Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Seizing Chance, Sanders Makes Bold Progressive Picks to Shape DNC Platform

from Common Dreams:

byLauren McCauley
Though compromised allotment falls short of Sanders' suggestion, Vermont Senator doesn't waste opportunity to make progressive choices
Seizing on the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) reluctant concession allowing him to appoint five members to the committee that writes the party platform, Bernie Sanders on Monday announced a suite of picks that included activists across the progressive sphere.

Sanders' appointees to the 15-member Platform Drafting Committee include: racial justice activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West, 350.org co-founder and noted environmentalist Bill McKibben, Native American activist Deborah Parker, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian scholar as well as founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI).

The announcement came roughly two weeks after Sanders sent a letter to DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) accusing her of stacking the party's three standing committees, including the drafting committee, with "Clinton loyalists."

According to the Washington Post, party officials and the two Democratic candidates "worked out" a compromise "based on the number of popular votes each has received to date." Under the agreement, frontrunner Hillary Clinton would be allotted six members and Sanders five, while Wasserman Schultz will name four.

The final selections were made "in consultation with the campaigns and the DNC from larger slates of 12 and 10 suggested by the campaigns," the Post reports.

The deal falls short of Sanders' recommendation that each campaign choose seven members for the Drafting Committee and the 15th member would jointly picked by the two campaigns. Nonetheless, it is an improvement over the standing rule, under which the DNC chair would consider a list of ten names from each candidate, choose four from each and then appoint an additional seven.

"We believe that we will have the representation on the platform drafting committee to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests," Sanders said in a statement.

The list of progressive appointees was welcomed widely. Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein noted on Twitter that two of Sanders' picks "were arrested for peaceful civil disobedience during [the] Obama years," referring to West and McKibben.

As for the remaining appointees, the Post reports:
The Clinton campaign’s choices are Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official and Clinton surrogate; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and longtime Clinton confidante; Rep. Luis Guttierez of Illinois; Carol Browner, a former former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy; Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Wasserman Schultz also named former California Rep. Howard Berman; California Rep. Barbara Lee and author and executive Bonnie Schaefer.
The platform announcement comes amid a growing rift between the Sanders campaign and the DNC, which has been accused of deliberately rigging the system in Clinton's favor.

Over the weekend, Sanders threw his weight behind Tim Canova, who is running a progressive challenge to Wasserman Schultz's House seat, and said that if he wins the presidency that the chairwoman "would not be reappointed."

Monday, May 30, 2016

School of Life Monday:
LITERATURE - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Russian 19th century novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky deserves our attention for the austerity and pessimism of his vision – from which we can nevertheless gain enlightenment and hope.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Time to Think:
Noam Chomsky:
Democracy Is a Threat to Any Power System

To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, John Nichols was joined in conversation by the eminent radical intellectual Noam Chomsky at the Tucson Festival of Books in Arizona on March 15. Discussing issues ranging from media accountability and voter participation, to money in politics and income inequality, Chomsky offered insight into the greatest challenges of our time.

“The race towards disaster is being carried out with almost euphoric intensity,” said Chomsky. Chomsky maintains that meaningful change requires a democratic awakening. “Democracy is a threat to any power system,” he said.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

This dark side of the Internet is costing young people their jobs and social lives

from The Washington Post:

