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DEPT. OF PROGLAND SEC: Q&A W/ Trey Gunn

November 2nd, 2017

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Jamie_Knerr_SunglassesBY JAMIE KNERR PROG-ROCK CORRESPONDENT The Security Project began performing together in 2012, in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the release of the seminal album Security by Peter Gabriel. The group explores Gabriel’s early progressive repertoire, taking much of its inspiration and material from his first four albums then expanding, deconstructing and reinterpreting it. The lineup includes drummer Jerry Marotta (who played on those first four albums and toured with Gabriel for 10 years), virtuoso touch-guitarist Trey Gunn (former member of King Crimson) keyboardist David Jameson and guitarist Michael Cozzi (former member of Shriekback). In October 2016 they took on singer Happy Rhodes as lead vocalist. All of the Security Project’s releases to date have been of live recordings, capturing the artistry and adventurousness of their stage performances. In advance of The Security Project’s November 5th performance at Havana in New Hope, we got Trey Gunn on the horn, here’s some of what he had to say:

PHAWKER: How did The Security Project come to be?

TREY GUNN: I think it was around the 30th anniversary of (Peter Gabriel’s) Security album…Jerry had played on the first four Gabriel records I believe…we just really wanted to perform it live. The question became: what do you do with it? Do you try to duplicate it, or do you do something else with it? We got together and played up at Jerry’s studio in Woodstock, which is an amazing old church. And it was actually really great. We weren’t really sure if it would work or not, but it did!Trey Gunn

PHAWKER: How do you approach the Gabriel material as a band?

TREY GUNN: We try to have two or three main strategies, One is–can we authentically make the sounds from the record? One of the challenges is that on Peter’s records the sounds themselves are so much part of the composition…Another strategy is–what’s the core element or core structure of the song? Let’s get right to the heart of it, then mess with it. We’ve done something that most people would have said was impossible, making Peter’s music a repertoire.

PHAWKER: What was your initial feeling about the project?

TREY GUNN: There were two things that took me by surprise. One was how much Jerry’s vibe as a drummer was in the music. It’s just something about the way he feels the music in his body that’s particularly special. The other thing was how unusual the arrangements of some of these songs are. They just kind of flow from one thing to the next.

PHAWKER: Watching you play touch-guitar is a lot like being shown a magic trick; it’s fairly mind-boggling. Can you talk a bit about how you started on the instrument, and the techniques involved with playing it?

TREY GUNN: I was always interested in the touch instruments, from hearing the King Crimson record Discipline. But my first interest was really in the tuning, it’s tuned like a cello, not like a guitar. The percussive, interlocking aspect interested me as well. For a lot of time there we didn’t really have a body of techniques on the instrument, it was just kind of “put your fingers here”. Many people don’t know, but you have to use as little finger strength as possible to get the note out, the minimal amount of muscle you have in your hand to get that action. The only energy is just to get the string going, then you have to relax.

PHAWKER: Have you had any feedback about the project from Mr. Gabriel himself?

TREY GUNN: We have not heard, we know Peter knows about it. I haven’t actually heard from him directly though…


THE SECURITY PROJECT PLAYS HAVANA IN NEW HOPE ON NOV. 5TH

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INCOMING: Tim Heidecker Goes MAGAGAGAGAGA

November 2nd, 2017

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FROM THE DESK OF TIM HEIDECKER: “Well here it is. About one year in the making, all my Trump songs in one place. Most of these songs were written and recorded quickly, with the blood still boiling from whatever indignity or absurdity had popped up on my newsfeed that day. Certainly, ‘Trump Tower’ was written in the rotten dawn, days after Trump’s win. Let’s hope I don’t write any more of these, but I probably will. Thanks to Davin Wood for playing piano on ‘Trump Tower,’ and thanks to Jonathan Rado, who produced and played on a good number of these (the ones where you hear some of that beautiful tape hiss on, mostly) – his tribute to Steve Nieve on ‘Imperial Bedroom’ is particularly inspired. Thanks to Kane Ritchotte and Max Whipple for providing the best rhythm section a boy could ask for and to Jordan Katz, Taylor Plenn and David Ralicke for laying down some sweet horns on ‘Wilbur Ross.’ Thanks to Vic Berger for adding some backups to ‘Sentencing Day’ and for usually being the best audience for these tunes. Thanks to Josh Tillman for surprising me with a tear-inducing cover of ‘Trump’s Private Pilot’ and for allowing us to include it here… Finally, NO thanks to Paul Simon who didn’t let us include ‘I Am A Cuck.’”

