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GEEK SQUAD: Holy Horny Teen Boy Bait, Batman!

September 25th, 2014


BY STEPHANIE SHAMP GEEKS SPACE CORRESPONDENT Have you ever realized that you’ve been looking at something for years but have never really seen it? I’m talking about those hidden messages we always glance over but never really notice until someone points it out, like the Starbucks cup hidden in every frame of Fight Club or the arrow pointing from A to Z in the Amazon logo. For as long as I have been a fan of comics there has always been this look-but-don’t-see mentality towards the scantily-clad sexism of comic books starring women, specifically the cover art. If you point it out to the comic book community people immediately become annoyed and defensive. ‘It’s always been like that, what do you expect?’ they say,  or ‘Men’s bodies get distorted too!’ But these excuses don’t really apply to the way female-led comics are sold or address how it could at all be detrimental to the comic.

The comic book industry has always been a judge-by-the-cover business; this should come as a surprise to literally no one. Cover art serves the dual purpose of summarizing in a single image the issue’s story arc for the acolytes while seducing new initiates into the fold. Then there are the variant covers for the same issue which can have legendary guest artists, holographic or 3D art, promote a company-wide event—all these amazing little extras drive up sale prices and potentially draw in new readers to keep the series going. Covers can make or break a comic for readers, publishers, and, both directly and indirectly, movie or television studios. So why is it that while male superheroes appear on their covers imposing and heroic, ready to leap into danger and kick ass, female superheroes are drawn in vulnerable or seductive positions, able to defy the anatomical limits of the human spine to give horny teenage boys that perfect view of tits and ass?
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THE ORWELLS: Halloween All Year

September 25th, 2014

I love the smell of teen spirit in the morning — smells like victory. Great song, great title, great video. Who says youth is wasted on the young? They play Underground Arts October 13th.

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SMUS: Tax Inversion = You Pay Our Share

September 25th, 2014

Illustration via FINANCIAL TIMES click HERE to enlarge

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Yet another tax-avoidance tumor is metastasizing in the belly of the corporate beast. The perps themselves refer to it as “tax inversion” (truth be told, they’d really prefer that the matter not be referred to at all) but please feel free to recognize it for what it really is: Big Greed’s most brazen effort to date to avoid its patriotic responsibility and shove the nation’s tax burden even farther up the ass of a dwindling middle class! Corporate apologists like to point out that America has the highest corporate tax rate (35%) on the planet, but what they don’t say is that, thanks to tax law chicanery, few if any corporation pays close to 35% of their earnings, and many pay no taxes at all.

The only reason why any corporation is paying anything even approaching that rate is they didn’t buy the right lobbyists and/or politicians (or their accounting department is utterly incompetent). Yet, day in and day out we hear Republicans pissing and moaning about the debilitating effect our “astronomical” corporate tax rate is having on American competitiveness. Don’t be deceived. It’s just part of the Grand Old Pretext the GOP circulates to hide their complicity in securing lower effective tax rates for their “more generous” corporate campaign contributors.

A splendid example of the absurdity of America’s political/corporate tax climate is New York state’s current 140 MILLION DOLLAR campaign to attract more corporate tax chiselers! That’s right folks, New York state’s already over-burdened tax payers are being asked to bear the cost of that promotion as well as the cost of resultant lost tax revenues. Under the state’s proposal, if you’re willing to set up your corporation in the Empire State, the state will exempt you from ALL taxes for the next 10 YEARS! Hell, that bears repeating. Never mind the cost of providing access to utilities, police and fire protection, or even construction of roads to get everyone to and from said place of business, the state will exonerate you from paying ANY New York taxes whatsoever for the next 10 YEARS! Holy corporate irresponsibility, Batman!
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No Fun Medical Marijuana Bill Passes In PA Senate

September 25th, 2014


PHILLY.COM: After 50 minutes of debate, every Democrat voted “yes,” as did 20 of 27 Republicans. Several “yes” votes came from senators who have law-enforcement backgrounds. Under the proposal, state residents would need an access card from the Health Department after proving they have a practitioner-patient relationship and written confirmation of a qualifying medical condition. A handful of drug delivery methods that do not involve smoking it would be permitted under the bill, including extracted oil, edible products, ointments and tinctures.Qualifying medical conditions include cancer, epilepsy and seizures, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, spinocerebellar ataxia, severe fibromyalgia, wasting syndrome and traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome. MORE

