Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm headed to London in a few hours
For the premiere of the MY RULES photo exhibition



The show opens Friday evening in Covent Garden, in the building at 14 Henrietta Street. This is the first show I've had in London in almost twenty years! And it's gonna be fucking great. I'll be there for several days off and on answering questions and signing books, etc. Should be a lot of fun. Go to the ATP website or the Facebook event page for up to date info on different screenings and other bonus events while i'm around and even after i'm gone.


As stated in the press release:
This exhibition comprises of over 50 colour + black and white fine art photographic prints - many of which have never been exhibited before. Classic images from Friedman's last UK exhibition at the ICA in 1997 are also included, now printed larger and better than before. After the premiere in London, the My Rules exhibition will continue to tour worldwide.

For the Rizzoli book, Friedman reached out to some of his subjects to get in their own words what it was like to be at the crux of these cultural movements; these exclusive, often revealing words serve as an education and inspiration. My Rules is not only a remarkable chronicle of beautiful images and a primer about the origins of three radical street cultures recognized worldwide; it is also an artistic statement of inspiration for generations to follow.

The exhibition will include audio installations from Ice-T, Ian MacKaye, Alan "Ollie" Gelfand and an unreleased audio interview between Jay Adams and Glen E. Friedman.This interview formed the basis of Jay's essay in the book, and was one of the last extensive interviews he gave before his untimely death in August this year.

The exhibition will also play host to a selection of curated films by Glen E. Friedman & there will be Q&A sessions throughout the opening weekend - more details to follow.

14 Henrietta St, is a building steeped in publishing history, being previously inhabited by Victor Gollancz, a British publisher and humanitarian (publisher of George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London and Franz Kafka's,The Trial) who also ran his business from the premises.

WHAT: Glen E. Friedman 'My Rules' Photography Exhibition
WHEN: November 21st 2014 - January 18th 2015
WHERE: 14 Henrietta St, Covent Garden WC2H
OPENING HOURS: TBC

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Awesome woman performs bike tricks 20 years before BMX flatland-style, 1965

from Tara at Dangerous Minds:


 

Meet Japanese ballerina Lilly Yokoi. Here she is performing some amazing bike tricks on TV variety show The Hollywood Palace in 1965. The ABC program used a different host each week. Joan Crawford was the host on this show which aired on October 9, 1965.


Throughout the sixties and seventies Yokoi was considered the world’s greatest acrobat on a bicycle. She was known as “The Ballerina On The Golden Bicycle.”


I can’t find any information on Yokoi’s whereabouts today, but I believe she’s still alive. In any case, she’d give a lot of X Games competitors a run for their money. And mind you, she’s doing this in heels. Go Lilly!

 


 

via reddit

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Little Punk People: Interview with Keith Morris

Elliott Fullam of Little Punk People has a conversation with legendary punk singer and Black Flag & Circle Jerks co-founder Keith Morris in the Asbury Lanes parking lot before the OFF! show.Elliott Fullam of Little Punk People has a conversation with legendary punk singer and Black Flag & Circle Jerks co-founder Keith Morris in the Asbury Lanes parking lot before the OFF! show.






Monday, November 17, 2014

Ferguson Speaks: A Communique From Ferguson

from Sparrow media:
#FergusonSpeaks

As law enforcement officials and national media gear up for a St Louis County Grand Jury’s announcement as to whether it will levy charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown Jr., activists have issued a 9 minute video communiqué providing an intimate look at the climate on the ground.

The video communiqué displays a cross section of the myriad groups activated in the region and includes exclusive footage of Vonderrit Meyers Sr., Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III, celebrated artist and HandsUpUnited.org cofounder Tef Poe, Taurean Russell, Lost Voices organizer Low Key, Millennial Activists United co-creator Ashley Yates, activist and Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, Damon Davis -- a volunteer with The Don’t Shoot Coalition, Canfield Watchmen founder David Whitt, as well as local Ferguson business managers.

Viewers are encouraged to tweet, share, and embed the video using the accompanying hashtag #FergusonSpeaks —extended raw clips of each of the video’s subjects are available upon request.

handsupunited.org



ALSO READ:

In Ferguson, Tactics Set for Grand Jury Decision in Michael Brown Case - The New York Times

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Century Of The Self
A truly incredible BBC Documentary


An incredible
BBC documentary about the use of Freud's theories in the use of propaganda to control the masses. Excellent! Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, and his "public relations" were instrumental in shaping the consumer mindset of the 20th century.



thanks Deborah!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

BLACK PANTHER:
The Revolutionary Art of EMORY DOUGLAS

from Dangerous Minds


1969

 

One of the unique aspects of the Black Panthers as a political project was their emphasis on the cultural component of revolutionary work. In addition to community-based education and social programs for both children and adults, the Panthers had a house band (The Lumpen—check them out), and a Minister of Culture, the groundbreaking Emory Douglas, whose art for The Black Panther newspaper created a visual context for black liberation. Douglas’ political art came honest. His own impoverished childhood in the Bay Area was interrupted by a spell in a juvenile detention center, where he found a niche in the prison print shop. He later studied commercial art at San Francisco City College, which is where he joined the Black Students Union before being appointed Minister of Culture.


Douglas’ work is incredibly distinctive, often produced with very little budget or time. He favored bold, organic lines, thoughtful collage-work and saturated colors, creating imagery of both dignified black people and cartoonish political antagonists (often soldiers, cops or politicians depicted as rats or pigs). You’ll notice a lot of weapons—remember, the original name was “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense,” and much of the original intent was protecting black communities from police harassment—but Douglas was also invested in producing joyful or righteous images of hope. Douglas struck a perfect balance between optimism and realism, a negotiation that produced an enormous and varied body of work that still bore his unmistakable style.


Though Douglas continued producing art well after the Panther’s dissolution (most notably for the black-oriented newspaper, The San Francisco Sun Reporter) the work below is all from his tenure as Minister of Culture (between 1967 and the 1980s, though the dates for individual works are often unavailable or contested.). It’s only been since the 2000’s that Emory Douglas’ work has been curated into larger retrospective exhibits, and only since 2014 that his work has been collected into a (fantastic) book, Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas

 



1969

 



Date unknown

 



 



The text says, “We are from 25 to 30 million strong, and we are armed. And we are conscious of our situation. And we are determined to change it. And we are unafraid.”

