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ART OF THE DEAL Ghostwriter Says The Book Is A Scam, Trump Is A Fraud & A Sociopath Who, If Elected POTUS, Will Be The End Of Civilization

Monday, July 18th, 2016

donald_trump_joker_ copy


THE NEW YORKER: In his journal, Schwartz wrote, “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.” Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, “I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.” The first line of the book is an example. “I don’t do it for the money,” Trump declares. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. “Of course he’s in it for the money,” he said. “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that ‘I’m richer than you.’ ” As for the idea that making deals is a form of poetry, Schwartz says, “He was incapable of saying something like that—it wouldn’t even be in his vocabulary.” He saw Trump as driven not by a pure love of dealmaking but by an insatiable hunger for “money, praise, and celebrity.” Often, after spending the day with Trump, and watching him pile one hugely expensive project atop the next, like a circus performer spinning plates, Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, “He’s a living black hole!”

According to Barrett, among the most misleading aspects of “The Art of the Deal” was the idea that Trump trump_the_art_of_the_deal_covermade it largely on his own, with only minimal help from his father, Fred. Barrett, in his book, notes that Trump once declared, “The working man likes me because he knows I didn’t inherit what I’ve built,” and that in “The Art of the Deal” he derides wealthy heirs as members of “the Lucky Sperm Club.”

Trump’s self-portrayal as a Horatio Alger figure has buttressed his populist appeal in 2016. But his origins were hardly humble. Fred’s fortune, based on his ownership of middle-income properties, wasn’t glamorous, but it was sizable: in 2003, a few years after Fred died, Trump and his siblings reportedly sold some of their father’s real-estate holdings for half a billion dollars. In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump cites his father as “the most important influence on me,” but in his telling his father’s main legacy was teaching him the importance of “toughness.” Beyond that, Schwartz says, Trump “barely talked about his father—he didn’t want his success to be seen as having anything to do with him.” But when Barrett investigated he found that Trump’s father was instrumental in his son’s rise, financially and politically. In the book, Trump says that “my energy and my enthusiasm” explain how, as a twenty-nine-year-old with few accomplishments, he acquired the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Barrett reports, however, that Trump’s father had to co-sign the many contracts that the deal required. He also lent Trump seven and a half million dollars to get started as a casino owner in Atlantic City; at one point, when Trump couldn’t meet payments on other loans, his father tried to tide him over by sending a lawyer to buy some three million dollars’ worth of gambling chips. Barrett told me, “Donald did make some smart moves himself, particularly in assembling the site for the Trump Tower. That was a stroke of genius.” Nonetheless, he said, “The notion that he’s a self-made man is a joke. But I guess they couldn’t call the book ‘The Art of My Father’s Deals.’ ”

The other key myth perpetuated by “The Art of the Deal” was that Trump’s intuitions about business were almost flawless. “The book helped fuel the notion that he couldn’t fail,” Barrett said. But, unbeknown to Schwartz and the public, by late 1987, when the book came out, Trump was heading toward what Barrett calls “simultaneous personal and professional self-destruction.” O’Brien agrees that during the next several years Trump’s life unravelled. The divorce from Ivana reportedly cost him twenty-five million dollars. Meanwhile, he was in the midst of what O’Brien calls “a crazy shopping spree that resulted in unmanageable debt.” He was buying the Plaza Hotel and also planning to erect “the tallest building in the world,” on the former rail yards that he had bought on the West Side. In 1987, the city denied him permission to construct such a tall skyscraper, but in “The Art of the Deal” he brushed off this failure with a one-liner: “I can afford to wait.” O’Brien says, “The reality is that he couldn’t afford to wait. He was telling the media that the carrying costs were three million dollars, when in fact they were more like twenty million.” Trump was also building a third casino in Atlantic City, the Taj, which he promised would be “the biggest casino in history.” He bought the Eastern Air Lines shuttle that operated out of New York, Boston, and Washington, rechristening it the Trump Shuttle, and acquired a giant yacht, the Trump Princess. “He was on a total run of complete and utter self-absorption,” Barrett says, adding, “It’s kind of like now.”

