Excellent Russell Brand interview on celebrity culture by BBC’s Newsnight

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I’m very curious to find out what my American cousins make of Russell Brand. Yes, I know you know he’s a comedian, and it’s pretty obvious that guy has the gift of the gab. His reboot of Arthur has just been released (to some pretty damning reviews) so we’re seeing a lot more of his promotional material at the moment. But have you seen him in a context like this? His mouth is off the leash here as usual, but the focus is not on wackiness and jokes but on serious conversation and in particular ruminations on celebrity culture, media narrative and his part in that.

Newsnight is the BBC’s nightly investigative news broadcast, and Jeremy Paxman is the BBC’s masthead “serious” anchorman (Chris Morris’ character in The Day Today is basically Paxman amped up). It’s safe to say they are taking this interview seriously, and it’s great that Paxman doesn’t patronise or talk down to Brand but speaks directly to his intelligence. 

Brand has been a well known TV personality in the UK for the best part of a decade now. He really hit his stride as the host of Big Brother’s Little Brother, a daily, live, audience-based re-cap show where he developed his motor-mouth dandy routine. To see him handle a large crowd of drunken, excited young-people with nothing but the power of words was very impressive. As with Andrew WK, it’s refreshing to see someone dropping their public persona and revealing themselves to be highly intelligent:
 

 
Thanks to Aylwyn Napier for the link!

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
“Hi Mom! Still alive!”: Black Flag and the punk violence hysteria of 1980-81

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As if you needed it: PUNK NOSTALGIA ALERT.

In the early ‘80s, Black Flag were at the center of the controversy about punk rock violence that hung over the hardcore scenes in L.A. and nationwide.

Two elements seemed at work here. First were the media reports about punk violence fueled parental hysteria, and likely prompted parents of rebellious teens to call the cops on shows that would probably have turned out fine. Second was the actual risk of potential injury at L.A. punk shows. This typically led ad hoc scene spokespeople to defensively compare violence levels at punk shows with those at metal concerts or football games. It also caused plenty of serious internal hand-wringing (mostly in punk ‘zines) about “scene unity”—which now of course just seems like naïve tribalism. 

This Reagan-era concern over local teen and twenty-something violence seemed completely bemusing at a time of mutal assured nuclear destruction and adventurous foreign policy.

Obviously, Black Flag shows weren’t sedate affairs. Of my two encounters with the band in the early Rollins era, one featured a quick half-stampede away from the stage and towards the door, while the other comprised watching a riot unfold outside a sold-out Flag show with the Ramones. Black Flag would eventually settle into the proto-grunge route to self-destruction in 1986.

Looking at it from an era in which more severe and socially tangible violence happens routinely at hip-hop shows, and punk is now fodder for a Broadway musical, Black Flag’s problems seems like they occurred less at another time than on another planet.

Here’s a 1981 segment from the local L.A. news show 2 on the Town.
 

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
I-Dosing Exposed! Suburban High School Kids Plagued by That Hi-Tech Sound Drug Thingy!

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Thanks to XLR8R staff writer Cameron Macdonald for the heads-up. No, that’s not Cameron above.
 
In a heartland drenched in booze, Oxy, Xanax, sugar, and TV, it only makes sense for parents to take action on the hugely important issue of their kids listening to mind-altering sounds, right?

We’re back here again, are we, Mr. and Mrs. America?

The whole thing seems to have started this spring when KFOR NewsChannel 4 reported on a letter that Mustang, Oklahoma school administrators sent to parents about the “new and dangerous fad…called I-Dosing, or digital drugs.”
 

More after the jump…
 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion