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INCOMING: Moby & The Pacific Void Choir

September 22nd, 2016

These Systems Are Failing drops October 14th.

PREVIOUSLY:  Maybe this story starts in Moby’s apartment on a sunny pre-9/11 morning in New York city. Moby and his neighbor David Bowie are sitting on the couch strumming “Heroes” on acoustic guitars. They are prepping for a Tibet House benefit concert at Carnegie Hall organized by Phillip Glass. This is too good to be true, Moby thinks to himself. What if it isn’t? What if I’ve lost my mind and I’m institutionalized and just hallucinating this? Does it even matter? Just go with it. As hallucinations go, you could do a lot worse.

Then Moby thinks to himself: If I could somehow travel back to 1977 and tell the 12 year old version of me that was standing in line Johnny’s Records in Darien, Connecticut, waiting to purchase the first album he would buy (Heroes, on cassette) with the money he earned from his first job (caddying at Wee Burn Country Club), that 24 years from now he’d be sitting on his couch with David Bowie rehearsing the version of “Heroes” they will perform at Carnegie Hall later that night…Nah, even a wide-eyed 12 year old wouldn’t buy a cock-and-bull story like that.

Maybe this story starts a few months back at the Hollywood compound of his pal David Lynch, who has nailed a dead chicken to the wall in the hopes that it will draw maggots, for reasons unclear to everyone but David Lynch. Naw, that’s too weird. Maybe it starts back in 1975 when a nine-year-old Moby is starring in a super-8 movie with Robert Downey Jr., his BFF at the time, directed by Downey’s father, the iconoclastic filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. Naw, Moby hasn’t spoken to Robert Downey Jr. since he was 10. Or maybe this story starts in bed with Natalie Portman circa 2001 — nah, people don’t want to read about that kind of stuff.

Or maybe it starts at that party Shepard Fairey threw a year or two ago, and Neil Young was there and somebody offered to introduce him, but Moby declined for fear yet another long time hero would disappoint in person. “I’m sure he’s a great guy,” he thought to himself, “but on the off chance he isn’t – if he’s mean or a jerk – all of the sudden I lose 30 of my favorite songs.” Nah, too anti-climactic.

Maybe it starts at Club Anthrax in Stamford CT, circa 1983, where the Vatican Commandos, the punk band of then-16-year-old Moby, is opening for The Circle Jerks. The guitar player from Hose, the other support act on the bill, wants to borrow Moby’s amp. His name is Rick Rubin. No, too name-droppy. MORE

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BOOKS: We Have Nothing To Fear But Books Itself

September 22nd, 2016

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Banned Books week starts Sunday. The barbarians are at the gate.

RELATED: Top 10 Challenged Books Of 2015

RELATED: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Banned Books Week Survival Guide

RELATED: If Your Book Hasn’t Been Banned, You’re Doing It Wrong

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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Save The Day

September 21st, 2016

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The writer-director has launched Save the Day, a super PAC focused on encouraging Americans to get out and vote on Election Day. The first phase of that effort is a star-studded PSA that launched Wednesday featuring the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Julianne Moore, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Leslie Odom Jr.

The Save the Day website reads, “We are a short-form production company dedicated to the idea that voting is a necessary and heroic act. That every voice in this wonderfully diverse nation should, and must, be heard. That the only thing that can save democracy is the act that defines it. We are committed to fighting the apathy, cynicism, and honest confusion that keeps citizens from using their vote. And to reminding an increasingly out-of-touch and compromised set of representatives that they are answerable to the people they were hired to serve.”

The Whedon-helmed PSA, titled “Important,” features that bevy of celebrities urging Americans to vote on Nov. 8. While it doesn’t mention either Republican or Democratic presidential candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton by name, Cheadle warns against “a racist, abusive coward who could permanently damage the fabric of our society.” Odom Jr. also asks, “Do we want to give nuclear weapons to a man whose signature move is firing things?” MORE

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MORRISSEY: Win Tickets To See Moz @ The Tower On Thursday

