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‘Listen Mulder, what you can’t question is the SCIENCE!’: Dana Scully REALLY likes science
09:48 am


Dana Scully
The X-Files

Here’s a montage of The X-Files’ Dana Scully defending science to the bitter end to an aloof Agent Fox Mulder. YouTuber Ryan English—and maker of this video—points out:

“She never gave up, even when the aliens put a chip in her neck.”

What X-Files fan hasn’t shouted at their TV set “SCULLY, YOU’VE PERSONALLY SEEN FREAKING ALIENS!” With that in mind, I appreciated the punchline.

via Waxy

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Chuck Berry and Little Richard headline the London Rock & Roll Show 1972

The London Rock and Roll Show was the first major pop concert to be held at Wembley Stadium, the sports arena later famed for LiveAid and the Freddie Mercury tribute concert.

Headlining the show that day on August 5, 1972 were the undisputed Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll Chuck Berry and Little Richard. These gods were ably supported by Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Screaming Lord Sutch and Billy Fury. Some of the booked acts couldn’t make the concert due to visa issues, but those who did turn up delivered a blistering set of rock ‘n’ roll classics. The whole event was filmed by Peter Clifton, who later directed Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same, and given a brief cinema release. The performances are interspersed by an interview with Mick Jagger who gives his thoughts about the show—something he claims could never have happened a decade before—and watch out for a young Malcolm McLaren selling T-shirts at his Let It Rock stall.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER’: The speech Nixon would have given if lunar landing had failed
07:53 am


Richard Nixon
Apollo 11

Prior to the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing, one of President Richard Nixon’s speechwriters, William Safire, who later became a long-standing political columnist, wrote a speech for Nixon to give in case the mission failed and the astronauts were stranded on the Moon. “In Event of Moon Disaster” was originally sent as a memo, dated July 18, 1969, to Nixon’s chief of staff H.R. Haldeman and is yet another argument against the moon landing being a hoax:


Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.


The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.


A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to “the deepest of the deep,” concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

NASA’s 45th anniversary of moon landing original resource reel:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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‘Sugar Cookies’: The Discreet Charm of the Swinging, Decadent Bourgeoisie
07:15 am


Mary Woronov
Lynn Lowry

Vintage Poster for Sugar Cookies
There are few things more dangerous than someone who is rich, gorgeous and bored. New kicks get harder and harder to find, especially when you are someone like art/sex film director Max Pavell (George Shannon) in Theodore Gershuny’s underground-meets-overground psychosexual drama, 1973’s Sugar Cookies.

Opening with Max talking to an unseen reporter about the tragic demise of his superstar actress, Alta (Lynn Lowry), the film switches to a flashback revealing some of the truth behind the young (and damaged) beauty’s death. Waking her out of a more than likely drug induced nap, he starts to seduce her, which quickly turns into a head trip involving a loaded revolver, strange perfume and the handsome but soul-eroded Max pulling the trigger in such a way to make it look like a suicide. The film cuts back to Max talking on the news, his handsome and reptilian image now on multiple screens.
Max Pavell on the TV News
After the TV sleaze interlude, the film cuts to Camilla (Mary Woronov), bathing in one of the best fedoras ever. She saunters into Max’s living room and starts doing some topless stretching and leg exercises. He walks in and the best part is the near-bored look on her face. She knows she’s majestic and is the true alpha in the room. They do end up having sex, all set to the very sensual audio and inter-cut scenes of Alta’s autopsy report. Are we having fun yet?

There’s a weird subplot involving Max’s estranged wife, the fabulous Teutonic bitch-goddess Helene (Monique van Vooren) and her chubby, supremely awkward negligee enthusiast brother Gus (Daniel Sador). The way she hisses such bon mots like, “I will slit your throat!” at Max is heart-warming.
Julie is groomed by Camille
Meanwhile, Camille confers with her charismatically acerbic friend Roderick (the inimitable Ondine) about conducting auditions to find Max’s next big actress. (Something Roderick refers to as a “cunt hunt.” Did I mention he was acerbic?) After a genuinely funny audition montage, the last girl walks in. Julie (also Lynn Lowry) is an elfin looking beauty whose eagerness for an acting role is matched only by her lack of experience. Which is summed up with her sole credit of playing Anya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, which Julie honestly describes her work in as perfectly terrible. Camille takes a liking to Julie and begins to groom her. The two women bond, first over seemingly benign activities, like shopping, tennis and swimming. But things soon grow more and more co-dependent, with Julie becoming increasingly more submissive to the innately domineering Camille. Is the moody Amazonian grooming Julie to be the next Alta or to be Alta, complete with the tragic ending?
Things get weird in Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies is from a very rarefied period of time where the underground and overground were cross-pollinating. With Warhol Factory stars like Woronov and Ondine, not to mention future Flesh for Frankenstein co-star Monique van Vooren, it has instant art cred. But that said, this is really more than just a cult film curio. Underneath its polished, arty veneer are some mighty strong cynical threads about not just the bourgeoisie but also the dangers of making stars of out of people who are damaged goods right from the starting gate.

