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INCOMING: Iron Man vs. Captain America

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015



WRONG REEL: So by now the majority of Marvel fanatics like myself around the world are embarrassing themselves weeping with joy over the first official trailer to Captain America: Civil War. I won’t even attempt to articulate the myriad ways I am reveling in the superhero carnage on display. I live for this shit and will be watching this on repeat for months. Seeing Cap, Bucky and Falcon teaming up, taking on the world, there are no words, just sheer joy at seeing my childhood heroes do what they do best. Newcomer Black Panther also looks totally badass. If you have never read the comics that inspired this movie event and want to read some of my suggestions for the background material on this epic tale, you can find my reading guide here. As always, make mine Marvel. MORE

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INCOMING: Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

You had us at Terrence Malick. Starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman. Looks like The Tree Of Life with tawdry sex, drugs, fear and loathing in Babylon.The official synopsis goes like this:

Rick is a slave to the Hollywood system. He is addicted to success but simultaneously Knight Of Cups pOSTER_despairs at the emptiness of his life. He is at home in a world of illusions but seeks real life. Like the tarot card of the title, Rick is easily bored and needs outside stimulation. But the Knight of Cups is also an artist, a romantic and an adventurer.

In Terrence Malick’s seventh film a gliding camera once again accompanies a tormented hero on his search for meaning. Once again a voiceover is laid over images which also seek their own authenticity. And once again Malick seems to put the world out of joint. His symphonic flow of images contrasts cold, functional architecture with the ageless beauty of nature. Rick’s internal monologue coalesces with the voices of the women who cross his path, women who represent different principles in life: while one lives in the real world, the other embodies beauty and sensuality. Which path will Rick choose? In the city of angels and the desert that surrounds it, will he find his own way?

In theaters March 4th.

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TEENAGE HEAD: The Definitive Q&A With Cyril Jordan Of The Legendary Flamin’ Groovies Pt. 2

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Groovies Grab copy


BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA More legend than band, the Flamin’ Groovies are the greatest rock n’ roll group you never heard of. It’s tempting to call them the Velvet Underground of power-pop, in that they are/were great and largely unheralded and do play what could be described as power-pop. They have also, in the course of a career spanning 1966 to, like, now, essayed any number of seminal forms: Pub rock, rockabilly, power pop, protopunk, blues rock. All styles that still give droopy graybeard rock snobs chubbies, which are increasingly harder to come by in this crazy, mixed up hippity hoppity dancey-pants age of Justin/Miley/Nikki/Arianna. Though they have released eight albums and innumerable EPs and singles between 1969 and 1993, it is primarily two songs that have writ them immortal in the pantheon of rock snobbery: a galloping, great Casear’s ghost of bluesy garage-punk snarl and Led Zep burlesque called “Teenage Head,” and a shimmering slice of power-pop nirvana called “Shake Some Action.” These songs are eternal.

Which is why I jumped at the chance to get Groovies singer/guitarist/songwriter and all around Moe-haired mainman Cyril Jordan on the phone. I was told by his publicist that it would not be easy. Jordan has zero interest in the modern miracles of post-millenial communication. He still gets wired the old fashioned way. He doesn’t have a cell phone or even an answering machine which even Bill Lord Of The Luddites Murray utilizes in the maintenance of his analog I-don’t-give-a-fuck career. But getting Jordan on the phone turned out to be no big whoop and not only was he a pussycat — unlike, say, Johnny fuckin’ Rotten — but he’s got AMAZING stories — turns out he’s the frickin’ Zelig of ’60s/70’s rock and/or roll.

In part one of this massive, 8,883-word Q&A we DISCUSSED: LSD; the Grateful Dead; Artie Shaw; the Black Panthers; how his father FGs1ed0187f5c1lost his billion dollar tapioca plantation fortune in the Dutch East Indies when they Japanese invaded in 1942 and pulverized him with their gun butts, throwing him in a POW camp and starving and torturing him to the verge of suicide; Jefferson Airplane; Bill Graham; running The Fillmore; the wrath of Imelda Marcos; Dylan comes alive at Newport ’65; seeing the Beatles final concert at Candlestick Park tripping his face off; Kim Fowley’s lysergic libido; rolling 10 joints and taking Led Zeppelin to Knott’s Berry Farm; doing blow with Ike Turner, plus a few other things.

In part two, we DISCUSSED: Getting their gear back from the Black Panthers without getting killed; opening for the Yardbirds; when Jimmy Page invented heavy metal; Chris Dreja; Clapton; Leo Fender; Paul Bigsby; The Three Stooges; Moe Howard; Barney’s Beanery; Joan Jett; moving to England and recording with Dave Edmunds; fucking Jim Morrison’s widow; why a Kim Fowley dance party is a little like a Cleveland Steamer; watching the Beach Boys rehearse the harmonies for “Surfer Girl” in the dressing of the Cow Palace in 1962; watching The Byrds sound check with “Turn, Turn, Turn” for an audience of five; watching the MC5 break up while staying at the Flaming Groovies house; how opening up for Ray Charles and doing blow with Ike Turner got them a record deal; and how at 67 he still gets his thrill up on Blueberry Hill. The action picks up where part one left off: Having taken over the lease for the Fillmore in San Francisco from Bill Graham, putting on shows and using it as a rehearsal space/bat cave, the Flamin’ Groovies were surprised to learn one day that the Black Panthers had taken over the lease, which, to their mind, included all the band’s gear.

PHAWKER: So why were the Black Panthers suddenly suddenly setting up shop at the Fillmore? Were they squatting?

CYRIL JORDAN: No, they had taken over the lease. Our manager had given up the lease and these were the guys who had taken it over and we weren’t told, you know?

PHAWKER: Right, I see. And did they let you take your gear out?

CYRIL JORDAN: Finally, yeah. We got our gear back.

