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CINEMA: The Man Who Knew Too Much

Friday, September 16th, 2016


Artwork by MR DEKS

NEW YORK TIMES: Like those young men in a hurry, Edward falls under the sway of two antithetical father figures, a silky apparatchik played by Rhys Ifans, and an unbuttoned renegade played by Nicolas Cage. Drawn to intelligence work out of a sincere desire to serve his country, Edward is not immune to other attractions of the job. He likes the intrigue, the money (especially after he becomes a private contractor) and the feeling of being part of a select group of insiders who know how things really work.

But he is not a figure of operatic, tragic ambition in the mold of Richard M. Nixon, Jim Morrison or Alexander the Great (at least as Mr. Stone imagined them). Nerdy in aspect and phlegmatic in manner, Edward never takes a drink or chases a skirt. (His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, is played by Shailene Woodley.) And “Snowden” is, by Mr. Stone’s standards, a strikingly sober film. Restraint shows in both the filmmaking and the politics. There are very few wild, bravura visual flights and not much in the way of wild conspiracymongering. Edward is a rational, ethical creature — “responsibility” is one of his favorite words — and the movie takes pains to be reasonable. Its basic argument about government data-collection would not be out of place on the Op-Ed page of this or any other newspaper. And its dialogue and pacing would work just fine on television.

Maybe Mr. Stone has mellowed, or maybe the world has caught up with him. What used to be paranoia — the idea, say, that your electronic appliances are spying on you — looks nowadays like blunt realism. It can also seem as if the physical world, that bloody, sex-infused battleground of the self where previous Stone heroes have raged and fought, had been displaced by a more abstract zone of codes and algorithms. Edward passes from one realm to the other when an injury ends his career as a United States Army Ranger. “There are lots of ways to serve your country,” the doctor tells him, and soon enough, his bosses at the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. are explaining that the real war is being waged on computer and cellular networks.

Mr. Stone, well served by his cinematographer, the digital wizard Anthony Dod Mantle, and the composers Craig Armstrong and Adam Peters, evokes the chilly colorations and spooky undertones of our technological reality. The Hong Kong hotel room where Edward meets with Ms. Poitras (Melissa Leo) and the journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson) is an eerie futuristic box. Snowden’s workplaces in Geneva, Tokyo and Oahu are hives full of glowing screens and whispered jargon. MORE

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KIM GORDON: Murdered Out

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Never been a fan of the caterwauling end of the Kim Gordon Singing Styles Spectrum — until now. Yoko Ono did not die in vain. In fact, she didn’t even die.

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Thursday, September 15th, 2016



THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: The government has charged Snowden under the Espionage Act, a World War One-era law that doesn’t distinguish between selling secrets to foreign governments and giving them to journalists working in the public interest. If Snowden were to be tried under the charges he faces, any argument that his actions benefited the public would be inadmissible in court. The Pardon Snowden campaign will work through the end of Obama’s administration to make the case that Snowden’s act of whistleblowing benefited the United States and enriched democratic debate worldwide, and we’re asking citizens to write to the president via our website.

Snowden has already been vindicated in multiple ways: A panel appointed by the president to review the NSA’s surveillance program recommended ­­dozens of reforms. Last year, a federal appeals court found the NSA’s call-tracking program revealed by Snowden was illegal. The following month, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which ended bulk collection of call data by the US government. That bill marked the first time Congress has acted to rein in government surveillance since the 1970s. Journalists at The Guardian and Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Snowden’s disclosures.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said, “We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I thinwired_edward_snowden_movie_posterk that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” And Obama himself commented that the debate sparked by the whistleblower “will make us stronger.” It’s indisputable that our democracy is better off thanks to Snowden, and it’s precisely for cases like his that the pardon power exists. President Obama should use this power for good instead of leaving an American whistleblower stranded in exile. MORE


THE GUARDIAN: Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited. “Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things,” he said. “I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result.” MORE

