‘Gandhi & Martin Luther King were great womanizers’: That time Roger Ailes interviewed Joan Baez
05.23.2017
12:44 pm
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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…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.23.2017
12:44 pm
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Rude (but politely introspective) boys: The secret early life of Tears for Fears
05.23.2017
12:20 pm
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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…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.23.2017
12:20 pm
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Cool for Cats: Squeeze’s East Side stories, working class poetry and kitchen-sink dramas
05.23.2017
11:36 am
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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. 
 
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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…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.23.2017
11:36 am
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Hello dummy: That time Don Rickles was drawn by Jack Kirby for DC Comics, you hockey pucks!
05.23.2017
11:23 am
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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…......

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.23.2017
11:23 am
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