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Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018



keely_bylinerBY KEELY MCAVENEY Recovering Canadian and and former explosives engineer, Ian Bagg blew up on contact with the stand-up comedy scene, first in the far north hinterlands of British Columbia and later in New York and then the world. Not that he really cares about fame or money, he proudly holds the title of Only Comedian To Work With Judd Apatow And NOT Become A Multi-Billionaire. He is a master at working the crowd for unscripted laughs, not for nothing is his 2015 comedy special called Getting To F***ing Know You. You may have seen him on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” or possibly in his own two half-hour long specials: “Comedy Central Presents” and HBO’s “A Comics Climb.” Either way you won’t want to miss him him in all his riffing glory at Punch Line Philly August 24th-25th.

PHAWKER: I read that before you started doing comedy you were studying to be an explosivesIan Bagg2 engineer? I don’t really have that phrased as a question, so much as a statement with a question mark.

IAN BAGG: [laughs] Yeah. It was something, it was just… I grew up in a small town in northern Canada, and you either became a logger or a miner or mechanic or, you know, all those kinds of work. I just stumbled into dynamite and started at the bottom of the chain, just carrying dynamite for the guys that, you know, were delivering it and then just kind of moved up the chain and ended up working in a gold mine and really enjoyed it.

PHAWKER: That certainly doesn’t sound too small town or boring to me, maybe the carrying it instead of getting to do anything with it.

IAN BAGG: [laughs] Well, we were looking for gold, blowing up the sides of things. It was fun.

PHAWKER: Did you study explosives in college?

IAN BAGG: No, I was headed to engineering school, like tech school, and I ended up falling into comedy instead. I’d always wanted to do stand up, but I had to move to the big city to go to school and found an open mic and tried it and never went back to school.

PHAWKER: It was in Vancouver right?


PHAWKER: Did you grow up pretty far from Vancouver, or was it close enough that you had this access to live comedy when you were younger?

IAN BAGG: No. I grew up in Terrace, British Columbia, which is kind of close to Ketchikan, Alaska. It is nowhere near anything. I’m talking very isolated.

CINEMA: Free Passes To A VIP Searching Screening

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018



Searching, which opens August 31stis the new cyber thriller starring John Cho as David Kim, a father whose 16-year-old daughter has gone missing. After 37 hours and not a single lead by the investigation, David decides to look on his daughter’s laptop for answers. This leads David down the rabbit hole,the film uses technology and the way we internalize it to tell its story of one man’s search for his daughter in the dark recesses of the internet. We have 60 passes for two to an advance screening Thursday, August 23rd at 7:30PM at the United Artist, King of Prussia. Want to pick up a pass for two? Simply go HERE to print out your passes.

NOTE: No cameras, camera phones, or other recording devices permitted in screening. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Theatre capacity is limited and passes won do not guarantee seating. (So please show up early!) Theater is not responsible for overbooking. Ticket holder and guest must enter theater together.

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GEEK SQUAD: How Does DC Films Unf*ck Itself?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018


the-geek-300x300BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT Marvel Studios has dominated the 2018 box office, raking in $3 billion from just two movies:  Black Panthe and Avengers: Infinity War. And their success isn’t limited to the huge, highly anticipated movies with 200 superheroes shoved into them. People were even talking about B-List characters Ant-Man and The Wasp.  Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC Extended Universe is still fighting for relevance after Man of Steel (2013) launched the franchise with a whimper and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016) transformed the franchise into meme fodder. Last year’s Justice League was another failure. But DC is still making their films and hopefully they figure out how to make good films besides Wonder Woman (2017).

Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa, will finally hit theaters December 21st, starring Jason Momoa as the film’s titular submersible superhero. Admittedly, the first Aquaman trailer does look promising. But the same was said for the dumpster fire of a film Suicide Squad (2016). DC has to earn the benefit of the doubt before I get fully excited for a film. The next few years will see Shazam! (2019), Wonder Woman 1984 (2019), Cyborg (2020), Green Lantern Corps (2020) release with The Batman, The Flash, and a Superman all being worked on. These are the safe choices. Most of these characters were in Justice League.