PHAWKER: And what was your impression of the Black Panthers coming away from that?

CYRIL JORDAN: They were, well, you know this is the early days of that trip. They were all in black suits with white shirts and black ties and they were acting as if like they were some secret society. It was kind of scary, I mean you don’t want to mess with those guys.

PHAWKER: Right, and how does that lead to Roy Loney leaving the band?

CYRIL JORDAN: Well Roy got fed up, I mean by the third album we really weren’t getting any heavy record sales or anything. I think with the manager leaving and his good friend Tim Lynch leaving the band to do a year or two in jail, Roy had kind of lost interest. I remember telling Roy a couple of years ago when I had seen him at a show that he had no idea how gung ho me, Danny [Mihm] and George [Alexander] were at that point, we were more gung ho to keep going than we ever were before, so it was a quick switchover from Tim and Roy to Chris Wilson and James Farrell, I pulled both of those guys into the band. And then about a year later, I moved the band to England.

PHAWKER: Okay, pause there, before we talk about the second stage of the group, you said that you guys toured with the Yardbirds…

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah we did three shows in California on their last U.S. tour in late ‘67.

PHAWKER: Was Jimmy Page the only guitarist or was Clapton and/or Beck on board?

CYRIL JORDAN: Well at that time Chris Dreja, the lead guitarist, moved over to bass.


CYRIL JORDAN: So it was a one-guitar band, and that pretty much set Jimmy up for that format with Led Zeppelin. Because that’s not an easy thing to do, being the only guitar player in a band.


CYRIL JORDAN: You would either have to be Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page to have pulled that off, you know.

PHAWKER: So I envy you for numerous reasons but the least of which was that you got to see the Yardbirds live. What were they like? Did the records do them justice or was the live sound just way beyond even that?

CYRIL JORDAN: They were fantastic. There was a show with the Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck and Jimmy at the Fillmore in 1966. And that show was just unbelievably amazing. Because both Beck and Jimmy were lead guitarists and Chris was on rhythm and Paul Samwell-Smith was on bass. The Yardbirds was like a band that I thought were one of the most advanced electric guitar bands that ever came out. I think they pretty much invented heavy metal.Groovies poster

PHAWKER: Or hard rock, for sure.

CYRIL JORDAN: They invented hard rock definitely, but Jimmy took it to another level when they put Led Zeppelin together.

PHAWKER: They definitely pushed rock and roll from that sort of thin, trebly mid-60’s British invasion garage rock sound to the big blown-out heavy, bass-y, rumbling, roaring rock and roll sound of the late 60’s onward.

CYRIL JORDAN: England was at the forefront of the technical side of amplification and everything. You know when Jimi Hendrix plugged his Stratocaster, I remember reading in an interview with Leo Fender talking about how him and [Paul] Bigsby came up with the idea of the Stratocaster in the early 1950’s, they had no idea of the guitar’s potential because the amplifiers that were out back then were only 15 watts. So when Jimi Hendrix plugged into a 200 watt Marshall you know-

PHAWKER: It was a whole new ball game.

CYRIL JORDAN: And that’s when everyone found out ‘Oh man this guitar is outrageous.’

PHAWKER: Okay so moving forward, Flamin Groovies Mach II, you moved to the U.K. to work with Dave Edmunds…

CYRIL JORDAN: No, that happened in ‘72, about two months after the band had finally moved over. I flew over ahead of the band and set everything up, I was there for about 6-7 weeks before the rest of the band came over. And we set up interviews with Melody Maker and all the big papers and of course they asked me what I was doing here and I said ‘Well we’re going to record an album’ at Rockfield Studios and we’re going to have David Edmunds produce us and I didn’t find out from Edmunds until we cut Shake Some Action three years later in ‘75 that Edmunds hadn’t even been told by United Artists that this session was coming up. He had read about it in the Melody Maker. The day that we arrived at the studio.

PHAWKER: So what did Dave Edmunds bring to the band sound or bring to that recording that wasn’t already in place?

CYRIL JORDAN: He gave us a sound that we wanted because we were very impressed by the sounds that Rothfield Studios was coming up with. When Edmunds came out with “I Hear You Knocking” I remember thinking to myself “Boy this is an incredible sounding record. I wonder where it was recorded” And then I found out it was in a place in South Whales in England and to me this studio seemed to be the new Sun Studios. It had a sound of its own that could be attached to your band.

PHAWKER: Tell me about writing “Shake Some Action.”

CYRIL JORDAN: “Shake Some Action” was probably the only time I took three ideas and fused them into one. I was working on three different songs and Chris was just joining the band after he had joined about two weeks later he moved into my mom’s house with me and so we were working on songs every night and I showed him some of these ideas for these three songs and he said ‘That’s pretty cool’ But later that night or four in the morning I woke up and I started working on the three and I decided to do an arrangement where all three ideas were part of one song and when Chris woke up the next day I showed it to him and he got real jazzed. And that’s when we wrote “Shake Some Action.”

PHAWKER: We’re did the title come from?

CYRIL JORDAN: I watch a lot of TV and I was watching this war movie called None But The Brave with Clint Walker and I think Frank Sinatra and Tommy Sands. He’s a sergeant, and he comes up to Clint Walker and he goes, “I’m ready to shake some action, sir!” I got TIVO so I went back, because I couldn’t believe I had heard somebody say ‘shake some action.’ So apparently ‘shake some action’ must have been a military term that was used probably at boot camp. When I was writing “Shake” I remember asking Chris, I FlamingGroovies 6said to him, I said, “Can you say that? Can you say ‘shake some action’? Does that make sense?”

PHAWKER: Right, right. It kinda doesn’t but that’s all part of the charm of the phrase.

