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Monday, June 13th, 2016

Thanks NRA


NEW YORK TIMES: In the 1960s, under Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, the Pentagon bought vast quantities of the rifle, calling it the M-16, for American ground troops in Vietnam. The M-16’s firepower and reputation for lethality were necessary, in Mr. McNamara’s view, to counter the Kalashnikov assault rifles carried by the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong. […] AR-15s that fire only on semiautomatic are generally legal in the United States, and are widely owned by assault-rifle enthusiasts. They are also sometimes used in crimes, and have been involved in some of the most deadly mass shootings in American history, including the massacre in December in San Bernardino, Calif., which killed 14 people, and the attack in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 26 people, 20 of them children. (That gunman also killed his mother at home before driving to the school.) MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: John Oliver On Orlando

Monday, June 13th, 2016

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RIP: The Death Of Greatness

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Ali vs Superman


FRESH AIR: What a loss to suffer, even if for years you knew it was coming. Muhammad Ali, who died Friday, in Phoenix, at the age of seventy-four, was the most fantastical American figure of his era, a self-invented character of such physical wit, political defiance, global fame, and sheer originality that no novelist you might name would dare conceive him. Born Cassius Clay in Jim Crow-era Louisville, Kentucky, he was a skinny, quick-witted kid, the son of a sign painter and a house cleaner, who learned to box at the age of twelve to avenge the indignity of a stolen bicycle, a sixty-dollar red Schwinn that he could not bear to lose. Eventually, Ali became arguably the most famous person on the planet, known as a supreme athlete, an uncanny blend of power, improvisation, and velocity; a master of rhyming prediction and derision; an exemplar and symbol of racial pride; a fighter, a draft resister, an acolyte, a preacher, a separatist, an integrationist, a comedian, an actor, a dancer, a butterfly, a bee, a figure of immense courage.

In his early career, when he declared his allegiance to Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, rid himself of his “slave name,” and lost his heavyweight title rather than fight in Vietnam, Ali was vilified as much as he was admired. Millions hated Ali; he threatened a sense of the racial order; he was, in his refusal to conform to any type, as destabilizing to many Americans as he was to the many heavyweights who could not understand why he would just not come to the center of the ring and fight like a real man. He was, for many years, a radical figure for many Americans. For years, many refused to call him by his new name. “I pity Clay and abhor what he represents,” the columnist Jimmy Cannon wrote. Even Red Smith, the most respected of all sports columnists, compared Ali to the “unwashed punks” who dared to march against the war. But in recent decades, as Parkinson’s disease began to overwhelm his gifts for movement and speech, and as the country’s attitudes changed, Ali became a focus of almost universal affection. The people who encountered him at charity dinners, in airports, at sporting events approached him as they would a serene Pope Francis or the Dalai Lama, and, if he could summon a whispered joke or flirt for a moment or just widen his eyes in that old vaudeville way of his, people left with a sense of having met a source of wonder. MORE

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#I’M WITH HER: Senator Elizabeth Warren Rips The Donald A New One, And It’s A Beautiful Thing

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Elizabeth Warren says to Donald Trump’s fat orange phony fuckface what alleged GOP tough guys Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz were too goddamn pussy to say: the horrible truth. If she’d run in GOP primary, guaranteed Trump wouldn’t have lasted more than a month. Because thin-skinned racist bullies like him can’t take a punch.

