Man dressed as Michael Myers from Halloween, Kissimmee, Florida by FRANK THORP
NEW YORK TIMES: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the Kiev, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr.Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.
In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev. MORE
RELATED: On the same day that one major news outlet uncovered millions of dollars of illegal cash payments flowing from a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the campaign manager of Donald Trump, another major news outlet discovered that Trump’s daughter Ivanka is currently on vacation with Putin’s girlfriend. The combination of scandals has made for an explosive fallout in the hours since the news broke. MORE
PEOPLE: Ivanka Trump is taking a break from the campaign trail to vacation with friends. The daughter of GOP nominee Donald Trump shared a scenic snap with Wendi Deng Murdoch, the ex-wife of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Trump, 34, was spotted with husband Jared Kushner in the city’s old town, seemingly taking a couple’s vacation without their three children – Arabella, 5, Joseph, 2, and Theodore, 4 months. Deng Murdoch was actually responsible for setting up Trump and Kushner. MORE
US WEEKLY: How’s this for a new couple alert? The rumor circulating around the corridors of power — from Washington, D.C., to Europe and Asia — is that Vladimir Putin and Wendi Deng, Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, are dating. See more photos of Wendi here. Reports of the pair have been floating around for years, ever since their respective divorces in 2014 and 2013. One insider close to the powerful leader tells Us Weekly the relationship is “serious.” MORE
To live and die in L.A., indeed. From the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s, X was the poetic conscience of the City of Angels, declaring that beneath all the hot sunshine and white teeth, it was in fact the city of the damned. Up to Ain’t Love Grand, X was everything you could ever want from a rock band (and even though they were punk-identified, they were so much more than the just safety-pinned pogo merchants). Smart, literate, versed in all manner of American roots music, X was arguably the finest band to ever emerge out of Los Angeles. When bassist John Doe met Medusa-coiffed Exene Cervenka at a Venice Beach poetry workshop in 1977, it was boho love at first sight—the world was a mess and it was in their kiss.
The couple decided to get married and start a band, recruiting perma-grin guitarist Billy Zoom, he of the Chuck-Berry-on-speed riffs delivered with feet spread miles apart, and aptly named drummer D.J. Bonebrake. The sound and the sensibility was Los Angeles on $5 a day with a dog-eared Bukowski paperback in one back pocket and a fifth of gin in the other. As the Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris puts it: “They saw it like they lived it … this was an ugly stew sprinkled with glitter, sugar and wax drippings, gasoline or fire, somewhere over an underpass along the 101 freeway bouncing between skyscrapers, 22-hour days cooled off by Coronas, Budweisers or some such chilled piss at 7:30 in the morning in an old ‘50s Ford with religious crap scattered on the dash, chipped bones, fat lips, bruises, broken glass, sunshine-baked brain, dirty-sock-stuck-in the-mouth hangover.”
X was immediately embraced by the creativity-challenged West Coast punk scene and word spread quickly. Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek was an early fan, and produced the first four records—Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big BlackSun and More Fun In The New World (all recently reissued, all essential). This partnership with Manzarek is as notable for X’s refusal to kowtow to punk orthodoxy (i.e. hippies = bad) as it is for anything the Doors’ keyboardist brought to their music. After four albums and endless touring for meager financial return, the fabric of the band began to strain. Meanwhile, Doe and Cervenka’s marriage was slowly disintegrating.
In a bid to broaden their audience beyond the post-punk intelligentsia, X parted ways with Manzarek and hired heavy metal knob-twiddler Michael Wagener to punch up Ain’t Love Grand. This proved to be a career-ending mistake, as the album never connected with the mainstream and the Def Leppard production values alienated much of the band’s core audience. Guitarist Zoom opted out, replaced briefly by Dave Alvin of the Blasters and then Tony Gilkyson, formerly of Lone Justice. From here on they continued to make consistently respectable music, but X now seemed safe and predictable. They were still desperate, yes, but by this point we were used to it.
