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WORTH REPEATING: We Been Took

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Artwork by SHEPARD FAIREY

“[Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.[...] And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin. [...] I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one. And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything. – CORNEL WEST [via SALON]

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THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: Today Is The Last Day To Stop The Merger Of Comcast & Time-Warner

Monday, August 25th, 2014

 

Today is the deadline for final public comments to the FCC regarding the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner. This merger would concentrate a majority share of cable customers in the hands one company – a company that The Consumerist ranked THE WORST COMPANY IN AMERICA IN 2014, decisively beating out Monsanto. We’ve never been shy about where we stand on this merger, and you are welcome to go HERE to read previous posts condemning both Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner as well as the Comcast’s status as THE MOST CRUELLY EFFECTIVE CONSUMER RAPISTS IN THE FREE WORLD!

BUSINESS INSIDER: In addition to being the largest cable provider in the U.S. with 23 million subscribers, Comcast owns a huge number of media and entertainment properties, especially since it completely acquired NBC Universal from GE in 2011. Time Warner Cable is the second-largest cable provider in the U.S. and has a few media properties, though since 2009 it has been distinct from the major media company Time Warner Inc. For a complete list of everything Comcast owns now, we turn to Columbia Journalism Review‘s excellent Who Owns What resource. MORE

Here’s everything Comcast currently owns:

NBCUniversal

Television
NBC Television Network
NBC Entertainment
NBC News
NBC Sport Group
Universal Television (UTV)
Universal Cable Productions
NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution
NBCUniversal International Television Distribution

NBC Local Media Division
NBC New York (WNBC)
NBC Los Angeles (KNBC)
NBC Chicago (WMAQ)
NBC Philadelphia (WCAU)
NBC Bay Area (KNTV)
NBC Dallas/Fort Worth (KXAS)
NBC Washington (WRC)
NBC Miami (WTVJ)
NBC San Diego (KNSD)
NBC Connecticut (WVIT)
NBC Everywhere
LX TV
Skycastle Entertainment

Telemundo
KVEA (Los Angeles)
WNJU (New York)
WSCV (Miami)
KTMD (Houston)
WSNS (Chicago)
KXTX (Dallas/Fort Worth)
KVDA (San Antonio)
KSTS (San Francisco/San Jose)
KTAZ (Phoenix)
KNSO (Fresno)
KDEN (Denver)
KBLR (Las Vegas)
WNEU (Boston/Merrimack)
KHRR (Tucson)
WKAQ (Puerto Rico)
KWHY (Los Angeles) (Independent)

Television Channels
Bravo
Chiller
CNBC
CNBC World
Comcast Charter Sports Southeast
Comcast Sports Group
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
Comcast SportsNet California
Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Comcast SportsNet Houston
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
Comcast SportsNet New England
Comcast SportsNet Northwest
Comcast SportsNet Philadelhpia
SNY
The Mtn.-Mountain West Sports Network
CSS
Comcast Sports Southwest
New England Cable News (Manages)
NBC Sports Network
The Comcast Network
E! Entertainment Television
G4
Golf Channel
MSNBC
mun2
Oxygen Media
Cloo
Sprout
The Style Network
Syfy
Universal HD
USA Network
The Weather Channel Companies
Syfy Universal (Universal Networks International)
Diva Universal (Universal Networks International)
Studio Universal (Universal Networks International)
Universal Channel (Universal Networks International)
13th Street Universal (Universal Networks International)
Movies 24 (Universal Networks International)
Hallmark Channel (non-U.S.) (Universal Networks International)
KidsCo (Interest) (Universal Networks International)

Film
Universal Pictures
Focus Features
Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Parks and Resorts
Universal Parks and Resorts

Digital Media
DailyCandy
Fandango
Hulu (32%)
iVillage
NBC.com
CNBC Digital
Plaxo

Communications
XFINITY TV
XFINITY Internet
XFINITY Voice

Sports Management
Comcast-Spectator
Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center
Global Spectrum (Public Assembly Management)
Ovations Food Services
Front Row Marketing Services
Paciolan
New Era Tickets (ComcastTIX)
Flyers Skate Zone

Other
Comcast Ventures, which is invested in numerous companies.

