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  • ‘Gandhi & Martin Luther King were great womanizers’: That time Roger Ailes interviewed Joan Baez
    12:44 pm


    Joan Baez
    Roger Ailes

    Fox News founder Roger Ailes died last week, thus escaping any future ramifications in this terrestrial realm stemming from his alledged proclivity for sexual harassment, a tendency attested to by many accusers, including Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and Andrea Tantaros.

    Ailes was forced to resign as president of Fox News last summer after news of the sexual harassment claims became national news. Just a month ago, it was reported that Fox News is on track to pay more than $85 million in settlements connected to the sexual harassment allegations involving Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and possibly others.

    Ailes’ inappropriate libido aside, his death afforded many observers an opportunity to observe that more than almost anyone in the American landscape, Ailes had an enormous impact on American news and politics over the last 20 years, and almost all of it tilted the country in a partisan, shrill, and stupid direction.

    If Mike Judge’s prescient movie Idiocracy ever had a spirit animal in real life, it’s Roger Ailes. Except that Ailes was no idiot, far from it: he was a certifiable genius when it came to manipulating dummies.

    Before 1990, Ailes’ primary identity was that of a cunning if somewhat morally suspect media consultant for Republican candidates. Together with Lee Atwater, Ailes was credited with achieving the election of George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988, in a contest that featured no shortage of not-so-subtle race-baiting from the Republican side.

    In 1996 Rupert Murdoch hired Ailes and asked him to helm the new right-wing news channel he was putting together. The result was Fox News and politics since then has been dominated by older white people under the hypnotic influence of a never-ending parade of charlatans and assholes such as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Steve Doocy, assisted by literally dozens and dozens of nearly interchangeable leggy blonde women. In Fox Land, every black man is about to commit vote fraud and/or violent uprising, every Muslim is a terrorist hell-bent on blowing up a local library in rural Nebraska, and every trans person with a full bladder is a crypto-pedophile. Roger Ailes invented that kind of TV news, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Ailes made it possible for Donald Trump to become president.

    For that last fact alone, his name should be scorned in the annals of history until the end of time. May he rot in Hell.

    Interestingly, right before Ailes landed at Fox News, there was a brief period where he was not actively being a scumbag and destroying the country. From 1994 to 1996 he was president of a news channel that had spun off from CNBC called America’s Talking, and Ailes himself had an hour-long interview show called Straight Forward in which he tried to pass himself off as a relatively normal person—conservative, sure, but not a fire-breathing troglodyte.

    His bid to be a “normal” talk show host was convincing enough that he even had the arch-liberal folksinger Joan Baez on as a guest on Straight Forward for a charged yet basically pleasant couple of segments with a minimum of serious leftie-baiting. The program ran on December 15, 1994; Baez was there to publicize a 1993 CD collection called Rare, Live, and Classic. In the intro to the program, Ailes states that he is a big fan of Baez’ music and admires her even though he dislikes her positions—“like Ronald Reagan,” she stuck to her principles over the decades and he can respect that!

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Rude (but politely introspective) boys: The secret early life of Tears for Fears
    12:20 pm


    new wave
    ska music
    Tears for Fears

    Graduate, with Tears for Fears founders Roland Orzabal (pictured bottom left) and Curt Smith (at the top left).
    If you are a child of the 80s the English band Tears for Fears and the slew of monster hits that they put out during the decade probably still randomly get stuck in your head from time to time. I mean the minute you hear the twinkling notes that open 1985’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” your mind is probably transported back to images of the video for the song that was seemingly on infinite repeat on MTV. Even if 80s cable TV wasn’t the stomping ground of your youth, the likelihood that you know a few numbers from the Tears for Fears catalog is still highly probable. However, what if I told you that before Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal ruled the world by way of ridiculously catchy pop music, they were in a new wave ska band called Graduate with Orzabal on vocals? I’m pretty sure most people would have a deep, contemplative moment of “huh?” and then would want to see and hear proof. And if that’s what you want then today is your lucky day, rude boys and girls because I’ve got footage of Graduate performing on a Spanish television show in 1980 about a year before the duo became Tears for Fears.

    Below is footage of Graduate performing three different songs, “Acting My Age,” “Bad Dreams,” and the insanely catchy “Elvis Should Play Ska” which is a bouncy homage to Elvis Costello, not the American guy. The band would put out only one album in 1980 with Pye Records (which was home to The Kinks and Status Quo in the 60s and early 70s), Acting My Age. A second record was shelved after both Orzabal and Smith left the band, but everything the band did during their short time together can be found on a remaster of Acting My Age from 2001 that also includes other rarities. I have to say that whenever Orzabal and the band get going with their special brand of “skanking,” I don’t ever want it to stop. Vinyl copies of Graduate’s debut record are rare and even a sealed compact disc of Acting My Age I found on eBay was listed at $199.99, just in case you were curious. Lastly, if you never got to see Tears for Fears back in the day, the band is currently on tour with Hall and Oates.