WIRED: The message arrives on my “clean machine,” a MacBook Air loaded only with a sophisticated encryption package. “Change in plans,” my contact says. “Be in the lobby of the Hotel ______ by 1 pm. Bring a book and wait for ES to find you.” ES is Edward Snowden, the most wanted man in the world. For almost nine months, I have been trying to set up an interview with him—traveling to Berlin, Rio de Janeiro twice, and New York multiple times to talk with the handful of his confidants who can arrange a meeting. Among other things, I want to answer a burning question: What drove Snowden to leak hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents, revelations that have laid bare the vast scope of the government’s domestic surveillance programs? MORE

snowden_bernie_clintonTHE GUARDIAN: Bernie Sanders leads a chorus of prominent public figures calling for clemency, a plea agreement or, in several cases, a full pardon for the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. […] Sanders joins 20 other prominent public figures – from Hollywood actors and rock musicians to politicians, professors and Black Lives Matter activists – who call on Barack Obama to find some way of allowing Snowden to return home to the US from exile in Russia. The Guardian’s voices are raised in the week that Oliver Stone’s film, Snowden, is released in the US and that a coalition of groups including the ACLU and Amnesty International launch a new campaign for a presidential pardon before Obama steps down.

Among the writers in the Guardian are Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, who calls for Snowden to be allowed to make a public interest defense in any US trial. From the world of arts, actor Susan Sarandon and director Terry Gilliam, novelist Barry Eisler and Sonic Youth singer Thurston Moore all make impassioned calls for an Obama pardon.

Senior politicians from both sides of the Atlantic, including former US senator Mark Udall, UK parliamentarian David Winnick and German Green party member Hans-Christian Ströbele all fly the flag for a Snowden homecoming. Similar calls are made by public intellectuals including Noam Chomsky, Cornel West and Sanders’ former Democratic presidential rival and Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig. MORE

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A Q&A With Judge John Hodgman, Actual Person

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Illustration by DONKEY HOTEY

EDITOR’S NOTE: To mark the triumphant return of Judge John Hodgman, who performs at The Trocadero on September 20th, we present this reprise edition of our 2014 interview with The Hodger, as we like to call him.*

BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA John Hodgman is full of shit. Full to the brim and stuffed to the gills with the stuff. And that’s a wonderful thing for you and me — as representative members of the human race that enjoy a good chortle and maybe even a guffaw when circumstances merit — because John Hodgman’s wizardly ability to turn horseshit into pure comedy gold, and to do so with a straight-face, a high-handed loquaciousness never-ending and the kind of ornate, self-aggrandizing syntax usually reserved for the mustachioed stovepipe-hatted men who tie women to railroad tracks in flickering black and white films is his great and generous gift to humanity.  So send him a thank you note. To stir up interest in Tuesday’s Judge John Hodgman show Troc show amongst you, the great unwashed, we got the honorable Judge John Hodgman on the horn, asked him some harmless questions and let him carry forth with a Gilded Age grandiloquence not heard since Grover Cleveland was in the White House. DISCUSSED: His late-in-life marijuana experimentation; unwashed folk singers and their threat to humanity; the sadistic psych doctor he plays on Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick (starting Clive Owen); playing the hypersexual and oversharing Bernie on  Married; Ayn Rand’s deconstruction of Charlie’s Angels, the Hobby Lobby hullabaloo, and how to sincerely grow an ironic mustache or ironically grow a sincere mustache in a way that does not make you look like a card-carrying member of NAMBLA. Impossible, you say? Well, Impossible is John Hodgman’s middle name. Actually, I lied. His middle name is Kellogg, but that is a discussion for another day.

PHAWKER: Can you say something so I can get a recording level?judge-john-hodgman

JOHN HODGMAN: This is John Hodgman speaking. I affirm that I have agreed to this interview, and I’ve agreed to being recorded. The sound of my voice is my signature. Proceed with the first question.

PHAWKER: Before we get into the questions I have, can you tell me what we can expect at the Troc on 9/20?