Schwartz said that when he was writing the book “the greatest percentage of Trump’s assets was in casinos, and he made it sound like each casino was more successful than the last. But every one of them was failing.” He went on, “I think he was just spinning. I don’t think he could have believed it at the time. He was losing millions of dollars a day. He had to have been terrified.” MORE

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Friday, July 15th, 2016



BY CHRIS MCCARRY In 1998, I was an awkward, oft-ridiculed thirteen-year-old lacking many of the things that lead to a successful adolescence: friends, girls, sports, dads. But Guns N’ Roses changed all that for me, as they did for so many in the last 30 years. The first time I watched Axl Rose get off that bus in the video for “Welcome To The Jungle,” I felt we were brothers, like the two of us were doing the same thing: stepping purposefully into the unknown after wandering unfulfilled for years.

There’s always been something that set GNR apart from everyone else. For me, it was the volatility. Go back and watch the Ritz show in 1988 – the way Axl is all over the place, Slash and Duff McKagan are drugged out of their minds – there was never any chance it could have lasted. That inherent frenzy tapped into a certain turmoil in my own life. As a kid, it wasn’t so easy to be social, or easy to be cool. I had no idea where to go, what to chase, or even how to chase it. Over the course of that “Jungle” video, Los Angeles eats up innocent William Bailey and spits back out Axl Rose. But it also lit a fire inside that awkward, confused prepubescent stooge hopelessly hoping for something to come along and show him which direction to walk.

That band turned me into a cigarette-smoking, guitar-playing badass (albeit of the law-abiding variety). I wore many backwards trucker hats over many, many bandanas, I bought a shitty Les Paul ripoff, and I started a band. In a handful of years, Guns N’ Roses had taken me from the back of the classroom at St. Dominic’s grade school to the stage of the legendary North Star Bar.

But while I strongly identified with that straw-haired hayseed fresh off the bus from Lafayette, Indiana, as a dorky 13-year-old, as we both got older we grew apart. For the majority of my adulthood I could not have felt more disconnected from W. Axl Rose. The last 20 years of the Guns N’ Roses tragicomedy is familiar to most. Egomaniacal front man terrorizes fans and bandmates with erratic and manipulative behavior. In less than ten years, after three brilliant albums, dozens of cancelled shows and more than a couple of riots (one of which occurred here in Philly), the biggest band in the world implodes and Axl Rose spends the next 15 years on some crazed Ahab-esque quest to complete his white whale: Chinese Democracy. Only to eventually release a legitimately great record with that title that fell soundlessly into a yawning chasm of public disinterest. By then, the GNR fanbase had grown up and moved on, as did the world at large.

However, when I listen to GNR, I’m reminded of myself, or more precisely the self I was before I heard “Welcome to the Jungle,” or “14 Years.” So when I stood in that football stadium on Thursday night with 60-or-so-thousand other people while Axl Rose, Duff McKagan, and Slash played together for the first time in 20 years, it felt like home. When Axl asked, “Do you know where the fuck you are?” I thought about all the places I’ve been because of his music and decided a decade of cancelled shows, riots, and otherwise selfish psychotic behavior will never change that.

CINEMA: Consider The Lobster

Friday, July 15th, 2016



VULTURE: The genius of The Lobster, the English-language debut of Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos — whose 2009 wonder Dogtooth was the first Greek movie since 1977 to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film — is that it does not make the assumption that fuels every rom-com and love story known to man: that we can choose how we find love.

In the world of The Lobster, all single people are sent to a hotel for 45 days in order to find a mate. If they fail, they are turned into an animal of their choosing — “Which is why the world is filled with dogs,” a character says early on, one of many instances where you’ll laugh almost in spite of yourself. Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou use allegory to expose our own bizarre preconceptions and rituals of courtship.