PREVIOUSLY: WRECKLESS ERIC: Q&A With Eric Wareheim, Philly Homeboy & Exactly One Half Of Tim & Eric

PREVIOUSLY: Everything We Have Ever Posted About Motherfucking Tim & Eric

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BOOKSHOP CASANOVAS: A Q&A W/ The Clientele

November 1st, 2017

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Photo by ANDY WILSH

Generally speaking, and for good reason, it is considered poor form to simply cut and paste a band’s press kit bio onto your Q&A and call it an intro, but this time we’ll make an exception, for the following will likely be the closest we ever get to a definitive explanation of the hushed grandeur of The Clientele:

The Clientele formed a long time ago in the backwoods of suburban Hampshire, playing together as kids at school, rehearsing in a thatched cottage remote from any kind of music scene, but hypnotized by the magical strangeness of Galaxie 500 and Felt and the psych pop of Love and the Zombies. Singer Alasdair MacLean still recalls a pub conversation where the band collectively voted that it was OK to be influenced by Surrealist poetry but not OK to have any shouting or blues guitar solos. From that moment on, they put their stamp on a kind of eerie, distanced pure pop, stripped to its essentials and recorded quickly to 4-track analogue tape. Instantly identifiable, The Clientele sound like no one else, although they are cited as an influence by bands as diverse as Spoon and the Fleet Foxes. It’s been said that the greatest bands always create their own individual sound; The Clientele have gone one further and created their own world.

After releasing seven albums of sublime spectral pop followed by a seven year hiatus, The Clientele are back 10_404_404_607_clientele_2500with the new and altogether wonderful Music For The Age Of Miracles. In advance of their sold out show at the Boot & Saddle on Friday, we sent some questions about the new album to the Hobbit hole in the mossy side of merry old England wherein resides Alasdair Maclean, The Clientele’s sleepy-eyed resident genius singer/songwriter/guitarist. Here’s what he had to say:

PHAWKER: The constellation Lyra is name-checked in two songs on the new album — which is really great, by the way — why Lyra out of the 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: Lyra appears in the northern hemisphere in April and disappears in October. It’s always symbolized a harp or a lyre or music. Orpheus pops up here and there on the album and this is one of the places. I like the idea of stars and their symbolism and how it crops up in the everyday; the Pleiades are seen in all cultures as seven female figures running away or leaving. And that maps onto the seven sisters road in London near where I live.

PHAWKER: When is The Age of Miracles, now or in the past? What miracles make up said Age? Is this song/title related to the 2012 novel by Karen Thompson Walker?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: There’s a John Cale song about a man who listens to a radio and believes the sound is beaming in from a magical, paradisical space – a far off radioland which he is doomed to wander up and down the airwaves searching for but never discovering. I like the same idea of exile from something – childhood or a purer state of being which we can now only see from the corner of the eye and which perhaps never existed. But it’s also a reflection of our own times- the widespread and tragic return of irrationality and magical thinking.10_700_700_347_clientele_cover

PHAWKER: “Museum Of Fog” is an intriguing title — they all are, really — for a song about a distant memory of illicit consumption of alcohol as young teen. Why that title and what part of the stories relayed in the song are true, or close to it, and what parts are wildly embellished or made up out of whole cloth?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: It’s all true. I don’t know why I called it the museum of fog- it seemed to fit the feel somehow – or it could have been the name of the club night the band were playing in the story.

