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BEING THERE: This Is The Kit @ Johnny Brenda’s

Monday, May 28th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

From the floor of Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday night, Kate Stables watched every second of the opening set from Landlady’s Adam Schatz, before taking the stage with an ensemble that included Schatz on keys and brass. This is the current iteration of Stables’ project, This Is The Kit, which still sounds bright and new, even at fifteen years and four full-length albums deep. Standing confidently with her green Hofner hollow-body, Stables presents distinctive Bristol-based folk-rock with a unique paradox. Her music often evokes that of Joni Mitchell or Nick Drake, or very early 70s era-defining harmonies of the Ron Hicklin Singers, even as she updates it all at the same time with a dimension of timelessness that manages to transcend music-criticism carbon dating.Stables seems most comfortable juxtaposing those contexts, as fans applaud with Beat-era fingersnaps between songs as if we were at a Ginsberg reading at City Lights Bookstore in 1959. She delivers her characteristically clean vocals and warbles lyrics about moons and spirits that are always vibrant and never trip into pitfalls of schmaltz or cliché, as the band derives power from the conflict between restrained instrumental arrangements and Stables’ free-spirited verse. “I want to thank you all for coming,” gushes the singer toward the end of her set, in acknowledgement of what she called their best-attended tour yet, and with the most British of conceits: “It’s been highly enjoyable.” – JOSH PELTA-HELLER

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CINEMA: When Han Went Solo

Friday, May 25th, 2018

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SOLO: A Star Wars Story (
Directed by Ron Howard, 135 minutes, USA, 2018)

Star Wars Sgt Pepper copy2BY JON SOLOMON & MAGGIE SOLOMON-SCHELLER It was 1978. Maybe 1979. I was sitting in my chair at Johnson Park Elementary School looking at my full name written on a piece of paper. Suddenly, I gasped quietly.  

Born Jonathan Solomon, and fully immersed in the orbit of Star Wars for at least a year by this point, I wasn’t sure how I hadn’t noticed it sooner.

 I put a finger on my left hand over all but the last three letters of my first name. 

I put a finger on my right hand over all but the first four letters of my last name.

 There it was.

 HAN SOLO.

 There was no one else on the playground who could ever make such a solid claim to be this character again when we all played Star Wars.

Almost 40 years later, and less than six months since The Last Jedi hit theaters, Alden Ehrenreich gets to play Han Solo on a far more expensive playground in the fourth film released since Disney’s 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm – Solo: A Star Wars Story. I have a daughter now. Her name is Maggie and she’s a year younger than I was when Return of the Jedi came out. She’s won Star Wars trivia contests against peers and adults equally. Like I was at the exact same age, this galaxy is exceptionally important to her. We listen to the podcast Star Wars Minute in the car together, read the latest Star Wars novels at bedtime and talk about elaborate theories involving ancillary characters at dinner with my wife.

My daughter doesn’t care that Chris Miller and Phil Lord were removed as directors of Solo late into the production. She doesn’t know that the film was rumored to be a mess by anonymous “insiders.” She barely grasps what a Ron Howard is. She’s just excited about more Star Wars.

 She liked Solo a great deal. 

Quite possibly more than I did.  What could have just been a series of checked boxes, actually doesn’t give you as many answers as you might fear. Solo is not a movie either of us needed, but it also isn’t a movie that replaces what might have been in our minds with backstory that negates anything enjoyable from the original trilogy (I’m still looking at you, Revenge of the Sith).

For example, though you see how Han Solo and Chewbacca first meet, the words “solo_a_star_wars_story_ver6_xlglife debt” are never uttered. Is this particular adventure why Chewie sticks around? Or was that something that happened off-screen down the line? While it is initially hard to process that this loveable rogue talking his way out of close shaves from the planet Corellia on is the same Han Solo I wanted to be on the playground, Ehrenreich thankfully opts to not do a straight impersonation. By the back half of the film it is easier to accept that this is the character Harrison Ford made iconic.

My daughter did admit afterwards that although the portrayal was very decent, partially through she forgot that the main actor was Han Solo and not someone new we had never met prior. Yes, they traverse the Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon, but instead of total fan service and endless cameos, Solo: A Star Wars Story discerningly connects what you’re watching with the classic trilogy, the Clone Wars series, the terrific Star Wars Rebels, the Disney-era universe and even the prequels. 

On more than a few occasions my daughter and I nudged each other or pointed at the screen, wanting to make sure a sly nod didn’t slip past either of us. We caught a bunch, but I’m confident we missed a few that won’t be apparent until a second viewing. The ties made to the animated Star Wars programs were noticeably stirring to my kid.

Lando Calrissian — current Falcon owner, intergalactic bon vivant and cape enthusiast — is along for the ride, and whilst Donald Glover rightfully absconds with every scene he’s in, he also isn’t in an exceptional number of them – something you might expect or want based off the trailers. While Ron Howard’s film never reaches the same heights as the best movies in the series, Solo: A Star Wars Story is most certainly a good time and sometimes rollicking is more than enough. The stakes aren’t especially high (you know going in Han, Lando and Chewie make it out unscathed) but there are unexpected twists and deep cuts along the way. It was surprisingly refreshing to watch a Star Wars without the equivalent attached weight and gravitas as the episodic Skywalker-centric nonology offers.

Is it fun? Yes. 

Does it make me want to see these actors playing these roles in further adventures? More so than I expected going in honestly. Are there moments where it feels like Ehrenreich, Glover, Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson et al. are “playing Star Wars” instead of being characters in a movie? Perhaps. Did I think fondly about a bunch of the bonkers 1977-1986 Marvel Comics Star Wars stories and the original trio of Han Solo novels while watching the caper unfold? Absolutely.

