Mixed Media

Here Is the Audio of LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling's Deeply Insane Racist Rant

| Sat Apr. 26, 2014 2:31 PM EDT

Donald Sterling is an awful racist. This is a well-established fact. However, up until Friday he was most famous not for being an awful racist, but for being an awful NBA owner. That all changed last night when TMZ published audio of the Ciippers owner telling his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to post photos of her and Magic Johnson to Instagram because Magic Johnson is black.

Donald Sterling owns the best NBA team in the second largest city in America in 2014.

Yeah, racism is totally dead.

Listen:

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Michelle Obama Appears on "Parks and Recreation" To Push Her Left-Wing, Pro-Exercise Propaganda

| Fri Apr. 25, 2014 3:35 PM EDT

On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the season finale of NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation to meet Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler). Obama encourages Knope to take a new job at the National Park Service. Knope—a die-hard liberal—proceeds to freak the hell out over meeting one of her heroes. (She acted similarly when she met Vice President Joe Biden.)

The first lady also chats with Knope about how her "Let's Move!" program has been integrated into national parks: "Getting kids outside, rock climbing, hiking," says Obama, who previously got some help from Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon in promoting "Let's Move!" and the importance of exercise. The program was developed to address the issue of childhood obesity, and has endured plenty of mockery and attacks by conservatives who see it as an affront to individual liberty, or whatever.

The Parks and Rec scene is pretty funny (click here to watch the whole episode). Here's an abridged version of the first lady's cameo, via Politico (you can watch the full clip here):

Other politicians Parks and Rec has previously booked for cameos include Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Newt Gingrich.

A Two-Word Review of "The Other Woman" (2014)

| Fri Apr. 25, 2014 6:05 AM EDT

 

Never again.

 

Quick Reads: "No Good Men Among the Living" by Anand Gopal

| Fri Apr. 25, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
No Good Men Among the Living

No Good Men Among the Living

By Anand Gopal

METROPOLITAN BOOKS

Months into our Afghanistan occupation, unbeknownst to most Americans, the United States was presented with a possibility that might have saved countless lives: the surrender of top Taliban leaders. But false intelligence and distrust of our adversary prompted Pentagon officials to reject the deal, effectively laying the groundwork for America's longest war to date. Through the accounts of a reluctant Taliban chief, a US-funded warlord, and an Afghan woman dragged into the fray by the opposing forces, Anand Gopal presents a brilliant analysis of our military's dysfunction and a startlingly clear account of the consequences.

This review originally appeared in our May/June 2014 issue of Mother Jones.

15 MB of Fame: Never-Before-Seen Digital Art by Andy Warhol

| Thu Apr. 24, 2014 3:58 PM EDT

Making art with a computer ain't easy. Just ask Andy Warhol. The American icon mastered numerous art forms and shaped our culture with his work. But a newly-discovered collection of files from 41 floppy disks—yes, floppy disks—shows that he struggled with early digital design tools. Today, members of Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Club and STUDIO for Creative Inquiry in Pittsburgh released a previously unseen set of images Warhol created in the 1980s using a Commodore Amiga 1000. (That used to be a type of computer, kids.)

The work was discovered after artist Cory Arcangel found a fuzzy You Tube video from 1985. In it Warhol sits next to Blondie singer Debbie Harry and uses the Amiga to paint her digital portrait. Jonathan Gaugler of the Carnegie Museum of Art says Arcangel was "relatively sure" the disks containing Warhol's digital prints would be housed in the Warhol Museum. Sure enough, they were. But, Gaugler says, "It's risky. Because reading them in a drive, there is a chance of wiping it just by trying."

So the museum's curator, Tina Kukielski, connected Arcangel with the Carnegie Mellon's Computer Club, which wrote original code to safely read the data without damaging it. The process was captured in the upcoming documentary film series The Invisible Photograph, premiering May 10 at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall.

Here are some of Warhol's digital works, and stills from documentary showing how they were retrieved. Enjoy—while listening to Blondie if you can:

Image: Andy2
"Andy 2" Andy Warhol, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum
Image: soup
Campbell’s Andy Warhol, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum
Image: Venus
"Venus", 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum Andy Warhol
Image: Corey Arcangel
Amber Morgan of the Andy Warhol Museum and Cory Arcangel in The Invisible Photograph, Part II – Trapped: Andy Warhol's Amiga Experiments © Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Image: Amiga computer
Commodore Amiga computer equipment used by Andy Warhol between 1985-86 Courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

 

Here Is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's Wonderful Defense of Gay Marriage

| Wed Apr. 23, 2014 6:37 PM EDT

Hello. Good afternoon.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin's defense of gay marriage is filled with cursing and common sense. All in all, pretty great!

I don't give a shit if two guys, two gals, guy-gal, whatever it is, I believe that any human being in America, or any human being in the goddamn world, that wants to be married, and if it's same-sex, more power to 'em. What also chaps my ass, some of these churches, have the high horse that they get on and say, 'We as a church do not believe in that.' Which one of these motherfuckers talked to God, and God said that same-sex marriage was a no-can-do? Okay, so two cats can't get married if they want to get married, but then a guy can go murder 14 people, molest five kids, then go to fucking prison, and accept God and He's going to let him into heaven? After the fact that he did all that shit? See that's all horseshit to me, that don't jive with me.

