoring King and as protests against police tactics, which have taken place across the country in recent months, are expected to continue over the weekend and into Monday. It also comes as “Selma,” a movie about King and the civil rights movement, is expanding into additional theaters after earning Best Picture nomination. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: The iconic images of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come from an era when he was confronting legalized discrimination, and communication tools included mimeographed fliers and the holy grail of a network television report. Protesters today cite myriad ills embedded in the economy and culture and spread their messages instantly through websites, Twitter hashtags and text messages. And at a time of widespread social unrest over race and inequality, the King holiday on Monday is highlighting both the power of Dr. King’s vision, brought to the public again in the film “Selma,” and the enormous difficulties of forging a new movement along similar lines. Nonetheless, today’s protesters are embracing Dr. King’s spirit and the tactics of his era with a sense of commitment that has not existed, perhaps, for decades. “We’re in the business of disrupting white supremacy,” said Wazi Davis, 23, a student at San Francisco State University, who has helped organize protests in the Bay Area. “We look toward historical tactics. The Montgomery bus boycott, the sit-ins — those tactics were all about disruption.” MORE

King Bullet Hole St. Augustine


THE ATLANTIC: The Ku Klux Klan presence was intense in St. Augustine. King learned about the racial strife from Robert Hayling, a dentist and youth leader of the local NAACP, who had been captured, beaten, and almost burned alive at a Klan rally the previous September. Hayling had appealed to King and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to come to St. Augustine for a campaign of direct action. The level of violence was startling. Nighttime marches from Lincolnville to the slave market were intercepted by white supremacists, who had gathered to hear from a fiery trio. Traveling Klan “minister” Connie Lynch proclaimed, “Hitler was a great man” and described the outside agitator of choice as “Martin Lucifer Coon.” J.B. Stoner, a future lawyer for James Earl Ray, thundered, “We won’t be put in chains by no civil rights bill!” And local leader Hoss Manucy, head of the Klan-affiliated Ancient City Hunting Club, told Harpers magazine, “My boys are here to fight niggers!” The Klansmen greeted the protesters with blackjacks, bricks, and bicycle chains. One night, Andrew Young was knocked to the ground and savagely kicked in the back and the groin. Young told me this year at a civil rights conference in Austin that St. Augustine was unique in the movement in one respect: “It was the only place where our hospital bills were greater than our bond bills.” When King came down to St. Augustine, he was moved from place to place for his own protection. On May 28, the address of a cottage that had been rented for him was printed in the local paper; that night someone blasted it with gunfire, though King was not there. (A photo of him pointing to a bullet hole in a sliding glass door has become the St. Augustine movement’s most enduring image.) MORE

REASON: Late last year, historian Beverly Gage published an unredacted version of the notorious November, 1964 letter sent anonymously to Martin Luther King, Jr. before he would travel to Europe to collect his Nobel Peace Prize (above). The letter suggested that King kill himself or else be outed for sexual improprieties. It is widely believed the letter was sent either by FBI operatives or at least sanctioned by the agency, as it relies on information compiled from surveillance conducted by J. Edgar Hoover with the imprimatur of Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (whether Lyndon Johnson directly okayed such actions, it’s unambiguous that he knew about them and discussed their findings). Historians had long sought after an unredacted version of “suicide letter,” as it is known. It’s a disturbing piece of work, to say the least. It poses as a note from a concerned African American. It’s failure was complete, as it wasn’t read until after King received his Nobel and it was opened by his wife, who turned it over to her husband. I wrote about the letter last fall when The New York Times published it. We live in an age where trust and belief in the government is far lower than it was the FBI was pulling grotesque stunts like this one. Our ambivalence is well-founded, given not just the revelations of the Church Committee in the 1970s but more recent news of just how little the government regards our civil liberties. Martin Luther King’s legacy for race relations is rightly well-known and celebrated. We should also remember that his treatment by government carries lessons about the state-sanctioned violation of privacy and dignity. MORE