It was the Friday after we saw Solo: A Star Wars Story that I picked up my daughter from school and I noticed she had a colorful, pointed piece of cardboard in her backpack. The movie had inspired her to fashion her own version of one of the new weapons wielded by the crime boss Dryden Vos in the film. Even though her friends had yet to see it, she had already been playing Solo on the playground, just like her dad did with Star Wars a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

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Artwork by MAGGIE SOLOMON-SCHELLER

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY NOW PLAYING IN AREA THEATERS

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Every Star Wars Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Friday, May 25th, 2018

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IN LEIA WE TRUST: Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart

Star Wars Sgt Pepper copyBY JON SOLOMON JEDI CORRESPONDENT Always in motion is the future. So too, to a lesser extent, are my rankings of the Star Wars films. They seemingly fluctuate slightly based on mood, time elapsed since last viewing or what my daughter wants to watch when home sick from school. As of press time, having yet to see the soon-to-be-released Solo: A Star Wars Story (SEE ABOVE), I’d go with the following, adding two caveats: There is a steep, precarious drop in quality between the bottom three films and the top six films. The middle trio of movies are constantly trading places in my mind, rankings-wise.

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The Phantom Menace (1999)
The one we all tried to convince ourselves we liked, even after the air was sucked out of the theater a few minutes in. Horribly miscast and featuring some impossibly bad, thoroughly perplexing vocal / accent choices. My most all-time-enjoyable viewing of TPM was via a battered DVD borrowed from our public library that the audio channel did not work on. Even then it wasn’t very good.

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Attack of the Clones (2002)
A series of video game cut scenes edited around an attempted love story. Like the other two prequels, it would probably have made a more forgiving animated film than a live action one. While it is easy to imagine George Lucas surrounded by yes-men, convinced every decision he was making was the right one, AOTC is also a thin-skinned response to the criticisms (rightfully) filed against the movie that preceded it.

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Revenge of the Sith (2005)

A step forward, but one that actually has not aged particularly well. Attempts to fill in a lot of information from one’s childhood that probably played out better in each of our respective minds. To hear my over-analysis of 60 seconds from Revenge of the Sith, please enjoy my guest appearance on the Star Wars Minute podcast from earlier this year.

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Rogue One (2016)
After the first three films on my list, an infinitely better example of how to shoehorn in events from before the original trilogy while still keeping stakes and excitement levels high. Probably the best final act since Return of the Jedi, yet I don’t find myself wanting to revisit this movie as frequently as the other two Disney-era films. That said, writing this blurb does make me want to fire up Netflix. Which I did after typing this whole piece out. Man, those last 55 minutes are indeed totally crackerjack.

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The Last Jedi (2017)
The highest highs of the three most recent Star Wars movies (Ahch-To! Snoke’s chamber! The Holdo Maneuver! The final reel!), but also the lowest lows (oh, casino planet). It averages out to a thoughtful, profound movie that makes me excited to see what Rian Johnson will do with this world in the future. Laughed more out loud for the right reasons during this one than during any other Star Wars film.

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The Force Awakens (2015)
Comfort food. A well-cast perfect re-telling of the original Star Wars’ beats to get the franchise back on the rails for a new generation. I spent the two years that followed talking about these new characters and debating where the story was headed with my family. Immediately after the TFA ended I posted the following on Twitter: “I’m so happy there’s a fourth Star Wars movie.”

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Return of the Jedi (1983)
Better than it is often given credit for, and wraps up the original trilogy in a satisfying fashion. The editing between the final battle on Endor, the attack on the Death Star and the showdown between Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and The Emperor is especially ace. May we be so fortunate that Episode IX comes as close to sticking the landing.

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Star Wars (1977)
A supremely weird film in many ways – what other movie waits 20+ minutes to introduce its protagonist? – but something that very much changed my life. Not sure what else needs to be said about Star Wars via a list on the Internet at this point.

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The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Builds off the first Star Wars with new worlds, new characters and new discoveries yet leaves you desperate for more in a fashion that’s hard to explain to those who didn’t have to wait three years to find out what transpired. You kids and your Infinity Wars have it so easy!

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RIP: Tom Wolfe, The Godfather Of New Journalism

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Tom Wolfe by Irving Penn-1966

Tom Wolfe photographed by Irving Penn, 1966

NEW YORK TIMES: Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist and novelist whose technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, car customizers, astronauts and Manhattan’s moneyed status-seekers in works like “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” died on Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88. His death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit, who said Mr. Wolfe had been hospitalized with an infection. He had lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962.

In his use of novelistic techniques in his nonfiction, Mr. Wolfe, beginning in the 1960s, helped create the enormously influential hybrid known as the New Journalism. But as an unabashed contrarian, he was almost as well known for his attire as his satire. He was instantly recognizable as he Wofe_Kandystrolled down Madison Avenue — a tall, slender, blue-eyed, still boyish-looking man in his spotless three-piece vanilla bespoke suit, pinstriped silk shirt with a starched white high collar, bright handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket, watch on a fob, faux spats and white shoes. Once asked to describe his get-up, Mr. Wolfe replied brightly, “Neo-pretentious.”

It was a typically wry response from a writer who found delight in lacerating the pretentiousness of others. He had a pitiless eye and a penchant for spotting trends and then giving them names, some of which — like “Radical Chic” and “the Me Decade” — became American idioms. His talent as a writer and caricaturist was evident from the start in his verbal pyrotechnics and perfect mimicry of speech patterns, his meticulous reporting, and his creative use of pop language and explosive punctuation.

“As a titlist of flamboyance he is without peer in the Western world,” Joseph Epstein wrote in the The New Republic. “His prose style is normally shotgun baroque, sometimes edging over into machine-gun rococo, as in his article on Las Vegas which begins by repeating the word ‘hernia’ 57 times.” William F. Buckley Jr., writing in National Review, put it more simply: “He is probably the most skillful writer in America — I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else.” MORE

FRESH AIR: Tom Wolfe wasn’t interested in fitting in. In his signature white suit, the best-selling author and journalist described himself as “the village information gatherer.” “For me, it is much more effective to arrive in any situation as a man from Mars,” he told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 1987. Wolfe died Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88. Wolfe was at the vanguard of “new journalism” in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, he said, journalists were expected to assume a “neutral” or “objective” voice. “I frankly found it absolutely boring,” he said — and made “a great game and a great experiment” of using “techniques that short story writers and novelists use.His works included The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe spoke with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 1987 and with Dave Davies in 2012. We remember Wolfe with excerpts from those two interviews below. MORE

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BOOKS: This Is Your Book On Drugs

Monday, May 21st, 2018

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Bantam, 1968, reprinted 1999)

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN BOOK CRITIC You’re either on the bus, or off the bus, Ken Kesey chants. On the bus. Off the bus. With the Merry Pranksters. Or with the squares. On the bus. Off the bus. This phrase — a meaty reality bite all by itself, repeated like a mantra throughout the book — marks the metaphysical divide that is at the center of Tom Wolfe’s raw account of the psychedelic counterculture in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the legendary New Journalism chronicle of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest) and the Merry Pranksters’ efforts blow America’s collective mind. The book has become a must-read for anyone interested in drug culture and late 20th Century American history. It’s where most people go after Catcher In The Rye.

