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FLEET FOXES: I Am All That I Need

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

 
Fleet Foxes have released a stunning short film for their Crack-Up album opener “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar”. Directed by Sean Pecknold, with art direction and production design by Adi Goodrich, both of Sing-Sing, and choreography by Steve Reker. The film was shot entirely on 35mm film in southern California, creating a look that feels like an old technicolor movie, with everything hand-made and in-camera. It was made in partnership with WeTransfer who commissioned and helped produce the video. WeTransfer will be hosting the video on their editorial platform WePresent alongside a conversation between the Pecknold siblings Robin (lead-singer), Sean (filmmaker) and Aja (band manager) who have shaped the visuals, sounds and story of Fleet Foxes for a decade.

On making the film, director Sean Pecknold says, “For me, the song encapsulated the themes and feelings of the whole record like an overture; the darkness / lightness, the fast / slow, the tension between two competing voices and the unpredictable dynamic shifts of tempo and voice. I wanted to create a striking visual allegory that felt both intimate and lonely, grand and triumphant.”

“With the film I wanted to visualize the struggle within the song through the story of a fictional character trying to escape from his house and reach an ever elusive mythical place only to be brought back to the start by the pull of a mysterious red cube. At the start of the film it’s as if we have happened upon a man tired from a repetitive struggle that has been going on for weeks, months, even years. There becomes a frustrating sense of repetition as he attempts to reach these metaphorical end goals and fails time after time. It’s something I can relate to, and hopefully others can too.”

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RACIAL JUSTICE: Just Do It

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

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THE NEW YORKER: In July of 1988, Nike released the first of its ads under the slogan “Just Do It.” The spot featured Walt Stack, an eighty-year-old man, ebulliently trotting across the Golden Gate Bridge as part of his daily seventeen-mile run. “People ask me how I keep my teeth from chattering in the wintertime,” Stack says. “I leave them in my locker.” The same year, Nike released the first of a series of ads that paired the director Spike Lee with Michael Jordan, who was with the Chicago Bulls at the time. The wildly popular Spike-and-Mike ads didn’t fall under the rubric of “Just Do It,” but they were important to the Air Jordan line, which had been launched three years earlier, and went on to become the best-selling athletic shoe of all time. This was in spite of the fact that, two years later, Jordan was widely criticized for declining to endorse Harvey Gantt, an African-American Democrat challenging Jesse Helms, the race-baiting Republican incumbent, in a race for a U.S. Senate seat representing North Carolina, Jordan’s home state. MORE

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GOD LEVEL TROLLING: In Stringer Bell We Trust

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Stringer_Bell
via @JoshTerry

RELATED: I’m Part Of The Resistance Inside The Trump Administration

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BEING THERE: Mac DeMarco @ The Skyline Stage

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

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Photo by MATT SHAVER

Last night, every long-haired pothead in Philadelphia gathered at the Skyline Stage of the Mann Center to worship their ultimate idol. True to its name, the magnificent city skyline was visible from the top of the hill as the setting sun glittered against the metal skyscrapers in a golden wave. Millennial hippies in flowy maxi-skirts and Baja hoodies swayed to the soothingly unadorned acoustic soft rock of Uruguayan opener Juan Wauters.

A Mac DeMarco concert is half music and half stoner stage antics. Living up to his reputation as indie rock’s goofball slacker, he paused between most songs to practice his Batman voice, try out a handstand, and blow up a Durex condom like a balloon, among other things. During a few of these times, he plunged into an impromptu jam session with the band, whether it was a cover of 50 Cent’s “Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday,” or playing backing rhythms to the perpetual “Fuck Tom Brady” chant that’s heard at every Philly concert these days. After the latter, Mac commented that he didn’t know Philadelphia hated Tom Clancy so much, which prompted a fan to yell back “Fuck Rainbow 6,” which led into a discussion of the psychological constructs behind the villain of the game, in one of the better tangents of the night.

With such a strong taste for unconventional onstage behavior, fans would probably think that Mac would stray from tired clichés like say, maybe, a mid-show proposal. And yet, he welcomed a man named Nathan to get down on one knee for his now-fiancée before letting him serenade her with “My Kind of Woman.” This slow spot hit right as the pre-show highs began to fade into oblivion, but Mac kicked the energy up one last time with a hypnotic “Chamber of Reflection,” that sent all of the couples into each other’s arms, doubly reminding the rest of us that we were alone, again.