It was group discussion time at reSTART, a woodsy rehabilitation center about 30 miles outside Seattle. Four residents sat around the living room and talked about their struggles with addiction, anxiously drumming their fingers on their legs and fidgeting with their shoelaces. One young man described dropping out of college to seek treatment for the crippling problem that brought them all here: compulsive Internet use. 
It is easy to scoff at the idea of Internet addiction, which is not officially recognized as a disorder in the United States. Medical science has yet to diagnose precisely what is going on in the brains of the addicted, and there is no clear definition of what entails an Internet addiction. Yet a growing number of parents and experts say addiction to screens is becoming a major problem for many young Americans, causing them to drop out of school, withdraw from their families and friends, and complain of deep anxieties in social settings.
A recent study by Common Sense Media, a parent advocacy group, found that 59 percent of parents think their teens are addicted to mobile devices. Meanwhile, 50 percent of teenagers feel the same way. The study surveyed nearly 1,300 parents and children this year.
It is evident from the demand for centers such as reSTART — which will soon launch an adolescent program after fielding hundreds of pleading calls from parents — that many struggle with a dark side of tech use, even if our data-obsessed world can’t yet quantify it. Some parents think the condition is serious enough that they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their children to get treatment, because insurance won’t cover it.
“It’s not as obvious as substance addiction, but it’s very, very real,” said Alex, a 22-year-old who had been at reSTART for five days with a familiar story: He withdrew from college because he put playing games or using the Internet ahead of going to class or work. (Like the other patients, he declined to reveal his full name, for fear he would be stigmatized as an addict.)
His parents, he said, had always encouraged him to use technology, without realizing the harm it could do. They were just trying to raise their son in a world soaked in technology that didn’t exist when they were his age.
“We are a guinea pig generation,” he said.
‘I was totally dependent’
Those who say they suffer from Internet addiction share many symptoms with other types of addicts, in terms of which chemicals are released into the brain, experts say. The pleasure centers of the brain light up when introduced to the stimulus. Addicts lose interest in other hobbies or, sometimes, never develop any. When not allowed to go online, they experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression or even physical shaking. They retreat into corners of the Internet where they can find quick success — a dominant ranking in a game or a well-liked Facebook post — that they don’t have in the real world, experts say.
Peter, 30, knows. Before he began the reSTART program, he was homeless and unemployed. He also struggled with alcoholism but believes that his compulsive tech use led him to some of the darkest moments of his life. 
“I was totally dependent. It cost me relationships,” he said.
Peter’s tech dependence started when he was 13, after his father died. He retreated into gaming to cope, playing from sunup until sundown, sometimes without taking breaks to eat or even to use the bathroom.
Gaming offered him a euphoric escape from reality. He spent more and more time playing games, watching online videos, and getting into arguments on social media and forums. He withdrew from the rest of the world, avoiding the pain and feelings of total worthlessness that hit him when he tried to address his problems. His schoolwork suffered. His physical health declined because he never learned to cook, to clean, to exercise — or, as he put it, “to live in an adult way.” That helped push his relationship with his mother to its breaking point, he said.
Hilarie Cash, co-founder of ­reSTART and its chief clinical officer, knows these behaviors all too well. She first treated someone for Internet addiction in 1994: a man whose addiction to text-based online gaming cost him his marriage. Many of her young clients have poor impulse control and an inability to plan for the future. Even the thought of having to plan a meal, Cash said, can lock some of her patients up with fear.
‘Flying blind’
Some experts are less sure that these problems add up to a specific condition. In the United States, there is no definition of Internet addiction. It is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which sets the official standards for disorders in the United States. A draft definition covering video-game addiction is included in an appendix for further research review, but there is no entry for general tech use.
It’s difficult to tease out from existing research what exactly an addiction to the Internet entails, said Nancy Petry, a doctor and professor at the University of Connecticut’s medical school. She was on the American Psychiatric Association’s committee that evaluated behavioral addictions for the DSM’s fifth edition. Is an addiction to online pornography, for example, an indication of an Internet addiction or of a sexual disorder? Or could it be both? Even when looking at something like an addiction to video games, Petry said, researchers have yet to define what aspects of gameplay are uniquely addictive.
“I think that’s part of the issue with this particular condition,” Petry said. “It shouldn’t be ­technology-specific. You don’t have a medical disorder based on a technology per se; that’s led to inconsistencies about what are people assessing. And when you open it up to [broader] Internet addiction, it gets messier and messier.” 
Petry said that there is a strong suggestion that gaming addiction, at least, is its own unique condition — and that there could be further conditions related to Internet use. But, she said, more research is required to determine which behaviors are unique and deserving of their own recognition.
Other countries, however, do officially recognize some forms of Internet addiction as serious conditions. In South Korea, Internet addiction has a formal definition; there, students are diagnosed and sent to government treatment centers. In China, militaristic government “boot camps” have treated millions of children. Japan, too, has tested an Internet “fasting camp” for young people.
But researchers say the problem in America needs more study. “We’re largely flying blind because we’ve done so little research about this,” said Jim Steyer, the executive director of Common Sense Media, whose study found that no one can agree on a definition — meaning that it’s hard to know how many of us in this perpetually plugged-in society have a serious problem.
Reluctant insurers
Without a definition of what Internet-related addiction is, it is hard to get insurance coverage to help pay for intensive rehabilitation programs such as reSTART. The program costs $25,000 for 45 days at the center, on par with high-end drug recovery clinics. 
Cash said that while insurance won’t pay for any of that treatment, some clinics can get payment if addicts have another disorder, such as alcoholism, that is recognized by the DSM.
Kimberly Young, a physician who founded the first-of-its-kind Center for Internet Addiction in 1995, has had little luck getting her patients financial support for their treatment. “Insurance companies are so tough that even when we have a drug addict that needs work, they don’t really want to pay,” she said. “We live in a tough world when it comes to health insurance, mental health and addiction — especially to something new like the Internet.”
Chickens instead of screens
There is also debate about what kind of treatment works best.
At reSTART, which has treated roughly 150 patients between the ages of 18 and 30, the mission is to help detox residents and teach them the basic life skills they need to properly balance their tech use. The center is a converted house on a five-acre lot with plenty of trails and a small brood of chickens. There is little tech in the house — certainly no smartphones or game consoles. Even fantasy books are confiscated at the door to keep patients from withdrawing into their own worlds. A music room off the foyer has an old phone booth for private calls.
Residents — generally young men, mostly sent by their parents — sleep in twin beds. They exercise, and they learn about goal-setting and balance, and how to handle the anxiety and depression that can feed addictive behavior. Residents learn to shop for groceries or do laundry; many come not even knowing how to clean a bathroom. Once they’re done with their stay, they can go home or live in apartments with other former residents.
Young runs her northern Pennsylvania clinic more like a traditional treatment program, sometimes easing symptoms with psychiatric medication. Retreat houses like reSTART can be effective, she said, but she wondered if it was difficult for some patients to reenter the real world.
“It’s easier for someone to be in a house and a structured environment, where you can have a lot of support if you relapse,” she said. “But how practical is that later?”
Everyone agrees, though, that parents play a significant role in establishing healthy habits, since technology use is unavoidable.
“I tell them, you’re the drug dealer,” Young said. “You need to understand what you’re modeling to this child.”