In recent years, the original line-up reunited for victory lap tours. Sadly, guitarist Billy Zoom has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time and the tour that brings them to Underground Arts on Sunday may well be his last. As such, we are pleased to announce that we have a pair of tickets to see X at Underground Arts to give away to some lucky Phawker reader that can answer the following X trivia question: What is the name of the Doors song that X famously covered? Email you answer to Phawker66@gmail.com with the words UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN in the subject line. Please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Twenty-second reader to email us with the right answer wins. Good luck and godspeed!
BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR VICE “The west is the best,” Jim Morrison sang in 1967. “Get here, and we’ll do the rest.” In 1976, John Doe took Mr. Mojo Risin’ up on the invitation. Fed up with the bleak fatalism, shitty weather and general played-out-ness of the East Coast scene, Doe loaded up the truck and headed to the City Of Angels, where he would soon meet fellow East Coast exile/aspiring punk poet Exene Cervenka. Together they would form the legendary X — arguably one of the few bands that could convincingly stake a claim to The Clash’s status as The Only Band That Matters — and light the fuse of the impending West Coast punk explosion. The rest is history, all of which is detailed in Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History Of L.A. Punk, Doe’s just-published memoir, co-authored with SoCal punk luminaries like Mike Watt of The Minutemen, Henry Rollins of Black Flag, Dave Alvin of The Blasters, Jack Grisham of TSOL, Charlotte Caffey of The Go Go’s and Exene, to name but a few. Recently, we got Doe on the horn to discuss the history of West Coast punk as well as his swell new album, The Westerner.
VICE: The world knows you as John Doe but you were born John Nomenson Duchac, am I pronouncing that right?
JOHN DOE: You mispronounced just like everyone else does.
VICE: Please school me.
JOHN DOE: No reason to. I could have said that my real name was Adolf Hitler but I didn’t think it would go over so well, or that my name was Samuel Clemens. It doesn’t matter. It’s much more fun to be John Doe than anyone else.
VICE: You were born in Decatur, Illinois and came of age in Baltimore. What was the final straw, like ‘That’s it, I’m outta here, I’m going to Los Angeles…’
JOHN DOE: I moved to LA because I was sick of the East Coast. There are a lot of ghosts on the East Coast and there is a lot of sleet and shitty weather. Baltimore, as you know, only has one truly famous person which is John Waters. I had been to CBGB’s, I’d been to Max’s Kansas City. I’d seen the Talking Heads and The Heartbreakers and realized that that music scene was already pretty locked up by 1976. I went to LA with a friend and it was glorious. I was a huge fan of the writers that came out of LA — of Nathaniel West and Charles Bukowski and people like that. There is a freedom on the West Coast that is not available to people who grow up on the East Coast.
VICE: It was sort of like, ‘Let’s go out to LA and invent punk, it hasn’t hit there yet’?
JOHN DOE: It was just getting started, you know, everywhere. It was in the air, that’s why it took hold so fast in England. The Ramones went there in what, ’74, then POW! everything happened. There were people who were also musical outcasts living in LA at the time. We got here right as it was starting.
VICE: In the book there’s a great chapter where you talk about LA in the ‘70s, how cheap and livable it was, how little gridlock there was, how you could buy these cool vintage cars from the ‘50s and ‘60s for $500 bucks and [X guitarist] Billy Zoom would help you fix it up. You could always be in the desert or the Pacific Ocean in less than an hour. How did that kind of mobility impact the West Coast punk scene?
JOHN DOE: Yeah. I think it included the [predominantly Latino] East Side that allowed everybody to break out and have a certain speed and freedom to do the same. Made me feel more connected to my rock n’ roll heroes, Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran and people like that.
VICE: Because they were always celebrating the freedom of the open road?
JOHN DOE: Yes. It was always meant to be about freedom, and there’s nothing more liberating than being in a car. I mean, you’re deciding where and when you’re going to be some place. That’s why people get so pissed off in cars. Because somebody else is interrupting their space and time. Get out of my fucking way! I’m supposed to be there!
VICE: What were you driving back then?
JOHN DOE: I had a 56 Ford Customline. It was just a four door Ford and also, before that was an International Travelall, I think it was a ‘70 or ‘71. That was our first touring vehicle.