Most of the time, the setlist felt like filler for Mac’s jokes and smoke breaks while multi-instrumentalist Andy White took extended guitar and synthesizer solos. The musical approach was meandering and unfocused, yet it was the perfect complement to the laid-back low voice of of Mac on songs like “No Other Heart” or “On the Level.” From moments like a prolonged period of creepily whispered vocals with all of the lights turned off and the multiple requests for a baggie of shrooms to be thrown onstage, the near-constant crowd interaction helped us all cling to the end-of-summer laziness that will soon reach a quick and sharp death. After the final full-force beat ended the show, we all sluggishly retreated into the humid night to pass around one more joint, relishing the hazy freedom before it evanesces with the cold. – SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

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ALL COMEDY IS LOCAL: Q&A W/ Jamie Kennedy

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Jamie_Kennedy

 

keely_bylinerBY KEELY MCAVENEY Actor, comedian and native Philadelphian — straight outta Upper Darby! — Jamie Kennedy takes his cheesesteaks wiz wit and his comedy full force. Since he made the move to L.A. in his late teens, he’s done whatever it took to bring his comedy to the forefront, everything from living out of his car, to overcoming kidney failure, to inventing a fake screen agent persona to sell himself. If you were alive and not residing under a boulder in the late 90s, you will absolutely recognize him as Randy Meeks from the cult-classic Scream. After that, he went on to have his own show on the WB called The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and various stand up stints. You can catch him Thursday through Saturday at Punch Line Philly.

PHAWKER: So, you’re from around Philly? Is there anything you really miss or have to do every time you come home?

JAMIE KENNEDY: Well, usually I visit my mom, but don’t really stay there. I head into the city. I like Fishtown a lot. I’ll head around there, and I’ll always have to go to Jim’s also. Wiz Wit. Wiiiiz Wit. That’s how I take it.

PHAWKER: The right way.

JAMIE KENNEDY: Exactly.

PHAWKER: Were you around for the Eagles win, or what’d you think of it?

JAMIE KENNEDY: Like if they lost it would’ve been too devastating to be around people. So I like watched it in my house on my big screen and I was like, “Yeah!” But I think people from Philly will get that. It was such a monkey off the back. And the celebrations looked pretty great, except I saw this one guy.

PHAWKER: The horse shit guy?

JAMIE KENNEDY: Eating horse poop. Yeah, and people were like, “I don’t know. Why would they do that?” I’m like I don’t know. You’ve gotta be from Philly I guess to understand why they would do that. But I mean I even go, “Why did they do that?”
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BEING THERE: Made In America

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

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Photo by DYLAN LONG

Philadelphia’s annual Made in America festival made its return to the Ben Franklin Parkway this past weekend. Many in Philadelphia and beyond were well aware that going into Labor Day weekend, the major event was on the tail end of a rather contentious few weeks in the press recently. A public spat between event founder Jay-Z and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney erupted in mid-July over the future of Made in America, an incident which was quickly mitigated by a promise from Kenney to keep Made in America on the parkway for years to come. In what could certainly be considered an extra boost to ensure that the hype for the festival remained high, the festival added rap mogul Kendrick Lamar to its already stacked hip-hop leaning lineup just a few weeks later.

For the 2018 edition of Made in America, rap ruled all. Major headliners in years past such as Coldplay, The Chainsmokers, and Rihanna offered balance and contrast alongside their headlining rapper counterparts (i.e. Jay-Z, J Cole, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, etc,) but this year’s festival was spearheaded by rap superstars Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Nicki Minaj, and Philadelphia’s very own Meek Mill (pictured, above). The Tidal Stage featured two days worth of stacked lineups featuring a plethora of the biggest up-and-comers in rap, most notably 19-year-old sensations Sheck Wes and Juice WRLD, inventor of the highly popular “Shoot” dance Blocboy JB, and California-based group SOB X RBE (not to mention popular rap mainstays such as Lil B and Jay Park.) The lineups at the Tidal Stage were no doubt part of a well-crafted marketing strategy deployed by organizer Jay-Z to help brand his streaming platform, Tidal, as being the most in-the-know streaming service in the game. Props. That being said, the absolute slew of white suburban teenagers that congregated by this stage for the entire weekend to wile out (shove each other around in sub-par mosh pits while yelling the the N-word repeatedly) was something I had little issue avoiding. It is also worth noting that Tekashi 6ix9ine, who pled guilty to sexual misconduct with a minor, showed up about two hours late to the festival, pushing the entire schedule back by a full hour. Unlike Made in America headliner Nicki Minaj, I am not a fan.

Along with several other prominent rap artists scattered throughout the festival (6lack, Fat Joe, and Pusha T who is fresh off his highly successful Kanye-produced Daytona), the diverse array of singer-songwriters and bands were a big hit. The wonderful and youthful Daniel Caesar put on an impressive performance, wooing the crowd with his smooth and melodic voice echoing balad after balad. Delivering a slightly underwhelming performance, the highly successful singer-songwriter Miguel fell a bit flat in both his performance and choice in pants (spoiler alert: they were lime green.) Hardcore hitters Show Me The Body and Turnstile destroyed their sets on the Skate Stage along with rap sluggers ASAP Twelvyy and JPEGMAFIA. Buried in a corner off the grid of the main festival grounds, the Skate Stage acts ripped it up directly next to a large group of local skaters who were ripping it up in their own respect on the rails and half pipes connected to the stage by the hip. The crowd faced the stage standing in dirt and grass, and the dust kicked up in the pits gave my black outfits a solid gray coating. It’s called fashion, look it up.