If you're looking to cut your Internet time, here's how to do it, according to science. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Common Sense Media’s director of research, Michael Robb, said all parents should have conversations with their kids about balanced technology use. Heavy use doesn’t necessarily signal a problem, Robb said; parents have to know their own kids.
“Not everything is pathological; things can be problematic but below that threshold,” he said.
Delaney Ruston, a physician and filmmaker, explored a wide range of issues surrounding everyday tech use in her film “Screenagers.” The film followed her own struggle with her young daughter over how to monitor and moderate tech use.
Ruston thinks we should be careful about how we use the word “addiction” in casual conversation about tech use. For serious cases, she agrees that Internet addiction is a real problem. But for the kid who just won’t put her phone down during dinner? Calling her an addict may do more harm than good.
“We should be careful to stop using the word ‘addiction’ so kids can have an internal sense of control,” she said. “They have to know that the device does not control them.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

LL Cool J freestyle @ After Midnight in Philly (1985)
Killin' It!

you can't front on this:

from the YouTube uploader :
Say what you will about crossover TV/ Movie star/ Mr. Hey Lover, LL Cool J. Just don't forget to mention that the man was a rap beast in the days of real rap... Energy for days! Originally recorded live from After Midnight in Philly. This is from Lady B's Street Beat radio show circa 1985 on Power 99 FM. "...On Sunday afternoons from one to five/ She's the lady with the juice that's kickin it live...Street Beat Lady B". 'Nuff Respect!

Besides that they use a bunch of my photos in this lo-res clip, here's a great photograph that appears in my MY RULES book and one at the top of this post that didn't make the cut, both from the same roll of film around the same time as this 'freestyle'.

BONUS: from The Roxy Live , 80's sometime:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Adventures of Schoolly D: A Gangster's Story

Schooly D's influence is immeasurable amongst the practitioners during the Golden Era of Hip-Hop in the mid-late 80's. He made classic tracks and had a classic style, songs he made then stand the test of time. P.S.K., Gucci Time, Saturday Night are undeniable killers. He's one of a handful of artists from the era I wish i had the opportunity to make pictures with, but never got to.


