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THE SONICS: Black Betty

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Never thought we’d be typing these words but Pacific Northwest proto-garage-punk avatars The Sonics have a NEW album coming out March 31st and they will be playing the TLA on April 12th! To wit:

Recorded in “earth-shaking mono” by noted producer Jim Diamond of Ghetto Recorders at Soundhouse Studios in Seattle, “This Is The Sonics” (release date: March 31, 2015) reunites original members Jerry Roslie on keyboards and vocals, Larry Parypa on guitar and vocals and Rob Lind on sax, harmonica and vocals. They are backed by a powerhouse rhythm section, bassist Freddie Dennis (the Kingsmen, the Liverpool Five) and drummer Dusty Watson (Dick Dale, Agent Orange).

“This Is The Sonics” follows 50 years after the legendary “Here Are the Sonics” (1965) and followup “Boom” (1966), which rocketed the Tacoma garage rock band into sonicsmusic history with a gritty, sped-up, brutal rock & roll attack that sounded like nothing that had come before. The Sonics singlehandedly defined the genre of garage rock with their debut single “The Witch” (1964) at a time when upbeat, positive ditties were still the standard rock fare. Instead, Roslie howled a primitive cri de coeur that took teenage desperation into far darker waters in the vein of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, with ominous, drug-soaked, even Satanic themes, anticipating punk, heavy metal and grunge in its sonic force.

Broken up in 1967, the band’s legacy remained frozen in time, with classics like “Psycho,” “Strychnine,” and “Have Love, Will Travel” awaiting discovery and directly inspiring countless generations of garage bands the world over, including names like Springsteen and Cobain. Last year “Have Love Will Travel” was used in a Modelo beer commercial as well as the promo for the 2014 season of Anthony Bourdain’s well-loved CNN series “Parts Unknown.” The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl highlighted the Sonics and interviewed Parypa in the Seattle episode of the HBO series “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.”

Now, “This Is The Sonics,” released on their own Tacoma-based label Revox Records, picks up where the band left off with 12 savage new songs. Producer Diamond, the Detroit force best known for his work with the White Stripes, Dirtbombs and Electric Six, recorded the new Sonics record in mono, live in the studio, with minimal overdubs, for a raw sound experience that befits their indelible legacy.

PREVIOUSLY: The Woggles are a garage band in the wooly, frat-rock party-animal tradition of ’60s bands like the Sonics. All the songs sound like steroid-fed mash-ups of “Louie, Louie” and “Shout,” and on a good night, it’s all you can do not to stand up between songs and shout, “Otis! My man!” Based in Atlanta, the Woggles are fronted by a Don Imus lookalike named Manfred Jones, who, on this night, is hands down the hardest-working man in garage rock. By the second song his sweat-soaked black tuxedo shirt is glistening like a Woggles.jpgseal in an oil slick. His voice wails with leathery R&B hoarsepower, and he moves like a one-man soul revue, darting from the stage to tabletops to midair, leaving behind a particle mist of spilled drinks and overturned ashtrays, not to mention a conga line of boogalooing Tritone revelers. If only the kids still had access to this kind of rock ‘n’ roll, the likes of Korn would never bother us again. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: The Day Martin Luther King Had To Explain To His Daughter Yolanda That Little ‘Colored’ Girls Are Not Allowed In Funtown

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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PLAYBOY: Dr. King, are your children old enough to be aware of the issues at stake in the civil rights movement, and of your role in it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Yes, they are—especially my oldest child, Yolanda. Two years ago, I remember, I returned home after serving one of my terms in the Albany, Georgia, jail, and she asked me, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” I told her that I was involved in a struggle to make conditions better for the colored people, and thus for all people. I explained that because things are as they are, someone has to take a stand, that it is necessary for someone to go to jail, because many Southern officials seek to maintain the barriers that have historically been erected to exclude the colored people. I tried to make her understand that someone had to do this to make the world better—for all children. She was only six at that time, but she was already aware of segregation because of an experience that we had had.