Much of this odd little movie’s appeal is attributable to the cast, which includes John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, and Rachel Weisz, a series of acclaimed actors who play characters named Lisping Man, Limping Man, Loner Leader, and Short-Sighted Woman, respectively. The only actor whose character has a proper name — David, a hapless, recently dumped bachelor — is Colin Farrell. MORE

NEW YORKER: Timorous, paunchy, and pale, with a sad mustache and a pair of rimless lobster_ver2glasses, David (Colin Farrell) checks into a rural hotel. He expects to remain for forty-five days, and, like the other guests—all of whom, male and female, are unattached—he must use the time to procure a suitable mate. Anyone who flunks that task will suffer an unusual penalty. As the hotel manager (Olivia Colman) says to David, “The fact that you’ll turn into an animal if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here is not something that should upset you or get you down. Just think, as an animal you’ll have a second chance to find a companion.” She advises him that, if transfigured, he should limit his choice of sweetheart to the same species. “A wolf and a penguin could never live together, nor could a camel and a hippopotamus,” she says. After a moment, she adds, “That would be absurd.” As if everything else she has mentioned is utterly normal.

Only a film with a tenacious grasp of absurdity would allow such talk, and “The Lobster,” the first English-language feature by the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, fits the bill. Tranquil in manner yet brisk in momentum, it lays out the foreground of the story without pausing to fill in the backdrop; clue by clue, we have to work it out for ourselves. The underlying tenet of society, we come to understand, is that people are forbidden to be single. Parts of the film are set in a city, where we see that principle in action. A woman on her own in a mall is stopped by security guards, who demand, politely but firmly, to know the whereabouts of her husband; she explains that he is away on a business trip. Another solo shopper is asked to produce his “certificate,” in order to prove that he has a spouse. […]

“The Lobster” is more than a satire on the dating game. It digs deeper, needling at the status of our most tender emotions. Even when David and his fellow-myopic are revealed to be kindred spirits, that kinship affords them little joy. Not once do they seem happy, and I fear that Lanthimos regards romantic bliss, like domestic harmony, as yet another illusion to be pricked. Hence the stern voice-over supplied by Weisz, sounding like a school principal. Hence, too, the soundtrack—mostly jagged snatches of string music by Beethoven, Shostakovich, Schnittke, and others, scraping away any patches of contentment. One image, of four loners walking down a country road, clad in suits, recalls the similar strollers who crop up in Buñuel’s “Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972), yet Lanthimos lacks the master’s blithe awareness that, in the matter of tone, the savage can cohabit with the suave. Although few films this year will make the kind of impression that “The Lobster” does, it remains grim fare, spiky and unconsoling, and, where there are laughs, they die at the back of the throat. To anyone planning to see this movie on a date: good luck. MORE

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SOUND & VISION: David Bowie’s $13 Million Art Collection To Be Exhibited In Los Angeles & New York & Hong Kong & Then Auctioned At Sotheby’s

Thursday, July 14th, 2016



THE GUARDIAN: The collection will be seen by the public for the first time when it is exhibited for 10 days by Sotheby’s, after highlights are sent on tour to Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong, before the three-day sale in November. Bowie’s interest in art went well beyond collecting the fashionable artists of his day. He painted and was fascinated by art and design throughout his career, taking a close interest in the visual presentation of his work, from his stage costumes and album covers to videos, including those made for his last singles and album months before his death.

He was invited to join the editorial board of the journal Modern Painters in 1998, and turned interviewer for them, recording meetings with artists including Jeff Koons, Hirst and Tracey Emin. He met Andy Warhol many times and played the artist in Julian Schnabel’s 1996 biopic of Basquiat. Bowie was also part of a famous art-world hoax, the celebration of the fabulous talent and tragic fate of the artist Nat Tate. He hosted a spectacular party at Koons’s Manhattan studio for the launch of a book on Tate – where many of the guests were too embarrassed to admit they had never heard of the artist, which was not surprising since he was a wholly fictional character, invented by Bowie’s friend the novelist William Boyd.