CYRIL JORDAN: Well I wanted the word shake in there. You know, “Shaking All Over” and “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and I thought ‘Shake is a cool word. We gotta have shake in the title.’ And the other thing is too, I was being influenced by Fleetwood Mac because they had Peter Green in the band and they had just come out with a song called “The Rattlesnake Shake.” That was in the key of A and that’s why “Shake Some Action” is in the key of A. So there’s a lot of connections, a lot of roads that brought me to that song, “Shake Some Action.”

PHAWKER: So jumping forward, the current line-up of the band is all the surviving original members, correct? And there’s a documentary in the works and a new album. Is that correct?

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah well it’s the three of us, the three forefront men, Chris, me and George and it’s been me and George pretty much since ‘65. And then we’ve got a great drummer named Victor Penalosa who was four years old when he first listened to the Groovies. So he knows every Groovies song. I mean we couldn’t do this without Victor because trying to teach all those drum parts to a new guy would just take forever, you know? When we’re working up new songs, Victor always goes, “No no, it goes like this.”

PHAWKER: And how old are you now?

CYRIL JORDAN: Well I just turned 67, so next year I’ll be 68.

PHAWKER: Were you ever, back in the day, one of those guys who said ‘Hope die before I get old’? Did you ever imagine yourself still doing this at 67?

CYRIL JORDAN: No, I had no idea. I remember the Stones used to laugh at the people saying ‘How long are you gonna do this?’ and they said, ‘Well we’re not gonna be doing this when we’re old guys.’ I don’t think any of us expected this to turn into what it did. The San Francisco music scene was a very incredible time, it was an incredible scene and it was very tribal. It was like the American Indians. All the rock bands were like tribes. They had a ton of people, they had girlfriends and friends and relatives that were attached to each band. The Grateful Dead is a great example of that phenomenon you know. It all dissipated pretty much, I think America pretty much turned its back on rock and roll in the late ‘60s. And it was England that still kept it going. I moved the band to England because we had hooked up with Ike Turner, Ike and Tina, we were opening for Ike and Tina every time they played California. We were approached by Ike and Gerhard Augustin, his manager, when we played the Whiskey, and they said they wanted us to open for them when they played California. We said that would be great. They were on the United Artists and that’s how we got signed to UA. That’s how bands got signed back in the old days. You’d open for someone like — we opened for Ray Charles in ‘69. Roy and I wrote “Headin’ For The Texas Border” for that show. We ripped off the lick that Ray has in “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” Years later when I was backstage with Ike one night doing drugs, I said to him, ‘Well how did you find out about us?’ and he said ‘Ray told me’ and I went ‘Ray? Ray who?’ he says ‘Ray Charles.’


CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah. So Ray Charles turned Ike on to us and then Ike got us connected with UA and then we moved the band to England. Because Gerhard Augustin had told me that if you wanted to get a Top 20 record in America back then, you had to sell 35,000 records a day for about 15 weeks. Right. Which seemed like an impossibility for a band like the Groovies without the kind of promo that the record companies gave us, so Gerhard said “You should move to England” and I said, “Why is that?” and he says, “Well if you want to get into the Top 20 in England, all you have to do is sell 17,000 records and boom, you’re in the Top 20.” So this is why I moved the band to England. It was becoming very difficult for- you know the MC5 moved over finally-

PHAWKER: I didn’t know that.

CYRIL JORDAN: The MC5 ctually broke up in our house in England.

PHAWKER: Really? You are like the Zelig of the late 60’s early 70’s rock.j-parber-mobygrape

CYRIL JORDAN: It’s crazy. My life is kind of an open book about that time, that rock scene. I mean I went on a blind date with Jim Morrison’s widow, Pamela.

PHAWKER: Pamela Courson?

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah. Two months after Jim had died. Pamela came back to the Bay area and she was saying that with Diane Gardener who worked for Grunt Records, the [Jefferson] Airplane’s label, and George was dating Diane, and they called me up one night and they said ‘You want to go on a blind date?’ and I said ‘Sure’ so we did that five weekends in a row and then one weekend, Diane and Pamela were kind of mumbling to each other about ‘should we tell him?’ George and I were going what are you talking about? So they told us, this is Pamela Morrison, Jim’s widow. And you know, Pamela was totally into joining Jim. Apparently they had made a pact that whoever died first the other would follow, and none of us could talk Pamela out of it. She was waiting for the money from Jim’s estate, which I think was gonna be about three and a half million. She was gonna give that to her mother and her sister and then she was gonna do a hotshot of heroin and join Jim, which is exactly what she fucking did. I was in England at the time that happened so, you know, when I think about it now it’s like how come we didn’t stop her? But there was a reverence. Everybody respected the fact that that’s the way she felt. Nobody could talk her out of it. But my life’s been crazy like that.

PHAWKER: Well hang on. To finish on the Jim Morrison thing, there’s a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories about how or why or even if he died. What’s your take on that? Did she say anything?

CYRIL JORDAN: Well she told me she had to stay in a hotel in France for the weekend because the coroner’s office didn’t open until Monday. So Jim was in the bathtub of her room on ice.

PHAWKER: They kept his body in her hotel room all weekend?


PHAWKER: Fucking France.

CYRIL JORDAN: It’s Europe. Europe is like…who can figure it out?

PHAWKER: So nobody was working on the weekend so any dead bodies, you keep them in your house till Monday, we’ll come get them, is that the deal?


PHAWKER: Crazy. Well anyways, so what was it, an accidental overdose, or his heart just gave out, or what do you think?

CYRIL JORDAN: It was like River Phoenix. He did too much.

PHAWKER: An accidental overdose.

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah, yeah. I don’t think it was on purpose. It was just, Jim Morrison, I saw him kicked out of the Whiskey, one night. He was on top of one of those little round tables. I don’t know how he got up on that thing but he was on all fours howling like a dog, Saturday night at the Whiskey. Mario, the owner, got real angry and had Jim just thrown out of there. That must have been about ‘69. So everybody knew that Jim did more drugs, he was doing heroin, he was doing acid, you know, everything.

