You Report, We Decide

News, Media, Politics, Music, Culture, Gossip, In The 215 And The Great Beyond

Archive for the 'News' Category

ALBUM REVIEW: Dirty Projectors Lamp Lit Prose

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018



Since their inception in 2002, Dirty Projectors have undergone a multi-stage evolution from charmingly freaky lo-fi balladry, to orchestral experiments, to rhythmically glitchy compositions of juxtaposed sounds, and beyond. The band has reached a new stage on their latest album, Lamp Lit Prose. Dirty Projectors’ fourth studio album, 2005’s The Getty Address marked the introduction of ideas most fundamental to their current sound, which features the glitchy rhythms, spooky vocal harmonies, and unconventional percussion found on most of their work thereafter, including Rise Above (2007), an album consisting of outlandish interpretations of Black Flag songs. A factor in the ever-evolving sound of the Dirty Projectors could be their constantly shifting lineup, with the only consistent member being founder David Longstreth. Past members include (but are far from limited to) Rostam Batmanglij of Discovery, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, and Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak.

Last year’s self-titled album featured an unusual amount of hip-hop influence. I might even go so far as to call it Kanye-esque; lyrics on the album’s third track, “Up In Hudson,” even reference Kanye and Tupac. Compared to Dirty Projectors, Lamp Lit Prose feels like a more natural companion to the rest of their more recent discography. It’s got all of the charming qualities of their previous works: soothing male-female vocal harmonies, occasional pitch-shifted vocals, bright and deft acoustic guitar riffs, and unsuspected combinations of strange timbres. What feels different about this album is its catchiness; it’s not as challenging to listen to as albums like Morning Better Last! and The Getty Address, and I think part of this comes from a decreased emphasis on the more experimental elements that carried through from The Getty Address forward: fewer glitches, less dissonance, and a more pop-oriented palate of sounds. Indeed, Lamp Lit Prose is a shift in the direction of pop for the Dirty Projectors, and it’s accomplished without sacrificing their creativity, a rare feat for musicians.

One of the album’s singles, “Break Thru,” is probably the album’s catchiest track, and is held together by an orgasmic synth hook. Just listen to its sticky texture and I’m sure you’ll know what I mean by “orgasmic”. The album’s gently grand opener, “Right Now (feat. Syd),” welcomes the listener into the latest stage of the Dirty Projectors with more of a hint than a blunt declaration that the band have molted. The guitar-fuzzy “Zombie Conqueror (feat. Empress Of)” gets nice and loud with a bright and sunny bridge into a chorus that has real attitude. A warm organ colors the verses of the slow “Blue Bird,” whose chorus grows into Longstreth’s self-harmonies backed by deep swells of what sounds like a tuba and a percussive collage that leaves nothing to be desired. “What is the Time” sounds like a Vulfpeck tune – in a good way, of course. The Dirty Projectors have successfully landed another solid record – and, despite its eclectic mélange of musical styles, it’s even aux-cord-friendly! Intelligent pop music, if you will. Its Jolly Jolly Jolly earworms are the type that just might improve your day to have stuck in your head, making it one of the best releases 2018 has yielded us. – KYLE WEINSTEIN

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

EXCERPT: Anthony Bourdain’s Last Interview

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018



ANTHONY BOURDAIN: If you wanna burn down Washington to the fucking ground, you know, I’m with ya. I’m just waiting for a mob to assemble. I don’t quite see that happening. And who will be leading this charge? Because if Susan Sarandon is anywhere among the joyful revelers, I’ve clearly chosen the wrong pony!

POPULA: No, it’s not happening. But look what happened when Keith Ellison was supposed to lead the DNC. That was like, the most important thing to me that’s happened this entire time. He had the backing of Schumer. He had the real leftists and the backing of Schumer, and was prepared to bring the populist message that the people are demanding.


POPULA: Yeah! Schumer supported Ellison. But Obama got on the phone and said, we want Perez.


POPULA: That was the moment I knew that my suspicions about Obama had been correct. And I loved him, I had loved him, but like… he fucked us. And he got on the fucking jet ski with Richard Branson right after he got out of the White House and I’m like, dude.


POPULA: Is that really the first look that you want? You are a guy with a brand. You know that you would not do that if it were you.