The three-day sale will feature paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculpture, including contemporary African pieces and Outsider art – works by those from outside the conventional arts world such as the “Gugging Group”, patients at the Gugging psychiatric clinic in Vienna which became renowned for the creativity of many treated there, and its therapeutic work with art. It will also include Air Power [pictured], a major graffiti painting by the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, which alone is estimated by Sotheby’s to be worth up to £3.5m. MORE

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BEING THERE: Macca @ Citizen’s Bank Park

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

McCartney 7-12-16-8


Rick Warren can suck it. If you want a congregation of people waiting to experience love and grace, Paul McCartney brings it like no other. When I was a kid, before I knew about drugs, I would listen to Best Of The Beatles on my Walkman CD player, and “Hello Goodbye” used to do it for me, let me tell you. At any rate, at a certain point, in college or whatever, it becomes clear that The Beatles are not cool, and Paul McCartney is the least cool Beatle. He’s the one who you would want to take home for tea and a chat with mum. He’s warm and sweet, easy to write off as banal and trite. George Harrison, I believe, is the current en vogue Beatle, mostly just because he’s the least cliche choice but people will try to give you better reasons.

At any rate, it was with this packet of prejudices I went to the Citizens Bank Park Tuesday afternoon — having found out just four hours before that I was going — to administer journalism at the event. I parked in some far-away lot, it was bright as hell outside. Paul was going on in half an hour, about, but some kids in Wilco hats with frisbees were only just getting there “jamkans” set up, which from what I could tell is a kind of collapsible tube you can drum on. Got my ticket at WILL CALL, noticed the line was about a mile long, decided I was a journalist and cut the the front. Someone was playing a cover of “Piano Man” in the bar patio nearby. 102.9 MGK was there. (I SAW RAY KOOB WITH MY OWN EYES!) It was a party scene, brother.

I couldn’t figure out how my ticket worked, I found a lady wearing a uniform and told her to tell me what to do, like the lost lamb I was. She smiled and told me to get a wristband and head out onto the field. Exciting news. I made my way down through the stands. I was in DD. Where? I got closer and closer to the stage, the feeling of unreality becoming increasingly pronounced. This was close. DD, as it turned out, is the center section closest to the stage. I found my seat. It was row eleven. Close enough to read the classic VOX logo on all the amps. Everyone around me seemed very well dressed. I thought of John Lennon’s infamous quip: “Will the people in the back clap please, everyone in the front you can just… rattle your jewelry.” I was in cutoff jean shorts and a t-shirt. The jean shorts had ice-cream stains on the crotch. A man came and sat next to me. It was senior-editor of Rolling Stone, David Fricke.

The next three hours were kind of a blur. I asked David Fricke if he was making any good observations. I was standing maybe 50 feet from a Beatle, at the center of the focus of 40,000 people. He played “Blackbird” as the stage beneath him rose up into the air. The thing about goodness is that it is fragile. Goodness is not cool, and viewed from the any perspective without vulnerability it is another word for ‘tepid.’ Paul McCartney’s music is good. It is goodness. Listening to it can allow you to feel like you are at home in places you have never been. There is nothing else really like that simple feeling of goodness. That’s the thing about cliches. They resonate with us because we’re human, the fact that they resonate means that we are human. David Fricke and Paul McCartney know just as well as the people up in the nosebleeds: Love, love, love. Love is all you need. – JAMES M. DAVIS

PREVIOUSLY: All You Need Is Paul: 10 Thoughts About McCartney @ The Wells Fargo Center On Sunday

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BEING THERE: Dylan @ The Academy Of Music

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Artist’s rendering

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally posted in November of 2014.