The proximity of the festival’s main stage, the Rocky Stage, to the Liberty Stage knocked out two birds in one stone while avoiding any overlap or sound bleed. Those waiting it out in the packed Rocky Stage crowd for the nighttime headliner performances (myself included) were treated with a very convenient distance from the Liberty Stage, who started when the Rocky Stage went quiet, and vice versa. It was a very nice setup that allowed the crowd to experience electronic mainstays like Zedd and Diplo, all while retaining their spots for headliners like Post Malone and Kendrick.

The electronic stage was chock full of popular names in 2018, such as the Chicago buds Louis The Child, EDM sweetheart Anna Lunoe, the shy yet groovy Cashmere Cat and “Indian Summer” mastermind Jai Wolf. While I personally did not frequent the electronic stage, the oontz oontz’s were audible throughout the festival and never failed to put a little smile on my face and a pep in my step.

The headlining artists were truly hit or miss this year. Day one beasts Meek Mill and Post Malone dominated the weekend with energy, quality of performance and overall crowd reception. Meek celebrated his grand coming home party with his Philly crew out in full force, including but not limited to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the 76ers, and local celebrity Bam Margera who I met backstage in what I can only understand as a glitch in my simulation. What the hell was he doing there? I won’t question it.

Meek ran through an explosive set full of CO2 cannons and enough production involving fire to roast smores for a nation. Tracks like “House Party” and “Millidelphia” were absolute slam dunks. Meek, who was recently released from prison after being sentenced under questionable circumstances (see fest organizer Jay-Z’s statement), came more than ready to not only celebrate, but offer solid speeches on criminal justice reform and the ongoing fight for the reform of a system in which he himself has faced years of difficulties.
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ALBUM REVIEW: The Gun Club Fire Of Love

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

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THE GUN CLUB
Fire Of Love

(Superior Viaduct)

On the night of August 16th, 1938, as Robert Johnson lay dying, poisoned by a jar of corn whiskey laced with strychnine by the jealous boyfriend of a pretty girl Johnson was flirting with at a country dance he was playing in Greenwood, MS, he had a brief and flickering vision — of a gaunt white man in a cowboy hat slumped in the backseat of a car motoring through the backwoods of West Virginia on New Year’s Day 1953. It was Hank Williams. Drifting in and out of consciousness as a potent cocktail of morphine, chloral hydrate and alcohol slowed his heart to a stop, Williams also had a brief and flickering vision — of a bloated, sweaty man wearing nothing but Rhinestone sunglasses seated on the toilet, spangled jumpsuit bunched around his ankles, as he gritted his teeth and grunted with Hulk-like intensity. Right before Elvis Presley’s immaculate, drug-scarred heart exploded as he sat on the throne at Graceland in the early hours of August 16th, 1977, The King also had a brief and flickering vision — of a purple album cover emblazoned with a crude, creepy mosaic of zombie voodoo shit his mama would not approve of on the cover. It was Fire Of Love by The Gun Club. All three men died for its sins. – JONATHAN VALANIA

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Q&A With Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek

Friday, August 31st, 2018

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Photo by PATRYK MOGILNICKI

Attachment-1-3BY KYLE WEINSTEIN Although born and raised in Massillon, Ohio, Mark Kozelek’s professional music career began in San Francisco with the formation of Red House Painters in 1988. Their first album, Down Colorful Hill, showcased, early on, Kozelek’s profound talent for sincere and deeply personal lyricism, which he would carry through his career into the present. The band’s style quickly became associated with sadcore/slowcore, and assumed an important role in influencing that realm of ‘90s alternative music. In ’92, the band were signed to 4AD after its head honcho, Ivo Watts-Russel, heard their jaw-dropping demo tape and just had to call Kozelek, who, at the time, happened to be sitting in the bathtub dreading that he would have to go to work that day. Over the course of the next nine years, Red House Painters released a total of six studio albums and one EP, until morphing into Sun Kil Moon, the members of which remained largely the same as they were in the former. Being the boxing aficionado that he is, Kozelek named the project after Korean super flyweight boxer Sung-Kil Moon.

Since then, Sun Kil Moon has undergone a series of lineup changes, leaving the only founding member, Mark Kozelek, at the center of its orbit. Steve Shelley, formerly Sonic Youth’s drummer, has provided occasional support to the band since 2015. As well as his work with Sun Kil Moon, since the dissolution of Red House Painters, Kozelek has released ten studio albums, with one more currently due to release in 2019, along with a handful of EPs, compilations, and over a dozen live albums. Earlier this year, he released a self-titled solo LP [pictured, below], and is currently on tour. He will be playing at the Theater of the Living Arts on September 9th.