PLAYBOY: Would you mind telling us about it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Not at all. The family often used to ride with me to the Atlanta airport, and on our way, we always passed Funtown, a sort of miniature Disneyland with mechanical rides and that sort of thing. Yolanda would inevitably say, “I want to go to Funtown,” and I would always evade a direct reply. I really didn’t know how to explain to her why she couldn’t go. Then one day at home, she ran downstairs exclaiming that a TV commercial was urging people to come to Funtown. Then my wife and I had to sit down with her between us and try to explain it. I have won some applause as a speaker, but my tongue twisted and my speech stammered seeking to explain to my six-year-old daughter why the public invitation on television didn’t include her, and others like her. One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her that Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized that at that moment the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky, that at that moment her personality had begun to warp with that first unconscious bitterness toward white people. It was the first time that prejudice based upon skin color had been explained to her. But it was of paramount importance to me that she not grow up bitter. So I told her that although many white people were against her going to Funtown, there were many others who did want colored children to go. It helped somewhat. Pleasantly, word came to me later that Funtown had quietly desegregated, so I took Yolanda. A number of white persons there asked, “Aren’t you Dr. King, and isn’t this your daughter?” I said we were, and she heard them say how glad they were to see us there. MORE

MLK MUGSHOT
 
DAILY KOS: I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech. My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.” Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about. […] It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus. You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment. This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people. White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which MLK ABERNATHY MUG SHOTcould be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn’t do it alone. So what did they do? They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down. Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed. If we do it all together, we’ll be okay. They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms fredshuttlesworthmuglargeand take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad. Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened? These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail. That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. MORE

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ARTY: Look On My Works Ye Mighty, And Despair!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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Cartoon by ELI VALLEY via NEW REPUBLIC

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ANGELS OF MONTGOMERY: Ghosts Of The Dream

Monday, January 19th, 2015

MLK NEW YORKER

 

NEW YORKER: Barry Blitt drew this week’s cover, inspired by the photographs of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that are everywhere again. “It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,” he said. “In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.” MORE

WASHINGTON POST: Barry Blitt’s drawing, which will adorn newsstands and coffee tables next week, evokes the famous photos of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. On this cover, King’s arms are linked with those of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after being placed in a police chokehold, and Wenjian Liu, the New York City police officer gunned down with Rafael Ramos as they sat in their squad car last month. They are joined on the cover by Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, who were shot and killed in Florida and Missouri, respectively. This cover specifically arrives the week of the holiday honoring King and as protests against police tactics, which have taken place across the country in recent months, are expected to continue over the weekend and into Monday. It also comes as “Selma,” a movie about King and the civil rights movement, is expanding into additional theaters after earning Best Picture nomination. MORE

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NEW YORK TIMES: The iconic images of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come from an era when he was confronting legalized discrimination, and communication tools included mimeographed fliers and the holy grail of a network television report. Protesters today cite myriad ills embedded in the economy and culture and spread their messages instantly through websites, Twitter hashtags and text messages. And at a time of widespread social unrest over race and inequality, the King holiday on Monday is highlighting both the power of Dr. King’s vision, brought to the public again in the film “Selma,” and the enormous difficulties of forging a new movement along similar lines. Nonetheless, today’s protesters are embracing Dr. King’s spirit and the tactics of his era with a sense of commitment that has not existed, perhaps, for decades. “We’re in the business of disrupting white supremacy,” said Wazi Davis, 23, a student at San Francisco State University, who has helped organize protests in the Bay Area. “We look toward historical tactics. The Montgomery bus boycott, the sit-ins — those tactics were all about disruption.” MORE

King Bullet Hole St. Augustine

 

THE ATLANTIC: The Ku Klux Klan presence was intense in St. Augustine. King learned about the racial strife from Robert Hayling, a dentist and youth leader of the local NAACP, who had been captured, beaten, and almost burned alive at a Klan rally the previous September. Hayling had appealed to King and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to come to St. Augustine for a campaign of direct action. The level of violence was startling. Nighttime marches from Lincolnville to the slave market were intercepted by white supremacists, who had gathered to hear from a fiery trio. Traveling Klan “minister” Connie Lynch proclaimed, “Hitler was a great man” and described the outside agitator of choice as “Martin Lucifer Coon.” J.B. Stoner, a future lawyer for James Earl Ray, thundered, “We won’t be put in chains by no civil rights bill!” And local leader Hoss Manucy, head of the Klan-affiliated Ancient City Hunting Club, told Harpers magazine, “My boys are here to fight niggers!” The Klansmen greeted the protesters with blackjacks, bricks, and bicycle chains. One night, Andrew Young was knocked to the ground and savagely kicked in the back and the groin. Young told me this year at a civil rights conference in Austin that St. Augustine was unique in the movement in one respect: “It was the only place where our hospital bills were greater than our bond bills.” When King came down to St. Augustine, he was moved from place to place for his own protection. On May 28, the address of a cottage that had been rented for him was printed in the local paper; that night someone blasted it with gunfire, though King was not there. (A photo of him pointing to a bullet hole in a sliding glass door has become the St. Augustine movement’s most enduring image.) MORE