The Pranksters began as a small colony of pharmacological Magellans based in Northern California as Kesey, with all his charisma and inexplicable magnetism, amassed a swelling cult of friends and followers who shared his vision of an enlightened collective consciousness achieved by taking acid. The Merry Pranksters, as they soon called themselves, experimented not only with LSD, but also with sound equipment, video and improvisation to create a whole new breed of sound —  acid rock. Hell, the Grateful Dead used to play their acid parties, back when they were still called the Warlocks. The best moments of the book are when they take the party mobile, zig-zagging woozily across the country in a Day-Glo bus, staging large-scale Acid Tests, fucking with the squares, and, above all things, spreading the acid love. Like any good acid trip, Electric Kool-Aid is both illuminating and cosmically confusing, blessedly so. The book jumps erratically between time periods, highlighting the grassroots acid movement’s changes in socio-political attitude, mindset and pecking order as it morphs from a small, select conspiracy to a nationwide phenomenon with far-reaching consequences both great and terrible. But it’s the experience, not the plot, that Wolfe wants the reader to walk away with.

In the course of the 400+ pages, Wolfe never really passes judgment on his subjects, though his fascination with them is obvious. And although Wolfe attended many of the Prankster’s festivities, he never includes himself in the action. I can’t help but wonder if Wolfe ever drank the Kool-Aid, because the novel is a trip in and of itself. Wolfe used his own experiences with the Pranksters, video footage, recordings and Hunter S. Thompson’s personal tapes of the Hell’s Angels, in order to recreate the birth of the psychedelic era — and the effect is an aptly distorted but remarkably tangible odyssey through amorphous looking glass of the LSD culture.

RELATED: Tom Wolfe wrote his new novel, Back to Blood, entirely by hand. But the author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities also says that wasn’t entirely by choice — he’d rather have used a typewriter. “Unfortunately, you can’t keep typewriters going today — you have to take the ribbons back to be re-inked,” Wolfe tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “There’s a horrible search to try to find missing parts.” Back to Blood is set in Miami, which Wolfe describes as the only city where an immigrant community rose to dominate the political landscape in just over a generation. The novel deals with racial and ethnic conflict among the city’s diverse inhabitants, including immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and Russia, as well as the city’s long-established African-American and Anglo communities. Its central character, the young Cuban-American police officer Nestor Camacho, struggles with his identity and the ire of his community after safely bringing a Cuban refugee down from the top of a ship’s mast and arresting him before he could set foot on American soil. MORE

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THE MAGIC PILGRIM: A Q&A With Damien Jurado

Friday, May 18th, 2018

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BRIAN_HOWARD_BYLINERBY BRIAN HOWARD Damien Jurado is back. That statement is more literal than figurative. With his brand new album, The Horizon Just Laughed (Secretly Canadian), Jurado—the heart-on-his-sleeve indie folker who’s spent the last two-plus decades honing his signature style of spare, probing songs that are at once hauntingly beautiful and emotionally devastating—has returned to the real world, in a way. Jurado’s three previous albums, starting with 2012’s Maraqopa, were inspired by a dream that took place in a fictional land of the same name. The Horizon Just Laughed, however takes place in much more recognizable locales, with references to familiar places like the Pacific Northwest (where Jurado had long lived)—including the ethereal heartstring-tugger “Over Rainbows and Rainier” (SEE BELOW)—and characters, including Thomas Wolfe, Percy Faith and Ray Conniff. But lovers of Jurado’s strange, alternate-reality wanderings need not fear that Jurado’s just playing it straight. The singer reveals that this album, too, has been inspired by a dream. It features some Billy Pilgrim/Quantum Leap-style time hopping—and deeply Freudian signals about the singer’s eventual move to Los Angeles, which is where Jurado was when Phawker caught up with him via phone ahead of his Sunday gig at Johnny Brenda’s.

DISCUSSED: Dream logic, Henry Mancini, time travel, Kurt Vonnegut, Mel’s diner, Mantovani, Chevy Chase, Percy Faith, Brian Wilson, heaven, Thomas damien-juradoWolfe, Mount Ranier, Flo, Armageddon, Tony Robbins, moving to California, moving sidewalks, Maraqopa, Ray Conniff, and trademarking the rain.

PHAWKER: The three albums directly preceding the brand new album were, according to the lore, inspired by a single dream. It’s my understanding that the latest album is also inspired by a dream? How does all of this dream-inspiration stuff work?

DAMIEN JURADO: The dream that inspired this new record is very much a trailer. My dreams are more like trailers, they’re not these long, drawn-out epics. How do I get a trilogy out of a trailer? I have no idea, but I did. My dreams are very snapshot-oriented—sometimes still pictures, sometimes moving pictures—just enough for me to get a grasp on the narrative, if that makes any sense to you.

PHAWKER: I’m following you so far.

DAMIEN JURADO: So, yeah. Man boards plane in nineteen fifty-whatever—or forties—and is bound for a city. He’s the last to get off the plane, and when he gets off, he realizes that he is in a different time period. So, if he takes off in 1956, he’s going to be landing in 1972. If he boards the same plane, he will go to a different location in the United States, and a different era. And he’s having conversations with people he sees on television. He’s having internal dialogue with composers he might know or actors he’s familiar with. The theme of this is that there is no home—home is over. Home is an over concept—he’s never going back. No matter how many planes he boards, no matter who he talks to, he’s never going back. And I think at this point, if this were to happen to me, I’d start to question whether I was even alive or not.

PHAWKER: Are you a Kurt Vonnegut reader?