RELATED: Although a majority of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of marijuana, it remains a controversial issue, according to a survey released by Keystone Analytics. Sixty-nine percent of voters in Pennsylvania would like to see marijuana legalized. Sixty-nine percent of voters would like to see the legalization of marijuana, with 47 percent in favor of use for medicinal purposes only and 22 percent for any purpose. Twenty-seven percent believe that marijuana should remain illegal in the Commonwealth. MORE

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MIC DROP: A Largely Unsuccessful Attempt At Human Interaction With Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis

September 24th, 2014

Artwork by PAOLO AMICO

BY JONATHAN VALANIA J. Mascis has always been a man of few words, a condition stretching back to the prehistoric days of Dinosuar Jr. Emerging from the crunchy redoubt of Amherst, Massachusetts in the late ’80s in a splatter of hair-wagging guitar sludge and stoner-dude-ski-bum laissez-faire vocals, Dinosaur Jr. rose out of the primordial ooze of ’70s classic-rock radio and the tar pits of punk rock, like a tinnitus-inducing mash-up of Neil Young and Sonic Youth. Mascis became the guitar hero of alternative rock, a genre largely defined by anti-heroes. Twenty albums later — including 11 Dinosaur Jr. albums and eight solo records — Mascis remains his generation’s pre-eminent six-string shredder and most-reticent anti-star. Mascis plays World Cafe Live tomorrow night (along with local yokels Purling Hiss) in support of his new, all-acoustic solo album Tied To A Star (Sub Pop). Last week we got Mascis on the phone in the hopes that he had belatedly discovered the joys of communication, but alas he remains a man of uncomfortable pauses and eternal silences, still preferring to let his fingers do the talking. BARELY DISCUSSED: Acoustic vs. electric; hugs and Hinduism; Strand Of Oaks and shredding on “Goshen ’97″; Asperger’s and autism; Gina Arnold and Nirvana.

PHAWKER: Your new solo album, Tied To A Star, is all-acoustic as was the one before, 2011’s Several Shades of Why. Given your well-earned rep as a blistering six-string electric warrior who routinely plays at sadistic volume levels this is sort of like Hank Aaron going to bat with a toothpick. What do you get out of playing acoustic that playing electric just can’t provide?

J. MASCIS: I don’t get much out of it, I’d rather play electric, I guess.

PHAWKER: Then why make an album of all acoustic songs?

J. MASCIS: Good question. I’m not sure, it’s more of a challenge, I guess. I like to work with restrictions, you know?

PHAWKER: In 2005 you released J. and Friends Sing and Chant for Amma, an album of devotional songs dedicated to Hindu religious leader Mata Amritanandamayi, about whom you reportedly wrote “Ammaring” on the first J. Mascis and the Fog album, More Light. Do you consider yourself a student of her teachings?

J. MASCIS: Yeah, sure.

PHAWKER: How did you hear about her teachings and what about them drew you in?

J. MASCIS: Somebody just told me to go see her in New York, I guess — it was pretty easy, just kinda go and get a hug from her. Basically she goes around the world hugging people, her message is pretty simple: just kinda like serve other people, and that isn’t hard to understand or follow or anything. Just made me somehow feel better, so I just kinda got more into it over the years.

PHAWKER: You totally shredded on the Strand of Oaks song “Goshen 97,” what can you tell me about working on that track how did that come about and why did you say yes. I’m assuming you probably get asked to play on a lot of people’s albums all the time, you can’t say ‘yes’ to everyone.

J. MASCIS: To a lot of them I do.

PHAWKER: How did the Strand of Oaks thing come together?

J. MASCIS: Yeah, I just recorded it at home, we’re on the same label and they asked me so, I just said ‘okay,’ I gave it a shot, seemed to turn out pretty good.

PHAWKER: Despite nearly 30 years into a career in rock you remain notoriously inscrutable and largely unknowable. The Village Voice once called you “the enemy of enthusiasm.”

J. MASCIS: Oh, that’s cool.

PHAWKER: There’s been a lot of loose speculation on the Internet that you are Asperger’s or even full blown autistic, do you care to clear the air on this?

J. MASCIS: That’s not true, but that’s interesting.

PHAWKER: I wanna read you something that I wrote in the Philadelphia
Inquirer back in 2007, “Dinosaur Jr. arguably blew it the day in 1991 that Mascis – then in the midst of one of his mute periods – refused to utter a word to Gina Arnold, the Option magazine writer who was following the band around on tour in hopes of writing a cover story. In frustration she turned her attention on the other band in the stinky van: Nirvana.” Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘Things might have turned out differently if I had bothered to answer her silly questions’?”

J. MASCIS: I don’t even know what you’re talking about. What magazine is that?

PHAWKER: Option magazine, do you remember Option magazine?