In “I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same,” off of Sun Kil Moon’s 2014 LP, Benji, Kozelek KozelekKozelekexpresses his gratitude toward Ivo Watts-Russell, singing “He’s the man who signed me back in ’92/And I’m going to go there and tell him face-to-face, ‘thank you’/For discovering my talent so early/For helping me along in this beautiful musical world I was meant to be in.” Thank you, indeed, for discovering one of the greatest songwriters of this generation.

PHAWKER: Last year, you scored a film, James Franco’s The Pretenders, although James Franco was not involved during the time you were writing the songs. How does writing songs for a film – and this film, in particular – influence the way you write them? Did you watch film footage before composing or just write songs in the abstract? Did you retain your autobiographical proclivity during the process?

MARK KOZELEK: This was an unusual film score experience. The screenplay was written by Joshua Boone. The Sun Kil Moon album Admiral Fell Promises had an influence on the screenplay and there were a lot of Admiral Fell Promises Songs as well as Among The Leaves songs referenced throughout the screenplay as background music.

But Joshua passed it onto James to direct and by the time I saw it they had a lot more of my songs in it from other albums. It was the easiest film I ever scored because they showed me an early cut of the film, and a later cut, which had a lot of my already recorded songs, and asked if I thought any changes needed to be made. I thought it was cohesive and that everything looked and sounded great.

Jack Kilmer is the lead. I’m not sure when the film will be released.

PHAWKER: Your self-titled solo album released this past spring was partly recorded in hotels in San Francisco. Was there a creative reason for this, and what difference does it make in the feeling of the songs recorded there as opposed to in a studio?

MARK KOZELEK: I was ready for a change. For the most part, I’ve been recording at the same studio, Hyde Street Studios, in San Francisco, since 1994. There are no windows and I wanted to see how daylight and views affected my writing as well as different neighborhoods other than The Tenderloin. As it was just an engineer and me, it was cost effective to book a few rooms in hotels, skip studio rentals, and hang around the hotels and record. During one week-long session we were at a hotel in Ocean Beach and the scenery there affected my writing. The fog rolling in every day and my walks along the Great Highway.

PHAWKER: Do you still reside in San Francisco, and if so what are your thoughts on SF circa now?tinycitiesfrontcover

MARK KOZELEK: Yeah I still live here. My thoughts are that I’m now the oldest guy in the building, that every person I see works for a tech company, and that if I got run over by a car, five people in the city would care. San Francisco still inspires me – the terrain, my walks, my girlfriend, my home, but being a 50+ musician in San Francisco isn’t glamorous.

PHAWKER: Speaking of writing in a San Francisco hotel room, the animated video for “666 Post,” off of your latest album, is quite a trip, as are the lyrics. Your lyrics seem to be increasingly stream-of-consciousness-based. Please explain the how and why of this apparent shift in your approach to song writing.

MARK KOZELEK: It’s easy to explain. Some guys, at 50, are still with their high school sweethearts, while some guys got bored with their high school sweethearts and dumped them by 40.

For the common civilian who doesn’t understand anything about art, that’s the best analogy I can think of. Some people don’t like change, some do. By 40 years old, I’d put my time in with metaphors. I felt like writing more and singing more. If anyone thinks I’m not singing on “Topo Gigio,” then cover that song and tell me how it goes. At 40 I fell in love with music again.

Collaborations with Justin, Ben and Jim, with Steve Shelley. At 51, I’m having fun playing music while every 50 year old I see doing reunions looks like a wind-up monkey a step away from committing suicide.

PHAWKER: You’re working again with Jim White, as well as saxophonist Donny McCaslin on a record due next year. In the single, “Day in America,” you express your thoughts on the Parkland shooting in enough detail that there’s probably no need for elaboration. On top of that, you wasted no time getting the message out there, releasing the single just three days after the shooting. As a nation, we have been through so many of these massacres in recent times, and what is depressing is how numbingly similar they are. But some people think that we have reached inflection point with the Parkland shooting, with the survivors becoming radicalized and organized and advocating for themselves and reaching out and connecting to all the other kids across America. Could this be the thing that turns the tide? Or was that just a little boomlet that’s already had its moment?

MARK KOZELEK: Yes, I remember the girl with the shaved head on the cover of magazines back in February, but the last time I checked, other shootings have happened, and the last time I turned on the news, it was all about the border situation. This is America: everyone stares at their phones, binges out on TV, is easily distracted, and yes there will be more and more shootings.

PHAWKER: What was the last record old or new that you heard for the first time that blew you away, and why?

