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BOOKS: Infinite Guest

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

David Foster Wallace by Tommaso Pincio

Artwork by TOMMASO PINCIO

If David Foster Wallace were alive today, would the famously introverted author be flattered to see himself on the big screen, or horrified at the commodification of his very identity? James Ponsoldt’s new film The End of the Tour recreates five days that the late author David Foster Wallace spent traveling around the Midwest with Rolling Stone Magazine writer David Lipsky around 1996, shortly after Wallace’s critically acclaimed novel Infinite Jest was published. In the film, the two men have a number of philosophical conversations about writing, life, sex, and fame — kind of like if My Dinner With Andre was set inside a rental car instead of at a restaurant table. The film was produced by A24 and DirecTV, and it recently premiered at the Sundance Film LIPSKY BOOKFestival where it received mostly favorable reviews. There has been much discussion about the casting choices of Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky. The knock on Segel, who is best known for his roles in baudy, populist comedies, is that he’s just not a serious enough actor to play the highly intellectual Wallace. Similar doubts were expressed about Eisenberg playing Lipsky. However, critics who’ve seen the film report that the actors’ portrayals are respectful and authentic, and in interviews Segel has demonstrated a solid grasp of Wallace’s work.There has been some controversy surrounding the film, since both Wallace’s former editor and his family say that that Wallace would have never signed off on the project. Meanwhile, director James Ponsoldt and writer Donald Margulies have said that they hope the film will lead the uninitiated to Wallace’s work. It seems The End of the Tour has indeed sparked new discussions about Infinite Jest as well as his other works. The filmmakers stress, however, that they are merely focusing on Lipsky’s five days spent touring with Wallace and that the film is far from a comprehensive look at his life and work. The End Of The Tour will be released some time in 2015, although an exact release date was yet to be determined as of press time. – EMMA BAILEY

ESQUIRE: The last work of fiction by the greatest American writer of my generation is an incomplete and weirdly fractured pseudo memoir about the United States tax code and several employees of the Internal Revenue Service. The work is frustratingly difficult in places. It’s potholed throughout by narrative false starts and dead ends. Characters the-pale-kingappear without introduction and disappear without cause. I often found myself putting the novel down, and I didn’t always want to pick it up again. Then I did. Because The Pale King, an unfinished manuscript that will be published this month by Little, Brown, is one of the saddest and most lovely books I’ve ever read. This sadness, of course, has something (or probably a lot) to do with David Foster Wallace’s suicide by hanging in 2008. With lots of exceptions, killing yourself is a bad idea. It’s a particularly bad idea for writers. First, you run the risk of turning all your prior efforts into one long suicide note. What’s worse, especially if you’re a writer as beloved as Wallace, is that you may be turned into some kind of icon. And, as D.F.W. himself once wrote, “to make someone an icon is to make him an abstraction, and abstractions are incapable of vital communication with living people.” MORE

NEWSWEEK:  Since the arrival of The Pale King, Wallace’s estate and Pietsch have published several books: This Is Water, the philosophical and quietly rousing commencement address Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005; Signifying Rappers, the superannuated but amusing pop-culture treatise he wrote about hip-hop with his college friend Mark Costello; Both Flesh and Not, a collection of lesser-known essays; Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, a discussion of the philosopher Richard Taylor written when Wallace was in college, where he studied literature and philosophy

Now comes The David Foster Wallace Reader, a big and handsome tome with selections from both his fiction and nonfiction, as well as a smattering of teaching materials that include discussions with his mother about theDavid Foster Wallace Newsweek finer points of English grammar (e.g., the pesky lie/lay dichotomy). Its selections were chosen by 24 editorial advisers, but the project unquestionably belongs to Pietsch. Now the chief of the Hachette publishing behemoth, he seems to approach the posthumous publication of Wallace’s work with the zeal of a missionary looking over a sea of heathens. Wallace’s death was an abomination he could not prevent, but he will not allow the man’s work to pass into oblivion. But do we need The David Foster Wallace Reader? According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, probably not. Though the book seems like a Christmas gift in the making, it contains almost no new work. But I think I get what Pietsch is doing here, and I am all for it. You need evidence of miracles for sainthood; you need something only marginally more mundane to sustain a bid for lasting literary greatness, for entrance into that pantheon protected from the vicissitudes of literary taste. This is part of that effort, a reminder of how good Wallace could be, whether he was writing about Kafka or the Illinois State Fair, whether he was making stuff up or trying to see things as they actually are.