J. MASCIS: Yeah, so you think Option magazine made Nirvana’s career?

PHAWKER: Hardly, but that story both identified and embodied a paradigm shift in underground rock — the torch had been passed to a new generation.

J. MASCIS: Anyway, yeah, I mean, what can you do? You live with these regrets, I guess. Then again if you become huge and kill yourself that doesn’t seem so great either.

PHAWKER: Touche.


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WORTH REPEATING: Reparations Today, Reparations Tomorrow, Reparations Forever

September 24th, 2014


GAWKER: The latest census figures show that in 2013, the median black household earned just under $35,000, while the median white household earned more than $58,000. The black unemployment rate has been twice as high as the white unemployment rate for the past 50 years. These are not random economic fluctuations. When you enslave people, steal their labor, and then oppress them for countless generations afterwards, the economic effects persist. When considering what sort of reparations are appropriate, it is important to keep in mind that the institution of slavery did not just set back black people—it also greatly enriched white people. It is not just that when slavery ended, black people were starting from farther behind—white people were starting from farther ahead, having reaped enormous profits for hundreds of years by stealing the fruits of black people’s labor. If the public refuses to calculate the cost of slavery on human lives and souls, at least calculate this: money was stolen. Lots of it! Broadly speaking, white Americans today have benefited from a great infusion of wealth that slavery provided to their ancestors, and black Americans have lost out on that wealth to at least the same degree (if not more, given the opportunity cost of all the wealth-building activities that slaves never got the chance to undertake). Just how much of white America’s historic wealth was derived directly from the exploitation of black people? In the 1820s, a full one-fifth of America’s wealth consisted of slaves. In the South, the effect was magnified. “In the seven cotton states, one-third of all white income was derived from slavery,” Coates writes. “By 1840, cotton produced by slave labor constituted 59 percent of the country’s exports.” By 1860, just before the Civil war, “slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together.” MORE

RELATED: The Case For Reparations

RELATED: Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes The Case For Reparations @ Penn

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OUT ON ASSIGNMENT: Yes We Have No Bananas

September 23rd, 2014


On my way up to NYC to have a word with this young lady, so behave yourselves in my absence and grind on the interview with Terry Gross’ hubbo below.  We will return to a regular posting schedule tomorrow.

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Q&A: Talking Acid, Jazz & John Coltrane Stereo Blues* w/ Francis Davis, Dean Of Philly Jazz Critics

September 23rd, 2014


Like pearls before swine. On November 11th 1966, John Coltrane performed at Temple University, situated in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia. Coltrane’s backing band included, among others: his wife, Alice Coltrane, on piano; Pharoah Sanders on saxophones and flute; and Rashied Ali on drums.  The concert was staged just six weeks before his 40th birthday and a mere nine months before he succumbed to liver cancer. Despite the fact that, at the time, Coltrane was one of the living legends of jazz and tickets were only $2.50, the turn out was disappointing. According to an article in the student newspaper, the college lost $1,000 on the show because only 650 people showed up for the concert, held in a hall that holds 1,800. The article goes on to say that “those attending generally were disappointed by the concert.” The article goes on to say that Temple hopes to recoup its losses with a sold-out Dionne Warwick concert.

To mark this auspicious occasion Temple University Libraries, Ars Nova Workshop and Resonance Records will host a panel discussion on this historic concert with noted Philadelphia-based jazz critic and author Francis Davis (who was in attendance at the concert as an undergraduate student at Temple) and noted Sun Ra biographer and jazz historian John Szwed, local Philadelphia percussionist Robert Kenyatta (who played with Coltrane that night in ‘66) and Baltimore saxophonist Carl Grubbs, who was in attendance and is related to Coltrane’s first wife, Naima. The panel will be moderated by J. Michael Harrison of WRTI-FM, host of “The Bridge,” a 15-year-old program that bridges the gap between jazz and hip-hop and other contemporary black music. For more information, go HERE.

In advance of the album release and panel discussion, we got Francis Davis on the horn. In addition to being in attendance that night as a 20-year-old Temple undergrad, Davis is a highly respected jazz critic has been working on a major Coltrane bio for years. Check out his CV:

He has written about music, film, and other aspects of popular culture for The Atlantic since 1984 and was appointed lead jazz critic for the Voice in 2004. He was jazz critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1982 to 1996, jazz editor of Musician from 1982 to 1985, and a staff writer for 7 Days from 1988 to 1990. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Arts & Leisure and Book Review sections, The Nation, Connoisseur, Rolling Stone, Wigwag, The Oxford American, Stereo Review Sound & Vision, High Fidelity, the Boston Phoenix, The Absolute Sound, ARTicles, Cadence, Down Beat, Jazz Times, Elle, Audio, The World & I, The Wire, The Black American, the Village Voice Rock & Roll Quarterly, The Washington Post Book World, The New York Times Book Review, and The Times Literary Supplement (London).