    The fantastic cover of ‘Acting My Age.’

    “Elvis Should Play Ska.”
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Cool for Cats: Squeeze’s East Side stories, working class poetry and kitchen-sink dramas

    Squeeze: The classic line-up.
    Like everyone else, I’m a sucker for a song that marries a well-crafted lyric to an unforgettable tune. That for me is what makes classic popular music. It can be Chuck Berry with “No Particular Place To Go,” or Sparks with “Something for the Girl with Everything,” Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” or even a music hall number like “My Old Man (Said Follow the Van),” or George Formby’s “When I’m Cleaning Windows.” Each of these songs has a clever lyric that tells a little story matched by compelling music that carries us along to a little nirvana of pure pop joy.

    Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook write these kinds of perfect songs. Songs like “Up the Junction,” “Tempted,” “Labelled with Love,” “Another Nail in My Heart,” “Cool for Cats,”  “Black Coffee in Bed,” and “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell).” Beautiful works of art that touch both heart and mind.

    Together Difford and Tilbrook are the core of Squeeze—the band they formed sometime in late 1973 or early 1974. It all started after Difford put an advert in a newsagent’s window for a musician to gig and record with, who liked the Small Faces, Hendrix and Glenn Miller. Difford had been writing poetry for years but had a desire to write and perform songs. Tilbrook had been playing guitar and writing songs since around the age of eleven. He was the only musician who replied to Difford’s ad. It was one of those marvelous quirks of fate that brought together the two young men who would one day be hailed as the “new Lennon and McCartney.”

    Difford and Tilbrook were joined by boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holland on keys, Gilson Lavis on drums and eventually John Bentley who replaced Harry Kakoulli on bass. This became the classic Squeeze line-up. Through their manager Miles Copeland III (who also managed the Police, and later released albums by R.E.M., the Cramps and the Bangles), the band had their first EP A Packet of Three and their first album produced by John Cale. 
    Squeeze: The eighties line-up.
    Difford and Tilbrook had taken the name Squeeze from the Velvet Underground’s (worst) album Squeeze, so there was some synchronicity that Cale produced Squeeze’s earliest output. But Cale wanted sex and imagined passions rather than the world of personal experience and kitchen-sink drama from which Difford pulled his cache of working class poetry. Whereas the first album and single (“Take Me I’m Yours”) put the band on the map and led to their three-month tour of America, it was the second Cool for Cats that showcased Difford and Tillbrook’s genius for songwriting, which was followed by the classic albums Argybargy and East Side Story, right up through to the band’s fourteenth studio album Cradle to the Grave in 2015.

    Squeeze arrived at a time of a great and rich musical diversity. When there were various genres like punk and ska, new wave and rap, disco and synthpop, and so on. It was also a time when pop music no longer had that shiny exciting novelty it once had in the fifties and sixties, which meant that sometimes the praise and respect Difford and Tilbrook richly deserved was occasionally diminished or overlooked by rock critics searching for the next Sex Pistols or Paul Weller. Not that Squeeze weren’t popular or greatly loved, far from it, but that there was an equally talented (and often times not as talented) number of other bands also demanding attention who were simply less conventional.

    Watch Squeeze in concert from 1982, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Hello dummy: That time Don Rickles was drawn by Jack Kirby for DC Comics, you hockey pucks!
    11:23 am


    DC Comics
    Don Rickles

    The late ‘60s/early ‘70s were a good period for Don Rickles, who passed away recently at the age of 90. After appearing in the Beach Party series of movies with Annette Funicello, a few things happened that cause Rickles’ status to change. He first appeared on The Tonight Show in 1965, and that national TV showcase, along with other talk shows and variety shows, would give him ample opportunity to inflict his caustic humor on the American people. He released a live album called Hello, Dummy! in 1968, and in 1970 he had a noncomedic role in Kelly’s Heroes, a war/heist movie with Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland. (Actually, it was Sutherland who was the primary focus of mirth in that movie.)

    By the time 1971 rolled around, Don Rickles was indisputably a household name, and as such, in a position to be claimed or appropriated by media entities of all descriptions. Which helps to explain an improbable episode in Rickles’ life occurred, when he was made the star of a two-issue story in Jimmy Olsen as for DC Comics authored by Jack Kirby. It really happened, and in a lot of ways the whole story had almost nothing to do with Rickles as such.