MARK KOZELEK: All three Xylouris White albums. The big sound that those two guys make. Their chemistry seems blood related, but it’s not. Their music is everything I love in music; restrained, explosive, cathartic, melodic. George’s singing range and Jim’s playing are through the roof. You won’t see a two-man show like that anywhere but at a Xylouris White show.rollercoaster

PHAWKER: I’ve read that you are a boxing aficionado; can’t help but note the cognitive dissonance of someone who makes such gentle, soft-spoken music being drawn to such a brutal sport. Please explain the allure.

MARK KOZELEK: Gentle and soft spoken, at times. Boxing is art. Mayweather made his millions on his elusiveness, his craftiness, not his aggression. And Manny recently knocked a guy out for the first time in nine years.

When Floyd and Manny fought, I was there. They fought smart. I came home and every schmo in America was disappointed that there wasn’t any blood. They don’t understand boxing. Sure boxing is early Mike Tyson but it’s also Pernell Whitaker’s entire career. He was an artist. Slippery. Not a big puncher. That’s how he won. He outpointed but he wasn’t a heavy hitter. Nobody could catch him.

PHAWKER: What coping mechanisms do you use to make life bearable in the age of
Trump?

MARK KOZELEK: You mean the age that put us in the place where this obnoxiousness happened in the first place. The age of the internet and Facebook and let’s not forget Trump’s main weapon of communication: Twitter. As I recall it wasn’t long before the election that people were chasing Pokemon around and getting hit by cars. How I deal with making life bearable in this age is that I haven’t watched the news in over 40 days.

MARK KOZELEK @ THEATER OF THE LIVING ARTS SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 9TH

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Win Tix To See Mac DeMarco @ The Skyline Stage

Friday, August 31st, 2018

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Photo by DANNY COHEN

Wise men say only fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But apparently nobody told pepperoni playboy Mac DeMarco and Indieland is all the better for it. Still, all things must pass, and somewhere around 2014’s Salad Days, DeMarco took a giant step forward in his ongoing transition from “wacky indie guitar boy” to “actual person with feelings and shit.” Going forward, there were less gimmicks and more self-reflection as DeMarco flirted with adulthood, which admittedly was a ballsy move for a songwriter beloved for cigarette anthems, stoner odes, and chorus pedal abuse. But despite expectations, DeMarco seems to have widened his audience without losing his original gangstas in the process. Which explains why he’s gone from playing Underground Arts to headlining the Skyline Stage of the Mann on Sept. 4th in just four years. We have a pair of tickets to give away to 47th Phawker reader to email us at Phawker66@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following Mac DeMarco trivia question: What is Mac DeMarco’s birth name? (HINT: it’s not Mac DeMarco). Put the words THIS OLD DOG in the subject line and please include your full name as it appears on your photo ID and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

MAC DEMARCO + JUAN WATERS @ THE SKYLINE STAGE TUESDAY SEPT. 4TH

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DIY IRL: Q&A W/ David Commins & Rachel Pfeffer, Publishers Of The Philadelphia Secret Admirer Zine

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

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BY MARIAH HALL A zine is a self-published, limited circulation and often hand-distributed work, often featuring art, photography, poetry, and prose. Zine culture is rooted in the social and political activism of the ’60s and ’70s, and later became associated with the underground music scene. In a reflection of D.I.Y. values, zines are more focused on expressing particular views rather than gaining profits, and they act as a mode of communication and a platform for those not typically granted a voice.

The last decade has witnessed a resurgence of zine culture, a revival of print media in a paperless age. Although some zines can be found online, published through sources such as Tumblr, WordPress and Issuu, many zines exist physically as hand-bound paper booklets. This is perhaps because zines are an artifact of another era, a time before the all-consuming torrent of social media. It stokes the joy of creating something tangible, something you can hold and collect. It is impossible to accurately track the circulation of zines and this ephemeral nature is a major component of its allure. It is an experience to hunt and find these fleeting and intimately personal works.

So much of our lives exist in the abstract void of the Internet. We regularly take the role of observers, hooked on the inexhaustibly refreshed feed and endless scroll. We are constantly being bombarded with information, an incessant digital yelling. Buried within our phones in every spare moment, it seems people have lost the ability to communicate verbally or connect with strangers. We don’t get to know our neighbors, we ignore each other, adopting a facade of apathy. Zine culture is a way of connecting with the local community through the sharing of art and ideas.

The Philadelphia Secret Admirer is an independent monthly print magazine based in Philadelphia. Issues feature short stories, crossword puzzles, Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHinterviews, horoscopes, comic strips and a section called “Overheard,” in which readers submit snippets of out-of-context conversations. It initially began as a free weekly, but after creator David Commins had some luck with Bitcoin investment, he was able to improve the production into monthly booklets. In a recent interview with Phawker, David Commins and art director Rachel Pfeffer [pictured, right] discussed the inspiration of the Admirer, the recent resurrection of zines, the influence of technology on printed word and the spirituality of paper.

PHAWKER: What was the inspiration for The Secret Admirer? How did you get started?