PHAWKER: From 2000 to 2010, the band released seven beloved and acclaimed albums and then went dark, more or less, for the next seven years. Why the hiatus and what prompted the return?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: I’d got sick of it for about 400 reasons. But mostly I felt there was nothing left for me to say.

Then I bumped into Anthony Harmer on a street corner in Walthamstow in 2014 – the first time I’d seen him in twenty years. We used to play guitars together in the mid ‘90s and everyone said our voices sounded good. But ultimately we couldn’t get on, as we were both too bossy, and we stopped writing to each other, and moved on. I formed the Clientele. I had often wondered what had happened to him since. It turned out – he told me- he’d studied the Santoor, an Iranian version of the dulcimer, and over decades become a virtuoso, at least by my standards. He suggested we have a jam together.

In the early 2000s, I used to hear an old man play the Chinese dulcimer at one end of the Greenwich foot tunnel, on the way to work, and I’d always been enchanted by the sound – like a carousel crossed with a music box crossed with a harpsichord. I’d always wanted to get it on a Clientele 10_700_700_187_clientele_900pxrecord.

Ant and I now lived three streets away from each other, it turned out. He started to arrange my songs. He let me write and sing them and he came up with ideas for how they should sound. This carried on until we had an album. I called up James and Mark and asked them if they wanted to make another Clientele record. They did, and so we did.

PHAWKER: Hypothetical question: you wake up in the middle of the night and your home is on fire, there is only time to save one album from your collection, which one do you grab and why?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: It would have to be my dad’s copy of Neil diamond’s 20 Golden Greats which I loved before I developed the defences of irony or good taste,

THE CLIENTELE + HOOPS @ THE BOOT & SADDLE ON FRI. NOV. 3RD SOLD OUT

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WAVVES + CULTURE ABUSE: Up And Down

November 1st, 2017

Wavves and Culture Abuse play Union Transfer with Joyce Manor on November 7th.

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DAY OF RECKONING: #MuellerIsComing

October 31st, 2017

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RELATED: On Monday morning, after America learned that Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s lobbying partner, Rick Gates, had been indicted and turned themselves in to federal authorities, the president tried to distance himself from the unfolding scandal. “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” the president wrote in one tweet. A few minutes later, he added, in another, “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

At almost the exact same time, news broke suggesting that the F.B.I. has evidence of collusion. We learned that one of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy aides, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his attempts to solicit compromising information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Despite Trump’s hysterical denials and attempts at diversion, the question is no longer whether there was cooperation between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but how extensive it was.

In truth, that’s been clear for a while. If it’s sometimes hard to grasp the Trump campaign’s conspiracy against our democracy, it’s due less to lack of proof than to the impudent improbability of its B-movie plotline. Monday’s indictments offer evidence of things that Washington already knows but pretends to forget. Trump, more gangster than entrepreneur, has long surrounded himself with bottom-feeding scum, and for all his nationalist bluster, his campaign was a vehicle for Russian subversion. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: The Lost Children Of Tuam

October 31st, 2017

Ugly story beautifully told by @DanBarryNYT and @KassieBraken.

NEW YORK TIMES: A slight girl all of 6, she leaves the modest family farm, where the father minds the livestock and the mother keeps a painful secret, and walks out to the main road. Off she goes to primary school, off to the Sisters of Mercy.

Her auburn hair in ringlets, this child named Catherine is bound for Tuam, the ancient County Galway town whose name derives from a Latin term for “burial mound.” It is the seat of a Roman Catholic archdiocese, a proud distinction announced by the skyscraping cathedral that for generations has loomed over factory and field.

Two miles into this long-ago Irish morning, the young girl passes through a gantlet of gray formed by high walls along the Dublin Road that seem to thwart sunshine. To her right runs the Parkmore racecourse, where hard-earned shillings are won or lost by a nose. And to her left, the mother and baby home, with glass shards embedded atop its stony enclosure.Tuam-slide-S8S3-superJumbo

Behind this forbidding divide, nuns keep watch over unmarried mothers and their children. Sinners and their illegitimate spawn, it is said. The fallen.