    In addition to featuring Rickles in the story, Kirby invented a weird doppelgänger named Goody Rickels (that’s right, e before l), an underling in the employ of a slick media mogul named Morgan Edge. For no comprehensible reason, Goody wears a superhero costume with a cape, even though he has no super powers and is something of a weirdo lickspittle.

    All of this stemmed from the spawn of an idea of DC Comics employees, whose original idea was to have Rickles appear for a couple of panels and zing Superman with one of his patented put-downs. An Kirby’s assistant Mark Evanier explained in The Collected Jack Kirby Collector Vol. 4 by John Morrow:

    Steve [Sherman, another Kirby assistant] and I, at the time, were enormous fans of Don Rickles. Like many people at that time who were our age, we all went around doing Don Rickles, insulting each other. Rickles used to say, “I never picked on a little guy, I only pick on big guys.” Somehow, this gave us the idea that we should have Don Rickles make a cameo appearance in Jimmy Olsen to insult Superman. It was gonna be like a three-panel thing. So we wrote out a couple of pages of Don Rickles insults. One of them was, “Hey, big boy, where’re you from?” And Superman says, “I’m from the planet Krypton.” And Rickles says, “I got jokes for eight million nationalities and I’ve gotta run into a hockey puck from Krypton!”

    As you can see, the idea of incorporating Rickles into the DC universe began as an idea for a quick gag, but they didn’t count on the kudzu-like nature of Kirby’s imagination:

    Jack was a big fan of Rickles. And he says, “That’s great, that’s terrific.” And, of course, he used none of it. He said, “We’ve gotta get permission from Don Rickles for this.” So Steve contacted Rickles’s publicist, and they gave us permission to have Don Rickles do a cameo. Then Jack tells [DC Comics publisher] Carmine Infantino about it, and Infantino thinks this is great; this is something promotable; it’s gotta be a two-issue story arc. So instead of us writing two pages, it’s now Jack writing two issues.

    In the story, Edge sends Goody to investigate a UFO, and he ends up beating up some “space baddies” through sheer luck. Eventually there is the inevitable encounter between Goody and Don, right before which we get a full page of Don insulting some of his many adoring fans, who basically treat him as if he’s the Beatles.

    Much more after the jump…......

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Desert trip: Gram Parsons and ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’

    A recent poll of young Britons found that nearly a third of younger millennials—29% of 18 to 24-year-olds to be exact—claimed that they had never knowingly listened to an Elvis Presley song. Zero percent of this age group reported listening to Elvis’ music daily. This really isn’t all that surprising—or at least it shouldn’t be. We’re soon approaching the 40th anniversary of Presley’s death and while everyone of a certain age can probably recall exactly where they were when they heard the news that the King of rock ‘n’ roll had died—whether you were a fan or not, it was earth-shaking news in 1977—to someone born after that, bluntly put, the once titanic cultural importance of Elvis Presley is pretty negligible. If your reaction is that this is depressing—and perhaps it is—then you’re only showing your age. It’s just the way things are.

    As the editor of a blog like this one—I was eleven years old when Elvis ate his final fried peanut butter and banana sandwich and frankly I doubt that I listen to him more often than once annually myself—I’m acutely aware of the balance between nostalgia and discovery. The biggest cohort of our readership is comprised of millennials. If nearly a third of young Brits have never purposefully or consciously listened to an Elvis Presley number, then how many of them would know a DEVO song? If you were born in 1965 or 1975, how much knowledge of the music of the 1940s or 1950s do you realistically possess? DEVO’s heyday is even further back than that for someone who is a high school senior in 2017.  “Oldies” radio doesn’t play Herman’s Hermits, the Supremes or Sonny & Cher anymore, it programs Sting, Nirvana and Celine Dion where that format even still exists.

    The FBB in their custom Nudie suits. You’ll note that Parsons’ suit has pot leaves and opium poppies
    So where would that leave the legacy of a cult artist like Gram Parsons, who died in 1973 at the age of 26 with but a small, yet influential body of work, as the 21st-century marches ever onward? If you are of a certain age, and presuming that you are a pretty big music fan, you no doubt have heard and hopefully appreciate the “cosmic American music” of this golden-voiced country rock progenitor/genius. To be sure, I think that there’s still a pretty strong Gram Parsons cult out there, but in 2017 its members tend to be know-it-all aging boomers with graying ponytails who want to give you their opinions of whatever album you happen to be looking at in a record store.

