Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a small-town drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry. In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But thats not the story. All Things Must Pass is a feature documentary film examining this iconic companys explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.
1980 confrontation between former mayor of Philadelphia Frank Rizzo and a news crew from KYW in an unmarked van staking out his home in Chestnut Hill with cameras rolling to find out if Rizzo was misusing his taxpayer-funded police security detail to perform mundane chores like walking his dog and watering his lawn. Though he was, by this point, neither mayor nor police commissioner, he orders his police detail around like a capo barking out orders to a goon squad. After calling KYW crew members crumbs, creeps, cowards, yellow, sneaks, lushes, crumb bums and other hard-boiled lingo straight out of a Bazooka Joe comic, Rizzo threatens to personally kick the shit out of the entire news crew. Rizzo’s security detail was discontinued shortly after this footage aired on the evening news. This video is a brief glimpse into the way Rizzo ran the Philadelphia police department from 1967 to 1971 and the city from 1972 to 1980 — like Mussolini.
BY WILLIAM C. HENRY On the contrary, Donny Boy, it’s not the undocumented who “have to go,” it’s moronic, silver-spooned, misogynistic, uber-pandering, racist, megalomaniacs such as yourself. And, coincidentally, given the fact that some 25% of the Republican “base” (the definitive term? you betcha) appear to be in lock-step with your imbecilicly simplistic — not to mention, ungodly immoral — solution to such an intractably complex problem as out-of-control illegal immigration, I’m wondering if you could have possibly, maybe inadvertently, misidentified the “who” it is that really “have to go”? Just speculating.
“I’ll deport them all. They have to go. Period.” Has a certain “ring” to it, doesn’t it, Don? Sorta like steeple bells, right? You know, aside from the obvious bigotry embedded in those words, what should really send chills up the reader’s spine is their complete and utter dumbness. These are words delivered by a man who believes himself in possession of sufficient character and intellect to be allowed to become the most powerful man on earth. Really? Beam me up, Scotty. Hell, ANY individual with even a molecule of grey matter can tell you that we HAVE TO do something about our illegal immigration problem. What takes real courage and at least a modicum of cranial content is to tell you the TRUTH about what can and, more importantly, CAN’T be done about it! Unfortunately, all you get with The Donald is nitwittedness, pandering and prevarication.
Let’s start with who is going to pay the unimaginable costs of removing some 11 to 12 million illegals — incidentally, your fairy tale estimate of some 30 million illegals has been universally poo pooed — from the contiguous 48? Are you going to personally cover those costs, Donny? Have you really got some $400 to $600 BILLION in loose change laying around? because I know damn well that the U.S. Treasury doesn’t! So precisely where the hell is it going to come from? Raising taxes on the rich? Just kidding. Read the rest of this entry »
According to Transformer, Victor Bockris’ exceptional Lou Reed bio, the first time Lou and John Cale played together was in 1965 at a gig at a high school in…wait for it, the Lehigh Valley.* After graduating Syracuse, Lou got himself hired as a house composer at Long Island’s Pickwick Records, a low budget record label specializing in cheap knock-offs of pop culture originals. High on methedrine, he wrote “The Ostrich” — think “Hang On Sloopy” covered by The Cramps — to cash in on the Do The…dance craze, as was the style of the day. The single was released in late 1964 under the name The Primitives, a non-existent group invented by Pickwick to cash in on the band-of-dudes-with-pudding-bowl-haircuts-wearing-black-turtlenecks-and-Beatle-boots band craze, as was the style of the day. Pickwick booked tour dates for The Primitives, fronted by Lou and a live band thrown together by Pickwick, that included Cale, noted minimalist Tony Conrad and drummer Angus MacLise, all of whom played together in La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate. They were hired by a Pickwick exec at an Upper West Side party because ‘they looked like a band.’ Without bothering to rehearse, The Primitives performed ”The Ostrich,” cue screaming teenage girls and the ersatz hysteria of phony Beatlemania. When it was over, the DJ hollered into the mic “These guys have got something, sure hope it isn’t catching!” “The Ostrich” never became a hit — it’s a hot mess, truth be told — and The Primitives didn’t last more than a month or two. But the budding friendship and steadily intensifying creative partnership of Reed and Cale persisted and flowered into The Velvet Underground, taking their name from a smutty S&M novel that Tony Conrad found laying in the gutter in Greenwich Village. 1965. I missed the birth of the Velvet Underground in my own back yard by one year. – JONATHAN VALANIA
*The significance of this fact is only apparent if you know that the author was born in the Lehigh Valley in 1966.