POPULA: You would not. Why not.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Um. Cause I’m vain…and I think Richard Branson is kind of a douche. That’s not who I wanna hang out with. You know… time is short. […]

POPULA: We’re gonna do better than this.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: I don’t know that we will. At this point I would sacrifice, I would compromise many of my principles just for basic fucking competency, in somebody who reads a daily security brief you know? Who’s willing to do their fucking homework, who has some, some, some understanding of how government works!

POPULA: We’re listening to this, the tame media saying, “He needs a simplified version of it!” and not questioning, why would we want a person in this gig who can’t read?

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Right. Or, it’s like, that’s okay, cause Jared will brief me later. Does Jared tweeze his eyebrows? They look manscaped. Those are not natural eyebrows. It’s like Howdy Doody time.

POPULA: That dude’s going to jail.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Can you see eight guys standing around, and Jared’s out of the room? And they’re all co-conspirators, they’re all saying, “’ey don’t worry bout Jared, he’s fuckin’ solid, the guy will stand up, he ain’t gonna say nothin’.” No one has ever said that! That fuckin’ little punk is gonna squeal, just show him a tray of jail food, the guy will fuckin’ shit himself. That kid was a born snitch.

POPULA: Let us hope the moment comes.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Well… Manafort goes next, because Gates rolled today. And we all know Manafort’s such a principled guy. I’m sure he’ll stay loyal!

POPULA: A man of honor. And his daughters are accepted into polite society. Which… John Locke said in 1678 or something, that what we need to do if we want to change how people behave, it’s not to change laws, it’s to change fashion. To change what is cool.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: I believe that. That’s why I believe that for instance, all of the guys responsible… like the Big Pharma execs. It’s not so much, how long they spend in jail. It’s about, do they get pulled out of their home in Westchester, frog-walked out in front of their fuckin’ neighbors? Humiliate them! Humiliate them! Because they will change their behavior. Corner boy is not… he can’t. He doesn’t have any other options. Shithead will find somebody else to screw over for money. But if you walk them out in front of their crying children and the neighbors… humiliated as a drug dealer, charged with conspiracy.

POPULA: They can no longer go to the cool kids’ table! They can’t go to the restaurant, they can’t go to the party. They can’t go to, their friends don’t wanna be near them anymore.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: For me, I have this discussion with a number of people, as you might imagine. However much people might want to see Harvey Weinstein dead or in jail, he’s in fucking Arizona. He is in Arizona, eating in restaurants in Arizona. And at off the grid restaurants in Arizona, so he can’t even eat at the best sushi restaurant in Scottsdale. He’s gotta go to some shit fucking place. So Arizona, I mean, as much as I’d like to see him, you know beaten to death in his cell—

POPULA: It’s much better to watch horrible people live and suffer the consequences.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: My theory of how he goes is uh, he’s brushing his teeth in a bathroom, he’s naked in his famous bathrobe, which is flapping open, he’s holding his cell phone in one hand because you never know who on the Weinstein board has betrayed him recently, and he’s brushing his teeth—he suddenly gets a massive fucking stroke—he stumbles backwards into the bathtub, where he finds himself um, with his robe open feet sticking out of the tub, and in his last moments of consciousness as he scrolls through his contacts list trying to figure out who he can call, who will actually answer the phone. And he dies that way, knowing that no one will help him and that he is not looking his finest at time of death. MORE


[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

CINEMA: Free Tix To A Special VIP Advanced Screening Of Unfriended: The Dark Web Wednesday

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Blumhouse Tilt is at it again slicing off another piece of high concept low-budget genre this time with the sequel to the mega-profitable found footage horror film Unfriended. Unfriended: Dark Web,which hits theaters next Friday, July 20th ups the ante of the found footage premise of the original with the events in this stand-alone tale of online horror transpiring in real time. The film centers on a millennial who happens upon a cache of hidden files on his new MacBook, luring him and his friends on a trip into the depths of the dark web.  They soon discover someone has been watching their every move and will go to unimaginable lengths to protect the secrets they accidentally uncover. We have a bunch of passes to to an advance screening Wednesday, July 18th at UA Riverview at 7:30pm. Want to pick up a pass? Simply click HERE to claim a pair!*

*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.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

BEING THERE: Quiet Slang @ Underground Arts

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Quiet Slsmg-0931


A couple years back, James Alex’s new pop punk project Beach Slang was catapulted into the national spotlight, and nobody was more surprised by the attention than him. During interviews conducted around around the time of their first tour (including one with Phawker), Alex would cite a personal benchmark for his songwriting to which he referred as “the campfire test.” “What I do is,” Alex explained, “I challenge myself with, can it hold up if it’s just me and my acoustic guitar?,” and reasoned, “if it can hold up in that simplest form, then there’s some moxie to it.”