 



 



 



The speech bubble reads, “I Gerald Ford as the 38th Puppet of the United States.”

 



 



The button reads, “For every pork chop there’s a frying pan,” a reference to cops

 



1969

Friday, November 14, 2014

Premier MY RULES exhibition opens in LONDON
one week from today


This is going to be a great exhibition. The opening will be next friday November 21st, I'll be there in Covent Garden!



click HERE for the full press release.

This exhibition comprises of over 50 colour + black and white fine art photographic prints - many of which have never been exhibited before. Classic images from Friedman's last UK exhibition at the ICA in 1997 are also included, now printed larger and better than before. After the premiere in London, the My Rules exhibition will continue to tour worldwide.



The exhibition will include audio installations from Ice-T, Ian MacKaye, Alan "Ollie" Gelfand and an unreleased audio interview between Jay Adams and Glen E. Friedman.This interview formed the basis of Jay's essay in the book, and was one of the last extensive interviews he gave before his untimely death in August this year.



WHERE: 14 Henrietta St, is a building steeped in publishing history, being previously inhabited by Victor Gollancz, a British publisher and humanitarian (publisher of George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London and Franz Kafka's,The Trial) who also ran his business from the premises.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Unfiltered Chat With Jello Biafra

from the LA Weekly

For more than three decades, Jello Biafra has remained the brassy conscience of punk rock, willing to knock down the sacred cows of politics and rock and roll. First honing his diatribes in the Dead Kennedys, next dabbling in film and spoken word, and ultimately joining forces with DOA, NoMeansNo, the Melvins, and Al Jourgensen for projects aplenty, he has remained ever-potent and enrapturing, a changeling that never quite sheds his skin.
As a news junkie, edgy showman, political reformist, and punk shaman, he has continued to curate fabled label Alternative Tentacles, survived a bitter feud with former bandmates, and kept retirement far away while firing up Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, his vociferous psych-punk band with ex-members of Victim's Family and Rollins Band.

Rocks Off's David Ensminger rang up Biafra before he hits the road for Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and Houston's Continental Club this Sunday night. Here are some excerpts.

Rocks Off: Does Rick Perry coming to power instill a kind of fear in you?
Jello Biafra: I would be really surprised if he ever became President, but if he was put in charge of say, Secretary of the Interior, or something in a Jeb Bush administration, then watch the fuck out, especially since he is connected with the New Apostles [the New Apostolic Reformation].

When people talk about the dangers of ISIS or Islamists, we have to realize that America is under threat not just by market fundamentalists but by Christianists, and Perry is a hardcore Christianist, who -- if these allegations of this cult he belongs to are to be believed -- considers himself as one of the new prophets sent by God to cleanse the earth of devil-worshipers and Democrats. But I think on a national level, he is looked at as more of a buffoon now.

On the other hand, so was Ronald Reagan the first two times he ran for President. But after they marinated him long enough and realized the time was ripe to pounce, suddenly he wasn't always portrayed as this scowling, dangerous warmonger or a completely clueless cowboy actor in all the national media. Suddenly he became the guy you always wanted to be your grandpa. And he stormed in, and the rest is sordid history.

And I try to remind people of that when they just missed another national laughing stock by the name of Sarah Palin. I mean sure, she is one hell of a buffoon, but she is also an electrifying speaker and has more stage and screen presence than all the other Republican talking heads combined. And she is younger than I am, so her very existence will torment and plague me the rest of my natural life because I think they are just marinating her until the time is right.

Of course, once they do they can spin all the dumb stuff she's done anyway they want to.

You've also spoken of Texas as giving birth to the Tea Party. What do you think of them right now?

More and more I think they are showing their true colors. Back when I was a kid in grade school, the had another name - they were called the Klu Klux Klan. Now they are smart enough to leave the hoods in the top drawer, plus they have vastly more money both in oil-stained Texas billionaires like the Koch Bros. and whatnot.

I urge people who find the Koch Bros. as easy boogiemen to blame stuff on now, and there's a lot of good ground for that, like actively trying to John Birch-ify this country for decades and helping put up money for the Heritage Foundation and all these other things, but people seem to be forgetting another moneyed family that helped get a lot of that going with money and influence, named Coors.

It's harder to boycott the Koch Bros. because you can't just go out and boycott a refinery or something. It just doesn't quite work that way. Sure, you can avoid Georgia Pacific paper towels, but for most part their money is not in consumer industries. Coors, for the most part, was a different matter. I got hip to what that was when I was still in grade school because my parents kicked Coors out of the fridge and out of the house, and never let it back in, because of Joe Coors' political activities. Later, he was in Reagan's cabinet or was credited to be the one that planted James G. Watt in the interior department.

People don't believe me, but I tell them that's part of the motive of these people is that a lot of them are reconstructionists or dominionists as they are called. I believe Perry is another one, and Palin another one too, and W may have been one too. They believe it is the End Time, and Jesus is going to come back, and when he does, he's going to put all the forests, all the natural resources back, and even all the money that has been looted out of Washington that created the deficit because Jesus loves America.

They believe this shit. Watt came right out and admitted it. So then Clown Prince W gets into Washington and takes another Coloradoan, Gale Norton, to be interior secretary, and guess who she worked for, the Mountain State Legal Foundation, another strip-mine, clear-cut, drill-baby-drill fetishizer.

Who do think is worse, the wolves of Wall Street or the bankers of Dillinger's time, since you sing songs about both on the last album?

I think they are the same animal, are they not? I mean they have been working to rewind the clock back to the roaring twenties ever since the market crashed in 1929. And if they can get it back that far, then hey maybe we can go back another century, the Robber Baron era, then maybe even go back a little further and have a lot of slaves or at least a sharecropper existence for a good part of the population while they laugh all the way to the bank.

Again, they are wealth addicts, like crack addicts, and they already have so much money they can't figure out what to do with it except to scam more.

You obtained a LP by the 13th Floor Elevators in the early 1970s; did that make a profound impact on you?

The first one I got was Easter Everywhere in the free box at the used record store I went to in Boulder. That was one advantage of growing up in a town infested with country-rock and Scientology jazz fusion -- stuff like that the Elevators would show up in the free box, the MC5 would be 50 cents, and I got Fun House by the Stooges for a dime.