VICE: What was the first time you met [X’s singer/songwriter] Exene?
JOHN DOE: Well, I ran a poetry reading series in Baltimore. There was a fairly popular and vital poetry world in Baltimore and D.C. at that time, when poetry became a performance medium rather than just on the written page. People were writing funny stuff and there was a gay and lesbian element that was included in that. I figured the best way to meet people in LA was to be in the poetry world. Exene had just gotten a job through a government program to work at a small press called Beyond Baroque. Beyond Baroque had a writing workshop, like a poetry workshop, I think it was Tuesday nights and we met there.
VICE: Was it love at first sight?
VICE: Oh, you know, she cut a very eccentric figure back then, and she does now. I don’t know if it was love at first sight, definitely wasn’t for her. I mean, it took me a good eight or nine months of hanging around and being annoying for her to really…I don’t know, we were friends first. Then we were romantically involved. I realized that we had some kind of soul mate connection and we will have that as long as we live.
VICE: Speaking of poetry, I’m not sure there is a better distillation of punk’s ethos than “We’re desperate, get used to it.” Except maybe “The world’s a mess, it’s in my kiss.” Tell me a little bit how you guys would write songs. Was a lot of this stuff poetry first, then it became songs? Lyrics written to go with tunes? A little bit of both?
JOHN DOE: Yes…is the short answer. A lot of Exene’s lyrics were written as songs and were kind of written, like “The World’s A Mess” was written top to bottom as a song. There was very little editing necessary. I would write the music and kind of mix and match them. They were all directly from our life experience. We just exaggerated stuff. The first time we rehearsed it was clear, like “Oh this is a really great song, this is going to last.” And then the world was kind enough to be fucked up over and over again and made it last because it’s never going to be untrue.
VICE: How did you guys get hooked up with [Doors keyboardist/ X producer] Ray Manzarek?
JOHN DOE: He saw us at The Whiskey A Go Go. He and his wife Dorothy were at the Whiskey and we were playing the song “Soul Kitchen” by The Doors at a much faster pace and Dorothy said “Oh Ray, they are playing your song!” and Ray said “What? They are doing what? Oh, oh wow, they are playing…!” There was a long article in LA Weekly that talked about the band and the lyrics and they quoted “Johnny Hit And Run Pauline” and he really identified with the dark nature of that because it was similar to what Jim Morrison might write. He talked to us and we were flabbergasted that a real rock icon wanted to work with a scruffy punk rock band.
VICE: There were definite parallels between X and The Doors. Both bands were literary, transgressive, noir-ish and based in LA. What did you guys make of those comparisons? Did it irk you or were you flattered by that?
JOHN DOE: We were huge Doors fans. They were real rock royalty, if you want to call that. They had number one hits and they did it on their own terms. Their music sounds the same now as it did then. Whereas some of Jimi Hendrix stuff sounds dated because it was so based in blues music and American blues. We were incredibly flattered that people saw a connection. I think because we felt some of the same themes that Raymond Chandler or some great film noir movies addressed: In LA it’s all the more obvious to the have-nots how much money is being wasted by the haves. That was sort of where we were coming from in 1977. MORE
ERIC ALPER: Jack White has announced the release of JACK WHITE ACOUSTIC RECORDINGS 1998-2016, the 26-track double-LP and double-CD released physically and digitally worldwide on September 9th. JACK WHITE ACOUSTIC RECORDINGS 1998-2016 collects 26 acoustic songs from throughout White’s wide-ranging musical career, spanning album tracks, B-sides, remixes, alternate versions, and previously unreleased tracks. The album, arranged in chronological order, includes acoustic songs made famous by The White Stripes, beginning with “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” (originally found on The White Stripes’ second-ever 7-inch single) and then lighting upon favorites like “Apple Blossom” and “I’m Bound To Pack It Up” (remixed here from the original recordings on 2000’s DE STIJL), “Hotel Yorba” and “We’re Going To Be Friends” (from 2001’s WHITE BLOOD CELLS), “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket” and “Well It’s True That We Love One Another” (from 2003’s GRAMMY® Award-winning ELEPHANT), “Forever For Her (Is Over For Me),” “White Moon” and “As Ugly As I Seem” (from 2005’s GET BEHIND ME SATAN) “Effect & Cause” (from 2007’s ICKY THUMP), and the Beck-produced “Honey, We Can’t Afford To Look This Cheap,” first found on the B-side to The White Stripes’ final single, 2007’s “Conquest.”