DAVID COMMINS: The inspiration from the monthly came out of, about a year ago I was on a road trip and went through Rachel when she was living out in Colorado. My friend Morgan and I stayed with her and her partner. We got to talking and she’s from the area, she was already familiar with the weekly. I needed to do something different. I’d been doing the weekly for almost eight years at that point and my two paths were either make the weekly into a bigger monthly or start Johnny Appleseed-ing weeklies in cool cities around the country. Keep this one going, get a staff, go to Brooklyn and get one going there then go down to North Carolina or Georgia, kind of start seeding and then be able to live in a shack out in the woods and create the general content like the crosswords, but have them do the overheards and stuff. It was either live a lot more in your city or live a lot less in your city. It wasn’t something I felt I could do alone. It was coming across Rachel and stoking that enthusiasm that gave me the belief it could be done.

PHAWKER: So Philly is the only place it’s published currently?

DAVID COMMINS: Right now yes.

PHAWKER: It didn’t start somewhere else?

DAVID COMMINS: It started in Bloomington, Indiana as a monthly zine. It came into what it was going to look like as a weekly in Flagstaff, Arizona. Then it became the weekly in Athens, Georgia.

PHAWKER: Was it mostly something you started for yourself or did you feel that there was something lacking in underground zine culture?

DAVID COMMINS: To be completely honest, I had just had a really bad breakup and I was a debilitating alcoholic, I couldn’t hold down any kind of job. I was like, well I know how to make crossword puzzles and write so I’m just going to go make this piece of shit thing and print out eight dollars’ worth of copies and try to pay rent. There was an immediate warm reception to it that I made a bunch of money right away. It came out of a place of necessity, it was either make this weekly or be homeless again.

RACHEL PFEFFER: I don’t think there’s another magazine like it. This is more speaking to when I got involved in the project, we started dancing with it a year ago and started producing the first issue right before the beginning of 2018. At this point in Philadelphia I think there’s a need for it.

PHAWKER: Where are both of you from?Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 1.46.52 AM

RACHEL PFEFFER: I’m from the Philly area. I lived here until like 2015, then lived in Colorado for two years, then moved back last fall.

DAVID COMMINS: I’m from New Hampshire.

PHAWKER: What brought you here, eventually?

DAVID COMMINS: I was a bit of a traveler and my younger brother came here after he graduated from college. We’d fallen out of contact and he was living here and I was a bit rootless at the time. I was like, oh I’ll go hang out with him and reconnect. He’s since moved away but I liked it here.

PHAWKER: Did either of you go to college?

RACHEL PFEFFER: Yeah. I studied painting.

DAVID COMMINS: I went to school for microbiology with an emphasis on pre-med. Then I took hallucinogens and decided I’d rather be a writer. So I dropped out of one college and went to another for creative nonfiction. I had one of those real tough Hemingway journalism professors who on the first day was like, “None of you are going to be writers.” I was living in a tent in the woods while going to school, because I couldn’t afford both. One morning— I always got there first because I was living outside so sun comes up, I’m up—he sits down and was like, “You do have a chance at being a writer, but you’re not going to find out how to do it in college, so you should leave. If you want to go to another town and make a fake resume just tell me what it says first and I’ll verify it for you.” So I went to Georgia and started working for an alt-weekly, doing music reviews.

PHAWKER: What are other jobs you’ve had before doing this?

DAVID COMMINS: I’ve had all sorts of jobs, kayaking outfitters, shoe stores, Walmarts, driving school buses, trying to find that niche.

RACHEL PFEFFER: I’ve also had a lot of jobs. I did study painting in school. Before I evenScreen Shot 2018-08-30 at 1.35.04 AM graduated I was doing graphic design, illustration and screen printing. I’ve had some full time design jobs, some freelance stuff. I also have my own business making junk, called Rainbow Feather. The graphic design stuff for me was less of a creative thing and more of a job to pay bills.

PHAWKER: Do you have other art projects you’re working on outside of the Admirer?

RACHEL PFEFFER: Yeah I have my company, we make shirts, enamel pins, patches. I do commissioned illustrations and I have a screen printing business called the Rainbow Ranch.

PHAWKER: I feel that lately there has been a revival in zine culture, can either of you speak to evidence of that?

DAVID COMMINS: Yeah, I think this is the moment. The moment for making the magazine was chosen, it didn’t just happen to coincide. I feel that we’ve crossed a hill with trusting the internet. I think there’s a general zeitgeist about interacting with each other. I knew it was coming, I think it came earlier this year where people were just like, fuck this. There was the net neutrality rollback and just blow after blow to the credibility to the internet, with Facebook and advertising and ulterior motives. People trust paper more than screen. Especially if there’s a long established name, there’s something more accessible about that then something you find online.

