Mixed Media

Bob Dylan and The Band's Legendary "Basement Tapes" Live up to the Hype

| Mon Nov. 10, 2014 6:00 AM EST

Bob Dylan
The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11
Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings

The recordings Bob Dylan made with The Band in the basement of a house in West Saugerties, New York in 1967 have long been the stuff of legend. Bootlegged in part as Great White Wonder before the end of the decade, released officially in truncated and doctored form in 1975, and repeatedly bootlegged in numerous permutations since, these remarkable recordings found Bob and friends in back-to-basics mode, tackling a mix of enticing Dylan compositions (including "Quinn the Eskimo" and "I Shall Be Released") and rootsy covers with the verve of a boozy roadhouse ensemble. With a mind-boggling 138 tracks on six discs, The Basement Tapes Complete lives up to the hype. The performances range from sketchy fragments to fully realized pieces, many with surprisingly good sound quality. (The lowest-fi bits are consolidated on disc six.) The tapes also include obscure Dylan originals such as "I'm Your Teenage Prayer" and "I Can't Come In with a Broken Heart," while the covers revisit songs associated with Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues"), John Lee Hooker ("I'm in the Mood"), and Elvis Presley ("I Forgot to Remember to Forget"), among others. Endlessly fascinating, often surprising, and essential listening for Dylan fans.

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See the Moving Artwork Commemorating the Fall of the Berlin Wall 25 Years Ago

| Sun Nov. 9, 2014 11:13 AM EST

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which for more than 28 years divided East and West Germany and became the defining symbol of the Cold War. On November 9, 1989, following a series of large protests that swept throughout Eastern Europe, East German officials hurriedly changed travel regulations to the West, for the first time allowing regular citizens to cross. The rules were supposed to take effect the next day, but East Germans swarmed the border stations and, as it became clear border guards were no longer willing to shoot, the gates were finally opened. Crowds from both sides began demolishing the wall, and for months Berlin resonated with the sound of people pecking away at the concrete.

A crowd celebrates atop the wall after realizing that guards have set their weapons down. Peter Kneffel/DPA/ZUMA

 
Running through a border crossing on November 10. DPA/ZUMA

 
A man celebrates atop the Wall. Before the border opening, anyone climbing it would have been shot and killed. More than 250 people died trying to cross. Scott A. Miller/ZUMA

 
A forlorn guard at the Brandenburg Gate. AP
 
DIY demolition. Scott A. Miller/ZUMA

 
AP
 
Official demolition of the Wall did not begin until 1990, but East German guards removed this section on November 12, 1989. Eberhard Kloeppel/DPA/ZUMA

 
Before the "anti-fascist rampart," as the GDR government called it, went up, barbed wire and armed guards prevented people like this couple from fleeing to the West. AP/Edwin Reichert

 

To commemorate the anniversary this weekend, Berlin installed a "border of light" made up of 8,000 illuminated balloons tracing where the wall once stood.

AP/Markus Schreiber
 
AP/Markus Schreiber
 
AP/Kay Nietfeld

 

"Remembrance belongs to the people," the installation's creator, artist Marc Bauder, said. "We want to offer individual access instead of a central commemoration." Tonight, exactly 25 years after the opening of the border was announced, the balloons will be released into the air.

Pointergate: This Week's Most Racist Local News Story

| Fri Nov. 7, 2014 4:22 PM EST

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was recently participating in a neighborhood charity event aimed at boosting voter participation, when she stopped to pose in a photo with a volunteer named Navell Gordon. In said photo, Hodges and Navell point at each other.

Pretty typical stuff, and material for, at most, a quick news anecdote highlighting the mayor's community involvement. But Navell happens to be a young black man, a fact that must have something to with what happened next: Newscasters at KSTP, the local ABC affiliate, took the innocuous photo and quickly warped it into an exclusive report accusing Hodges of "posing with a convicted felon while flashing a known gang sign" and thereby instigating violence in their fair city.

In the same report, KSTP goes on to admit there is zero evidence Navell actually belongs to a gang. But they're certain he has "connections to gang members."

"She's putting cops at risk," retired police officer Michael Quinn told the station. "The fact that they're flashing gang signs at each other, showing solidarity with the gangs, she's legitimizing what they're doing. She's legitimizing these people who are killing our children in Minneapolis."

Here's a tweet from the story's reporter promoting the piece before it aired.

KTSP has so far stood by the report, but issued a statement claiming Minneapolis police fed the item to them.

The story is infuriating. But just to drive the point of how insanely racist KTSP's report truly is, watch the video below in which Navell discusses his involvement with non-profits like Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and how he's working to move on from his past.

"I made some mistakes in life," he says, while footage appears of him and Hodges posing for the photo in question. "I can't vote. I'm not ashamed to say that. But I'm working on fixing that right now so I can be able to vote for my next president."

Next up for KTSP? Well, word surfaced today that Obama is likely to tap US Attorney Loretta Lynch as the nation's next attorney general. Perhaps the station should stage a timely investigation into her gang affiliations, given this shocking photo:

AP/Seth Wenig

Here's a First Look at Your Long-Awaited Racially Diverse Emojis

| Thu Nov. 6, 2014 2:45 PM EST

Hidden beneath the doom and gloom that was this awful Tuesday was an exciting update on emojis: diversity is on its way and we have PROOF. Behold:

Unicode

Yes, on Tuesday, the folks at the Unicode Consortium released a draft detailing the surprisingly complex process they're taking on to include more racially inclusive characters by using a palette of six different skin tones.