Also featured are “Never Far Away” (recorded for 2003’s COLD MOUNTAIN: MUSIC FROM THE MIRAMAX MOTION PICTURE) and “Love Is The Truth” (written and recorded for Coca-Cola’s 2006 What Goes Around campaign) as well as the Bluegrass Version of “Top Yourself” and an acoustic mix of the epic murder ballad, “Carolina Drama,” both written by White and Brendan Benson for The Raconteurs’ GRAMMY® Award-winning 2008 album, CONSOLERS OF THE LONELY. White’s two chart-topping solo albums, 2012’s BLUNDERBUSS and 2014’s LAZARETTO, are represented by a remarkably diverse range of material including “Love Interruption,” “On And On And On,” “Blunderbuss,” “Entitlement,” “Want And Able,” and alternative mixes of “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy,” “Just One Drink,” “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep,” and B-side, “Machine Gun Silhouette.” MORE
BY MEGAN MATUZAK In 2011, the FBI and the DOJ issued a National Gang Threat assessment which designated the widely detested Insane Clown Posse’s fanbase of self-described Juggalos as a gang that was as dangerous as the Crips and the Bloods. The report cited violent lyrics, iconic symbols like the Hatchet Man and the fact that it seemed increasingly common for criminals to wear ICP shirts when they committed crimes.
“Police departments across the country were already figuring that the Juggalos were easy targets, marks for their well-funded gang units to justify their existence,” writes Steve Miller [pictured, below right] in his just-published book, Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Made. “In this case, demonizing a lower-class fan base would work just fine.”
The largely invisible class war that is going on in America figures prominently in Miller’s book. He repeatedly asserts that the real reason that ICP is so hated isn’t their music or their antics, but the fact that they came up from poverty and poverty still defines their audience. Miller describes the hardscrabble upbringing of ICP’s frontmen, Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Ustler): unstable home life, living off of welfare and being bullied at school. The pair found each other at a young age as members of a DIY back alley wrestling federation in the suburbs of Detroit. A rubber hose circumscribed the ring, they wore masks and made grand entrances, the duo were every bit like the WWE superstars “with all the glitz and performance art.”
Having been dealt a shitty hand, J and Shaggy turned to music and, after a few incarnations, became Insane Clown Posse and, shortly thereafter, the “most hated band in the world.” Miller is not a hater, and in the course of the book mounts a strong case for the First Amendment rights of musicians, including ICP. “It is the last American subculture and it stands alone,” Miller writes. ICP’s annual, corporate-backer-free festival just celebrated its 17th go around this past July. Recently, Phawker got Miller on the phone to get down with the clown.
PHAWKER: What inspired you to write this book?
STEVE MILLER: Well to be honest, I heard them, I got turned on to them about 20 some odd years ago. It just made it into my rotation. I mean it wasn’t at the top of the playlist but it was always in there, in the mix. When I started doing this, the thing of course that jumped out at me was the FBI gang designation. It became to me more of a First Amendment issue than a musical issue. It’s one thing to write a book about a band, which didn’t appeal to me, it’s another to write a thing about law enforcement and federal government and local governments trying to infringe on the rights of free speech.
PHAWKER: Throughout the book you really dig into the media and how they “hold hands” with local and federal officials when it comes to reporting. What does that make you, a sadist?
STEVE MILLER: [laughs] Probably, being a journalist myself you get plenty of hate thrown your way anyway, right? I mean, you’ll never win. I was probably just stepping outside of that. I’ve covered cops and you become beholden to the cops for information so you become very obedient. Really, we have to do more than just say ‘Well, this guy is a juggalo it’s a juggalo-related crime.’ i think we need to look a little further than that. As the Feds started gathering things for the gang assessment they would be querying these local departments and they would say ‘Oh we definitely have juggalos.’ Most of what the Feds got back wasn’t intelligence reports, it was press clipping. Then they would say, ‘Look, these are the problems we are having even the media agrees with us.’