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

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Silicon Valley


FRESH AIR: To an outsider, the start-up culture at Pied Piper, the fictional tech company featured in the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, might seem a little odd. Not only do the company’s employees live and work together in an “incubator,” they also get into biting arguments about the nuances of whether it’s acceptable to type spaces instead of tabs when programming code. Alec Berg, who serves as showrunner along with creator Mike Judge, tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that the quirky details viewers see on the show are inspired by real life. “One of our writers texted a friend who works for Apple just saying, ‘Hey is this tabs vs. spaces thing real?’ ” Berg says. “And his friend … was out at drinks with a bunch of other engineers and she replied that, A) it is real and B) just talking about it now has sparked a giant, violent debate and they were actually screaming at each other in a bar about whether tabs or spaces were better.” Thomas Middleditch, who plays Richard, the nervous, soft-spoken creator of Pied Piper, adds that real-life tech companies are sometimes so over the top that they leave little room for satire. “It seems like you can’t hyperbolize it for a joke hard enough,” he says. Berg and and Middleditch are joined in the studio by Judge, who also created King of the Hill and Beavis & Butt-head. MORE

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CINEMA: Cum On Feel The Boyz

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

slade in flame cover


SLADE IN FLAME (1975, directed by Richard Loncraine, 86 minutes U.K.)
OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL (2009, directed by Julien Temple, 106 minutes, U.K.)

Buskirk AvatarBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC British rock gave us plenty of adorable mop tops and fey dandies but they also have a long tradition of rough and tumble r&b, rock and blues bands whose fan base ran strong beyond the sophisticated borders of London and into the wilds of the country’s midlands. This month’s double bill joins two rather different films about two different bands, navigating the wild waters of the 70s music industry. Slade in Flame is the 70s glam band’s fictionalized vision of the rock world of 60’s England and 2009’s Oil City Confidential is a romantic look back by documentarian Julien Temple at the furious rise and fall of “Pub Rock” giants Dr. Feelgood.

Glam rock stars Slade were never as huge in the U.S. as they were across Europe, where they had 17 consecutive Top 20 hits in the early 1970s, more than T-Rex or Bowie. Slade had some success here as well although they’re probably best-remembered today for supplying the pop metal band Quiet Riot with both of their hits, “Cum On Feel the Noize” & “Mama We’re All Crazee Now.” Slade’s success was at its peak in 1974 when their manager Chas Chandler (formerly the Animal’s bassist and manager of Jimi Hendrix) thought the time was ripe for a Slade film.

Bushy-haired Slade frontman Noddy Holder voted down the scripts that called for sped-up comedic hi-jinks from the band and picked a script about a working class band’s rise-and-fall in the record business in the late 60s (set in an era just six or seven years before the film’s production) written by Andrew Birkin (co-screenwriter of the medieval mystery The Name of the Rose and brother of pop star Jane Birkin). Noddy thought the arc of the narrative in Birkin’s script was great, but that the details of the story were all wrong. To fix this, Slade invited Birkin and first-time director Richard Loncraine (director of the dark 1985 vehicle for Sting, Brimstone and Treacle as well as the stylish Ian McKellan 1995 feature of Richard III) to come along on their American tour, where the duo observed the band and interviewed them about their experiences in rock and roll. Birkin incorporated the stories the band related, giving the film a natural realism that transcends the usual cliches of the rock movie genre.

Slade in Flame oozes that sort of gritty quality people love about 70s films, the band emerges from out of a midlands steel town where their friends and family still work. The guitarists’ homelife is only viewed through the mail slot where his grandmother shrieks and curses at the tax collectors. We see the band Flame (the four members of Slade, all quietly confident basically playing themselves) in their element, playing to dancers in dirty little nightclubs, haggling with violent management and horsing around with each other the way guys stuck in little vans for hours on end will do. Soon, they dump their old manager when upper crust young businessman Tom Conti (in his debut) bankrolls a recording session and ushers them into the bigtime.

Slade in Flame focuses on economics and class in a way that its American counterparts would likely ignore. Tom Conti’s character, a young man playing a with his family’s old money, is too disinterested to be a villain. He may bristle at the band’s working class manners and he won’t even feign interest in their music but he isn’t Hellbent to rip them off. But with the family business interests calling him, their manager seems like he could pull the plug at any moment, sending their fates with it.