September 20th, 2016

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For the deeply devoted—and they are legion—there are but two periods in the history of mankind: The time Before Smiths and the time After Smiths. The years B.S. ended in Manchester one May afternoon in 1982, when Johnny Marr—his rockabilly quiff stacked high and retro, Brando-esque Levis cuffed just right—ambled up to 384 Kings Road and knocked on the door. One Steven Patrick Morrissey, terminally unemployable bookworm homebody, who at the ripe old age of 22 was beginning to get the distinct feeling that life had passed him by, answered the door. Marr did not bother with the inane niceties of small talk, and told Morrissey, in so many words, that he was starting a band, it was going to change the world, and you are going to be the lead singer. In that case, Morrissey said, you had better come inside. Years later, after he’d been ensconced as the mopey poet laureate of a lost generation, Morrissey would say he had expected something like this all along, that for years on end he sat vigil in his bedsit sanctum in his mother’s house waiting for destiny to knock on his door.

And so it had.

They went up to Morrissey’s bedroom, which was wallpapered with floor-to-ceiling shelves heaving with books, and all roads seemed to lead to a typewriter on a desk. A failed rock critic, Morrissey had taken to writing poetry as of late. They bonded immediately over a shared love of ’60s girl groups like the Shirelles, the Crystals and the Shangri-Las. “There was so much yearning in those records,” Johnny Marr told me few years ago. “They had a great sound, there was a real magic and exuberance about them. Phil Spector’s production work had a gothic intensity. He created these three-minute explosions of sound. It was these mini-symphonies sung by teenagers in Brooklyn and Queens, and each one made a statement. It meant more to me than whatever tired shit was going around in the U.K. in 1982. I wanted to make records that had that kind of intensity. I thought that Morrissey was the only other person who liked the kind of music I liked for the same reasons I did. There is an understanding there, you know?” The next time, they met at Marr’s house. Up in his attic bedroom, they sorted out the truly important things—the color of the label on their first single (blue), the record company they were going to sign with (Rough Trade)—and then they started writing songs. Thus setting into motion a decades-long series of events culminating with the arrival of Morrissey at the Tower Theater on Thursday.

This show is completely sold the fuck out. However, we just so happen to have a pair of tickets to give away to some lucky Phawker reader. To qualify, all you have to do is sign 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! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much, with the magic words SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, then follow us on Twitter and send us an email notifying us that you have done so. Either way, please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. The 337th Phawker reader to email us saying they signed up for our mailing list, or are already on our mailing list, wins. Good luck and godspeed!

RELATED: “I wish I was born Mexican. I really like Mexican people. I find them so terribly nice. And they have fantastic hair, and fantastic skin, and usually really good teeth.” — Morrissey

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Seth Meyers Calls Bullshit On Trump’s Birther Fuckery And The Flaming Turd Barge It Rode In On

September 20th, 2016

Bravo. Sickest burn: “Saying you got it from Hillary would be like Bruce Springsteen saying he only wrote “Born To Run” because he heard Jon Bon Jovi say it once.”

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THE HANDSOME FAMILY: So Much Wine

September 19th, 2016



FRESH AIR:
Married couple Rennie and Brett Sparks have been making songs together as The Handsome Family for 21 years. In 2014, they gained much wider fame when their haunting song, “Far From Any Road,” became the theme for the first season of HBO’s True Detective. The duo’s dark, surreal lyrics come from Rennie, and the music, which draws from country music and church hymns, is written by Brett. Their latest album, Unseen, is based on their experiences living in the Southwest.

Rennie Sparks tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that she often has a different notion from her husband of what the music will sound like. “He’ll come back singing these words in a very different way, and bringing a whole different mood to them,” Rennie says. “That’s part of the excitement of working with him.” For Brett, this musical mind-meld is “almost like a third person is writing the song.” Rennie makes no apologies for the frequently macabre nature of her lyrics. “You know, it’s catharsis,” she says. “It’s a safe place to experience really terrifying things. And that’s what art is for.” MORE

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A Q&A With Terry Bozzio, Drummer’s Drummer

September 19th, 2016

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Terry Bozzio circa early ’80s

 
BY JAMIE KNERR Terry Bozzio has seemingly done it all in the world of drums and percussion over the last 40-odd years, in the rarified air at the very highest peaks of rock, pop, jazz, fusion, world music and, well, you name it. Or so you might think. Fortunately for him, and for all of us, he hasn’t yet reached his pinnacle and is still climbing. Now more than ever he’s inspired to find new directions, other musical worlds to explore and map, in 2016 and beyond.