Fast forward to Quiet Slang, an iteration of Alex’s full-throated punk anthemry stripped down to, well, not quite just him and his acoustic guitar, but also accompaniment from tour-manager-cum-pianist Charlie Lowe, and some pre-recorded, overwrought string tracks that seemed designed to try to turn each song into Blink 182’s “I Miss You” or, Led Zep’s “All Of My Love.” After a month on the road, Alex landed the tour with last night’s homecoming at Underground Arts, where he serenaded a small but incredibly warm room with his characteristic stage-whisper vocals, surrounded by clouds made of cotton, garlands of polyester flowers, electric candles, and stage smoke. Off to his left stood Lowe’s outsized piano, draped in cotton as well and lit with a glow from beneath.

The whole thing was unreasonably schmaltzy, half-baked and, in a way, sort of ill-conceived. But, here’s thing about James Alex: you can’t ever sleep on the guy. If there’s something this 41-year-old mop-topped pop-punk Peter Pan has proven time and again, it’s that he’ll find a way to make you love him — whether it’s with accessible songwriting, his authoritative delivery, sheer charisma and force of personality — or all that plus about an hour’s worth of cover songs played by request as an encore for a completely charmed and ever drunker local crowd. “I feel like I’m just at my friend’s house at a fuckin’ party,” proclaimed Alex, somewhere in the midst of a setlist full of Replacements covers like “Androgynous,” “Skyway,” “Alex Chilton,” “Bastards Of Young” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” and crowd pleasers that quickly descended into eyeroll-inducing territory, like The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” Gin Blossoms’ “Hey Jealousy,” “Wonderwall” — and, yes, even a piece of “Free Bird” — before the self-proclaimed “Sonny-and-Cher-of-Punk” finally closed with “I Got You Babe.”

With Alex, you can’t ever tell if the irony is real or all in your head, and there may not even be an answer. He’s so engaging, so earnest and effusive, a rare breed of an artist who can deliver legitimately lame wordplay like, “we’re not fucked, we are fucking alive!” and declare things like, “we’re Quiet Slang and we’re here to punch you in the heart!” and somehow manage to win you over anyway. The further you get into his shows, the more you realize that you can either stand there with a grimace while you try to problem-solve, or else just submit to the fun. – JOSH PELTA-HELLER

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

WORTH REPEATING: Being Michael Avenatti

Friday, July 13th, 2018



NEW YORK TIMES: Neither Avenatti’s mother nor father graduated from college, and they expected their only son to support himself from an early age. (Avenatti has two half-siblings, from his mother’s first marriage.) In 1989, he worked part time for Representative Dick Gephardt, a Democrat, and enrolled in St. Louis University, before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania as a political-science major. Photos from that time depict a scrawny kid; his hair is dark and full, his glare preternaturally confident. “I used to call him the little man with the brown briefcase,” Avenatti’s first wife, Christine Avenatti-Carlin, told me.

“He was 21 years old when we met,” Avenatti-Carlin says, “but he was already incredibly driven, incredibly serious. I don’t think he ever relaxed.” A year earlier, Anheuser-Busch restructured, and Avenatti’s father was laid off. Michael was still reeling, Avenatti-Carlin says: “It hit him hard. I can remember him talking about how he was going to get through law school, so he could help ‘the disenfranchised.’ ”

To avoid going too deep into student-loan debt, Avenatti, who had long thought about going into politics, took a year and a half off from Penn and accepted a full-time job with Rahm Emanuel’s political-consulting firm, the Research Group. At first, Avenatti, “the low man on the totem pole,” as he puts it, was on the advance team for rallies and speeches, but the firm’s leadership soon promoted him to opposition researcher.