Of course, by then I had unplugged completely from commercial radio and pop culture in general and followed my own interests and desires. Finally, I got a hold of The Psychedelic Sounds..., the first [Elevators] album, that's the one that really blew me away. I still love that album. All that Elevators stuff never gets old.

What about the Texas slant on punk rock -- the Dicks, Butthole Surfers -- did you find so appealing?

I think we have to take the two separately. When I saw the Buttholes, I thought, you know, maybe I am getting ahead of myself, but this may be the most important band to come out of Texas since the 13th Floor Elevators. Later, Mighty Sphincter and Sun City Girls came through San Francisco opening for JFA, and the New Mexico bands like Kor-Phu, Bent and others, began to make themselves known.

Tim Yohannon, of [legendary punk zine] Maximumrocknroll, while Sun City Girls or Mighty Sphincter were playing, said, "I think we need to do an entire feature on sun-damaged bands," and the first one out of his mouth besides the band we were looking at was the Butthole Surfers (laughs), which he liked at the time.

You can rewind a little further into early Texas punk, the Texas '70s and '80s punk. I mean, a lot of us were forming our bands and honing our sounds and attitudes almost in a vacuum because there were hardly any independent DIY records in America except a handful of singles, and the ones that got imported from Britain where the scene was a lot bigger. So, a lot of the bands had distinct sounds and personalities.

Big Boys were a good example. Because there weren't all these cookie-cutter punk and hardcore bands and genre-fied styles to copy. It was a visceral reaction against all the stupid stuff going on both politically in the 1970s and especially musically, where the radio was pushing soft rock and adult rock, and we didn't want to be adults. Or they pushed Triumph of the Will-style arena rock for the kids who wanted something heavy. People in different places wanted more, and they put their stamp on it. You couldn't keep them off the stage anymore. I mean, [Dicks singer] Gary Floyd would be a perfect example.

What also characterized those bands and gave them an edge, which we also saw with Really Red and some of the others, was...it's one thing to be up against hostile venues that would rather have an Eagles cover band, than put up with the likes of you and your friends, and jocks coming into the room just wanting to boo you offstage because you're not ZZ Top or Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then of course there is the police.

Outside of L.A., the police department that scared the shit out of people more than anywhere in the country were in Texas, especially Houston. It seemed like Biscuit, Gary, Really Red, and AK-47 with that "The Badge Means You Suck" single, were challenging some of the most out-of-control, violent police departments in America. They were one step away from being full-blown Latin American death squads, meaning they were risking life and limb just to say this shit and play this music.

Nowadays a lot of people take the whole underground independent scene for granted. There's always going to be bands and message boards and blogs and endless things to entertain us, but it was very different earlier on.

Why did you feel compelled to make the Really Red discography available [through Alternative Tentacles] in February 2015?
Because I always loved the band, they were my friends, and they walked a pretty unique tightrope. Sure, they were kind of the main people of the Houston punk scene, or so it seemed, but even though they were a little older than me, or say people in the Avengers or even the Sex Pistols, and a little artier and post-punk, they made the transition to the hardcore audience when a lot of the early punks walked away.

I am sure it didn't hurt that Ronnie [U-ron] had Real Records, the store where a lot of punk and hardcore kids bought their vinyl. So he was always up on what was going on. He called me up once raving about Minor Threat after seeing the five-piece lineup come through Houston and said, "It was almost as if I was seeing the Velvet Underground." That kind of a take on Minor Threat could come from no one but Ronnie.

I didn't know until reading your article [now the liner notes to the reissues] that those guys are a few years older than me to the point where they got to see the Elevators live. They absorbed that stuff when they were young. I didn't have that. I didn't have any older siblings with record collections. I was kind of on my own...I thought if Alternative Tentacles would have been much more off the ground or had more money back in the day, we might well have put out Teaching You the Fear right then and there.

I am really excited that the song I wanted for Let Them Eat Jellybeans! is finally going to come out. Their manager "Bob Philips" [Bob Webber] told me they didn't want to use "Little Death" on Let Them Eat Jellybeans! because they felt it was a puny live recording compared to all the people that had been in the studio, like DOA.

But I still think that was the best song to use, and much to my shock it wasn't even used on any of the albums, so now you can finally hear "Little Death." And I was surprised by what a better sound I was able to get out of the Despise Moral Majority EP, their hand-stamped looking official bootleg 7" EP back in the day. I tried to get them to sound as best as possible and tried to top the originals.

Plus, Ronnie in his lyrics was not afraid to show his own intelligence and depth and try to get people to think instead of spieling out "I hate this, I hate that." They are kind of on another level there, as was a lot of the music, and Kelly [guitarist] had all these unique little post-punk sprinkles going on. I finally threw up my hands while trying to write the press sheet today because I can't compare him to anybody! They were a punk band, and arguably a hardcore band, especially on the New Strings For Old Puppets EP, but they didn't sound like anybody else.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Buster Keaton narrowly avoids certain death


from Boing Boing



As Millionmovieproject puts it: "Crew members threatened to quit and begged him not to do it, the cameraman looked away while rolling. A six ton prop, it brushes his arm as it comes down, and he doesn't even flinch."

Watch Steamboat Bill, Jr on the Internet Archive.

Monday, November 10, 2014

In Conversation with Jon Stewart

In Conversation JonStewart

What do you do after 16 years turning The Daily Show into an American comic institution? If you’re this comedian, you might spend a summer making a movie about torture.

Photograph by Martin Schoeller

In 2009, The Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones interviewed Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian Newsweek reporter, in a Tehran coffee shop. Just days before Iran’s presidential election, Jones, pretending to be a spy, demanded to know why Iran was evil. Somehow the joke was lost on Iran’s repressive theocratic regime, which arrested Bahari four days after the episode aired, claiming that the bit proved that Bahari was himself a spy. He was locked in solitary confinement for 107 days. In a fitting coda, Jon Stewart spent his summer vacation last year making a movie, his first, that depicts Bahari’s plight. Rosewater, which opens November 14, could be seen as a bridge between Stewart’s TV present and his undefined but rapidly approaching future. The comedian has sat behind the anchor desk of his multi-­Emmy-winning Comedy Central show since 1999, but his contract ends next fall and he is uncertain whether he wants a new one. Now, over two conversations in October inside the show’s 11th Avenue studio, Stewart reflects on his life in the satirical-news business and the legacy The Daily Show will one day inevitably leave behind.