DAMIEN JURADO: I am not a reader period. I don’t read fiction at all. [laughs]

PHAWKER: I ask because his novel Slaughterhouse-Five features a character, Billy Pilgrim, who is quote-unquote “unstuck in time,” and he hops around through different eras, which is very similar to what you were just describing. Anyway, a lot of the song titles on the record are names of people, like the composer Percy Faith and character actor Marvin Kaplan. Are these people that the protagonist of the dream is popping in on?

DAMIEN JURADO: Well, he’s not popping in on. He’s just sort of talking to them, by way of his own imagination.

PHAWKER: So based on this idea that “home is an over concept,” your song “Thomas Wolfe”… I guess that’s a pretty direct reference to the novelist who famously wrote You Can’t Go Home Again.

DAMIEN JURADO: That is actually a Chevy Chase reference from a 1970s-era Saturday Night Live bit that he did on the SNL news. And he closed out with—I don’t remember what he was even talking about—but he said, ‘Well, I guess Thomas Wolfe was right: You really cannot go home again.’ I do know that that is a Thomas Wolfe reference, but I am referencing Chevy Chase referencing Thomas Wolfe.

PHAWKER: So, I have a question that I thought sounded pretty weird, and I wasn’t sure I was going to ask it, but now that you’ve told me the album’s backstory, I’m asking it. You’ve got a song called “Marvin Kaplan,” and Marvin Kaplan was an actor best known, if he was known at all, for his role as a telephone lineman on the 1970s Linda Lavin sitcom, Alice, which was set in a suburban Phoenix diner. A character named Alice pops up in that song. In the song right after that, “Lou-Jean,” there’s an actual diner and fluorescent skies in a town called Apache, which is a ghost town in Arizona. And the next song is called “Florence-Jean,” which is the full first name of the character on that show, Flo, whose enduring contribution to pop culture is the phrase “kiss my grits.”

DAMIEN JURADO: That’s right.damien-jurado

PHAWKER: So… is this really a three-song arc about the TV show Alice? [laughs]

DAMIEN JURADO: It is not. That is a good question. I love that you’re asking this. So, during the writing of this album, I was watching a shit-ton of television. I don’t watch modern-day TV, most of the TV I watch is from another era, anywhere from the ’50s and going on until the early ’80s; that’s where it kind of ends for me. But yeah, obviously during that period of my writing, I was watching a lot of Alice, and during my watchings of the show, I start to feel a lot of connection happening with what’s happening in my life—also to the character I’m writing about. To give you kind of a backstory, during my upbringing I was moved around from state to state continually; I never had a sense of what home was, ever. And the one thing that remained consistent throughout my childhood was that, whether I was going from Phoenix to Houston, or Houston to Seattle, the shows were consistent, and the characters were consistent. The people and the landscapes and the environment could change, but the shows were my consistency. So, there’s that influence. But during this time, I found that my mind was wandering a lot—to the pay phone inside the diner in the show. Every time it rang, I caught myself wondering if it was me calling the diner. Like some other me. Some sort of parallel-universe-me calling the diner. So, the reality was that part of me realized that this is filmed in a television studio; but there’s another side of me that is not aware of that, where it is very much a reality, and that side doesn’t want to accept the fact that what I’m watching is on a TV show, but me peering into this alternate world. Does that make any sense?

PHAWKER: Yeah.

DAMIEN JURADO: So, I began to really focus in on the extras in the background. Who was that guy getting coffee at the table? What was his name? What was his deal? What’d he do for a living? Was he married? I wonder what his house looks like. I’d go down these rabbit holes, you know. That’s kind of how the Marvin Kaplan-Alice thing took off. I started building narratives around just human episodes.

PHAWKER: Interesting.

DAMIEN JURADO: [laughs].

PHAWKER: [laughing] This interview has gotten more X-Files than I’d expected. So, is this an autobiographical album? Are you the person in this dream?

DAMIEN JURADO: Yes. I’ll say yes to the first question, and to the second, it is me. I wanna say it’s me coming from another time, but it is me. His name isn’t Damien Jurado, I don’t know what his name is.

PHAWKER: But it’s another iteration of you.

DAMIEN JURADO: On the album I reference to him by the name “Q.”

PHAWKER: The song “Over the Rainbows and Rainier” has got to be one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a while. It’s also got some pretty heavy biblical themes. Is this a song about the end of the world, about Armageddon?

DAMIEN JURADO: You know, yes, in the way that it’s about ending. When I say lines like “We waited for Armageddon to go down,” Armageddon is a very loose term in my mind. It doesn’t mean biblically, it’s more that I’m talking about the shit about to go down. Now here’s what’s crazy: This album, although it was written over a year ago, ended up being very prophetic, and I still can’t wrap my brain around it. You know, the lyric “Over Rainbows and Rainier”; if you asked me two years ago, would I have ever left Washington State, I would have laughed and been like “Oh, hell no!” If you would have said a year ago, “Would you ever move to California, or anywhere else,” I’d be like “Oh, god no.” And that ended up happening, I left. I went over Rainier and I left. It’s funny. When I’ve talked about leaving to go on tour, I’ve always referred to it as “leaving the walls of the Pacific Northwest.” The mountains are pretty much like walls: the Cascades, the Olympics, Rainier, St. Helens: These are all walls to me. This song is me going over the wall.

PHAWKER: It’s almost like you knew, on some level, what was coming.damien-jurado

DAMIEN JURADO: I had no idea it was coming.

PHAWKER: I was thinking that “Over Rainbows and Rainier” almost sounds like a metaphor for death, or going to “Heaven.” With that in mind, there’s also a lot of bleak imagery in “The Last Great Washington State”: The building’s on fire, the sky gets turned off like a light. And you ask, “What good is living if you can’t write your ending?” It does sound very much like a goodbye.

DAMIEN JURADO: It is. And what’s crazy is that I didn’t even know it. You know, when I’m confronted with a line that says, “What good is living if you can’t write your ending,” I’m telling you, man, to even say that line, it really hits me emotionally, because I believe that’s true. Really. What the fuck is the point? There’s a line in the song: “You’re always in doubt of the truths you’re defending”? God, yeah, that is me, that was me. I always had to defend everything I was thinking or feeling. … This time last year I started watching these self-help videos, and some of these people were motivational speakers, like Tony Robbins and Les Brown. And they all have the exact same question: What is it that you want out of your life? Are you living the life that you want to live? And I just kept saying, “No, I’m not.” Now, if I’m saying no, well then what is it that you want? And even if you don’t know what you want, even if you have a smidgen of what you want, walk in that direction, and take a chance.