JOHN HODGMAN: Last time I performed a full show in Philadelphia, I thought the world was going to end, at the end of 2012, according to ancient Mayan prophecies, and the visions I had while bathing in absinthe. You may have noticed that the world did not end, and I found that to be profoundly humiliating, and a little annoying. Because when you get to where I was in my career, in 2012, 41 years old then, now 45. And having published three books of fake facts, and having been on every television show I ever cared to watch. And I met the President of the United States and George R.R. Martin. Truly, what else was there for me to do?

So, I spent 2013, now almost all of 2014, in a basement — not everyday, about once a week — in a basement in Brooklyn where I live, at a venue called Union Hall, where I started telling stories, in order to figure out what I was thinking about now that the world had not ended. Comedy stories, you understand. What I found was extremely liberating. I told these stories, and the secret show that I did in the basement in Brooklyn. It was fine, because you need to tell the kind of arch-weirdo-absurdist jokes that I was known for, but equally fine to shed the persona of the Resident Expert at the Daily Show, or the Deranged Millionaire. I had written those books with fake trivia, and instead talked about John Hodgman, actual person, husband and father of two human children, and professional John Hodgman impersonator. By the end of another year, by the time the year anniversary of the world not ending had passed, I had discovered I had no more than one whole show that I wanted to present again for the people of the United judge-john-hodgmanStates, and parts of Canada, until I’ve died.

So, over the course of 2014, I keep generating newer and newer material as I go along. The consequence is, I am making stories of a more straightforward and personal nature than perhaps people are used to. I’m shedding, quasi-literally, the disguises that I wore as a performer before, in order to stand before the audience, totally literally quasi-nude, and just speak of myself. When I speak of quasi nudity, that is to say that I do take off all of my old costumes, and then speak, for a long time as myself, John Hodgman, regular person. At the end of it, I do change into a dress, so that I can perform as Ayn Rand in 1981, the year before she died. The change has to occur onstage. I sense that because of the light, they may want to bring sunglasses, because my semi-nude body reflects a lot of light. It doesn’t last long before I am clothed in Ayn Rand’s costume. Essentially, the show is about a lot of things. It is about costume changes, real and imagined. It’s about my late-in-life experimentation with marijuana. My human children, that I refuse to acknowledge, I pretend that I’m telling stories about my cats, and Ayn Rand. Surf shops, and other things. Ultimately, it is about starting over. We all have to start over one way or another. Maybe you lost a job, maybe you’re out of a relationship, or maybe the world doesn’t end the way it was supposed to.

PHAWKER: Late-in-life experiments with marijuana?

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

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016



FRESH AIR: It’s 3 a.m. and Whiskers has decided it’s time for breakfast. He jumps up on your bed, gently paws at your eyelids and meows to be fed. Annoyed? Cat behavior specialist Sarah Ellis says you have only yourself to blame. Instead of indulging Whiskers’ request for an early morning snack, Ellis recommends adopting an “extinction schedule,” whereby you ignore the behavior entirely until it stops. If cat owners “can be really strong with that extinction schedule and just make sure at every occurrence of that behavior they do not reward it … it will stop,” Ellis says.

Ellis says that cat owners reinforce negative behaviors when they give in to them. “Cats are not the-trainable-catnecessarily born meowing and screaming at us for food, it’s a behavior that they learned,” Ellis tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. Sarah Ellis is a feline behavior specialist at the British charity group International Cat Care, which collaborates with organizations around the world involved with cat welfare. She has trained her cats to come when she calls, voluntarily walk into the cat carrier to go to the vet, take medicine and become acclimated to her dog and her baby.

In her book, The Trainable Cat, Ellis and her co-author, John Bradshaw, describe how humans who understand basic feline nature can get their cats to come on command, take medicine and, yes, wait until morning for breakfast. When it comes to encouraging the positive, Ellis recommends rewards over punishment — especially if the rewards are intermittent. “You don’t give a reward every single time,” Ellis explains. “This sort of keeps the cat guessing. They don’t know if running toward you this time will get the food or it’ll be the next time, and that actually makes the behavior more likely to happen.” MORE

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CINEMA: Sh*t Blowing Up All Over The Place

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

GIZMODO: What you’re about to watch is a compilation of footage that shows what director George Miller actually shot on the set of 2015’s masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road. And you will be amazed at how much was actually done, practically, on set. You’ve heard stories about it but actually seeing it is simply incredible. MORE

