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I, DESTROYER: Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Friday, July 18th, 2014

This is brilliant.

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

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

 

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Sometimes I think Dylanology — the obsessive study and consumption of all things Bob — is the new (and improved) Scientology. Think about it: Both are non-denominational pop cults formed in the latter half of the 20th Century that rally around a charismatic leader and rake in boatloads of believer money. Both have celebrity acolytes and promise extraordinary insight. But there is one vast and crucial difference, as vast and crucial as the difference between The Old Testament and The New Testament: L. Ron Hubbard wrote Battlefield Earth and Bob Dylan wrote “Like A Rolling Stone.” And that, kids, is why your mother and I are not Scientologists. That, and Tom Cruise. Besides, as L. Ron Hubbards go, you could do a lot worse than Bob Dylan. Plus, the music’s better. To prove my point I got Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Kinney, author of The Dylanologists: Adventures In The Land Of Bob, on the horn. It went something like this:

PHAWKER: So where did the idea to write about Dylan obsessives come from?

DAVID KINNEY: I’ve been a Dylan fan for like 25 years and it grew a little bit out of that fishing book in that both of them are about this subculture that I was maybe on the fringes of. I’ve been a fisherman for a long time but not at any level near these guys at Martha’s Vineyard. So, to go up there and fish wish them and watch them and to go see how the professionals do it. With Dylan it was kind of the same thing. I would listen to him for a long time and I think my wife and my friends would have said I was a hardcore Dylan fan. I had all the records and I’ve seen him a bunch of times in concert. I still felt like a piker, I guess. So, I had at some point started searching for some of his unreleased recordings. I think it was maybe like 10 or 15 years ago when I discovered I had everything already and that there was other stuff out there that I heard like the ’66 concerts and that sort of thing. Searching for those recordings I kind of realized that there was this whole world out there of people who took it far more seriously than I did. So I found a ramp for another book idea. I thought it would be fun to write about them. And also for selfish reasons I wanted to go deeper into Dylan than I had before. So, I spent all this time — I could have locked myself in my attic I guess with all the CDs and a library of Dylan books and done it that way, but I wanted to go out and meet these people and immerse myself in this world to see what other people who are smarter than me had to say about Dylan. That was the fun of it. That was the genesis of the idea.

PHAWKER: You spend a lot of time following these people around while they followed Dylan, kind of like Deadheads. You’re married — to former Inquirer columnist Monica Yant-Kinney –  with children. I’m curious how ‘Honey, I have to go sleep out for Bob Dylan tickets at Madison Square Gardens’ or ‘Honey, I can’t go to your mothers I need to go to Big Pink’ went over at home.

DAVID KINNEY: Well, I call this ‘work.’ Quote unquote. It was a little less crazy than the fishing tournament. That lasted for five weeks straight. So I went to Martha’s Vineyard for six straight weeks while Monica was working at the Inquirer. We had a three-year-old at that point at home. So she was sort of a single mom for six weeks. This time, even though the book project took a lot longer, I was away for shorter periods of time. Probably if you added it all up I was gone for a couple of months traveling all over the place. I did a week of following Dylan through the Great Plains from Austin, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, all the way to Sturgis in South Dakota where he played that biker rally. I went up to New York more times than I could count. I went to England for a week and hung out with the fanzine writers there and editors. [Monica] did come with me to Vienna. There was a Dylan academic conference one year that we went out to together. She didn’t go to any of the Dylan-related stuff. She sort of saw the city while I went and geeked out on Dylan.

PHAWKER: Is she a Dylan fan?

DAVID KINNEY: No. I don’t think she would count herself as a fan. She has probably seen him six or seven times and come away shaking her head each time. It’s funny.

PHAWKER: In the book you allude the fact that you are in your own way one of these people. Tell me how you became a believer in the Church Of Bob? What was your come-to-Jesus moment?
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THIS JUST IN: Neil Young @ The Academy Of Music

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Illustration by DAN SPRINGER

October 8th and 9th. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 am via KimmelCenter.org.