PHAWKER: And taking a shit ton.

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah. Pills. You fucking name it. It was you know, not long for this world.

PHAWKER: I wanted to follow up on Kim Fowley because he’s a fascinating and very controversial figure. Tell me about how did you get involved with him”

CYRIL JORDAN: Well I met Kim at the big folk festival that weekend that the ‘teenage head’ thing happened. We became really really 70poster13good friends after that. You know Kim was a fantastic character. Every time I was with Kim we would laugh all night long. Everybody around us would either laugh with us or they would throw us out of the place we were in because we were making too much noise or something. But Fowley was fantastic. I remember one night at the Whiskey this big cocaine dealer came down to hang out with us and he had rolled up a hundred dollar bill and he was passing the coke around with this hundred dollar bill and Kim walks in and grabs the hundred dollar bill and he goes, “Oh, a hundred bucks. Let’s have a dance contest.” So we had a dance contest at the Whiskey and of course these two girls that were dancing with each other were the winners. Kim got them up on stage and said, ‘You’re the winners, what’s your name? What’s your name?’ And he rips the hundred dollar bill in half and gives half to one girl, and half to the other girl. Then the dealer’s just looking at us like ‘Hey, where’s my hundred bucks?’

PHAWKER: There was a big story published on the Huffington Post about Kim Fowley about six months ago that caused quite a splash. Did you read this or do you know about this?

CYRIL JORDAN: No, no no. I know that there’s been a movie done and there’s been a lot of kinda resurgence about it but I haven’t seen that yet.

PHAWKER: To say it’s not a very flattering picture of him is putting it mildly. He has long had a rep for being sleazy and exploitative, but the article makes the case that he was something closer to a predator with young girls and apparently raped one of the Runaways.

CYRIL JORDAN: Well I think one of the girls on this dance contest ended up being in the Runaways. All of that happened when we were in England. We had already moved over. We used to see Joan. Joan Jett was always around. She was 16 years old when she was wearing her black leather jacket and she was at every show. And every time I was with Jimmy, Joan was hanging around. It was like a real cool little scene in LA. My old friend Shelly that I grew up with, Michelle Meyers, she lived down the block from where I lived when I was a kid and she moved to LA when she got out of high school and immediately hooked up with the Beach Boys. That was our connection to the Beach Boys, was Michelle. And Michelle lived right across the street from Barney’s Beanery.

PHAWKER: I’ve been there.

CYRIL JORDAN: Famous place. I used to see Moe Howard all the time because Moe lived up the street on Santa Monica.

PHAWKER: I loved The Three Stooges.

CYRIL JORDAN: We’d see Moe Howard doing his little walk there.

PHAWKER: What connection did you have with the Beach Boys? I love the Beach Boys.

CYRIL JORDAN: The connection I had with the Beach Boys goes back to 62. I was backstage with them at the Cow Palace in ‘62 and I remember seeing Brian, Carl, and Dennis singing “Surfer Girl” a capella before going on stage and I couldn’t believe how perfect it was. It was unbelievable.

PHAWKER: Like a private audience with the pope.FillmorePoster

CYRIL JORDAN: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And [Beach Boys patriarch] Murry Wilson’s running around, pulling his glass eye out, scaring all the teenage girls. I didn’t know who he was. For a couple of years, I was wondering, “Who the fuck is this guy?” One day in ’65 he came up with a band that he was managing called The Sunrays. Had a great record called “I Live For The Sun.” Those guys are fantastic players, you know. And Dennis came up with his dad. And we were up in the Cow Palace at two in the afternoon listening to the sound checks and the Byrds came on and did “Turn! Turn! Turn!” which hadn’t come out yet. And Dennis, Shelly and I just were gaping at this performance of them doing “Turn! Turn! Turn!” I’ll never forget it. I think it was the greatest moment I can think of in rock.

PHAWKER: Wow, I envy you. I LOVE the Byrds. Last questions: Following up on the Ike Turner, what drug were you doing with Ike Turner backstage?


PHAWKER: What year was that?

CYRIL JORDAN: That would be like 1970. That was at a place on Sunset Strip called the Haunted House.

PHAWKER: Last question is do you still get the same thrill out of it? You’ve been doing this for a long time. You’re 67 now.

CYRIL JORDAN: It’s weird. It’s easier now then it was back then, I mean touring and traveling. You know, I get a big kick out of it because it’s completely unexpected. I didn’t expect to be doing this at this age. And it’s like, ‘Oh, we gotta go back on the road? Oh okay, far out!’ And we’re having a ball. The fans have been great. You know, it’s the fans who brought us back.



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

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Sam Phillips




Sam Phillips, founder of the label Sun Records, didn’t care much about making flawless recordings. Instead, the man who discovered Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison and a host of others rejected perfection in favor of spontaneity and individuality. “Sam would say, ‘I hate that word, perfection. It should be banned from the English language,'” music writer Peter Guralnick tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “He didn’t care about the mistakes; he cared about the feel.” In his new book, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, Guralnick chronicles Phillips’ work at Sun and his lasting impact on the music industry. Guralnick describes Phillips as “a visionary” who worked to introduce the African-American music of his day to a broader white audience: “His vision from the very beginning was that music, and specifically African-American music, could conquer all of the prejudice, all of the race prejudice, the class prejudice, the divisions, the categories into which music — like everything else in American life — was divided. “I think he’s as original and as strikingly individuated and as determinedly motivated an artist really as anybody I’ve ever written about,” Guralnick adds. MORE

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BEING THERE: Victor DeLorenzo & Rainn Wilson