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INCOMING: Springsteen To Rock The Free Library

Monday, September 12th, 2016



THE PHILADELPHIA FREE LIBRARY: Bruce Springsteen is the poet laureate of rock ‘n’ roll. For his body of work he has earned 20 Grammys, two Golden Globes, an Oscar, and induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A seven-year labor of love, Born to Run is written with the same tender, raw, and wise intensity of Springsteen’s greatest songs. He will be promoting Born To Run with a meet-n-greet at The Free Library on Thursday September 29th, where he will pose for photos with ticket holders. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 AM. Tickets are $35 and include a signed copy of Born To Run. Ticket-with-book must be purchased online through the library. One pre-signed book per person. Have your cellphone/camera ready for a selfie or posed picture. No signed memorabilia, albums, guitar plates, DVDs, etc. The line to enter will form at 10:30 a.m. on Vine Street. Please have your ticket accessible for scanning at that time. You will receive a wristband and then collect your book inside the library. Tickets are limited. Your ticket/wristband guarantees entry. We encourage you to leave your bags at home. Public transportation is your best option for travel. Parking around the library is extremely limited. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: The Longest Review Of The Longest U.S. Springsteen Show Ever Written

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Monday, September 12th, 2016

THIRD MAN RECORDS: Third Man Records is pleased to share the genius surprise gift they received from their friend MICHEL GONDRY. On his own and without anyone’s knowledge, the legendary filmmaker shot a video for “City Lights,” which he sent them the other night. The video is Gondry’s fifth visual collaboration with The White Stripes. “City Lights” was written for The White Stripes’ GET BEHIND ME SATAN but then forgotten until White revisited the 2005 album for Third Man’s Record Store Day 2015 vinyl reissue and finished the recording in 2016. The track is the first new, worldwide commercially released song by The White Stripes since 2008.

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CINEMA: Airport ’16

Friday, September 9th, 2016



SULLY (2016, 98 minutes, directed by Clint Eastwood, 96 minutes)

Buskirk AvatarBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC The lean, squinty, man-of-few-words Clint Eastwood has had an affinity for pilots going back to one of his earliest roles, dropping the bomb on top of the giant spider in the 50s sci-fi classic, Tarantula. Those stoic figures, who hold the lives of others in the palms of their hands, fits right into mold of many of the characters Eastwood himself has played: stoic, solitary men who we can count on in dangerous times to get the job done. With the true story of Charles Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways pilot who emergency landed a commercial airliner in the Hudson River off New York City in 2009, Eastwood has found a fresh angle on his longtime themes to deliver one of his sharpest, most efficiently-directed films.

Telling the story of the events of January 2009, Sully begins in the hours just after the crash, where in a blur of trauma and instant celebrity, the gray-haired pilot (with a dependable Tom Hanks in a role Eastwood himself would have enjoyed playing) pieces together the recent (and not so recent) events of his life. The quiet elation turns to doubt as facts begin to suggest that Sully isn’t a brave hero but an airborne Homer Simpson who ditched an expensive jet liner in spectacular fashion when he could have just safely turned the jet around and landed all those passengers back at the airport. Sully seems sure that ditching the plane was the the right decision, mainly because he believe his instincts, but getting the F.A.A. investigators to understand that might be Sully’s most careful maneuver yet.

Eastwood the Icon is so beloved that fans are a bit overly-forgiving of his work as a director, where heavy-handedness and over-length can be argued as among his nagging weaknesses. But with Eastwood’s 35th feature as a director he delivers his story in a concise 96 minutes, aided by Todd Komarnicki’s no-nonsense screenplay. Despite some unnecessary flashbacks of Sully’s history in the air, the film shows the pilot continually haunted by the plane’s splashdown, mimicking the pilot’s traumatized mind as he tries to make sense of the events he has lived through.