Slade was proud that they could bring the little corner of the world they knew to big screen in 1975 but their fans were lukewarm to the bleak details among the laughs, and even a cool batch of new Slade songs couldn’t put butts in seats. Years later, Slade in Flame seems like one of the most accomplished rock films of the 70s (a spotty lot indeed) offering a punchy mix of honest Spinal Tap-like madness with a jolt of that old British “Kitchen Sink” realism.

– – – – – – – – –

Slade rock some crazy-colored jumpsuits as the band Flame but Dr. Feelgood called “bullshit” on such theatricality in the mid-70s pre-punk rootsy genre dubbed “Pub Rock.” The band were dress-up like low-key hoods and played a jumped up bluesy OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL_R& B music that stood out for its fine-tuned excess energy. Led by a surly-looking singer named Lee Brilleaux and a gargoyle-faced guitar-stylist Wilko Johnson, (seen as the executioner in the first two seasons of Game of Thrones) Dr. Feelgood had a devilishly fierce rise and fall told here by roc/doc filmmaker Julien Temple.

Much like the legend of Springsteen, Dr. Feelgood refined their skills in the bar of a seedy, dying beach resort town, which in the case of Feelgood’s Canvay Islands, also had the presence of constantly pounding derricks which pumped the dirty crude found there. Temple, who sees this film as a piece with the definitive documentaries he made on the Sex Pistols and Joe Strummer, gets to the primal drama of band’s chemistry, with Brilleaux’s emotional id contrasting with Wilko’s more artistic soul. Temple peppers the visuals of the band’s rush of success with wild snatches of forgotten black & white ’50s British crime films.

The clips of Dr. Feelgood in action, particularly Wilko’s slashing, rhythmic guitar style and demonic glare, make it undeniable what the fuss was about this now mostly-forgotten group. But it is the romantic reveries spun by the modern day Wilko, talking about that perfect moment, that makes this film so unusually affecting. Were Dr. Feelgood one of rock greatest bands? Maybe not, but Temple constructs one of the great rock stories out of their trials and triumphs.


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BERN OUT: California Screaming

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Bernie Cali Bear


CNN: Despite a night of disappointing losses, Bernie Sanders vowed Tuesday night to continue his campaign and to take his fight all the way to the convention in Philadelphia. While Hillary Clinton secured the delegates she needed Monday to become the presumptive presidential nominee, Sanders channeled the defiance of his supporters as he took the stage shortly before 11 p.m. PT. The crowd was on edge — angry with the press and worried that he would give in to the growing pressure from Democratic leaders to bow out of the race. But it wasn’t long before it became clear from his remarks that his “movement” — a campaign that has given Clinton more of a fight than anyone predicted and forced the Democratic Party to the left — would carry on, at least through the final primary next Tuesday in Washington, D.C. MORE

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BEING THERE: Roots Picnic 2016

Sunday, June 5th, 2016



The ninth annual Roots Picnic took place this past Saturday at Philly’s Festival Pier, sporting potentially one of the most buzzed-about lineups in its entire history. With headliners such as R&B legend Usher (backed by The Roots of course), Future, one of the don dadas in rap right now, and soul sensation Leon Bridges, one could wonder how this lineup could get any sweeter for hip hop and R&B fans far and wide. Lo and behold, The Roots succeeded immensely once again in gathering some of the most hot and groundbreaking artists in the game right now, such as Lil Uzi Vert, Kaytranada, Anderson Paak, Metro Boomin and more.

First up was Migos, a rap trio that came into play having steadily topped the charts for years with single after single after friggin’ single. I walked through the North Stage crowd and attempted to enter the photo pit with my photo credentials, and was immediately stopped. Assuming the security guy couldn’t see my photo pass, I pointed to it, only to receive another shake of the head no. Turns out my photo pass did not in fact allow me to take photos in the designated spot where photographers photograph. Nice. I apparently needed further credentials in the form of a wristband. Sweet. Assuming this security guard was just being an ass-hat, I remained confident that I could actually take photos in the photo pit at the other stages. Migos set was surprisingly short, so upon them ending I swung on over to the Oasis Stage to catch the insanely popular rapper and Philly native, Lil Uzi Vert.