There’s a lot of terrible stuff going on in the world at the moment.
I’m off this week, man, so I’m not paying attention.

I’ll catch you up: Ebola, ISIS, massive droughts. Is it harder to make humor when people are genuinely frightened?
No. It’s harder to make humor when there’s no consensus, when there’s no issue that has galvanized a decent amount of mind space. If you have to spend the first five minutes of a bit going, “There’s this thing called ‘corporate inversions,’ ” you can still create something, but the synapses fire much quicker when people are already focused on something. I can remember right after 9/11, when all those anthrax scares came and TV news started putting up that ticker at the bottom of the screen. There was a real electricity to it, and you could do any joke. People are scared, but they want to remember, Okay, we’re still human. There is a certain heightened awareness to things, but it’s not Mad Max.1 When you look at this Ebola thing, it’s fucking crazy how overwhelming the coverage has been. One guy had it, he brought it here, and then two people that cared for him got it. More people are going to die from the flu, more people have been killed by cops since this happened! But all anybody can talk about is that we’re all going to die of Ebola.2 You’ve got congresspeople out there: “Let’s completely shut off Africa! Let’s submerge it!” What was it Ted Cruz said? Somebody told him, “The medical experts say that would actually not be helpful.” Cruz says, “Let’s just not listen to the experts and use some common sense.”3 Of course, let’s not think about the people who study this. Let’s go with the gut. The gut is, Ewww.

In purely political news, no doubt you’re excited about the prospect of Romney 2016?
I am not. My favorite thing about Mitt Romney now is, imagine if the second-string quarterback on a football team got to just go around on all the shows and go, “I’d have fucking nailed that pass.” For Romney, it’s, “Ebola? There wouldn’t even be Ebola if I were president. I’m not sure Africa would still exist.” It’s so fucking funny. Then you watch Dick Cheney out there being asked his opinion about isis. It’s like bringing on Conrad Murray4 to talk about, “So, what do you think they’re doing wrong with these patients?” “I don’t know. Why don’t they try to kill them with propofol? That’s what I did.” Every time Cheney goes on TV, why wouldn’t you just begin and end every interview with, “Now, you fucked a lot of this up almost every day for eight years. What do you think?”

Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, tells the story of Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek reporter who was imprisoned by Iran and accused of being an American spy. Here Stewart talks about the political context of Bahari’s ordeal, and the larger ideas he tackles in Rosewater.

Does the thought of President Hillary cheer you up at all?
We need such a systemic overhaul that it’s very hard for me to look at any individual and be hopeful. I just feel like we’ve forgotten to invest in our own country, in the infrastructure here. I’m not talking about isolationism. But I do think we have this incredible political mechanism that can begin to churn more efficiently and make those changes. God knows we can’t figure out how to get out of our own fucking way now. Hillary strikes me as competent. She’s certainly very bright. But she’s a little hawkish for me.

It was interesting that when Hillary was on The Daily Show in July, she kept talking about America needing to “tell our story” better around the world. As if our biggest ­foreign-policy problem is our image.
Yeah, I didn’t understand that. I think that, honestly, was somebody trying out a campaign theme in the way that I might try and work out a comedy bit with some friends. I think she came over and was like, “Here’s my campaign theme: retelling America’s greatness to the world. America’s got to tell its story.” Well, America’s story is complex. In Iran, they hear that story and go, “We had a democratic government, and you overthrew it to install a shah.” But I don’t understand why owning that history means that you don’t believe in America. The whole thread of “Obama’s not American because he apologizes for America” is such utter horseshit. It is unconscionable and in some ways negates almost entirely the rest of your criticisms.

Speaking of Iran: You learned a great deal about its politics and culture writing and directing Rosewater. Did you make the movie because you felt guilty about contributing to Bahari’s jailing?
Listen, Jews do a lot of things out of guilt. Generally it has to do with visiting people, not making movies. If I could draw a linear, rational line to what we had done and the charges against Maziar, I would be really devastated. You couldn’t do something more inane and vapid than Jason Jones in sunglasses and a kaffiyeh in a café going, “I am an American spy!” But you can’t control what idiots will weaponize. The Iranian regime wasn’t just arresting people who’d talked to The Daily Show. Thousands of people had been swept off the streets. We’ve done other pieces on the show where people should have been arrested. Maziar’s memoir was really compelling. I was very interested in the generational aspect, that his father had been imprisoned by the shah and his sister by Khomeini.5 There was a universal aspect to it — the absurdity of totalitarian regimes. And Maziar didn’t demonize his torturer, he humanized him because, in his mind, if you view them as monsters you can’t fight them.

You tried to hire established screenwriters6 before deciding to write the script yourself.
It was weird. We were pitching an Iranian prison story on spec, and Oscar-­winning writers were not jumping at the chance. I figured there was some type of conspiracy. But it turns out they just didn’t want to work like hell on this thing and not make any money. Because there’s no money behind it. I may have done this at a loss, just from what we spent on hummus alone.7

What was going on in your life that made you want to make your first movie? You were writing it at night and on weekends during the 2012 presidential race. Did it feel like an antidote?
It’s more like trying to keep that little man in your head from going, “You failed everyone who ever loved you.” I wouldn’t say it was an antidote to American politics. It was more like — do you know how sometimes when you were a kid, if you had a shitload of stuff to do, you felt like you got it together? If you had soccer,8 you would go to school, you’d go to soccer, and then you’d get home and you’d actually get your homework done. But when it wasn’t the soccer season, you’d just find yourself waking up in a puddle of ­SpaghettiOs in front of Bullwinkle. 

Still, after having built The Daily Show into a huge success, making your first movie was a big risk.
But is it a risk at this point in my life? Yes, it’s very different from the forgiving nature of The Daily Show, where you lay a turd on Monday and Tuesday you’re back at it. With the movie, the idea that it’s all sort of building to this one opening weekend, you really do feel like that prom pressure of “I will lose my virginity!” But I get criticized all the time, so that’s not different. The failure would have been not attempting it.