SteveWonder MLK
MEDIUM: On the evening of April 4, 1968, teen music sensation Stevie Wonder was dozing off in the back of a car on his way home to Detroit from the Michigan School for the Blind, when the news crackled over the radio: Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated in Memphis. His driver quickly turned off the radio and they drove on in silence and shock, tears streaming down Wonder’s face. Five days later, Wonder flew to Atlanta for the slain civil rights hero’s funeral, as riots erupting in several cities, the country still reeling. He joined Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Diana Ross and a long list of politicians and pastors who mourned King, prayed for a nation in which all men are created equal and vowed to continue the fight for freedom. Wonder was still in shock—he remembered how, when he was five, he first heard about King as he listened to coverage of the Montgomery bus boycott on the radio. “I asked, ‘Why don’t they like colored people? What’s the difference?’ I still can’t see the difference.” As a young teenager, when Wonder was performing with the Motown Revue in Alabama, he experienced first-hand the evils of segregation—he remembers someone shooting at their tour bus, just missing the gas tank. When he was 15, Wonder finally met King, shaking his hand at a freedom rally in Chicago. At the funeral, Wonder was joined by his local representative, young African-American Congressman John Conyers, who had just introduced a bill to honor King’s legacy by making his birthday a national holiday. Thus began an epic crusade, led by Wonder and some of the biggest names in music—from Bob Marley to Michael Jackson—to create Martin Luther King Day. o overcome the resistance of conservative politicians, including President Reagan and many of his fellow citizens, Wonder put his career on hold, led rallies from coast to coast and galvanized millions of Americans with his passion and integrity. But it took 15 years. MORE

THE NATION: The film Selma movingly chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight to win the Voting Rights Act (VRA). It ends with King speaking triumphantly on the steps of the Alabama capitol, after marching from Selma to Montgomery. Five months later, Congress passed the VRA, the most important civil-rights law of the twentieth century. If only that story had a happy ending today. Selma has been released at a time when voting rights are facing the most sustained attack since 1965. The Supreme Court gutted the centerpiece of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder in June 2013. That followed a period from 2011 to 2012 when 180 new voting restrictions were introduced in 41 states, and 22 states made it harder to vote. MORE

MLK Handcuffs
CBS NEWS: Economic inequality is set to reach a worrying tipping point next year, when the richest 1 percent will control more than half of the world’s wealth. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: In the thousands of speeches and celebrations on the official Martin Luther King holiday since its inception, there is a crucial fact of his life, activism and thought that no major commemoration has ever celebrated: that King was a strong and uncompromising opponent of American capitalism. This was no late-in-life development for King. It spanned from his youthful years to his death while attempting to gain humane wages and working conditions for a public union. Why was Martin Luther King so opposed to capitalism?

On the one hand, capitalism has generated immense wealth, significantly raised living standards and generally made life more comfortable and secure to varying degrees for most of those living in capitalist countries. On the other hand, it has exacted an excruciating toll in human toil and treasure. It has wrought immense suffering, systematic oppression and exploitation, and debilitating social alienation. Capitalism rewards, indeed depends upon, selfish, aggressive behavior. It values profits over people, promotes material values over spiritual values, dispenses power without social responsibility, and treats people as commodities to be discarded.

Moreover, capitalism is not compatible with “one person, one vote” political democracy because those with the most capital have far more political influence and power per capita than less well-heeled Americans. It is also incompatible with economic democracy because capitalism allows no democracy in the workplace. Workers have to comply with capitalists’ rules and dictates or risk penury and, in egregious cases, physical violence. MORE

PBS: An audio recording of a speech given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, long thought to be lost in time, was made available to the masses this week online. The 55-minute recording of the speech delivered by the late civil rights leader on April 27, 1965 at the University of California-Los Angeles was unearthed from a storage room by archivist Derek Bolin and Tim Groeling, chair of the UCLA Department of Communication Studies. “It’s a speech of importance that deserves to be released on a day of importance,” Bolin, also a 2013 UCLA graduate, said Friday in a press release on what would have been King Jr.’s 86th birthday. On the recording, the sound of birds chirping can be heard as Joel Boxer, the chairman of the now defunct Associated Students Speakers program at UCLA, welcomes the crowd to what “must be the largest program in the speakers program history.” The speech happened a month and two days after King’s historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., which was the subject of the 2014 film “Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay. MORE

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LORD OF THE TRASH: Kim Fowley, Legendary Producer/Proto-Hipster Creep, Dead At 75

Friday, January 16th, 2015



LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kim Fowley came out of a Hollywood that doesn’t exist anymore, the Hollywood of Kenneth Anger and Ed Wood. Best known for cooking up the Runaways, he began to work in the music business in the late 1950s and since then has turned up in more places than Woody Allen’s Zelig, producing for Gene Vincent, writing with Warren Zevon and introducing John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band when they performed in Toronto in 1969. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: The broad strokes of the relationship between producer-manager Kim Fowley and former Runaways frontwoman Cherie Currie are the sort that are just ripe for VH1 “Behind the Music” treatment. Fowley created the band that launched Currie’s music career, but their relationship soured and turned downright venomous over the usual music industry wedges: royalties, drugs, and Fowley’s odd, unorthodox treatment — some would say exploitation — of a band of five teenage girls.