Listen:

(via Deadspin)

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Martin Sheen Reprises His "West Wing" Role—for a Sentencing Reform PSA

| Tue Apr. 22, 2014 12:37 PM EDT

On Tuesday, Brave New Films released a new PSA calling on Congress to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act. The proposed sentencing-reform legislation aims to reduce prison populations and costs by creating less severe minimum terms for nonviolent drug offenders. (On Monday, Yahoo News reported that President Obama could grant clemency to "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of nonviolent drug offenders by the end of his second term.) The video was produced in partnership with the ACLU and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and stars actor Martin Sheen. It's titled "President Bartlet has a message for Congress," in reference to Sheen's role on Aaron Sorkin's political drama The West Wing.

Watch it here:

"When BNF joined with FAMM and the ACLU to rally support for the Smart Sentencing Act, we couldn't think of a better spokesperson than Martin Sheen," Brave New Films president Robert Greenwald said. "When he portrayed President Bartlett on The West Wing, his character commuted the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. In the real world, Martin Sheen has been an advocate for sentencing reform and alternatives to the harsh, long prison sentences we give to nonviolent drug offenders."

Sheen isn't the only one in Hollywood trying to raise awareness about this. Last year, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starred in the drama Snitch, a film about a father who reunites with his estranged son after the kid is thrown in prison due to draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The film is based on a 1999 episode of PBS' Frontline titled, "Snitch: How Informants Have Become a Key Part of Prosecutorial Strategy in the Drug War." (FAMM teamed up with Participant Media, the production company behind the film, to create awareness about the issues of mandatory-minimum drug sentencing.)

Now, here's a clip of Sheen as Bartlet on The West Wing, talking about the failing War on Drugs and the American prison population:

Meaningful Music Meets Debauchery in the Desert: Anti-Flag Rocks Coachella

| Mon Apr. 21, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

The sun had set on the first day of Coachella. Bright, colored lights adorning art installations and beaming from stages highlighted the plumes of smoke and dust clouds emitting from audiences at the Indio Fairgrounds. I hurried through the sweaty shoulders clustered in front of the main stage, excited to see a band that played a big part in my musical upbringing.

Anti-Flag, which celebrated 20-years of punk rock in 2013, was set to play one of the smaller stages Friday, April 11, at midnight in the Gobi tent. The Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival has consistently delivered on nostalgia, bringing out new artists along with acts audiences know and love. But I wondered what the Anti-Flag crowd would look like.

The festival, which started small in Indio, California, in 1999, has since grown to attract worldwide attention, amenities such as craft beer, gourmet food, and luxury campsites, along with a hefty price-tag (admission runs from $349-$799, not including transportation, housing, food, and a budget for the more nefarious activities commonly considered part of the festival experience). 

The aesthetic of the festival's attendees is often discussed (and criticized) more than the music, and it largely defines the brand and attraction of Coachella. This year, the throngs of festival-goers were styled as expected. Neon tanks blended with short skirts, a scattering of ironic Native American headdresses, and, of course, skin, skin, skin. Dressing for the heat of the desert doesn't leave much to the imagination.

The hallmark of festival style, however, is a flowered wreath. A bouquet of large blooms wrapped in a crown, these wreaths adorned heads in every direction. Beautiful but cumbersome, their glamor began to wear thin the more often I saw them. They're worn as a nod to the "free-spirit" identity crafted by music festivals like Coachella, but in reality, they seem limiting. How can you head-bang with flowers in your hair? I didn't expect to see many of them at the Anti-Flag set that night.

Anti-Flag drummer Pat Thetic Megan Thompson

When I spoke to drummer Pat Thetic earlier that the day, he said he wasn’t fazed by the notion that his punk band might be playing to a more eclectic, or at least a smaller audience at Coachella."There are a lot of people here and they are open to ideas," he said."We need to have a voice of dissent in every environment. Whether it is a place like Coachella or a place like Warped Tour or at a local football game—you have to have a voice of dissent."

Anti-Flag is no stranger to the role. Hailing from Pittsburgh, the band started with a political aim, founded on their town’s history of labor movements. Its two original members, Thetic and lead singer/guitar player Justin Sane, were joined by Chris Head (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Chris Barker or "Chris #2" (lead vocals, bass guitar) in the late nineties.

Punk Rock was a venue for voicing their beliefs and rallying others."We were all trying to say something," Thetic says. "It did not necessarily mean that we were intelligent and had good things to say, but we were angry and activism and politics were a place to release that anger and frustration." His words perfectly described how I felt as a high school kid when I first discovered the band and punk rock. I loved the pounding rhythm that paralleled how I felt about the messages in the music.