I don’t mean that his writing is flawless. In fact, the flaws are all too obvious: a charming loquacity that could lapse into annoying logorrhea, an inability to fashion anything resembling plot, and, most damning, the inability to resolve the question of irony, namely whether it was a useful strategy or a dangerous disguise. Some were simply “allergic” to his style, which in both the fiction and nonfiction scrambled technical jargon with mall-escalator colloquialisms. The novelist Richard Ford once told me that he tried reading Infinite Jest but saw no point in continuing after a while: “OK, that’s enough,” he remembered thinking as he closed the book. But those who love Wallace overlook those faults. His voice seems geared to the overeducated American college graduate plodding toward adulthood, tired of sarcasm but resorting to it too often, suspicious of belief but desperate for faith, awash in meanings but lacking Meaning. He is the slightly older, vastly smarter friend who’d break it all down over a joint; I don’t think his ever-present bandanna and stubble, which lent him the aura of a New Age guru, were accidental vestments. MORE

PODCAST: David Foster Wallace At The Philadelphia Free Library, 2004

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was written in the wake of David Foster Wallace’s suicide in 2008

deeneythumbnail.jpgBY JEFF DEENEY When David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest was released I was an undergrad at the University of Chicago and living in the kind of cavernous and dumpy five bedroom basement apartment that only an impoverished student could love. I remember being sold on the book after reviews compared it to the Naked Lunch. I read the first chapter and immediately started nagging people around me, demanding that they get a copy. It was clear that this wasn’t just another new book. This was a major new book, a literary event. Everyone needed to read this.

U of Chicago is known as a wonky school full of nerdy intellectual types so it wasn’t surprising that I was able to easily gather a group willing to pick up this 1079 page cinderblock of a book. My girlfriend at the time was child prodigy-smart and had been writing essays about the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein since high school. I attempted to read Wittgenstein in college but all I got out of it was a headache and the dismal suspicion I was not nearly as smart as I thought I was. Foster Wallace was big on Wittgenstein and incorporated the philosopher’s extraordinarily complicated logic into his writing, so it was good to have an expert on board.

My roommates got sucked into the book next and we all brought our various areas of relevant knowledge – math, psychology, film – to bear on the text. We spent endless afternoons in that dark and dank basement cave with our copies in our laps, trying to decipher the book’s many riddles. We were consumed with Foster Wallace’s ideas and frantically argued our interpretations of many notoriously ambiguous passages. It was an exhilarating experience, exactly what college is supposed to be.

The book also resonated with me on a personal level.  Don Gately, the affable but dimwitted working class drug addict at the heart of one of the novel’s three major story lines was a carbon copy of every burnout dude I grew up with in Delaware County. At 22 ASupposedlyFunThingI had already been to rehab and had personal experience with the addiction recovery culture that Foster Wallace clearly admired and placed at the center of his novel. The book was important to me not only because it was a major literary effort by a young novelist, but also because the author was saying that these things I experienced, that defined who I was, were important for defining our times.

For months after reading Infinite Jest our love affair with it continued; there were constant references made to various characters and scenes during casual conversations in my circle of friends. Then, just as the Infinite Jest afterglow was fading out, Foster Wallace released his next book, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. It was a compilation of essays introducing his quirky and occasionally exasperating nonfiction style. Many of the essays were outrageously funny, and the book also came loaded with another exhaustive set of footnotes (there were 100 pages of them for Infinite Jest).  Some readers still loved Foster Wallace’s idiosyncracies, such as his insistence on footnoting, but others like me were starting to find them seriously tedious.

The most important essay in A Supposedly Fun Thing, and possibly of Foster Wallace’s career, was “E Unibus Pluram,” a critique of television’s impact on fiction writing and the tyranny of irony among contemporary young writers. His central message was that irony, while often devilishly satisfying, is cheap and easy. Sincerity and serious artistic statements are increasingly difficult for young writers to pull off because they leave the writer open to mockery by his trendsetting, hipster peers. Caring isn’t cool, and risking looking uncool is a cardinal sin for young writers.