Unicode Consortium

"It’s about time. I didn't have anything to represent me,” 14-year-old Shamar Cole told the Daily News upon learning this important update.

Alas, there's no word on an exact time frame for their long-awaited arrival. But until then, let's mobilize to get the taco emoji solidified once and for all. Because regardless of what my employer tells me, I love Taco Bell and my patronage could only benefit from a fun, short-hand way to let others know where I am.

Here's What Sir Patrick Stewart Wore on Election Day

| Tue Nov. 4, 2014 3:11 PM EST

If you're American and want to do right by Patrick Stewart today, you should know that the captain really wants you to get out and vote. Make it so.

It's Election Day, But If That Isn't Your Thing Here's a Video of a Cat Sleeping on a Pepper

| Tue Nov. 4, 2014 2:45 PM EST

Good afternoon.

This election has burned me out. I'm tired. I'm ready for it to be over. I want to rest. I want to sleep. I want to be this adorable little cat sleeping on a red pepper. Oh my God, it is so cute.

If dogs are more your speed, here's Dawson's Creek but with dachshunds:

Have a super day.

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Russians Dismantle Steve Jobs Memorial After Tim Cook Comes Out as Gay

| Mon Nov. 3, 2014 3:43 PM EST
The memorial to Steve Jobs in St. Petersburg, Russia

Russian media is reporting that a memorial to Steve Jobs in St. Petersburg was dismantled on Friday, one day after current Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay.

A group of Russian companies called the Western European Fiscal Union (ZEFS) erected the more than six-foot tall monument, shaped like an iPhone and featuring an interactive screen that showed information about the Apple founder, in January of 2013, outside of an IT research university in St. Petersburg.

The ZEFS press office said the monument was taken down in order to comply with Russia's law prohibiting "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors" a broadly-worded law passed in June 2013 that effectively criminalizes most LGBT expression.

ZEFS noted in their statement that the memorial had been "in an area of direct access for young students and scholars."

"After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide by the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values."

Shortly after Cook wrote publicly about being gay, famously anti-gay St. Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov suggested that Cook be banned from Russia forever, because he might bring Ebola, AIDs, and gonorrhea into the country.

According to Russian media reports, ZEFS gave a second reason for the monument's removal: revelations by Edward Snowden that Apple sends information about its users to America's National Security Agency. (When these revelations first came to light, Apple denied having knowledge of the NSA's surveillance.)

Russian media also reported that the head of ZEFS said he wouldn't be opposed to re-installing the monument, provided that it had the capability to send a message to the US rejecting all Apple products. 

So the next logical step here would be for Russia's elite to give up their personal iPhones, right? Well, fat chance.

Let John Oliver Explain the Insane Amount of Power Your Bizarre State Legislature Holds

| Mon Nov. 3, 2014 9:20 AM EST

With the midterm elections finally arriving tomorrow, John Oliver is asking voters to do everyone a solid and pay attention to what's happening on the local level. Though they often resemble ridiculous shit shows, state houses actually wield an incredible amount of power and affect everything from abortion laws to gun control.

"All those conspiracy theories about a shadow government are actually true," Oliver explained on the latest Last Week Tonight. "Only it's not a group of billionaires meeting in a mountain lair in Zurich. It's a bunch of pasty bureaucrats meeting in a windowless committee room in Lansing, Michigan."

It's these "pasty bureaucrats" who are quietly creating legislation all around the country. According to Oliver, while Congress passed only 185 bills this session, state legislatures passed an astounding 24,000. And as Mother Jones reported recently, state legislatures are looking awfully red, with Republicans currently boasting single-party control in both houses of state legislatures in 23 states.

"The senate is likely to remain inactive no matter which party controls it after Tuesday," Oliver said. "So why all this attention on the national level where almost nothing is happening, when down on the local level everything is happening?"

Great question. Watch below for more.

 

"Hold On to Now" by Lily and Madeleine

| Mon Nov. 3, 2014 5:20 AM EST

TRACK 7

"Hold On to Now"

From Lily and Madeleine's Fumes

ASTHMATIC KITTY

Liner notes: The Jurkiewicz siblings deliver the nicest breakup song ever, entwining in lustrous harmony: "Everything's changing soon/I don't know how/I'm moving away from you."

Behind the music: In 2012, Lily and Madeleine's YouTube covers of Bob Dylan and First Aid Kit caught the attention of producer Paul Mahern, who contacted the Indianapolis teens and encouraged them to pursue music careers.

This 79-Year-Old Rocker Is Still Amazing

| Mon Nov. 3, 2014 5:00 AM EST

Jerry Lee Lewis
Rock & Roll Time
Vanguard

Jerry Lee Lewis

If the prospect of a new album from a 79-year-old rock and roller seems less than promising, think again. Piano-pounding wildman Jerry Lee Lewis still has his mojo working on Rock & Roll Time, ripping through covers of Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry with the same arrogant swagger he brought to "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On" back in the '50s. Sure, the cameos by Keith Richards, Neil Young, and The Band's Robbie Robertson are nice, but nobody overshadows the Killer. Check out the soulful duet with Shelby Lynne on "Here Comes That Rainbow Again" or his two-fisted version of Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City" and prepare to be amazed.