DC also has a ton of films in various stages of development that may never see the light of day (with a Supergirl movie announced earlier this month). But there are three big ones that I think can save the DC Extended Universe after Superman has failed to do so.  Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker film (scheduled for October of 2019) should at the very least wash the taste of Jared Leto’s time as the clown prince of crime out of all our mouths. But that film might not even be officially part of the DC Extended Universe.  The role of Joker is every actor’s dream job and Joaquin Phoenix rarely disappoints.

Warner Bros. is also making a New Gods film. Ava DuVernay is set to direct Jack Kirby’s fictional mythology. Most people might not know who the New Gods are (outside of Steppenwolf, the main villain in Justice League). The New Gods are a quirky group of fictional deities who fought alongside and against the Justice League for decades. This classic tale of good vs. evil is ripe for a feature length film. And I am glad they are giving them their own focus instead of shoehorning them into Justice League again.

Birds of Prey is the non-Marvel superhero film I am most looking forward to. This team of women superheroes is set to star Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (last seen in Suicide Squad). While her last DC’s film was horrible, most of that was due to writing and editing issues more than the cast. And this film is unlikely to positively highlight Harley’s toxic relationship with Joker. Outside of Harley Quinn the film will star the sonic scream superhero Black Canary, the bloodthirsty, crossbow-wielding Huntress, mute martial artist who can beat Batman in a fight Cassandra Cain (one of DC’s many Batgirls), and Gotham detective Renee Montoya. The casting for these roles are unknown but Jodie Comer and Vanessa Kirby are reported to be the front runners for Black Canary while Alexandra Daddario might be Huntress.

Margot Robbie is also producing the film due to her passion for the characters. And this is why I think Birds of Prey will be a hit. DC’s recent films appear to lack passion for all the characters. Suicide Squad was a cash grab trying to make it the next Guardians of the Galaxy or Deadpool but ended up being the world’s longest meme. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was Zack Snyder’s hastily scribbled love letter to the 80s’ darker Batman comics. And Justice League was just Superman saving the day while DC hoped the legendary team will draw Avengers level sales with a quarter of the effort.

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POST MALONE: It’s Alright, Don’t Think Twice

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

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Sunday, August 19th, 2018



Ovlov, obscurantist fuzz-rockers from Newtown, CT, have finally returned from their nail-biting, years-long hiatus. It was a widespread belief among their cult following that the band had broken up for good, their last new material being a couple of split 7-inchers back in 2014. It seemed that, after their impressive 2013 debut LP, am, Ovlov had reached a standstill that threatened to leave the band and their audience with just one truly successful LP to listen to on repeat forever, a fate suffered by many underground greats. A Greatest Hits collection released in 2017, however, was a beacon of hope that Ovlov hadn’t yet fallen of the map. Their brand new LP, TRU, showcases the big garage sound and memorable songwriting Ovlov fans have come to know well ever since their first EP, Crazy Motorcycle Jump EP, in 2009.

Actually, “memorable” doesn’t quite cut it; déjà vu is probably more accurate, as TRU plays through like an am part 2, an extension of Ovlov’s definitive LP. And I’m not knocking them for it – I think this is just what Ovlov fans wanted, because every time I get to the end of am, I think to myself, I wish this album were longer. TRU is an answer to all who have had that feeling, and it’s clear that this was Ovlov’s intention. The album opens with “Baby Alligator,” an allusion to am’s closer, “The Great Alligator,” which actually flows so well into the former, that you’d think they were on the same album. This wasn’t the first time the band have alluded to that song, either; the single on their 2014 split with Little Big League is entitled “The Great Crocodile”. TRU’s “Tru Punk” has a Minus-the-Bear-esque guitar hook, and is an allusion to am’s “Nu Punk”.

But, the am homage doesn’t end there. “Spright” actually uses a riff nearly identical to am’s “Moth Rock,” one of the album’s gems. One track that sticks out in particular as being unique to what Ovlov has done in the past – or even in the present – is “The Best of You,” which has a mathy rhythm, cleaner guitar tones, and drums closer to the front of the mix. And, in the song’s exhilarating outro, there is this beautiful shimmering reverb overtone coloring the fuzzy wall of guitars and crashing cymbals, a sound I’ve not heard in any Ovlov before. ‘Twas a very nice surprise. While so many bands sacrifice their signature sound in attempt to stay hip, Ovlov stay tru to their roots, and I don’t think anyone’s complaining. It’s too often the case that bands become stale if they don’t take radically new approaches to every album, but Ovlov have succeeded in producing a flavor that has an exceptionally long shelf life. – KYLE WEINSTEIN

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THE QUEEN IS DEAD: Aretha Franklin Dead @ 76

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

ARETHA FRANKLIN, 1967, Atlantic Records publicity portrait.