We this found on Dangerous Minds Yesterday, from our friend Richard Metzger:

At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged white guy character in a Mike Judge film, the improbable soundtrack to my life for the past two weeks has been Schoolly motherfuckin’ D. For whatever reason, I pulled out an old CD of his—maybe for the first time this millennium—to listen to in the car the other day and now I can’t get enough of it. Alone in the car I play “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” at an ear-splitting volume that I’m pretty sure bounces my conservative European automobile like a low-rider with tricked-out suspension. I probably look like an idiot, I grant you, but I don’t really care. This shit is amazing. I appreciated it when it came out—I saw him live—but why it captured my attention so much again thirty years later I couldn’t tell you. It just did.

Probably the original original gangster rapper—even Ice-T admitted in his autobiography that he might’ve taken a bite out of Schoolly D‘s style—the Philadelphia native, on his self-released records at least, perfectly played the role of the scary black gang member/rapper, alluding to, cataloging and boasting about the nefarious activities of the “Park Side Killers,” the local posse of bad boys he ran with. Schoolly—real name Jesse Weaver Jr.—was backed by his DJ Code Money and rapped about violence, guns, raunchy sex, “bitches,” crack and “cheeba”—Salt-n-Pepa or Run DMC were never going to mention such things, or use the “N” word in their raps. Schoolly D shied away from none of these topics or that word.

He told the Philadelphia Citypaper about where his lyrical inspiration came from in a 2004 interview:

“A couple of guys I know, Abdullah, Disco Man and my man Manny, were like, “Why don’t you write a song about us, why don’t you write a song about Parkside Killers?’ It was one of the easiest songs I’d ever written. I wrote it sitting at my mom’s dining-room table, smoking some weed at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Armed with his newfound inspiration and a large amount of weed, Schoolly hit the studio. Out of necessity he was forced into recording in a studio designed for classical music.

“They had these big plate reverbs, that’s why you got the “PSK’ sound because nobody used the real shit. We did everything live, and if you listen you can hear my fingers programming the drum machine. We just kept getting higher and higher and higher, and smoking and smoking and all of a sudden the song just took on this whole other life because we were just so fucked up. It just made this sucking sound like “boosh, boosh’ and we just looked at each other and were like, “Yeah, do more of that shit.’”

The “boosh” sound is what really made “PSK” stand out as something that, until that time, had never been done. The tweaked-out reverb bass caused a sensation.

“I got home and I put the tape in the tape recorder and I was like, “What the fuck did I do?’ Nobody had ever done something like that before, with all the reverb, nobody. And I was like, “I gotta go back and take some of that reverb out because this shit just sounds kinda crazy.’ But I didn’t know that everyone else was making tapes and passing out copies to everyone in Parkside, so by the time that I wanted to go back to the studio it was already out everywhere, and motherfuckers was going crazy, they was like, “That’s the baddest shit we ever heard in our whole fucking life.’”

It is. If you’ve never heard this one before, turn it up loud and pulverize yourself with it. It’s got to be LOUD. There’s no music video for “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” or most of Schoolly D‘s best songs, but it would probably seen less threatening if there was something to watch, so enjoy this for the perfect “thing” that it is. Who needs a music video when you’ve got this?



The funny thing is, what seemed so “real” at the time, to be perfectly honest, does sounds in retrospect like two young guys getting fucked up and fucking around with a drum machine. The main beat was preprogrammed into the Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer—you can also hear it in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them for Me”—and the outrageous raps seem in hindsight to be more juvenile hijinks than anything else—which is not to take anything away from it. I think it’s more just describing it accurately. (They’re still pretty NSFW, even 30 years later.)

In the same Citypaper article, Weaver said that his infamous “Saturday Night” was about “my 17-year-old Saturday night” and that the song was not meant to be taken literally. He admitted that he “did come home once with a girl and I forgot my key and my mom was pissed off, but she didn’t pull a gun; she’s never owned a gun in her life.”

Below you can see pretty much the only live footage of Schoolly D in his youthful prime, shot at the Latin Quarter nightclub in New York in 1986. I was at this very show when I was 20 years old. My girlfriend at the time worked at a hip-hop label and she was hip to Schoolly D, pretty early on and played his records (and performed his raps) around our apartment all the time. She got on the guest list and we went. The Latin Quarter was a real “check your gun at the door” kinda place, which meant it had the perfect ambiance for a Schoolly D show. The set was shot for Big Fun In The Big Town, a Dutch TV documentary about hip-hop and I remember the camera crew being there because they ruined the intimidating mood I expected. In any case, seeing this footage so many years later, I’m glad in hindsight that they were there. Who needs memories when you’ve got YouTube?