A year after Sept. 11, actor Adam Driver joined the Marine Corps. He was working odd jobs, selling vacuum cleaners and paying rent to live in his parents’ house — and he says, like many other Americans, he felt a sense of patriotism and he wanted retribution. “I wanted to ‘test my manhood’ and serve my country and just get even and … get away from home and everything I didn’t like about it,” Driver tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “In retrospect, it was actually pretty great.” After suffering from a mountain biking injury, Driver, who now stars in the film comedy While We’re Young, had to go on limited duty and decided to pursue acting. Now that his movie career is taking off, Driver says he sees similarities between the military and acting: Each person is part of a group trying to accomplish a mission that’s greater than themselves. “The discipline, the self-maintenance, the comradery — they’re so similar,” Driver says. “I don’t view acting as such a radical departure from the military.” Driver is best known for his role as Hannah’s boyfriend on the HBO series Girls. Driver has significant roles in the next Star Wars film and Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming film Silence. In While We’re Young, he plays one half of a young couple that befriends a middle-aged husband and wife, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. Driver says that whenever he acts, he’s hard on himself. “I have a tendency to … drive myself and the other people around me crazy with the things I want to change. Everything in me wants to try to make it better and I feel like it’s just not a healthy thing.” But he’s learning to “surrender as much control as possible.” MORE
JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN: This is a hard, sad thing to announce, but WireTap is coming to an end. The reasons for this are many, but the simplest way to put it is that 11 years is a long time to do something and it felt like time to try something new. The show has run longer than Seinfeld and All in the Family. It’s run longer than I, or anyone, could have ever imagined. It started from a simple desire to share the funny, smart people in my life with all of you. I wanted to create a place where we could hang out together and like-minded people could join us. I wanted to make something that felt different than everything else I was hearing on the radio, something that felt funny and real, that didn’t shy away from the big questions (“why are we here?”), but still had room for the smaller questions (“why does this pork pie hat make my ass look fat?”). I wanted to make something that was weird and complicated in the way I knew life to be.
It’s funny that something with such big ambitions started off with such a poor pitch. I just spent the past hour trying to find my initial email to the CBC. It was in an old Yahoo account I hardly use anymore and was dated December, 2003. This was the crux of it: “My idea is basically a show that would involve telephone conversations — natural, conversational — some amount of writing.” Still amazes me that the CBC gave me the chance. I never stopped feeling grateful to get to be on the radio each week and never stopped being nervous about it. Each episode was fuelled by a wish to connect with you. […] P.S. Since our broadcast schedule is slightly out of sync south of the border, American listeners, you’ll still be able to hear shows until June 2016 via PRI. It’ll be a sendoff season featuring the best episodes from the past 11 years as well as episodes never before heard in the States. MORE
PREVIOUSLY: Jonathan Goldstein is the creator and host of public radio’s Wiretap, which The (Montreal) Gazette aptly described as “something between borscht-belt comedy and Franz Kafka,” heard locally on Thursday nights at 9 pm on 90.9 FM WHYY. Goldstein is sort of the Woody Allen of the Airwaves — if Woody Allen was an aging Canadian Gen Xer with a punk pedigree and sociopathic-yet-loveable friends. Either way, he’s hilarious and Wiretap is a gas, gas, gas. DISCUSSED: Lenny Bruce, Ira Glass, Howard, Gregor, his mom, my mom, David Rakoff, Fred Flintstone, Philip Roth, Barney Rubble, his mother’s vagina and, of course, Dino. MORE
RELATED: Required reading: Virgil’s “Georgics”, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, and Baker’s “The Peregrine” (New York Review Books Edition published by HarperCollins). Suggested reading: The Warren Commission Report, “The Poetic Edda”, translated by Lee M. Hollander (in particular The Prophecy of the Seeress), Bernal Diaz del Castillo “True History of the Conquest of New Spain”. MORE
RELATED: Required film viewing list: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, dir. John Huston), Viva Zapata (1952, dir. Elia Kazan), The Battle of Algiers (1966, dir. Gillo Pontecorvo), the Apu trilogy (1955-1959, dir. Satyajit Ray), and, if available, “Where is the Friend’s Home?” (1987, dir. Abbas Kiarostami). MORE
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Speaking of genre, what is it about the Western for you? There aren’t many being made right now.