And now onto Time Warner Cable:

Local channels
Time Warner Cable News

Regional Sports Networks
Metro Sports
Time Warner Cable Sports
Time Warner Cable SportsNet
Time Warner Cable Deportes
TWC Sports 32
SNY

Other
Adelphia — cable television company in PA
NaviSite — cloud and hosting services company
Insight Communications — cable operator
DukeNet Communications —Fiber optic network
Time Warner Cable Internet
Time Warner Cable Media (advertising)

Here are all of the cable regions Comcast will now acquire:

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BENJAMIN BOOKER: Violent Shiver

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Hells yeah! He plays World Cafe Live on October 21st.

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Did This Shitty London Rapper Behead James Foley?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

 

AUS: London rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary has been identified as the leading suspect in the beheading of US journalist James Foley, according to reports. Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary was just six years old when his father was arrested and taken away from their London home. At such a tender age, he could not have known the seriousness of the accusations his father would soon face: that he was one of Osama Bin Laden’s lieutenants in Britain, and had played a role in the bombings of two US embassies in east Africa. Still, the little boy experienced feelings of anger and loss which, years later and as an up-and-coming rapper, he recalled in lyrics in one of his songs, The Beginning.”Give me the pride and the honour like my father. I swear the day they came and took my dad, I could have killed a cop or two and I wouldn’t look back,” raps Bary, who uses the names L Jinny or Lyricist Jinn. “Imagine back then I was only six, just picture what I’d do now with a loaded stick. Like boom bang fine, I’d be wishing you were dead. Violate my brothers and I’m filling you with lead.” Now, Bary is at the centre of an international manhunt, suspected of being the masked Islamic State militant who carried out the horrific beheading of American journalist James Foley.

The 23-year-old, who is also known as Jihadi John, is believed to have travelled to Syria last year from his home in Maida Vale in west London, where he lived with his mother Ragaa and his five siblings. Their home is owned by Westminster Council, and on the open market would be worth £1 million ($1.8 million), according to British media reports. His father, Egyptian-born refugee Adel Abdul Bary, is in custody in New York, awaiting trial over his alleged role in the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He was extradited from Britain to the US in 2011 after an eight-year legal battle, and faces life in prison if convicted. He had been granted political asylum in Britain in 1991 after fleeing Egypt. The younger Bary came to international attention earlier this year when he posted on Twitter a photograph of himself holding up a severed head. “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him,” he wrote on his Twitter account, which has since been deactivated.

Bary is one of the British jihadists referred to by former hostages as the Beatles, because of their British accents. The two others were called “George” and “Ringo”. The two other Britons suspected of involvement are Aine Davis, a former drug dealer who converted to Islam, and Razul Islam, who is believed to have joined the terrorist group that murdered Foley. Before travelling to Syria, Bary achieved limited success as a rapper in Britain, where his singles played on BBC Radio 1 in 2012. In early songs, he appears to make reference to violence and drug use, and talks about the threat of his family being deported to Egypt. He also raps about the struggles of his life, again referring to his absent father.

“Now they want to send my family back to Egypt. Already feeling sea sick,” he raps. “On top of that the pops is doing life without remand. I’ve got to keep my calm… It’s hard to focus on the future with a damaged past. And still I try to count my blessings and I thank the Lord.” Friends claimed Bary grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with people linked to radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary in Britain. In the middle of last year, Bary announced that he was turning his back on music as “I have left everything for the sake of Allah”. He changed his Twitter name to Soldier of Allah and posted a number of photographs online of himself posing with guns, while he also praised al-Qaeda founder Bin Laden. He also wrote: “Oh Allah, grant us martyrdom”. Recordings of his songs will prove vital to the investigating team, with experts using voice recognition technology to match his voice with that of the man who decapitated Foley. MORE

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Believe In Werner Herzog

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

 

FRESH AIR

There are lots of good filmmakers, but only a handful are always, unmistakably themselves. One of these is Werner Herzog, the 71-year-old German director who now lives in L.A. Herzog has done things nobody else would do for a film — like trying to tug a 350-ton steamship over a small mountain. This has made him notorious as a wild, love-him-or-hate-him monomaniac — an image he’s been canny enough to milk. Herzog rose to fame as part of the New German Cinema, a ’70s boom that also included Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Margarethe von Trotta. Starting in 1970 with Even Dwarfs Started Small, an anarchic tale of rebellion by a group of dwarfs, he unleashed a torrent of 10 films — including Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo — that remain the heart of his achievement. All those movies, and six later ones, are included in the tremendous new boxed-set, Herzog: The Collection. Some of them are great, others are good, and a couple are truly terrible. Yet every single one has something going on. Herzog has never been limited by anybody else’s idea of propriety, good sense or artistic neatness. He pushes us into unsettling mental spaces that make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.

His best and most daring movies may be two early documentaries — Fata Morgana, a surreal creation myth shot in the Sahara; and Land of Silence and Darkness, an almost mystical story centering on a woman who has gone deaf and blind. Yet they are a tad forbidding. The best way into Herzog’s work is through his most delightful film, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. It’s based on the true story of a young man who, after being kept alone in a cellar for the first 17 years of his life, walks into the streets of 1820s Nuremberg. What ensues is the collision between a German society that thinks itself civilized and this strange, grown-up wild child, astonishingly played by Bruno S., a street musician who’d spent time in mental institutions. Filled with sympathy for Kaspar, the movie explores one of Herzog’s trademark themes — the role of the individual who, in profound and revelatory ways, doesn’t remotely fit into society. That’s true in a very different way of the hero of the film to watch next — Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Shot along the Amazon in Peru, it tells the story of a doomed group of Spanish conquistadors searching for El Dorado. They’re led by the blond-tressed, hubristically loony commander, Don Lope de Aguirre. He’s indelibly played by Klaus Kinski, the wacko actor who starred in several more Herzog films and became the subject of Herzog’s amusing documentary, included here, titled My Best Fiend.

More than just a portrait of colonial madness, Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a dazzling study in another of Herzog’s themes — humankind’s relationship to landscape and nature, about which Herzog is not sentimental. While in the Amazon shooting his famous film, Fitzcarraldo, he riffs on that subject in filmmaker Les Blank’s documentary Burden of Dreams. Herzog is an enthralling talker. His audio commentaries on these disks are classics of the form. Now, not all the movies are classics. By the time he made his African slave-trade film Cobra Verde in 1987, many people thought he’d run dry. Yet this great chronicler of cussèd, obsessive heroes kept on making movies in his own cussèd, obsessive way. And about 10 years ago, things changed. With the release of his terrific 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, Herzog became one of those rare artists — like Philip Roth or Leonard Cohen — who enjoyed a second flowering after the age of 50. Indeed, nowadays he’s a beloved icon, a man who sometimes seems to be everywhere — making acclaimed docs like Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Encounters at the End of the World, playing the villain in Tom Cruise movies and lending his voice to cartoons about penguins, and directing features like the upcoming Queen of the Desert, which stars Nicole Kidman as the famous British explorer Gertrude Bell. Because he’s so adored, Herzog has at moments fallen into shtick during interviews — Herzog doing Herzog. But he’s never gone soft or commercial or betrayed the driven filmmaker who made those audacious early movies. He’s never settled into chasing Oscars. Instead, like one of the wayward heroes in Herzog: The Collection, he has kept plunging into the unknown, sometimes blindly, sometimes not. MORE

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BEING THERE: The Maggot Brain Surgeon General

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Ardmore Music Hall, Wed. night by DAN LONG

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CINEMA: Frank Blank

Thursday, August 21st, 2014


FRANK (2014, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, 95 minutes, UK/Ireland)

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC My whimsy alert was on hair trigger at the start of this indie rock flick about the adventures of a band led by the paper-mâché-head-wearing title character. Was this story of a rising and falling band really going to try to sell me on the child-like wonders of painted smiles and singing a simple tune? The opening of this music-driven little film hits exactly that mindlessly carefree note but it is a great pleasure when Frank dares to takes its oddball situation seriously and heads for darker comic ground.

Domhnall Gleeson (Brendon Gleeson’s son and Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter films) is the narrator Jon, presented as a keyboardist and uninspired songwriter in the film’s opening. When the band with the unpronounceable name “Soronprfbs” swings into his small U.K. town needing a keyboardist, Jon gets sucked into their orbit. Without hesitation Jon ditches his life to join the band on a promised musical odyssey, one that takes them across borders and seas and ultimately to a stage at Austin’s South By Southwest festival, where surely stardom awaits. Things grow progressively weirder as the band’s journey goes on, and not just because Frank is never — EVER –  seen without his giant fake head. Decorated like a cartoon from the 1930s, the head has a giant painted grin so happy you just know it’s masking a terrible sadness beneath.

The script is co-written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats) who actually spent time in the band of Chris Sievey, a British comic performance artist who performed in a fake head under the name Frank Sidebottom. The film’s story is only loosely connected to this real performer but Ronson definitely catches the egos and interpersonal dynamics that surface in rock bands. The music by Stephen Rennicks is spot-on too, giving a bit of Flaming Lips-style madness to their sound (real drummer Carla Azar of Jack Black’s band lends some authenticity as well).
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REALITY CHECK: What Suicide By Cop Looks Like

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

WARNING: GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING CONTENT

NBCDFW: Two police officers shot and killed a 23-year-old black man who came within several feet of them brandishing a knife Tuesday in St. Louis, several miles from where Michael Brown was killed last week in Ferguson, police said. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters that the suspect shot Tuesday had brandished a knife at officers and refused to drop it when police ordered him to, instead saying, “Shoot me now. Kill me.” Just after the shooting, a crowd of at least 100 people gathered, some of them chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” — the refrain protesters have chanted recently in the nearby suburb where Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot dead by a white police officer, triggering days of unrest. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released cell phone footage Wednesday of the police shooting of Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old black man killed on Tuesday in St. Louis, according to St. Louis Public Radio. A convenience store owner called 911 on Tuesday when he suspected Powell stole drinks and donuts from his shop, according to a recording of the call. Another woman called to report Powell was acting erratically and had a knife in his pocket. Two officers in a police SUV responded to the calls, the cell phone video shows. When the officers got out of their vehicle, Powell walked in their direction, yelling and telling them to shoot him already. MORE

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CINEMA: Mild At Heart

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

 

This is by far the weirdest — and, on the face of it,  least interesting and most disappointing — thing David Lynch has EVER done. Cindy Lauper’s right: Money changes everything. Sigh. Screens @ Ritz 5 for one night only September 10th.

VARIETY: The idea of David Lynch directing a concert movie of Duran Duran remains far more exciting than the result, live-streamed two years ago on YouTube and currently on the market for distribution as a feature. Though Lynch appears at the start of the pic to announce his “experiment,” the surrealist master’s one trick here is to superimpose depressingly literal, color representations of lyrics over standard-issue black-and-white footage of the new wavers onstage. DD fans will complain that the band can’t be ogled over Lynch’s digital doodlings, while Lynch completists will grouse that there’s too much Duran Duran onstage in “Duran Duran Unstaged.”

Lynch’s first feature-length work since “Inland Empire” in 2006, “Duran Duran” opens pre-concert with a high-pitched, overenunciating Lynch exclaiming, “I’m very happy to be working for Duran Duran!” Be that as it may, fun remains in short supply for the viewer, whose patience is tested precisely by the auteur’s illustrative images — a gape-mouthed lupine beast for “Hungry Like the Wolf,” lights in a freeway tunnel for “Being Followed,” a spinning globe for “Planet Earth,” etc. Even allowing for the pressures of on-the-fly direction as required by the project’s live webcast format, “Duran Duran” looks exceedingly lazy. MORE

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Q&A With Palaceer Lazaro Of Shabazz Palaces

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

 

BY SEAN CALDWELL Ishmael Butler was once better known as Butterfly, who, along with Doodlebug and Ladybug, helmed the beloved jazz-inflected hip-hop trio Digable Planets, who were among the select few hip-hop outfits offering a credible alternative to the bitches-bullets-and-bling ethos of then-ascendant gangsta rap. In 1993, the band released Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), which spawned the group’s best known single, “Rebirth of the Slick (Cool Like Dat).” With its titular nod to Miles Davis and infectious blend of Kind Of Blue horns, crisp snare, descending upright bass and beatnik word-jazz, the single earned Digable Planets a Grammy in the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group category in 1994 and gold certification from the RIAA. The follow-up, Blowout Comb, failed to match the debut’s overwhelming acclaim and adulation. Citing the dreaded ‘creative differences,’ Digable Planets called it a career in 1995. In the 2000s, Digable Planets performed a series of reunion shows and the promise of a new album from the group seemed eminent. However, the reunion album never saw the light of day and the group is currently inactive.

A Seattle based hip-hop group known as Shabazz Palaces emerged in 2010 via the release of two mysterious EPs, one self-titled and the other named, Of Light. While Shabazz Palaces was something of an enigma initially, it eventually came to light it was the work of Butler, who was now going by the name Palaceer Lazaro, and instrumentalist Tendai Maraire, who is the offspring of Zimbabwean mbira player, Dumisani Maraire. This being Seattle, the EPs soon reached the ears of Sub Pop, who made Shabazz Palaces their first ever rap signing, releasing Black Up, the group’s debut album, in 2011. Black Up earned widespread praise for its woozy blend of cannabanoidal sonics, pan-African mysticism and Koranic trappings. Shabazz Palaces released its follow-up, Lese Majesty, late last month and is currently in the midst of a supporting tour that will stop at Union Transfer on Friday. Last week we got Palaceer Lazaro/Ishmael Butler on the phone to talk dope, Islam, Sun Ra, sci-fi, Betty Shabazz, LSD, Moby Dick, Octavia Butler and the non-existent future of Digable Planets.

PHAWKER: How do your pronounce your current stage name? Is it Palaceer Lazaro (“Pal-ah-seer Luh-zar-o”)? Is that how you pronounce that?

ISHMAEL BUTLER: That’s it. Yes.

PHAWKER: It’s a cool name. Is that invented, or does that come from something?

ISHMAEL BUTLER:Well, the invention—I kind of want to keep a secret—but I got it out of one of my favorite book and it’s a take on the name of the main character. My real name, Ishmael, is also from a main character of a book called Moby Dick so…

PHAWKER: That is who you’re named after?

ISHMAEL BUTLER: I kind of got that literary pedigree from my Dad and Mom.

PHAWKER: Tell me how you pronounce the title of the new album —is it Leez Majesty?

ISHMAEL BUTLER:Yeah, you can say it with a French accent if you’ve got one, y’know, but that’s how I say it because I don’t have that French accent.

PHAWKER: It’s a beautiful phrase. Essentially it means: “offending royalty” or in the broadest sense treason. Why did you decide to call the new album Lese Majesty?

ISHMAEL BUTLER: ‘Cause, it’s like a lot of people are claiming royalty in the music business. And, we wanted to offend them a little, y’know come at that whole “I’m the greatest,” “I’m the best,” “Look at me,” “Pay attention to me,” “I’m doin’ this,” “I’m wearin’ that,” “I’m drivin’ this,” “I’m doin’ that,” like… Basically, man, get out of here with all that bullshit. I’m mean, like, it’s cool for the young kids because, I get it, you’re still finding your way through the world. But these older, more experienced kind of artists, are still popping this little kid stuff. It just seems ridiculous. I know that they’re just trying to get money and stay famous and ‘relevant,’ if you can call it that, but it just seems to push the influence of the coming generations into a direction that isn’t really going anywhere. It’s not good for anyone other than the person reaping the benefits. It’s just a very corporate outlook on something that I feel is sacred, which is music.

PHAWKER: Let’s talk about the band name for a second: Shabazz Palaces. That’s derived from Nation of Islam doctrine, an ancient scientist that led the Tribe of Shabazz from Mecca to Africa. Correct? Do I have that right?

ISHMAEL BUTLER: Yes.

PHAWKER: Do you consider yourself a Muslim or an adherent of Nation of Islam, or are you just drawing inspiration from the doctrines and aesthetics of those belief systems?
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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

“Homer Simpson” by REMEMBRANDT

FRESH AIR

If you’ve ever been a fan of The Simpsons, here’s your chance to see all 552 episodes of the show in the longest single-series marathon in TV history. They’ll be shown back to back, in sequential order over 12 days and nights on the FXX cable network beginning Thursday.The Simpsons holds the record as the longest-running scripted entertainment series in TV history. In 1987, cartoonist Matt Groening’s yellow-skinned Simpsons family — father Homer, mother Marge and the kids, brainy Lisa, bratty Bart and baby Maggie — began on TV as interstitial segments on Fox’s The Tracey Ullman Show. The Simpsons got their own Christmas special in 1989, and their own prime-time series a month later, to kick off 1990 in very sassy style. But in the beginning, the writers had a hard time finding a groove to perfect that style, Groening told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in a 1989 interview. “It’s been a real struggle to keep a certain roughness and abruptness and jerkiness,” Groening said. “Working on this show, our animators … all bring their own attitude and aesthetic philosophy to the project, and it’s been a real struggle to make sure that everybody gets in line and has the same vision, at least looking in the same direction.” The Simpsons sparked a renaissance in TV animation that led to South Park and Family Guy. One writer, Conan O’Brien, found fame as a talk-show host. Celebrities providing guest voices on The Simpsons included most major movie stars — and Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Its Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials have become one of TV’s most inventive annual traditions. And along the way, year after year, The Simpsons has served up occasional flashes of comic genius, according to TV critic David Bianculli. There was the Season 4 episode that presents a Springfield community-theater musical production of A Streetcar Named Desire — and the Season 2 episode that has Marge Simpson, voiced by Julie Kavner, so upset about the violence in the Itchy & Scratchy cat-and-mouse TV cartoons her kids watch that she goes on TV herself, on a Nightline-type talk show, in protest. So why would people be interested in the marathon? “There’s something about the sense of watching at the same time as other people that makes it special,” says Bianculli. “That certainly goes for a marathon — and that’s why I predict this 25-season Simpsons marathon will indeed steer people towards FXX. It’s a great show, a great idea and a TV viewing event of unprecedented scale.” Since The Simpsons began, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross has interviewed many people who have had a hand in creating the show — from Matt Groening in 1989 and 2003 to two of the writers, Al Jean and Mike Reiss, in 1992. Gross also talked with actors who do the voices, including Nancy Cartwright, who plays Bart, in 2007; Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge in 1994; Hank Azaria, the voice of Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and others in 2004. We listen back to these interviews in Fresh Air’s appreciation of The Simpsons. MORE