PREVIOUSLY: Neil Young At The Wells Fargo Center

PREVIOUSLY: Top 5 Things You Should Know About Neil Young @ The Tower Last Night

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CINEMA: Her Satanic Majesty’s Request

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

 

SKATETOWN U.S.A. (1979, directed by William A. Levey, 98 min., U.S.)
SON OF DRACULA (1974, directed by Freddie Francis, 90 min., U.K.)
BLOOD (1974, directed by Andy Milligan, 69 minutes, U.S.)
MURDER ON THE EMERALD SEAS (1973, directed by Alan Ormsby, 85 min., U.S.)
THE SATANIST (1968, directed by Zoltan G. Spencer, 64 min., U.S.)

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC The Philly-based cinema curators of Exhumed Films traffic in the weird, wild and often disrespected fringes of cinema history. What started 17 years ago as a forum to present 35mm prints of the modern classics of contemporary horror has, over time, widened to include all sorts of little-seen genre films from decades past, from blaxploitation, Italian crime films, sex comedies and some films that are just plain unclassifiable. This latest show is their bravest program yet, a master’s class in oddball vehicles, the draw being that these films have for the most part been abandoned since their inception, left un-revived by cable or home video. It’s a fantastically curious batch of films and for genre lovers (especially of that magic movie era of the 1970s) it is a chance to forever trump your movie buff buddies in the ‘Have you seen this?’ game.

First up is the best-known of the batch, 1979′s Skatetown U.S.A., which actually received a brief wide release from Columbia Pictures in October of 1979. I had originally caught it on HBO in the year following its release and found it mildly-diverting but the film is a great example of how time can radically change a movie’s impact. Made in the wake of monster hits like Saturday Night Fever and Grease, the producers thought their timing was dead-on for a blockbuster built around the brief craze of roller discos. A DJ known as “The Wizard” literally brings the scene to life as a night at the glamorous roller skating rink reveals a lot of hi-jinks afoot, culminating with a dangerous skatedown between Stan (sometime adult film star Greg Bradford) and the demoniacally intense Ace (Patrick goddamn Swayze, in his debut). It is the breath-taking Hollywood Palladium (built in 1940 and host to a lot of Lotus Land history) that stands in for titular skating rink, and, all dolled-up, the location is a star in its own right. In fact, the movie is reminiscent of the variety musicals of the ’30s and ’40s, featuring numerous comics (Letterman pal Gary Mule Deer and The Gong Show‘s Murray Langston) musical acts (oddly enough, Traffic’s groovy hippie Dave Mason) and eye-popping babes (Playboy Playmate and Star 80 victim Dorothy Stratton) all taking their time in the spotlight It’s gorgeously shot, resembling the flashy insides of a pinball machine courtesy of cinematographer Donald Morgan, who did fine work for John Carpenter in Christine and Starman. I could dazzle you for paragraphs just naming the cast (Chachi! A horny Marcia Brady! An evil Horshack! Ruth Buzzi!) but the producers weren’t wrong to bank their faith on the charismatic Swayze to deliver irresistible star power. Swayze was a professional skate dancer before the producers ever came calling and he does some sincerely stunning choreography, all with the intensity of a guy who seems desperate to become the star he was destined to be. There’s a real euphoria to be found with those who grew up in this era, Skatetown U.S.A. is a stone-cold blast!
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SOUND ADVICE: Dude From Gym Class Heroes

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

NOISEY: Sound Advice, the hilarious web series co-created by Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer and her brother, Noisey contributor Jonah Bayer. This week’s episode features Travie McCoy—the frontman of Gym Class Heroes and the man responsible for that song about wanting to be a billionaire so fucking bad—getting “fixed” by Bayer’s character, media consultant Janessa Slater. [...] Think “Between Two Ferns,” but with musicians. MORE

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COMCASTIC: The Customer Is Always Raped Wrong