As a first-time director, how did you ­establish trust with the cast and crew?
I bought a beret and a little megaphone.

The first scenes you shot were in a working prison in Amman, Jordan, with a mostly Arabic crew.
Prison is not necessarily a comfortable place to shoot a film about prison, because the prisoners are not looking at you going, “Yeah, yeah, dramatize this, that’s what we’re looking for, a good dramatizing!” Plus it was Ramadan, in the summer. It gave things an air of tension that maybe helped the actors, but crew-wise, it made it difficult.

So how did you get them to do what you wanted?
I’m pretty sure that’s a Guild rule, that as the director, they have to listen to you. As long as your beret is on at 45 degrees. Anything steeper than that, then you lose them. The biggest issue for me was losing my inhibition at pushing the actors until you get what you think is right. It’s similar to how I would say to John Oliver or other people on the show, “Trust your discomfort.” If you have discomfort, try and articulate where that’s coming from because it’s probably not your imagination. There’s probably something in the scene that’s not working. But it took me a little bit until I felt comfortable to walk in there and go, “Okay, okay, that was great, that was great. How about you don’t cry this time? Yeah, don’t cry, because there’s really no point in you crying like that.”

The physical reality of Bahari’s ­incarceration was more brutal than what you show in the movie. Why did you dial down the torture?9
I wanted the violence to be more like the shark in Jaws. This type of torture, it’s not what we envision. We see these images of beheadings or vicious violence, but that’s not the norm. The norm is we remove you from your life, we isolate you from your surroundings, that’s how we break you down. Somebody with a German accent and a monocle and scar on his face doesn’t have to stand over you with electrodes to make people understand that there is an atrocious violence in isolation.

So you’re saying it’s a date movie.
I think it’s a good date movie. Take someone that you want to torture. That’s the other challenge, to do a movie about discomfort that registers that discomfort with the audience but not to the extent that they’re truly unable to sit there anymore. You have to try and find those moments to release that.

And there are moments of subtle, absurdist comedy. But did you find yourself needing to hold back from inserting actual jokes?
The bagel shop in the movie, yeah.10 That was one of those continuity problems. I tried my best.

The Iranian interrogator’s obsession with New Jersey as a den of massage wickedness — which comes straight from the true story — had to be right up your alley.
Yeah, off-camera I’d invent things about the various massage oils that would be used: “Some of it pumped right from Saudi Arabia.” Just ridiculous shit, just to entertain us as we progressed. Because it wore on people emotionally, the amount of work, where we were doing it, the conditions we were doing it under, and the type of story we were telling.

The relationship between Gael García Bernal as the prisoner and Kim Bodnia, who plays the interrogator, is both ­sinister and kind of beautiful. Gael told me you were an excellent director.
My job during the entire filming was keeping Kim from actually hurting Gael. My credo throughout the whole thing was “Nobody dies. We’re making a movie about a thing that’s bad, but we’re not doing the bad thing.”

After you finished filming, you visited a refugee camp for Syrians fleeing the civil war. Why?
Yeah, the Zaatari camp.11 I wanted to see theater, and they were putting on a show. No. You feel a responsibility, to some extent, to see the outcomes and effects of everything that’s going on in the region and to experience it in even the smallest of ways. I have not traveled much as a person, like a lot of Americans. As a comic, I’ve traveled a lot, but you’re not going to get that much perspective going in between Poughkeepsie, Buffalo, and Rochester. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways, in a lot of complicated ways. You do sense the similarities — to get maudlin — of the family of man, but you also feel the distance between the cultures and you see the effects of colonization.
The camp is kind of astonishing in the creativity that’s utilized to improve conditions. They’re living in corrugated sheds, and they’ve figured out how to pull electricity off the grid and create water, and they’ve separated it into zones. There’s probably more democracy within that camp than in the country that they came from, not to suggest that it’s a better place to live.

There’s no money behind it. I may have done this at a loss, just from what we spent on hummus alone.





The other side of it is, I think we have a Sally Struthers vision of the downtrodden. These are middle-class doctors and lawyers and craftsmen, and now they are uprooted and living in a corrugated-metal shed in the middle of a desert in Jordan for maybe forever. And for what? Nobody can figure out for what. The level of violence that these children have seen is staggering, and the shock will carry through those cultures for decades. Rosewater is about witnessing things, and I just wanted to make sure — and I have no illusions that I’ve lived it or really saw the camp — that it was seen.

And from there you went to Cairo, at a really perilous moment — just before Mohamed Morsi12 was overthrown by the military — to visit Bassem Youssef,13 who is known as “the Egyptian Jon Stewart.
He had come on The Daily Show a couple times. I had always promised him that I would go on his show, never thinking I’d ever be anywhere near Cairo. Bassem said, “You should really come this Friday, because next Friday I have a feeling there may be blood running through the streets.” But it was clear even at that time that the police and the military had sort of abdicated the streets. So it was chaos. Bassem tapes near Tahrir Square, in a live theater downtown. So to get me there, I’m in this crazy ­Mercedes-Benz caravan with guys with AK-47s. You’re driving through, and the streets are just teeming with thousands of young people on the verge of revolution. Naturally, a caravan like that is going to attract a certain amount of attention, because maybe it’s Mubarak. We pull up in front, and there are faces just pressed up against everywhere. The security guys kick open our car door, and they grab me by the back of the neck and start dragging me through the crowd, waving their guns. I’ll never forget thousands of young Egyptian men at once going, “Who the fuck is that?” It was like being in One Direction and coming out in front of an audience of 70-year-old men. Nobody gives a shit. “Oh, they caught a Jew. Eh, you guys can go ahead. You don’t need the guns. You could have just walked in.”

You talked about the electricity of doing The Daily Show in the days after 9/11. It must have been somewhat similar for Bassem in Cairo, maybe even more ominous.
Egypt is a place where comedy can actually make real change, because satire is not part of the conversation. Bassem is presenting ideas that are anti-authoritarian in a way that people have never heard. His really was an important voice in their revolution.