The film will stand among Eastwood’s late career highlights but seeing it in this moment, my mind couldn’t help but wander back to Eastwood’s political leanings, which have protruded awkwardly in recent films like the heavily-fictionalized “true story” American Sniper and the oddly sympathetic biopic of F.B.I. tyrant J. Edgar Hoover. Hearing Eastwood start his press jaunt by saying he’d be voting for Trump over Clinton made it difficult to clear his politics from my mind although the story of a heroic airline pilot would seem tailor-made to escape any political readings an audience might assign.

Yet Eastwood’s stubbornly Libertarian perspective gets in there, particularly in making antagonists out of the government officials at the Federal Aviation Administration. Over the course of their investigation these frumpy, balding nags dare to ask the hero a few questions and treat Sully in a condescending, disrespectful manner that seems highly unlikely. (F.A.A. officials have already started complaining to the press about their depiction.) Eastwood is an aggrieved old white guy and a movie cowboy at heart, if his story doesn’t actually have a bad guy to vanquish, he has seen it as his dramatic duty to invent one.

But if you’re looking for the truth, it is hard to love almost any Hollywood film; they didn’t call it “The Dream Factory” for nothing. If you’re looking for some great acting, a suspenseful airborne emergency and some terse courtroom theatrics, Sully makes for a worthy night out at the cinema. But I’d give the mythmaking within as skeptical an eye as the real Sully does: disaster was averted but the pilot continues to protest that he was just doing his job.

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BEING THERE: The Longest Review Of Bruce Springsteen’s Longest U.S. Show Ever Written*

Friday, September 9th, 2016



BY DAVID R. STAMPONE Let’s say a vet music journo gets to freely review a Springsteen show. In fact, it’s an historic “Philadelphia Special” Bruce & the E Street Band gig, exactly like Wednesday night’s down at Citizens Bank Park: a diversified, mostly dazzling, protean stroll-sprint-walk-run through 34 oft-extended songs — and at 4:04:49, the Jersey guy’s longest-ever concert in the USA, second longest of his career. (Were you there in Helsinki for all 38 songs on 7/31/12? Do tell.)

The scribe’s inclination might be to write the review in quasi-”think-piece” form, waxing 1st-personal, braiding in “Me & Bruce O’er the Years” reflections, going back to that Del-Val-muggy hot August night in 1978 when he first saw The Boss, at work in the dearly departed Spectrum in South Philly on his “Darkness on the Edge of Town Tour” — a show still in Mr. Rock-Writer’s Top 25, maybe Top 10 Best, among thousands of witnessed performances. (BTW: Springsteen’s own autobiography is out later this month, a few days after he turns 67, two weeks from today.)

OK, I’m that reviewer and it ain’t happening. Even with theoretically unlimited cyber-pages available, the stand-out tremendousness of Wednesday’s mega-gig demands that such conceits be abandoned. Hell, the concert’s entire first half deserves more than, frankly, any number of words can convey. I’m referring to a solid-golden two hours of nothing after 1975, with a dozen precious, gleaming song-gems right off the bat, from before his breakthrough ‘75 album, Born to Run. (Notable if inconsequential: that this current tour is supposedly still showcasing Springsteen’s admirable 1980 double album, The River. Apparently not.)

Kinda had to be there, then? Fug that: a reviewer’s cop-out. Conveyance is doable. What helps is first focusing on The Opening Number. Because taking in all 11+ minutes of “New York City Serenade,” the jazz-bluesy woozy, ethereally cosmopolitan poetry-rock cut that closes Springsteen’s landmark ‘73 album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle – his 2nd full-length; his best — was to get filled to the brim most exquisitely. The string section augmenting the eight E Streeters helped. (The strings’ only other employ was on “Jack of All Trades” [song #18], the Boss’s 2012 class-conscious crap-economy lament).

“Professor” Roy Bittan rippled out the tune’s gorgeous, grandiose-to-blue-tinged solo piano intro, then Springsteen snapped out those first steely notes on his acoustic guitar strings, leaned in to whisper-croon the first lines — and the song was in motion, show: on. The singer sang the languorous “Serenade” with eyes shut, utterly within the tune’s confines as he emoted of its colorful characters – Billy, Diamond Jackie, “… fish lady, fish lady, she baits those tenement walls/” and “Listen to your junkman/ He’s sing-in’, sing-in’ …/” The song’s sweetly aching beauty suggested no less than a grit ‘n’ satin Mid-Atlantic transatlantic cousin to Northern Irishman Van Morrison’s exalted Astral Weeks tracks – highest praise; absolutely deserved.

