Rodney Anonymous, of Dead Milkmen fame, joins the cast of Welcome to Anhedonia, the most punk rock puppet show ever created. Rodney made his first appearance as Mr. Good, proprietor of Mr. Good’s Clown Pound, and returns as the spokesperson for College University. Anonymous joins other puppet and humanoid cast members Scram, Artie and Jef, in their continuing adventures in a place only known as Anhedonia. The show is hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalike Jef Connectorkit, who lives in a kaleidoscopic world where puppets are probable and anything is possible. The son of a human mother and ruthless, monster/tycoon father, Jef doesn’t feel at home anywhere, including his own house where Scram, Artie and Harry, his unhinged monster roommates are usually about to burn it to the ground. Jef’s quiet inner struggles are often set aside to deal with his explosive outer struggles as he (sometimes literally) puts out fires in the wake of his friends’ antics. Torn between winning his monster father’s approval and forging his own human identity, Jef sometimes just settles for making it through the day alive. Check it out. More where that came from.
BY JONATHAN VALANIA Comedian Hannibal Buress has played a homeless man on 30 Rock who was NOT masturbating to Tina Fey, a second banana on The Eric Andre Show, and a nitrous huffing dentist/fuck buddy on Broad City. But no matter how glorious a career he goes on to have, he will forever be remembered as The Man Who Unmasked Bill Cosby, in the bit heard round the world, delivered, let us not forget, at the Trocadero (just a few hours after this interview first published on October 16th, 2014). Which confers on Philadelphia the dubious distinction of being the city that brought Bill Cosby into this world and the city that took him out. But let us not gloat and instead follow the unimpeachable example set by Buress who has had the good sense and classiness not to try and capitalize on the matter and has patently refused to discuss it since uttering those four giant-killing, lie-shattering, career-ending, history-changing words: Google Bill Cosby Rapist. Already he is showing signs of tiring of the association. But no good deed goes unpunished in this life, and among the many things lost in the Cosby furor — Fat Albert, I Spy, Cliff Huxtable, He Could Have Gone Anywhere, But He Chose Temple — is the fact that Hannibal Buress is a really fucking funny guy. See for yourself. He performs tonight at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington. DISCUSSED: Behind the scenes at 30 Rock, Louie, Broad City and The Eric Andre Show; Dave Chappelle; Bill Burr; Patrice O’Neal; and why he’s not afraid of grizzly bears.
PHAWKER:The Eric Andre Showis fucking hilarious and anarchic and, you know, reminds me of a low-rent Fernwood Tonight-style lampoon of late night talk shows. In the opening credits every week he totally trashes the set which is also fucking hilarious. You’re always the voice of reason of the show, the foil to his mad man. Tell me about making that show, is that all scripted or is some of that improvised?
HANNIBAL BURESS: Yeah, some situations are scripted but there’s definitely a lot of improv on the show and I mean sometimes we just sit for 20 minutes or something and then cut a minute or two out of that and use it. So there’s a lot of very cool improv.
PHAWKER: The episode where the grizzly bear was eating the set. I’m sure there was a trainer off-camera and I’m sure the bear must have been chained or something like that but tell me how that went down. How did you guys film that without getting eaten?
HANNIBAL BURESS: Well, in that episode I was actually acting ‘cause I wasn’t really scared of the bear, you know? So when I ran away from the bear right to the desk that was me acting scared. I really wasn’t and it took a few takes to really get into the character. The bear was cool to work with, very professional, showed up on time, nice to the crew, spoke to everybody. So it was cool to work with that bear, I learned a lot but I wasn’t scared at all.
PHAWKER: [laughs] I mean just to clarify for me, was the bear’s leg chained or something like that? How was it restrained?