Monday, November 23rd, 2015


NINETEEN THIRTEEN,  feat. Victor DeLorenzo & Janet Schiff warm up the crowd for Rainn Wilson’s reading from his new memoir “The Bassoon King” @ Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, November 12th 7:09 PM CST by KAY COLLINS

PREVIOUSLY: Q&A w/ Victor DeLorenzo, Singer, Actor, Songwriter, Drummer, Recovering Violent Femme

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NOTHING IS REAL, EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED: Howard Hunt & The JFK Assassination Conspiracy

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Illustration by PRINT MAFIA

The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt

He was the ultimate keeper of secrets, lurking in the shadows of American history. He toppled banana republics, planned the Bay of Pigs invasion and led the Watergate break-in. Now he would reveal what he’d always kept hidden: who killed JFK


EDITOR’S NOTE: Ordinarily we would tease a few paragraphs from the story and then send you to RS’s web site, but for reasons unclear this article is no longer there. Hence we have run it here in its entirety. It originally ran in the spring of 2007, but we are posting this today to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. We will leave it to the reader to assess the validity of the allegations herein.

Once, when the old spymaster thought he was dying, his eldest son came to visit him at his home in Miami. The scourges recently had been constant and terrible: lupus, pneumonia, cancers of the jaw and prostate, gangrene, the amputation of his left leg. It was like something was eating him up. Long past were his years of heroic service to the country. In the CIA, he’d helped mastermind the violent removal of a duly elected leftist president in Guatemala and assisted in subterfuges that led to the murder of Che Guevara.


But no longer could you see in him the suave, pipe-smoking, cocktail-party-loving clandestinehowardhuntcropped.jpg operative whose Cold War exploits he himself had, almost obsessively, turned into novels, one of which, East of Farewell, the New York Times once called “the best sea story” of World War II. Diminished too were the old bad memories, of the Bay of Pigs debacle that derailed his CIA career for good, of the Watergate Hotel fiasco, of his first wife’s death, of thirty-three months in U.S. prisons — of, in fact, a furious lifetime mainly of failure, disappointment and pain. But his firstborn son — he named him St. John; Saint, for short — was by his side now. And he still had a secret or two left to share before it was all over.They were in the living room, him in his wheelchair, watching Fox News at full volume, because his hearing had failed too. After a while, he had St. John wheel him into his bedroom and hoist him onto his bed. It smelled foul in there; he was incontinent; a few bottles of urine under the bed needed to be emptied; but he was beyond caring. He asked St. John to get him a diet root beer, a pad of paper and a pen.


Saint had come to Miami from Eureka, California, borrowing money to fly because he was broke. Though clean now, he had been a meth addict for twenty years, a meth dealer for ten of those years and a source of frustration and anger to his father for much of his life.There were a couple of days back in 1972, after the Watergate job, when the boy, then eighteen, had risen to the occasion. The two of them, father and son, had wiped fingerprints off a bunch of spy gear, and Saint had helped in other ways, too. But as a man, he had two felony convictions to his name, and they were for drugs. The old spymaster was a convicted felon too, of course. But that was different. He was E. Howard Hunt, a true American patriot, and he had earned his while serving his country. That the country repaid him with almost three years in prison was something he could never understand, if only because the orders that got him in such trouble came right from the top; as he once said, “I had always assumed, working for the CIA for so many years, that anything the White House wanted done was the law of the land.”


Years had gone by when he and St. John hardly spoke. But then St. John came to him wanting to know if he had any information about the assassination of President Kennedy. Despite almost universal skepticism, his father had always maintained that he didn’t. He swore to this during two government investigations. “I didn’t have anything to do with the assassination, didn’t know anything about it,” he said during one of them. “I did my time for Watergate. I shouldn’t have to do additional time and suffer additional losses for something I had nothing to do with.” But now, in August 2003, propped up in his sickbed, paper on his lap, pen in hand and son sitting next to him, he began to write down the names of men who had indeed participated in a plot to kill the president. He had lied during those two federal investigations. He knew something after all. He told St. John about his own involvement, too. It was explosive stuff, with the potential to reconfigure the JFK-assassination-theory landscape. And then he got better and went on to live for four more years.


nixonbug.gifThey sure don’t make White House bad guys the way they used to. Today you’ve got flabby-faced half-men like Karl Rove, with weakling names like “Scooter” Libby, blandly hacking their way through the constraints of the U.S. Constitution, while back then, in addition to Hunt, you had out-and-out thugs like G. Gordon Liddy, his Watergate co-conspirator and Nixon’s dirty-tricks chief, who would hold his own hand over an open flame to prove what a real tough guy he was. It all seems a little nutty now, but in 1972 it was serious business. These guys meant to take the powers of the presidency and run amok. Hunt, an ex-CIA man who loved operating in the shadows and joined Nixon’s Special Investigations Unit (a.k.a. “the Plumbers”) as a $100-a-day consultant in 1971, specialized in political sabotage. Among his first assignments: forging cables linking the Kennedy administration to the assassination of South Vietnam’s president.


After that, he began sniffing around Ted Kennedy’s dirty laundry, to see what he could dig up there. Being a former CIA man, he had no problem contemplating the use of firebombs and once thought about slathering LSD on the steering wheel of an unfriendly newspaperman’s car, hoping it would leach into his skin and cause a fatal accident. But of all his various plots and subterfuges, in the end, only one of them mattered: the failed burglary at the Watergate Hotel, in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1972.The way it happened, Hunt enlisted some Cuban pals from his old Bay of Pigs days to fly up from Miami and bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters, which was located inside the Watergate. Also on the team were a couple of shady ex-government operators named James McCord and Frank Sturgis.