Already held in the highest esteem by both his musical contemporaries and worldwide audiences alike, Bozzio is currently undertaking a tour of solo appearances across the U.S. Challenging his own limitations, expanding old forms while forging new ones, mining deeper, subtler layers of his musical expression, these performances–partly improvised, partly composed, ever-changing–invariably produce some truly breathtaking results, with plenteous rewards for the listener.

Probably best known for his brilliant work on ten albums with Frank Zappa in the 70’s, Bozzio has a zootallures1drumming resume that’s enough to make your head spin right off your shoulders. He has recorded and/or performed with no less than Captain Beefheart, Jeff Beck, the Brecker Brothers, UK, Herbie Hancock, Robbie Robertson, Billy Sheehan, Holdsworth-Levin-Bozzio-Mastelotto, Group 87, Andy Taylor, Missing Persons, even Korn, and far too many other luminaries to name. Not to mention his significant accomplishments as a composer, drum clinician, and visual artist.

A lifelong fan–but not generally star-struck–I confess to swallowing down hard on a lump in my throat when I spoke to Terry last week, in advance of his upcoming show at World Cafe Live on September 22nd. Thankfully he immediately put me at ease by being a sincere, personable, self-effacing, gregarious guy. We talked for nearly an hour.

PHAWKER: Hey Terry, how are the shows going?

TERRY BOZZIO: Well I’ve only done one so far, and that was perfect. It was sold out, at the Musical Instrument Museum Theater in Phoenix. It’s really a great place, you should check it out. You could spend hours there looking at instruments from around the world.

PHAWKER: On your current tour of solo performances in the U.S.: Is the music based on preconceived musical motifs and themes, or are you more or less shooting from the hip in terms of improvisation?

TERRY BOZZIO: Well, it’s both. There’s through-composed compositions, and improvisations. There’s form and structure and composition, but it’s always open when I solo. I never do the same thing twice, or know exactly what I’m going to do.

PHAWKER: Could you talk a little about what brought you to where you are now musically, vaultedgeterrybozzioparticularly with the greater emphasis on melody and harmony, using pitched drums?

TERRY BOZZIO: I think I started to develop my own style after Zappa. I started to compose more melodic drum parts, I threw my ride cymbal away, starting stacking cymbals, using other instruments on my set. Even more so around the time I got with Jeff Beck. Also when I began doing drum clinics I was starting to play simple ostinatos. To my amazement everybody seemed to like that, so it encouraged me to do some more. I started using a gong as ride cymbal, using multiple hi hats…it sort of went in that direction. Now I’m just trying to go deeper and deeper. I look to people like Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis, to sort of inspire me in that direction. On my current kit I started with eight DW piccolo toms, set up in a diatonic scale…eventually I expanded the kit to include five more toms, tuned chromatically, so the drum set really became almost like a European-style button accordion.

PHAWKER: The kit you’re playing these days is just enormous, it must take forever to set up for performance…

TERRY BOZZIO: Yes. We can do it, in a relaxed way, in about four hours. I think the record was about 45 minutes in Chicago when I had a lot of really good help!

PHAWKER: Tell us something that would surprise us, either musically or personally, about Frank Zappa.

TERRY BOZZIO: I think the greatest misconception was that he was a crazed drug-addict hippie or something. He was a total tea-totaler. I’d seen him take a sip or two of alcohol in my life, never seen him anything like drunk or anything. He was always anti-drugs and would fire or fine anyone in the band that was messing around in that direction. He was a genius on at least seven different levels. He could have been really successful in any of those areas…he really enjoyed being an observer though. He never participated in anything that could be considered foolish or stupid at any time. He was an arrow, absolutely straight-ahead. “Get up every day and kick it to death” was kinda his thing. That was what his dedication was like.
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Win Tix To See Peter, Bjorn & John @ The Troc

September 16th, 2016

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“Young Folks,” the whistle-rific hit from Swedish indie-popsters Peter, Bjorn & John, turned 10 last month. Where does the time go? In the decade since, they’ve released four more albums. Couldn’t tell you a thing about any of them. I’m sure they are all very Nordic and turtleneck-friendly. PB&J play the Troc on Friday September 23rd in support of their new album, Breakin’ Point, which came out in June. We have a pair of tix to give away to the 667th Phawker reader who sends us an email @ Phawker66@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following PBJ trivia question: The vocalist on “Young Folks” is Victoria Bergsman, what is the name of the wonderful VU-inspired band she fronted from 1995 to 2006? Put the magic word PB&J in the subject line and include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!