When Ted Cruz announced his presidency, he said: “It’s time to reclaim the constitution.” The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin discusses the strict legal philosophy that has shaped Cruz’s political agenda. MORE
NEW YORKER: Ted Cruz’s ascendancy reflects the dilemma of the modern Republican Party, because his popularity within the Party is based largely on an act that was reviled in the broader national community. Last fall, Cruz’s strident opposition to Obamacare led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government. “It was not a productive enterprise,” John McCain told me. “We needed sixty-seven votes in the Senate to stop Obamacare, and we didn’t have it. It was a fool’s errand, and it hurt the Republican Party and it hurt my state. I think Ted has learned his lesson.” But Cruz has learned no such lesson. As he travels the country, he has hardened his positions, delighting the base of his party but moving farther from the positions of most Americans on most issues. He denies the existence of man-made climate change, opposes comprehensive immigration reform, rejects marriage equality, and, of course, demands the repeal of “every blessed word of Obamacare.” (Cruz gets his own health-care coverage from Goldman Sachs, where his wife is a vice-president.) MORE
NEW YORKER: If the election that followed Smith’s remarks, in 1964, and the career of Barry Goldwater indicate anything, it is that what are seen as constraints on Cruz’s rise—radical positions, unpopularity within his own party, near buffoonery—don’t always keep a candidate down, even at the highest levels. This leads to a third conclusion: that Ted Cruz might actually get on the national ticket. Like Cruz, Goldwater was extreme, and as he said, in one of his best-known speeches, he didn’t consider this a vice. His extremism was not simply of the small-government variety, although that is what those who venerate him tend to invoke. He mused about letting NATO commanders use atomic weapons on the battlefield according to their own judgement. In May, 1964, when the American presence in Vietnam was a fraction of what it would become, he was asked how he’d handle the problem of Vietnamese supply lines in the jungle, which were hard to see. There had been several suggestions, he said, that probably wouldn’t be pursued, “but defoliation of the forests by low-grade atomic weapons could well be done.” That was a few months before his party handed him the nomination. MORE
THINK PROGRESS: Newly-minted presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) admitted that he would grudgingly sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, just one day after announcing that he intends to repeal “every word of Obamacare” if elected president. Cruz framed the decision as one of inevitability. After all, a provision of the law requires members of Congress and some of their staff to purchase coverage through the law’s marketplace in DC and since his wife and current coverage provider is giving up her employer-sponsored plan to work on his presidential campaign, the family needed to enroll in a new policy. […] Cruz should consider the law more closely. The Affordable Care Act does not compel members of Congress to enroll in DC’s health care exchange; it simply cuts off the government contribution to their insurance plans if they buy their policies elsewhere. “The final rule extends a Government contribution towards health benefits plans for Members of Congress and designated congressional staff so long as the health benefits plans are purchased via the appropriate SHOP as determined by the Director,” a summary of the final rule says. “Nothing in the final rule or the law prevents a Member of Congress or designated congressional staff from declining a Government contribution for him or herself by choosing a different option for their health insurance coverage.” MORE
BUSINESS INSIDER: Donald Trump is keeping the birther movement alive and has taken aim at Canadian born Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz announced on Monday that he will run for president and Trump, who is also considering a presidential bid, wondered if the Texan was even eligible to become commander-in-chief. “It’s a hurdle, somebody could certainly look at it very seriously,” Trump told My Fox New York on Monday, about Cruz’s foreign birthplace. The senator was born in Alberta to an American mother and a Cuban born father. Cruz’s Canadian roots have caused some questions about his presidential bid, though many experts say they don’t affect his eligibility due to his mother’s citizenship. He was born in Canada. If you know and when we all studied our history lessons, you are supposed to be born in this country, so I just don’t know how the courts would rule on it. It’s an additional hurdle that he has,” Trump added, hinting that Cruz wouldn’t qualify as a “natural born citizen,” one of the constitutional requirements for a U.S. president. MORE
FORBES: There is no shortage of Cruz supporters who are prepared to argue that he is a natural born American, despite being born in Canada. Why? Because his mother was, unquestionably, an American citizen at the time of Cruz’s birth. But is being born to an American mother in a foreign land enough to meet the constitutional requirements to hold the office? The United States Constitution requires that a candidate for the office of the president be a “natural-born” citizen. While what constitutes a natural born citizen is not defined in the text of the Constitution and has never been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, we do know that there have been laws promulgated that defines the status of a child born outside of the United States to parents where either one or both are American citizens. MORE