“This was before the days of the internet, so if you wanted to find clerk records or look up business disputes, you would have to go to the candidate’s jurisdiction,” Avenatti says. “I did a lot of flying around, a lot of gumshoeing.”In total, he says he participated in 150 campaigns in 42 states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware Senate races and a Philadelphia mayoral contest. It was an exceptionally demanding schedule for someone who had not yet finished his senior year in college, and by 1996, Avenatti was burned out on politics. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

TONIGHT: Square Peg Round Hole

Friday, July 13th, 2018



When I told my coworker about Mage Hand, I said that they’re probably the best band in Philly. Well, he hadn’t listened to them before telling me, “No, this is the best band in Philly,” and then he put on Square Peg Round Hole’s 2016 album, Juniper. It was, indeed, some good stuff, but it wasn’t until I saw them live at Kung Fu Necktie that I had to concede that, all right, there are two best bands in Philly. Square Peg is an instrumental, highly percussive trio of serious music nerds Carlos Pacheco-Perez, Evan Chapman, and Sean Gill, encompassing jazz, electronic, post-rock, and ambient elements. With a Fender Rhodes electric piano dueling with a vibraphone to some of the tightest drumming you’ll ever see, these guys are no joke. They will ease you right on into a heart-racing jam so seamlessly that you’ll reach the peak and wonder how the hell you got there, like going from 0-120 in five minutes of highway hypnosis. Their latest release, Five Years, takes an unexpected, yet pleasing, turn in a very ambient direction. The EP is a lonely and beautiful voyage into the ocean’s depths, where staring out from the vessel’s dark porthole only yields one’s own reflection.


[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

FUNCH-A-MANIA: Q&A W/ Comedian Ron Funches

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Ron Funches

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on May 30th, 2017.

MaxAbramsBY MAX ABRAMS Ron Funches’ comedic delivery is as slow as molasses. His voice his idiosyncratic and smooth and he makes you hang on his every word, but man is it worth it. Funches was a writer and performer on the The Kroll Show and was also a regularly occurring cast member, and he’s appeared in a wide array of shows including Portlandia, Bob’s Burgers, Undateable, and more. He will be appearing at Punch Line Philly July 12th-14th. So we got Mr. Funches on the horn for some Q&A. DISCUSSED: The first time he remembers laughing his ass off at something, how to lose 140 pounds, why The Kroll Show really ended, The Fat Boys, Johnny Depp’s cigarettes, and why there is nothing funny about the age of Trump.

PHAWKER: To the best you can recall, what’s the first joke you ever heard that made you laugh?

RON FUNCHES: Um, the first joke that made me laugh? Probably the first thing I remember making me laugh was probably like Bebe’s Kids like when I was a child.

PHAWKER: You grew up in Chicago and then moved to Salem, Oregon when you were a teenager.Ron Funches Oregon is not widely considered a Mecca for African Americans, it’s probably one of the whitest states in the union, and if you read the history that didn’t happen by accident. So what’s it like to grow up black in Salem Oregon?

RON FUNCHES: It was very different. It just taught me like you know everybody is different and things that were cool in Chicago weren’t cool in Oregon. And things that were cool in Oregon were definitely not cool in Chicago. In Chicago, that would get you beat up. Like it just taught me to enjoy whatever I liked and really kind of help shape my perspective to make me the weirdo that you have today.

PHAWKER: You recently lost 140 pounds. Congratulations! What is the secret to losing 140 pounds?

OCCAM’S RAZOR: The President Is A Traitor

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

The Trump-Russia ties hiding in plain sight from CNBC.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Win Tix To See Os Mutantes @ The Foundry

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Illustration by KAINEIRIBAS

We have a couple pairs of tix to see Brazilian psych legends Os Mutantes at the Foundry tomorrow night. First two readers to email us at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM with the phrase BAT MACUMBA in the subject line wins. Please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed! Wait, what’s that you say? What is an Os Mutantes? Oh, buddy, where have you been? OK, keep calm help is on the way. The following entry from the Rock Snob Enyclopedia should tell you just about everything you need to know to avoid being mocked and ostracized by hip friends and relatives. You’re welcome.

rocksnobicon.thumbnail.jpgROCK SNOB ENCYCLOPEDIA: Os Mutantes: The year is high in the mid-’60s. The place: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a country chafing under a brutal dictatorship. The setting: a swingin’ ’60s nightclub au-go-go straight out of Austin Powers. Lights flash and the music throbs as the camera zooms in and out to the beat. The club is filled with the hip, the young and the privileged, all dressed in mod Carnaby Street finery. Os Mutantes, Brazil’s rough-translation answer to the psychedelic-period Beatles, are set to take the stage. Suddenly, the music cuts out and the lights come up as the room fills with government storm troopers.