But young Catherine knows only that the children who live within seem to be a different species altogether: sallow, sickly — segregated. “Home babies,” they’re called.

The girl’s long walk ends at the Mercy school, where tardiness might earn you a smarting whack on the hand. The children from the home are always late to school — by design, it seems, to keep them from mingling with “legitimate” students. Their oversize hobnail boots beat a frantic rhythm as they hustle to their likely slap at the schoolhouse door.

A sensitive child, familiar with the sting of playground taunts, Catherine nevertheless decides to repeat a prank she saw a classmate pull on one of these children. She balls up an empty candy wrapper and presents it to a home baby as if it still contains a sweet, then watches as the little girl’s anticipation melts to sad confusion.

Everyone laughs, nearly. This moment will stay with Catherine forever.

After classes end, the home babies hurry back down the Dublin Road in two straight lines, boots tap-tap-tapping, and disappear behind those Gothic walls. Sometimes the dark wooden front door is ajar, and on her way home Catherine thrills at the chance of a stolen peek.

Beyond those glass-fanged walls lay seven acres of Irish suffering. Buried here somewhere are famine victims who succumbed to starvation and fever a century earlier, when the home was a loathed workhouse for the homeless poor.

But they are not alone.

Deep in the distant future, Catherine will expose this property’s appalling truths. She will prompt a national reckoning that will leave the people of Ireland asking themselves: Who were we? Who are we?

At the moment, though, she is only a child. She is walking home to a father tending to the cattle and a mother guarding a secret, away from the Irish town whose very name conjures the buried dead. MORE

RELATED: The Mass Grave Of The Magdalene Laundries

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HOT DOCUMENT: It’s Mueller Time!

October 30th, 2017

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RELATED:
The Complete 31-Page Indictment Against Manafort

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GIMME SHELTER: Homeless, Trans And Afraid

October 30th, 2017

Illustration by Alex Williamson

Illustration by ALEX WILLIAMSON via THE NEW YORKER

BY
SAM ARCHER

I

My roommate fantasizes about torturing people. “What I really want to do,” he says, “is take someone, right, to an abandoned warehouse, and tie them up and leave them for a while, then come back and make them crawl over broken glass.” It is January, and he is sitting cross legged by my bed, speaking in a soft voice I have to strain to hear. His face is calm, even though he has just punched a hole in the wall. I envelope him in silence. “Uh huh,” I say.

“Anyway, I’ll let you go to bed,” he says, getting up. “It’s good talking to you, Samuel.” He gets up and closes the door. I stare at the wall and watch the lights from passing cars sway through the window panes like the frantic signal of a lighthouse. I am afraid. I fear the anger in this man.

II

I have disappeared. I am carrying a box along Broad Street, trying to hail a cab. The only certainty is I am going to live in a shelter for LGBT people in North Philly: LGBTQ Home for Hope. As I fled my apartment, I realized what was important to me. In my box is all my negatives, my cameras, a few clothes. I have lost all my documentation apart from my state ID. No social security card, no birth certificate. A bottle full of antipsychotics. Barely a month sober. In that moment I am without an address, all my possessions in a cardboard box, and I have only thought to bring my girl clothes.

When I reach the shelter, I saw an unmarked building with a bright blue door. Knocking, a woman opens the door and ushers me into an office. I plunk down my box and sit in a chair.

“What brings you here?” she says.

“My roommate told me he wants to torture people, and he punches holes in the walls, and he abuses the cats. I had to get out of there.”