Thankfully I was allowed into the photo pit at Lil Uzi, which was easily one of the most insane sets of the entire event. Uzi Vert has been on the rise of all rises since his 2015 debut album Luv Is Rage caught fire alongside his recent new mixtape Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World. I have to admit, the guy doesn’t bring anything particularly revolutionary to the table, but admittedly his energy is both fresh and positive. Uzi Vert came out in a sweet vintage tie-dye Metallica shirt and his signature short light-purple dreads, both representative of his colorful personality. Uzi blew through singles such as “Money Longer” and “All My Chains” as the absolutely packed crowd bounced around and recited every single lyric. As if the crowd for Uzi wasn’t hype enough already, he seriously took it to the next level. Out of absolutely nowhere, he brings Meek Mill onstage along with two of the three members of Migos. What the fuck just happened?!? Meek is the epitome of a local Philly rapper making it big time, and considering Lil Uzi is a Philly rapper well on his way to doing the exact same thing, it only seemed fitting that Meek would be his special guest. The loyal crowd lost every last ounce of their shit in what I can conclude to be the most hyphy set of the day.

CONTEST: Win Tix To See Wilco @ The Mann!

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Wilco Poster44


It has often been said that Wilco is the American Radiohead — an edgy, 21st-century rock band whose audience only seems to grow the more they challenge it. Less remarked on is the more obvious fact that they are also the new Grateful Dead — populist guarantors of the heartland verities of cosmic Americana. Like the Dead, the continuum of Wilco’s concertizing has come to matter far more than their individual albums. Which is why it is so crucial that you get to the Mann tomorrow night to see them, or risk falling hopelessly behind on the whole ‘heartland verities of cosmic Americana’ thing. And that is why we are offering a pair of lawn tix to see Wilco at the Mann tomorrow night. To qualify, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much, with the words LET THE WILD DAD-ROCK RUMPUS BEGIN! in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, just send us an email saying as much. Either way, please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. The 13th Phawker reader to email wins!

PREVIOUSLY: Heroes & Villains

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LET IT BE: A Q&A With ‘Mats Biographer Bob Mehr

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Trouble Boys Cover


mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA In the Amerindie rock underground  of the mid-80s, The Replacements, along with Husker Du and REM, formed a troika of indie-rock royalty that produced some of the greatest music of that decade or any other. Nineteen eighty-four was their annus mirabilis. REM released Reckoning, and Husker Du released Zen Arcade and New Day Rising. The Replacements released Let It Be, which despite the co-opting of the Beatles song for its title was in fact their Beggars Banquet.  All three soon signed major label deals with varying results. Husker Du lasted just two albums, the uneven Candy Apple Grey and the overlong and underwhelming Warehouse: Songs And Stories, having peaked creatively with 1986’s Flip Your Wig. Come 1987 the band was history. REM would, of course, go on to global stardom before eventually calling it a career in 2011.

The Replacements released four major label albums of increasingly diminished returns before limping across the finish line in 1991, not with a bang but a whimper. (A reconstituted version of the surviving ‘Mats has been playing select dates since 2012.) None of this was truly unexpected by anyone bothering to pay attention. The Replacements were made to be broken. And they were good at breaking things: themselves mostly but also the will of their audience, their unshakeable bond with rock critics, their indie cred, the unrealistic expectations of major labels and the maxed out Bob Mehrexpense accounts that went with them, and on a good night, the ceiling on greatness. At the height of their powers, The Replacements were a perfect storm of glitter, hairspray and doom. All of which is captured, codified and contextualized in biblical detail in Trouble Boys, Bob Mehr’s acclaimed biography of The Replacements. Mehr [pictured, right], a music critic for The Commercial Appeal, the Memphis daily of record, and a longstanding scribe for Mojo, started working on the book thinking it would take a year or two to complete. Seven years, 250 interviews and 400 pages later, he has delivered one of the great rock biographs about rock greats.