FBI MLK SUICIDE NOTE
 
REASON: Late last year, historian Beverly Gage published an unredacted version of the notorious November, 1964 letter sent anonymously to Martin Luther King, Jr. before he would travel to Europe to collect his Nobel Peace Prize (above). The letter suggested that King kill himself or else be outed for sexual improprieties. It is widely believed the letter was sent either by FBI operatives or at least sanctioned by the agency, as it relies on information compiled from surveillance conducted by J. Edgar Hoover with the imprimatur of Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (whether Lyndon Johnson directly okayed such actions, it’s unambiguous that he knew about them and discussed their findings). Historians had long sought after an unredacted version of “suicide letter,” as it is known. It’s a disturbing piece of work, to say the least. It poses as a note from a concerned African American. It’s failure was complete, as it wasn’t read until after King received his Nobel and it was opened by his wife, who turned it over to her husband. I wrote about the letter last fall when The New York Times published it. We live in an age where trust and belief in the government is far lower than it was the FBI was pulling grotesque stunts like this one. Our ambivalence is well-founded, given not just the revelations of the Church Committee in the 1970s but more recent news of just how little the government regards our civil liberties. Martin Luther King’s legacy for race relations is rightly well-known and celebrated. We should also remember that his treatment by government carries lessons about the state-sanctioned violation of privacy and dignity. MORE

SteveWonder MLK
 
MEDIUM: On the evening of April 4, 1968, teen music sensation Stevie Wonder was dozing off in the back of a car on his way home to Detroit from the Michigan School for the Blind, when the news crackled over the radio: Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated in Memphis. His driver quickly turned off the radio and they drove on in silence and shock, tears streaming down Wonder’s face. Five days later, Wonder flew to Atlanta for the slain civil rights hero’s funeral, as riots erupting in several cities, the country still reeling. He joined Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Diana Ross and a long list of politicians and pastors who mourned King, prayed for a nation in which all men are created equal and vowed to continue the fight for freedom. Wonder was still in shock—he remembered how, when he was five, he first heard about King as he listened to coverage of the Montgomery bus boycott on the radio. “I asked, ‘Why don’t they like colored people? What’s the difference?’ I still can’t see the difference.” As a young teenager, when Wonder was performing with the Motown Revue in Alabama, he experienced first-hand the evils of segregation—he remembers someone shooting at their tour bus, just missing the gas tank. When he was 15, Wonder finally met King, shaking his hand at a freedom rally in Chicago. At the funeral, Wonder was joined by his local representative, young African-American Congressman John Conyers, who had just introduced a bill to honor King’s legacy by making his birthday a national holiday. Thus began an epic crusade, led by Wonder and some of the biggest names in music—from Bob Marley to Michael Jackson—to create Martin Luther King Day. o overcome the resistance of conservative politicians, including President Reagan and many of his fellow citizens, Wonder put his career on hold, led rallies from coast to coast and galvanized millions of Americans with his passion and integrity. But it took 15 years. MORE

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THE NATION: The film Selma movingly chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight to win the Voting Rights Act (VRA). It ends with King speaking triumphantly on the steps of the Alabama capitol, after marching from Selma to Montgomery. Five months later, Congress passed the VRA, the most important civil-rights law of the twentieth century. If only that story had a happy ending today. Selma has been released at a time when voting rights are facing the most sustained attack since 1965. The Supreme Court gutted the centerpiece of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder in June 2013. That followed a period from 2011 to 2012 when 180 new voting restrictions were introduced in 41 states, and 22 states made it harder to vote. MORE

MLK Handcuffs
 
CBS NEWS: Economic inequality is set to reach a worrying tipping point next year, when the richest 1 percent will control more than half of the world’s wealth. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: In the thousands of speeches and celebrations on the official Martin Luther King holiday since its inception, there is a crucial fact of his life, activism and thought that no major commemoration has ever celebrated: that King was a strong and uncompromising opponent of American capitalism. This was no late-in-life development for King. It spanned from his youthful years to his death while attempting to gain humane wages and working conditions for a public union. Why was Martin Luther King so opposed to capitalism?