III

A young woman named Elizabeth* comes in and helps me carry my box to a room up a dimly lit flight of stairs, then I am led into the dining area where dinner is going on. I watch the people eat. The room is lit by artificial light, with two folding tables and hard metal chairs. A group of people gather round the tables, mostly young women of color. The average age of most the people there seems to be mid-twenties. A young woman sits next to me, eating her chicken. She glances at me, searchingly, like I am a statue in a museum, and she is trying to capture me in all my splendor with a cheap camera. “Who are you into?” she says.

“What?”

“Like gay, straight, what?”

“Oh, I’m bisexual,” I said. “I’m a trans man who cross dresses.”

“Oh, okay,” she says, and continues eating. It is quiet in the room. Everyone is focused on their food. The woman who helped me carry my box comes back in and asks me if I have any toiletries. I tell her no, and she gets me shampoo, soap, a toothbrush. She gives me a towel and tells me everyone has to take a shower once a day. As she leaves the room, I take off my clothes. They’re the only boy clothes I own. I get into the shower. Turning on the tap, I feel the scalding water. I turn on the cold, and the water is now freezing.

Back in my room, I notice a sleeping figure. It is a woman, snoring beneath the sheets of her bed. Getting under the covers, I lie in the bed but I cannot sleep. It occurs to me that the staff thinks I’m a trans woman, with my long hair and deep voice. Even in a suit, my femininity is apparent, and people struggle to determine what bathroom I belong to. As the night lengthens, I listen to the midnight sounds of North Philadelphia: Booming hip-hop car radios. Firecrackers exploding like gunfire. Children screaming. I cannot sleep.
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CINEMA: White Flight, White Heat

October 27th, 2017

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SUBURBICON (Directed by George Clooney, 104 minutes, 2017, USA)

CHRIS MALENEYBY CHRISTOPHER MALENEY FILM CRITIC Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the simplicity and innocence of the 1950s? The postwar economy was booming: food was cheap, gas was cheap, and houses were cheap. The United States was on top of the world, justifying the excess of capitalism like never before. We were morally pure, with strong leaders, sanitized communities, and wholesome television. Kids played outside. Neighbors said hello to each other. Everyone had a job. Except, that’s not all true, is it? The fear of atomic annihilation pervaded the country. Sexuality and gender roles were more straightjacketed than ever. Lynchings were still all-too common — the 1950s saw the infamous murder of Emmett Till and the acquittal of his murderers. Suburbicon, a coal-black comedy written by the Coen brothers and directed by George Clooney, shows how these two sides of America are and were intimately entwined.

The film is set in the eponymous town of Suburbicon, somewhere equidistant from New York, Ohio, and Mississippi, where the White Flight has taken refuge from the cities’ pollution in a ready-made community of manicured lawns and split-level houses, reminiscent of the Levittowns of the era. When a black family moves into this all-white community, the seemingly idyllic homogeneity is punctured by a reality of reactionary brutality that is not exceptional, but, as we see throughout the movie, is an unspeakably normal occurrence, and a fundamental element of the psyche in this all-too-normal town. The film is divided into two narratives, that of the Mayer family and the Lodge family, who live back-to-back. The two sons, Andy Mayers and Nicky Lodge, are united through baseball, but none of the other family members speak except when absolutely necessary. Their plots interweave only on the symbolic level.

The Lodge family narrative which takes up most of the screentime is something like Double Indemnity, but with a body count that Shakespeare would be proud of. Following an apparent home invasion, Margaret Lodge (Julianne Moore) dies. Her husband, Gardiner Lodge (Matt Damon) seems to feel no remorse. He sits through the funeral and goes back to his corporate office shortly. Margaret’s sister, Rose (also Julianne Moore), moves in, quickly claiming the role of Nicky’s mother and Gardiner’s wife. Only Nicky seems to notice that something is wrong with his ideal family; neither his father nor his aunt identify the murderers in the police lineup, but Nicky sees them. Afraid that the men might return, and increasingly afraid of his own family, Nicky barricades himself in his room, his only contact coming through the tin-can telephone to the boy on the other side of the fence.