In recent years Schoolly D’s been perhaps best known for his contributions to Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force and he’s performed as part of a hip-hop oldies package tour. He’s also a painter (he drew the self portrait at the top of the post). Abel Ferrara used his music to great effect in The King of New York.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LSD’s Long, Strange Trip
from the New York Times Retro Report

In bold documentary style, Retro Report looks back at the major stories that shaped the world using fresh interviews, analysis and compelling archival footage. Produced by Retro Report for The New York Times.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ground Zero DETROIT Rock'N'Roll:
Louder Than Love - The Grande Ballroom Story
Essential doc on Detroit venue where the Stooges & MC5 made their marks

from Dangerous Minds:
Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story


“Detroit made you good.” –Alice Cooper

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story is a must-see film for anyone who gives a shit about the history of rock-n-roll and ‘60s counter culture. The tale of the Grande Ballroom, the legendary Detroit venue, is one that’s needed to be told for some time. Hell, just for the fact that the Stooges and MC5 made their marks there is reason enough, but the ballroom was also a popular stop on the touring circuit, with some of the biggest acts of the period gracing its stage. Through archival footage and photographs, plus new interviews with those who were there (many of whom have since passed on), first time producer/director and Detroit native Tony D’Annunzio lays out how it all went down, making us wish we could’ve been there to see it. As a Detroiter, I was often beaming with pride as I watched the documentary, despite the fact that I was only a couple of years old when the Grande closed its doors.

The Grande Ballroom is a building that drew artists of all sorts into its vortex, and is still revered by those who set foot in it. It’s a venue where bands had to give their absolute best in order to impress Detroit audiences. It’s a place that—like Alice says—made you good.

Opening night

Outside the Grande on opening night, October 7th, 1966 (photo: Emile Bacilla)

Designed in the Moorish/Art Deco style and located on Detroit’s west side, the Grande Ballroom opened in 1928. The venue hosted big bands and was a mecca for dancing couples for decades (it could hold as many as 1,500 boppers), but by the early ‘60s, times had changed significantly and the Grande closed its doors. Fast forward to 1966: Detroit area DJ and school teacher Russ Gibb was attending a Byrds concert in San Francisco at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, an updated dance hall. Inspired by the sounds and sights (he was especially blown away by the psychedelic light show) of the city’s burgeoning counter-culture scene, Gibb was determined to bring what he experienced to Detroit. After investigating several locations, he settled on the shuttered Grande Ballroom. Much like it had been during its initial heyday, the Grande would once again become the place to be.

Grande Ballroom poster

Poster art: Gary Grimshaw

Local band MC5 performed as part of the opening festivities at the Grande Ballroom, which took place on October 7th and 8th, 1966. Russ Gibb had his friend Gary Grimshaw design the poster, and Grimshaw would continue to create advertisements for Grande events. His artwork is now synonymous with the psychedelic ‘60s. Leni Sinclair, wife of MC5 manager, John Sinclair, was part of the crew responsible for the light shows, but she is best known for the photographs she took at the Grande, as well as her films of the the Stooges and MC5. Many of the images she captured are now iconic.

Back In The USA cover

Cover of the second MC5 album, ‘Back in the USA’ (1970). Photo snapped by Leni Sinclair backstage at the Grande.

Other area rock acts that honed their chops at the Grande include the Amboy Dukes, the Spike Drivers, SRC, and the Rationals. Bands that made appearances at the Grande while on tour include the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, the Mothers of Invention, Sly and the Family Stone, Howlin’ Wolf, the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, and the Who. Tom Wright, who managed the Who at the time and would later oversee the Grande, said that he “had never seen the Who try harder” than during their 1968 show at the ballroom.