On the one hand, capitalism has generated immense wealth, significantly raised living standards and generally made life more comfortable and secure to varying degrees for most of those living in capitalist countries. On the other hand, it has exacted an excruciating toll in human toil and treasure. It has wrought immense suffering, systematic oppression and exploitation, and debilitating social alienation. Capitalism rewards, indeed depends upon, selfish, aggressive behavior. It values profits over people, promotes material values over spiritual values, dispenses power without social responsibility, and treats people as commodities to be discarded.

Moreover, capitalism is not compatible with “one person, one vote” political democracy because those with the most capital have far more political influence and power per capita than less well-heeled Americans. It is also incompatible with economic democracy because capitalism allows no democracy in the workplace. Workers have to comply with capitalists’ rules and dictates or risk penury and, in egregious cases, physical violence. MORE

MLK BACK
 
PBS: An audio recording of a speech given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, long thought to be lost in time, was made available to the masses this week online. The 55-minute recording of the speech delivered by the late civil rights leader on April 27, 1965 at the University of California-Los Angeles was unearthed from a storage room by archivist Derek Bolin and Tim Groeling, chair of the UCLA Department of Communication Studies. “It’s a speech of importance that deserves to be released on a day of importance,” Bolin, also a 2013 UCLA graduate, said Friday in a press release on what would have been King Jr.’s 86th birthday. On the recording, the sound of birds chirping can be heard as Joel Boxer, the chairman of the now defunct Associated Students Speakers program at UCLA, welcomes the crowd to what “must be the largest program in the speakers program history.” The speech happened a month and two days after King’s historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., which was the subject of the 2014 film “Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay. MORE

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LORD OF THE TRASH: Kim Fowley, Legendary Producer/Proto-Hipster Creep, Dead At 75

Friday, January 16th, 2015

LORD OF GARBAGE

 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kim Fowley came out of a Hollywood that doesn’t exist anymore, the Hollywood of Kenneth Anger and Ed Wood. Best known for cooking up the Runaways, he began to work in the music business in the late 1950s and since then has turned up in more places than Woody Allen’s Zelig, producing for Gene Vincent, writing with Warren Zevon and introducing John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band when they performed in Toronto in 1969. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: The broad strokes of the relationship between producer-manager Kim Fowley and former Runaways frontwoman Cherie Currie are the sort that are just ripe for VH1 “Behind the Music” treatment. Fowley created the band that launched Currie’s music career, but their relationship soured and turned downright venomous over the usual music industry wedges: royalties, drugs, and Fowley’s odd, unorthodox treatment — some would say exploitation — of a band of five teenage girls.

Currie once called Fowley, who created The Runaways, a “beast who should not be allowed near young girls,” but it was she who took in the aging Fowley when he was battling bladder cancer. The two reconciled in 2008, much to the surprise ofCIMG1293 journalists who had covered both individuals for years, after Currie learned about Fowley’s condition. Last August, she moved him into her home to care for him. […] “I love Kim. I really do,” Currie said last year. “After everything I went through as a kid with him, I ended up becoming a mom and realized it was difficult for a man in his 30s to deal with five teenage girls. He’s a friend I admire who needed help, and I could be there for him.”

The Runaways, heavily influenced by David Bowie, Alice Cooper, and other 70′s rock gods, were the anti-good girls: five teenage girls, playing their own instruments, and terrorizing the nation singing openly about sex and all manner of bad-girl subjects. Currie’s husky, low voice and risque stagewear (fishnets and lingerie) cemented their status as jailbait pinups. Fowley orchestrated it all, bringing together Joan Jett, Currie, Ford, Jackie Fox and Sandy West. When the band was formed, Jett was 16. Currie was 15. Fowley produced and co-wrote their first two albums, “The Runaways” and “Queens of Noise.” By the time she was 18, she had a serious addiction to Quaaludes, cocaine, and eventually crack. “Our management, our booking agent – they were all feeding us drugs,” she told The Guardian. “The thing was, back in the 70s, if you didn’t do drugs there was something wrong with you.” MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Last year Foley moved from the hospital to the Los Angeles home of Runaways founding member Cherie Currie, who told Billboard in September that after consulting with Wright about his health, “We agreed a change of environment was what he needed. It’s draining, yes, but I’ll always step up. It’s who I am.” “I love Kim. I really do,” she said at that time. “After everything I went through as a kid with him, I ended up becoming a mom and realized it was difficult for a man in his 30s to deal with five teenage girls. He’s a friend I admire who needed help, and I could be there for him.” He subsequently moved with Wright, whom he married in September, to a residence in West Hollywood, where he died. MORE