PETER, BJORN & JOHN PLAY THE TROCADERO ON SEPTEMBER 23RD

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BEING THERE: Cat Stevens @ The Kimmel Center

September 16th, 2016

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: At 68, Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens (aka Steven Demetre Georgiou, son of a Greek), has entered the taking-stock/legacy curation chapter of his life, which explains why his current tour, nicknamed A Cat’s Attic, is sort of a live-action memoir with a classic, precision-rendered soundtrack.

Thursday night at the Kimmel Center, the stage set was the bifurcated attic of Stevens’ home, set against the rooftops of London, beneath a gently smoking chimney, in the glow of a full moon, where Stevens sipped tea and poked through the dusty stacks of memory, providing running commentary in between flawless renderings of iconic songs like “Peace Train” and “Wild World” and deep cuts like “Here Comes My Baby” and “Matthew & Son” (at the end of which he gently ripped Tears For Fears for copping the song’s bridge for the melody of “Mad World”). The takeaway: there is more to heaven and Earth and Cat Stevens, Horatio, than is dreamt of in 60 million albums of gentle bell-bottomed folk-rock sold.

Stevens has always been the proverbial seeker on a quest — first for fame, which came hot and heavy in the wake of early 70s breakout albums like Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat, then for enlightenment, which he found reading the Quran after a near-death experience in Malibu, and lately how to reconcile the two after 27 years of silence as a singer and songwriter for religious reasons. MORE

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CINEMA: The Man Who Knew Too Much

September 16th, 2016

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Artwork by MR DEKS

NEW YORK TIMES: Like those young men in a hurry, Edward falls under the sway of two antithetical father figures, a silky apparatchik played by Rhys Ifans, and an unbuttoned renegade played by Nicolas Cage. Drawn to intelligence work out of a sincere desire to serve his country, Edward is not immune to other attractions of the job. He likes the intrigue, the money (especially after he becomes a private contractor) and the feeling of being part of a select group of insiders who know how things really work.

But he is not a figure of operatic, tragic ambition in the mold of Richard M. Nixon, Jim Morrison or Alexander the Great (at least as Mr. Stone imagined them). Nerdy in aspect and phlegmatic in manner, Edward never takes a drink or chases a skirt. (His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, is played by Shailene Woodley.) And “Snowden” is, by Mr. Stone’s standards, a strikingly sober film. Restraint shows in both the filmmaking and the politics. There are very few wild, bravura visual flights and not much in the way of wild conspiracymongering. Edward is a rational, ethical creature — “responsibility” is one of his favorite words — and the movie takes pains to be reasonable. Its basic argument about government data-collection would not be out of place on the Op-Ed page of this or any other newspaper. And its dialogue and pacing would work just fine on television.

Maybe Mr. Stone has mellowed, or maybe the world has caught up with him. What used to be paranoia — the idea, say, that your electronic appliances are spying on you — looks nowadays like blunt realism. It can also seem as if the physical world, that bloody, sex-infused battleground of the self where previous Stone heroes have raged and fought, had been displaced by a more abstract zone of codes and algorithms. Edward passes from one realm to the other when an injury ends his career as a United States Army Ranger. “There are lots of ways to serve your country,” the doctor tells him, and soon enough, his bosses at the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. are explaining that the real war is being waged on computer and cellular networks.

Mr. Stone, well served by his cinematographer, the digital wizard Anthony Dod Mantle, and the composers Craig Armstrong and Adam Peters, evokes the chilly colorations and spooky undertones of our technological reality. The Hong Kong hotel room where Edward meets with Ms. Poitras (Melissa Leo) and the journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson) is an eerie futuristic box. Snowden’s workplaces in Geneva, Tokyo and Oahu are hives full of glowing screens and whispered jargon. MORE

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KIM GORDON: Murdered Out

September 15th, 2016

Never been a fan of the caterwauling end of the Kim Gordon Singing Styles Spectrum — until now. Yoko Ono did not die in vain. In fact, she didn’t even die.