Foster Wallace’s argument about irony is probably more important with the advent of blogs than it was when he wrote it. Now there are bloggers whose writing exists solely to sarcastically deride the work of other writers. Wallace knew that snark, as it has since come to be known, is a brain-dead proposition that serves no function but to satisfy the author’s own smugness and assure readers of their own hipness for being in on the joke. Unfortunately, this fundamentally toxic reliance on irony and mockery continue to define much of blog culture; hopefully as the medium matures more writers will grow out of it.

esq-david-foster-wallace-0411-lgThere are disagreements in opinion about the arc of Foster Wallace’s career in the post-Infinite Jest era. My own opinion is that he began to crash and burn after A Supposedly Fun Thing. His writing became increasingly, intentionally more dense, and it was pretty damn dense to start with. He stopped crafting engaging and funny protagonists and started to dwell on narcissistic types who were drowning in their self-absorption. Foster Wallace’s own self-absorption was starting to suffocate me as a reader; I wished a gutsy editor would finally handcuff him on the footnote thing, which in my opinion reached farcical proportions in his last couple books. I saw him speak at the Free Library in 2004 and remember being left ice cold by his reading. By this point his characters didn’t even have names; they were faceless sketches, vehicles for abstract logic games whose point, it seemed, was to confirm Foster Wallace’s own encroaching solipsism.

There will be a lot written in years to come about this shift towards darkness and increasingly diffuse abstraction in Foster Wallace’s later writing. Already on blogs some are positing that Wallace was sending messages about his own internal struggles through such characters as “The Depressed Person.” The hunt is on for other potentially illuminating passages in his works about various psychopathologies and metaphysical proclamations that might help explain his seemingly inexplicable decision to end his own life.

What is most unfortunate about Foster Wallace’s death, as is the case for all great artists whose lives end prematurely, is that we’ll never know what he would have said about things to come. He saw our increasingly bizarre and fractured culture with such tremendous clarity, and nailed his often complicated but spot-on conclusions about our world with an Olympian elan. He will be dearly missed.

UPROXX: Since his death in 2008, DFW moments and references have found their way into pop culture, and with each reference in TV and film, a DFW fan swoons with delight. I spoke with DT Max, who wrote the biography of Wallace Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, and he noted, “It’s interesting to see David percolating culture in this way. It’s not really surprising. A lot of creative people, including people in film and TV, were into him.” Max speculates that the references may have made Wallace uncomfortable and said, “[Wallace] had mixed feelings about the level of fame he had. And I think he would have ignored it… he was always afraid he would be seduced by these things so he went out of his way to stay away from them.” It’s interesting, too, considering Wallace was addicted to television. As Max wrote in his Wallace bio, “Wallace hardly had a normal relationship with television, let alone his life,” and that TV was his “drug of last resort.” And In Wallace’s essay on television, “E Univus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1993) he wrote: “Television, from the surface on down, is about desire. Fictionally speaking, desire is the sugar in human food.” While his novel Infinite Jest examined entertainment’s toll on society, his later novel, The Pale King, explored boredom. “I think he certainly would have argued, towards the end of his life, that people are afraid of the sounds of their own mind,” Max said, “So television is one way to blot out the sound of their own minds. And that boredom, or mindfulness — which is a type of boredom, sometimes was an attempt on his part to really listen to the sound of his mind.” And so with that in mind, here are some favorite DFW moments from TV, film, and music: MORE

RELATED: In The Decemberists’ music video for “Calamity Song” (directed by Mike Schur) the Enfield Tennis Academy tennis match at Eschaton, a famous scene from Infinite Jest, is recreated. Decemberist frontman Colin Meloy had just finished the book when he wrote the song, which inspired the lyrics and, in turn, the video. MORE

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

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Kim Gordon Eat Me

 

