2014 - %3, September

Fast Tracks: "Spanish Mary" From Lost on the River

| Wed Nov. 12, 2014 8:48 PM EST

TRACK 4

"Spanish Mary"

From Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes

electromagnetic recordings/harvest

Liner notes: "Is it a mystery to live/Or is it a mystery to die?" Rhiannon Giddens asks with cool grace, as banjo and mellotron add arresting texture to this spooky toe-tapper.

Behind the music: Entrusted with previously unseen Bob Dylan lyrics from 1967, T Bone Burnett recruited Elvis Costello, Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), and Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) to collaborate on these "new" songs.

Check it out if you like: Dylan's Basement Tapes.

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"Pouring Rain" by Dream Police

| Mon Nov. 10, 2014 6:09 PM EST
dream police

TRACK 4

"Pouring Rain"

From Dream Police's Hypnotized

sacred bones

Liner notes: Woozy analog synths + jittery drum machine + yearning vocals = scruffy, poignant psychedelia.

Behind the music: Dream Police is Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro, founders of the mercurial Brooklyn band the Men, which has ranged from brutal punk to rootsy Americana.

Check it out if you like: Velvet Underground, Neu!, early Human League.

Book Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

| Wed Oct. 29, 2014 5:24 PM EDT

The Secret History of Wonder Woman

By Jill Lepore

Alfred A. Knopf

If Wonder Woman's status as a feminist icon was ever in question, Jill Lepore's deeply researched tribute puts that to rest. Lepore, a New Yorker staffer and Harvard historian, delivers a trove of private documents belonging to the character's creator, William Moulton Marston. Her discoveries shed light not just on Marston's notable life—Harvard scholar, failed lawyer, co-inventor of the polygraph—but on the rich history of women's rights and how it plays out in his colorful panels.

This Stunning Drone Footage Reveals Just How Massive Hong Kong's Protests Really Are

| Tue Sep. 30, 2014 11:26 AM EDT

Protests in Hong Kong show no sign of stopping, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators continue to demand greater autonomy from the government in Beijing. This video, featured on Storyful, by Nero Chan (uploaded to his Facebook account on September 29), offers a glimpse into the magnitude of the movement. Tomorrow is National Day, a public holiday across China. Activists say there's a chance the protests could swell even beyond what you can see in this video.

George Zimmerman's Family Describes Living in a Paranoid World of Color-Coded Threats

| Mon Sep. 29, 2014 4:05 PM EDT
George Zimmerman

In an incredibly absorbing article in GQ, the family of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who was acquitted after fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, discusses its attempts to "rebrand" while living in paralyzing fear.

The Zimmermans' stories, which are both simultaneously tragic and bizarre, show a family eager to move on from the April 2012 "incident" in which George killed Trayvon Martin. They're also struggling with debt and paranoia:

They watched the movie Argo to learn how to live like CIA. Code names for everyone. No mail delivered to the house. No visitors. No talking to the few neighbors they had. No long phone conversations—keep it short and vague to outwit surveillance. Never discuss your whereabouts via phone or text. Keep a weapon close by at all times. Robert slept with his gun. Still does.

And in case someone—or multiple someones—decided to mount an attack on the house, the Zimmermans pre-packed their own "go-bags" filled with everything they would need to flee in a rush, as well as what they called "footballs"—like the one President Obama has with the nuclear codes—that contained laptops, cell phones, and other essential electronics.

They also memorized a color-coded threat-ID system. Code blue: Law enforcement at the door. Code brown: Draw your weapons. Code black: Come out guns blazing.

The Zimmermans wonder if a reality show starring George or a sit-down with Fox's Sean Hannity will restore their name. In an upsetting and absurd twist, George's brother Robert, the family's most vocal member, describes hoping to cash-in on their newfound infamy with a show inspired by the Kardashians. He rationalizes: "Like, use the shit you've got."

Read the full feature here.

Watch John Oliver Call Out America for Blindly Supporting Obama's Drone War

| Mon Sep. 29, 2014 11:22 AM EDT

On the latest "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver looked into how Americans have come to widely accept President Obama's growing reliance on drone strikes, while knowing little to nothing about the administration's rules for using them.

"Because our rules for drone strikes are a little like Harvey Keitel's balls: We've all seen them in 'The Piano,' 'Bad Lieutenant, or on SnapChat. And from, from a distance you think, 'Well, I understand the contours of those.' But if you were to really examine them, you'd discover that they're actually lost in a haze of fuzziness and grey areas. Much like the rules for our drone strikes."