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MEDIA: Mo’ Mo’ne! Mo’ Mo’ne! Mo’ Mo’ne!

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

 

INQUIRER: Sitting in his hotel lobby, 20 miles from the stadium, Davis’ stepfather takes a phone call. “Are you serious?” asks Mark Williams, who has been part of the family since Mo’ne was 6. On the phone is coach Steve Bandura, whose son Scott plays for Taney. The girl, he says, will be on the cover of the next Sports Illustrated. The first Little Leaguer ever. Williams shakes his head, drags a hand over his face, and smiles. This is the same girl who used to cry when her mother braided her long hair at age 6; whom he took to Dick’s to buy her first bat at age 10; and who now, barely a teenager, has a deep love of basketball shoes. Now there are Sports Illustrated, e-mails from eager screenwriters, and calls from University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who heard Davis express interest in playing on his team someday.

“She handles it so well,” Williams says. “I’m speechless sometimes. I just want her to have fun and for this to be something for her to remember always.” It would be hard not to. Celebrities from LeSean McCoy to Michelle Obama have tweeted to her. Bookers from national television dial her cellphone. Her Instagram account – and a knock-off – have pulled in nearly 20,000 followers each. To shield her from the circus, Williams hangs onto her blue iPhone 5 during the tournament. It buzzes and rings like a restaurant pager, friends from home sending text messages of encouragement, callers unknown trying to get a hold of the rising eighth grader. Most experiences, he says, have been welcome. But the family senses it must be more careful now. Last week, Williams listened to a television cameraman outside the stadium interviewing a stranger who claimed to be a member of Davis’ family. “I was so mad, I stood there, like, ‘OK, do I go over there now, or do I wait?’ ” He waited, hoping the interview was not live. Then he walked over to the cameraman and introduced himself. The impostor – a Philadelphian – apologized. MORE

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A TALE OF TWO DELINQUENCIES: The Deadly Double Standard Of Racial Justice In America

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Via Twitter/photographer unknown

BY JEFF DEENEY I grew up in suburban Philadelphia in the 80s. It was a time when working class families were leaving their row homes in a city they considered increasingly black and dangerous in droves for single houses on tree lined streets in nearly all white townships not far away, maybe ten miles, but in many ways worlds apart. By 1985, when the bomb dropped on the MOVE house and it seemed like Philly was death spiraling into apocalypse my parents watched the chaos over dinner in Delaware County marveling at what good fortune we had to have left the same neighborhood a few years before it went downhill. The notion was cemented among white flight families had that crime happened “there” – i.e, the city, where black people live – and not “here.” They needed police to keep them in line; we needed police to get cats out of trees.

We kids knew better. Crime doesn’t only happens in poor black neighborhoods; we knew that because we participated in the same kind of criminal activity that young black kids get locked up for every day. We just rarely got caught committing crimes, because there was so much less law enforcement involvement in the lives of white teenagers in the suburbs. When we did get caught we usually walked because suburban criminal justice systems weren’t primarily concerned with inflicting potentially life ruining penalties on children in their communities. Unlike Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we never had to worry about a cop drawing a gun on us.

Perhaps the working class 80’s heavy metal vomit party crowd I grew up with was worse than most; perhaps some percentage of teens in any class group are prone to delinquency, but throughout my formative years I was witness to and frequently a participant in a lot of crime. It was mostly petty stuff – though, that was me; many kids I knew were into pretty serious things. I had a phase where I shop lifted. I started drinking heavily at the age of 12. By the age of 13 I had been exposed to drugs like cocaine and PCP. I wasn’t into property destruction (I was overweight and couldn’t run very fast and was bound to get caught) but friends of mine destroyed incredible amounts of property. Some kids like to spray paint and tag with markers; some liked to fist fight. In all, we were a pretty rowdy bunch.
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