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Win Tix To See Death Cab For Cutie @ The Tower

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

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Death Cab For Cutie are the consolation prize for people like you and me. We may not get to be Ken or Barbie, the quarterback or the homecoming queen, or for that matter CEO or Taylor Swift, but we do get some damn pretty music to help us lick our wounds and accept our status as the runner-up in our own lives. Ordinarily, we’d leave it at that and move on with the low expectations business of being beta. But we have it on good authority that EVERYONE in this country who isn’t an a**hole could use some cheering up right about now which is why we are offering a pair of free tickets to see DCFC at the Tower Theater tomorrow night (Wed. October 10th). Those tix will go to the 47th Phawker reader to email us at Phawker66@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following DCFC trivial question: What is the origin of the Death Cab’s curious name? Hint: it is the name of a song by another band. What is the name of that band? Put the words WE HAVE THE FACTS AND WE ARE VOTING HELLS NO! in the subject line and include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation. NOTE: To qualify to win, you must be signed up for our mailing list (see right, 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! Good luck and godspeed!

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE @ THE TOWER THEATER WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 10TH

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

Monday, October 8th, 2018

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FRESH AIR: Musician and writer Leonard Cohen died in 2016, leaving behind many unpublished poems and lyrics. His son Adam Cohen discusses The Flame, a collection of some of Leonard’s final works. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Everybody knows that 2016 was a cruel and unusual year. Intolerably cruel. Everybody knows that war is over and everybody knows the good guys lost. So I am only half-kidding when I ask: How can we possibly be expected to endure the abominable presidency of Donald Trump without David Bowie, Prince or Princess Leia? But I’m dead serious when I say we can’t do this without Leonard Cohen, who died at the ripe old age of 82 on the day before the election. As ever, his timing was impeccable. It goes without saying that he’d seen the future, baby, and it is spray-tanned murder. A few weeks prior to his departure, he’d released You Want It Darker, one part deathbed confessional, one part last will and testament, one part love letter to all he can’t leave behind.

This collection of prayers for the doomed is arguably the most perfect album-length statement in his sacred canon. Like all prime Cohen, it is marked by astonishing verbal acuity and a high-def philosophical clarity that coalesces into a kind of metaphysical calligraphy carved in stone by the Old Testament prophet gravitas of his voice, that patented sepulchral purr that has been getting liberal arts majors laid since at least 1967. He’s never sounded more certain or fearless, or closer to death, so near you can almost hear the Grim Reaper’s Vader-like breath on the back of his leathery neck as he croaks out lines like “I’m leaving the table, I’m out of the game,” “It’s au revoir,” and “I’m ready, Lord.”

Invariably spare and fleeting and surprisingly luminous, the music on You Want It Darker — a flamecrmidnight jazz lowing in the moonlight, a monastic noir for the ears, and a quick stroll down Boogie Street for old time’s sake — is relentlessly faultless in arrangement, tonality and execution. The recording, overseen by his son Adam, ensures that everything is writ timeless and crystalline as befits the eternal verities he’s been tasked with preserving. History will rank the title track and “Treaty” next to “Bird On A Wire” and “Hallelujah,” a hundred floors above us in the Tower Of Song.

Because the thing about Leonard Cohen is that he was always right, always — even when he turned out to be wrong about, say, Rebecca DeMornay or trusting his manager with his money or his decade-long Zen hermitage atop Mt. Baldy. Because the incontrovertible koanic fact of the matter is that the way to always be right is always admit when you are wrong, acknowledge that was then but this is now. Or as he sings on “It Seemed The Better Way,” it “sounded like the truth, but it’s not the truth today.” Because today nothing is true, and when nothing is true everything is permitted. That is the crack in the center of everything, where the Putin gets in.

Look, nobody should be surprised that The Rapture came and only took Leonard Cohen but that doesn’t make it any less sad and lonesome. While I can’t blame an 82-year-old man with a splintering spine for getting on with the dirty business of dying, I can’t help but feel left behind on an abandoned ship in a darkening sea, still tending the flame of “a million candles burning for the help that never came.” – JONATHAN VALANIA

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LEONARD COHEN: On Moonlight

Monday, October 8th, 2018

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GEEK SQUAD: Venom Defanged

Monday, October 8th, 2018

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Venom was one of Marvel’s most popular characters in the ‘90s. Built like a WWF Superstar, he looked cool in his black Spider-Man-esque onesie. And like any “good” 90’s comic Venom was extreme. He would straight up murder his enemies and eat them. But the comic struggled to figure out if Venom and his alter ego Eddie Brock was a hero or a villain or in between. So too does Sony’s Venom, the studio’s first attempt at a Spider-Man Shared Universe. But with no Spider-Man. And while that can work, it just doesn’t. Tom Hardy plays an Eddie Brock as a down on his luck reporter who investigates a company too big for anyone to bring down and in the process he discovers the black oil like organism that is Venom. And that is where the fun begins. And it is fun. The film is 90 minutes of Tom Hardy arguing with himself about the morality of cannibalism, how to best prevent an alien invasion, and whether he is a loser. The action scenes flow into each other beautifully and the use of Venom’s powers is fresh. Instead of Spider-Man’s web-slinging abilities, Venom has super-strong telescoping black tendrils that can stretch out hundreds of feet to, say, grab onto a building in mid fall or rip off a car door to use as a shield. And if all you want to see is an anti-hero killing people for reasons the plot barely explain then this is the film for you. But be forewarned, the film just stumbles through its plot. The only apparent reason Michelle Williams’ Anne Weying appears to be in the film just so the “hero” can have a big damn kiss before going to fight the villain. Throughout the entire movie the Venom wants to take over the world to just change his mind at the last minute because the plot demands it. And that is honesty what I expected from a Venom movie without Spider-Man. When he isn’t being a villain to Spidey, Venom doesn’t know if he’s a good or a bad guy. As T.S. Eliot said, it is better to be truly evil than neither good nor evil. But then, nobody reads anymore. – RICHARD SUPLEE

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BEING THERE: Last Train To Guyville

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

I will remain forever in awe of Liz Phair’s ability to seamlessly slip the word “fucked” into a dreamy, cloudy-brained pop anthem like “Why Can’t I?” My preoccupation with the song began at the age of ten. It was marked explicit in iTunes and therefore deemed too adult for the music library of my silver iPod Nano. I spent an embarrassing amount of time poring over the song, humming, singing, intently listening each time it came on the radio, searching for the goddamn expletive. The charm of “Why Can’t I?” persisted with the years to come. It wholly encompasses the wholly encompassing early stages of infatuation, the floating feeling of hope and intrigue so potent it inhibits breathing, rational thought.

Phair’s Exile in Guyville preceded the release of “Why Can’t I?” but sheds the latter’s predilection for “stupid old shit, like letters and sodas.” Maybe not so much sheds it as counters it with the cynicism that infects most relationships in one’s mid-twenties. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the critically acclaimed album’s release. Exile’s exhumation comes at a felicitous time, when the music industry is experiencing the long-awaited downfall of guyville; guyville being the male-dominated music industry and more than that: the discouraging and supercilious opinions of close-minded boyfriends, male friends, even men one meets in passing. Matador Records, who is responsible for the re-release of Exile, has been churning out records from the likes of Snail Mail, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus in a concentrated effort to usher in a new era of female and queer-centric indie rock.

Diverse and rightfully disgruntled voices such as Phair have been around for years, as has the desire to hear them out. This proves true as I watch fans from fifteen to fifty crowd the floor and balcony of Union Transfer for Liz Phair and Speedy Ortiz’s sold out show. Speedy Ortiz, a locally sourced Philly band, for lack of a more sophisticated term, rocks in the way I always wanted to as a preteen. Their songs buzz with the same unpretentious grit as early Liz Phair, grounded in lyrics that are angsty but not eye-roll inducing. The first song off their most recent album, “Buck Me Off,” contrasts the gross and gloomy, grime and vampires, with sunrises. It feels like the manic episode under a padded blanket the song itself details.

Phair comes out under purplish stage lights to a properly warmed up audience and opens with “Supernova.” The opening chords, wonky and charged with two decade’s  worth of verve, are just as enthralling as the first time I heard them. Phair’s set is a motley of her greatest hits with an emphasis on Exile. She jumps into “Johnny Feelgood,” just as bop-ily entrancing as the diamond thumb-nailed figure she conjures up in the song. It is a “strangely feelgood” song, detailing the exhilaration of being jerked around by an asshole with a convertible.

It’s the tracks from Exile that I find myself most adrenalized by, holding my piss and standing tall on my toes to experience in full. “Never Said” is the first of which, the simple lyrics conveying a youthful, almost mocking sentiment: it doesn’t really matter what you think she’s saying or if you believe it, so long as she’s being heard. It’s an unapologetic anthem for those not taken seriously, those not represented, a sentiment that rings true with younger fans tired of being perceived as naive as well as adults who’ve long awaited inclusivity. “Help Me Mary” more straightforwardly embodies this struggle of trying to be heard in an industry, a world, that would much rather egg and bully and mollify the uninhibited female voice. It’s angry but collected, a call upon a universal female figure (Mary) saddled with burdens bestowed by men. Phair asks that her frustration be channeled into productivity, fame. I contentedly hold my pee and listen.

Phair closes with “Why Can’t I?” but returns for an encore featuring “Fuck and Run” and “Divorce Song,” all undeniably Good Songs, but the latter two echoing with less fluff and more emotional gravel. Both of which served as my initial introduction to Exile in Guyville, about a year ago. I am no longer ten and imbued with less of a float-y, impenetrably hopeful feeling when I am taken with someone. Being taken with anyone feels debasing. Twenty six year old Phair’s lyrics navigate the conflicting feelings of craving something pure and saccharine and the realization that the sweet and mushy coexist with a sorry, repulsive feeling of dependency and disappointment. She asks “Whatever happened to a boyfriend / the kind of guy who tries to win you over?” bemoaning the loss of the idealized love she was conditioned to expect. This false notion is isolating. The solution: fuck and run. “Divorce Song” is similarly heavy though catchy. It paints a less than perfect portrait of a relationship via separate hotel rooms and lost lighters. However, Phair admits, counting back from ten, stepping back from immediate emotion that the subject “has never been a waste of [her] time / It’s never been a drag” and maybe that makes all of this vaguely worthwhile. She’s not sure, and neither am I. I just know that it makes for a good encore and perennial quandary both mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and lone audience members holding pee, like myself, can understand. – KEELY MCAVENEY

 

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CINEMA: Star Wars

Friday, October 5th, 2018

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A STAR IS BORN (Directed by Bradley Cooper, 135 minutes, USA, 2018)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC It’s been hard to ignore the buzz surrounding the latest incarnation of A Star is Born, which marks not only Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, but also the first starring role in a feature film for Lady Gaga. The pop icon had a rather successful transition from music to television taking home an Emmy for her work on American Horror Story, and this time she’s here to prove she can do it all and Cooper helps her get the ball across the goal line. His directing style oftentimes feels like he’s channelling early Cameron Crowe, with a deftness and confidence no audience has a right to expect from a first-time director, and the resulting film is the most heartbreaking romance you will see on screen all year.

With a Jim Morrison swagger and a rugged growl, Cooper conjures up a convincing Jackson Maine, a famous singer-songwriter in diminished capacity, struggling with both tinnitus and addiction. Cooper does all his own singing, and It took me a few minutes to to get adjusted to him dropping his voice a few octaves to pull off some of the soulful ballads. When we first meet Jackson it’s clear he’s been spiraling downward for some time now. Having drained all the booze in his limo, he stops at a drag bar for a refill. It’s here he happens upon Ally doing cabaret and somehow her voice shines a light through his darkness. There’s a charming matter of factness to the way he takes the young woman under his wing after that performance. The film is very careful with how it plays with the shifting power dynamics of their burgeoning relationship to assure you that they do actually care for one another and it’s not simply one attempting to take advantage of the other.

Ally quits her job to go on tour with Jackson, igniting a whirlwind romance with the singer while making a name for herself performing their collaborations on stage. In due time Ally lands a record contract, and her star rises as his begins to fade. His professional jealousy takes its toll on their relationship and hastens his race to the bottom of the bottle. While the story is an all-too familiar one, it’s the chemistry between Cooper and Gaga, along with the music they co-wrote, that takes it to new heights of emotional realism. There’s an intimacy between Cooper and Gaga — unforced and actual-seeming — that you simply can’t fake on screen.

A Star is Born is a tour de force directorial debut that channels Cooper’s off-screen struggles with addiction and sobriety that vibes deeply personal and painfully honest. It’s arguably the most revealing and vulnerable he has allowed himself to be on screen, resulting in his most nuanced and courageous performance to date. Gaga is a fierce delight with a mezzo-soprano that rattles the theater. Together they turn in what could well be the most electrifying performances of their careers in this gut-wrenching take on the agonies and ecstasies of stardom shot through with raw energy and gut-punch emotion that will wash over you song after song.

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Krasner Announces Takedown Of Kenzo Dope Ring

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

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Source: Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office

This morning Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the arrest of 57 individuals tied to the Alameda Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) responsible for selling fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and other substances in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, specifically within the four block radius of Kip and Cambria streets. The District Attorney’s office estimates that the Alameda DTO generated over $5 million in annual revenue and upwards of $10,000 per day in illegal drugs sales in that four-block radius of Kensington. In the past year, the Philadelphia Police Department made over 700 arrests and received over 300 hospital cases directly related to the drug trade in that same four-block radius.

In January of 2018, the Philadelphia Police Department and the DA’s office began their investigation of Alameda DTO, targeting leadership and key suppliers driven by financial gain as opposed to rolling up end users “driven by addiction.” “We should not be focusing on the tip of one tentacle, we should be going for the entire octopus,” Krasner said, echoing one of the key tenets of his drug war strategy. In recent months, the investigation has rolled up ringleaders Jeremiah Figueroa (AKA “Chino), German Alameda (AKA “June”, and Orlando Moran (AKA “O/Oskie”). All three have been charged with nearly 689 criminal counts, including running a corrupt organization, possession with intent to deliver heroin/fentanyl, and possession of illegal firearms. – HENRY SAVAGE

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WORTH REPEATING: The Wood Of The Suicides

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

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Illustration via GOLD HAND GIRLS

THE NEW YORKER: I still own the copy of “The Virgin Suicides” that I first read in high school, the evidence of my teen-age self on its pages: water-rippled from many hours in the bath, stained with juice from the tangerines I used to eat in great quantities. It’s a book I’ve read many times now, but I still remember that original encounter, how it felt like a flare from my own secret world, all the inchoate longings and obsessions of being a teen-ager somehow rendered into book form. Even the five Lisbon sisters seemed like some mirror of me and my four younger sisters—I knew the peculiarity of a household filled with girls, the feverish swapping of clothes, the rituals and ablutions, experiencing adolescence like some long-standing illness from which we all suffered. The world of “The Virgin Suicides” was gothic and mundane, just like the world of teen-agers, with our desire to catalogue and make meaning out of any sign or symbol, even the mildest of occurrences taking on great portent. It was exhausting to live that way, believing in the significance of every feeling, tracking every minor emotional shift. But still: sometimes I miss it.

“On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide—it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese—the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.” From the very first line, the reader understands the Lisbon girls—“daughters”—will all die. The paramedics can easily navigate this last attempt because what should be shocking—a young girl’s suicide—has become, in the strange logic of the Lisbon family, routine. Even the narration is measured, calm, relaying the suicide method with a simple aside. There is no crime for the reader to try to solve, no whodunnit. We know what happens. We know who dies, and how, and by what methods. By giving us this information immediately, with such cool distance, Eugenides directs our attention to different questions, to a different scale of novelistic inquiry. Even when all the unknowns become known, every detail accounted for, every witness interrogated, how much can we ever truly understand our own lives?

In one of the great feats of voice, “The Virgin Suicides” is narrated by a Greek chorus of unnamed men, looking back on their adolescence and the suicides of five girls in their Michigan suburb. The narrators are both elegiac and mordant, dipping in and out of lives, moments, acting as the collective consciousness of an entire neighborhood. The men have never quite moved on—despite their now “thinning hair and soft bellies,” they remain arrested as boys, circling around the lingering mystery of what motivated the girls’ deaths. With procedural effort, they’ve exhaustively catalogued relics from that time (“Exhibits #1 through #97”), conducted interviews with the most minor of neighborhood players, imagined themselves into the heads of the five Lisbon sisters—tried, essentially, to fully animate the past. The book retroactively constructs the eighteen months between the first daughter’s suicide and the last, while the middle-aged narrators obsessively probe a mystery that might never be revealed, the clues only half-legible. MORE

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THE NOISENIK: Q&A W/ Wolf Eyes’ Johnny Olson

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

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Kyle_WeinsteinBY KYLE WEINSTEIN Wolf Eyes is not just a noise band. Wolf Eyes is a trip metal band. Wolf Eyes is a psychojazz band. Wolf Eyes is a constantly shifting musical phenomenon with roughly 300 recordings. Wolf Eyes is one part founding member, Nate Young, one part long-time member and meme lord Johnny Olson. Young manipulates his voice with an array of electronics and Olson plays sax, wind synth, and homemade monstrosities of noise. Aside from being a multi-instrumentalist, Johnny Olson is an avid record collector, family man, and runs a highly successful Instagram meme page called inzane_johnny.

Fittingly based out of the industrial hub that is Detroit, Wolf Eyes [pictured, below right] began in 1996 as the solo project of Young, and has had a few members come and go, existing mostly as a trio since 2000. The band founded Trip Metal Fest in 2016, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend in Motor City, hosting a diverse lineup of experimental and noise artists. The festival’s name hails from a 2013 Wolf Eyes meme, which was the first instance of the notion of “trip metal” being introduced to the public. Trip Metal Fest, by the way, is always free.

Ars Nova Workshop will be holding The October Revolution of Jazz and Contemporary Music at various locations wolf-eyes-fight-the-undertow-body-image-1490030778in Philly from October 4th through the 7th. On Saturday October 6th, Wolf Eyes will be performing with Sun Ra Arkestra maestro (and fellow wind synthist), Marshall Allen, at FringeArts as a part of the festival. I was so excited to hear this that I just had to give Inzane Johnny Olson a call. DISCUSSED: Marshall Allen, tripping, Sun Ra Arkestra, awkward collaborations, memes, the definition of art, noise and trip metal.

PHAWKER: How did Wolf Eyes decide to hook up and collaborate with Marshall Allen?

JOHNNY OLSON: It was all the promoter at the fest’s idea. They facilitated it. We’ve worked with Marshall before with Hieroglyphic Being when he was playing with Danny Thompson, too, in Detroit at the Trip Metal Fest. Yeah, that’s pretty much it; there’s no romantic story about it at all, you know? [Laughs]

PHAWKER: So, for adventurous listeners who are trying to get into Sun Ra, where would you recommend they start and why?

JOHNNY OLSON: When I was in middle school, the first one I got at a record store for a dollar was Discipline 27-II. Either that or “Sun Song,” I think. But, I would definitely start with the Discipline one because that definitely has some weirder elements, but if your mom checked it out, she wouldn’t instantaneously put it out.

PHAWKER: Oh yeah, I know how that is.

JOHNNY OLSON: Yeah. [laughs]

PHAWKER: What are some of the weirder elements in that album that resonate with you?

JOHNNY OLSON: Well, I remember him saying that every single electronic effect that you hear was already done back in the 1900s and stuff like that in the early times, you know – the echo, the Sun_Ra_Disciplinecall and response, distortion, and all that stuff. His call and response with June Tyson and stuff like that. You can hear that, but it’s all acoustic. And it’s got a really good message about not taking yourself so seriously, and it’s just really listenable and weird and welcoming. And Side 2’s got some of the weirder stuff on it, not as weird as The Magic City, but it’s definitely a solid brick.

PHAWKER: Okay, cool. So tell me about psychojazz, trip metal, and how they’ve manifested in your discography over the years.

JOHNNY OLSON: Well, we were on acid at a gig at our clubhouse in Detroit – the Mug Warehouse – and one of our friends saw it and was just like, “Aw man, it’s like trip metal,” so that kind of took over from there. And we’ve always been into casually redefining stuff and making our own genres and just twisting stuff around, because it’s better to just define parameters yourself rather than have them handed to you. So, it started to catch on, and it just kind of took off, and then we decided to keep changing it. I think two or three years ago on New Years’, Nate came up with the term “psychojazz,” so we just kept moving that. Aesthetically not a lot has changed, but people make subtle differences between the two on their own, so it’s kind of hands-off and it’s interesting to see how it grows and separates. So, it’s mainly just empowering yourself to define what’s around you rather than taking what’s there, because it’s just more empowering, I think it just changes stuff. You know, someone, at one point, was probably just goofing off and said “rock” and “jazz” and this and that, so you know, it all starts somewhere, so you might as well just see if it clicks. [laughs].
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CATCHER IN THE WRY: Q&A W/ Moshe Kasher

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

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BY HENRY SAVAGE Growing up can be rough. Comedian Moshe Kasher had it rougher than most. The subtitle of his 2012 autobiography Kasher In The Rye tells you all you need to know: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. Born to deaf Hasidic Jewish parents in New York, Kasher’s mother and father split when he was one. His mother moved to Oakland with Moshe in tow, and soon renounced her faith to become a hippie libertine, while his father stayed back in New York and remained committed to his faith. For the next decade he was shuttled back and forth between the two — between Old World piety and West Coast permissiveness. In due time, young Kasher got mixed up with the wrong crowd on the mean streets of Oakland and then came the drugs, the crime and the madness, and eventually a padded cell. Under these circumstances, most people find God. Kasher found comedy. Fast forward a couple decades, and, at the age of 39, Kasher has a thriving stand up career, a wife, a child, a hot podcast called The Hound Tall Discussion Series on the Nerdist Network and brand new three-part Netflix comedy special called The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special, co-starring comedian Natasha Leggero, who also happens to be his spouse/baby mama. Moshe Kasher will be in town this week performing at Punch Line Philly Thursday through Saturday night. Yesterday we got him on the horn to dish about all the above.

DISCUSSED: Woody Allen, #MeToo Movement, Donald Trump + Kanye West, the Zen miseries of fatherhood, the upside of growing up with deaf Hasidic Jewish parents when you are not deaf, drug addiction, mental health, his troubled teenage past, and how he cleaned up, got sane and found comedy.

PHAWKER: You grew up to Hasidic Jewish household in New York. But you moved to Oakland with your mother when you were one. Your father stayed back in New York but the marriage didn’t end for another 10 years. At some point your mother left the faith to pursue the hippie lifestyle. Is all that true? Can you fill in the blanks a bit on all that?

MOSHE KASHER: It is all true. To fill in the blanks of it you probably want to read my book, it’s 300 pages to fill in the blank. Yeah, my mom houndtall-artworkleft my dad when I was nine months old when we were living in Brooklyn and I moved to Oakland to go from hasidic judaism to another kind of black and white reality, which was the Oakland Public School System. I’m glad that she left or I’d probably be in the seminary somewhere right now, not doing an interview for stand-up dates.

PHAWKER: Tell me about growing up with two deaf parents. Obviously you learned to sign at a very early age. Clearly there are drawbacks to that situation but there must also have been some advantages as well.

MOSHE KASHER: Definitely sneaking out of the house was pretty easy. I didn’t really sneak, we just kind of turned on our boombox and walked out the front door. I don’t even know if there were particularly drawbacks with having deaf parents, I mean it’s a cliche but it’s true. They’re the only parents I ever knew so I don’t really know what it’s like to not have deaf parents, but I assume it would turn you on to cooler music.

PHAWKER: On a related note, what do you make of this phenomenon — this has happened two or three times in recent memory — where people that don’t know sign language somehow weasel their way onto the stage of some big important speaking engagement and sign nonsense.

MOSHE KASHER: I think that’s probably a byproduct of the disease of social media telling everyone that they need a platform. Those people literally took a literal platform and decided to try and make their moment happen, but unfortunately a lot of deaf people also watched that and were like, “Okay that’s not a moment, they were having a mental breakdown.”

PHAWKER: Your memoir is called Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. Let’s unpack that title a bit, let’s start with ‘drug addict’ — what was your drug of choice, when did you get started, how did that work out for you?

MOSHE KASHER: Well teenage drug addiction worked out pretty well, it was pretty much a smashing success, in that I was good at it. Mostly, I was a teenage derelict. I think now when people ask me, they want me to say I was smoking crack and shooting heroin, unfortunately most of what I was doing was sneaking out of the house, stealing, and dropping acid. You know? The good old days, before the opiate crisis when teenage drug addicts dropped acid, drank 40s, and sometimes we would crush up our attention tumblr_p7egxzydip1rt9msuo1_1280deficit disorder medication and snort that. You know? The innocent times.

PHAWKER: What can you tell me about the criminal part of the book title?

MOSHE KASHER: We were a group of sort of derelict teenagers who were taggers, shoplifters, stole money and hustle however we could to get high and have a good time. As a result of that the Oakland Police Department started to take notice of us. I sort of got my act together when at 16 I was arrested more times than I could count, in and out of juvenile court systems or juvenile drug addiction rehab. There was one point where I was actually sentenced to community service because I bit my mother. It’s a very long story but I will tell you it’s very difficult to intimidate the other fellas on the community service yard when they’re asking you what you did to land there and you’re like, “I bit my momma.” Basically I was a really twisted, fucked up teenager and thankfully I got my shit together pretty young and now I’m a nice young man!

PHAWKER: What can you tell me about the mental patient part of the book title?
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NPR 4 THE DEAF: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

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FRESH AIR: These are highly charged times for politics reporters. Just ask Greg Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist who has broken a number of stories related to the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. Miller says that he’s been “trolled a lot” because of his work. But after revealing that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian officials prior to Trump’s inauguration, Miller experienced something new: notes from grateful readers. “Weird things happen that had never happened to me as a reporter,” Miller says. “Several of us started getting cards, actual letters in the mail, thanks from readers from faraway places, notes even on my doorstep at home.” Ultimately, Miller’s story about Flynn contributed to Flynn’s ouster from the administration — a fact Miller says brought him “no pleasure.” But, Miller adds, “at the same time, as a reporter, there is nothing better than to be able to get to the bottom of a complex story that there are so many people who are trying to prevent you from getting at.” Miller further investigates the links between Russia and the Trump administration in his new book, The Apprentice. MORE

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BEING THERE: Leon Bridges @ The Fillmore

Monday, October 1st, 2018

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Photo by MATT SHAVER

Leon Bridges was a beam of pure and joyful iridescence after a week of hopeless darkness. Stepping out in a Canadian tuxedo and a crisp white chest-hair-exposing button-down, Bridges gripped a sparkling mic stand with both hands as he crooned the first words of “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)” from his 2018 record Good Thing.

Doused in deep magenta light, Bridges danced around the stage, moonwalking from one end to the other, periodically reaching out to the crowd to move along with him. Surrounding him on risers were his six bandmates, which included players on the bongos, sax, guitars, and standup bass, as well as a couple of softly sweet backup vocalists. The crowd’s energy exploded as Bridges progressed with big hits “Better Man,” “Coming Home,” and a swooning rendition of the romantically whimsical “Beyond,” that left me wondering how the rest of the night could possibly top such a moment.

But Bridges zeroed in on raw emotion in the middle of his set, in the swaying falsetto of “Shy” or the song he wrote about his mother, “Lisa Sawyer,” which he sang in front a rotating graphic of orange lilies so vivid I could nearly smell them. He used these longer, slower songs to let the instruments around him speak their own words, at times telling the room that his lead guitarist had some words he’d like to share before letting him shred into a blues-drenched guitar solo evocative of past masters like B.B. King.

The highlight of this smoother turn was undoubtedly “Mrs.” – one of Bridges’ most sensual new songs that sent every couple melting into honeymoon-like passion as he sang the lulling lines, “Sometimes I wonder what we’re holdin’ on for / Then you climb on top of me and I remember.” He let the band elongate the song with meandering solos as he commanded the stage in a performance of slow and soulful isolation dance moves. And when he paused to look out and say, “Sometimes you just gotta find that one girl in the crowd and sing to her,” every woman in the room nearly fainted.

Winding back up, Bridges lifted the pace with the yet-unreleased rolling blues-country tune, “Hold On,” which he’s played at shows since the supporting tour for his 2015 debut Coming Home. As his moves onstage got jumpier, the band cruised into the opening drive of “Smooth Sailin’” in front of a golden hexagonal backdrop as honeyed as Bridges’ voice.

When the lights went black, the venue immediately thundered with frenzied demands for more, as we all eyed the stagehands with the stomach-dropping fear that Bridges might leave without playing “River.” But he soon re-emerged with a pearl-accented teal guitar in hand, accompanied by only his one female backup singer. Finally, the long-awaited salvation of the cleansing spirituality that pours over from this song!

But no, he stopped a few strums in under the bright spotlight, with the room hanging on his every breath as he told us this darkness wouldn’t do, “I want to see your faces.” So the 1,300 fans in the sold-out Fillmore last night shone their phone flashlights in a blue glow, as an older woman next to me let out a shrill, “Thank you, Leon! Thank you for this song!” that brought a warm and toothy smile to Bridges’ face as he started up again.

He brought the band back out for a final song in “Mississippi Kisses,” with a rhythmic bassline that drips with a Southern charm as sweet as molasses. When the end approached, the drums quickened and Bridges performed one final dance sequence before exiting, leaving the band to finish the final few measures in his absence. Even without their leader, the band played those last Twist-inducing rhythms with an almost unearthly and everlasting magic that made me know I would be craving this level of radiant catharsis for weeks to follow. – SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

LEON BRIDGES PERFORMS AGAIN TONITE AT THE FILLMORE PHILLY 8 PM

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WORTH REPEATING: Devin Nunez Has A Secret

Monday, October 1st, 2018

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Illustration by ED STEED via Esquire
ESQUIRE:  Nunes has always been reliably conservative, but on some issues, he has broken with his party. He has long supported moderate immigration reform, for instance, including amnesty for many undocumented people living and working in the U. S. But as Trump has instituted a draconian policy of zero tolerance for all undocumented people and argued that every undocumented individual should be deported, Nunes has been silent. More recently, as Trump and the House Republicans have celebrated Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the agency’s aggressive tactics, Nunes has followed suit. On CaRepublican.com—a Nunes-created news site, which mimics the Drudge Report—he now regularly highlights articles attacking Democrats for being insufficiently supportive of ICE’s raids and deportations.

Which brings us back to Nunes’s secret.

Nunes grew up in a family of dairy farmers in Tulare, California, and as long as he has been in politics, his family dairy has been central to his identity and a feature of every major political profile written about him. A March story in National Review is emblematic. It describes how Nunes’s family emigrated from the Azores in Portugal to California’s Central Valley, “a fertile, sunny Eden,” and how the family “worked and saved enough money to buy a 640-acre farm outside Tulare.” The soil of the Central Valley is depicted as almost sacred in these articles. National Review quotes a 1912 Portuguese immigrant farmer who wrote that when he grabs a clump of dirt, “I feel as if I had just shaken hands with all my ancestors.” As recently as July 27, the lead of a Wall Street Journal editorial-page piece about Nunes, which featured a Tulare dateline, emphasized the dairy: “It’s 105 degrees as I stand with Rep. Devin Nunes on his family’s dairy farm.” Last year, Nunes noted in an interview with the Daily Beast—headline: “The Dairy Farmer Overseeing U. S. Spies and the Russia Hack Investigation”—“I’m pretty simple. I like agriculture.” The Daily Beast noted, “The cows are not far from his mind. He keeps in regular contact with his brother and father about their dairy farm.”

So here’s the secret: The Nunes family dairy of political lore—the one where his brother and parents work—isn’t in California. It’s in Iowa. Devin; his brother, Anthony III; and his parents, Anthony Jr. and Toni Dian, sold their California farmland in 2006. Anthony Jr. and Toni Dian, who has also been the treasurer of every one of Devin’s campaigns since 2001, used their cash from the sale to buy a dairy eighteen hundred miles away in Sibley, a small town in northwest Iowa where they—as well as Anthony III, Devin’s only sibling, and his wife, Lori—have lived since 2007. Devin’s uncle Gerald still owns a dairy back in Tulare, which is presumably where The Wall Street Journal’s reporter talked to Devin, and Devin is an investor in a Napa Valley winery, Alpha Omega, but his immediate family’s farm—as well as his family—is long gone.

There’s nothing particularly strange about a congressman’s family moving. But what is strange is that the family has apparently tried to conceal the move from the public—for more than a decade. […] I went to Sibley to find out [why]. Things got a little strange. MORE

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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