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

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

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


RELATED: Dan DeLuca’s Non-Fiction Concert Review Of Dylan @ The Academy Of Music

RELATED: How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love Bob Dylan

RELATED: The Night Bob Dylan Got The Beatles High On

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

RELATED: The Ballad Of Bob Dylan’s Bag Man

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BEING THERE: Bas @ The Foundry

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016



“Are you Derick?” “Nope, I’m Bob.” Bob was the fifth person I had asked if their name is Derick, who was the tour manager coming to give me photo credentials for the sold-out Bas show at The Foundry. I’d been waiting for a delightful hour and a half downstairs at this point, passing the time away with my +2 — neither of us were on the list for the show, despite publicist assurances to the contrary. I’ve come to expect at least one thing to go completely not as originally planned when covering shows, so I figured I might as well be grateful to have gotten it out of the way before I’m even got inside the venue.

After arriving at at the Fillmore/Foundry concert industrial complex at the ridiculously early hour of 8:15 PM, making some new friends while waiting around and having finally received tickets and a photo pass just shy of 10pm, I made my way upstairs to a packed and sweaty house of eager rap fans. Finishing up was Cozz, one of many Dreamville artists on the bill for the night. Dreamville is the brainchild of the highly successful rapper J. Cole, and the home of headliner Bas. It immediately became apparent that most of the crowd and VIP guests were either diehard Dreamville fans, or directly affiliated or some combination of the two. In addition to several Dreamville artists on the bill, one of their in-house producers, Ron Gilmore, served as house keyboard player for the night. As I settled into the photo pit off towards the side of the stage, I turned to my right to see Bas pass me from backstage, received by absolutely deafening screams from the packed room.

Bas is a monster, both physically and lyrically. His movement could be described as a speedy trudge, flying back and forth at the very front of the stage, dripping sweat onto any and all fans in his path. The dude’s gotta be at least 6’2 and north of 250, and when I say that this room was steamy, I mean it. He was dripping sweat everywhere within the first sixty seconds of his set as he laid down slews of tracks like “Penthouse,” “Fiji Water in my Iron” and “Mook in New Mexico” in just the first ten minutes. Although this was his “Too High To Riot” tour in support of the album bearing the same name, his set spanned his entire discography, even jumping over to a J. Cole song that Bas and one of his guests, Omen, are both featured on.

In addition to bringing up Omen and Cozz, a British neo-soul band called The Hics were brought up to perform a song with Bas. We soon learned that Bas first met them while tripping on acid in the U.K. The frontman Sam Paul Evans immediately hit it off with Bas after meeting, and the two soon began collaborating. After an almost hour long set filled with joyous fans reciting every single lyric Bas could muster, and Bas graciously commending Philly on their allegiance to the entire Dreamville team, he closed things out with back-to-back fan favorites, “Night Job” and “Lit.” By the end of this performance, having been surrounded by only a small fraction of the amount of support that Bas is receiving from all corners, I was left with no doubt in my mind that he is well on his way towards the tippy-top of the rap game and will stop at nothing to get there. – DYLAN LONG

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Journey To The Center Of Donald Trumps Brain

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016


This hasn’t come out yet, so keep it under your hat, but years ago Donald Trump had brain surgery and when the surgeon sawed off the top of his combover they found a funhouse mirror where his brain was supposed to be. The call is coming from inside the house!

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Inarguably The Most Digusting News Stories Of The Last 25 Years

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016



EDITOR’S NOTE: OK, admittedly it’s not a very original title, but it IS accurate. William C. Henry is better known to me as ‘Uncle Bill.’ He’s always been a man of strong opinions and a persuasive argument-maker, but I was a little surprised to learn — after re-connecting with him after a prolonged period of radio silence — that his current perspective so closely mirrors that of Phawker. Which is refreshing, to say the least, since most (white) people seem to turn into Fox News zombies when they get to be his age (early 70s, FYI). Not Uncle Bill. It is often said that Democrats — including our president — need to grow a spine. Well, Uncle Bill is spine incarnate. He’s not afraid to go full Shatner and rock the ALL CAPS. Although he does bleep out his own F-bombs, because he’s old school, and that’s how people used to curse back in the day. Be that as it may, I’ve invited him to weigh in from time to time, a la Lewis Black, on whatever is getting his goat at the moment. Without further ado, we bring you the latest installment of SHIT MY UNCLE SAYS.

