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Muhammad Ali recites his poem on the Attica Prison riot: ‘Better to die fighting to be free’
12.10.2014
01:28 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Politics
Sports

Tags:
Muhammad Ali
poetry
Attica

1muhalibox.jpg
 
In July 1972, Muhammad Ali traveled to his ancestral homeland of Ireland at the invitation of Michael “Butty” Sugrue, who had put up the purse for Ali to fight Detroit contender Alvin “Blue” Lewis at Croke Park, in front of 25,000 fans. Ali won the fight with an eleventh round knockout.

It was The Greatest’s first visit to his maternal great-grandfather Abe Grady’s birth country, and he made a special point of visiting the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) Jack Lynch and the republican socialist politician Bernadette Devlin to discuss “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Ali also discussed the civil rights issues in the north of the country in a long TV interview with RTÉ’s Cathal O’Shannon. During this interview Ali also commented the brutal murderous events carried out by the authorities after the Attica prison riot.

On September 9th 1971, after hearing news of the execution of Black Panther George Jackson at San Quentin, around 1,000 Attica inmates rioted and seized control of the prison. The prisoners had taken hostage 42 guards and demanded political rights and better conditions. Negotiations progressed until September 13th, when at 09:46 hours tear gas was hurled into the siege area which was followed by two full minutes of non-stop shooting by members of the NYPD and troops from the National Guard. Forty-three were killed—33 inmates and ten staffers.

Having explained the events of the slaughter, Ali then recited his poem:

Better far from all I see
To die fighting to be free
What more fitting end could be?

Better surely than in some bed
Where in broken health I’m led
Lingering until I’m dead

Better than with prayers and pleas
Or in the clutch of some disease
Wasting slowly by degrees

Better than of heart attack
Or some dose of drug I lack
Let me die by being Black

Better far that I should go
Standing here against the foe
Is the sweeter death to know

Better than the bloody stain
On some highway where I’m lain
Torn by flying glass and pane

Better calling death to come
Than to die another dumb
Muted victim in the slum

Better than of this prison rot
If there’s any choice I’ve got
Kill me here on the spot

Better far my fight to wage
Now while my blood boils with rage
Lest it cool with ancient age

Better vowing for us to die
Than to Uncle Tom and try
Making peace just to live a lie

Better now that I say my sooth
I’m gonna die demanding truth
While I’m still akin to youth

Better now than later on
Now that fear of death is gone
Never mind another dawn.

Ali returned to Ireland in 2003, when he took part in the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in Dublin, and again in 2009, when he was given Honorary Freeman of the town of Ennis, birthplace of his great-grandfather Abe Grady. A film When Ali Came to Ireland documented the boxer’s trip and the “huge impact [it had] on those Ali met and, some say, on the man himself.”
 

 
Via Open Culture.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Idiotic hipsters complain about the font of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ protest shirts


 
A new entry of the annals of monumentally missing the point…

“I Can’t Breathe” may be the sentence of 2014. They are, of course, the last words, uttered many times, of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old NYC Department of Parks horticulturist and occasional loose cigarette salesman whose inexplicable death by police chokehold in the Tompkinsville neighborhood (where I lived until quite recently) last July has led to a great deal of outcry.

The sentence has achieved the ultimate that can happen in our society—it has become a free-floating signifier in social media, just like Paula Deen’s supposedly homophobic fried chicken recipes or something. This past week several prominent athletes in the predominantly African-American NBA, including the Bulls’ Derrick Rose, the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, and the Nets’ Deron Williams, have warmed up wearing T-shirts heartbreakingly emblazoned with that simple message of solidarity with a blameless victim of police brutality: “I CAN’T BREATHE.”

All across America, a small minority of observers reacted in the expected way: they tut-tutted the shirts’ choice of font. The shirts, while admittedly embodying a courageous stand against the combined forces of intolerance, had committed the unpardonable sin of violating a bit of design etiquette.

Among people who take design very seriously, the Comic Sans typeface has been a bête noire for at least a decade, because it is often used by “design-blind” “normals” outside of its optimal range of uses, frequently lending an unserious air to messages of stern import. Designed by Vincent Connare, Comic Sans was released by Microsoft in 1994, which surely contributed to its popularity.

For instance, Tony Seddon named a book after it (Thou Shall Not Use Comic Sans: 365 Graphic Design Sins and Virtues: A Designer’s Almanac of Dos and Don’ts) in which he calls it “arguably the most inappropriately used typeface in history” (although a page later he sort of takes it back).

Eventually, on the McSweeney’s website, Mike Lacher defended the honor of the typeface with “I’m Comic Sans, Asshole,” which contained the immortal line “I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.” The piece simultaneously seemed to agree with the design critics’ peeve while putting them in their place.