The soldiers, members of the dreaded CCC (Communist Hunt Command), begin brutalizing the crowd, making Os-Mutantes-original-line-uparrests and conducting interrogations. The members of Os Mutantes escape out the back door. Such was life in Brazil in the ’60s, where simply plugging in an electric guitar was a revolutionary act. Inspired by the Beatles and smuggled-in news of the burgeoning counterculture in Britain and America, Os Mutantes was formed in 1966 by the Baptista brothers–singer-songwriter-bassist Arnaldo and 15-year-old guitarist Sergio –and singer Rita Lee. The music was a glorious sunshine super bossa nova–Starburst guitar psychedelia, warped samba, gossamer harmonies, and the strange bells and whistles of theremins, Moogs and a host of homemade instruments and effects pedals.

In their day, Os Mutantes sounded nothing short of radical, especially given the repression under which they operated. Electric guitars and effects pedals, nearly impossible to find in Brazil at the time, had to be smuggled into the country. What they couldn’t smuggle in, they made themselves. Os Mutantes relied on the electronic wizardry of the eldest Baptista brother, Claudio, “the fourth Mutante,” who cobbled together devices to recreate the sounds heard on Beatles and Jimi Hendrix records. Failing that, the band would improvise, sometimes using a can of bug spray to replicate the sound of a hi-hat cymbal. The modern feel of these recordings can be attributed to producer Manoel Barenbein, Brazil’s George Martin, and arranger Rogerio Duprat, a disciple of John Cage. At the same time, a cornucopia of pot and psychedelics contributed to the inspired lunacy of these recordings and the band’s eccentric mindset.

Os Mutantes were immediately embraced by the then-flowering Tropicalia movement, an arty collective of intellectuals, poets and musicians that included Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Tom Ze. The Tropicalistas were attempting to cast off the shackles of Brazil’s cultural conservatism and political repression with outre art, music, fashion and ideas. It was the Tropicalistas who encouraged Os Mutantes’ controversial appearance at the 1967 Festival of Brazilian Pop Music–the South American equivalent of Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival. In response to the Tropicalistas and other perceived Os-Mutantessubversives, the Brazilian government passed Institutional Act Five, granting itself the power to arrest and interrogate anyone suspected of being “unpatriotic.” By 1968, Veloso and Gil had been arrested and Os Mutantes went into hiding, until Lee’s father, a dentist at the American embassy, intervened on their behalf.

It was the end of the Tropicalia movement, yet the beginning of Os Mutantes’ recorded legacy. Releasing their eponymous debut in ‘68, Os Mutantes would continue to record until 1972, when Lee was asked to leave. While the Baptista brothers soldiered on for a few more albums of ponderous prog-rock wankery, Lee went on to become a major dance music star in Brazil. A far less glittery fate would await Arnaldo. In December of 1983, he was committed to a mental institution after attacking his mother and jumping out of a third-story window. Kurt Cobain tried unsuccessfully to get Os Mutantes to reunite when Nirvana toured Brazil. In 1999, Luaka Bop issued a best-of compilation, Everything Is Possible. House label Om Platten reissued the first three proper albums: Os Mutantes, Mutantes and the Divina Comedia Ou Ando Meio Desigado. In the fall of 2009, Anti Records released Haih Or Amortecedor, the first Os Mutantes album in 35 years, which features the Baptista brothers backed by a cast of supporting players. Rita Lee declined to participate. – JONATHAN VALANIA


[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

EXCERPT: The Man The Angels Killed At Altamont

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018



EDITOR’S NOTE: Forty-eight years ago, on December 6, 1969, 18 year old Meredith Hunter was killed by the Hell’s Angels at the foot of the stage while the Rolling Stones played a free concert at Altamont Speedway for an audience of 300,000 people. The following excerpt from Saul Austerlitz’s forthcoming book, Just A Shot Away: Peace, Love and Tragedy With The Rolling Stones At Altamont describes in graphic detail that awful moment in the dying light of the 1960s.

ROLLING STONE: The Rolling Stones finally appeared, and for a brief moment, a sense of relief spread through the speedway. The Stones would undoubtedly cool off the overheating crowd, get them back to concentrating on the music, and return the focus where it belonged. “Oh, babies,” Mick Jagger addressed the crowd. “There’s so many of you. Just keep cool down in front and don’t push around. Just keep still, keep together.” Jagger, resplendent in a red cape knotted around his neck and a ruffled orange-and-black silk shirt, had the presence, and the confidence, it seemed, to instantly reorient the crowd in the direction he wanted.