FRESH AIR
listen

THE STRANGER: The mood of the crowd at the Neptune last night for Kim Gordon‘s conversation with Bruce Pavitt about her book Girl In A Band ranged from slightly confused to completely livid. No one, as far as I could tell, left feeling satisfied. I interviewed folks as they came out, asking them simply what they thought of the night. All their quotes are at the end. But what happened? Many people blamed Pavitt for talking too much about the past—the early Sub Pop days (Sonic Youth’s contribution to the first Sub Pop compilation is how they met and know each other), inviting her to dish on Courtney Love, reminiscing about the time Sonic Youth invited Mudhoney to tour Europe with them, and riffing on Gordon’s early-’90s clothing line X Girl. It did feel very casual and unstructured, two people just sort of chatting a little awkwardly about Kim-Gordon-Girl-In-A-Band-608x914the good old days, neither one of them exactly jumping into the topic of the book. Other people were disappointed by the audience questions, which, save for maybe three of them, either made no sense or clumsily pushed her to talk about feminism. Though it was a bit hard to hear, I swear someone asked: “So, what’s it like being a woman in a band?” Then someone asked: “Do you spell Riot Grrl with two Rs or three?” Gordon’s response: “That’s not really my area of expertise. I’m, um, a bad speller.”

The very best question, in my opinion, was from our own Kelly O, who asked: “In Vanity Fair, you said that you listened to a lot of hiphop during your breakup. Was there one particular record or artist who helped you the most?” Kim responded that she had mainly listened to mixes from friends, but that there was “a lot of Nas on there.” I’ll try not to dwell on this all day, as I could easily word-barf on art, women, music, books, and expectations for the next four hours and rest of my life, but there’s one last element in all this muddlement that we haven’t talked about much—Kim Gordon herself. As with any art form, writing a good book does not necessarily mean you will be able to talk about it well, or even want to talk about it at length, no matter how the commercial book-selling cycle is supposed to work (“Except for this book [laughs], I don’t really know how to do anything commercial or conventional,” Gordon said at one point). Gordon was and is the eternally cool cucumber, but she too could have steered the interview had she wanted to. If you don’t like a question or the direction of a conversation, take it somewhere else. Take the mic and talk about what you want to talk about. But honestly, it seemed like she wasn’t in the mood to talk too much, not in an uptight way, maybe more in a stoned way (also very cool). And let’s be real, it’s Kim Fucking Gordon—does she really need Pavitt or anyone in the audience to help her talk about her book? I can’t imagine she was just sitting there, waiting for someone to ask the right question so she could jump up and launch into the feminist rant we were all secretly hoping for. MORE

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Of course, the hopes people took from this couple weren’t about love per se. (We are more than used to watching public figures fall in and out of love; it’s a national sport.) They were bigger and more specific than that, oversize versions of the same aspirations invested in couples (and ex-couples) from long-running bands like Yo La Tengo and Superchunk—hopes that revolve around what you might call “life opportunities.” In Gordon and Moore, you could imagine empirical proof that a lot of things you feared were true about life—things your parents always warned you about—did not necessarily have to be that way. For instance: that a career in an avant-garde rock band might lead not into penury, instability, and isolation but instead to a place in a perma-cool family living in a nice house in the Berkshires. That committing to being a feminist, punk, or intel111031_sonicyouth_560artist would not cut you off from normal people and force you into huge compromises in your domestic affairs but might actually lead you to someone who’d share all of those commitments. That a heterosexual married couple could not only work together but collaborate as equals and throw equally large shadows. What better fairy tale to reassure young people that they don’t ever have to settle? It’s like getting a notarized letter containing three important promises: that your bohemian dreams won’t conflict with middle-class contentment; that maybe the reason your parents’ generation all divorced was that they never found partners cool enough to be in a band with; and that you, as an adult, could do better. MORE

 

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BEING THERE: Juliana Hatfield @ Boot N’ Saddle

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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Photo by PETE TROSHAK