WASHINGTON POST: For the few in the birther community, they see hypocrisy. Why are the media not denouncing those who question Cruz’s eligibility in the same way they have denounced the so-called “birthers” who continue to question Obama’s? The reason? Because about the only thing these two situations have in common is that they involve a birth certificate and a presidential candidate. Questions about Cruz’s eligibility have everything to do with interpretation of the law; the questions about Obama’s eligibility had everything to do with a dispute over the underlying facts — more specifically, conspiracy theories about whether the president was actually born in the United States, as he claimed, and whether he somehow forged a birth certificate that said he was born in Hawaii. In Cruz’s case, nobody is disputing the underlying facts of the case — that Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who was a United States citizen. As we wrote back in March (2013), that makes him a U.S. citizen himself, but it’s not 100 percent clear that that is the same thing as a “natural born citizen” — the requirement for becoming president. MORE
TECHDIRT: While Congress likes to pretend that Republicans are against net neutrality while Democrats are for it, the reality is that net neutrality is a non-partisan issue with voters of both parties overwhelmingly supporting net neutrality. Rather than recognize this fact, Cruz has decided to double down on it with a rambling and misguided opinion piece in the Washington Post that repeats the “Obamacare for the internet” line, and lumps in a variety of other tech issues in a confusing (and often self-contradictory) jumble. He warns against taxing internet access (good), but then joins in the total overreaction to the Commerce Department’s decision to officially relinquish its (barely existent) control over ICANN, falsely claiming that this will allow the Russians, Chinese and the Iranians to control the internet. This is not true. In fact, by giving up the Commerce Department’s link to ICANN, it helps cut off the path the Russians, Chinese and Iranians are trying to use to do an end run around ICANN, by giving more power to the ITU. In other words, Senator Cruz (once again) seems to not understand this policy issue at all, and is recommending a policy that is more likely to lead to the world he fears.
Then he gets back around to net neutrality, once again showing he doesn’t understand it:
In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It would put the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices.
Not a single part of that is accurate. Under the proposed plan, the government would not be in charge of determining any of those. Rather, it would make it so that no one (including the internet access providers) could block what types of products and services can be delivered. It takes a special kind of wrongness to look at a plan that is focused on making sure that no one can be blocked and argue that it means the government gets to pick what services can be delivered. MORE
THINK PROGRESS: Speaking to the Texas Tribune on Tuesday, Cruz said that contemporary “global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers.” “You know it used to be it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” he said.In Cruz’s opinion, when it comes to climate change, his denier position places him alongside 17th Century scientist Galileo Galilei, who was also considered to be denying the mainstream knowledge of his day. According to Cruz’s logic, he is taking the minority view that human-caused climate change is not happening, just as Galileo took the minority view that the scientific method should be trusted over the Catholic Church. Galileo, who helped perpetuate the notion that the Earth rotates around the sun, was eventually excommunicated from the Church for his views. In the centuries since he has come to be known as the “father of modern physics” and “the father of modern science.” […] As the website Skeptical Science points out, “the comparison is exactly backwards…Modern scientists follow the evidence-based scientific method that Galileo pioneered,” the website reads. “Skeptics who oppose scientific findings that threaten their world view are far closer to Galileo’s belief-based critics in the Catholic Church.” MORE
JD McPherson’s music video for “Let The Good Times Roll”premiered today at Rolling Stone. “Let The Good Times Roll” is the title track from McPherson’s highly acclaimed new album, which recently debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart (Rounder Records). In celebration of the release, McPherson returned to the “Late Show with David Letterman” to perform “Let The Good Times Roll.” The performance can be viewed HERE. Additionally, NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” featured McPherson on the program. Listen to the full interview HERE. On the heels of their sold-out European tour, McPherson and his longtime band—Jimmy Sutton (upright bass), Jason Smay (drums), Ray Jacildo (keys) and Doug Corcoran (saxophone, guitar, keys)—are currently in the midst of an extensive North American tour, including a series of dates supporting both Eric Church and Robert Plant on their respective tours. A complete listing of tour dates after the jump…
PREVIOUSLY: I have seen the future of the past, and his name is J.D. McPherson, a thirtysomething cuffed-denim Okie with lacquered hair, iron lungs and, goodness gracious, great balls of fire. Back in 2012, McPherson and his gifted retro-rock posse released Signs & Signifiers, a bracing collection of tailfin rockabilly, rawboned R&B and sultry moonstruck balladeering. It was hands-down the feel-good record of the year. He plays WXPN’s Sundown Music Series tonight at Haddon Lake Park in Camden with Deb Callahan, which is why we’re re-running this fun and informative Q&A we did with Mr. McPherson back in the day. We talked about the usual rockabilly guy stuff: pomade, semiotics, Larry Clark’s Tulsa, early 60s ska, Greg Ginn, Esquerita vs. Little Richard, the sexiest Buzzcocks album, the majesty of Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand, how a white man from 2012 can sing like a black man from 1957 and what is the greatest baby-making music ever made.