The Who

The Who (photo: Tom Weschler)

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds


Iggy Stooge/Iggy Pop, The Stooges (photo: Leni Sinclair)

Wayne Kramer

Wayne Kramer, MC5 (photo: Charlie Auringer)

Unlike the “peace and love” hippie outfits that made up the bulk of the San Francisco scene, the Detroit bands were raw and gritty. One such act was more associated with the Grande Ballroom than any other, and that was the all-powerful MC5. Known for their explosive performances, the band became a staple of the venue. The 5 were keenly aware they would have to work hard to earn the love of the blue collar Detroit audiences, and incorporated the Detroit work ethic of the city’s auto workers into their act. Every group that shared the stage with the 5 learned they too had to bring it, which subsequently made them up their game—or risk leaving the place hanging their collective head in shame. In addition to being on the bill for the ballroom’s 1966 opening, other notable happenings in MC5 history took place inside the building: It’s where they recorded their debut album, the seminal live LP, Kick Out The Jams (1969), and where they played their final show the night the Grande closed for good, New Year’s Eve, 1972.



Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story has had a successful worldwide run on the festival circuit since the documentary premiered in 2012, and received a low-key video release last year. Producer/director Tony D’Annunzio has inked a deal with distributor MVD Entertainment Group, which will soon give the film the wide release it has always deserved.

Dangerous Minds recently asked Tony D’Annunzio some questions via email.

Tells us about your background.

Tony D’Annunzio: Born and raised here in Detroit. I have been in the broadcast television field for almost 30 years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost every network, including ABC, HBO, NFL Network, CNN, just to name a few. I had started as a production assistant in 1987 and was working my way to producing/directing award-winning broadcast television segments, commercials, and music videos. I recently was awarded the Kresge Foundation Fellows for Film, and was nominated for “Best New Filmmaker” for the LA New Filmmakers Film Festival.

What inspired you to make the documentary?

Tony D’Annunzio: I had always wanted to make my own documentary, but as I started to work in the production field I was really enjoying the commercial and live music video aspect of my profession. At the 20 year mark in my career (2008), I decided to go for it and start making the film I had been wanting to make. My love for music is one of the reasons I got into the business, and that coupled with my love of documentary films, lead me to start researching a music-based topic for my film. Although I was too young to attend the Grande Ballroom in its heyday (I was born in 1966, the same year the Grande opened as a rock palace), I had friends and family members that went there. If you grow up in Detroit, the stories, myths, and legends of the Grande are part of your DNA. After much research, I found out that a definitive story of the Grande era had not been done yet.

Did you have a narrative that you stuck to throughout the editing process or did the structure evolve over time?

Tony D’Annunzio: Great Question! The film actually started out as a music documentary, but as the interviews started coming together the film actually turned more into a cultural piece (with a lot of killer Detroit music). As someone that hadn’t attended the ballroom during its gloried past, I couldn’t figure out why it played so heavy into the musicians, poster artists, and attendees hearts. Although the music brought the people to the ballroom, it was the cultural and creative collective that inspired musicians and artists to keep coming back and performing there.

How long did it take to make the film?

Tony D’Annunzio: The film took 3.5 years to make. It was an independent film in the truest sense. I wrote, research, produced, set up interviews, and shot it on a very tight budget. I waited for the artists to come through Detroit to avoid travel expenses, and my wife Sharri even helped with catering the crew meals. You have to remember that during the making of this film I was also full time in the broadcast television field, so it was a bit of a balancing act to get the film shot and produced while still maintaining my day job.

At the very beginning of the film it was entirely self financed. We ended up having a couple benefits to not only raise funding, but to raise awareness of the project. I was contacted by a band in Australia (Young Doctors) that were such fans of the Detroit music from that era that they decided to have a benefit for me in Sydney. At that point, I knew I was really onto a compelling story that could reach out passed the Detroit area and even beyond the US.

There’s a fair amount of talk in the film concerning the idea that the Detroit work ethic impacted both local and touring acts. What’s your take on this concept?

Tony D’Annunzio: Having grown up here you don’t realize there is this work ethic ingrained in you. We work hard and we play hard! As I started to travel the globe for my profession, I became more aware of it. Detroit is a tough town, and in order to make a difference you really need to be dedicated to your profession and passionate about it. I’ll put it to you this way, I just recently saw Iggy Pop in Detroit and here is a 69 year old man that it still working his ass off and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. It’s inspiring to watch and amazing to feel that Detroit work ethic come to life on the stage!

You interviewed some pretty famous folks for the documentary, including Alice Cooper, Lemmy, and Roger Daltrey. How were you, a first time producer/director, able to convince these icons to appear in your film?