You sound slightly jealous. There’s a scene in Rosewater, during a riot. Maziar is holding his video camera. One of his friends is throwing rocks at the Iranian soldiers and says disdainfully to Maziar, “You have a weapon, and you choose not to use it.” Does that have resonance for you — should you use The Daily Show as more of a weapon?
I think we use it to the best of its ability but recognizing its limitations. You know, satire isn’t journalism. That’s not to suggest that we’re not responsible for the content that we put out there. I stand behind the point of view. That being said, the tools we use are exaggeration, hyperbole, puns, imitation, ridicule. Sometimes they can cut through things in an easier way but generally in a more superficial way. It distills something to a more visceral element that does not generally present a grander picture.

But beyond creating great jokes, you don’t think the show has changed anything in the political world?
Nothing, as far as I can tell. As far as I can tell, politics has gotten worse. But this show was not designed to change our political system. It was designed as a mouthpiece for our point of view. It’s a relatively selfish pursuit. Maybe it is a weird form of sideline activism, if that’s even a thing. Of just pointing shit out and going, “Hey, somebody should get over there! Come on, get somebody over there!” But we’re not doing the work. Activists do the work, and they’re slogging it out day in and day out in the trenches of those terribly bureaucratic and corrosive and corrupt societies. If we give a shout-out to that, or if an articulation of something does them some good, that’s wonderful. But I never try and confuse what we do on the show with what real people do to change the system. We are part of that ecosystem, maybe, but in a very peripheral way.

I do consider this show and this movie a conversation that we are having with a culture and with people. But it is definitely much more passive. It’s like when people say Bob Dylan changed the world in the ’60s. He wrote some good tunes, and some people who did actually end up changing the world probably hummed them a lot, but that’s not what changed the world.

Four years ago, you and Stephen Colbert staged the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,”14 and now you’ve made a movie that’s a political statement. Are both those things an expression of your frustration at the limits of tackling big issues through comedy, particularly on The Daily Show?
I don’t think so. I think it’s more bumping up against the limits of boredom. Doing anything for 16 years, there is going to be a level of sameness to it that is difficult, I’m sure, for an audience, but also difficult for a performer. That’s why nobody does the whole run of Cats. At a certain point, you’re like, Really, I’m going to go out there in fucking tights again?

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited The Daily Show in February to address the raging controversy over his preference for eating pizza with a knife and fork. In this clip Stewart shares what he thinks about other aspects of de Blasio’s first year at City Hall.

The show hasn’t been ridiculing the political media as much recently. Is that because we’ve gotten better?
Lord, no.

The media landscape has changed drastically during your time at The Daily Show. Comedy has been ascending while traditional news has been cratering.
Well, I don’t see them as two poles. But I do think that the general sense of our show as somehow being more authentic or having integrity is based almost purely on a dissatisfaction with traditional journalism. We are, in some ways, the cheap protest vote. I remember people said I was voted the fourth most trusted.15 But my name being in there was a fuck-you to everybody else. A dildo rolled in glitter would serve the same purpose as my name in that conversation. I still think there is room for the type of network that would be purely based on the functioning of government as opposed to the drama and the daily dalliances and story lines. Rooting out corruption could be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week business. I think that could be interesting. It does not exist. That’s why we make fun of CNN, because they are an opportunity squandered. You just think, boy, what you could do with all those wonderful toys.

Yeah, but when you were offered the chance to change a part of traditional political journalism instead of mocking it, you turned down the possibility of hosting Meet the Press.16
First of all, NBC didn’t offer anything. They were exploring it in the way of, “Maybe it’s time to do something ridiculous.” There was definitely a meeting. I spent most of it telling them what a crazy idea I thought it was and kind of going through all of the different reasons why I did not think it was appropriate either for me or for them. That venue feels like an Establishment vehicle. They run on access. There’s a certain symbiosis with politicians. I am a part of an Establishment but in a slightly different element. We’ll do certain bits that would be disqualifying in terms of that person ever talking to us again, and I’ll say to other people on the staff, “You know, what’s nice about this show is that when I leave, I’ll leave with no friends but you people.” I think I would be too reactionary to execute something like Meet the Press properly. I mean reactionary in the sense of, “What’s wrong with you!” Nobody wants to be yelled at.

And the truth is that you’re holding out for Brian Williams’s job.
That’s right. No. I want to be the first male host of The View. Which is not to say that at some point maybe there will be another iteration of this conversation.

Do you look at BuzzFeed, do you look at Vice News?
I scroll around, but when I look at the internet, I feel the same as when I’m walking through Coney Island. It’s like carnival barkers, and they all sit out there and go, “Come on in here and see a three-legged man!” So you walk in and it’s a guy with a crutch.

Between The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, and “Weekend Update,” have we reached the saturation point of fake news?

I don’t know that what we’re doing is fake. It’s jokes about the news. Look, as long as there are ten shows about finding people who know how to sing, I think we’re pretty safe. There will never be a saturation point of good comedy.
John Oliver’s show is interesting because he’s doing these 15-minute pieces that in some ways are editorials or investigative pieces where the jokes feel secondary.

See, I don’t view the jokes as secondary. They’re doing a longer-form version of a similar process. I think what John’s been able to do really effectively is utilize those same tools but in this more considered form, and that’s really exciting to watch.

You helped launch The Colbert Report. ­Stephen is going to drop the character when he moves to The Late Show, so what will he bring that people haven’t seen?
A raging drug habit.

Excuse me?
People have no idea. It’s going to be Breaking Colbert.

I will tune in for that.
Stephen’s talent is very apparent to everybody, but if you’d been to his 50th-birthday party and you saw the love bomb he was surrounded in — I said to my wife, “I will guarantee you this party spawns a thousand arguments on the drive home.” Everybody got in the car that night with their spouse and it was, “Why don’t you love me like people love Stephen?!” Or, “Why can’t you be a kindhearted and good individual like Stephen Colbert!?” It was one of those magical nights, filled with the warmth and affection of friends and family. I just think viewers are really going to enjoy getting to know Stephen.

That’s strange, because I had heard Colbert’s birthday party was at Scores.
I didn’t say it wasn’t at Scores.

Will he be able to keep doing subversive things like attacking Amazon and Google when he’s on a big mainstream network?
Being on Viacom cable networks is really not that different a universe than CBS late night anymore. Your address matters much less now in the democratized world of Hulu or YouTube. No matter how it’s done, he will be as subversive in different ways.