DISCUSSED: Post-Bop, Free Jazz, LSD, Cancer,  God and Allen Ginsberg.

(For more on Francis’ fascinating back story, and how he came to be married to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, check out our 2006 interview with him HERE.

PHAWKER: As you may recall, we spoke when started seven years ago or so. And we had a great conversation, but you were telling me at the time that you were in the midst of  working on a Coltrane biography. Is that still in the works?

FRANCIS DAVIS: I still am [laughs]. I still am.

PHAWKER: Can you give us an ETA on its completion?

FRANCIS DAVIS: No its already seriously overdue, and you know I’ll finish it when I finish it.

PHAWKER: You were at the concert at Temple in ‘66 that is is now being released as Offering, what is your recollection of it?

FRANCIS DAVIS: Well, I was 20 years old at the time and I’m beginning to mistrust my recollections. I thought it was packed, and it wasn’t but I think, you know, I was probably judging it as a large crowd. You have to remember that up to that point there weren’t and stadium rock concerts or anything like that. So compared to the usual jazz audience, it seemed like a lot. Musically, there’s no way the CD could possibly have the impact that hearing Coltrane live did — just the noise in the hall that night, just the sound, I should say, not the noise, but just the sheer mass of sound. The CD doesn’t have the same force or shock value. I kinda knew what to expect because I had been following Coltrane on record and in the press in Downbeat and other magazines like that. And you kind of expected an outrage of some sort at that point. But other people [at the concert] were shocked there by the sound, I mean just taken a back by what Coltrane was doing. It made it a kind of theatrical event where the theater wasn’t limited to what was happening on stage. Very confrontational without the audience ever being acknowledged by the people on stage. It was a very strange night and in a way a very exhilarating night.

PHAWKER: The CD booklet includes a copy of the student newspaper article that followed up on the concert and expresses the disappointment that only 650 people came. They needed 1800 people to break even. I was thinking to myself, ‘My god 650 people, that’s a lot of people for a free jazz gig!’

FRANCIS DAVIS: I know, it is and especially for jazz at the time. The other thing to remember is, Temple at that time was very much a commuter school. This was a Friday night so a lot of people were gone for the weekend. Also, Allen Ginsberg [pictured, below left]  was also on campus that night…
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BEING THERE: KRS-ONE @ The Trocadero

September 22nd, 2014

Photo by DAN LONG

I hate to say it, but hip-hop shows nowadays bore me. You have a DJ sitting on a computer, looking as though he is just choosing songs from iTunes. Seem like I never see DJs actually scratching these days, I just see them pushing a button and waving their hands in the air. And it seems as though MCs have lost a lot of the energy you used to see at showsback in the day. But after watching the KRS-One show last night MY FAITH HAS BEEN RESTORED! As KRS-One took the stage a few graffiti artists start working away at blank canvases. The DJ was actually scratching and mixing songs together and you can see B-Boys breaking in the center of the crowd. With all of this happening around you all at once you feel the sheer essence of Hip-Hop has taken over the building. KRS doesn’t just perform his songs from his insanely large catalogue, he also freestyles in between songs making a smooth transition between tracks. Some of his freestyles, espcially those about the origin and evolution of hip-hop, made you feel less like you were attending a rap concert and instead were in the pews for a hip-hop sermon. The crowd hung on his every word. People that were born in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s were all wilding-out like they were 18 again. With everyone jumping around with arms raised you could tell that this man’s music speaks across generations, that it contains multitudes. – CLAYTON RUSSELL

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ARTSY: David Lynch Explains The Unified Field

September 21st, 2014

On September 10th, 2014, David Lynch gave a press conference at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to promote DAVID LYNCH: The Unified Field, the first major retrospective of his paintings in an American art museum. The retrospective is something of a homecoming for Lynch who studied painting at PAFA from 1966-1967, back when the City of Brotherly Love was a desolate hellscape of fear, violence and despair after years of white flight, industrial collapse and seething racial animus. From 1965-1970, Lynch lived in a section of the city that has come to be known as The Eraserhood. It was in Philadelphia that Lynch first transitioned from painting into filmmaking. In 1970, he headed to Los Angeles to begin work on Eraserhead. At the press conference, Lynch talked about how he drew inspiration from the horrors he witnessed during his days in Philadelphia, and expressed his sadness that the city is no longer a soot-stained miasma of crime and despair, that his malevolent Rosebud has been rendered harmless and ordinary by gentrification. The short film you are about to watch is a compendium of Lynch’s remarks about filmmaking, painting, smoking, and the nature of art. Filmed and edited in high Lynch-ian style, this short film incorporates David Lynch’s music, paintings, and films along with his charm, wit and insight into the creative process. A must-see for fans of his work.