Twenty-two years after the release of her most famous work — 1993’s Become What You Are, — Juliana Hatfield and a reunited Juliana Hatfield Three are out on the road to celebrate that classic album and the recent release of their second album as a trio, the excellent Whatever My Love. Hatfield along with drummer Todd Phillips and bass player Dean Fisher blazed through Become What You Are beginning to end along with a few new songs and a surprise cover to the delight of a packed house at the first of two sold-out nights at the intimate Boot and Saddle on Monday. Become What You Are was given four stars by Rolling Stone and the track “My Sister” landed the trio in the then career-making MTV Buzz Bin, the pre-Internet 90’s music version of going viral. Although Hatfield worked with Fisher and Phillips sporadically over the course of her career, the three have never worked together as a trio again until now. Monday’s performance made it seem like they had never been apart. Phillips thundered away on the huge drum kit that cocooned him. Fisher thumped away on the right side of the stage, dressed like a casual gangster in a suit coat, fedora and hipster glasses. Hatfield slashed away at her trademark huge mahogany Gibson SG on the other side of the stage. They played the album in order, fearlessly and flawlessly delivering their most popular song, “My Sister,” as the second track of the night, knowing that there was lots more good stuff to come. Hatfield and Fisher locked into a sinister subterranean groove that drove the revenge song “A Dame With a Rod” to new and harrowing heights. The trio made “President Garfield” almost sound like Black Sabbath grooving their way through “Marquee Moon.” Hatfield delivered some napalm guitar bursts late in “Addicted” that plumbed the depths of her demons. The Juliana Hatfield Three closed their main set with a thrashing, defiant “I Got No Idols” that sounded like a lost outtake from Neil Young and Crazy Horse. They returned with a short second set that included a revved up “Push Pin” and lumbering version of “Wood” from their new album and they also played an energizing 100 M.P.H. cover of “I Don’t Wanna Hear It” by hardcore icons Minor Threat. The highlight of the second set was an elegiac version of Hatfield’s “Live On Tomorrow,” a fitting end to the night when a band that didn’t seem to have a heartbeat for over twenty years has come back to life strong as ever. – PETE TROSHAK

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SIDEWALKING: Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

TROSHAK FLOWER SHOW 2015

The Philadelphia Flower Show, 5:40 pm yesterday, by PETE TROSHAK

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P REIGN & MEEK MILL: Realest In The City

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

RELATED: Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill are doing little to contradict all those romance rumors! MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Meek Mill‘s Grammy party guests didn’t trash Justin Bieber‘s famous glass palace — they merely left a few cracks, according to Mill’s attorney … but there’s still a war brewing over his $10K deposit.  Mill’s attorney, Richard Joseph, denies leaving the mansion — formerly rented by Bieber — in shambles following the epic bash on Sunday night. He says there was a minor window crack, and a few scuffs on the walls … but nothing that would qualify as “trashing.” Sources with direct knowledge of the lease for the house tell a much different story. TMZ obtained photos that appear to back up claims the place looked like a war zone, with damage including: MORE

PREVIOUSLY:  Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill is to be released from Hoffman Hall prison after being away for five months, Philly.com reported Tuesday. When Mill, whose real name is Robert Williams, violated probation in July, he was sentenced to three to six months in behind bars. MORE

MEEK MILLS + RICK ROSS, DJ KHALED, YO GOTTI & JUDAKISS PERFORM @ THE WELLS FARGO CENTER IN PHILADELPHIA  ON  SATURDAY MARCH 21ST

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THE THRILLA IN SOUTH PHILA: Round One

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

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Artwork by WRIGHT SENARES

Chris McCary AvatarBY CHRIS MCCARY With a field of candidates seeking to succeed a term-limited mayor, the Democratic National Convention on it’s way here in 2016, and the ongoing slugfest over our city’s school system, political reporters are going to be wind-sprinting from river to river to cover it all—and Phawker’s throwing its hat into the ring as well.

For the next three months we’ll be covering what is sure to be the most entertaining City Council race of the year: the 2nd District contest between incumbent Kenyatta Johnson and real-estate developer Ori Feibush. We’ll start today with a little background and then pick up the beat going forward so keep an eye out for forthcoming coverage.

Feibush is a 30-year-old Temple Grad who has been buying land and building homes and businesses in Point Breeze for nearly 10 years — you may have been to one of his OCF Coffee Shops. He’s a political novice, the focus of fawning magazine profiles, and he’s willing to bring his bulging bank account to bear in a big way – he’s already invested enough of his own money to double the fundraising limits for all 2nd District candidates, allowing direct donations of up $23,000 from PACs. But wading into a city council race with a wad of cash is a risky endeavor.
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BEING THERE: Sleater-Kinney @ Union Transfer

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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Photo by PETE TROSHAK