Arguably (though not by much) the three most disgusting judicial news stories of the past 25 years:

–A Los Angeles jury finding the scumbag O. J. Simpson “not guilty” of barbarically butchering his wife Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.OJ Simpson

–A “diplomatically correct” America lacking the cojones to not take no for an answer in telling Argentina to extradite the fugitive pathological liar and cold-blooded murderer Kurt Sonnenfeld or he will be removed by force … and consequently doing so.

–The confirmation that at least four current members (often five) of the Supreme Court of the United States are entirely too stupid, too stuck in the 18th century, too inherently plutocratic, too brazenly indifferent or too all of the above to see American law as serving the fairest, best twenty-first century interests of the vast majority of the American people.

Arguably the three most disgusting political news stories of the past 25 years:

–A spiteful, racist Republican party throwing an entire nation under the bus for eight years in order to obstruct the beneficial policies of the nation’s first black President.

–The inability of the Republican party to come up with a single individual within its ranks with the brains, temperament, integrity and common decency to be a viable candidate for President of the United States.

–On June 20, 2016, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and his merry band of Republican moral degenerates once again displayed their fealty to the NRA by voting Thanks NRAdown (again) no fewer than four different proposals to regulate the sale of military-style high-capacity combat type weaponry. It was as though they were offering up a “21 middle-fingered salute” to the memory of the 49 innocent young men and women who had just been brutally shot to smithereens in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida (and the hundreds of other recent innocent victims on the dozens of other American killing grounds) by a psycho, never quite normal, radicalized Muslim — using just such a weapon — who had previously been investigated by the FBI on at least two occasions both of which were subsequently abandoned citing a lack of any evidence that he was likely capable of doing such a thing (apparently they felt confident in skipping over his completely off-the-charts childhood and adulthood).

Arguably (not really) the two most disgusting military news stories of the past 25 years:

–The dearth of news about ANY serious efforts by Congress and the Department of Defense to do ANYTHING about the unconscionably deliberate TRILLION$ in congressionally complicit waste, fraud, abuse and corruption iraqendemic in the defense budget of the United States.

–In late 2002 and early 2003 the acting American President, George “dubya” Bush, and the real American President, Dick Cheney, clearly outright lied their way into taking the nation to war with Iraq.FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED TWO brave young American men and women were butchered in the aftermath. Thousands upon thousands were seriously maimed. To this day Bush and Cheney are still smiling from the OUTSIDE of prison walls.

The most disgusting religious news (NOT arguable) of the past 25 years:

–Some thirty years ago reports began to circulate regarding extensive pedophilia within the priesthood of the Catholic church. EVIL PRIESTSubsequently those reports developed into one of the most despicable and far reaching sexual abuse exposés in history. For decades the Catholic church did its damnedest to lie about, cover up, obfuscate, and deny its existence. Bit by bit it became UNDENIABLY evident that the church had not only been aware of the scourge ALL ALONG but had, in fact, aided and abetted its continuance by legerdemainly transferring (multiple times in multiple cases) the pedophile priests and bishops to other dioceses around the country or secretly shuffling them off to retirement purgatory. The vast majority have never, nor will ever, be punished in any way whatsoever. 

The most disgusting business/economic news (NOT arguable) of the past 25 years:

–Eight years ago big bank and Wall Street investment executives perpetrated the greatest criminal fraud in the history of the nation. It lloyd-blankfein-ceo-of-goldman-sachsvery nearly brought about the collapse of America’s (and the world’s) entire financial system. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their life savings. American taxpayers were called upon to bail out the criminals to a net cost of some $66.1 BILLION (the government had deemed them “too big to fail”). Not a single one of the slimeballs has ever spent so much as a day behind bars. Today they are all richer,  just as duplicitous, and still as unregulated as ever.