Cast-wise, Woronov and Lynn Lowry, two wholly unique and wonderful actresses who would go on to be deigned cult film queens, truly run the show. Woronov is all slinky, sinister grace as Camille, making an interesting mix with the ethereal and fragile Alta/Julie. It’s a bit mind-blowing to realize that Sugar Cookies was Lowry’s first major role. (She had previously appeared as a mute cult member in the incredible horror film, I Drink Your Blood in 1971.) She manages to pull off the two similar but different personalities of her dual roles with conviction, leaving you truly worried for poor, possibly ill-fated Julie.
Camille in Max's Pad
The rest of the cast, especially Shannon, Vooren and Ondine, are wonderful but are not given enough to do. Shannon, who would go on to shine in Fernando Arrabal’s heart-building and heart-breaking I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse later that year, is good as the handsome but morally sooted director. Monique von Vooren, who was also a cabaret singer that could boast of having a pre-fame Christopher Walken as one of her backup dancers, is all icy hot anger and blonde glamor as Helene. Her fabulous bitchiness is only matched by the brilliant Ondine, one of my personal favorites from the Factory years. These three are all charismatics and while the film is really terrific, it would have been sweet to have more of them within it. On top of that, you also get to see early sexploitation and adult film legend Jennifer Welles as Max’s aggressive, honey-haired secretary. 

The casting credits are not the only weirdly impressive ones for the film. In addition to a young Oliver Stone (!) as the associate producer, there’s also Mr. Troma Films himself, Lloyd Kaufman sharing both writing credits with director Gershuny, as well as an executive producer credit. Before Vinegar Syndrome spiffed this film up with a lovely Blu-Ray release, Troma had actually released it years before. Other than the fact that there is nudity and Lloyd Kaufman attached to it, Sugar Cookies does not play out at all like a Troma film. If anything, it’s right next to films like Rufus Butler Seder’s criminally underrated Screamplay (which co-starred underground film titan George Kuchar) and Dario Argento’s last truly great film, The Stendhal Syndrome, which are both brilliant and are about as Troma-like as Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

One of the coolest coups that Gershuny and Kaufman pulled was landing electronic music great Gershon Kingsley for the appropriately trippy soundtrack. Kingsley, best known for the composition “Popcorn,” was a Moog pioneer and one of those composers, like fellow genius-peers Mort Garson, Wendy Carlos and his musical partner, Jean-Jacques Perrey, whose body of work is just begging for more examination.

Sugar Cookies is a dark, strange gem that is as compelling as its mighty cast. If you love any and/or all of the main actresses and actors or just want to see something different from a point in time where the cinematic lines were thinner and ultimately, more interesting, definitely give this one a go.

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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Sherlock Holmes recreated as police composite sketch
06:04 am


Sherlock Holmes

We all have a different image of Sherlock Holmes usually associated with the actor we first saw playing the great detective. For some it will be Bendedict Cumberbatch with his petulant manner and curly question-marked hair; or the intense white-faced Jeremy Brett and his quivering flared nostrils; or Peter Cushing forever toying with a prop; or better still the pipe-clenching good sportsmanship of Basil Rathbone, who was my celluloid introduction to Sherlock Holmes in the 1970s.

Of course, these are all variations on a theme and we have to go those timeless tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in particular the first full novel of Holmesian adventure A Study in Scarlet to find a description of the man himself:

His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination.

But how would Holmes look if we were to make a modern composite police sketch based on this description?

Well, this is exactly what Brian Joseph Davis has done over at his The Composites web page, where he uses police sketch software to create composite portraits of famous literary figures.
His Sherlock Holmes has a hint of Midge Ure from Ultravox circa early eighties mixed with thin lips of William S. Burroughs.
Here you’ll also find Emma Bovary from Madame Bovary, Rochester from Jane Eyre, and Keith Talent from Martin Amis’ Money, who looks uncannily like the comic Jimmy Clitheroe.
Even Humbert Humbert from Lolita (who looks a little like Alan Arkin meets an aging David Byrne).
And Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby—though she lacks the fatal beauty of the character in the book.