Just as long as he brings his Sondheim17 routine.
He will. Dude can sing and dance.

You’ve consciously diversified The Daily Show’s staff over the years. Why has that been important to you?
I was defensive at first about our writing staff being all white and male, and then I had to examine what were the structural issues, and what’s my own ignorance of some of this. It’s been a long process, and that’s just one metric, but I wanted a wider and deeper pool of people to draw from. Hopefully, I’ve grown and learned as I’ve gotten older. I’ve had some very frank conversations with women on the staff and minorities on the staff about the inherent difficulties, the fact that in their lives they have to make decisions and strategize in a way that I take for granted. I don’t think people recognize how exhausting it is sometimes to be black.

You were pretty worked up trying to get Bill O’Reilly18 to acknowledge “white privilege” the other day.
He’s six-five! You know, if I want him to hear me, I’ve got to climb the mountain.

The show also did a controversial segment recently about the racism of the name “Washington Redskins”19 Were you wrong to ambush those fans who were defending the team name?
I wouldn’t call it an ambush. We don’t lie to people and say we’re not The Daily Show or “This won’t happen” or things like that. I even said on the show if we found out that these people had been intentionally misled, that segment wouldn’t have aired. That’s not the case. I’ll tell you where there was a real ­ambush — when the Native Americans went to the stadium and people said the most vile shit to them. The ugliness that arose was mind-numbing. So for the story to be these poor people, the Redskins fans, who sat in a room and had to then talk to the Native Americans … I don’t understand the weird defensiveness. We all live in a country built on this very devastating scenario with the people who were already living here. That’s our original Manifest Destiny sin. In some ways, by accepting the flaws, the progress that we’ve made is more impressive.

Whether it’s racial or economic or political, people are more than ever locked into information silos. The right has Fox News and Breitbart and Rush. The left has MSNBC and HuffPo and … you. Does it bother you that The Daily Show is preaching to the choir?
No. Any show that’s been on the air for however long a time, the people who are attracted to it are probably the people who like it. Unless they’re hate-watching, which probably also happens.

Do you think The Daily Show has made the split worse?
It’s possible. We’re part of the media landscape, and the media landscape has become more striated. But there’s a difference between four half-hours a week and 24 hours a day, seven days a week, hammering away, like Fox News. They’ve tapped into a real feeling of persecution in a horrible, amazing way.

Do you wish The Daily Show had a bigger red-state audience?
Do I wish more conservatives liked it? Not really. But you never make a calculation on who you think the audience is or who you want it to be. You make a calculation based on, what do we think is right? What do we think of the torture memos? What do we think of drone strikes? What do we think of the NSA? The thing that people give us shit for sometimes is that we’re not activists in that sort of ideological way.

Or that you’re naïvely optimistic. That’s basically what Marc Andreessen20 called you in New York Magazine, saying he thinks you believe passing a law can fix any problem.
That’s in no way what I think. But I think we can pass smarter laws. Surely we can administer smarter laws. Like the Volcker Rule seemed like a very smart, easy thing that became 850 pages of bullshit that was infused by corporate lobbying. I think the fact that our lawmakers spend four to five hours a day raising money means governance is a part-time job. They are basically fund-raisers who also legislate.

You had Nancy Pelosi21 on the show and got really frustrated talking about the corrupting role of money in politics.
Nancy Pelosi has been overtaken by the Borg. She said, “Yes, we have to get money out of politics.” “Well, what about the Democrats, don’t they have to take it out?” She says, “We’re not the problem.” “What about the revolving door of people going out of Congress and getting lobbyist jobs?” She says, “That’s the executive branch, not our branch.” What? It’s sort of like the old George Costanza thing:22 “It’s not lying if you believe it.”

How about Elizabeth Warren?
I’ve been impressed by her. You can’t help but watch the evolution of somebody who comes on as an advocate and then becomes a politician and see the caution grow. It’s like watching an uninhibited free spirit ­suddenly have to look both ways before crossing the street wearing a suit.

Has that happened to Warren?
I think you see hints of it. I think it’s inescapable at some level.

Is there any politician you really want to have on who hasn’t agreed to do the show?
No one, really. It’s not that people don’t refuse all the time. Like Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, they won’t come on. We’ve asked them a million times. Marco Rubio has been on a couple times. He generally likes to mix it up. The truth is, I’m not particularly hankering for a conversation with those guys. I always find it interesting how guys come on this show and they soft-pedal their beliefs. They’ve written a book called Liberals Will Fuck Your Dead Grandmother.You ask, “Why would you write Liberals Will Fuck Your Dead Grandmother?” “It’s not about that. We’re not that far apart.” Right. But then why would you write that they’re necrophiliacs? “Did I?” They completely back away. Jim DeMint writes a book that says, “This is a battle between socialism and free enterprise.” He comes on the show: “Oh, so you want to get rid of Social Security?” “No, that’s a great program.”23

What do you think of Rand Paul?
I’m not sure Rand Paul knows what he thinks of himself right now. He’s all over the place.

I can’t decide whether I believe his visit to Ferguson24 was cynical or intriguing.
I think intriguing. I do think there is a genuine effort on his part to understand what’s going on. Unfortunately, I think he’s slightly disingenuous when it comes to claiming he really doesn’t understand. Does he listen to the Republican caucus? Has he heard the things they say? Has he seen the difference in how what happened in Ferguson and at this pumpkin festival25are described? “A bunch of kids got rowdy on the streets today” versus “Animals rioted in ­Ferguson.” Paul seems genuinely perplexed, which I guess is refreshing. Better than Ted Cruz, who appears to have been bitten by a Machiavellian spider. That dude is distilled ambition. It’s all calculated.

What about Chris Christie? He’s more moderate than some Republicans in the 2016 field. And he’s a Jersey guy like you.
Jersey! We haven’t had a guy since Wilson!26 You’ve got to throw us a bone. I have a little bit more experience with Christie’s policies. I don’t particularly appreciate the way he’s governed the state, so it’s very difficult for me to say I’d like to see him go national — “Shouldn’t everybody suffer from this?” Even when you agree with Christie, he adds this unnecessary edge that he wears as a badge of honor. A nurse you’re about to put in quarantine, you may not want to say, “She’s wrong, and she’ll learn that. Once she stops shitting in a box in a cold tent, she’ll realize I’m right.”