RELATED: During the early 1960s, Fowley was involved, as co-producer/co-publisher, with a string of successful records produced in Los Angeles. With Gary S. Paxton, he recorded the novelty song “Alley Oop“, which reached # 1 on the charts in 1960 and was credited to the non-existent group The Hollywood Argyles. […] Fowley also worked on occasion as a recording artist in the 1960s, issuing albums such as Love Is Alive and Well. In 1965, he wrote and produced a song about the psychedelic experience, “The Trip”. He later appeared on hypephone on Frank Zappa‘s first album Freak Out!. Other singles by Fowley as a recording artist included “Animal Man” from his popular 1968 album Outrageous. All of his efforts as a solo artist since 1970 have become cult items, both in reissue and bootleg formats. MORE

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BEING THERE: CRUISR @ The Barbary

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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Photo by DYLAN LONG

Last night, fresh off of their incredibly successful support slot for The 1975’s North American tour, hometown hero indie-popsters CRUISR rocked a sold-out throwdown at The Barbary along with the likes of Cold Fronts & Needle Points. The Barbary is a small joint with a big sound system, and the openers wasted no time setting an upbeat vibe for the night with loud melodies and catchy breakdowns. CRUISR took the stage at 9pm and took their sweet time working through a setlist that hovered around a mere eight or nine songs. Lush guitar riffs swept over the crowd and not a soul was standing still five minutes in as the lead guitarist Bruno swayed about the stage ripping the most heavenly of melodies. CRUISR topped off the night of great local music with their catchiest single, “Kidnap Me.” The crowd, whom which had been high-energy all evening sang along to every word with smiles and enthusiastic squeals lighting up the room. Great show, great vibes, zero assholes, and yet another step in the right direction for this tribe of Philly natives. — DYLAN LONG

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THE MODERN LOVERS: She Cracked

Friday, January 16th, 2015

1972 demo produced by Kim Fowley.

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IN MEMORIAM: Novelist Kent Haruf 1943-2014

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

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BY MIKE WALSH I spent a few years living in a small town in the northeastern plains of Colorado. That is also the same area where Kent Haruf set all of his novels, so I’ve felt an affinity with the man and his work. His novels remind me of that time in my life, those places, and the people who live in that area of the country. I’m also a fan of Haruf because his novels are just plain great. Haruf died on November 30 of liver disease. He was 71.

All of Haruf’s novels are set in the fictional town of Holt. It’s modeled on the real town of Yuma, where Haruf spent several years in the 80s teaching high school English. This area of Colorado is close to the borders of Kansas, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The land is flat and dry, the main business is agriculture, the sky is enormous, and you can see weather coming plainsongfrom 20 miles away. Haruf spent his entire career creating the fictional world of Holt, novel by novel, character by character, and he had a deep affection for the plainspoken people of that area. Each of his novels is about a different group of characters from the small town that are thrown together by fate. It’s a world of nobleness and passion, but also tragedy, cruelty, and loneliness.

In over 30 years of writing fiction, Haruf wrote just a handful of novels, and they’re all fairly short. From 1984’s The Tie That Binds to 2013’s Benediction, Haruf published five novels, one every six years. He was clearly in no hurry, and he wouldn’t be rushed. It is said that he wrote on a manual typewriter in a garden shed with his eyes closed.
Another novel, Our Souls at Night, is scheduled to be published next year. With two novels in the last couple years of his life, a much quicker pace than usual, you have to assume that Haruf knew the end of was coming. He wanted to finish his portrait of Holt.

He wrote spare, understated, beautifully crafted novels with “small” stories that carried huge emotional weight. Instead of major plot points, he focused on moments of emotional resonance. In Benediction, for example, an old man, Dad Lewis, who ran a hardware store in Holt for many decades, spends most of the novel in bed, slowly dying, cared for by his wife and daughter. Friends and employees visit, as does the young orphan girl who lives next door with her grandmother. Dad is visited by ghosts as well, including his gay son, whom Dad has not seen for 20 years and could not accept, his rough father who could not accept him, and a former employee Dad fired for stealing. The man eventually committed suicide. Wracked by guilt, Dad gives money to the man’s widow. It’s heavy and overwhelming, and the characters are full of sorrows, and Haruf carries it off eloquently without drawing attention to himself stylistically.