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WORTH REPEATING: Do The Right Thing

September 15th, 2016

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THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: The government has charged Snowden under the Espionage Act, a World War One-era law that doesn’t distinguish between selling secrets to foreign governments and giving them to journalists working in the public interest. If Snowden were to be tried under the charges he faces, any argument that his actions benefited the public would be inadmissible in court. The Pardon Snowden campaign will work through the end of Obama’s administration to make the case that Snowden’s act of whistleblowing benefited the United States and enriched democratic debate worldwide, and we’re asking citizens to write to the president via our website.

Snowden has already been vindicated in multiple ways: A panel appointed by the president to review the NSA’s surveillance program recommended ­­dozens of reforms. Last year, a federal appeals court found the NSA’s call-tracking program revealed by Snowden was illegal. The following month, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which ended bulk collection of call data by the US government. That bill marked the first time Congress has acted to rein in government surveillance since the 1970s. Journalists at The Guardian and Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Snowden’s disclosures.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said, “We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I thinwired_edward_snowden_movie_posterk that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” And Obama himself commented that the debate sparked by the whistleblower “will make us stronger.” It’s indisputable that our democracy is better off thanks to Snowden, and it’s precisely for cases like his that the pardon power exists. President Obama should use this power for good instead of leaving an American whistleblower stranded in exile. MORE

RELATED: pardonsnowden.org

THE GUARDIAN: Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited. “Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things,” he said. “I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result.” MORE

WIRED: The message arrives on my “clean machine,” a MacBook Air loaded only with a sophisticated encryption package. “Change in plans,” my contact says. “Be in the lobby of the Hotel ______ by 1 pm. Bring a book and wait for ES to find you.” ES is Edward Snowden, the most wanted man in the world. For almost nine months, I have been trying to set up an interview with him—traveling to Berlin, Rio de Janeiro twice, and New York multiple times to talk with the handful of his confidants who can arrange a meeting. Among other things, I want to answer a burning question: What drove Snowden to leak hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents, revelations that have laid bare the vast scope of the government’s domestic surveillance programs? MORE

snowden_bernie_clintonTHE GUARDIAN: Bernie Sanders leads a chorus of prominent public figures calling for clemency, a plea agreement or, in several cases, a full pardon for the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. […] Sanders joins 20 other prominent public figures – from Hollywood actors and rock musicians to politicians, professors and Black Lives Matter activists – who call on Barack Obama to find some way of allowing Snowden to return home to the US from exile in Russia. The Guardian’s voices are raised in the week that Oliver Stone’s film, Snowden, is released in the US and that a coalition of groups including the ACLU and Amnesty International launch a new campaign for a presidential pardon before Obama steps down.

Among the writers in the Guardian are Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, who calls for Snowden to be allowed to make a public interest defense in any US trial. From the world of arts, actor Susan Sarandon and director Terry Gilliam, novelist Barry Eisler and Sonic Youth singer Thurston Moore all make impassioned calls for an Obama pardon.

Senior politicians from both sides of the Atlantic, including former US senator Mark Udall, UK parliamentarian David Winnick and German Green party member Hans-Christian Ströbele all fly the flag for a Snowden homecoming. Similar calls are made by public intellectuals including Noam Chomsky, Cornel West and Sanders’ former Democratic presidential rival and Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig. MORE

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A Q&A With Judge John Hodgman, Actual Person

September 14th, 2016

Illustration by DONKEY HOTEY

EDITOR’S NOTE: To mark the triumphant return of Judge John Hodgman, who performs at The Trocadero on September 20th, we present this reprise edition of our 2014 interview with The Hodger, as we like to call him.*

BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA John Hodgman is full of shit. Full to the brim and stuffed to the gills with the stuff. And that’s a wonderful thing for you and me — as representative members of the human race that enjoy a good chortle and maybe even a guffaw when circumstances merit — because John Hodgman’s wizardly ability to turn horseshit into pure comedy gold, and to do so with a straight-face, a high-handed loquaciousness never-ending and the kind of ornate, self-aggrandizing syntax usually reserved for the mustachioed stovepipe-hatted men who tie women to railroad tracks in flickering black and white films is his great and generous gift to humanity.  So send him a thank you note. To stir up interest in Tuesday’s Judge John Hodgman show Troc show amongst you, the great unwashed, we got the honorable Judge John Hodgman on the horn, asked him some harmless questions and let him carry forth with a Gilded Age grandiloquence not heard since Grover Cleveland was in the White House. DISCUSSED: His late-in-life marijuana experimentation; unwashed folk singers and their threat to humanity; the sadistic psych doctor he plays on Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick (starting Clive Owen); playing the hypersexual and oversharing Bernie on  Married; Ayn Rand’s deconstruction of Charlie’s Angels, the Hobby Lobby hullabaloo, and how to sincerely grow an ironic mustache or ironically grow a sincere mustache in a way that does not make you look like a card-carrying member of NAMBLA. Impossible, you say? Well, Impossible is John Hodgman’s middle name. Actually, I lied. His middle name is Kellogg, but that is a discussion for another day.

PHAWKER: Can you say something so I can get a recording level?judge-john-hodgman

JOHN HODGMAN: This is John Hodgman speaking. I affirm that I have agreed to this interview, and I’ve agreed to being recorded. The sound of my voice is my signature. Proceed with the first question.

PHAWKER: Before we get into the questions I have, can you tell me what we can expect at the Troc on 9/20?

JOHN HODGMAN: Last time I performed a full show in Philadelphia, I thought the world was going to end, at the end of 2012, according to ancient Mayan prophecies, and the visions I had while bathing in absinthe. You may have noticed that the world did not end, and I found that to be profoundly humiliating, and a little annoying. Because when you get to where I was in my career, in 2012, 41 years old then, now 45. And having published three books of fake facts, and having been on every television show I ever cared to watch. And I met the President of the United States and George R.R. Martin. Truly, what else was there for me to do?

So, I spent 2013, now almost all of 2014, in a basement — not everyday, about once a week — in a basement in Brooklyn where I live, at a venue called Union Hall, where I started telling stories, in order to figure out what I was thinking about now that the world had not ended. Comedy stories, you understand. What I found was extremely liberating. I told these stories, and the secret show that I did in the basement in Brooklyn. It was fine, because you need to tell the kind of arch-weirdo-absurdist jokes that I was known for, but equally fine to shed the persona of the Resident Expert at the Daily Show, or the Deranged Millionaire. I had written those books with fake trivia, and instead talked about John Hodgman, actual person, husband and father of two human children, and professional John Hodgman impersonator. By the end of another year, by the time the year anniversary of the world not ending had passed, I had discovered I had no more than one whole show that I wanted to present again for the people of the United judge-john-hodgmanStates, and parts of Canada, until I’ve died.

So, over the course of 2014, I keep generating newer and newer material as I go along. The consequence is, I am making stories of a more straightforward and personal nature than perhaps people are used to. I’m shedding, quasi-literally, the disguises that I wore as a performer before, in order to stand before the audience, totally literally quasi-nude, and just speak of myself. When I speak of quasi nudity, that is to say that I do take off all of my old costumes, and then speak, for a long time as myself, John Hodgman, regular person. At the end of it, I do change into a dress, so that I can perform as Ayn Rand in 1981, the year before she died. The change has to occur onstage. I sense that because of the light, they may want to bring sunglasses, because my semi-nude body reflects a lot of light. It doesn’t last long before I am clothed in Ayn Rand’s costume. Essentially, the show is about a lot of things. It is about costume changes, real and imagined. It’s about my late-in-life experimentation with marijuana. My human children, that I refuse to acknowledge, I pretend that I’m telling stories about my cats, and Ayn Rand. Surf shops, and other things. Ultimately, it is about starting over. We all have to start over one way or another. Maybe you lost a job, maybe you’re out of a relationship, or maybe the world doesn’t end the way it was supposed to.

PHAWKER: Late-in-life experiments with marijuana?
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