For the Mayer family, things go from bad to worse. The day that they move in, the neighborhood signs a petition denouncing the quiet and kind family as a disturbing nuisance and a blight on the community. While the Mayers responds with dignity, the white community becomes downright vile. Spite fences soon go up on two sides. The supermarket charges them twenty dollars for any item. People gather outside the Mayer house, day and night, to create as much of a racket as possible. They beat drums, play horns, sing loudly, holler abuse, and grow slowly restless. As the agitation worsens, the Lodge family cannot bring themselves to look out their closed curtains at the world. While the Lodges are not part of the abuse, they represent the majority who condone such horrors with their silence.

Violence sweeps across the face of Suburbicon with the Coens’ classic aplomb, leaving lives and property wrecked. None of the white folks seem to notice the true perpetrators of the violence; the talking heads on the TV blame the violence in Suburbicon on the uppity ‘negroes’ seeking integration too quickly, when we see that this is anything but the case. Ultimately, Suburbicon is not about a murder. It’s not even about suburbia. It’s about the lie at the heart of whiteness. Whiteness relies on believing that Europeans are inherently kind, caring, and loving, and that anyone else is inherently vile, base, and disruptive. The Coen-Clooney team have crafted a magnificent deconstruction of this lie by setting Suburbicon in the heart of white, suburban niceness as it reveals its true intentions. Whether we flinch at its message or understand it will speak volumes about us as individuals and as a nation.

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BEING THERE: Bruce Almighty

October 27th, 2017

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Photo by EVAN HUNDELT

Last night Bruce Willis was in town to receive the Philadelphia Film Festival’s second annual Lumière Award, which is bestowed on “those that have demonstrated a passion for the furtherance of filmmaking as a vital artform and growing industry in Philadelphia,” according to the PFF web site. Willis has appeared in four movies shot in Philadelphia: Twelve Monkeys, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Glass — the latter three directed by M. Nigh Shamylan, who presented the award to Willis. The two are currently shooting Glass, which is the final film in a superhero trilogy that began with Unbreakable in 2000, the second installment was last year’s Split. For the next few weeks they will be filming scenes from Glass at the ominous Allentown State Hospital, an hour outside the city. – EVAN HUNDELT

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CINEMA: The Tragic Kingdom

October 27th, 2017

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THE FLORIDA PROJECT ( Directed by Sean Baker, 115 minutes, U.S., 2017)

Buskirk AvatarBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC With 2015 much-discussed indie hit Tangerine (forever remembered as “the film shot on an iPhone”) audiences began to catch up with New Jersey-born writer/director Sean Baker. Tangerine’s electrified storytelling, following a pair of audacious transgender streetwalkers as they hunt for one’s cheating boyfriend along the Hollywood strip, revealed Baker to be a director who could capture a rare naturalism that obscured his savvy plotting and instinct for drama that made his films transcend mere anthropological curiosity. Tangerine seemed to come out of nowhere but it was Baker’s fifth film, and merely the latest to create dramatic gold out the sparest of elements.

Now arrives Baker’s largest production to date, The Florida Project, further deepening the director’s interest in those living at the edges of the American Dream. It’s a wondrous world as seen through the eyes of the six year old Moonee (a star-making performance from little first-timer Brooklynn Prince) as she lives with her post-teen mother Hallee (another newcomer, Bria Vinaite who is downright feral in the role) in a kitschy purple motel called The Magic Castle. Despite Willem Defoe’s dogged upkeep, the motel is unmistakably a rundown dump, it seems like a cheap bootleg knock-off of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World, just one town over but a world away. To Moonee and her small posse of under-supervised friends, the empty lots, gaudy tourist stands and the eccentric gallery of motel guests open up endless opportunities for adventure but one can feel that the center can’t hold forever for these semi-destitute denizens of this decidedly non-magical kingdom.