Keith Richards, his rhinestone-studded orange shirt left unbuttoned, his black sunglasses clipped to his T-shirt, fingered the opening notes of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and the rest of the band fell in, determined to bash their way through this.

The unrest in the crowd, agitated by the Hells Angels, continued unabated. “If we are all one,” Jagger Just A Shot Awayannounced, “let’s show we’re all one.” Jagger called for a doctor to come up front, next to the scaffolding, and Mick Taylor snuck a quick drag off the cigarette stuck into the fretboard of his guitar before launching the languorous melody line of “Under My Thumb.” The song felt stretched out now, elongated to encompass the crowd, the night, the enormity of this moment.

Meredith Hunter was intent on staking his claim to the Stones, and Bredehoft was there because he wanted her to stand with him. He had climbed onto one of the speaker boxes set up just next to the stage, in search of the best view, and the modicum of protection it granted.

As the drums entered once more, and Jagger repeatedly intoned the line “I pray that it’s all right,” another space ominously began to clear in the audience below. The huge mass of people near the stage was now disintegrating, crumbling under the weight of the fear sweeping its ranks. The Hells Angels swooped into the crowd, a leather-clad phalanx wading into the morass, and the fans in their vicinity rapidly backpedaled, seeking daylight from whomever or whatever had sparked the Angels’ ire.

A hefty Hells Angel jerked roughly on Hunter’s ear and hair, chuckling all the while at his daring as he yanked Hunter down from the speaker box and onto the ground alongside him. Hunter shook off the Angel, and the Angel grabbed him by the arm and hand. Hunter pulled back, and the Angel punched him in the mouth.

When Bredehoft glanced in his direction, having missed the opening beats of the skirmish, she thought she saw Hunter turning around and being approached by first one Angel, and then two or three more. The Angels knocked Hunter to the ground, and he leapt up, intent on defending himself against their assault.

Hunter attempted to flee into the crowd. The Angel then leapt off the stage and chased after Hunter, joined by four of his fellow bikers. They stepped on bystanders’ fingers and feet in their haste to pursue him. Five bikers surrounded one teenager, assaulting him without justification or fear of interruption, as on so many other occasions that day. Meredith Hunter pushed the crowd away from him in his desperate flight from the Angels, looking fiercely at his tormentors in a doomed attempt to scare them off.

Meredith Hunter was in flight from the Hells Angels who had beaten him. He had watched the pool cues raining down on concertgoers all day, had seen the manic glee with which the bikers had beaten others for the crime of enjoying themselves. He had undoubtedly noticed, as well, the viciousness with which the Angels had singled out other African-Americans. What thoughts must have surged through his mind in the moments during which he desperately sought to escape their frenzied grip?

Perhaps, too, the methamphetamine Hunter had taken during the day had lowered his inhibitions, and dulled the innate caution that anyone would have when surrounded by weapon-wielding bikers.

Reaching into the pocket of his suit jacket, he pulled out his pistol and held it up in the air. Both his arms were spread, with his left hand, clutching the gun, outstretched in the direction of the stage. Bredehoft shouted at Hunter not to shoot. She grabbed at Hunter, then turned, spun around by the momentum of the fracas. Hunter was still running away, even as he began to lower his gun. A short, stocky Angel named Alan Passaro, wearing a sleeveless light-brown vest with a “FRISCO” patch over the left breast jumped on him from behind, grabbing at his arm. The biker almost rode on his back as he raised his arm over his head and brought his knife down in a long, curving arc, stabbing Hunter twice. Bredehoft was now alone in the empty circle cleared out by the fearful audience as Hunter was carried away from her.Just A Shot Away

The momentum of the scuffle carried Meredith Hunter toward the nearby scaffolding, where he disappeared from sight, surrounded by Hells Angels intent on teaching him a lesson. The Hells Angel stabbed Hunter no less than four more times, his knife repeatedly piercing his back. Hunter, wounded, dropped to his knees. The Hells Angel gripped him by the shoulders and kicked him in the face, over and over. The Angels surrounded him in a loose circle, pounding him with their boots until he collapsed face-forward. The Angels punched and kicked Meredith as they dragged him away from the stage and toward the scaffolding. Hunter fell to the ground, and bumped against some part of the scaffolding, perhaps its pillars. Hunter softly told his attackers, his strength already beginning to fade, “I wasn’t going to shoot you.”