PHAWKER: You seemed to have been given good access, you talked to everyone: J, Shaggy, J’s mother, cops giving anti-juggalo talks, Psychopathic Records people, and the fans at The Gathering. Can you talk about building a story with so many voices?
STEVE MILLER: You make a list of who can fill this part of the story out, who can tell me these things? Any time you are writing a story some people don’t just say no but ‘Hell no!’ — then you adjust.
PHAWKER: I’m going to read a quote from the book, “The industry vultures inevitably sweep in and pick the bones, the worst of the remnants, and next thing you know, Lindsay Lohan is wearing a Ramones T-shirt.” So when is Lindsay Lohan getting an ICP shirt?
STEVE MILLER: [laughs] You know, I’m going to be honest. I don’t know if that would really surprise me. I don’t know. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
PHAWKER: You mention Herbert Gans and his study of class. Specifically, “how poverty feeds the upper class.” Can you explain how that relates to ICP and the Juggalos?
STEVE MILLER: If anyone went to a gathering they would see beyond all that. I think what you are getting at, is there a classism issue with the juggalos? I’m not sure. The outside world tends to look down on them. You know say “these aren’t people with means” and that is probably true. In the context I was referring to Gans how in general people are put down and kept down.
PHAWKER: I was watching American Juggalo [see below], have you seen that?
STEVE MILLER: I didn’t care for it. Here is the funniest part. The first time I went to a Gathering I expected to see things that happened in American Juggalo I didn’t really see a lot of that. Maybe at night or maybe I was oblivious to it. I would have liked to see the guy cut off his nipples. I think American Juggalo was fun to watch, but I didn’t let it shape me but I also didn’t really see a lot of the same activity.
STEVE MILLER: That episode, it was so distasteful. If you have ever covered a mass action you can see the power of a group when they get out of hand. I wasn’t there for that, but the people who relayed it to me said it was so harrowing. They get so worked up and so crazed that this is what happens. Remember, they said Tila you don’t have to go out there. You really don’t want to do this. She wanted to do it. Credit to her for that.
PHAWKER: Playing devil’s advocate, doesn’t this play into the FBI’s notion that the Juggalos are a huge group that is capable of doing something extremely violent together?
STEVE MILLER: I have seen civil disobedience, I’ve seen people arrested in the streets. I’ve covered protests and riots. I was outside the Staples Center in 2000 when Rage Against The Machine played outside the DNC. I was covering the streets when everybody started throwing rocks and the cops moved in and they had huge clashes. That was really, really scary. I couldn’t tell who I was more scared of. To witness the power of crowd and the ire of a crowd is scary. That is what I picked up regarding Tila tequila. If you weren’t part of that group in taking on Tila Tequila you just wanted to get out.
PHAWKER: Can you explain what you mean by ICP and the Juggalos being the “last American subculture”? For me, it became a lens to see this book through.
STEVE MILLER: The same corporations own all the book publishers, they own all the record labels, they own every creative outlet there is. We’ve got Live Nation making sure that we have to pay 25% service fee on all tickets. Which puts the tickets out of the range of a certain social strata, you know? I can’t see it getting any better. ICP were a group that was so marginalized that no one could make any money off of them. Generally, either you can usually water down subculture and try to make some money off of it. But this one really managed to keep itself outside of everything else by being completely unmarketable.
EXCERPT: “BPD disproportionately stops African Americans standing, walking, or driving on Baltimore streets. The Department’s data on all pedestrian stops from January 2010 to June 2015 shows that African Americans account for 84 percent of stops 55 despite comprising only 63 percent of the City’s population. Expressed differently, BPD officers made 520 stops for every 1,000 black residents in Baltimore, but only 180 stops for every 1,000 Caucasian residents.”