QUENTIN TARANTINO: There are a few coming out. Antoine Fuqua is doing Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, so that’s one. Django did so well I’m surprised that there’s not even more.
One thing that’s always been true is that there’s no real film genre that better reflects the values and the problems of a given decade than the Westerns made during that specific decade. The Westerns of the ’50s reflected Eisenhower America better than any other films of the day. The Westerns of the ’30s reflected the ’30s ideal. And actually, the Westerns of the ’40s did, too, because there was a whole strain of almost noirish Westerns that, all of a sudden, had dark themes. The ’70s Westerns were pretty much anti-myth Westerns — Watergate Westerns. Everything was about the anti-heroes, everything had a hippie mentality or a nihilistic mentality. Movies came out about Jesse James and the Minnesota raid, where Jesse James is a homicidal maniac. In Dirty Little Billy, Billy the Kid is portrayed as a cute little punk killer. Wyatt Earp is shown for who he is in the movie Doc, by Frank Perry. In the ’70s, it was about ripping the scabs off and showing who these people really were. Consequently, the big Western that came out in the ’80s was Silverado, which was trying to be rah-rah again — that was very much a Reagan Western.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: So what is Hateful Eight saying about the 2010s?
QUENTIN TARANTINO: I’m not trying to make Hateful Eight contemporary in any way, shape, or form. I’m just trying to tell my story. It gets to be a little too much when you try to do that, when you try to make a hippie Western or try to make a counterculture Western.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE:Hateful Eight uses the Civil War as a backdrop, sort of like how The Good, the Bad and the Ugly does.
QUENTIN TARANTINO:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly doesn’t get into the racial conflicts of the Civil War; it’s just a thing that’s happening. My movie is about the country being torn apart by it, and the racial aftermath, six, seven, eight, ten years later.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: That’s going to make this movie feel contemporary. Everybody’s talking about race right now.
QUENTIN TARANTINO: I know. I’m very excited by that.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Excited?
QUENTIN TARANTINO: Finally, the issue of white supremacy is being talked about and dealt with. And it’s what the movie’s about.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: How did what’s happening in Baltimore and Ferguson find its way into The Hateful Eight?
QUENTIN TARANTINO: It was already in the script. It was already in the footage we shot. It just happens to be timely right now. We’re not trying to make it timely. It is timely. I love the fact that people are talking and dealing with the institutional racism that has existed in this country and been ignored. I feel like it’s another ’60s moment, where the people themselves had to expose how ugly they were before things could change. I’m hopeful that that’s happening now. MORE
In Select Theaters on Christmas Day & Everywhere On January 8th, 2016
John Oliver’s show last night out-swaggered Mick Jagger in a rooster strut through of the “progress” made with gay marriage. The SCOTUS decision was a milestone and I will not diminish it, but we will have a long way to go. In a country where 26 million Facebook users put a rainbow filter over their profile picture (passive activism, but I’ll take it), 31 states permit employers to fire employees for being gay, landlords to evict tenants for being gay and businesses to refuse service. To add the cherry on top, 69% of people in America have no idea it’s legal to treat people like this. “[Same sex couples] can be married on Saturday, post photos of their wedding on Sunday and get fired from their job or thrown out of their apartment on Monday just because of who they are,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) reminded us when the marriage equality decision came down not even two months ago. The biggest problem with all of this lies with Obama, Congress and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since gay marriage became legal, beefing up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been catching on like wildfire in an overwhelming number of the 21 states that have them. It’s a not so subtle, big and fat middle finger to the Supreme Court. The real knife in the back of human rights is the sheer fact that after Obama and his administration leave the office, those who come next can simply do away with the protection the LGBT needs from discrimination. The biggest problem with all of this lies with Obama, Congress and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since gay marriage became legal, beefing up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been catching on like wildfire in an overwhelming number of the 21 states that have them. It’s a not so subtle, big and fat middle finger to the Supreme Court. The real knife in the back of human rights is the sheer fact that after Obama and his administration leave the office, those who come next can simply do away with the protection the LGBT needs from discrimination. From what we saw at the Republican debate earlier this month, it seems very likely that the EEOC’s decision that the Civil Rights Act applies to the LGBT Community and Obama’s ability to extend protection of federal LGBT contractors would disappear if a Republican takes the office. Not to mention no one can promise that a Democrat won’t follow suit. Any attempts at eliminating discrimination towards the LGBT community in areas of employment, housing or patronizing a business could disappear in the space of one presidential election. And in case you haven’t heard, another one’s bearing down on us. – MEGAN MATUZAK
BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Director Noah Baumbach is back with his second release of 2015, showcasing the dare-I-say zany charm of his writing and romantic partner Greta Gerwig in their latest joint, Mistress America. This bittersweet comedy comes off as a continuation of their celebrated collaboration from 2012, the effervescent Frances Ha, although in their latest tale Baumbach and Gerwig seem to take her character to task for being the sort a ditsy flake with which today’s New York City will no longer abide.