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Ryan Block, who works at AOL and at one time was Engadget’s editor-in-chief and is co-founder of gdgt, was moving and decided he wanted to cancel his Comcast service and start at his new home with a different provider. Simple, right? Just pick up the phone, call Comcast and disconnect. Well, no. It wasn’t that simple. Listen to this astonishing recording in which Block is badgered by a Comcast rep who demands to know why he’s canceling the service. It’s a train wreck.  MORE

RYAN BLOCK: This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already played along and given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling (which is why I simply stopped answering the rep’s repeated question — it was clear the only sufficient answer was “Okay, please don’t disconnect our service after all.”). MORE

COMCAST: We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and Ms. Belmont and are contacting them to personally apologize.  The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action.  While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect. MORE

PHAWKER: Cough. The very fact that Comcast calls the employees that help you disconnect your service Customer Retention Reps ensures that all calls from customers looking to terminate their Comcast account start off in conflict. This is not an accident. Good Customer Retention Reps do exactly what this guys does, they’re just not so bull-in-the-china-shop about it. Comcast is not sorry this happened, they are sorry such a naked depiction of their corporate culture was captured on tape and shared widely on the Internet.

 

RELATED: A senior congressional Republican this week introduced legislation that would bar the federal government from using its powers to help community-owned internet service providers compete with private telecommunications companies. The move comes just as a Chattanooga-based community owned Internet provider that delivers some of the fastest connections in the nation, EPB, is girding up for an expansion plan that would take on major telecommunications firms far beyond its home region. In many states major providers of high speed internet connections have successfully lobbied state lawmakers to deliver legislation that bars community-owned internet providers from expanding beyond their home territories. The FCC has the authority to intervene and preempt such state laws to enable smaller Internet providers to compete with larger national firms. The legislation-introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) as an amendment to an annual spending bill, would strip the FCC of this power. Blackburn’s (R-TN) top donors include private telecommunications firms that do not want to have to compete with publicly owned ISPs. Her state is home to EPB, a taxpayer-owned power company in Chattanooga that also provides local residents some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world at market-competitive rates. EPB is now aiming to expand its services beyond Chattanooga. [...] If passed by Congress, Blackburn’s amendment could effectively strip the FCC of its preemption power, at least for the year that the underlying annual appropriations measure is in force. That would halt EPB’s new expansion proposal, and send a larger message to other community-owned utilities that they may not get federal relief from state statutes. That would be a big win for the private telecom industry, which might explain Blackburn’s central role in the fight. According to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, two of Blackburn’s largest career donors are employees and PAC’s affiliated with AT&T (NYSE:T)  ($66,750) and Comcast ($36,600). Those are two of EPB’s private-sector competitors in Chattanooga. Blackburn has also taken $56,000 from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which is the lobbying group representing major private telecom firms. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Internet users deserve far better, and we thought we were going to get it from a president who promised to “take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality.” Watch now as he and his FCC chairman try to spin tomorrow’s betrayal as another “mission accomplished.” Don’t believe it. This bogus victory has become all too familiar to those watching the Obama administration and its appointees squander opportunities for real change. The reality is that reform is just a rhetorical front for industry compromises that reward the biggest players and K-Street lobbyists while giving the public nothing. It’s not the FCC chairman’s job to seek consensus among the corporations that he was put into office to regulate. His duty is to protect Internet users. More than two million people have taken action on behalf of Net Neutrality. Tomorrow, we’ll all get the carpet yanked from beneath our feet. Net Neutrality is the freedom of speech, freedom of choice issue of the 21st century. It’s the guarantee of a more open and democratic media system that was baked into the Internet at its founding. On Tuesday, Obama’s FCC is going to sell that out. MORE

PREVIOUSLY:  When Is Comcast Buying Time-Warner NOT A Monopoly? Apparently, When David L. Cohen Hosts A Couple Obama Fundraisers At His Mt. Airy Manse

PREVIOUSLY: Sign Petition, Help Netflix Find Its Spine & Stop The Internet From Becoming Another Cable TV Rip-Off