EXCERPT: “Illegal stops result in confrontations that can be avoided, the report said. In one case, police stopped a black man wearing a hoodie in a “high crime area” because he “thought it could be possible that the individual could be out seeking a victim of opportunity.” The incident escalated with police — who had no legal reason to stop the man — beating the man in the face, neck and ribs and deploying a Taser on him twice. The man was later taken to a hospital, and not charged with any offense. Yet later, the officer’s supervisor determined in a report that the “officers showed great restraint and professionalism.”
EXCERPT: “The report outlined numerous examples of black men arrested or stopped merely for walking down the sidewalk, sitting on steps outside a private home or talking outside of a liquor store with their sibling — essentially stopping people on the street for no good legal reason. “These and similar arrests identified by our investigation reflect BPD officers exercising nearly unfettered discretion to criminalize the act of standing on public sidewalks.”
EXCERPT: “Numerous Baltimore residents interviewed by the Justice Department recounted stories of BPD officers ‘jumping out’ of police vehicles and strip-searching individuals on public streets. BPD has long been on notice of such allegations: in the last five years BPD has faced multiple lawsuits and more than 60 complaints alleging unlawful strip searches. In one of these incidents — memorialized in a complaint that the Department sustained — officers in BPD’s Eastern District publicly strip-searched a woman following a routine traffic stop for a missing headlight. Officers ordered the woman to exit her vehicle, remove her clothes, and stand on the sidewalk to be searched. The woman asked the male officer in charge, “I really gotta take all my clothes off?” The male officer replied “yeah” and ordered a female officer to strip search the woman. The female officer then put on purple latex gloves, pulled up the woman’s shirt and searched around her bra. Finding no weapons or contraband around the woman’s chest, the officer then pulled down the woman’s underwear and searched her anal cavity. This search again found no evidence of wrongdoing and the officers released the woman without charges. Indeed, the woman received only a repair order for her headlight.”
EXCERPT: “Many others, including high ranking officers in the Department, view themselves as enforcing the will of the ‘silent majority’.”
Dearly departed Fat Possum recording artist and Mississippi juke joint operator Junior Kimbrough
BY JAMES M. DAVIS “Full of mojo $300″ read the Craigslist ad for a guitar speaker from the ’60s. It was a Jensen C12N, the same speakers that used to come stock in Twin Reverb amps. It was authentic is what the ad was trying to say, it would drive inspiration. Your rock star fantasy would be that much more impenetrable. You could buy a new Warehouse clone with the exact same specifications of the same speaker for a quarter the price, but there’s no denying it, you would lose the mojo. The Fender Twin that Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones used to record Never Mind The Bollocks did not have warehouse speakers, it had the original Jensen C12Ns. By that logic, vintage Jensens are the sound of punk rock. Of course, back then the C12Ns were not 50 years old, but that’s beside the point. You need the mojo.
Long story short, I bought the Warehouse clones. But going into the world of guitar gear has opened my eyes to this strange collective fantasy which is the guitar gear economy. This idea that spending insane amounts of money on gear can somehow make you more creative. Few are immune to this premise. Jamie Hince of The Kills claims his $4000 1921 Gibson L-I is haunted, allowing him to write better songs on it. Johnny Marr talks about how he wrote “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” after buying his Gibson 1959 ES-355. “It just came out” he said. The list price for that particular guitar is around $20,000 at this point. Of course, the fact that Johnny Marr played that particular model of the guitar may have contributed to its exorbitant price is beside the point. Message: if a rock star played a guitar it is authentic.
Truthfully, Johnny Marr’s story was a little more complex than that. It was gift, something he made an A&R rep buy for him as a bonus for signing to his label, and it actually did result in a song which certainly made him far more money than the guitar could have cost. However, the worst offender is not scrappy Mancunians from the ’80s. The worst offender is beard-dads who pronounce Bulleit Bourbon like “bullay” and wear flannel and start bands with names like THE BLACK KEYS. I pick on the Black Keys because they are the ultimate example of vintage-gear loving, tube-amp only, won’t play it if it doesn’t look like it’s been driven over with a car, etc. blues rock bands. I don’t think they even play the blues anymore. Anyway, I also pick on them because this image of theirs is deeply ironic considering they spent their formative years obsessively imitating a musician by the name of Junior Kimbrough [pictured, above].