Bredehoft grabbed the jacket of one Angel near her, attempting to pull him off her boyfriend, but he simply threw his arms back, shrugging her off without lifting a hand to her. The Angels were now locked in on Hunter, and Bredehoft’s efforts were incapable of distracting them from their vigilante justice.

Meredith Hunter was in front of them and under their feet, and something had enraged them, something had set the Hells Angels into a frenzied motion that would not be sated. Any threat that Hunter’s gun might have posed had long since been quelled, but the assault went on until he was battered and bruised and completely still.

One of the Angels grabbed a cardboard garbage can with a metal rim and proceeded to bash it against Hunter’s skull. He then dropped the garbage can and, joined by his fellow bikers, kicked Hunter repeatedly in the head. The Angel who had stabbed him, not yet done with Hunter, stood on top of his battered head for a full minute before finally stepping back. “Don’t touch him,” he told a bystander who had been watching the fight. “He’s going to die anyway.” MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

BEING THERE: Foo Fighters @ BB&T Pavilion

Sunday, July 8th, 2018



The Foo Fighters have been a band for 24 years. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. When you’re in a band for that long — rehearsing, producing new albums, touring — I think it’s safe to assume that you dig what you do. A lot. So much so, that over 20 years later, you’re still out there on stage having the absolute time of your life. And lo and behold, on a beautiful July night in Camden, the Foo Fighters brought the house down in front of tens of thousands in a three-hour musical bonanza that could have stretched on for at least three more. I must be very clear about this: this Foo show, and what I can imagine to be most Foo shows, was a shit ton of fun for these guys. After opening with the deafening “All My Life” right into the classics “Learn To Fly” and “Pretender,” frontman and longtime rock luminary Dave Grohl took to the mic with a crazy grin on his face and told the crowd, “We got a long night ahead of us.”

After running back and forth in the photo pit for 15 minutes and having recently turned 21, I made the most logical series of choices: I edited some photos, put away my photo gear, and bought the biggest beer that BB&T had to offer. I made my way into the crowd as heavy hitter “Rope” was wrapping up. What was appearing to be a fairly standard Foo Fighters set so far, quickly turned into a structureless yet badass jam session, which is likely what these guys were waiting for all night. We’re talking drum solos, bass solos, guitar solos — the works. Covers like Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” Van Halen’s “Jump,” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” were cranked out, along with an all-out rendition of Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s “Under Pressure,” with Grohl on drums and drummer Taylor Hawkins singing along down at the front of the stage with Luke Spiller, frontman of the opening act The Struts.

During this deviation from the set list, Grohl takes to the mic and explains, “You guys wanna know what the secret is to keeping a band together for 24 years? You gotta be in love with your drummer.” It was a tender moment that had the crowd swooning and then cracking up when Grohl began laughing and declared, “Taylor looks like a Bob Marley album cover right now,” as he came to the front of the stage. Hawkins was indeed wearing some hilarious-looking red, yellow and green garments. These exchanges were entirely representative of the duality of being a drummer: yes, you are mocked at times, but you are loved.

Showing zero signs of slowing down, they pressed on with more classics like “Monkey Wrench,” “Wheels,” and “Breakout,” getting back into the swing of things after a lengthy but equally entertaining fucking-around session. The band brought out several guest backup vocalists for the tune “Dirty Water” off their most recent album, Concrete And Gold, one of the notably softer melodies of what would prove to be a long evening. This led directly into the heartwrencher “Best Of You,” which morphed into a massive 10-minute psychedelic jam melted right into the middle of the song. The crowd wanted more almost as much as the Foo Fighters did.

After leaving the stage, they returned shortly after for not one, not two but three encore tunes. And they were goodies. “Big Me,” dedicated to a “little rocker” that Grohl met backstage before the show, “Times Like These,” which was a much needed tear-jerker given the current state of our country, and “Everlong.” The performance was musically air tight, crackling with electricity and everyone seemed genuinely happy up on stage the entire time. I don’t know when the Foo Fighters will ever get tired of music, but Grohl put it best last night when speaking to the crowd: “If you guys keep coming, we’ll keep showing up.” – DYLAN LONG

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

CINEMA: Good Things Come In Small Packages

Friday, July 6th, 2018



ANT MAN & THE WASP (Dir. by Peyton Reed, 118 minutes, USA, 2018)

the-geek-300x300BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT Where does the Marvel Cinematic Universe go after super soldiers, scientists, gods, raccoons, aliens, and an entire secret nation of Wakanda fought together against a single threat in Avengers: Infinity War? They scaled down — literally. Ant-Man and The Wasp is superhero story with less stakes. But that is not a bad thing. This film is a more personal story. Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is a divorced dad just trying to keep his life together. He is focused on his new security business, finishing the house arrest sentence he was put on after Captain America: Civil War, and making his daughter happy. Of course no film ever makes it easy for the hero.