PREVIOUSLY:  Comcast, Where The Internet Goes To Die

PREVIOUSLY: Spielberg In Town To Honor Comcast For Doing Something Nice And Un-Evil For A Change

PREVIOUSLY: WORTH REPEATING: 8 Reasons Why Comcast Sucks

PREVIOUSLY: WEASELS RIPPED MY INTERNET: Cowardly House Dems Cave On Net Neutrality, Cut FCC Off At The Balls

THE VERGE: In a perfect storm of corporate greed and broken government, the internet has gone from vibrant center of the new economy to burgeoning tool of economic control. Where America once had Rockefeller and Carnegie, it now has Comcast’s Brian Roberts, AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, and Verizon’s Lowell McAdam, robber barons for a new age of infrastructure monopoly built on fiber optics and kitty GIFs.We’re really, really fucking this up.  But we can fix it, I swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the doublespeak bullshit of regulators and lobbyists, but the actual truth. Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand better not only from our government, but from the companies that serve us as well. “This is a political fight,” says Craig Aaron, president of the advocacy group Free Press. “When the internet speaks with a unified voice politicians rip their hair out.” We can do it. Let’s start.

THE INTERNET IS A UTILITY, JUST LIKE WATER AND ELECTRICITY

Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility. There, you’ve just skipped past a quarter century of regulatory corruption and lawsuits that still rage to this day and arrived directly at the obvious conclusion. Internet access isn’t a luxury or a choice if you live and participate in the modern economy, it’s a requirement. [...] It’s time to just end these stupid legal word games and say what we all already know: internet access is a utility. A commodity that should get better and faster and cheaper over time. Anyone who says otherwise is lying for money. MORE

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Q&A: Steve-O, The Jackest Of All Asses

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

 
AS TOLD TO JONATHAN VALANIA Steve-O of Jackass fame will be performing nightly at Helium Comedy Club from July 16th-19th, so we got him on the horn for one of our patented Phawker heart-to-hearts. DISCUSSED: Clown college, cocaine, stilt-walking, sobriety, his father being president of Coca Cola Brazil, things he’s put up his ass, suicide, Samuel Jackson, the permanent damage of his Jackassery, Ryan Dunne & Amy Schumer, psychiatric lockdown, veganism, kindness to animals and the importance of flossing after every meal.

PHAWKER:  So, you moved around a lot as a kid. Your dad was actually president of the South American division of Pepsi-Cola.

STEVE-O: My dad was the president of Pepsi-Cola Brazil. We moved there when I was six months old. I spoke my first words in Portuguese in Brazil because I was essentially raised by live-in maids. That’s what my dad called them — I’m like, ‘they were servants, face it.’

PHAWKER: You graduated from clown college, what did you learn there?

STEVE-O: I had never walked on stilts before. I never juggled clubs before. They’re not called juggling pins, they’re called juggling clubs… [talking to someone he's with] Indianapolis monument. I thought I can climb up a little bit, I’m not going to get to far but it’s definitely worth a try...[talking to me] So I learned how to walk stilts, I learned how to juggle clubs, I learned how to unicycle…[talking to someone he's with] I think there’s definitely a video to be shot right here. I think there’s a potential publicity move right here….[talking to me] I’m in Indianapolis and there’s the Indianapolis monument. I mean it’s a veritable fucking Eiffel Tower over here.

PHAWKER: What are you thinking about doing?

STEVE-O: I might get on the news, who knows.
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EARLY WORD: A Confederacy Of Dunces

Monday, July 14th, 2014

 

If you’ve ever seen Tim and Eric (the duo of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) live, you are already aware these two know how to put on a performance – complete with singing, dancing, and all sorts of other Tim and Eric-isms. If you haven’t experienced the comedic force behind Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (and the soon-to-be-unleashed Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories) in person, well, you’ve obviously missed out on some key moments in history, but we’ll let that slide for now. Past triumphs aside, NO ONE has seen Tim AND Eric AND Check It Out‘s Dr. Steve Brule live in 2014! As on his program, Check It Out!, where Dr. Steve Brule discovers and shares bits of great knowledge about all areas of life, the Dr. Steve Brule live show will educate crowds in a similar fashion. This power trio has put together a show of a lifetime for you and your pep-pep and they’re venturing to pretty much every major city in North America, including the Keswick Theater on Friday October 10th. No excuses this time, ya danguses! Tickets for the tour go on sale this Friday, July 18 at 10am local time at www.axs.com.