RACHEL PFEFFER: There always has been a contingent of people who prefer to have a printed thing. That has always been a niche thing. Also the Internet is all algorithms but the content we put out is me and David curating it.

DAVID COMMINS: People like having a piece of paper to do a crossword, to play a game of tic-tac-toe, to make a to-do list. Paper is still very much a part of our spiritual being. I think we collectively miss it and it’s an easy gap to slide into.

PHAWKER: Do you think this revival of circulating print and independent publishing is in part due to political circumstance?

DAVID COMMINS: I do, that’s a component of it. I think the isolation of existing in a digital way in public, or in your house, living on your street and not knowing your neighbors is a fairly new thing. Sitting in a bar and no one’s talking to each other. There’s a general gag reflex to that direction.
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Win Tix To See Asleep At The Wheel, The Texas Kings Of Western Swing, At Ardmore Music Hall!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Asleep_At_The_Wheel

 

What’s that you say? ‘What is Asleep At The Wheel?’ Oh brother, where art thou? Where have thou been? OK, let’s start with the beginnings, as per All Music Guid:

Since the early ’70s, Asleep at the Wheel have been the most important force in keeping the sound of Western swing alive. In reviving the freewheeling, eclectic sensibility of Western swing godfather Bob Wills, the Wheel have earned enthusiastic critical praise throughout their lengthy career; they have not only preserved classic sounds that had all but disappeared from country music, but have also been able to update the music, keeping it a living, breathing art form. Typically featuring eight to 11 musicians, the group has gone through myriad personnel changes (at last count, over 80 members had passed through their ranks), but 6’7″ frontman Ray Benson has held it together for four decades, keeping Asleep at the Wheel a viable recording and touring concern and maintaining their devotion to classic-style Western swing.

Singer/guitarist Benson was born Ray Benson Seifert and grew up listening to a variety of music in Philadelphia, especially jazz. He formed Asleep at the Wheel in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1970, along with longtime friend Lucky Oceans (born Reuben Gosfield; steel guitar) and Leroy Preston (rhythm guitar). They soon added a female singer in Chris O’Connell, who was fresh out of high school. Initially, the group played straight-ahead country in local venues, but quickly switched to Western swing when they discovered the music through Merle Haggard (specifically his Bob Wills tribute album) and eclectic country-rockers Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. In fact, Commander Cody helped the group sign with his own manager, Joe Kerr, who convinced them to move to San Francisco in late 1971. They subsequently added keyboardist Floyd Domino, and secured a residency at Berkeley’s Longbranch Saloon. Praise from Van Morrison in a Rolling Stone article helped them land a record deal with United Artists, which released their debut album, Comin’ Right at Ya, in 1973. MORE

Forty-eight years, 33 albums and nine Grammy Awards later, they are still alive and swinging and sound like they were born yesterday. Literally. We have a pair of tickets to see Asleep At The Wheel perform at Ardmore Music Hall tomorrow night to give away to the 34th Phawker reader to email us at Phawker66@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following easy-as-pie Asleep At The Wheel trivia question: What is the name of the city where Asleep At The Wheel leader/founder/last charter member standing Ray Benson was born and bred? Put the words TAKE THE WHEEL in the subject line and include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL PERFORM @ ARDMORE MUSIC HALL THUR. AUG. 30TH

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

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

JOhn Oliver

 

FRESH AIR: Today we’re starting a series featuring interviews with Emmy nominees. They’ll find out if they’re winners on Monday, September 17. We’re starting with John Oliver, whose satirical news show Last Week Tonight is nominated in nine categories, including Outstanding Variety Talk Series, Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Interactive Program. Oliver moved to the U.S. from England in 2006 to become a correspondent on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. Oliver started his HBO show in 2014. He typically starts the show with a comic, trenchant review of the week’s news, and then he takes a deep dive into one news story, a story that you may not have been following, a story you may not have thought was interesting. But through a combination of comedy and journalism, he makes it funny and really informative.

John Oliver jokes that Last Week Tonight does a 22-minute deep dive on news that “no one in their right mind wants to hear about.” The show has covered, among other things, the Italian parliamentary elections and NRA TV, an Internet channel with NRA programming.”We like the idea of not just regurgitating stuff people have already seen,” Oliver says. “The truth is, if you dig deep enough on anything, everything is interesting. So you just have to get to the point of a story where it becomes fascinating.” He describes the style of his long-form, heavily researched segments as “the slowest improv you’ve ever seen.MORE

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Q&A With Crazy Rich Asians Author Kevin Kwan

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians

 

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Based on a trilogy of best-selling books, Crazy Rich Asians is the story of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an economics professor at New York University who is invited by her boyfriend and fellow NYU prof Nick Young to accompany him to Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding. What Rachel doesn’t know about Nick, her soon-to-be fiance, is that he is also a scion of one of the wealthiest families in Singapore. When Rachel gets to Singapore she’s not only forced to confront this secret, but also to contend with Nick’s overbearing mother (Michelle Yeoh), as well as his family who are dead set on driving away the woman they assume is nothing more than a gold digger.