PHAWKER: Riddle me this, Batman, you sing like a black man from 1957 who’s got a maraca man named Jerome Green and a sister named The Duchess and yet you’re white, you’re alive right now, and you have a name that sounds like a chain of Irish pubs where the bartender’s dress like leprechauns and dispense green beer to steroidal date rapists and the girls who love them. Please explain.
JD MCPHERSON: I just I have a loud voice and I have Scotch-Irish ancestors and I’ve listened to so much black music that I suppose it’s rubbed off on me a little bit and my dad is a singer and he has soul. Maybe that’s where I get it. MORE
FYI, folks, we currently spend four times as much on our military as China, nine times as much as Russia, 10 times as much as Saudi Arabia, and 11 times as much as the United Kingdom. In fact, we spend more on our military than the next 12 nations COMBINED (it should be noted that at least 6 of those 12 are considered to be “strong” allies of the United States)! Why does this absurd overkill continue? Three reasons: 1) because we have a couple of political parties in this country that are consumed with further enriching an already disgustingly overindulgedmilitary-industrial complex, 2) the magnitude of mutual monetary reward that such overindulgence promotes and sustains enables an addiction even the priciest of rehabs can’t cure; and, 3) because we have a populace entirely too many of whom are either too lazy, too apathetic, too ignorant, too spoiled, and/or too unpatriotic to get up off their fat asses and at least make an effort to pretend that they care! (more…)
UPWORTHY: If the symptoms of planetary fever are shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels, hotter heat waves, stronger hurricanes, and shifting plant and animal ranges, it’s worth asking: Is that stuff really happening? Well, let’s take them on one at a time. MORE
This is an extraordinary piece of tape. The BBC interviews Utah state Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield) who sponsored the bill that reinstates the use of firing squads to execute death row prisoners, which was passed by the Utah legislature earlier this month and was just signed into law by the governor. The firing squad is Ray’s solution to the intentional shortage of lethal injection drugs — European pharmaceutical makers refuse to sell the drugs to anyone using them to execute prisoners — and he sounds positively giddy that the killing floors of the Utah penal system will soon run red again. Certain that there has never been an innocent man put to death in Utah, and that everyone on death row is a ‘monster,’ Ray can’t wait to fire up the firing squad. He assures the BBC interviewer that there will be no shortage of law enforcement personnel happy to empty the magazine of a Winchester into the twitching torso of a man tied to a chair with a hood over his head. There will be no need for random blanks to assuage their conscience. They will all sleep like babies. He’s like the angel of death disguised as William Macy in Fargo. You gotta hear this.
RELATED: On Friday, the Utah Supreme Court decided to uphold a district court ruling that found Debra Brown “factually innocent” of murder. This decision makes Brown’s exoneration official, in spite of the Utah Attorney General’s appeal in 2011, and it means that she will not serve any more time in prison. The Deseret News reports: “We affirm the post-conviction court,” Chief Justice Matthew Durrant wrote. “We hold that a post-conviction determination of factual innocence can be based on both newly discovered evidence and previously available evidence.” Debra Brown spent 17 years in prison for the 1993 murder of her boss and family friend, Lael Brown, who she discovered dead in his home from three gunshot wounds. MORE
INNOCENCE PROJECT: A report released today by the Innocence Project shows that of the more than 240 people exonerated through DNA testing nationwide, 40% have not received any form of assistance after their release. Among those who have been compensated under state laws, the vast majority received very small amounts of money and no social services, the report finds. While exonerees are stripped of their property, jobs, freedom and reputation, only 10 states include provisions for services within their compensation laws. The report comes as a staggering 23 states in the nation do not offer any compensation to the exonerated. Exonerated people who live in one of the 27 states that have a compensation law may file for state compensation, but the average length of time exonerees wait to receive funds is almost three full years. MORE
BY CHARLIE C. If you looked at this picture here and was asked to guess what time of year it took place in, even if you had five guesses (there are only four seasons), I’m sure you wouldn’t get what it is. It was taken out my back door on Friday, the first day of Spring (ironic, right?). I am completely sick of the winter, and I think everyone is at this point. But, this memorable day was way more sad, ironic maybe, than what I expected, because we all know that the normal expectation of a Spring day would be taking place in a beautiful meadow, with a deep blue sky, a sweet smell in the air, flowers littering the ground, and finally being able to wear a slightly lighter jacket. But, no.