The first attempt ended when the outfit’s lock picker realized he’d brought the wrong tools. The next time, however, with Hunt stationed in a Howard Johnson’s hotel room across the way, communicatinghowardhunt22.jpg with the burglars by walkie-talkie, the team gained entry into the office. Unfortunately, on the way into the building, they’d taped open an exit door to allow their escape, and when a night watchman found it, he called the cops. The burglars were arrested on the spot. One of them had E. Howard’s phone number, at the White House, no less, in his address book. Following this lead, police arrested Hunt and charged him with burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping. Abandoned by his bosses at the White House, he soon began trying to extort money from them to help pay his mounting bills, as well as those of his fellow burglars, the deal being that if the White House paid, all those arrested would plead guilty and maintain silence about the extent of the White House’s involvement.


That December, his wife, Dorothy, carrying $10,000 in $100 bills, was killed in a plane crash, foul play suspected but never proved. Two years later, impeachment imminent, Nixon resigned his presidency. And in 1973, E. Howard Hunt, the man who had unwittingly set all these events in motion, pleaded guilty and ultimately spent thirty-three months in prison. “I cannot escape feeling,” he said at the time, “that the country I have served for my entire life and which directed me to carry out the Watergate entry is punishing me for doing the very things it trained and directed me to do.”After his release, Hunt moved to Miami, where he remarried, had two more children and spent three decades living a quiet, unexceptional life, steadfastly refusing to talk about Watergate, much less the Kennedy assassination. His connection to the JFK assassination came about almost serendipitously, when in 1974 a researcher stumbled across a photo of three tramps standing in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. It was taken on November 22nd, 1963, the day of Kennedy’s shooting, and one of the tramps looked pretty much like E. Howard.


bayofpigs7.jpgIn early inquiries, official and otherwise, he always denied any involvement. In later years, he’d offer a curt “No comment.” And then, earlier this year, at the age of eighty-eight, he died — though not before writing an autobiography, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate & Beyond, published last month. Not surprisingly, those things he wrote down about JFK’s death and gave to his eldest son don’t make an appearance in the book, at least not in any definitive way. E. Howard had apparently decided to take them to the grave. But St. John still has the memo — “It has all this stuff in it,” he says, “the chain of command, names, people, places, dates. He wrote it out to me directly, in his own handwriting, starting with the initials ‘LBJ’ ” — and he’s decided it’s time his father’s last secrets finally see some light, for better or for worse.


WORTH REPEATING: Playing The Trump Card

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Lincoln Punk


“When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: ‘All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” — ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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CINEMA: The Fault Is In Our Stars

Friday, November 20th, 2015



THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (2015, directed by Billy Ray, 111 minutes, U.S.)

Buskirk AvatarBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC The Secret in Their Eyes, a new thriller opening today, comes to the screen with an impressive pedigree. A remake of the Academy Award-winning Argentinian film of the same name, it is helmed by director Billy Ray, coming off the Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips and co-starring two Oscar-winning actresses, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts. It is the type of noir-ish mystery that is a formulaic house of cards one would hope Hollywood could mount with some sort of efficiency. With Roberts and Kidman, two true movies stars now solidly middle-aged, cast in the leads I thought for sure we’d find some punchy sordid melodrama, like the vehicles made for Joan Crawford or Bette Davis in the 1950s when they were no longer fresh-faced starlets. Instead, too classy and timid to shock, too slack for Oscar bait, The Secret of Their Eyes is like an over-budgeted two-part episode of CSI, scaling down its star power to the size of crappy network television.

And although Roberts & Kidman are featured as co-stars, the film really belongs of Chiwetel Ejiofor of 12 Years a Slave. He plays Ray, who goes from being an FBI agent to a stadium security chief over the twisty, flashback-ridden course of a story, which gives us two events unfolding for our characters over two time frames. We begin with Ray in the present, wanting to re-open the murder case of the young daughter (Zoe Graham of Boyhood) of his co-worker Jess. (Julia Robert in a dress-down role) Then we flashback 13 years (an office worker yelling, “Hey, the fax machine is down!” helps to send us back to that halcyon era) to the post 9/11-period, when Ray, Jess and the comely Claire (Kidman) first discover the murder. In trying to question a FBI snitch, the trio meet resistance from within the FBI.

Why was the main suspect being protected? Will Ray and ladies be able to track the killer down in modern L.A.? Yes, yes; everything you think is going to happen will happen, just without a glimmer of imagination or reality to distinguish the proceedings. Ray’s direction, with its ominous droning score and the hand-held camera begins to resemble CSI so strongly it approaches parody. It is nice to see some modern flash in a big screen thriller, instead we’re seeing a story with visuals that look like a fifteen year old TV show.

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

Friday, November 20th, 2015





A man who needs no last name, Willie is to Country what Neil is to rock: the Buddha, bestowing laid-back grace on all those who bask in his benevolent THC-tinged glow. Born April 30, 1933, in Abbott, Texas, Nelson begins writing songs at age seven. After serving briefly in the Air Force during the Korean War and studying agriculture at Baylor University, Nelson moves through a series of luckless, low-paying career changes–disc jockey; door-to-door vacuum and encyclopedia salesman. By 1958, in dire financial straits and married with children, Nelson is forced to sell his songs for cheap (“Night Life,” later a hit for Ray Price, went for the princely sum of $150). By 1961, he’s inked a proper publishing deal, which results in Patsy Cline turning Nelson’s “Crazy” into a Country gold mine. In 1975, he releases Red Headed Stranger, pioneering the “Outlaw Country” movement–along with Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash–with stripped-down honky-tonkisms and the most soulful nasal twang since Hank the First. Red Headed Stranger is a landmark of American beauty. After all the highs (lending a helping hand to the American farmer and smoking a joint on the roof of the White House) and the lows (that duet with Julio Iglesias; the 16 million-dollar raft of shit from the IRS, and, as a result, his shilling for Taco Bell), he has become the embodiment of everything that is good and right about the American experience. – JONATHAN VALANIA

Originally broadcast on July 16, 1996 and May 25, 2006.