Crazy Rich Asians is the first major Hollywood film to feature a predominantly Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club hit screens 25 years ago. Recently, Phawker was fortunate enough to speak with Kevin Kwan, the author of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, and two of the stars of the film, Gemma Chan and Jimmy O. Yang. Gemma plays Astrid, Nick’s complicated cousin whose relationship with her significant other has a much different trajectory. Jimmy O. Yang plays Bernard Tai, Nick’s eccentric and very wealthy classmate. They offered some great insights into the making of the film and discussed how they hope the film’s authentic voice challenges Hollywood’s chronic under-representation of Asian Americans on the silver screen.

PHAWKER: First off Kevin, have you seen the film and how do you think it works as an adaptation to your book?

KEVIN KWAN: I have seen the film, quite a few times and I absolutely love it. I just think 41xsiJ8NmdLit really captures the spirit of my book and actually elevates it in a whole new way.

PHAWKER: How much of your life was an inspiration?

KEVIN KWAN: Very little of my life is in this book. (laughs) You know I am a writer living in New York, but a lot of it is inspired by childhood memories of Singapore. I grew up there till I was eleven years old. It’s also based on frequent trips back to Asia and seeing how much it has changed over the last three decades.

PHAWKER: I am a big fan of the director Jon M. Chu, Kevin what was your working relationship like with him, because in my humble opinion he is vastly underrated?

KEVIN KWAN: He truly is.

JIMMY O. YANG: Hopefully people will now see how incredibly talented he is. It was such a clear and amazing vision that he was able to carry out, visually and with how he adapted the script to screen.

GEMMA CHAN: I texted him after I saw the film for the first time, Warner Brothers screened it for me. I didn’t know what I was going to see. I obviously thought the script was strong and I was a fan of Kevin’s books, but I was blown away. I thought he did such an amazing job with the music, in particular Brian Tyler and the pacing of the film. I think he did such an amazing job, rom-coms often they sag somewhere in the middle and I felt he really kept that energy up.

PHAWKER: So Gemma, given how Asians are traditionally marginalized in film what was it like to belong to such an amazing ensemble cast that really celebrated Asian culture in a way we rarely see on the American screen?

GEMMA CHAN: Well, it feels incredibly special. As you said, it’s so rare to have a film where it’s been 25 years since a Hollywood film has had an all Asian cast. For me what was special about this is yeah, it’s this story about this colorful cast of characters who happen to be Asian, but the theme to me are universal. Anyone who has ever struggled in love, with family or with a crazy mother in law, with familial expectations, this is not just a film for Asians. It’s really for everyone and I think that is something special to have these universal themes, with an all Asian cast, it’s unusual to kind of have that mainstream aspect to it all.

PHAWKER: Gemma, I found your portrayal of Astrid to be one of the most compelling parts of the film for me, originally, I thought she would be nothing more than a minor sub-plot. But instead it grew into this perfect counterbalance to the main romance and a really surprising conduit for the viewer to grasp on. Can you share your take on Astrid and how you approached her?

You know it’s very easy, with a character like Astrid, on the surface she is incredibly glamorous, she comes from an undeniably wealthy and privileged background. But what always was more interesting to me, particularly when I read the books was understanding there was so much with this woman going on underneath the surface. But what you see is not what you get with Astrid and my process was to try and get under her skin and find what the emotional truth of the journey she was on. I hope that comes across.

It was an interesting dynamic, that you see between her and her husband, because I think more and more in the world today you see families or couples where perhaps the man isn’t the main breadwinner. Perhaps his81PUqxFx0EL wife is more successful or has a higher profile and that is something that could be tricky. But yeah, I found that interesting to explore that in our story. It is an interesting counterbalance to Rachel and Nick, because you have this couple coming together and this other couple fracturing apart and perhaps showing what could happen if Nick and Rachel can’t resolve their issues.

KEVIN KWAN: I think Astrid is the most complicated and complex character I have written in all three books. There was so much of her in book one that was left on the cutting room floor, just by virtue of how we chose to adapt this movie.

GEMMA CHAN: You know Astrid the spinoff …(Laughs)

PHAWKER: Gemma, while most will focus on the more romantic underpinnings of Crazy Rich Asians the film also portrays these women in a very empowering light. All of the female protagonists are smart, strong, independent. They just happen to be trapped in a rom-com. Do you feel that because of that, even though CRA is still a love story, it’s more of a progressive take on one?

GEMMA CHAN: It’s interesting you say that. I think at the back bone of the film, you have these strong women. More than anything they are complex characters who have their own desires and their own wants. Probably if anything it shows how in other films, maybe that is not the case. You don’t get fully drawn characters.
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Cost of the War in Iraq
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