FRESH AIR: Aretha Franklin was more than a woman, more than a diva and more than an entertainer. Aretha Franklin was an American institution. Aretha Franklin died Thursday in her home city of Detroit after battling pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. Her death was confirmed by her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn. She was 76.

Franklin has received plenty of honors over her decades-spanning career — so much so that the chalice of accolades runneth over. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2005. And Franklin sang “My Country, ‘Tis Of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

The Queen of Soul rarely gave interviews, so we were delighted when she sat down for a Fresh Air interview in 1989. Franklin spoke about her father’s gospel influence, growing up with Sam Cooke, crossing over to pop music and more. Read Franklin’s edited conversation with NPR’s Terry Gross below and listen via the audio link. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Ms. Franklin had a grandly celebrated career. She placed more than 100 singles in the Billboard charts, including 17 Top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits. She received 18 competitive Grammy Awards, along with a lifetime achievement award in 1994. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, its second year. She sang at the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009, at pre-inauguration concerts for Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Bill Clinton in 1993, and at both the Democratic National Convention and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in 1968. […]

Ms. Franklin’s airborne, constantly improvisatory vocals had their roots in gospel. It was the music she grew up on in the Baptist churches where her father, the Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, known as C. L., preached. She began singing in the choir of her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, and soon became a star soloist.

Gospel shaped her quivering swoops, her pointed rasps, her galvanizing buildups and her percussive exhortations; it also shaped her piano playing and the call-and-response vocal arrangements she shared with her backup singers. Through her career in pop, soul and R&B, Ms. Franklin periodically recharged herself with gospel albums: “Amazing Grace” in 1972 and “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,” recorded at the New Bethel church, in 1987. But gospel was only part of her vocabulary. The playfulness and harmonic sophistication of jazz, the ache and sensuality of the blues, the vehemence of rock and, later, the sustained emotionality of opera were all hers to command. MORE

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KURT VILE: Loading Zones

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

New video by producers James Doolittle and Laris Kreslins, makes Kenzo look like Do The Right Thing. Note cameo by Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette as a PPA stooge. Nice.

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Q&A: Legendary Jazz Photojournalist Veryl Oakland

Thursday, August 16th, 2018


Miles Davis by Veryl Oakland

JOsh Pelta-HellaBY JOSH PELTA-HELLER Jazz In Available Light is a brand-new 328-page photo album of jazz from the 1960s through the 1980s, culled by jazz photojournalist and author Veryl Oakland from his own back pages. In many ways, the book is a sort of antimatter, a physical paradox: here is a current chronicle of a time past, published in print during a decidedly digital age, a daring declaration of the significance of a genre of music whose national popularity has waned to record lows, and — with the announcement from Canon earlier this summer that it would no longer manufacture film cameras — presented in a medium that’s in desperate danger of disappearance.

And if it’s a metaphorical wonder that the book exists at all, it’s a literal one as well: photojournalist Veryl Oakland suffered a catastrophic house flood in 1990 that nearly claimed his entire catalog, soaking VO_Coverhis collection of negatives, and crushing his three-decade-long career in photography under the inexorable weight of damp discouragement.

It wasn’t until Oakland revisited the films again, some twenty years later, that he realized they were still viable, and was moved to curate and publish this portfolio. The book is a sprawling anthology of images, a handsome and weighty tome featuring an impassioned and self-taught photographer’s life’s work, stylishly adorned with pull-quotes and anecdotes assembled from a career’s worth of his notes, articles, and recollections. It’s a transcendent and timeless document of jazz history, in all of its richest contrasts, in beautifully bound black-and-white glory.


PHAWKER: You spoke in the preface to the book about your first experience with jazz being an arbitrary encounter with a Salt Lake City radio station. Is that really the truth, or did you Mother-Goose that at all?

VERYL OAKLAND: No, that’s basically it, that’s what got my juices flowing. Just kind of a chance encounter, basically. It was the theme song of Wes Bowen’s All That Jazz program. It was “Blue Red,” by Red Garland.