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A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: This Is What The Children Of Honduras Are Running From

Monday, July 14th, 2014


Photo via ANORAK

NEW YORK TIMES: Cristian Omar Reyes, an 11-year-old sixth grader in the neighborhood of Nueva Suyapa, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, tells me he has to get out of Honduras soon — “no matter what.” In March, his father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to take her to Florida. She promised to send for him quickly, but she has not. Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the beginning of this year. A girl his age resisted being robbed of $5. She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine across the street from Cristian’s house. [...]

Children still leave Honduras to reunite with a parent, or for better educational and economic opportunities. But, as I learned when I returned to Nueva Suyapa last month, a vast majority of child migrants are fleeing not poverty, but violence. As a result, what the United States is seeing on its borders now is not an immigration crisis. It is a refugee crisis. Gangs arrived in force in Honduras in the 1990s, as 18th Street and Mara Salvatrucha members were deported in large numbers from Los Angeles to Central America, joining homegrown groups like Los Puchos. But the dominance in the past few years of foreign drug cartels in Honduras, especially ones from Mexico, has increased the reach and viciousness of the violence. As the United States and Colombia spent billions of dollars to disrupt the movement of drugs up the Caribbean corridor, traffickers rerouted inland through Honduras, and 79 percent of cocaine-smuggling flights bound for the United States now pass through there.

Narco groups and gangs are vying for control over this turf, neighborhood by neighborhood, to gain more foot soldiers for drug sales and distribution, expand their customer base, and make money through extortion in a country left with an especially weak, corrupt government following a 2009 coup. Enrique’s 33-year-old sister, Belky, who still lives in Nueva Suyapa, says children began leaving en masse for the United States three years ago. That was around the time that the narcos started putting serious pressure on kids to work for them. At Cristian’s school, older students working with the cartels push drugs on the younger ones — some as young as 6. If they agree, children are recruited to serve as lookouts, make deliveries in backpacks, rob people and extort businesses. They are given food, shoes and money in return. Later, they might work as traffickers or hit men.
Continue reading the main story

Teachers at Cristian’s school described a 12-year-old who demanded that the school release three students one day to help him distribute crack cocaine; he brandished a pistol and threatened to kill a teacher when she tried to question him. At Nueva Suyapa’s only public high school, narcos “recruit inside the school,” says Yadira Sauceda, a counselor there. Until he was killed a few weeks ago, a 23-year-old “student” controlled the school. Each day, he was checked by security at the door, then had someone sneak his gun to him over the school wall. Five students, mostly 12- and 13-year-olds, tearfully told Ms. Sauceda that the man had ordered them to use and distribute drugs or he would kill their parents. By March, one month into the new school year, 67 of 450 students had left the school. Teachers must pay a “war tax” to teach in certain neighborhoods, and students must pay to attend.

Carlos Baquedano Sánchez, a slender 14-year-old with hair sticking straight up, explained how hard it was to stay away from the cartels. He lives in a shack made of corrugated tin in a neighborhood in Nueva Suyapa called El Infiernito — Little Hell — and usually doesn’t have anything to eat one out of every three days. He started working in a dump when he was 7, picking out iron or copper to recycle, for $1 or $2 a day. But bigger boys often beat him to steal his haul, and he quit a year ago when an older man nearly killed him for a coveted car-engine piston. Now he sells scrap wood.

But all of this was nothing, he says, compared to the relentless pressure to join narco gangs and the constant danger they have brought to his life. When he was 9, he barely escaped from two narcos who were trying to rape him, while terrified neighbors looked on. When he was 10, he was pressured to try marijuana and crack. “You’ll feel better. Like you are in the clouds,” a teenager working with a gang told him. But he resisted.