Things start cooking when creator of Lang’s shrinking Ant-Man suit, Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym, and his daughter, Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne (the new Wasp) show up asking him to help rescue Pym’s wife/Hope’s mother (Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne) from the mysterious Quantum Realm. Rounding out the cast is the always-great Laurence Fishburne’s Bill Foster and Hannah John-Kamen’s Ava Foster/Ghost as the villains. But these are not “trying to open a portal to destroy the world” villains as so many superhero films have. Ghost can walk through solid objects, but it’s slowly killing her. So she is attempting to steal the same technology Hank Pym needs to save his wife.

The overall plot is simple and predictable at times. It ends with a deus ex machine that you see coming a mile away. But the action is fresh and unique as we see the title characters continuously change size during fights to become smaller targets or throw a 20 foot tall salt shaker at someone. And the humor livens everything up. The film is a throwback to old family films where you know a happy ending is coming. But that is ok. Not every film needs the entire universe to face down an existential threat or for the heroes to lose at the end. Ant-Man and The Wasp proves that film studios do not need to constantly make their films bigger and bigger to entertain audiences.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

CINEMA: This Is America

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018



THE FIRST PURGE (Dir. by Gerard McMurray, 97 minutes, USA, 2018)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC The Purge series has had an interesting trajectory throughout the last five years. While the first film was an interesting high concept meditation on race in a near dystopian future where one night of the year for 12 hours, any crime including murder is legal. The consistently profitable franchise now on its fourth outing has afforded writer James DeMonaco the ability to not so subtly comment the state of America. For example, the last film Election Year featured a blatant stand in for Trump using the Purge to attempt to assassinate his female opponent in the election; who was running on the platform of ending The Purge. With the American tradition appearing to have come to an end in the wake of the events of Election, we are now in full-on prequel mode for this latest  installment.

The First Purge quickly sets up how The New Founding Fathers of America came into power, as a refuge for the disenfranchised republicans and democrats, to mend a country in disorder after suffering an economic collapse. To try and quell this unrest the NFFA offer a trial run of The Purge that will take place on Staten Island as a social experiment to see if 12 hours of lawlessness will return balance to the impoverished community. At least that is what they are telling the media. To incentivize participation, the impoverished residents are paid $5,000 to stay in Staten Island, and more if they actually kill someone. After the last film where we learned that the night was simply a tool for the government to cull inner city populations, it’s interesting to see here how the original Purge was total a failure in the beginning. When the NFFA quickly realizes that simply offering to pay poor people isn’t enough of an incentive to get them to abandon all morality and kill each other, they go to plan B.

Rather than admit failure the NFFA sends in teams of mercenaries posing as white supremacists to do their work for them, a move that unexpectedly triggers another tradition of the night. It’s here, any and all subtext is just thrown out the window as Staten Island is invaded by mercenaries in blackface masks and dressed as the Klu Klux Klan. It’s then up to a gang of well-armed drug dealers lead by the charismatic Dimitri (Y’Lan Noel), to try and stop the invaders and hopefully survive the night. Superficially it’s a return to roots for the series after the politically charged Election, under the surface however, the film has a lot to say about where we stand as a country. There is a palpable sense of disbelief in the film as the residents of Staten Island simply can’t comprehend this is happening or how we got to here as a people. Sound familiar.

The most terrifying thing about The First Purge is this film grounds its premise just enough in the now this time, to make it feel completely plausible and just within our grasp. Filled with shocking, racially and politically charged imagery, it’s a film that doesn’t hold anything back, but maybe that’s what we need right now. If Get Out was a firm nudge, Purge is a bucket of cold water, meant to wake us the hell up.  Watching the film with a crowd that was screaming, yelling and clapping along with what transpired on screen struck me as how it probably felt to watch the original Planet of the Apes during the civil rights struggle. We weren’t just being entertained, we were witnessing the Trump administration get their comeuppance, thanks to a band of badass drug dealers — and it was glorious. It’s the kind of cathartic release only a film like this can deliver and the dangerous kind of art that transcends the screen into ideas.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)