Also notable: “Serenade” swings for an artful embodiment of something as mammoth and elusively complex as NYC — and connects. We Philadelphians should lustily boo our regional sports rivals and sometimes haughty NY neighbors — and enjoy an NYC-disparaging classic like “I Hate New York” by late local Philly punk icon Mikey Wild — but we’re close enough in many ways to have a hate/love thing. And when 9/11 happened 15 years ago, folks all over had an empathetic twinge for the city. I immediately thought of “Serenade” and these lines of wary resilience: “It’s midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute…/ So walk tall/ Or baby, don’t walk at all.” There was this — released on 9/11/73, one learns — even before Springsteen wrote his 2002 reaction-to-9/11 track, “The Rising” (song #26).

The shamelessly verbose “Lost in the Flood” (from his January ‘73 debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.) was given an incendiary if nuanced read Weds. (song #6), the Boss ripping fire from his Telecaster. It carries an allusion to police malfeasance that Springsteen would explore in 2001’s “American Skin (41 Shots)” (song #19) amidst its verbal tumult: “Some kid comes blastin’ round the corner, but a cop puts him right away/ He lays on the street holding his leg screaming something in Spanish/ Still breathing when I walked away/…”

I’ll not say this Phillies ballpark Springsteen show eclipsed the August ‘78 show I saw a block or so away. Great as Wednesday was, in toto, there was sag — this reviewer shan’t blanch from deeming the light’s-turned-up treacle of closing-segment staple “Dancing in the Dark” (song #31) escapist fluff, ‘80s nostalgia-wallow. It’s not insufferable but it’s over-played, synthed-up poppiness can grate; it also always seems apart from The Springsteen Concert’s prevailing one-band mini-“Dad-[&-Mom-]Rock”-stock fest vibe. (Or not?) And the way the band extensively milked the start/stop gospel-y Isley Brothers hit “Shout” (song # 33), albeit to mass delight, was superfluous. But a great move: closing with “Bobby Jean” (‘84), a wistful yet taut “say goodbye” pop-rocker.

All that noted above, however, the show’s phenomenal first 2 hours, through Born to Run’s superior babe-&-car rocker “Night” (song #13), achieved a hallowed Delaware Valley Bruce-gig status that might seem impossible to top. He’ll probably try anyway tonight @ the ballpark, when Springsteen & Co. return to the scene of the sublime. FYI, many tickets still available (and/ or, scalping a scalper’s always fun).

*Up until five minutes ago, Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca held the world record for the longest review of the longest Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band U.S. show in the history of mankind with this mammoth 883-word opus. Phawker’s review of Wednesday’s show at Citizen’s Bank Park is 904 words. A new world record! USA! USA! USA!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David R. Stampone is a Philadelphia-based music journo & more. He grew up in NW Delaware.

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Win Tix To Culture Club @ Electric Factory Tonight

Friday, September 9th, 2016



Iconic 80’s New Romantics Culture Club plays the Electric Factory tonight to the secret delight of Gen X nostalgists everywhere. We have a pair of tix to give away to the 62nd Phawker reader to email us @ with the correct answer to the following Culture Club trivia question: What is Boy George’s real name? No Googling allowed! And we can tell if you did. Put the magic words KISSING TO BE CLEVER in the subject line. Good luck and godspeed!