PHAWKER: So, you’re in California now. Was it the step you needed to take to live the life you wanted to be living?

DAMIEN JURADO: You know, that’s a very complex answer. All I can say about it is… I’ll say this: Love brought me to California. Love for my own life, for my own sanity, love for another person. Love. That’s what brought me to California, which I think is very big and powerful.

PHAWKER: Absolutely. In the song, “Percy Faith,” there’s a lot of angst about, to put it broadly, how things are and where things are going, which feels like a part of this personal journey you’re describing. You talk about rioting in the street, you talk about Seattle trademarking the rain. How people never look you in the eye, there’s no need to talk, the sidewalks walk for you. What does Percy Faith signify for you in this?

DAMIEN JURADO: This isn’t just Percy Faith. In this song, I’m talking about people like Allan Sherman, I’m talking about Ray Conniff, and these are people, in my opinion, that when we’re talking about the greats in music, we’re so quick—and honestly, it’s so cliché—even if deservedly [to worship] The Beatles, The Beach Boys, blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah, xyz blah blah blah, who cares? We’re not talking about innovators. And you know what’s funny? If you ask—and I know this for a fact because I’ve seen these interviews—if you talk to people like Brian Wilson, Brian Wilson will tell you, first and foremost, he is taking cues from people like Ray Conniff, like Percy Faith, like Mantovani, like Henry Mancini. It wasn’t Phil Spector. Phil Spector was of his time, no doubt about it. But, Brian Wilson was very much inspired by these very modern-day pop arrangers. And you can listen—you can put on a Ray Conniff record and be like “Oh, I get it. I now understand where the fuck he was going with Pet Sounds, or Smile, because this all makes sense now.” Now, on the flip-side of that, the commentary that I’m talking about with Seattle’s made a trademark on the rain, that’s a direct reference to Amazon. People never look you in the eye, obviously a smart phone thing. Sidewalks that walk for themselves: airports, escalators, you name it. Because of the Internet, I know everything, but yet I don’t know the guy who works at the corner store that I go to every damn day of my life.

PHAWKER: Having spent three records telling the Maraqopa story, was it liberating to make a record outside of that story arc?

DAMIEN JURADO: Yes, it was. I recently told this journalist working for the Foreign Press that it’s funny because me and the protagonist of Maraqopa have something in common, which is [that] we stayed there too long. We weren’t supposed to be there that long. I did, and it made me unhealthy. I don’t know how else to explain it, other than that I stayed there too long, so to move on, finally leave and sort of move away from that is very liberating.

PHAWKER: Why did you move around so much growing up?damien-jurado

DAMIEN JURADO: A lot of it, honestly, man, had to do with family circumstances. I basically had a father who wasn’t very present in my life, and a mother who wanted to chase him around the country. And during that time, neither of them could decide on a career, what the hell they wanted to do. My parents are polar opposites, but the one thing they have in common is that they are very nomadic. They love to move around, on the drop of a dime, and nothing’s going to hold them back. The trait that I pick up from them is determination. Once they decide something, good luck getting them to waver on their decision. If my mom or my dad decided, “All right. I’m moving to Arizona next week,” that’s what we did. Middle of the school year, goodbye everybody, see you later, have a nice life, see you never, you know, I’m moving to Phoenix. And then, the next year again, mid-school-year, “Hey, I’m going to go to law school in Houston.” All right, goodbye everybody, see you never, moving to Houston. And it was repeating itself over and over and over again.

PHAWKER: You were in Seattle for a good while, am I correct?

DAMIEN JURADO: Thirty-three years.

PHAWKER: Do you think that you stayed in the same place that long as a reaction to that?

DAMIEN JURADO: That’s a good question. I don’t know why. How about this for an answer: When you spend your whole life moving around all the time, you want to finally just stop. And for me, with as much moving as I did, not just from state to state, but within the state I was living—take Arizona, for instance: we lived in Surprise, then Glendale, then Phoenix. We’re going to move to Seattle, Washington, and then we’re going to move to Grays Harbor, and then we’re going to move back to Seattle. So that is basically my existence. I didn’t know it was always looking for that place to land and say, “Enough is enough. I just can’t do this shit anymore.” But I can say I’m home now.

PHAWKER: That is nice to hear.

DAMIEN JURADO: It feels good.

DAMIEN JURADO + NAOMI WACHIRA @ JOHNNY BRENDA’S SUNDAY MAY 20TH

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THE MAN WHO PUT WORDS IN OBAMA’S MOUTH: Q&A With Jon Lovett, White House Speechwriter, Comedian, Screenwriter & Podcaster Extraordinaire

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Jon Lovett

 

Former Obama administration speechwriter/screenwriter/comedian Jon Lovett brings his popular Lovett Or Leave It podcast to the Merriam Theater on Sunday for a live taping, with local guests Franchesca Ramsey and Dylan Marron on the panel and actor Ezra Miller’s band Sons of an Illustrious Father on hand to play the theme song. We got Lovett on the phone earlier this week to talk about happier times in Obama White House, coping with the darkness of Trump, rookie mistakes in Hollywood, how you explain to your parents that upon graduating college with a math degree you plan to become a stand-up comedian.

PHAWKER: You graduated from Williams College in 2004 with a degree in math. Your senior thesis was Rotating Linkages in a Normed Plane. As someone who barely got past Algebra, could you sort of break that down for me in twenty-five words or less roughly what that means?

JON LOVETT: Sure, basically it’s about how things behave when the length of an object changes based on the direction it’s lovettoleaveit_hero_910x520pointing. So an example would be like if you were navigating the streets of Manhattan, it’s a grid. So if you want to go a mile north, you go a mile north. If you want to go a mile east, you go a mile east. If you want to go a mile northeast, you have to zigzag your way there so you have to travel a bit more to get there. So it’s about how when things behave differently depending on the direction you’re pointing has an effect on the geometry of shapes.