Helicopters are constantly buzzing the humid skies overhead but Hallie is the opposite of what you’d call a “helicopter mom.” I’m sure there will be great discomfort from many modern parents watching Moonee and her friends (none seeming older than eight) as they wander between the motels on the strip and a little ice cream shop, and through fields, and into creeks, and everything we wouldn’t think twice about seeing in the Our Gang series (Baker has enjoyed pointing out the comparison). But Hallie, who lost her job stripping, is the sort of mom our society loves to excoriate, despite how hard we see her working hustling wholesale perfumes in more upscale hotel parking lots. Hallie’s vulnerability in this transient, rootless world gets increasingly difficult to witness although the children’s endless enthusiasm for the smallest things keep the gloom from settling in for as long as that can last.

In England and throughout Europe, some of their most prestigious filmmakers have spent years chronicling working class lives, from Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to Belgium’s Dardenne Brothers. In the U.S., where beliefs that we’re a classless society die hard and that wealth equals character (how else can you explain our President, who seems impoverished in every moral virtue?) it is hard to think of any director who would be described as “The Poet of the Working Class.” The advance work and improvisation Baker encourages in his filmmaking process set his films noticeably closer to the real world, and not just an L.A. studio’s imagining of the real world. Baker also get closer to his characters, letting us see them as their beautiful and sometimes contradictory selves. It’s a fantastic galaxy we rarely see from U.S. directors, particularly fiction directors, and its as rich and as captivating as anything Marvel imagineers are dreaming up. The film is being positioned as the indie must-see of the season and The Florida Project is more than worthy of that status.

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GEEK SQUAD: How Wonder Woman Got Her Groove

October 27th, 2017

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the-geek-300x300BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT Wonder Woman is everywhere this year. From her own box office record-breaking movie that actually has critics praising a DC film to her role in Justice League next month and all the rumors/news about the sequel there is no escaping the Lasso Of Truth-wielding superheroine. But who created Wonder Woman? The character is over 75 years old and yet very little is spoken of the man who created her.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman (2014) by Jill Lepore details the strange life of William Moulton Marston that would be considered scandalous even by today’s standards. William Marston was a psychologist a resume ranging from “inventor to the lie detector” to screen writer to professor to lawyer to comic book writer. The fact is he lived with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and his mistress Olive Bryne. He had The Secret History Of Wonder Womanfour kids, two from each woman who were raised in the same household without knowing the family secret.

Jill Lepore paints an extremely balanced portrait of Marston. On the one hand, Marston was a proto-feminist who fought against the misogynistic status quo and created Wonder Woman as a role model for little girls everywhere to look up to. He often said that women should rule the world. On the other hand he took one of his students as a concubine and created Wonder Woman as an extension his bondage fetish. Wonder Woman’s earliest comics featured women tied up regularly. But Lepore gives both sides of Marston’s coin equal time and leaves it up to the reader to decide for yourself whether Marston was a good person.

Those looking for torrid details of William Marstson’s kinky life of tying up his wife and mistress in threesomes will be disappointed. Marston’s relationship with Olive was kept a secret even from their own kids until well after his death. If there was a romantic relationship between the two women who lived together for the rest of their lives, Lepore was unable to find the evidence. Lepore’s book is more than just a biography of William Marston. She seamlessly weaves together the history of feminist movements, birth control, Harvard psychology professors, women at college and the history of comic book censorship that all play into the creation of Wonder Woman. All told, The Secret History of Wonder Woman is both a fascinating excavation of the origin of the character and the secret history of a complicated man that contains the usual contradictions found in human beings.

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21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN: Q&A With King Crimson Lead Singer & Guitarist Jakko Jakszyk

October 26th, 2017

King_Crimson_Radical_Action

 

Jamie_Knerr_SunglassesBY JAMIE KNERR PROG-ROCK CORRESPONDENT Prog-rock lodestar King Crimson has made smashing musical boundaries their stock-in-trade since its inception in 1968. Nearly every adjective and superlative has been directed their way in the 49-odd years since they first burst onto the scene, ranging from the fawning to the not-altogether-flattering. They’ve been labeled everything from “pompous”, “bombastic” and “overly-intellectual”, to “brilliant”, “complex”, “challenging”, “futuristic” and “pure genius.” On one point there is little disagreement: From one project to the next throughout the years the band’s transformation has repeatedly defied convention or even definition. Under the leadership of acclaimed virtuoso guitarist and composer Robert Fripp, change has been one of the relatively few constants in the band’s narrative.