He has known eight people who were murdered and seen three killed right in front of him. He saw a man shot three years ago and still remembers the plums the man was holding rolling down the street, coated in blood. Recently he witnessed two teenage hit men shooting a pair of brothers for refusing to hand over the keys and title to their motorcycle. Carlos hit the dirt and prayed. The killers calmly walked down the street. Carlos shrugs. “Now seeing someone dead is nothing.” MORE

[Click HERE to enlarge]

DALLAS NEWS: Beyond San Pedro Sula’s wide avenues, filled with U.S. fast-food chains, foreign manufacturing firms and high-end malls, lies a city of 900,000 haunted by remnants of the Central American wars of the 1980s, the root cause of the current crisis, experts say. The 1980s were marked by the anti-communist policies of the Reagan administration, which included billions of dollars in military aid to the region, including aid for the anti-Sandinista Contra rebels in neighboring Nicaragua. Tens of thousands of people were killed thoughout the region. Peace accords were signed, but the region never fully recovered and is still marked by political instability, land disputes and, more recently, the explosion of gangs, including the MS-13 and MS-18. Those gangs, known as Maras, were spawned in the ghettos of Los Angeles and other U.S. cities, drawing their members from earlier waves of Central American immigrants. As these members were arrested, incarcerated and eventually deported, they re-established their criminal organizations in the struggling countries of Central America. Over the years they have grown into powerful crime networks, joining forces with Mexican cartels, including the Zetas, which use this Central American country as a pathway between South and North America. The result is pervasive violence. Military officials attribute up to 90 percent of killings to drug violence. MORE

 

 

PHAWKER: Just to clarify, ‘people’ is short for ‘white people.’

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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE: Tommy Erdelyi, AKA The Last Ramone Alive, Dead At 62

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

 

LA TIMES: Tommy Ramone [PICTURED, SECOND FROM RIGHT], drummer and last surviving original member of the punk-rock band Ramones, died Friday, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times by the band’s manager with Silent Partner Management. He was 62, the manager confirmed. Born Thomas Erdelyi in Budapest, Hungary, on Jan. 29, 1952, Ramone was the drummer for the band from 1974 to 1978, as well as co-producing the band’s first three albums.The Ramones, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 — had to wait until most of their membership had died to be hailed by mainstream pop culture as a pioneering force. The band, whose members adopted a last name used by Paul McCartney to reserve hotel rooms in the Beatles years, were known for their bowl haircuts, ripped jeans and less-than-polished musical style. The four-member Ramones came out of Queens with limited musical skills, but by 1976, their staccato riffs and full-frontal garage rock assaults began to make their mark on British punk musicians. The band has been acknowledged by many as the inventors of punk rock. MORE

TIME: The debut album by punk band The Ramones–creatively titled Ramones–has finally gone gold, with over 500,000 copies sold since its release in 1976. The Recording Industry of America certified the album’s gold status on April 30, almost exactly 38 years after its debut. The slow progress may be thanks to the album’s lack of commercial success in the 1970s. It peaked at 111 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Since then, however, the album has been labeled the most influential punk record by Spin magazine and was inducted into the Library of Congress in 2013 alongside Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills. MORE

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ATLAS FUGGED: One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

Friday, July 11th, 2014

 

SALON: The night before the 2008 Nevada Republican convention, the Ron Paul delegates all met at a Reno high school. Although I’d called myself a libertarian for almost my entire adult life, it was my first exposure to the wider movement. And boy, was it a circus. Many members of the group were obsessed with the gold standard, the Kennedy assassination and the Fed. Although Libertarians believe government is incompetent, many of them subscribe to the most fringe conspiracy theories imaginable. Airplanes are poisoning America with chemicals (chemtrails) or the moon landings were faked. Nothing was too far out. A great many of them really think that 9-11 was an inside job. Even while basking in the electoral mainstream, the movement was overflowing with obvious hokum.