The first day of Spring for us was dark, depressing, and snowy. Our expectation of what the day would be really set ourselves up for a lot of disappointment. I mean, we have every right to expect that the first day of Spring would be a wonderful and gorgeous day. We did suffer through those five long and cold months, we deserve a break. But, Winter decided to kill off the mood and hit us just on more time.
During the winter, every other moment I’m not sleeping I’m just hoping inside that it will snow. But not this time. I practically cried when I saw that it began to snow on Friday. Haven’t we had enough? Wasn’t there enough pain involved with Winter coming in the first place? There is a time and a place for snow, and the first day of spring isn’t one of them. Maybe I’d reconsider, when I’m dead, but for now, I’m really annoyed. Of course, the meteorologists did give us a heads up about it, but this was the first day of spring we were talking about, so I didn’t listen to what the heck Glenn Hurricane Schwartz had to blab about that day. I should’ve listened, because like I said before, I really set myself up for a lot of disappointment then.
I can see myself now just watching that snow fall down, and knowing that there was a time when I would want that. Watching the snow fall down through the window, and realizing how much I HATED EVERYTHING AT THAT MOMENT! But even though it really was bleak, cold, depressing, miserable, awful, beastly, dreadful, terrible, horrible, bad, very bad, nasty, lousy, and shameful day, we still can’t give up hope that winter will go away soon, because we all know that it will soon be over. It’s not the end yet. Spring is coming, and it will be here soon enough.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Like any normal 10 year old kid from Haddon Heights, he goes to school, loves his dog, likes Minecraft and leaves a mess wherever he goes. He also writes better than most adults and insight into the human psyche the precocity of which borders on the paranormal. If this kid can keep his head on straight, he is going places. You can check out his blog THE UNIVERSE ACCORDING TO CHARLIE.
Michael Gira is rock n’ roll’s last great tyrant, and his band Swans is the last outpost of rock n’ roll Stalinism. Many former members have been exiled to the vast Arctic wastes of the Gulags for the sins of disobedience, insubordination or just missing one of the many, many cues he dispenses onstage with a wink of the eye, a nod of the head or a shrug of the shoulders (take it to the bridge, repeat this chorus, go left at the next light, etc.). In fairness, some great literature came out of those Siberian banishments. Little known fact: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was Swans’ first bass player before he fell afoul of The Supreme Leader, which is why we have The Gulag Archipelago. Another little known fact: David Foster Wallace was Swans’ 36th or 37th bass player, but he had some innate issue with authority figures and that, kids, is how Infinite Jest got written. Google it.
(On a related note, I once read in theNew Yorker that Gulag inmates were so starved and literally worked-to-death that once a work crew of inmates was digging yet another ditch in the perma-frost of the Siberian tundra and came across a prehistoric pond frozen solid for, apparently, millions of years and embedded with remarkable specimens of Jurassic fish. Without telling the guards, they cracked open the ice with their picks and shovels and ate the dinosaur fishies. True story.)
Gira is also one of rock n’ roll’s last great sadists. Last night at Union Transfer, Swans’, as per usual, used numbing, hypnotic repetition and bludgeoning, bowel-shaking volume like twin truncheons to beat the audience into the bruised and bloodied bliss of a heavyweight prize fighter in the 67th round. As post-punk’s Miltonian Satan — the great Fallen Angel — Gira is older then Nosferatu. He’s outlasted five presidencies. He was around when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain, made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate. Stuck around St. Petersburg when he saw it was a time for a change, killed the czar and his ministers, while Anastasia screamed in vain. Rode a tank with a general’s rank when the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank.