Where Frances Ha showed us a gorgeous monochrome NYC through the eyes of its impetuous heroine, Mistress America shows us Gerwig’s Brooke through the eyes of her future stepsister Tracy (Lola Kirke, younger sister of Girls‘ Jemima Kirke). Tracy is Barnard College student fresh to the city and a decade-plus younger than Brooke, who Tracy first spots grandly descending a long flight of stairs. Tracy is in college hoping to become a writer and if she is overwhelmed by meeting Brooke and experiencing her constant stream of brainstorming and philosophizing, Tracy is just as glad to sit back and study this rare creature with a writer’s eye.
Initially, Brooke is a blast to be around. Full of wide-ranging enthusiasms, Brooke shows Tracy the possibilities of the city: she jumps on stage at rock shows, takes Tracy to crowded house parties and allows her funky Times Square apartment to be Tracy’s home-away-from-home. The more Tracy studies Brooke the more cracks in her charm appear, ultimately taking us to the place where the life of the party is revealed as the party’s biggest narcissist. Brooke dramatic sensibility demands an audience and Tracy and her young college friends appear to fill the void as well as anybody.
Gerwig plays the same sort of adorable flake on which she’s built her comic persona and the film is filled with so many joke lines you may not immediately notice that unlike her title character in Frances Ha, Brooke is pretty much friendless. Her out-of-town boyfriend (“He’s one of those people that I hate, except that I’m in love with him”) never shows up and when we do finally meet Brooke’s old friends (in a scenario that seems a little forced, much like Baumbach’s entire last film, the Ben Stiller vehicle, While We’re Young) they are leery of being sucked back into her vortex. Brooke is the most beautiful and lively character in the film, but as she begins to goofily clarify her hazy business schemes, Baumbach pushes her to the point where the viewer also begins to wonder if we are on Brooke’s side.
Not quite as effortless as his best work, Baumbach again sails quite far on the talents of his co-writer and star. Gerwig remains one of the most gifted comic actors of her generation, a big-boned over-sharing force of nature, forever incapable of delivering on her good intentions. By the end of Mistress America (are they really reaching for an national analogy?), we learn that beneath her stream of endless chatter lies an ocean of desperate sadness. Coming in at a fleet and breezy 87 minutes and stuffed silly with jokes and gags, some people probably won’t even notice the tragedy that seems ready to roust just after the movie ends.
PREVIOUSLY: Jack White has a new band! And he’s the drummer! That’s right, he is now recording with THREE different groups, not to mention putting out a solo single, managing a record label, and being in a movie this year. You would think the man would be stretched thin by now between all his commitments, but apparently he thrives on having to do a lot of stuff, judging from the non-existent drop in quality. This album is much darker than anything he has done before, lyrically and musically, with songs like “So Far From Your Weapon” and a reverb coating on everything. Singer Alison Mosshart from The Kills shows off her raw vocal chops, as fuzzed-out guitar and bass pile up beneath her wailings. The songs have heavy grooves as well, with huge sounding riffs that jump up out of nowhere to bludgeon your face before slinking back into the dark. What is important about this album however, is it’s very real, earthy sound. It’s all recorded on analog tape, and the guitars are intentionally tube-overdriven for a warm sound. In one song you can even hear the crickets chirping through the windows in the studio. This is what Jack White is trying to bring back to music, the connection to something real. MORE