On the T-shirts, for instance, Caroline Fredericks, of “California/Alabama,” tweeted, “how many people will be able to look past the choice of comic sans?” Ryan Hubbard, of Kansas City, tweeted, “Who’s giving all of these NBA players “I can’t breathe” shirts set in Comic Sans? I love that they’re wearing them, but come on, man.”

The New York Times report on the shirts emphasizes the outsize efforts of Jay-Z and others to replicate the gesture made by Derrick Rose of the Bulls and makes no mention of Comic Sans or any other aspect of the shirts’ design, except to note that “Rameen Aminzadeh, a member of Justice League NYC, drafted a simple design for the text of the T-shirt, which other members of the group approved sometime after 1 a.m. [referring to late Sunday night/early Monday morning].”

Here are a few of the tweets—there’s plenty more where these came from.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Skateboarding in an abandoned psychiatric ward
11.17.2014
03:55 pm

Topics:
Sports

Tags:
skateboarding


Photo credit: Sean Colello
 
Skaters Sean Collelo and Rob Miceli take you on a pretty wild ride through an abandoned psychiatric ward in New York state. As I was watching them walk through the underground tunnels all I could think of was too much asbestos. Those old pipes are just covered in it!

The footage wasn’t entirely shot in the psych ward, but some other abandoned buildings as well. They never reveal the exact locations, so it’s up to you to figure it out. But dammit, I’m a sucker for this type of stuff.

The campus is a pretty huge area made up of about 10 abandoned buildings and 4 buildings that are still functioning. Psych patients roam around the complex and so do cops. Most of the abandoned buildings are pretty boarded up so you can’t get in, but the thing that’s so sick is all the buildings are connected with underground tunnels, so if you can find a way into one, you can access them all. The nurses used these tunnels to deliver food and supplies to the patients all over the center. It’s surprisingly untouched. You will still find office supplies, files, photos, machinery, and other artifacts.

Once we found our way into the tunnels, we quickly learned it was a giant maze: Loads of dead ends, stairs going up and down, and puddles so big you have to use cinder blocks as stepping stones. The reason we called the project ‘The Search For BLDG.40′ is because the first room in the video that Rob skates was the hardest to get to.

What I dig most about this is that it’s where skate culture meets art. And it looks fun as hell too!

 
Via Gawker

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Awesome woman performs bike tricks 20 years before BMX flatland-style, 1965
11.14.2014
10:34 am

Topics:
Sports

Tags:
Lilly Yokoi


 
Meet Japanese ballerina Lilly Yokoi. Here she is performing some amazing bike tricks on TV variety show The Hollywood Palace in 1965. The ABC program used a different host each week. Joan Crawford was the host on this show which aired on October 9, 1965.

Throughout the sixties and seventies Yokoi was considered the world’s greatest acrobat on a bicycle. She was known as “The Ballerina On The Golden Bicycle.”

I can’t find any information on Yokoi’s whereabouts today, but I believe she’s still alive. In any case, she’d give a lot of X Games competitors a run for their money. And mind you, she’s doing this in heels. Go Lilly!
 

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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JJ Burnel: Stranglers bassist, karate master
10.24.2014
07:41 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Sports

Tags:
The Stranglers
karate


If you find yourself in this situation, RUN.

Add this to the list of reasons to be very, very nice to Stranglers bassist and singer Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel, if you should ever meet him: he can kill you with his bare hands.

Burnel has, let’s say, a heavy reputation. According to the Guardian, the Stranglers’ authorized biography devotes no fewer than 20 pages to the subject “Burnel, violence.” The Stranglers’ former singer and guitarist, Hugh Cornwell, writes that he and Burnel fell out when the bassist attacked him backstage after a show in Italy, and that the incident was a factor in Cornwell’s decision to quit the band in 1990. Burnel had famously beaten up punk journalist Jon Savage in 1977 for giving No More Heroes a bad review in Sounds, and decades later, in an interview with Strangled, he was unrepentant about that encounter:

“I tracked him down one night to the Red Cow,” JJ explained. “And I punched his lights out right there in front of Jake Riviera, Andrew Lauder – our A&R guy, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe – all these people saw what I did. So yeah, we made a lot of enemies, bless ‘em, and these people got in a lot of influential positions within the music industry and literature… Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill… But we weren’t gonna suck up to these c*nts.”

 

Has anyone heard from the magazine editor who misspelled JJ’s last name recently?
 