Some might call Swans’ music dark and depressing but, really, it’s just what you did before Zoloft was invented. That or kill yourself. You have to remember the band was borne of damnation in a joyless, neo-Puritan age. Reagan was president, America was just getting its sex plague on, millions then-living would soon be dead and the answer to all questions was: Just Say No Wave. I prefer to think of The Swans’ music as the sound of those bare ruined choirs echoing around Barton Fink’s brain, giving voice to those silent, sacred eternities between every note. So let’s just call it even. You have your illusions and I have mine. – JONATHAN VALANIA
Beginning May 2nd, JOHN FOGERTY’s highly-anticipated world-wide “1969” tour will launch its U.S. dates with a special appearance, May 2nd, at the Beale Street Music Festival. Newly announced dates include Philadelphia at the Mann on Saturday, June 27th. Tickets will go on sale Friday, April 3rd at 10AM online at Manncenter.org. And, coming October 6, 2015, from Little, Brown and Company, is the long-anticipated memoir by JOHN FOGERTY, titled FORTUNATE SON: My Life, My Music. With JOHN FOGERTY writing hit after hit, Creedence Clearwater Revival burst on the music scene with an energy so bright, his songs outsold The Beatles in 1969. Then, just as quickly, that CCR fire burned out in a series of internal band struggles that left the music world without the influence of one of its brightest stars for over two decades. “I’m excited to share my story and my life with you,” said Fogerty. “You’re going to hear where it all started, my passion to become the best musician I could be. You’ll travel down some rough roads, but that road leads to something beautiful. My book won’t be sugar coated! It’s all in there.” Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of the most important and beloved bands in the history of Rock ‘n Roll, and the story that JOHN FOGERTY’s memoir tells will keep music lovers and avid readers captivated. FOGERTY wrote, sang, and produced the iconic classics “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and so many more. Now he reveals how he brought CCR to the top of the charts and how, one year later, CCR was falling apart. Their amazing talents and culturally-prophetic songs, however, have endured for decades despite the series of personal and legal issues. FORTUNATE SON takes readers from FOGERTY’s Northern California roots, through Creedence’s success, his retreat from music and public life, to FOGERTY’s hard-won revival as a solo artist who finally, through it all, found love.
BY CHRIS MCCARY Barney Frank grew up around a Jersey City truck stop, went to Harvard, and in 1981 became the first openly gay U.S. Congressmen. During his 30 year tenure in that absurd and corrupt institution Frank has been one of the loudest voices for liberal and progressive causes. In 2013, he retired from Congress and is currently working the lucrative speaker circuit. Frank will be reading from his just-published memoir FRANK: A Life In Politics From The Great Society To Same-Sex Marriage tonight at the Free Library. Last week we got the former Congressman on the phone to talk about scandal, Dodd-Frank, coming out in the ‘80s, the state of our un-democracy, the Tea Party, weed, dark money and darker politics, Occupy, Edward Snowden, the Patriot Act, the demise of the Fourth Amendment as we know it, the 2016 presidential race and more.
PHAWKER: What is the proudest moment of your congressional career? And, I guess conversely, what was the low point of it?
BARNEY FRANK: Well the low point was stupidly getting involved with a hustler in my vulnerable emotional state from trying to be confident and prominent. I felt terrible that I had damaged one of the causes I cared about the most. As for the highpoint, there were several, one was the passage of Dodd-Frank. Another was when Congress enacted the immigration bill of 1990 which repealed the anti-gay exclusion in American immigration law that had been there since 1900. I made that a personal crusade and I felt very good about getting rid of that one.
PHAWKER: Right, right, it was in 2010, what was it, 87 freshman Congressmen the Tea Party elected in 2010 in the mid-terms which seems like an unimaginable number.
BARNEY FRANK: When the right gets angry they vote, when the left gets angry they march. Voting beats marching.
PHAWKER: Don’t you think that campaigns should be publicly financed?
BARNEY FRANK: Yeah, I’ve always voted for that. The paradox is: the angrier people get at government the more they oppose public financing which would be one way to resolve the problems they’re angry at. It’s too easily characterized as, “Oh, these politicians want us to pay their campaign expenses,” instead of being a way to diminish the influence of outside groups. Because part of this problem begins with the Supreme Court because what this right-wing Supreme Court has said was that–it had always been the case that you could not simply restrict certain kinds of campaign activity but you could do that if you made that a condition for accepting public financing. But this Supreme Court, in one of their other terrible opinions, struck that out. So now you cannot have public financing that is conditioned on people accepting these other restrictions in effect. But yes, it would be much better if things were publicly financed, it would substantially enhance democracy and diminish the overall advantage that the right-wing has over the left with the contributions and it would specifically diminish the influence of particular vested interest groups.