    Only in Southern California, always a stronghold of Flying Burrito Bros. fandom, does there seem to be an organic all ages awareness of the great Gram Parsons. This has much to do with the desert and how inextricably intertwined the desert trip is with the mythos of Parsons’ death by OD in room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn and how his body was subsequently stolen and given a drunken cremation near Cap Rock by his manager, Phil Kaufman.

    It’s a SoCal rite of passage to do magic mushrooms in Joshua Tree and trip out under the desert stars listening to The Gilded Palace of Sin by the Flying Burrito Bros. as there is simply no greater soundtrack for this sort of activity in that particular place and I’d wager that 99% of all the patrons of Pappy & Harriett’s, whether young or old, male or female could readily identify any song from it that came on their jukebox. But again, it’s specifically a desert kinda thing. Let’s assume that the rest of the country’s Gram Parsons fans are probably spread out a little bit more.

    Which is why the word needs to get out about Intervention Records’ recently released vinyl and (upcoming) SACD re-issue of The Gilded Palace of Sin. Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, this is one of the best-sounding slabs of wax that I’ve ever heard in my entire life, which is exactly what you would want someone to say if you’re a new boutique record label catering to the snobbiest of jaded (and easily disappointed) audiophiles.

    Much more after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    I sing the Apocalypse: The ‘mud-lightning metal’ of Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth
    10:43 am


    Heavy Metal
    outsider art

    I tried to catch Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth at a local art gallery a few months back, but I blew it. You really gotta be on time for events of this magnitude. By the time I got there, it looked like a garbage truck had crashed into an art supply store. There was glitter, paint, feathers, sweat, piss and melted crayons everywhere. The room smelled like burnt rubber and semen. The joint was filled with creeps, crazies and zonked-out dreamers, but I had no idea if any of them were in the band or not. You couldn’t tell where the aftermath ended and the afterparty began, but the star of the show had definitely vanished. “The kid in the wheelchair split,” shrugged the disappointed art-school chick in the lime-green cardigan. There was more than a little unrequited lust in her eyes.

    Danny Cruz, Dragon King
    Flaming Dragons formed in 2007 in Turner Falls, Massachusetts (don’t bother looking it up, FDOME are definitely the most exciting thing about the place). Every Thursday at the Brick House Community Resource Center, Danny Cruz—a resourceful young dude with muscular dystrophy, a fearsome scruff of facial hair and a seriously banged-up wheelchair—would jam with whoever was around on whatever instruments they could scrape up, eventually creating a bowel-loosening neo-hard rock, aggressively psychedelic spazz-punk sound that Cruz likes to call “Mud Lightning Metal.” And who are we to argue?

    The cover of FDOME’s 2014 opus, ‘The Seed of Contempt’

    The band has been going strong ever since. The members change constantly. There’s been a wizard on bass and a kid with Down’s syndrome on drums. Doesn’t really matter. All of it channels through cosmic shaman Cruz, who turns his ragtag noise crew into a life-affirming blast of pure holy light. They have a clutch of official albums released on OSR records and piles more unreleased or unofficial or just waiting patiently to be born. They often perform in unsuspecting art galleries or community centers or public access TV stations in Western Massachusetts and no one is the same afterward. In between gigs, Cruz hits up YouTube and pontificates on chemtrails (hint: it’s aliens!) and whatever other urban ailments he’s feeling that day.

    If his band didn’t play freeform jazz metal, he’d probably be the new Roky Erickson. At the very least, he’s the new Eugene Chadbourne. If you haven’t been covered in feathers and buckets of paint lately, I’d suggest maybe you catch a show.

    Take a look, after the jump…

    Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
    Bizarre penis and boob socks
    08:42 am



    Don’t even ask how I discovered these penis and boob socks. It was an accident, I can assure you, but find them I did. And you should be grateful I found ‘em. Anyway, the crochet socks are handmade by Ukrainian shop Tetiana Knits. There’s not really much to say about these bizarro socks except… here they are! I dig the pointy toes.

    It appears the socks come in different colors and styles upon request. There’s even a penis/vulva combo.

    The socks are currently selling for around $30 a pair plus shipping.

    I think these would go nicely with the “male rompers” currently making the rounds on every website and blog imaginable.


    More after the jump…

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Swedish TV accidentally puts children’s subtitles over political debate, and it’s f*cking hilarious!
    01:54 pm



    Civic-minded Swedes who tuned in to a political debate early last year didn’t expect to witness an interplanetary underwater battle involving dinosaurs, but thanks to an innocent mixup at the SVT2 TV station, that’s what they got.

    It was probably more entertaining, not to say true-to-life, than what was actually happening in the debate, which involved Environmental Minister Åsa Romson, Liberal People’s Party leader Jan Björklund, Education Minister Gustav Fridolin, and Urban Ahlin, Speaker of the Riksdag, the national legislature of Sweden.