Last nght, Sleater-Kinney — not seen in these parts since July 31st, 2006 — staged a triumphant return to Philadelphia with a way-sold out show at Union Transfer in support of their wonderful new album, No Cities to Love. Minneapolis hip hop artist Lizzo jolted the crowd awake during a lengthy opening set, at one point throwing bags of cookies out in the crowd while performing her song “Batches and Cookies.” Sleater-Kinney hit the stage shortly after 10pm, opening with raucous renditions of “Price Tag” and “Fangless”, the two opening tracks off of No Cities to Love. Sleater-Kinney’s 90-minute set included new tracks such as “Surface Envy” and “A New Wave,” as well as deeper cuts from their discography like “Ironclad” and “Light Rail Coyote.” Throughout the evening, the crowd was undeniably vocal in their praise of the group’s performance, and even a slight tempo miscue during the poignant ‘Modern Girl’ didn’t phase the crowd’s brimming enthusiasm. Upon closing the show with a blistering version of fan favorite “Dig Me Out,” the band bid the rabid crowd farewell. – ALEX DELUCCIA

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COMMENTARY: Un-American Exceptionalism

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Shining_City_Upon_Hill-American-Exceptionalism

 

Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY Dear Kyle Smith: I just finished reading your recent mocking (or was it simply racist) article detailing the President’s and your, shall we say, “competing” concepts of American “exceptionalism.” Anyway, Kyle, let’s get going and see what we can do about “leveling the playing field” a bit by way of a little mockery from the “port” side of America’s great racialism divide, if you get my drift. For openers, I feel compelled to inform you that in addition to reading your article, I also boned up on your schooling, and right off the bat I’m very concerned about America’s educational “exceptionalism.” Just kidding. Well, not really. In any event, here we go.

So, Mr. Smith, I’m sure you’ve noticed just how “exceptional” America’s police forces are when it comes to terminating the mentally ill. What a relief the unburdening of their care must be for the families and government who’d been tasked with their safekeeping (whoops, my apologies, Kyle, I’d almost forgotten that your buddy Ronnie had pretty much wiped the government’s hands clean of all responsibility for them some thirty-five years ago). No other country’s servers and protectors do it better! American “exceptionalism”? Beyond a reasonable doubt!

And whilst I’m on the subject of “force,” there’s sure as hell no equivocating over our “exceptionalism” when it comes to initiating wars, right? Hell, with a track record that can boast the likes of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and, OMG, let us not forget, Grenada, “exceptionalism” should be the only term that comes to mind!

And I’d certainly be remiss if I were to march on without a howitzer salute to the “exceptional” method America’s political leadership continues to deploy in determining just who among us will be afforded the “exceptional” opportunity of living, dying or getting themselves severely maimed in all those “exceptionally” well initiated, well executed wars of ours. Maybe said powers-that-be long ago determined that perhaps all of that American “exceptionalism” wasn’t really all that “exceptional” after all, and so we would no longer require everyone’s participation in protecting it!
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WORTH REPEATING: Let Us Now Praise Tusk

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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NEW YORK TIMES: Everything about the album is ridiculous, from its length (20 songs, 72 minutes) to its sleeve art (a visual distillation of the precise moment at which the 1970s turned into the 1980s) to its title (the word “tusk,” among the band’s male members, was slang for the male member; when Stevie Nicks heard that this would be the album’s title, she threatened to quit the band). The hero (or villain) of “Tusk,” the organizing intelligence behind everything, was Lindsey Buckingham. He was less the band’s guitarist than a one-man band whose instruments happened to include all of his bandmates. Some of the songs were recorded in Buckingham’s home studio, where he had a setup that allowed him to play drums while sitting on the toilet. His obsessiveness during the recording alienated everyone. All of the non-Buckinghams sat around idly, inhaling hillocks of cocaine, losing track of time, while Buckingham futzed around with tape speeds and lay on the ground singing countless takes of backing vocals into a microphone taped to the floor. (He thought this would create a more “aggressive” sound.) Famously, the band rented Dodger Stadium and employed the 120-piece U.S.C. marching band to record the title track — an infectious riff that Buckingham distilled into a three-minute oddity so strange it seemed to actively sabotage any chance the song might have had to become a breakout hit. “Tusk” cost more than $1 million to make — the most expensive record ever, at the time — and took 13 months to record. The result was a double LP, almost twice as long as “Rumours,” that produced zero No. 1 hits. It was as uncommercial as an essentially commercial enterprise could ever make itself sound. This is the defiant heroism of “Tusk.” MORE