EventideHaruf is known for portrayals of simple, small town folk. Many of them are noble. The dialog is beautiful for its directness and authenticity. The plots are often based on loss and perhaps salvation, as in Plainsong wherein like the pregnant teen Victoria is locked out by her mother, ignored by her boyfriend, and eventually comes to live with two elderly bachelor farmer brothers, who help and support her. The farmers, Harold and Raymond, even beat up her cad boyfriend. The farmers are Haruf’s most beloved characters.

Despite the plain, unadorned yet graceful prose, Haruf’s novels are also intense. In The Tie That Binds, a woman lives on a ranch with her father, who takes advantage of her helpfulness by keeping her working on the farm when he is too old for the work. Edith misses out on many things in life, like marriage and children, because she cannot bring herself to leave. When her selfish and tyrannical father finally dies, she ends up taking care of her disturbed brother. The Tie That Binds is told as a flashback, and the novel opens with Edith accused of her brother’s murder.
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HALLELUJAH: 86 Years Ago Today A King Was Born

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

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TIME: From his earliest memory Martin King has had a strong aversion to violence in all its forms. The school bully walloped him; Martin did not fight back. His younger brother flailed away at him; Martin stood and took it. A white woman in a store slapped him, crying, “You’re the [n—-r] who stepped on my foot.” Martin said nothing. Cowardice? If so, it would come as a surprise to Montgomery, where Martin Luther King has unflinchingly faced the possibility of violent death for months.

The shabby, overcrowded Negro schools in Atlanta were no match for the keen, probing (“I like to get in over my head, then bother people with questions”) mind of Martin King; he leapfrogged through high school in two years, was ready at 15 for Atlanta‘s Morehouse College, one of the South’s Negro colleges. At Morehouse, King worked with the city’s Intercollegiate Council, an integrated group, and learned a valuable lesson. “I was ready to resent all the white race,” he says. “As I got to see more of white people, my resentment was softened, and a spirit of cooperation took its place. But I never felt like a spectator in the racial problem. I wanted to be involved in the very heart of it.”

As a kid, in the classic tradition of kids, Martin wanted to be a fireman. Then, hoping to treat man’s physical ills, he planned to become a doctor. Becoming more deeply engrossed in the problems of his race, he turned his hopes to the law because “I could see the part I could play in breaking down the legal barriers to Negroes.” At Morehouse, he came to final resolution. “I had been brought up in the church and knew about religion,” says King, “but I wondered whether it could serve as a vehicle to modern thinking. I wondered whether religion, with its emotionalism in Negro churches, could be intellectually respectable as well as emotionally satisfying.” He decided it could—and that he would become a minister. MORE –Feb. 18, 1957

RELATED: The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Arguably the greatest moment in 20th Century oration.

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

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Broad City

 

FRESH AIR

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Comedy Central’s television show Broad City has been compared to Girls and Sex and the City, but when co-creators, co-writers and co-stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were creating the web series that ended up being a prototype of their TV show, they were actually channeling Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. “We didn’t realize it was going to be character development for a TV show later,” Glazer tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “I think we looked to Larry David more than anybody else.” Broad City is about two single 20-somethings, also named Abbi and Ilana, who live in New York City, have dead-end jobs and spend a lot of time hanging out, smoking weed and making each other laugh. “[She’s] cleaning all sorts of disgusting things up, mostly bodily fluids and remnants,” Jacobson says. “But [she] dreams of bigger things and her social life mostly consists of hanging out with her best friend, Ilana, who pulls her out of her comfort zone into these crazy adventures.” Glazer’s character, Ilana Wexler, is a free-spirited, loyal “hedonist,” according to Glazer. “She likes to feel good; she likes pleasure,” she says. “I feel like at this point in her life the most important thing is her friendship with Abbi — that’s the grounding through-line for my character.” The web series was produced between 2009 and 2011. “It was like Curb … because they were these short slices that didn’t wrap up usually, or they were just little segments of these characters’ lives,” Jacobson says. Glazer and Jacobson met at the improv comedy group the Upright Citizens Brigade, which was co-founded by Amy Poehler. The two used their improv community in their web series, often featuring guest stars, including Poehler. Later, when the Broad City duo pitched their show as a TV series, Poehler came on board as an executive producer. The Comedy Central series begins its second season on Wednesday. MORE