PHAWKER: So upon graduation you promptly applied a mathematics degree to the only logical profession which would be stand-up. How do you explain this to you parents?

JON LOVETT: We had a bargain, an unspoken bargain, which was I was temping as a paralegal during the day and going to open mics at night, but I was also applying to law school.

PHAWKER: But then you became an Obama White House speechwriter because, according to online reports, you won some kind of contest? Can you explain that? Did they just pick your name out of a hat?

JON LOVETT: No, so here’s what it was. They solicited a lot of different people and they submitted writing samples and resumes and from that group they picked a bunch of people to write a test speech. Then they kind of read them anonymously so they could just compare based on the work. Mine was one of those anonymous speeches they picked from that group.

PHAWKER: What was your best day in the White House and worst day in the White House?

JON LOVETT: You know I would say the best day was definitely around the passage of healthcare. That was such a hard fight, it was something everybody so thoroughly believed in, there were so many twists and turns to it happening, from the death of Ted Kennedy and the election of Scott Brown to the way the bill moved through the Senate and the House, and then it finally culminated in passage of a bill that people had been fighting for, for I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say a century. So that was the most exciting and best experience and some of the moments I most remember from being a speechwriter were speeches around healthcare. Standing in the room when he signed that bill and also being on the trail when he was making the case for it. Worst day, I don’t know I’d have to think about it. I feel a little bit removed from the true—you know look, the president deals with incredibly heart-wrenching and difficult situations around foreign policy, around life and death, around natural disasters, around murders and mass shootings. So I don’t know if it would be—I don’t know what you would point to and be this was the worst day. I remember lovettoleaveit_hero_910x520there were some pretty dark days around the BP oil spill where there was a sense of like, why isn’t the president fixing this? And it’s like well, he’s not at the bottom of the ocean. There were lots of moments, you know, the first few years of the Obama administration, when I was there, were defined by overlapping crises.

PHAWKER: Yeah, exactly. Moving forward, lessons learned from your tenure in Hollywood doing 1600 Penn and working on HBO’s The Newsroom. If you had to do over, you would do it differently. Sorry these questions are so vague.

JON LOVETT: I would say for 1600 Penn, one thing that I learned from that experience is there’s a real similarity between speechwriting and screenwriting in that a lot of it is not just about writing, a lot of it is about figuring out how to maintain your creative and your voice and vision as you’re pursuing something. And I think one thing that I learned through the process with 1600 Penn was, I think that was a really funny show but I’d never worked in TV before, I’d never written a TV script before, I’d never been on a set before so there was so many things I was doing for the first time and I think one thing you learn in that process is what matters and what doesn’t, where should you fight and where should you let things go. I think I just have a different perspective on that now. I really liked 1600 Penn but I was a much more adept TV writer at the end of that experience than I was at the beginning.

PHAWKER: Explain the premise of Lovett or Leave It…

JON LOVETT: Lovett or Leave It is this panel show, we talk about the week’s news, we make fun of cable news, we make fun of whatever crazy stuff has happened that week. We do it in front of a live audience and then we rant about topics that have been bothering us and it’s a fun way to get a week’s worth of news that can often be pretty dispiriting in a more entertaining way.

PHAWKER: Speaking as an Obama administration alumnus, how do you cope with the Trump presidency?

JON LOVETT: Look, I read the news every day, I feel like I’m in this privileged position that we started this company because we wanted to talk about politics the way we actually talk and we wanted to engage people, wanted to help people figure out how to get involved and make a difference and that’s partly why we do these live shows, we get people involved. I also just think at a certain point, there will be dinners where I’ll be like, we’re not going to talk about politics because I’m all set today, we talked about it a lot today and I don’t need to talk about it anymore. I think its about not losing sight of the fact that what’s happening is wrong and what’s happening in our politics is dangerous and we have to fight it, while at the same time not losing sight of the fact that you can’t lose yourself in it and you can’t forget about all the other good and important things in life because we’re in this for a long fight. We’re in a fight against a really terrible group of people, some of whom earnestly believe in the project Trump has set about implementing, some who are cynically exploiting Trump because they’re ambitious, or they want lovettoleaveit_hero_910x520to make money or they have an ideological agenda, but this combination of fools and zealots and craven people are doing real damage to this country and it’s heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to see how many people have capitulated, heartbreaking to see the racism in and misogyny given quarter by the Republican party but even as we go through this collective crises, we can’t be exhausted by it because that’s what they want. If we give up, if we get too disheartened, if we get too cynical, we’ll lose. That’s partly why we do these shows, why we do Lovett or Leave It is because it’s okay to take a break and its okay to laugh a little about the things that are so depraved and awful.

PHAWKER: Last question: Knowing what we know to date, what is your theory as to what the Mueller investigation will reveal when all is said and done?

JON LOVETT: So I’m not going to speculate about that because we’re out of the prediction business — a lesson learned the hard way in 2016. But I will say, that I am interested. Donald Trump is a cynical liar and bullshit artist who maintains no coherent worldview whatsoever. However, he is consistent on a few things. One of them is racism and misogyny. One of them is being anti-trade and anti-immigration. And the other is being extraordinarily solicitous and deferential to Russia. That defies explanation based on what we currently know, but not based on what we could learn from Mueller. I have no idea. What has been clear for the past year is that Mueller knows more than us and he knows it well ahead of us. What we have tended to learn are small pieces of information that Mueller has had from us. So I have absolutely no idea, they run a tight ship, what we know has come out of the Mueller investigation has not come from Mueller himself or his team but through witnesses who have spoken to the grand jury, through Trump lawyers, through others who have had access to the investigation one way or another. I am most interested in understanding Donald Trump’s finances. I think the Washington Post and New York Times have begun elucidating that with the steady flow of cash from Donald Trump into businesses around the world to the strange kind of scheming operation of his lawyer Michael Cohen. So I think we don’t fully know but that to me is what I want to understand more of, Donald Trump’s finances, how it works and what connection it has to Trump’s strange deference to Russia.