The comparison, which Oliver says has contributed to defining Obama's presidency as much as Obamacare and "receiving racist emails from distant relatives," perfectly illustrates just how little both the public and the administration knows exactly who and how many we're going about killing with such strikes ---  strikes that have waged on despite the continued lack of answers Obama seems quite intent on never sufficiently explaining to us.

"That is a little disturbing. Because the question 'how many people have you've killed in drone strikes' is not one of those questions where it's okay to say you don't know. It's not like asking someone 'who was the voice of Disney's Aladdin' or 'what are Skittles are made from.' It's different…And the crazy thing is it's literally always been like this."

 

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Bluesman Gary Clark Jr. Is the Guitar Hero for Our Time

| Mon Sep. 29, 2014 5:00 AM EDT

Gary Clark Jr.
Live
Warner Bros.

Gary Clark Jr Live

A guitar hero for the modern era, Gary Clark Jr. plays bluesy rock with a blistering urgency that makes the hoariest conventions feel brand new. For all his flashy expertise, the muscular solos and buzzing riffs never feel gratuitous, while Clark's terse, tough singing nicely complements his fretwork. This 15-track, 97-minute feast is the perfect showcase for his brilliance, mixing versions of standards like "Three O’Clock Blues" (popularized by B.B. King) and "Catfish Blues" (also covered by Jimi Hendrix) with pungent originals, from sleek boogie ("Travis County") to tender soul ("Please Come Home"), with lots of fireworks in between. While it's tempting to view him as the next coming of Hendrix, especially in light of his take on Jimi's "Third Stone from the Sun," Clark is closer in spirit to Stevie Ray Vaughan: less an exotic, godlike genius than a gifted guardian of tradition who never fails to thrill.

Here Is A Video Of Sarah Palin Petting An Alligator

| Sun Sep. 28, 2014 12:52 PM EDT

Sarah Palin went down to Louisiana Saturday to help raise money for Republican US Senate candidate Rob Maness. Maness—who is challenging incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu—and Palin served alligator dishes to around 100 attendees, according to local CBS affiliate WWL.

Here is a video of Palin petting an alligator.

At press time it was not clear if the alligator she was petting was also the alligator she later served as a meal. We're guessing it wasn't.

 

If It Weren’t For the Dashcam, Would This White Cop Be Punished for Shooting An Unarmed Black Man?

| Thu Sep. 25, 2014 11:35 AM EDT

A white South Carolina state trooper is facing up to 20 years in prison after shooting an unarmed black man who was attempting to grab his driver's license during a simple seatbelt check.

The disturbing incident occurred on September 4 and was caught on video thanks to a dashcam attached to officer Sean Groubert's vehicle.

In the graphic video, Groubert is seen approaching Levar Jones at a local gas station, where he asks Jones to retrieve his driver's license.

Jones reaches into the car and Groubert suddenly opens fire, shooting him not once, but four times, as Jones puts his hands in the air and falls to the pavement.

"Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"

"I was doing what you told me to do," Jones can be heard saying. "I was getting my license!'

Jones survived with wounds to the hip. Groubert was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault.

The latest shooting, which follows mounting evidence police officers shoot black people at a higher rate than white people, comes as police departments around the country face increased pressure to outfit officers with recording technology such as dashcams and bodycams.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 60 percent of local police departments use dashcams. This latest incident will surely add to those calls for accountability. As Josh Marshall at TPM asks, "Would Groubert have lost his badge and be facing charges had there not been a dashcam video revealing the reality of what happened?" A justified question, considering law enforcement officials are rarely sentenced or convicted in such shootings. 

For a more detailed look into racially motivated shootings by police, click here.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt on What It Means For Him to Be a Proud, Male Feminist

| Wed Sep. 24, 2014 2:34 PM EDT

Joseph Gordon-Levitt produced a thoughtful video exploring what it means for him to identify as a feminist and the nuances surrounding the label.

"To me it just means that your gender doesn't have to define who you are," Gordon-Levitt explains. "That you can be whatever you want to be, whoever you want to be, regardless of your gender.”

Acknowledging feminism's complexities, the actor goes onto dispel notions positioning feminism as somehow "anti-men" and that the movement might even be old-fashioned.

"The facts are pretty contrary to this, if you actually look at the evidence of salaries vs. salaries for men," he sayd. "There's still a definite disparity."

Earlier this year, Gordon-Levitt first revealed he was a proud feminist on the Ellen Degeneres Show, explaining his mother's influence on his views of women and gender equality.

"It's worth paying attention to the roles that are sort of dictated to us and realize that we don't have to fit into those roles -- we can be anybody we want," he told Degeneres.

Just another reminder to Pharell, boys and girls can both be feminists, too.