Junior Kimbrough comes from the North Mississippi Hill Country blues scene. Names like R.L. Burnside, Kimbrough, and James “Model-T” Ford are all legendary figures to those in the know, and all used to perform regularly at Kimbrough’s juke joint in the ’90s. There was some stir over them in the ’90s when they all got signed to Fat Possum records (The Black Key’s label-to-be) and blew up, attracting everyone from Iggy Pop to U2 down to Kimbrough’s haunt. They made a movie about it, and it is clear from the footage (if not the music alone) what was so attractive to these rich old white guys. These were real men making this music, weathered people who’d spent their whole lives living in poverty. They played through cheap solid-state Peavey amps and used odd heavy-metal Ibanez guitars, essentially whatever they could get their hands on. And the music was so, so good. On par with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Son House.
There is no emulating that sound. The Black Keys are the closest anyone has gotten, and their album of Kimbrough covers Chulahoma is probably the best thing they ever released. What’s funny about that album is all the warm, fat-sounding vintage gear Dan Auerbach invested in, his flawless execution of the riffs and well produced, perfectly EQ’d studio sound — all of it only takes him farther away from the original, jangly sounding and unpracticed, Junior Kimbrough’s eyes fixed drunkenly on nothing while he plays, no emotion escaping his face as if he is truly dead to the world. The truth is, Dan Auerbach dropping out of his liberal arts college to become a bluesman can never understand the life that went into that music, what experiences the man’s talent is trying to convey, no matter how many times he listens to the record, or whatever amps he buys. Ultimately, the price of authenticity is far, far too high for anyone to pay willingly.
6ABC: We lost a dear friend and TV legend today. Captain Noah truly was magical, and he helped shape the foundation of what Channel 6 is today. What we remember about Carter was he loved to make children smile, and he maintained a deep faith in the human spirit. For three decades, Carter and his wife Pat delighted viewers in Philadelphia, and across America. “Captain Noah and His Magical Ark” was produced here at 6abc, and syndicated to more than 20 television markets. At its peak, Captain Noah was one of the most watched Children’s television shows in America.Our condolences go out to the Merbreirer family, his Channel 6 family, and all fans of Captain Noah. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: Captain Noah and His Magical Ark was a television program for children and was generally broadcast around the Philadelphia area. The series aired from 1967 to 1994. It was filmed and produced at the WPVI-TV, Channel 6 (then called WFIL when the program began) studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Captain Noah and His Magical Ark, was created by W. Carter Merbreier, an ordained Lutheran minister and former Philadelphia police chaplain, and produced by the Philadelphia Council of Churches. The show initially aired as a religious program beginning in 1967 before switching to a children’s program in 1970. The show starred Merbreier as Captain Noah and his real life wife, Patricia Merbreier, as Mrs. Noah. At its height, Captain Noah and His Magical Ark was syndicated to twenty-two television stations in markets throughout the United States. During the early 1970s, Captain Noah and His Magical Ark attracted a larger local audience in the Philadelphia region than Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo combined.MORE
REVERED W. CARTER MERBREIER: We rode into children’s lives on skates, bicycles, tricycles, and trains—and sometimes on horseback, though the galloping was only heard, never seen. We worked our wonders against canvas backdrops depicting ocean waves, Western plains, and snowy mountains, using homemade props of sails and saddles, teepees and storefronts. And now we are all gone. The hosts of locally-produced daily children’s TV shows are a vanished tribe. We are gone from our stations, most of which have not a shred, not a prop, not even an old tape as evidence we were ever on the air. And we are gone from all the other places our small-scale celebrity once tried to enrich: the store openings and telethons for special-needs kids, the birthday parties and hospital wards—where any child could simply stand in line for an autographed picture or a quick, but real, conversation with Skipper Chuck, Cowgirl Sally Star, Mother Moose, or, yours truly, Captain Noah. These men and women were indeed pioneers. I was truly lucky to be one of them. MORE
BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER “I can’t tell you how happy we are to be in the City of Brotherly Love,” declared Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, who for reasons unclear ran around the Linc all night with an American Flag hanging out of his back pants pocket. “We are going to put on the best show we have ever put on!” For the next two hours, Martin and co. essayed the high water marks of their back catalog. Highlights included the beatific mopery of the aforementioned “Yellow,” the Olympics montage-worthy “Clocks,” the Woody Guthrie-esque benediction of “Til Kingdom Come,” and an unexpected acoustic reading of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets Of Philadelphia.”