LOVETT OR LEAVE IT LIVE TAPING @ MERRIAM THEATER MAY 20TH 7:30 PM

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CINEMA: The Grateful Dead

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

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DEADPOOL 2 (Directed by David Leitch, 119 minutes, USA, 2018)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Ryan Reynolds returns as everyone’s favorite Merc with a mouth in Deadpool 2, one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the summer. The first installment of turned the superhero genre on its head with its hard-R, low budget take on the fan favorite character that was known for not only his miraculous regenerative abilities, but his penchant for breaking the fourth wall, providing a bizarre meta-commentary on the comic book world. With original director Tim Miller walking away from the sequel due to “creative differences,” we have David Leitch (John Wick,Atomic Blonde) settling into the director’s chair.

This time around Deadpool is tasked with protecting Russell (AKA Firefist) a troubled young mutant from Cable (Josh Brolin), an unstoppable super soldier from the future. Cable believes killing Russell is the only way to save his family from their predestined fate. Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa is once again dispatched early on in the film and to save the day Deadpool has to put forth maximum effort and form his own super hero squad, X-Force to thwart Cable. While the first film hilariously deconstructed the superhero origin story this film tackles the tropes and conventions of Marvel’s multi-hero extended universe films. Of course, if you’ve read the comics you know Cable and Deadpool eventually team up, and in this film they are forced to put aside their differences by the third act to to take on a big bad that threatens all of human and mutant kind. This third act twist highlights the misdirection that filmmakers have begun to employ, thanks to toxicity of comic book fandom and its strange compulsion to spoil and dismiss a film, before its even hits the theater.

Deadpool 2 feels at times a bit too derivative of the original with its fractured narrative and recycled gimmicks that riff on Hollywood’s bigger-is-always-better approach to superhero sequels. The filmmakers wisely use this framework as a springboard to blow open Deadpool’s world, expanding the scope of the original’s low-budget universe to rival Disney’s own Marvel offerings. The film’s script, while lacking some of the original’s nuance, does up the ante with a constant stream of densely-layered in-jokes and meta-references that are simply impossible to consume whole in a single viewing. While Deadpool 2 definitely delivers more laughs than the original, it does feel a bit overwhelming at times, and laughing too hard could result in missing something possibly relevant to the plot or the next joke. While the first film did a better job of balancing the action set pieces and the laugh lines, Deadpool 2 goes straight for the laughs. (While the post credit sequence joke is one of the best of its kind it also brings into question the entire narrative of the film as Deadpool does some time traveling of his own.)

Deadpool 2’s screenplay wisely sidesteps Cable’s convoluted back-story to focus on bringing together X-Force and setting up Deadpool as the best thing Fox currently has going Marvel-wise. Reynolds is back in his element and isn’t afraid to be completely self-deprecating when it benefits the punch line or a deliver a gross out gag if it will get a laugh. For instance, Deadpool 2’s take on the baby hand gag is something that can’t be unseen, but probably should be. On the upside, Brolin is just pure badass and gives Deadpool the straight man he deserves, while also delivering a formable physical presence as the no nonsense half man/half cyborg. While most people probably assume, judging by the trailer, that Peter’s everyman is going steal the show, but that honor goes to Zazie Beetz’s Domino, whose superpower is good luck. It’s no secret that the camera loves her and every moment she’s on screen her effortless charm and charisma makes her the center of attention. The film also features one of the best blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos of the summer, giving Matt Damon’s brief turn in Thor: Ragnarok a run for its money for sheer brevity.

The thing that surprised me most about the original Deadpool was the sheer re-watchablity of it; catching it on cable when it was in heavy rotation I found the film easy to pick up and impossible to put down. While it still remains to be seen if the newest entry will enjoy that same bottomless replay value I do know I have to see it again if only to catch the jokes I was too busy laughing to get the first time around. Suffice it to say if you liked Deadpool, Deadpool 2 will likely be the funniest film you see all summer.

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Win Tix To See Liam Gallagher @ The Festival Pier

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

liam

 

Noel Gallgher always understood the importance of being obvious — fist-pumping guitar chords, stadium rattling bass lines, bobblehead-inducing drum beats, simple-Simon ‘moon in June’ rhymes that sound like Shakespeare to the besotted ears of soccer hooligans everywhere when bleated through the clenched teeth of his brother Liam’s gloriously feral Lennon-esque whine — which is why Oasis went champagne supernova in the mid-90s and ruled Britannia for the better part of the decade. Massive egos and sibling rivalry — aggravated by oceans of lager and mounds of cocaine the size of the Peruvian Andes — along with the inevitable bursting of the Britpop bubble finally put a period on the end of Oasis saga in 2009. The Brothers Gallagher split off into competing solo projects (Noel’s High Flying Birds and Liam’s now-disbanded Beady Eye), trashing each other in the press before forging an uneasy truce that finds both monetizing the Oasis legacy with new solo albums near-annually and ensuing tours. Which is what brings dear Liam to the Festival Pier tomorrow night, on the Philly stop of a co-headling tour with ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft for the benefit of true believers, 90s nostalogists and newbies that missed it the first time. We have a pair of tix to give away to some lucky duck Phawker reader. To qualify to win, all you have to do is 1.) sign up for our mailing list. (Located above right, just below the masthead. Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one!) 2) After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much, with the words BE HERE NOW in the subject line AND the correct answer to the following Oasis trivia question: Who is Guigsy? Please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

LIAM GALLAGHER + RICHARD ASHCROFT @ THE FESTIVAL PIER MAY 17TH

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

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

trippy

 

FRESH AIR: Author Michael Pollan had always been curious about psychoactive plants, but his interest skyrocketed when he heard about a research study in which people with terminal cancer were given a psychedelic called psilocybin — the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” — to help them deal with their distress. “This seemed like such a crazy idea that I began looking into it,” Pollan says. “Why should a drug from a mushroom help people deal with their mortality?” Pollan, whose previous books include The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense Of Food, started researching different experimental therapeutic uses of psychedelics, and found that the drugs were being used to treat depression, addiction and the fear of death. Then he decided to go one step further: A self-described “reluctant psychonaut,” Pollan enlisted guides to help him experiment with LSD, psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT, a substance in the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad. Each of Pollan’s experiences with psychedelics was proceeded by Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 1.12.21 PMworry and self-doubt. But, he says, “I realized later that was my ego trying to convince me not to do this thing that was going to challenge my ego.” Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, recounts his experiences with the drugs and also examines the history of psychedelics as well as their possible therapeutic uses. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: As a freshman at SUNY Buffalo, Terry Gross wanted to write. But she was worried she wasn’t good enough to be great, and she struggled to find a subject. At the same time, she was shedding her ‘‘good girl’’ identity. She tried being a hippie — ‘‘I was too inhibited to be very convincing at it. And too Sheepshead Bay, probably’’ — and she tried drugs. One of the first times she dropped LSD, she determinedly brought along paper and pen: ‘‘I’m going to have a subject,’’ she recalls thinking. ‘‘All of my writerly inhibitions are going to open up, and my talent is going to be released!’’ LSD didn’t help her writing, but for Gross it was a beneficially ‘‘immersive experience.’