Burnel, now 62, started training in martial arts at the age of 19. Since 1991, he has been the branch chief and chief instructor of the Shidokan GB organization. He is a sixth dan black belt, and as a teacher he has attained the formal title of Renshi. (I am just a flabby nerd from the suburbs and I do not pretend to know what these ranks and titles mean, but they scare the shit out of me.) According to the Shidokan GB website, London residents can train with Burnel at Slim Jims in Broadgate on Tuesday evenings. There are a few clips of Burnel in competition at the 1:40 mark in the segment below, from the ITV series After They Were Famous.

When most musicians say they have “chops”... oh, never mind.
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Krautrock for Athletes: What 70s East German Olympians just might have listened to while training


 
I have to admit, they had me going there for a while…. I thought it was real. I stumbled on the Bandcamp page for the Kosmischer Läufer project two days ago, courtesy of WFMU, who blandly supplied no information about it. The site purported to be the “secret cosmic music of the East German Olympic Program, 1972-1983.” (Kosmischer Läufer means “cosmic runners.”) Volume 1 came out last year, vol. 2 this week.

So I’m listening to these tracks of magnificent 1970s-style German electronic music and taking in the backstory of one Martin Zeichnete, an apprentice sound editor for DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft) who, starting in 1972, was transferred to the Olympic training music project, that is, to compose music for East German athletes to train to. Having furtively imbibed the forbidden Western tones of Kraftwerk and Neu! in his hometown of Dresden, Zeichnete managed to smuggle in some avant-garde ideas to the project and generate some pretty sweet Musik that (just by chance) would be tailor-made for the discerning hipster of 2013. Volume 1 represented a program that “should allow the average runner to complete a 5 kilometre run at a reasonable pace. Included are 3 minute warmup and warm down pieces.”
 

 
My knowledge of German came in handy, here. There was a puzzlement or two to clear up. The name “Zeichnete,” which means “drew” or “sketched,” isn’t an entirely convincing surname for a German national. The story of being scarily apprehended by the Stasi authorities, only to be suddenly transferred to the Olympic training department, seemed far-fetched. The titles were an absolutely perfect imitation of what the contemporary English speaker would want them to be—“Mausi Mausi,” for Chrissake? “Flucht aus dem Tal der Ahnungslosen” means “Escape from the Valley of the Clueless” and really, that’s a great title in any language and perhaps more to the point, a clue to anyone taking all this retro guff too seriously. The only real problem with it all was that sizable gap between 1989 and 2013. Where were these tracks all this time? What had taken Zeichnete so long? Why was he staggering the releases? Why did some of the tracks sound so perfectly like what a Stereolab-influenced electronic music nut would generate today, given the chance?

More to the point, the whole thing was beginning to seem a bit ridiculous.
 

 
Turns out, these fine tracks of faux 1970s e-music had been introduced in a (successfully funded) Kickstarter last year launched by one Drew McFadyen of Edinburgh. (This blog says there’s more than just one person behind it, but I couldn’t discern anyone’s name but that of Mr. McFayden.)

Sehr witzig, mein guter Kerl!

In any case, instead of the most marvelous musical find of this or the last century and an incredible artifact of the Cold War, we have a excellently rendered simulacrum of same. It’s a hoot if you’re in the mood for some free tracks to listen to on Bandcamp or YouTube, but the files can also be ordered on iTunes or Amazon (links to individual tracks are below). Unfortunately, as often happens with Kickstarters, the original run of LPs is sold out. (If you’re listening, Unknown Capability Recordings, remember me if you ever do a future pressing!)

You can read an interview with the fictitious East German, Martin Zeichnete—it’s worth reading, they did a very good job with it. The reference to Andreas Pavel’s Stereobelt was just the right touch.
 

Track listing:
Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Vol. 1

1. Zeit zum Laufen 156 (Time to Run 156)
2. Sandtrommel (Sand Drum)
3. Die lange Gerade (The Long Straightaway)
4. Tonband Laufspur (Audio Tape Running Track)
5. Ein merkwürdiger Anschlag (An Unusual Attack)

Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Vol. 2

1. Zeit zum Laufen 172 (Time to Run 172)
2. Morgenröte (Dawn)
3. Flucht aus dem Tal der Ahnungslosen (Escape from the Valley of the Clueless)
4. Die Kapsel (The Capsule)
5. Die Libellen (The Dragonflies)
6. Mausi Mausi (Mausi Mausi)
7. Walzer der roten Katze (Waltz of the Red Cat)
8. Der Hörraum (The Listening Room)
9. Für Kati (For Kati)
10. Weltraumspaziergang (Spacewalk)

 
Here are a couple of the videos, cleverly sync’d up to some bitchin’ footage of East German athletes in their former glory:

“Die Libellen”:

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Awesome Lucha Libre magazine covers from the 1970s
09.24.2014
09:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Sports

Tags:
wrestling
Lucha Libre


 
Admittedly, I don’t know that much about Lucha libre (meaning “free wrestling”) culture. But what I do know is the costumes, colorful masks and buff bodies make for some interesting eye candy. These vintage magazine covers and pages from a Lucha libre glossy, I believe, prove my point nicely.