I guess that’s my problem with these images—they all begin to look the same after a while, and the uniformity of design makes them drab, lifeless, like formulae for a human equation. Anyway, here’s Peter Cushing to breathe some life into Sherlock Holmes in this BBC production of A Study in Scarlet.

H/T Nerdcore

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Ska and punk and Duran Duran’: Fantastic student-made documentary on mid-80s high school fashion
05:32 am



Maybe it’s the congeniality of the kids, or maybe it’s the inspired use of the riff from “She Bop,” but this high school documentary, dated either ‘84 or ‘85, is possibly the only reflection on fashion I could describe as “adorable.” This is not to patronize the subjects, who display the kind of plucky fortitude necessary to survive the crude politics of high school. The problems they face may jog your memory: an emphasis on conspicuous consumption annoys a girl who can’t or won’t drop the cash for expensive threads, a sweet brace-faced girl and her best friend are harassed by jocks for their punk aesthetics, and (of course) a boy gets called a “fag.”

It’s all very cliché high school stuff, but it’s also very real (and very recognizable), though school is obviously only half the battle for a teenage fashion pioneer. When asked about their parents’ opinions on their children’s sartorial choices, students reported a range of responses, from support to “disgust.” Overall, the teens seem pretty confident and self-assured, and they don’t really appear all that obsessed with the “outsider” clothing they’re sporting. When asked to give advice to their peers, one reassures teens of a world beyond their small town, and another simply recommends a lot of punk shows.

You hear that? The kids were all right.

Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘CSNY 1974’: Listen to exclusive live tracks from Crosby, Still, Nash and Young

Photo: Joel Bernstein

Not only am I one of those people who gets all squirmy if a concert goes on for much longer than an hour, I tend to really hate live albums. So why did I spend six straight hours yesterday listening intently to CSNY 1974, the new 40 song live box set from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all the way through twice in back to back playings? Because it’s the best archival rock release of the year…

The coked-out megalomanical circus that saw David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Neil Young storm across America in the first and most decadent superstar open air stadium tour of the rock era was nicknamed the “Doom Tour” by Crosby because of the feuding, the drugs and the fact that a small army of promoters and hangeroners were sucking at their hyper-megastar corporate rock teets like there was no tomorrow. There had been big rock tours in the past, but CSNY’s extra ginormous 1974 outing—dreamed up by manager Elliot Roberts and put into action by rock promoter Bill Graham—was like plotting an invasion of each new town that the show moved to. The beachheads were 50-70,000 seat football arenas, which saw stages erected and massive PA systems hooked up by a legion of roadies. Other acts on the tour included The Band, Joni Mitchell, Santana and the Beach Boys.

The “Doom Tour” grossed $11 million back when $11 million was still a hell of a lot of money, but the principals only pocketed half a mill each after expenses (and the promoters) were paid. There’s an amusing “oral history” of the trek at Rolling Only Young kept both feet (literally) on the ground, traveling in a bus with his son Zeke and avoiding the insanity, but suffice to say that the debauchery and rockstar egos—at least from the evidence on display here—didn’t interfere with the music, which is insanely good.

“Carry Me”

The musicianship on CSNY 1974  is first rate, better even than their earlier live album 4 Way Street as each member had creatively matured since the 1970 tour. In Stephen Stills we have one of the single most remarkable guitarists of the rock era. Don’t get me wrong, Neil Young is no slouch on the six-string himself, but with Stills—as opposed to with Crazy Horse—his ragged, idiosyncratic playing is obliged to conform to, fight against and to parry with Stills’ more structured and almost architectural guitar style. Musically at least, they bring out the best in each other, but it’s Stills who provides the foundation in CSNY that Young reacts to and then he in turn reacts to what Young does, and lemme tell ya, it’s breathtaking. If, like some people, you approach CSNY solely from the POV of Young’s perhaps more “aloof” contributions, these are some canonical performances by him here that I think any Neil Young freak would go absolutely nuts over. (Five of the songs in the set composed by Young—“Traces,” “Goodbye Dick,” “Love Art Blues,” “Hawaiian Sunrise” and “Pushed It Over the End” –appear on CSNY 1974 for the first time on any official release.)

For all the talk of the backstage feuds, there is simply no sign of this in the onstage camaraderie documented here, which is supportive, fraternal and joyously ecstatic. A good example of this comes with Stills’ delicate piano backing of Young on “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” Other highlights of the set include several “solo” numbers: a simply smouldering take on Young’s “On The Beach,” a gorgeous rendition of Crosby’s confessional “Carry Me” (at that point still un-issued on record), Nash’s “Grave Concern” from his dark, nearly unknown Wild Tales solo LP and Stills’ motherfucker of a rip, spitting his way through a frantic “Word Game.”