Currie once called Fowley, who created The Runaways, a “beast who should not be allowed near young girls,” but it was she who took in the aging Fowley when he was battling bladder cancer. The two reconciled in 2008, much to the surprise ofCIMG1293 journalists who had covered both individuals for years, after Currie learned about Fowley’s condition. Last August, she moved him into her home to care for him. […] “I love Kim. I really do,” Currie said last year. “After everything I went through as a kid with him, I ended up becoming a mom and realized it was difficult for a man in his 30s to deal with five teenage girls. He’s a friend I admire who needed help, and I could be there for him.”

The Runaways, heavily influenced by David Bowie, Alice Cooper, and other 70′s rock gods, were the anti-good girls: five teenage girls, playing their own instruments, and terrorizing the nation singing openly about sex and all manner of bad-girl subjects. Currie’s husky, low voice and risque stagewear (fishnets and lingerie) cemented their status as jailbait pinups. Fowley orchestrated it all, bringing together Joan Jett, Currie, Ford, Jackie Fox and Sandy West. When the band was formed, Jett was 16. Currie was 15. Fowley produced and co-wrote their first two albums, “The Runaways” and “Queens of Noise.” By the time she was 18, she had a serious addiction to Quaaludes, cocaine, and eventually crack. “Our management, our booking agent – they were all feeding us drugs,” she told The Guardian. “The thing was, back in the 70s, if you didn’t do drugs there was something wrong with you.” MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Last year Foley moved from the hospital to the Los Angeles home of Runaways founding member Cherie Currie, who told Billboard in September that after consulting with Wright about his health, “We agreed a change of environment was what he needed. It’s draining, yes, but I’ll always step up. It’s who I am.” “I love Kim. I really do,” she said at that time. “After everything I went through as a kid with him, I ended up becoming a mom and realized it was difficult for a man in his 30s to deal with five teenage girls. He’s a friend I admire who needed help, and I could be there for him.” He subsequently moved with Wright, whom he married in September, to a residence in West Hollywood, where he died. MORE

RELATED: During the early 1960s, Fowley was involved, as co-producer/co-publisher, with a string of successful records produced in Los Angeles. With Gary S. Paxton, he recorded the novelty song “Alley Oop“, which reached # 1 on the charts in 1960 and was credited to the non-existent group The Hollywood Argyles. […] Fowley also worked on occasion as a recording artist in the 1960s, issuing albums such as Love Is Alive and Well. In 1965, he wrote and produced a song about the psychedelic experience, “The Trip”. He later appeared on hypephone on Frank Zappa‘s first album Freak Out!. Other singles by Fowley as a recording artist included “Animal Man” from his popular 1968 album Outrageous. All of his efforts as a solo artist since 1970 have become cult items, both in reissue and bootleg formats. MORE

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Friday, January 16th, 2015



Last night, fresh off of their incredibly successful support slot for The 1975’s North American tour, hometown hero indie-popsters CRUISR rocked a sold-out throwdown at The Barbary along with the likes of Cold Fronts & Needle Points. The Barbary is a small joint with a big sound system, and the openers wasted no time setting an upbeat vibe for the night with loud melodies and catchy breakdowns. CRUISR took the stage at 9pm and took their sweet time working through a setlist that hovered around a mere eight or nine songs. Lush guitar riffs swept over the crowd and not a soul was standing still five minutes in as the lead guitarist Bruno swayed about the stage ripping the most heavenly of melodies. CRUISR topped off the night of great local music with their catchiest single, “Kidnap Me.” The crowd, whom which had been high-energy all evening sang along to every word with smiles and enthusiastic squeals lighting up the room. Great show, great vibes, zero assholes, and yet another step in the right direction for this tribe of Philly natives. — DYLAN LONG

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Friday, January 16th, 2015

1972 demo produced by Kim Fowley.

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