Lowlights included: the unforgivably bad digital imagery fractal-ing on three large screens behind the band all night long; the Trump-ian USA! USA! USA! chant that broke out in section 131 after “Kaleidoscope”; the insufferably inane “Hymn For The Weekend,” the desultory cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” and “Sky Full Of Stars,” a date movie of a song, during which Martin triumphantly thrust two fists in the air like he was Rocky Balboa while pirouetting beneath a steady drizzle of strobe-flashed confetti. MORE
BY WILLIAM C. HENRYPresident Eisenhower was oh so right. It didn’t have to happen. And, in fact, it should not have happened. On August 6th and 9th, 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over 200,000 Japanese civilians — mostly women, children and the elderly — were annihilated. The dead included some two dozen American and Dutch prisoners of war.
It didn’t have to happen. It should not have happened. There WERE viable alternatives. We could have dropped an atomic bomb on a far less densely populated area of Japan. We could have subsequently informed the Japanese leadership that unless a full and complete unconditional surrender was immediately forthcoming, another bomb just like it would be dropped on Tokyo.
We could have seen to it that the Japanese leadership received film copies (by parachute drops over the Japanese Imperial living quarters if necessary) of all the atomic bomb tests we had conducted along with unequivocal notice that unless surrender was immediate and unconditional, a portion of our atomic arsenal would be dropped on major Japanese population centers including the Imperial grounds.
There were any number of alternative locations within the Japanese nation where we could have dropped the bombs in order to display what their horrific power would do. There were, in fact, numerous means of alerting Japan’s leadership to the unimaginable consequences of ignoring the warnings that we would no longer tolerate any further delay of immediate and complete surrender WITHOUT dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland.
By the time of the bombing we had instituted a near complete strangulation type naval blockade of Japan. Literally nothing was getting into or out of the islands nation. Deprivation alone would eventually have forced total Japanese capitulation. Truman’s statements to the contrary, we would not have had to initiate a ground invasion of Japan in order to bring about its submission.
Many influential Americans including those in the military felt (and stated as much) that the war had already been won and that an unconditional Japanese surrender was likely forthcoming in as little as a few weeks of the would-be bomb droppings. Tolerable arrangements were already on the table regarding retention of certain aspects of the monarchy acceptable to the Emperor thus negating the necessity or effectiveness of dropping the bombs.
In other words, where WERE America’s earnest attempts to deliver the message: “If you do not immediately accede to our demands, this is what you will be bringing upon yourselves and the Japanese populace.” So many possible alternative means to avoid the horrific deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent women, children and elderly Japanese civilians were ignored. So many possible notification options for forcing the Japanese leadership into an unconditional cessation of hostilities were neglected.
Two days following the bombing, Russia invaded Manchuria and declared war on Japan. That fact alone as much as any atom bomb dropping would have instilled sufficient fear and hopelessness in the minds of the Emperor and Japanese military leadership to throw in the towel. They knew that that spelled the end of the end.
It’s well worth mentioning that there were many high-ranking, highly informed individuals who sincerely believed that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was intended more as an FYI warning to the Soviet Union than a deadly missive to the Japanese leadership. Regardless, it’s important to keep in mind that what was done on August 6th, 1945, was done by a nation that had claimed and would continue to claim to always be holding the higher moral ground in any conflict it engaged in at any time anywhere on earth.
I think I’ll leave it to Kurt Vonnegut to best describe what happened for what it was: “I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a color photograph of God Almighty—and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine. Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima.” Along with an American moral truth as well.