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TEENAGE HEAD: The Definitive Q&A with Cyril Jordan Of The Legendary Flamin’ Groovies Pt. 1

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Groovies Grab copy


BY JONATHAN VALANIA More legend than band, the Flamin’ Groovies are the greatest rock n’ roll group you never heard of. It’s tempting to call them the Velvet Underground of power-pop, in that they are/were great and largely unheralded and do play what could be described as power-pop. They have also, in the course of a career spanning 1966 to, like, now, essayed any number of seminal forms: Pub rock, rockabilly, power pop, protopunk, blues rock. All styles that still give droopy graybeard rock snobs chubbies, which are increasingly harder to come by in this crazy, mixed up hippity hoppity dancey-pants age of Justin/Miley/Nikki/Arianna. Though they have released eight albums and innumerable EPs and singles between 1969 and 1993, it is primarily two songs that have writ them immortal in the pantheon of rock snobbery: a galloping, great Caesar’s ghost of bluesy garage-punk snarl and Led Zep burlesque called “Teenage Head,” and a shimmering slice of power-pop nirvana called “Shake Some Action.” These songs are eternal.

Which is why I jumped at the chance to get Groovies singer/guitarist/songwriter and all around Moe-haired mainman Cyril Jordan on the phone. I was told by his publicist that it would not be easy. Jordan has zero interest in the modern miracles of post-millennial communication. He still gets wired the old fashioned way. He doesn’t have a cell phone or even an answering machine which even Bill Lord Of The Luddites Murray utilizes in the maintenance of his analog I-don’t-give-a-fuck career. But getting Jordan on the phone turned out to be no big whoop and not only was he a pussycat — unlike, say, Johnny fuckin’ Rotten — but he’s got AMAZING stories — turns out he’s the frickin’ Zelig of ’60s/70’s rock and/or roll.

In part one of this massive, 8,883-word Q&A we DISCUSSED: LSD; the Grateful Dead; Artie Shaw; the Black Panthers; how his father lost his billion dollar tapioca plantation fortune in the Dutch East Indies when they Japanese invaded in 1942 and pulverized him with their gun butts, throwing him in a POW camp and starving and torturing him to the verge of suicide; Jefferson Airplane; Bill Graham; running The Fillmore; the wrath of Imelda Marcos; Dylan comes alive at Newport ’65; seeing the Beatles final concert at Candlestick Park tripping his face off; Kim Fowley’s lysergic libido; rolling 10 joints and taking Led Zeppelin to Knott’s Berry Farm; doing blow with Ike Turner, plus a few other things. Oh yes, also, did I mention that the Flamin’ Groovies are playing Johnny Brenda’s tomorrow night? No? Well, they are. Enjoy.

PHAWKER: First of all, you have one of the coolest names in show business, Cyril Jordan. That just sounds like the ultimate soul-singer or jazz master name.

CYRIL JORDAN: [laughs] I’ve never gotten that one before.

PHAWKER: Oh no? And Cyril Jordan is your real name? Not a-

CYRIL JORDAN: No, that’s my real name.

PHAWKER: That’s awesome. So you came of age in the mid-60’s in San Francisco at the height of psychedelia, did you grow up there or did was just ‘right place right time’?

CYRIL JORDAN: I grew up here. I was, I guess that you could call me an anchor baby.

PHAWKER: From what country?

CYRIL JORDAN: Well my folks were Dutch colonists that lived in Indonesia. They were in concentration camps in the island of Surabaya in World War II, put there by the Japanese.

PHAWKER: Oh, wow.

CYRIL JORDAN: They tortured my dad.

PHAWKER: Holy cow!

CYRIL JORDAN: He was a writer for the Marines. He was in for about two years and the thing that was really tragic was that my father’s family had gotten there around 1850 and had discovered the Tapioca Route and cornered the world market.

PHAWKER: What’s the Tapioca Route?

CYRIL JORDAN: It’s named for tapioca pudding.

PHAWKER: It’s like a flavor? Or some kind of-52h4_FlaminGrooviesCartoonWEB_1

CYRIL JORDAN: It’s some kind of flavoring, yeah, or pulp-

PHAWKER: So it grows naturally in the wild and they harvested it and sold it to the West?

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah, yeah. They were billionaires. I mean they owned railroads and everything, but the family lost everything to the Japs in WWII.


CYRIL JORDAN: So my folks went to Holland when they got out of the camps. Holland, and then they split from Europe to visit our friends in America. And I was born there so I was an automatic citizen.

PHAWKER: Right, there you go. Just to back up one second- the Japanese rounded up all foreign nationals who seemed unfriendly and put them in camps the same way we did in the United States to the American Japanese?

CYRIL JORDAN: No, no they came in like an invasion, you know. The funny thing is is when the Japs were pulled out, my father said that he was about ready to kill himself and then he saw a P-38 fly over the camp and he knew the British had landed so he had a feeling that maybe he should hang around because maybe the war would be over. And when the Japs were kicked out, there was a revolution in Indonesia and my mom and dad hid out in the basement of a mansion for I don’t know about five weeks or so. There were a lot of revolutions going on.

PHAWKER: Holy cow!

CYRIL JORDAN: Oh, yeah. All the Chinese farm workers got their hands cut off.

PHAWKER: Holy cow.

CYRIL JORDAN: And that was the first thing that happened. Their story is way heavier than mine.

PHAWKER: I’m sensing that, yeah. Wow.

CYRIL JORDAN: There are photos of my dad’s house, which was a plantation house in the middle of a jungle. It’s unbelievable it’s like something right out of you know-

PHAWKER: Apocalypse Now?

CYRIL JORDAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.tumblr_no7o6jMApL1qd1wuto1_1280

PHAWKER: Okay, so they come to the U.S., wind up in San Francisco. How did your parents come together?