During the meeting, a Ron Paul staffer, a smart and charismatic young woman, gave a tip to the group for the upcoming convention. “Dress normal,” she said. “Wear suits, and don’t bring signs or flags. Don’t talk about conspiracy theories. Just fit in.” Her advice was the kind you might hear given to an insane uncle at Thanksgiving. Then next day, I ran into that same operative at the convention, and I complimented her because Ron Paul delegates were being accepted into the crowd. I added, “We‘re going to win this thing.” “Bring in the clowns,” she said, and smiled before I lost her in the mass of people. I will never forget that moment: Bring in the clowns.

At the time, I considered myself a thoughtful person, yet I could hardly claim to be one if you judged me by the company I kept. The young lady knew something I had not yet learned: most of our supporters were totally fucking nuts. I came by my own libertarian sensibilities honestly. I grew up in a mining town that produced gold, silver and copper; but above all, Battle Mountain, Nev. made libertarians. Raised on 40-acre square of brown sage brush and dead earth, we burned our own garbage and fired guns in the back yard. After leaving my small town upbringing, I learned that libertarians are made for lots of reasons, like reading the bad fiction of Ayn Rand or perhaps the passable writing of Robert Heinlein.

In my experience, most seemed to be poor, white and undereducated. They were contortionists, justifying the excesses of the capitalist elite, despite being victims if libertarian politics succeed. If you think that selfishness and cruelty are fantastic personal traits, you might be a libertarian. In the movement no one will ever call you an asshole, but rather, say you believe in radical individualism. MORE

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Win Tix To See The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Twelve years after the release of Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Now Gone, The Walkmen have gone on ‘indefinite hiatus’ — which is a polite way of saying ‘We broke up but we could easily get back together for a tour or an album if the money’s right, or everything we try post-Walkmen utterly fails.’ Given the warm critical response to Walkmen singer Hamilton Leithauser’s debut Black Hours — an unlikely but uber-catchy collection of stately torch-songs, caffeinated power-pop and Stones-y country-rock hybrids, that features members of Vampire Weekend and The Shins) upon its release last month, that’s not happening any time soon. So instead of holding your breath for the Walkmen reunion and dying trying, why not choose life and go to The Prince Music Theater on Saturday? We just happen to have a pair of tickets that is burning a hole in our collective pocket. To qualify to win, 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 FEED@PHAWKER.COM telling us a much, with the magic words EVERYONE WHO PRETENDED TO LIKE THE WALKMEN IS NOW GONE 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 14th Phawker reader to email us with the magic words wins! PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME AND MOBILE NUMBER FOR CONFIRMATION. Good luck and godspeed!

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CINEMA: North Korea Calls New Seth Rogan-James Franco Comedy ‘Terrorism’ And ‘An Act Of War’

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

 

THE GUARDIAN: North Korea has complained to the United Nations about The Interview, a forthcoming Hollywood comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, on the grounds that it promotes terrorism against the country. In the film, a TV host (Franco) and his producer (Rogen) manage to secure an interview with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea – only to find themselves hired by the CIA to assassinate him. Despite clearly being in the comic stoner-quest lineage of the pair’s films Pineapple Express and This Is The End, North Korea isn’t laughing. “To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war,” UN ambassador Ja Song Nam told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a letter, according to Reuters. “The United States authorities should take immediate and appropriate actions to ban the production and distribution of the aforementioned film; otherwise, it will be fully responsible for encouraging and sponsoring terrorism.” North Korea has already expressed its displeasure at the movie on a couple of occasions. First of all, spokesperson Kim Myong-chol said the film “shows the desperation of the US government and American society – a film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the US has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.” North Korea’s official news agency then published statements from an unnamed government official, who like Ja called the film an “act of war”, as well as “reckless US provocative insanity”. Ja enclosed a copy of the statement with his UN letter. Assuming it doesn’t escalate to military deployment, this is all perfect publicity for The Interview, which is released in October. MORE

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