RELATED: The Making Of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk

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MUST SEE TV: Dad, It’s Just ISIS

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

SLATE: The [Fifty Shades Of Grey] actress put that faux-innocent persona to good use while hosting SNL this week, especially in a short, controversial sketch that saw her play the departing daughter of Taran Killam. The bit starts as a saccharine spoof of a Toyota Camry commercial, but it becomes clear that Johnson isn’t leaving for college, or the U.S. army, when a truck pulls up mounted with machine guns and a militant Kyle Mooney. But don’t worry! As Johnson notes, “it’s just ISIS.” MORE

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BEING THERE: Moosh & Twist @ The TLA

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

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Photo by DYLAN LONG

Hometown heroes DeQuincy Coleman McRae (Moosh, right) and Oliver Feighan (Twist, left) have gone from local rappers/Friends Select alums to globe-trotting recording artists who collaborate with the likes of Hoodie Allen. Friday night at the TLA kicked off with South-Philly up-and-comer Major Van Winkle and the Philly-bred live hip-hop act Ground Up, who recently sold out the Union Transfer with their vibrant-yet-dirty bars & heavy hitting drums. At half past 10, OCD: Moosh & Twist took the stage and unleashed their heavy and intricate bars, mixing in oldies — “Hold It Down,” “Take Me Back” and “All Alright” — with various new and as of yet unreleased anthems. This being at least the fifth time OCD has played the TLA, they’ve clearly learned how to work the room for maximum impact and Friday night they put on a ridiculously hype show. – DYLAN LONG

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RIP: Leonard Nimoy, Socratic Logician, Dead @ 83

Friday, February 27th, 2015

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Artwork by JADAMFOX

NEW YORK TIMES: Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper.”

Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge. Yet he also acknowledged ambivalence about being tethered to the character, expressing it most plainly in the titles of two autobiographies: “I Am Not Spock,” published in 1977, and “I Am Spock,” published in 1995. In the first, he wrote, “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”

“Star Trek,” which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, made Mr. Nimoy a star. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the franchise, called him “the conscience of ‘Star Trek’ ” — an often earnest, sometimes campy show that employed the distant future (as well as some primitive special effects by today’s standards) to take on social issues of the 1960s. His stardom would endure. Though the series was canceled after three seasons because of low ratings, a cultlike following — the conference-holding, costume-wearing Trekkies, or Trekkers (the designation Mr. Nimoy preferred) — coalesced soon after “Star Trek” went into syndication. MORE

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BEING THERE: Ariel Pink @ Union Transfer

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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Photo by MARY LYNN DOMGINUEZ

Tuesday night at Union Transfer, concertgoers in tacky plastic sunglasses and obnoxiously puffy fur coats awaited sunny pop salvation from their favorite wacky-rock idol. Though temperatures were below freezing outside, there was a hellish rise in temperature, glitter and lipstick graffiti when Ariel Pink and his ragtag five-piece band of sinners took the stage. You never quite know what you are going to get at an Ariel Pink concert. Typical sour antics at Ariel Pink concerts include: moody mid-show breakdowns, lost heads, and merciless 300-year sentences to the deepest, darkest dungeons doled out to naysayers of his music. But much to the relief of all on hand, Ariel wanted to play nice Tuesday night, signaling as much by reaching out to shake the hands of fans that idolize him, like a gentle giant in purple platform shoes. Specks of glitter flecked his face and reflected the stage lights, along with his long platinum-blonde hair, which was tied up in Troll Doll fashion. And he was smiling. Why was he smiling? Who died? His already strong aura of absurdity intensified. With that, Ariel Pink delivered a mammoth 18-song set chock full of playful psychedelic pop tunes that were just as crazy-cool as his get-up, serenading the audience with odes to the joys of Jell-O on white bread, strip clubs and black ballerinas as the audience bounced around like a bowl of spilled jellybeans on a trampoline. Fittingly, he closed the show with “Picture Me Gone,” and bidding us adieu he announced to the crowd that the next stop on his tour was the Mayo Clinic, where, as per usual, he will no doubt comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. – MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ

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