CYRIL JORDAN: Well they knew each other in the 30’s and dad was always in love with mom, she was older. And he went and got her out of the camp. He took the coat off of a dead Communist, a big overcoat that had a Communist patch on it, and he talked his way into the women’s camp and got her out of there. And she was holding this young Dutch teenage girl whose head was cracked open from the rifle butt of a Jap soldier.

PHAWKER: Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

NEW YORK TIMES: The police stormed the northern Paris suburb of St.-Denis before dawn Wednesday morning in a raid aimed at capturing at least two fugitives suspected in the terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris on Friday. A woman who was holed up in the apartment activated a suicide vest at the beginning of the raid and has died, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. Three men who were in the apartment were “extracted” by police forces and have been arrested. Their identities are not known at this time.The prosecutor’s office said the target of the raids was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian militant suspected of organizing the attacks, but there was no confirmation of whether Mr. Abaaoud was in the apartment at the time of the raid. MORE

Police say a police dog was killed in the siege of an apartment where some of the Paris attackers are thought to be holed up. The National Police said in a tweet that a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois named Diesel, a SWAT team assault dog, was “killed by terrorists” during the raid in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. Police say two suspects have died in the ongoing assault, one of them a female suicide bomber. Seven people have been arrested in the apartment building. Several police officers were slightly injured. MORE


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ARCHIVE: The 1976 David Bowie Playboy Interview

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

DAVID BOWIE_the-man-who-fell-to-earth-original

PLAYBOY: He was once a scruffy, honey-haired folk singer. Then an adamantly bisexual balladeer. Then a spacey, cropped-red-haired androgynous guitarist backed by a band called the Spiders from Mars. Then a soul singer. Then a movie actor … and finally, a smartly conservative, entertainer. David Bowie, it’s safe to say, would do anything to make it. And how that he has made it, he’ll do anything to stay there.

At 29, David Bowie is far more than another rock star. He is a self-designed media manipulator who knows neither tact nor intimidation. There is but one objective to his bizarrely eclectic rear-attention. Without it, he would surely wither and die. Before a crowd of paying customers, if possible.

In April 1975, Bowie splashily announced he had given up on rock. “I’ve rocked my roll,” is the way he put it. “It’s a boring dead end. There will be no more rock and roll records or tours from me. The last thing I want to be is some useless fucking rock singer.” That was the second time he’d made such a statement. He had first announced a rock retirement during his encore at a huge outdoor London concert in 1973, after which he went on to release “Diamond Dogs” and to book a three-month American tour.

This time, Bowie ate his words of farewell even more spectacularly. Last November, he arranged an interview by satellite from his Los Angeles home with England’s most popular talk-show host Russel Harty to explain that he had a new album of double-fisted rock and roll, Station To Station. What’s more, Bowie rambled on, he would soon embarking on a six-month worldwide concert blitz. The government of Spain, meanwhile, demanded emergency use of the satellite to tell the world that Generalissimo Franco had died, Bowie, always the bad boy, refused to give it up. MORE

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Anonymous Declares War On ISIS, Threatens Major Cyber Attacks; ISIS Calls Anonymous ‘Idiots’

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

NEWSWEEK: Anonymous’s two-minute video threatening ISIS has amassed more than five millions views since it launched on Saturday. “War is declared. Get prepared,” a masked figure warned the group in the video. “The French people are stronger than you and will come out of this atrocity even stronger,” the figure added. “Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down. You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go.” The hacker said that the infamous group will use its cyber skills to “unite humanity” and said that terrorists should “expect massive cyber attacks.” Anonymous has targeted ISIS for a number of months following the attacks on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and its hack of U.S. CENTCOM and Newsweek’s Twitter accounts. The group has uncovered the Twitter accounts of ISIS members and hacked a number of the group’s sites. The hacktivist group has dismantled at least 149 of ISIS’s affiliated websites, flagged approximately 101,000 Twitter accounts and nearly 6,000 propaganda videos, U.S. magazine Foreign Policy estimates. MORE

RELATED: The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) released a statement on Monday responding to Anonymous’s declaration of “total war,” calling the hacker group “idiots”  Anonymous_JUSTICE_IS_COMINGand offering guidance to pro-ISIS supporters to protect against cyber attacks. “The Anonymous hackers threatened in new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic State (idiots),” ISIS’s post read. “What they gonna hack…all they can do is hacking twitter accounts, emails etc…” The militant group then listed a series of steps that its supporters should follow online, including not opening suspicious links, changing their locations using workaround technology on their phones and computers, avoiding contact with unknown people on their phone and computers and to renaming their email addresses. The post says: “Do not talk to to people u don’t know on telegram and block them if u have to cause there are many glitches in telegram and they can hack you by it. Don’t talk to people on twitter DM cause they can hack u too. Do not make your email same as your username on twitter this mistake cost many Ansar (helpers) their accounts and the kuffar published their IP so be careful.” MORE

FOREIGN POLICY: For more than a year, a ragtag collection of casual volunteers, seasoned coders, and professional trolls has waged an online war against the Islamic State and its virtual supporters. Many in this anti-Islamic State army identify with the infamous hacking collective Anonymous. They are based around the world and hail from every walk of life. They have virtually nothing in common except a passion for computers and a feeling that, with its torrent of viral-engineered propaganda and concerted online recruiting, the Islamic State has trespassed in their domain. The hacktivists have vowed to fight back. The effort has ebbed and flowed, but the past nine months have seen a significant increase in both the frequency and visibility of online attacks against the Islamic State. To date, hacktivists claim to have dismantled some 149 Islamic State-linked websites and flagged roughly 101,000 Twitter accounts and 5,900 propaganda videos. At the same time, this casual association of volunteers has morphed into a new sort of organization, postured to combat the Islamic State in both the Twitter “town square” and the bowels of the deep web. MORE

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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