    The subtitles depicted dialogue from the PBS children’s TV show Dinosaur Train

    The head of the channel’s subtitle department, Anna Zetterson, smells a rat (or is it a dinosaur?), it seems. It turns out that on some older television models you can swap out the “teletext” page from another channel while keeping the current image. On Facebook she wrote in Swedish, “On some older TVs can still choose the old teletext page for the different channels’ subtitles, while checking on a different channel. So SVT, or any operator, didn’t send these out. But it is something you can amuse yourself with on an older television set.”

    We don’t care. Maybe nobody made a mixup and it was all a plot to tickle our brains. All we can say is, mission accomplished!


    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Ultramega OK: Soundgarden destroy the Whisky a Go-Go, 1990

    Like many of you, I’m still trying to process the sudden death of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell last week. Here in Seattle, where Cornell was born, there were several memorials held around the city including one at the site that inspired the band’s name—A Sound Garden—a musical sculpture park where twelve 20+ foot structures outfitted with organ pipes emanate with sound whenever the wind blows. After Cornell passed, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron posted a heart-wrenching comment on his Facebook page saying “My dark knight is gone,” a sentiment that hit entirely too close to home for those who knew Cornell as well as those who often suffer in silence—forever searching for ways to deal with their own depression and anxiety.

    At an impromptu memorial held at the radio station KEXP on the day of Cornell’s death, 400 people showed up to collectively grieve at the station’s gathering space. While addressing the crowd, long-time DJ John Richards said that “part of the city (of Seattle) had died” that day. Often, music is something that can be hugely helpful and cathartic when you’re trying to make sense of unfathomable events such as Cornell’s impossibly sad, untimely passing. And that is exactly the purpose of my post today—to share Soundgarden’s legacy by way of their sonic, ear-smashing music.

    Though I know your social media feeds have likely been filled with news about the legendary vocalist, I really wanted to support as well as spread the idea of celebrating Cornell’s life and his work with Soundgarden, who are/were without question one of the greatest rock bands of the last 30 years. A large part of their appeal was, of course, the animal magnetism of Chris Cornell’s stage presence and his immaculate four-octave vocal range. Cornell was also the primary lyricist for Soundgarden, which helped solidify his deep connection to their fan base.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    The Monkees’ last stand: Their final 1969 TV special ‘33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee’
    12:34 pm


    The Monkees
    Brian Auger

    After the glorious fiasco that was the 1968 movie Head, the last project that the Monkees undertook as a quartet was a TV special for NBC called 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee. It’s basically the TV equivalent of Head, complete with corny jokes, audacious cameos, hummable ditties, and stuff that makes you scratch your noggin in puzzlement.

    Like the band itself, 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee, which aired on April 14, 1969, is thoroughly of the Sixties, somehow managing to blend (say) the Batman TV show and Barbarella with musical performance shows of the day like Shindig! (which makes sense, as the producer of Shindig!, Jack Good, was involved with this as well.

    The Monkees enlisted Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll to take care of the half-baked framing narrative, a crazed musical impresario (errr, Don Kirshner?) who turns the four Monkees into mindless automatons so that he can “brainwash the world!!” (I told you it was right out of Batman.) The Monkees’ arrival is highly reminiscent of the “beaming” effect on Star Trek, which had been out for a couple of years by that point, so that counts as a reference.

    About a third of the way through the show, Auger (still in “sinister” character) explains the nature of the musical mind-control properties of the rock and roll piano chords via an audacious device—the camera shows Auger at the piano and strategically pans away from the action to reveal that Auger’s piano is perched on a piano played by Jerry Lee Lewis, which is perched on a piano played by Little Richard, which is perched on a piano played by Fats Domino. Like this:

    It was probably no accident that the band chose a metaphor of being controlled by a sinister puppet master. After all, the Monkees’ story is the most vivid example in rock history of a band struggling to seize the means of production (we call them “instruments”) from the corporate overlords that had conjured them into being in the first place—in the show, Auger actually uses the word conjure to summon them into being. Later on in the show, the four fellows sing a discordant little ditty called “Wind Up Man” (as wind-up men), which included lyrics like this:

    I’m a wind up man
    Programmed to be entertaining
    Turn the key
    I’m a fully automatic
    Wind up man
    Invented by the teeny bopper
    Turn me on
    And I will sing a song about a
    Wind up man

    As mentioned, it would seem that the stress of being the world’s first purely manufactured rock and roll TV sensation had gotten to the boys…...

    More fun than a barrel of Monkees after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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