There are various configurations of CSNY 1974 on vinyl, CDs, DVD and Blu-ray Pure Audio discs. Unless you have to have vinyl (and are a masochist who loves flipping six records over) I’d highly suggest going with the version that Rhino sent me, the Blu-ray, which has all 40 songs—there were three sets, two rock sets with an acoustic set in between—on one disc so you can just relax and take it all in for three hours. Another reason to opt for the Blu-ray set is that it sounds really, really good. Produced by Graham Nash and the group’s longtime archivist, Joel Bernstein, the set was culled from the tapes of nine shows that were recorded by Elliot Mazer, the tour’s audio engineer and others. The audio quality here is astonishingly good for 40-year-old live recordings to begin with, but it would be remarkable sounding if it was recorded yesterday. The acoustic guitars chime, the electric leads cut through you like a knife, Stills and Young’s duelling guitars complement and argue with each other. You’ve got the heavenly harmonies of Crosby and Nash mic’d so closely that you can hear their breath. The piano has presence and clarity as if it had been recorded in a studio and not at an open air sports arena in front of 50,000 screaming fans. You get the idea. At least when all of that money was flying out the door unaccounted for, they got these great recordings out of it. The mastering was done by Bernie Grundman (an audiophile mark of distinction) after it was mixed down by Nash, Bernstein and Stanley Tajima Johnston in 192-kHz/24-bit resolution. [To anyone who says that stuff doesn’t make a difference, I defy you to listen to the acoustic set on Blu-ray and tell me you’ve heard a more “intimate” sounding live recording, ever. I suspect that Nash and Bernstein presented their work to Stills and the notoriously picky audiophile Young with confidence. What else would there be for Neil Young to say other than “Hey, great job, guys!”?]

“Grave Concern”

To my mind CSNY 1974 is the “classic rock” release of the year so far. It’s so damned good that I can’t imagine anything coming along and topping it, either, but if that did occur, then 2014 will be a good year for rock snobs, overflowing with an embarrassment of riches like this and the Led Zeppelin remasters.

Like the majority of Amazon reviewers, Ima gonna give CSNY 1974 five stars. One woman writes that she bought it for her husband and gave it to him before they were going to go out and eat. They opted instead to stay home and listen to it all the way through. That was my reaction to it, too. I expected to like it, but I liked it so much that I spent six hours straight with it. Not listening while surfing on my iPad, but listening to it. Listening intently and digging the shit out of it. In summation: CSNY 1974 is fucking good. You want a box set to feel like a good value and Christmas day simultaneously and this one truly does.

(Did I mention that there’s a separate DVD of video performances shot at Wembley Stadium and at Landover, MD’s Capital Centre? That’s awesome, too.)

Here’s something fascinating, a black and white video recording of an impromptu CSNY set taped at Winterland in 1973. It was originally a Stephen Stills and Manassas concert, then some “very special guests” showed up. At the time Neil Young was on his Tonight’s the Night tour with the Santa Monica Flyers and Crosby & Nash were touring as a duo. It’s sloppy, sure, the four hadn’t played together in over two years at this point, but it’s history, baby! Neil Young, perhaps emphasizing his independence from the other three, doesn’t come onstage until the fifth number:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Up to no good: Teen actor’s impressive audition for Francois Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’

François Truffaut was casting for his first feature film The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups), the semi-autobiographical tale of Antoine, a rebellious adolescent growing up in Paris. The young director had already cast Claire Maurier as Antoine’s mother, Guy Decombe and comedian Pierre Repp as his teachers, and Henri Virlojeux as the night watchman who arrests the troubled youngster for the theft of a typewriter. But still Truffaut had no one for Antoine.

He placed an advert in the Paris Soir in the Fall of 1958. Hundreds of young hopefuls were auditioned but none were quite right for the role. Then a friend suggested the son of assistant scriptwriter Pierre Léaud and actress Jacqueline Pierreux.
Actor and Director in Cannes, 1959
When Truffaut met Jean-Pierre Léaud he knew he had found his Antoine. The director later wrote that he saw in the 14-year-old:

...a certain suffering with regard to the family…With, however, this fundamental difference: though we were both rebels, we hadn’t expressed our rebellion in the same way. I preferred to cover up and lie. Jean-Pierre, on the contrary, seeks to hurt, shock and wants it to be known…Why? Because he’s unruly, while I was sly. Because his excitability requires that things happen to him, and when they don’t occur quickly enough, he provokes them.