In the first months after she graduated in 1972, Gross floundered. She had married, but would soon divorce; she was fired from a job teaching eighth grade after only six weeks (she couldn’t control the class). But then she discovered radio. One afternoon, about a year after she finished school, she was sitting in her house in Buffalo listening to ‘‘Womanpower,’’ a feminist program on WBFO, the university station. One of her roommates was a guest, and she came out as gay on the air. Gross was surprised by the revelation, but more so by the way her roommate had delivered it: sitting before a microphone in a radio studio. Gross, who had wanted to do ‘‘something in media’’ but hadn’t known how to begin, was intrigued. Through her roommate, she learned there was an opening on ‘‘Womanpower,’’ and Gross started on the show as a volunteer. MORE

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AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: Just Do It!

Monday, May 14th, 2018

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Here we go, people. The 2018 midterm election, our only hope for rolling back the pumpkin-tinted horrors of Trumpism, continues tomorrow with Pennsyltucky’s primary for the following offices:

  • Governor
  • Lt. Governor
  • U.S. Senate
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • PA Senate (even-numbered districts)
  • PA House of Representatives
  • The polls are open from 7 AM to 8 PM. By law in Philadelphia, anyone in line at 8 pm has to be given the chance to vote not matter how long the line. Here is a list of your rights and responsibilities as a registered voter. Vote hard!

    RECCOMENDED: The Committee of Seventy’s Digital Ballot Tool is back for the May 15, 2018 Primary. Powered by CivicEngine and a product of BallotReady, the tool allows voters to compile their candidate choices and ballot question answers before heading to the polls.  Give it a try and share with your network.

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    BEING THERE: The Melvins @ Underground Arts

    Saturday, May 12th, 2018

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    Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

    Few bands have pulled off such a consistently strong, decades-long discography as sludge-metal legends The Melvins. Throwing down hard since their ’86 debut, Deep Six, their latest, the just-released Pinkus Abortion Technician, is no exception. Named after the Butthole Surfers’ infamous 1987 album, Locust Abortion Technician, Pinkus Abortion Technician delivers five original tracks and three covers, including The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The album’s title is not the only element borrowed from Butthole Surfers. As the title suggests, former Surfers bassist and songwriter, Jeff Pinkus, joined forces with The Melvins to write and record Pinkus Abortion Technician and take it on the road. I had the pleasure to experience The Melvins Thursday night at Underground Arts, where head Melvin, Buzz Osborne, looked like a space warlock in this black, Snuggy-esque, cosmos-themed, turtle-necked robe, with his weightless gray afro lazily trailing the motions of his head. Both he and Pinkus played the fabled Travis Bean instruments (other notable Travis-Bean-players include Jerry Garcia, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Menuck, and Mac Demarco), with Travis Bean speaker cabinets to match. Ongoing Melvins bassist, Shane McDonald (yes, two bassists on stage) donned a blood-spattered black suit and made crazy eyes at me from stage-left when he wasn’t jumping around. Thursday night’s set was a healthy blend of oldies, like “Honey Bucket” and “At a Crawl,” as well as their latest, which I thoroughly enjoyed: the darkly comical “Stop Moving to Florida” and the hauntingly spellbinding “Don’t Forget to Breath.” Pinkus created wacky radio frequencies during song transitions, and those brief moments were the only periods of moshpit cessation. Look, I enjoy large, sweaty men body-checking me and spilling PBR in my face as much as the next guy, but truth be told I prefer enjoying my sludge in stillness — sonic-pummeling over body-pummeling. But, I suppose not every crowd can be a Swans crowd. Aside from an occasional respite from the relentless moshing, the only other thing that would have made this show better is an encore. Those impatient Philly crowds, man. They booked it to the exit as soon as the band put down their instruments, save for one devout fan at the front chanting “One more song!” three times before succumbing to the silence that ensued. – KYLE WEINSTEIN

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    INCOMING: Bohemian Rhapsody

    Friday, May 11th, 2018

    A Queen biopic with Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury? We are so there. Opens November 2nd.

    BILLBOARD: After a 10-second teaser trailer dropped on Monday (May 14), briefly revealing star Rami Malek in his Mercury get up, the full trailer proved that the Mr. Robot actor was the only choice that made sense. Malek has already earned praise for his uncanny resemblance to Mercury, and the blitz of scenes in which he inhabits the flamboyant rock star in a variety of colorful outfits and through multiple hair eras is evidence that the wait was worth it. The trailer opens with Malek, wearing a fluttering white cape, engaging in the familiar call-and-response with an audience that was one of Queen’s signature live concert staple moves, before cutting to snippets of Malek as Mercury in a gold lame jumpsuit, a black leather outfit and shirtless while wielding the late singer’s iconic half microphone stand as the instantly recognizable strains of “Another One Bites the Dust” kick in. The quick-cut trailer bounces from Mercury’s first meeting with guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) to their rise through the ranks while the “Dust” beat is overlaid with snippets of other hits, including “Killer Queen” and the movie’s title track. It peaks with a scene in which May plays the central “Rhapsody” riff in the studio and Mercury informs him from the mixing board “this is where the operatic section comes in,” which cuts to the band huddled around a microphone bringing Mercury unlikely musical vision to fruition. MORE

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    Via BuzzFeed

    Cost of the War in Iraq
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