RELATED: David Lynch: Eraserhead Stories

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CINEMA: It’s Not Easy Being Green

September 20th, 2014

THE GREEN PRINCE (2014, directed by Nadav Schirmin, 95 minutes, U.S./U.K.)

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC A savvy piece of white-knuckle documentary storytelling, The Green Prince tells the true story of Hamas informant Mosab Hassan Yousef and his Israeli spy handler Gonen Ben Yitzhak. Well, true story? Maybe some quotes around that phrase, after all we’re profiling a man who made his reputation lying to everyone in his surrounding community along with his partner, who made a living manipulating turncoats. While director Nadav Schirmin keeps this spy tale taut from beginning to end, the lack of verification of any of the films details remind us that seeing shouldn’t be believing, whether a film touts itself as a documentary or not. But if you’re willing to suspend any disbelief towards this pair of unreliable narrators, The Green Prince spins a riveting tale of friendship, betrayal and shame set amongst the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The film introduces Mosab Hassan Yousef, eldest son of high-ranking Hamas leader Hassan Yousef. Mosab was a teenager whose life is changed after seeing saw his father dragged from the family house in Ramallah by Israeli forces. His anger leads to a small purchase of guns which then leads to his imprisonment in Israeli jail. There, the distrusting treatment Mosab receives from imprisoned Hamas members and pressure from Israeli interrogators leads the young Mosab to act as an informant for the Israeli spy agency, Shin Bet. Mosab then returns to Ramallah and begins to report on the activities he learns about as his father’s right-hand man.
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BEING THERE: Lily Allen @ Electric Factory

September 20th, 2014


Last night, Lily Allen strolled on stage at the Electric Factory holding a grimacing Emoji pillow over her face and all I could think was “Yes. YES. This was worth the wait.” To backtrack a bit, for me (and I suspect many of her fans) Lily Allen was the first and only pop-star I fell for post-angst-filled adolescence and now finally seeing her live has cemented my place as a disciple of Sheezus. Lily appeals to the anxious, questioning, and sarcastic because her discography is by turns anxious, questioning, and sarcastic. Last night, the set list tactfully staggered the best of her back catalog between singles off of her new album Sheezus. The songs from Alright, Still and It’s Not Me, It’s You, despite their late-Aughts vintage, still resonate with her audience, which, judging by the crowd at the Factory, is mostly female twenty-somethings and gay couples. We empathize with Lily’s worries in “22” and “Who’d Have Known,” the girls cheered in agreement with “Not Fair,” and everybody let out their giddy aggression in the brilliant choice of closing song “Fuck You.” Her old hits not only still connect with her fans but she transitions several of them into remixes that lead into her newer hits like “URL Badman” and “L8 Cmmr.” I loved this interplay between her former celebration of the single life and her current domestic bliss, repped onstage with giant light-up baby bottles. After her hour-long set, Lily strutted back onstage for the encore in an American flag cat-suit with her dancers in tow wearing dog masks. Smirking as always, like she knows that we know she’s been holding out on us and launches into “Hard Out Here (For A Bitch).” It was the perfect ending for an amazing show that proved Lily Allen is still makes pure pop for post-angst people. – STEPHANIE SHAMP

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CONTEST: Win Tix To See Paolo Nutini @ The Troc

September 19th, 2014


Despite the Italianate name, Paolo Nutini is actually a Scotch pretty boy with a voice like butta working the Northern/Blue-Eyed Soul the Brits more or less invented. In the UK he is, as Joe Biden would put it, ‘a big fuckin’ deal.’ Caustic Love, his first album in five years, debuted at Number One in the UK charts and now he’s headed to the New World on a tour that brings him to the Troc on Saturday September 20th. We have a pair of tix to giveaway to some lucky Phawker reader. All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and then drop us a line at FEED@PHAWKER.COM saying you just did so. Or if you already follow us on Twitter, drop us a line saying as much. Make sure you put the magic words FUNK MY LIFE UP in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Act now while supplies last. Good luck and godspeed, man!

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