Admittedly, I am biased. Bob is a friend and, in the interest of full disclosure, he quotes at length from a 2002 interview I did with Paul Westerberg in the book. None of which changes the fact that, as the book argues persuasively, The Replacements were — when the booze was in the seventh house and Westerberg and the Brothers Stinson aligned with Chris Mars — the greatest rock n’ roll band on Earth. Read it and weep. Bob will be at Main Street Music on Friday for a Replacements Rock ‘n’ Reading event with ‘Mats music from Dave Hause (The Loved Ones) and Frank Brown (Travel Lanes). “We’ll be talking about the ‘Mats and playing their music and celebrating the release of the band’s vinyl box set The Sire Years,” he says. A few weeks ago, we got Bob on the horn to talk shop.

PHAWKER: You did a great job on the book, my friend. Be proud. How did it come about? What made you want to do it in the first place?

BOB MEHR: Well, I guess my instinct was that as much as The Replacements had been written about, and romanticized, and thought about, analyzed and everything else, it still seemed like there was something very fundamental missing from their story, and that was answering the question of “Why?” You always hear about all the things they did: the chaotic shows, the drinking, the sort of antics towards the record company and the music business in general. But I never felt I got a satisfactory answer as to why they did all that stuff. And so the curious part of my journalist brain said, “There has to be some deeper and maybe darker reason to explain their behavior, and thus also explain why their career unfolded the way it did, and why their music was so potent and affecting as well.” So, I guess, the story was incomplete somehow, despite the fact that they had been written about and romanticized as much as they have and had over the years. I guess I kind of set about doing that, and I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly where that investigation would take me. It took me to a bunch of different places that I wouldn’t have expected.

PHAWKER: Why did they behave the way they did? And why did their career play out the way it did? I realize you just spent eight years and 400 pages answering those questions but…LET IT BE

BOB MEHR: I think the same things that propelled them, that made them great, that made people connect with them, were the same things that held them back. They were so much a product of their environments. Both in terms of a regional, cultural, socioeconomic identity, as well as their own particular environments— home lives, families, that kind of stuff. So much of that played into the fact that they found each other. I mean, these were four people that came from… each had things in their backgrounds that made them unsuitable for almost any other life. As Paul said, “There wasn’t a high school degree, or a driver’s license between us.” And that’s true. And I think that’s a kind of wisecrack, and a sort of self-deprecating thing to say, but it speaks to a bigger thing about the band. The thing that brought them together was a desperation of overcoming their station in life, and their limitations. And a desperation to do something, whether it was make noise, or wreak havoc, or be successful at times, which I think they did wanna be, despite all indications of the contrary. And desperation to just not be trapped by who they were, and what their circumstances were.

PHAWKER: Is it not true that invariably the best rock n’ roll comes from people who have no other options?

BOB MEHR: Yeah, and I mean, that’s why the first section of the book is called “Jail, Death or Janitor.” I mean, that’s Westerberg’s answer when I was like, “What would your life have been like without The Replacements?” You know, that sounds like a flippant thing to say, but it’s quite possibly very true in all of their cases, to a man almost. I think that creates a different kind of band, a different kind of energy, a different kind of end result in terms of a career and a legacy, than somebody who can kind of take it or leave it. Westerberg was looking for that from the beginning. When he quit high school, he was searching for a couple of years, as he put it, for guys who had the same desperation as he did. Who weren’t in a band for the weekend, for the chicks, and were gonna go off and be accountants and go to college. Nah, he needed somebody with the same burning desperation and he found it in Chris Mars and the Stinson brothers. He found it in the Stinson brothers and Chris Mars. In a sense, everything that came after starts from that moment.