The band has remained dedicated to highlighting social ills and continues to be involved in important causes. Last year, they partnered with Art For Amnesty, the Amnesty International campaign inspired by the imprisonment of Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot. Their version of "Toast to Freedom" (below), featuring Donots, Ian D’Sa of Billy Talent, and Bernd of Beatsteaks, is just one example of their musical advocacy efforts.

They have raised funds for nonprofits championing an array of issues—from PETA to Planned Parenthood, African Well Fund to the ACLU. Anti-Flag founded Military Free Zone to highlight problems with military recruitment in schools and Underground Action Alliance, a site that brings young activists together.

That’s why when I asked Thetic how music can solve the worlds problems I was surprised to hear him say it can’t."Music doesn’t change the world by any stretch," he said adamantly,"but the people who are changing the world are listening."

I wondered if the people changing the world were even at Coachella. Thetic assured me that they were—even if they didn’t know it yet."These kids are not being taught about these things but if they come to a festival like this maybe they will stop by and hear an Anti-Flag song," he explains. “If they are like ‘Who are these guys? Why are they so angry? What are they talking about? Should I be that angry?’ Those ideas can catch hold and spark a fire."

I reached the Gobi tent right before Anti-Flag was scheduled to play. I looked around at the people trickling in and hoped to see a fire spark. The lights went up. The band took the stage. The crowd grew. The onlookers transformed into a sea of bobbing heads and thrashing arms. Some shouted along. Others just moved to the music.

“Welcome to the most right and righteous circle pit of all Coachella history!" Chris #2 shouted from the stage."It happens right here, right now. Everyone is running in a circle. If someone falls down we pick them up!" The crowd erupted into organized mayhem—a blur of circular motion cycling through the middle. The moshing continued throughout the set. People kept their phones put away, even when Thetic brought his drum kit into the crowd for the final song.

By the time the band finished it was nearing 1 am. The dust from disbanded festival-goers was settling as workers made the rounds collecting trash left behind.

As I made my way out of the tent I saw it. Crumpled, laying in the dirt near the stage, a flower wreath had been left behind by its wearer. I hoped it had been ripped off in triumph and danced into the ground while its owner was caught in the moment, hearing the message, and truly listening to the music. One can only guess how it landed there, but to me it was a symbol that someone left that night changed—if only in the smallest way.

 

 

 

 

Quick Reads: "Authorisms" by Paul Dickson

| Mon Apr. 21, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Authorisms

Authorisms

By Paul Dickson

BLOOMSBURY

Are you a literary muscleman or a munchkin? A word ninja or a spewer of malaprops? And who came up with these terms anyway? In Authorisms, Paul Dickson traces writerly coinages (a coinage of the Elizabethan scribe George Puttenham) of words and expressions ranging from assassination (Shakespeare's Macbeth) to zombification (the poet Andrei Codrescu). He takes things too far sometimes—while Jane Austen may have been the first to mention base ball in print­, for instance, it wasn't the baseball we know. Yet I was fascinated to discover that sayings I'd mistaken for relatively recent—blurb (1907), frenemy (1953), weapons of mass destruction (1937), wimp (from an 1898 children's book by Evelyn Sharpe)—actually predated me. It's enough to drive an anxious magazine editor to verbicide.

This review originally appeared in our May/June 2014 issue of Mother Jones.

"Veep" Just Aired Its Best Episode Yet

| Sun Apr. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EDT
Biden meeting with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who plays Vice President Selina Meyer on "Veep"), as she sits at his desk in his West Wing office on April 12, 2013

This post contains some spoilers.

When I spoke with Veep creator Armando Iannucci last year, we had some fun discussing (among other topics) how he does his research for the HBO satire and why he would never, ever, ever allow Joe Biden on the show. But what really stood out to me was when Iannucci talked about his characters' professional and personal frustrations—and how those frustrations reflect his view of Washington's effect on the soul:

I don't want [the characters in Veep] to seem like caricatures—I want them to be viewed as real people, with their own problems, and hopes, and dreams, and frustrations…And it's that frustration and exasperation that I look for in comedy…What I want to do is show what the system can do to you, and to have [the audience] sympathize with the terrible set of circumstances these characters have to deal with every single day.

Iannucci is a brilliant satirist and a clever political observer. His brand of comedy and commentary (also seen in British TV series The Day Today and The Thick of It, and the latter's brilliant 2009 spin-off film In the Loop) is a mischievous deromanticization of political and media elites. It's smart, wildly funny stuff that's full of carefully constructed, linguistically acrobatic profanity.

But with many of Veep's episodes, that sympathy he mentions in the above quote doesn't always come through. Your average viewer might watch a random episode and come away with the impression that it was written by someone who despised Washington, DC, and all its inhabitants. (Iannucci is actually a self-described "politics geek" who finds DC "fascinating.") However, in Sunday's episode, "Alicia" (directed by Chris Morris and guest-starring Tracie Thoms), Iannucci's humanist outlook is more apparent than it ever has been before in the series. This is the reason why "Alicia" is perhaps the finest episode Veep has yet to pull off.