The “not even close to arguable” two most disgusting social news stories of the past 25 years:

–United Nations reporting that 65 MILLION human beings were displaced by war and persecution in

–There are 10 countries in the world where homosexuality is punishable by death: Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan (that’s right, the very same country where TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO brave young American men and women made the ultimate sacrifice in order to “save” it), Somalia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Arguably (perhaps) the most disgusting foreign news of the past 25 years:

–To this day the United States continues to support Israel’s pogrom against the Palestinian people (contrary to the current administration’s overt frustration). Treated like Israel vs Palestineusurpers in THEIR OWN homeland, the Palestinian people languish in Israeli designated concentration camps such as the Gaza strip (around which the Israelis are currently digging a continuous tunnel to make sure the inmates can’t sneak out under ground) and portions of the West Bank. Under the protection of American financed weaponry Israel continues to illegally and inhumanely sanction, build and populate settlements on what little if any so-called Palestinian land remains. The Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, ignores all pleas domestic and foreign to seriously negotiate a “fair” (a term which apparently doesn’t translate into Yiddish) solution to this atrocious travesty.

Arguably (actually, no it’s not) the most disgusting environmental news of the past 25 years:

–Back in December of 1997 most of the intelligent countries of the world got together in Kyoto, Japan, to adopt what has come to be known as the Kyoto Protocol. It was perhaps the first really grand attempt to actually DO something Global Warmingabout human-caused climate destruction/global warming. Suffice to say it could have been one of the truly monumental environmental happenings ever … except for one thing. Guess who refused to ratify the treaty? Yep, the very guys responsible for generating the second greatest amount of pollutants on earth, the good old USA! Bill Clinton thought it was a pretty good idea so he signed it. But, then, shortly thereafter along came an empty ten gallon dunce hat by the name of Georgeyboy Bush (you remember him from before, right?). Claiming to know more about the whys and wherefores of climate change than 97% of the world’s foremost climate science experts, “dubya” nixed the deal completely.  So much for science … and intelligence.

POST SCRIPT: And suddenly I felt as if a teeny-tiny speck of kinship with Philip Roth had entered into my existence: “Very little truthfulness anywhere, antagonism everywhere, so much calculated to disgust, the gigantic hypocrisies, no holding fierce passions at bay, the ordinary viciousness you can see just by pressing the remote, explosive weapons in the hands of creeps, the gloomy tabulation of unspeakable violent events, the unceasing despoliation of the biosphere for profit, surveillance overkill that will come back to haunt us, great concentrations of wealth financing the most undemocratic malevolents around, science illiterates still fighting the Scopes trial 89 years on, economic inequities the size of the Ritz, indebtedness on everyone’s tail, families not knowing how bad things can get, money being squeezed out of every last thing — that frenzy — and (by no means new) government hardly by the people through representative democracy but rather by the great financial interests, the old American plutocracy worse than ever.”

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SIDEWALKING: When Murder Wears A Badge

Monday, July 11th, 2016


Under the Ben Franklin, Monday 1:47 pm by JONATHAN VALANIA

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BEING THERE: Steve Gunn @ Union Transfer

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Steve Gunn 2 by Josh Pelta Heller


PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Steve Gunn is a sandy-haired mop top with raccoon eyes who can play the guitar just like ringing a bell. Perched somewhere between Television’s Richard Lloyd and Jerry Garcia, Gunn is adept in the dark arts of arpeggio, clustered overtone and the kind of modal chording arabesques that make Western stoners feel like Sufi mystics for the space of an album side.

Straight out of Drexel Hill, Gunn established a beachhead in Brooklyn more than a decade ago, where he’s been releasing pleasantly complicated albums of effortless art rock since at least 2007. And with the celebrated release last month of Eyes on the Lines on the vaunted indie-rock label Matador, he’s having something of a moment.

Saturday night, Gunn was in town for a respectably attended homecoming show at Union Transfer. Backed by the Outliners, his crack three-piece band, Gunn motorvated through a baker’s dozen of jammy folk-rock nuggets with pristine elan and carefully modulated grace. MORE

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NATIVE GUNN: A Q&A With Matador Recording Artist Steve Gunn, Straight Outta Drexel Hill Yo

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Steve Gunn by Josh Pelta-Heller

BY JOSH PELTA-HELLER Recently, at a claustrophobic club that opened less than a year ago in the East Village underneath the decades-old 2A, Philly-native-turned-Brooklyn-indie-it-boy Steve Gunn and his band calibrated their instrument levels, getting ready to air out some cuts from their new record Eyes On The Lines. The album’s nine songs credit as many musicians, over twice the number of players they could have comfortably fit onto that stage with just enough room left over to turn back around with guitars in hand. But even as the band began to experiment with their volume, they were immediately leveraging the expansiveness conveyed by songs like album-opener “Ancient Jules” against the cramped space and low ceiling of the basement-level bar.

You might argue that highway ballads of travel and transition and journey-over-destination are nothing new, of course, and an American tradition of road warrior rock ‘n rollers from Woody to Wilco have always juxtaposed the relevant metaphors with meditations. All of that imagery in Gunn’s latest work is available: Eyes is the poetry of lines and paths, flights Steve-Gunn-Eyes-On-The_Linesand terminals packaged in lyrics accessible and melodies unobscured. Still, those topics are so readily relatable that they’ll rarely disappoint, and Gunn’s musings on the subjects manage to render like an updated study. And although it’s only been out for a month now, his guitar hooks will track grooves in your head like the opening bars of old favorites, even after hearing them just a few times, rehearsed at a soundcheck.

Before a short set that night bathed in scarlet spotlights at Berlin, the Philly-born musician was open about the headspace he was in as he composed Eyes, talking with Phawker about his new album and his career to date. He reflected on making music in Philly with his contemporary Philly legends, and on those major decisions, including when commit to your art, and when it’s time to move to New York City. Steve Gunn plays Union Transfer tomorrow night.

PHAWKER: I know you’re from Lansdowne — could you give us a quick overview of how long you spent in Philly, and when you made the move to New York?

STEVE GUNN: I been up here [in New York] for 10 years. I grew up in Lansdowne, went to high school in Drexel Hill, went to Temple University, lived in West Philly. My parents both grew up on 69th St., and you know, they were very into music, they were coming of age in the ‘60s and they got turned on to, you know, Jerry Blavat, and DJs like that, and they were really into soul music and all kinds of rock ‘n roll. I was exposed to a lot of music through them. And yeah, I spent a lot of time in West Philly, playing with people and meeting musicians and going to record stores. I moved to New York after I graduated college, I got a job at an art gallery and just decided to come up here, and I’ve kinda been here ever since. I go back and forth to Philly quite a bit.

Minneapolis Cops Pull Over Family For Driving While Black, Murder Dad In Front Of His 4 Year Old

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

MN Cop Shooting Victim


DAILY MAIL: The shocking footage of the aftermath of the shooting has sparked protests in Saint Paul, with hundreds of people descending on the Governor of Minnesota’s house demanding justice. It is the second controversial police shooting of a black man to emerge in 24 hours. In the video, Reynolds tells viewers that she and Castile were pulled over for a busted tail light by a ‘Chinese police officer’. She claims the cop, from the St. Anthony Police Department in Falcon Heights, asked Castile, a cafeteria supervisor at a Montessori school in St Paul, to show his license, but then shot him four times while he reached for it. As she talks, she moves the camera across to show Castile, bloody and losing consciousness, and the cop – still pointing his gun, as her young daughter sits in the back seat. MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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