PHAWKER: Hypothetical question. Wave the magic wand. I’m a 22 year old Millennial. Tell me who The Replacements were and why they mattered, Dad.

BOB MEHR: They were a rock and roll band that existed largely in the eighties, formed in The-Replacements-Pleased-to-Meet-Me-Front’79, broke up in ’91. Even though they existed in the eighties, they weren’t a band of the eighties. They’re almost sort of timeless in the sense, both musically in that they kind of came out of the slipstream between ‘60s music and ‘70s punk and new wave. That’s where they sort of formed, and were informed by the detritus of so much of what we see as ‘70s trash culture. If you listen to their records — those eight records that they made, contain multitudes from the punk and hardcore of Sorry Ma Forgot To Take Out The Trash and Stink, to the style-grab of Hootenanny, to the avowed classics Let It Be, Tim and Pleased to Meet Me, to the evolved singer-songwriter and dark pop stuff that you get on the last two records. There’s something there for everyone. To me, they’re the last great rock and roll band that came before the era when everything became so stratified post-Nirvana. They kind of are a band from another time that was out of time in its own era. I think that’s why they lasted. I think that’s why I’m seeing, and have seen over the last decade, so many younger people getting into their music in a way that I don’t think a lot of bands who are their contemporaries have that same sort of phenomenon.


Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

NASTY LITTLE MAN: The children have spoken: “WOW,” the latest new taste from Beck’s forthcoming opus, has been unveiled to the world in all its fluorescent mutant hip hop glory. And accompanying this retro-futuristic earworm is a virtual “WOW” world built with the help of a global collective of creators on Instagram. Beck fans were first tipped off that something “WOW” was coming their way when a clip posted Wednesday on the official @beck Instagram rallied them to GIDDY UP. The following day creators and artists from the Instagram community uploaded their unique interpretations of “WOW” each with an exclusive clip of the song. Clips from various creators using #beckWOW are being shared on If “Dreams” was the post-Morning Phase party we’d all been waiting for but just didn’t know it until Beck sent us the invite, “WOW” kicks off the afterparty for the next generation—coming at you live from the future courtesy of Beck.

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

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016



FRESH AIR: Three kids meet in junior high, grow up skateboarding, doing graffitti and shooting stuff on home-video cameras, then eventually get jobs together on Saturday Night Live. It sounds like an adolescent fantasy, but for former SNL cast member Andy Samberg and former SNL writers Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, it actually happened. “We were not ambitious,” Schaffer tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “We were just kids who liked comedy, and we liked music, and we were nerds about that stuff.” Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer work together under the name The Lonely Island. Their new film, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, is a comedy that satirizes pop-music documentaries, like those on Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and One Direction, which draw on tropes like the hometown visit, band breakups and the inevitable disaster in the relentless press cycle. In the movie, which the three wrote and which Taccone and Schaffer directed, the friends play a hip-hop boy band that breaks up acrimoniously when Samberg’s character decides to go solo as the pop star Conner4Real. The character’s breakout success in the start of the film parallels Samberg’s own success as a cast member of SNL — except, Samberg says, The Lonely Island handled things better in real life than they do on screen. “This [movie] is our therapy on a grand scale,” Samberg jokes. “We’ve been saying that the characters in the movie, The Style Boyz, are like us if we weren’t self-aware.” MORE

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CONTEST: Win Tix To See Eagles Of Death Metal!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016



The Eagles Of Death Metal — still reeling from the horrific tragedy at the Bataclan, and the PTSD-tinted crazy talk that followed — play the Troc on Friday and we want to send you and a friend, on us. To qualify, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much, with the words PEACE, LOVE & DEATH METAL in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, just send us an email saying as much. Either way, please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. The 13th Phawker reader to email wins! Good luck and godspeed! Find out how to qualify to win tomorrow on a Phawker near you!


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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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