Six years in, has Obama been a failure, or is he underappreciated?
It depends on what aspect of him that you’re talking about. I think it’s hard not to think of the country as a disappointment, that in a time of war nobody is being asked to do anything, and we have a Congress that continues to say we need to build a double fence along the Mexican border to make sure that isis doesn’t carry Ebola over the Rio Grande, but they won’t come back from recess to talk about it and put themselves on record. That’s just blatant cowardice and blatant disregard for their own rhetoric. I’m not some huge fan of, “Why aren’t we arming rebel groups that we don’t know how to vet?” Or, “Why aren’t we putting boots on the ground?” But make a case where the rhetoric matches the reality. Don’t come on television like Obama, walking down I Killed Bin Laden Lane, and say we face an existential threat to our very existence. If it’s an existential threat, we shouldn’t be dealing with it as an issue of containment.

So am I disappointed in Obama, am I disappointed in the Congress? Honestly, I think I’m just in shock. I think I’m a little stunned that we can’t do better than this, because I know we can. I’m a little stunned that Republicans continue to, if it’s not their ball, refuse to play. I’m a little stunned that Democrats, given their opportunities, haven’t been able to be more effective. The VA treatment backlog,27 the bureaucratic nightmare we put our veterans through, has been devastating to me.

Do you think there should be a draft?
I do. I absolutely do. I’ve watched military families suffer in a way that is unconscionable considering the demands that we have placed on them over this ten-year period. When I say there should be a draft, I also think it should be noncompulsory military. There should be a draft where every young person has to do one year of something — military, public works — something so that we all feel invested in the same game, because that’s the part that we’ve lost.

One of my biggest criticisms with Obama is that he ran on rebuilding a corrosive system and just basically tried to put new wallpaper up. And yet he has done some impressive things. Would I have done the health-care system that way? No, but he did, and he got it passed, and millions more people have health care, and it’s hard to imagine that’s a bad thing. My biggest concern is how good we’ve gotten at campaigns and how bad we’ve gotten at government. The entire system is incentivized backwards.

You talked about career politicians losing human feeling. Has that happened to Obama?
No. He’s actually a pretty human guy. I think that’s what makes it so difficult for him. I mean, I can’t say it for sure, it’s absolutely a projection, but I think he hates these fucking people. I really do. I just get the sense that he believes that he’s surrounded by idiots.

On his own side?

In general. For a good portion of it, he’s right. Idiots and obstructionists, and it’s frustrating. Beyond that, though, I do think he’s not a super-active manager. That doesn’t seem to be his thing.

The Republicans look as if they’re going to gain more power in the midterms.
It’s going to be very interesting. They’ve spent six years basically cock-blocking. Now they will be on the hook. So what do you do? Do you go Sam Brownback28 and ruin Kansas — enact all of the crazy stuff you’ve been talking about and then watch everything go to shit? I guarantee you they have some good ideas that would have alleviated problems in the health-care rollout or other things. But it’s the opposite of Pottery Barn’s “You break it, you bought it.” They fuck up the government and sit back and say, See, it doesn’t work.

You’re coming to the end of your term in office. Your Daily Showcontract finishes in September 2015. How much are you thinking about “Okay, what’s next?”
I’m thinking about it a lot.

Is there even a small part of you that still wonders about doing the big-network late-night job?
No. I’m 51, I have young kids. I think that it’s not something that would be sustainable for me, either through passion or interest or ability, so it would be a bad choice for them and for me. Being up for a job is different from necessarily having the ambition for that job, if that makes sense.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what your ambition is because you don’t know what your day-to-day is. I liked the day-to-day of being a stand-up. That being said, I don’t know that that would’ve been a sustainable life for me either. Being on the road that many weeks a year, it’s a fucking hard life. For the time period that I did it, and now, in the way that I can do it here, it’s really great. This job has been really sustainable for me, but not to the extent that I’ll be here forever. It’s not that kind of thing.

Stewart worked as a stand-up comic for twelve years before going behind The Daily Show desk in 1999. Who does he think is funny these days, besides his talented colleagues at The Daily Show?

Are there comics whose career arcs you admire?
I love what Louis C.K. has done. Stephen. The guys who are banging it out on the road, man. Seinfeld did the best sitcom, did it for as long as he felt like doing it, moved back to New York, just goes on the road, does what he wants.

Could you see yourself writing or directing a straight comedy film someday?
Why not? Maybe a remake of The Little Tramp.

Could covering the 2016 election motivate you to stay at The Daily Show?
Yeah. But part of the thing to remember is this is not the only process by which you can work material, and sometimes it’s more important to step back and reconfigure a conversation than continue the same conversation because you know how to do it.

As hard as you’ve worked, is there any part of you that’s amazed someone is still paying you to make jokes?
I was talking about this with Steve Carell, because he’s in Foxcatcher. He’s a true dramatic actor and drills it. We were at some festival in Telluride. We’re surrounded by French directors and German directors and Iñárritu.29 We’re just looking at each other in disbelief. I think we both feel somewhat more comfortable in a basement underneath a Middle Eastern restaurant asking the audience for suggestions. I think the rest of it feels like a certain amount of gravy.

What do you want the legacy of The Daily Show to be?
It’s very difficult to say we want the legacy to be “It was the funniest show in television history,” but you want it to be appreciated for what I think it was: consistently funny, consistently smart over a long period of time. I felt like we never took the opportunity for granted. I think more than anything I would hope people would be like, “Those guys fucking brought it every night.” They might not have hit it every night, and there have been some shows that tanked. But I feel like we bring it every night.

Whenever it ends, you need to do what Derek Jeter did.
You mean, final game in Boston?

No, a farewell tour where you collect Lego sculptures of yourself and rocking chairs.
Definitely.

In August, you had all the members of the Wu-Tang Clan on the show. Your next career move could be to replace ODB.
You know, I do like it raw.

It was a great image — nine black guys with you, in a suit, in the middle.
How much did I look like their agent? What’s funny is, because I worked at MTV all those years ago, I’ve known these guys a long time. I said to Method Man backstage, “Finally, we really are using weed medicinally.” We are that old now.

*This article appears in the November 3, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.