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REALITY SHOW: If Comcast Was Your Boyfriend

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

dating-comcast-feat

 

INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: Back in October, we reported on Comcast once again making the number one spot on Consumerists.com’s list of the worst companies in America, taking out Sea World, Walmart and Monsato in the “final four.” Some key issues with the company are highlighted in the video: MORE

PHAWKER: If Comcast is your boyfriend, believe me, you have a lot bigger problems than him not showing up on time. Wait until he starts slapping you around with completely arbitrary fees, like charging you $6 for the pleasure of paying your bill over the phone with an actual Comcast representative, or that $8 a month rental fee on his shitty router that he insists on keeping at your house, or the $15 a month he makes you pay because he has some weird retro fetish with landlines, knowing fully well you’ll never use it. Or the $20 bucks month he expects you to give him for the new and improved but still only 10th fastest Internet service in the world. Tenth. We’re tenth. USA! USA! And good luck trying to break up with him, he’ll swear to you he’s gonna change and sweet talk you with free HBO or put you on hold for hours until you just give up on breaking up with him. There should be a shelter that consumers can go to escape an abusive relationship with a cable/Internet provider, and a Cable Court that issues restraining orders. Most of all, there should be some kind of regulatory agency that polices the communications marketplace and ensures that predatory cable company boyfriends don’t acquaintance rape their consumer girlfriends. We could call it the Federal Communications Commission. I know, I know, pretty pie in the sky stuff. Well, fella can dream, can’t he?

[h/t PHILLY MAG]

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Last Year The PPA Collected $233 Million In Parking Fees & Fines, Just $9 Million Of It Went To Schools

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

ppa_vector

 

REDDIT: In 2014, the PPA brought in a combined revenue of $233,708,372 from its On-Street & Off-Street parking operations. $121,531,303 was from On-Street parking enforcement (ticketing) alone. While, you’d think that numbers like this would be a boon for the city. After constant wasteful spending, hyper-inflated salaries/pensions, and uncontrolled budgets – the city only actually receives a small portion of this. At the end of the fiscal year, only $46.5 million of their $233 million in revenue ended up going to the the City general fund & the School district. A measly $9.7 million of this was reserved for the struggling school district. Compare this with 2012, when $14 million was given to the schools, despite a $3 million increase in revenues since then.

The Parking Authority was originally created with the intentions to work 100% for the benefit of the City of Philadelphia, not against it. As with parking enforcement in other major cities, this is an agency which should be operating on a shoe-string budget, with the majority of all revenues going back into the city and school district. The financial statements indicate that the agency does not have control over its spending, and does not keep the welfare of the city of Philadelphia in mind when making budgeting decision. Cash for major capital projects should be raised & funded only with the approval of the city budget office, after its been determined it can be afforded with the city’s current financial needs. With their spending, money that would be given back to the city, is instead being re-invested back into PPA personnel, equipment, & projects. Do we really need to spend $70,000,000 on a new parking garage when thousands of teachers are threatened with their jobs. Does the PPA need brand new tow trucks and meter maid vehicles every year when kids are in classrooms with 40-50 peers and no text books? There are far greater priorities than frivolous investments which don’t directly benefit the people of Philadelphia. If demand calls for it, privately owned garages should & would inevitably fill any unmet needs. The citizens of Philadelphia should not stand to be pirated by this criminal organization. MORE

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BOY’S LIFE: The Black Album

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

The-Beatles-Solo

 

Richard Linklater’s epic and altogether wonderful Boyhood chronicles the days in the life of a boy named Mason from age 5 to 18 and was filmed over the course of 12 years with the same actors. (You can read Phawker film critic Dan Buskirk’s review HERE) Ethan Hawke, who plays his father, assembles a definitive mix CD of solo Beatles for Mason’s 12th birthday. These are the one-from-the-heart liner notes that go with it, they derive from the liner notes he wrote for the solo Beatles comp CD he once made for his real-life daughter.

Mason,

I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance.

I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.

The only work I’ve ever been a part of that I feel any sense of pride for involves something born in a spirit of collaboration — not my idea or his or her idea, but some unforeseeable magic that happens in creativity when energies collide.

This is the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s solo work, post-BEATLES. Basically I’ve put the band back together for you. There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that. When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S.

Just listen to the whole CD, OK?
(more…)


Via BuzzFeed


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