Jean-Pierre Léaud was a pupil at a private school in Potigny, where he was a described by the school’s headmaster as “unmanageable” with a level of:

Indifference, arrogance, permanent defiance, lack of discipline in all its forms.

Jean-Pierre had been caught with pornography in his dorm, and had often escaped with the older boys on their nights out. But the teenager was bright with an aptitude for writing.
An audition was held that confirmed that Jean-Pierre Léaud was Antoine, so much so, that Truffaut made changes in his script, as he later explained:

I think in the beginning there was a lot of myself in the character of Antoine. But as soon as Jean-Pierre Léaud arrived, his personality, which was so strong, often led me to make changes in the screenplay. So I consider that Antoine is an imaginary character who derives a bit from both of us.

The 400 Blows is described as “one of the defining films of the French New Wave.” It won François Truffaut numerous awards, and was his most successful film in France. It also began a fruitful collaboration between director and actor over the following decades, with Jean-Pierre Léaud going on to become one of France’s greatest actors.

As for the title, well The 400 Blows is a literal translation of the French, which doesn’t capture the nuance or double-meaning of the term Les quatre cents coups, which comes from “faire les quatre cents coups” meaning “to be up to no good.”

Below, an extraordinary interview with Jean-Pierre Léaud at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival:

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘I have come to die with you’: Nico performs ‘Genghis Khan’ on French TV, 1979
09:35 am



On June 27, 1979, accompanied only by her harmonium, Nico performed a stunning “Genghis Khan,” a typically atmospheric number that would later appear on her 1981 Drama of Exile album, on French television.

I have come to lie with you
I have come to die with you
On your padded shoulder
And your golden chest
In a wilderness of glass we rest
And all the flowers they are our words
And my chances follow dances Into a storm afraid
A sweet and bitter rest he gets
A sweet and bitter rest he gets
I have come to lie with you
I have come to die with you.

They don’t write ‘em like that anymore, do they?

The golf claps from the audience at the end speak volumes! There are so few professionally “in studio” performances by her. This one is a bleak gem.

Nico, real name Christa Päffgen, died on this day in 1988 at the age of 48. More or less off heroin at that point, but still struggling with it, she was living with her son Ari Boulogne in Ibiza. One very hot day she decided to take her bike into town to buy some marijuana, but had a heart attack along the way, hitting her head as she fell and causing a severe cerebral hemorrhage. A cabdriver found her but she was mistakenly diagnosed as suffering from heat exposure at the hospital and died later that evening.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Men’s rights WTF commemorative coin mystery, solved?
09:21 am


men's rights

A Voice for Men
A couple of weeks ago the “men’s rights” website A Voice for Men put up a post calling attention to a “commemorative coin” celebrating the First International Conference on Men’s Issues. The coin was designed by Peter Vinczer, the son of men’s rights activist Attila Vinczer; it contains 1 ounce of .999 fine silver and costs $58.88.

Readers of the Lawyers, Guns & Money and We Hunted the Mammoth websites have been trying to figure out what on earth the image is supposed to represent. David Futrelle, author of the post at We Hunted the Mammoth, wonders whether Judy Chicago designed it.

Readers at the two websites have thrown out the following suggestions:

“sperm bouncing off a diaphragm”
“a condom with a hole in it”
“a puckered anus”
“a carrot hovering over a poorly-made pizza”
“a weeping butthole”
“angry pancake”
“a surfacing/sinking beaver”
“a condom turned inside out, with the hand ready to sperm jack”
“a sphincter with a drop of lube and a hand gradually encroaching”
“a diaphragm with a hole poked in it”

“Joe from Lowell” is one of several commenters who have probably cracked the case: “They’re throwing one little stone of masculine rationality into the ocean that is a male-persecuting society, but that one little stone will send out ripples, you betcha.” This makes sense, because the inscription on the other side of the coin, from Robert F. Kennedy, reads as follows: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
A Voice for Men
The text underneath the picture reads, “MHRA 2008-2014”—searching on “MHRA” yields extremely little on the Internet. It seems that “men rights association” or men’s rights activism” etc. are the most common phrases, but some in the movement have shifted to “men’s human rights” because it sounds less douche-y or something. In reality it just sounds confused, of course.
A Voice for Men
I’m not real sure what this video is (I certainly didn’t watch it—it’s nearly two hours long) but the coin image is at the very start, so maybe it has something to do with it.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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