They sure as hell beat American-style wrestling getups, anyway!


 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and Rod Stewart compete in ABC’s ‘Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic,’ 1978


 
Those of us who lived through the seventies won’t soon forget the various ABC celebrity sports extravaganzas, especially the Battle of the Network Stars of various years. I didn’t remember, however, the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic from 1978. Aside from a few genuine immortals (Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Joan Jett), the panoply of athletes is mostly reminiscent of a Columbia Records Club advertisement or the $1 bin at your local LP store (Boston, Leif Garrett, Anne Murray, Seals & Crofts, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Loggins, etc.).
 

 
Events include cycling, basketball, swimming, track and field. The main takeaway is that the Runaways kick ass, with both Joan Jett and Sandy West winning events. Michael Jackson appears in the 60-yard dash, but his brother Jackie wins that event. In soccer, Rod Stewart defeats ELO bassist Richard Tandy in a penalty-kick competition.

The roster of announcers is nearly as long and impressive as the list of performer-athletes: Ed McMahon, Sandy Duncan, Phyllis Diller, Kristy McNichol, Barbi Benton, and Alex Karras. Fred Travalena is also on hand to do a few timely impressions, such as Richard Nixon, who had resigned as president four years earlier.
 

 
At the 22:00 mark there’s a weird moment involving Alex Karras. Karras, who died in 2012, was a remarkable fellow by any definition, being an All-Pro defensive tackle for the Lions, Blazing Saddles bit player, and the adult lead for the ABC sitcom Webster for many years. But he was also one of a bare handful of athletes ever to suffer a league sanction for gambling, being forced by the NFL to sit out the 1963 season because of his involvement in gambling activities. So it’s especially weird when, after introducing Marlon Jackson before a race, he adopts the mock desperation of a gambling addict: “Marlon, you gotta win this one, I don’t care about you guys making money, but I need it!”

Indeed, the very existence of the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic brings to mind the recent issue of drug testing in pro sports—one wonders what results the drug tests for this event would have yielded. Some of the events are actually edited out of this video, but most of them are there, but a judicious assessment of the video’s contents would still conclude that it mainly consists of introductions: “In Lane number two, William King of the Commodores!” It’s still a prime example of the dread nexus of music and television that only the seventies can supply, and well worth watching for connoisseurs of televised weirdness.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Baseball general manager gets prostate exam (during game) singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’
07.29.2014
07:27 am

Topics:
Amusing
Sports

Tags:
baseball
medicine

prostate exam
 
You’ve got to, er, hand it to Myrtle Beach Pelicans general manager Andy Milovich. Last month it was Prostate Cancer Awareness Night at Pelicans Ballpark, and true to the evening’s awareness-promoting events, he took to the mic during the 7th inning stretch and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while a grinning MD, dressed in surgical scrubs, investigated his prostate, as is the custom, from the rear entrance.
 
prostate exam
 
Under the circumstances, Milovich held it together admirably. He passed the exam without any problems, and the Pelicans, an Advanced-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers in the Carolina League, managed to put together a rousing comeback 5-4 victory against the hated (?) Frederick Keys, an Orioles affiliate.

We note without comment that this coming Sunday is Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Pelicans Ballpark.
 

 
via Ken Levine’s blog
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Torchwood’ star John Barrowman opens Commonwealth Games with same-sex kiss

barrowmankiss.jpg
 
Well done to Torchwood star John Barrowman, who opened the twentieth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last night with a kiss.

The ceremony, which was held at Celtic Park in the city’s east end, began with a kitsch musical number performed by Barrowman and comedy actress Karen Dunbar celebrating Scotland’s diverse culture and history. In front of an estimated television audience of 1.5 billion, Mr. Barrowman kissed one of the kilted male dancers during a sequence on Gretna Green—the romantic village where eloping couples have traditionally married.

The kiss was accompanied by shouts of “Here’s to equality in Scotland.”

The bill for gay marriage in Scotland received Royal assent in March this year, and the first gay weddings will take place in 2015.

The theme of the opening ceremony was equality for all, and Mr. Barrowman’s kiss highlighted the fact that homosexuality is a prisonable offense in an astonishing 42 of the 54 Commonwealth nations taking part on the games.

Among the other artists taking part in the “Friendly games” opening ceremony were Rod Stewart, Nicola Bendetti, Amy MacDonald, DJ Mylo, Billy Connolly, Susan Boyle, Karen Dunbar, Ewan MacGregor and 41 Scottish Terriers. Read a review here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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