PHAWKER: The 113th Congress has a median net worth of about $1 million this year, which I think is the first time in history that the majority of members are millionaires. How can a body comprised of millionaires really understand middle-class, working-class families, what they go through in daily life?
BARNEY FRANK: Well, I’ll tell you, I thought Ted Kennedy did a pretty good job of advocating middle class issues. I think that’s a somewhat unfair question. You know, there are a lot of very wealthy liberals. You know who’s very rich? Nancy Pelosi. There hasn’t been a stronger defender of the average citizen and the true public interest I have ever run into. (more…)
Last night, Meek Mill, one of the most opulent and admired self-made rappers to emerge from the 215, brought the roof down at Wells Fargo Center. To be fair, he had some help: namely the likes of French Montana, Rick Ross and P Diddy. From the second Mill’s rise-to-fame introductory video played across a massive LED backdrop, his intense presence and persona threw the sold-out arena into a trapped out frenzy. His massive Philadelphia fan base came out in full force, rapping along at the top of their lungs to every single track he played out. Banging 808’s and trap snares ricocheted off the walls at the Wells Fargo Center as Meek brought out guest after guest, each one hyper than the previous. Highlights included French Montana doing “Hot Ni**a (Remix),” Lil Durk doing “This Ain’t What You Want,” and Philly’s own Beanie Sigel running down a medley of his Roc-A-Fella classics. At the end of the night, after a long parade of high-profile cameos and endless chants for an encore, Meek made it clear he had nothing but love for the crowd of fans who built him up to who he is today, and the massive crew that accompanied him. – DYLAN LONG
Yesterday, Vice released a short film entitled Mr. Happy, directed by Collin Tilley and starring Chance The Rapper. Chance plays Victor, a depressed loner who comes across a website called MrHappy.com which provides an unusual service: you can hire a hitman to kill you. I’m a big fan of Chance since he became nationally known through his hit mixtape Acid Rap last summer, so naturally I was excited to see the film. Chance’s lyrics capture a type of angst, or insecurity that is so hard to encapsulate, so, after reading a quick blurb, it was clear this role was tailor-made for him. Mr. Happy would be the stage for Chance to showcase his abilities as an artist, one who can cultivate a particular mood or aesthetic and make it his own. He appears to have the qualities to make it as an actor as well as a musician, in the mold of a Tyrese Gibson or Mos Def.
The film follows a familiar plotline, the loner is alone, then he meets a girl, then he’s not so alone. However, there is the twist that Victor, Chance’s character, has hired someone via MrHappy.com, to kill him on February 14th. It had to be Valentine’s Day. Really? Of course, he experiences some serious buyer’s remorse, and wants to nullify his purchase, which, of course, is not very easy to do. I will refrain from spoiling the conclusion, but I will say it becomes excruciatingly obvious how things will unfold halfway through the film. Disappointment is the feeling you get when your team loses, or when you open the fridge and there’s no water in the Brita. It was not disappointment I felt after watching Mr. Happy — it was something else. Some middle ground between annoyance and scorn. Instead of resisting cliches, Mr. Happy wallows in them.
The film put all of its substantial weight on the shoulders of Chance, who clearly was expected to carry the entire piece. But his character came off as an anti-person and the awkwardness with which he conducted himself quickly became unbearable, he was impossible to sympathize or connect with at any level. It felt as if Tilley was trying to create a Mersault-like character in Victor, but, perhaps because of the confined time-frame, it fell flat. Chance had a few bright moments, but his character was written so strictly that it stifled any personality that Chance tried to infuse into the role. Mr. Happy embodies everything that is unpalatable about short films. Oblique, half-formed meanings pervaded, cardboard characters were smoke screened with trendy editing techniques. It attempts to say more by saying less, but ultimately says nothing at all. You can see for yourself below. — COLE NOWLIN
Check out Ticket Liquidator's Live Toast blog, it's one of the coolest company blogs out there. Not just your usual candy-coated array of dead-end zzzzzzzzz inducing rubbish, Live Toast brings you all the funniest and wackiest original content that you won't see anywhere else on the web. Plus, Ticket Liquidator's team will bring you lots of other articles on concerts, sports and music, including news on ticket prices, plus articles about cool music from firsthand perspectives. All in all Ticket Liquidator is evolving, into a new kind of ticket company. And leaving the rest behind...