PHAWKER: You spoke a little in the book about your own background growing up in South Dakota in the ‘40s and ‘50s, with influences from polka and big-band. With no prior exposure to bebor or hard bop at all, this must have been a radical departure or a sort of culture shock, the first time you heard it. Did you find hard bop and other types of jazz to be immediately accessible to you?

VERYL OAKLAND: It just kind of lit a spark in me. It was just something I hadn’t heard before, yeah. I didn’t grow up around anything like jazz whatsoever, in the Midwest.

PHAWKER: This must have been when, the mid-’50s or so?

VERYL OAKLAND: Yeah. I was born in 1940, so it would’ve been the mid-’50s, I guess.

PHAWKER: Did you sort of follow the evolution of jazz at that point through hard bop and free jazz, and did you found those other genres immediately resonated with you?

VERYL OAKLAND: Not really, no. Actually, what really got my juices flowing was I guess hard bop, because when I heard Red Garland — and then later Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers or Horace Silver — that was strictly hard bop at that time. So it was later that I was able, by doing research on my own, actually discover bebop, by going back to Diz’ [Gillespie], Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and those people.

PHAWKER: You shot with Sun Ra, who’s famous for his development of free jazz. Were you a fan of that music as it was developing then?

VERYL OAKLAND: If you trace him back to his early beginnings, I mean he goes all the way back to swing, and he was one of the stride piano players, in his early days. He really blossomed in a whole different realm of music, throughout his career. I tried to remain open. I guess a best description would be, a lot of people when they talk about Miles Davis, they either loved him when he started out and hated him later on . . . I guess I tried to remain open to everything that was coming down. So while I really did enjoy Miles with his original quintet — and then later with the second great quintet with Wayne Shorter — but I still listened to pretty much everything that the artists were doing, just trying to keep an open mind.

Sun Ra Arkestra by Veryl Oakland

PHAWKER: Sun Ra was eccentric, and you wrote about some of that in your book — were you able to maintain a natural rapport with him? What was shooting with him like, and what do you recall from your interaction with him?

CAT POWER: Woman (Feat. Lana Del Rey)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

From Wanderer, due out October 5th on Domino Recordings. She plays the Mann w/ The National on September 27th.

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INCOMING: Eight Miles High

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018


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EXCERPT: Stephen Miller’s Uncle Is NOT Having It

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018



THE CUT: As White House adviser Stephen Miller continues to push forward brutal “zero-tolerance” immigration policies, the apparent napper’s uncle is now calling him out for hypocrisy in a blistering op-ed. Writing for Politico, he points out that their own family benefitted from the very immigration policies that the Trump administration is reportedly trying to reverse. Neuropsychologist David S. Glosser — whose sister is Miller’s mother — reveals that years ago, members of their family were able to immigrate to the U.S. because of “chain migration,” which allowed a relative to sponsor their entry into the country. MORE

POLITICO: Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration. It begins at the turn of the 20th century, in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.

He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian and Yiddish, he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweatshop toil, Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hardworking immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.

What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister. I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family likely would have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him. MORE

VANITY FAIR: Meanwhile, as the border crisis spirals, the absence of a coordinated policy process has allowed the most extreme administration voices to fill the vacuum. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has all but become the face of the issue, a development that even supporters of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” position say is damaging the White House. “Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,” an outside White House adviser said. “He’s a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waffen-SS.” MORE

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SOURCE: Five Habits Of Questionably Effective Racists

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

Monday, August 13th, 2018



AMAZON: Siren Song is the autobiography of legendary music biz talent scout/label executive Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records and spotter of rock talent from the Ramones to Madonna. Since the late fifties, he’s been wherever it’s happening: Billboard, Tin Pan Alley, The British Invasion, CBGB, Studio 54, Danceteria, the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, the CD crash. Along that winding path, he discovered and broke out a skyline full of stars: Madonna, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Madonna, The Smiths, The Cure, Ice-T, Lou Reed, Seal, and many others. Brimming with hilarious scenes and character portraits, Siren Song’s wider narrative is about modernity in motion, and the slow acceptance of diversity in America – thanks largely to daring pop music. Including both the high and low points in his life, Siren Song touches on everything from his discovery of Madonna to his wife Linda Stein’s violent death. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: The Paradox Of Tolerance

Monday, August 13th, 2018



RELATED: Who Is Karl Popper?

RELATED: The Pardox Of Tolerance

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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