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Win Tix To See Amos Lee @ The Academy Of Music

Thursday, September 8th, 2016



Philly homeboy Amos Lee just released his sixth album, Spirit, and will mark this auspicious occasion with a concert at The Academy Of Music on Sunday. And it just so happens that we have a pair of tix to give away to some lucky reader. What’s that you say? You never heard of Amos Lee but would like to learn more? Well, this is your lucky day. As per Wikipedia:

Lee was born as Ryan Anthony Massaro in 1977 and was raised in Kensington, Philadelphia. He moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey at age 11 and graduated from Cherry Hill High School East. Lee attended the University of South Carolina and graduated with a degree in English and a minor in education. During his college years he developed an interest in music after being inspired by the John Prine album, Great Days. During this period he began playing the guitar and bass as part of a band (Hot Lava Monster) and listening to the music of Donny Hathaway, Joni Mitchell, Luther Vandross, Bill Withers and Otis Redding.

After returning to Philadelphia, Lee worked as a second grade school teacher at the Mary McLeod Bethune School and as a bartender at local music venues. He performed at “open mic” events in the area and, through his contacts with promoters, was hired as an opening act for artists like Mose Allison and B.B. King.In 2003, Lee’s manager sent a four-song demo CD to several record labels, and the representative at Blue Note Records was “immediately struck by his [Lee’s] voice”. Afterwards, Norah Jones heard Lee’s music while visiting the record company and invited Lee to be the opening act for her 2004 tour.

The friendship between Lee’s manager and the manager for Bob Dylan resulted in Lee touring with Dylan as his opening act in early 2005. Since that time Lee has recorded five albums on Blue Note Records and has toured as an opening act for Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard, Van Morrison, John Prine, Dave Matthews Band, Adele, the Zac Brown Band, Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, and David Gray.

Lee’s “folksy, bluesy sound” has been compared to that of John Prine and Norah Jones.Simultaneously Lee has been both lauded and dismissed as the “male Norah Jones” and his lyrics are said to convey “the complexities of everyday emotions” without falling into flowery imagery. MORE

We have a pair of tickets to giveway to the 17th Phawker reader to email us at with the correct answer to the following Amos Lee trivial question: What is the name of the John Prine album that inspired Amos Lee to pursue songwriting? Hint: the answer might even be a few paragraphs up from here. Put the magic words AMOS LEE ME in the subject line and include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!


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Wednesday, September 7th, 2016



NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Now Ailes had made himself a true liability: More than two dozen Fox News women told the Paul, Weiss lawyers about their harassment in graphic terms. The most significant of the accusers was Megyn Kelly, who is in contract negotiations with Fox and is considered by the Murdochs to be the future of the network. So important to Fox is Kelly that Lachlan personally approved her reported $6 million book advance from Murdoch-­controlled publisher HarperCollins, according to two sources.

As the inevitability of an ouster became clear, chaos engulfed Ailes’s team. After news broke on the afternoon of July 19 that Kelly had come forward, Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich tried to send Ailes’s denial to Drudge but mistakenly emailed a draft of Ailes’s proposed severance deal, which Drudge, briefly, published instead. Also that day, Ailes’s allies claimed to conservative news site Breitbart that 50 of Fox’s biggest personalities were prepared to quit if Ailes was removed, though in reality there was no such pact. That evening, Murdoch used one of his own press organs to fire back, with the New York Post tweeting the cover of the next day’s paper featuring Ailes’s picture and news that “the end is near for Roger Ailes.”

Indeed, that evening Ailes was banned from Fox News headquarters, his company email and phone shut off. On the afternoon of July 21, a few hours before Trump was to accept the Republican nomination in Cleveland, Murdoch summoned Ailes to his New York penthouse to work out a severance deal. James had wanted Ailes to be fired for cause, according to a person close to the Murdochs, but after reviewing his contract, Rupert decided to pay him $40 million and retain him as an “adviser.” Ailes, in turn, agreed to a multiyear noncompete clause that prevents him from going to a rival network […]

The Murdochs must have hoped that by acting swiftly to remove Ailes, they had averted a bigger crisis. But over the coming days, harassment allegations from more women would make it clear that the problem was not limited to Ailes but included those who enabled him — both the loyal deputies who surrounded him at Fox News and those at 21st Century Fox who turned a blind eye. “Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values,” claimed the lawsuit of Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros, who says she was demoted and smeared in the press after she rebuffed sexual advances from Ailes, “but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-­fueled, Playboy Mansion–like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.” MORE

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