The list of King Crimson’s member musicians is long and illustrious, including 21 amazing players in a variety of line-up configurations. Stylistically the band has moved from the pastoral, soothing and thoughtful to the jarring, blunt and heavy, and back again–and all points in between–with seeming ease. Their recorded output and live performances over the last five decades have earned them rightful permanent residence at the very pinnacle of progressive rock. Ever-nomadic, King Crimson has taken on yet another form as of late, currently on display with their Radical Action World Tour. These days they perform as an eight-piece, including three (!) drummers. In advance of their performances at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia on November 2nd and 3rd, we spoke with lead singer and guitarist Jakko Jakszyk [pictured below, second from left] about the current tour and all things Crimson. Here’s some of what he had to say:

PHAWKER: Who were your most important influences as a young and aspiring musician/ singer?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: As a young kid I was always drawn to English singers who sang in an English king_crimson_nowaccent. Anthony Newley and Matt Monroe, initially. But then the likes of Greg Lake, Peter Gabriel, Robert Wyatt and Richard Sinclair when I was older. As for guitar, it was Robert Fripp. That’s why I wanted to play guitar.

PHAWKER: Can you describe the path that lead to your current role as guitarist and singer for King Crimson?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: I guess I began as a fan. Saw the band in ’71 and was amazed, intrigued and smitten. I got to know [King Crimson co-founder and lyricist] Pete Sinfield in the ’80’s, he invited me to the launch of the ‘Epitaph’ box set. This in turn lead to the formation of 21st Century Schizoid Band. Everyone in the band apart from me (ironically enough) had been in Crimson. I sang and played Robert’s guitar parts. Robert called me after a week or two of rehearsals — I’d never spoken to him before. He asked how rehearsals were going. I told him they had been the most unpleasant couple of weeks I’d ever spent in the music industry. He was very sympathetic, and we’ve kind of been friends since then. I began mixing Thrak with Robert for 5.1 surround sound and he asked me to record with him. That turned into an album called ‘A Scarcity Of Miracles’. And this kind of lead up to the reformation of Crimson in 2013.

PHAWKER: How does one prepare for some of the more unique and extreme musical challenges presented by King Crimson material?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: Practice!!!!!

PHAWKER: Can you describe the rehearsal process of the band in preparation for touring?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: Gavin [Harrison] and I usually create demos of the tracks we plan to add to the set, whether this is classic repertoire or new tunes. This enables the other musicians to learn and rehearse prior to the full band rehearsals. I often spend time with Robert going through parts and KING CRIMSONrearranging. The three drummers rehearse for a week, or as a duo, on their own, too. There’s a great deal of rehearsal in this band.

PHAWKER: What are your favorite aspects of touring with Crimson?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: We all get on. We travel in comfort. We mix up the material night by night. This was a childhood dream made flesh! What’s not to like about that?

PHAWKER: Do you have a most beloved era of King Crimson material?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: Well, I like it all, but I have a particular soft spot for the Lizard/Islands era…

PHAWKER: Are there unique challenges presented by playing in the larger KC band (three drummers, etc)?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: Some of the pieces become like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to concentrate because if anyone makes a mistake you can’t just jump back on the bus. This isn’t 12 bar blues.

PHAWKER: What do you see on the near horizon for King Crimson, beyond this current tour?

JAKKO JAKSZYK: More touring, more writing, more making music in general. It feels like we’ve hit a special spot, so let’s keep going while the vibes and muse exist.

KING CRIMSON PLAY THE MERRIAM THEATER NOVEMBER 2ND & 3RD

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