Tony D’Annunzio: Very early in the filmmaking process we cut a short trailer that I was able to send out to the artists I wanted to interview. I really believe that after the artist management and PR companies saw the level of production that I work at, they become very comfortable with allowing the musicians to be a part of it. Another big reason so many music icons made themselves available for the film is because the Grande Ballroom and the Detroit music scene has had such a big impact on all of their careers. I would always ask managers just to simply ask if the Grande and/or Detroit played a role in their artist’s career, and nine times out of ten it was a resounding YES!

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you have in the works?

Tony D’Annunzio: Although I really love rock and roll, I have a passion for jazz too. I’m just starting the research process about the incredible jazz eras in Detroit, and since I was recently awarded the Kresge Foundation Fellows, and have been introduced to various other foundations because of this honor, I’m looking for funding to start this project. I already know I can make a good film with no budget, so I’m excited to see what I can do with one!

Grande doors

Pre-order the DVD of Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story through MVD

or Amazon. You can watch the trailer via the MVD link, but before doing that, check out a segment assembled just for Dangerous Minds. In the clip, James Williamson, Wayne Kramer, Alice Cooper, and others speak on the Detroit work ethic of the local bands, while super-fans Slash and Henry Rollins praise the power those groups wielded. You’ll also see awesome footage of the Stooges and MC5 on stage at the Grande.

Monday, May 23, 2016

School of Life Monday:
SOCIOLOGY - Auguste Comte

The 19th century thinker Auguste Comte invented a religion without a God in it. It was a fascinating move that deserves to be studied today.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fela Kuti’s jazzy, pre-Afrobeat party music

from Dangerous Minds

Before the completion of his political radicalization, the great Nigerian creator of Afrobeat music Fela Kuti was a purveyor of another acutely African music called Highlife. Highlife was, at the time, a dance music that married African percussion and Western-style horn and guitar sections, creating a specifically Nigerian/Ghanan jazz sound. Around the 1930s, the style spread through the continent, and a modernized version remains popular today. From The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora:

In 1930, Sibo, a Kru man, established a brass band in Ghana that played both African and European music; in Nigeria about the same time, the Calabar Brass Band moved to Lagos. Bothe events established the roots of highlife music in the two countries. Generally, as the music and its accompanying highlife dance spread across West Africa, each region maintained its ethnic specificity by composing songs in the local language, and some bands, especially the multinational ones, created compositions in English or pidgin English. Typical highlife songs covered topics ranging from love to social, philosophical, and the occasional political commentary.

Several factors contributed to the decline of highlife music. One major factor was the wave of independence sweeping through colonial Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. As countries attained independence, they lost vital connections they once shared through the British colonial system. Each new nation turned inward, focusing on developing independently. Closely related to this were the political unrest in Ghana and Nigeria. The 1965 coup d’etat that swept President Nkrumah from power also stifled his favored projects, including the state patronage of highlife music. The Nigerian Civil War (1969-1971) had an even more devastating impact because many of its prominent musicians were located in Biafra where the war raged the most. Finally, there was the widely, internationally popular soul music with its strong appeal to the younger generation, and West African youths proved to be no exception. Suddenly, highlife was no longer hip; it slipped into the memory lane of the middle-aged.

Photos circa 1966, give or take.

During the 1960s, after returning to Nigeria from his formal music studies in London, Fela led a Highlife band called Koola Lobitos. The band, like the music itself, was a mix of Africans and Westerners, and Kuti experienced success in the form. He was plentifully recorded, but little of that documentation made it to the west (an insanely thorough discography of those years can be seen at this link, revealing a massive trove of tantalizingly rare Fela records). The best record we’ve had of those years was The ‘69 Los Angeles Sessions. The tracks were recorded, like it says on the box, in 1969, in Los Angeles, under time duress as the band had been reported to the INS as being in the country without work permits!

But entirely legal or not, it was during his US visits that Kuti encountered the Black Power movement and books like Black Man of the Nile, which sped his already growing politicization, transforming him into the active revolutionary, wildly innovative and prolific musician, and controversial figure (he was also a prolific polygamist) who became famous in the ‘70s for the captivating, hypnotic chimera of Highlife, funk and free jazz he called Afrobeat.

Kuti’s Afrobeat phase was long and amply documented, lasting the rest of Kuti’s life (he passed in 1997 of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma)—in fact, all of his Western releases are legitimately streaming for free, if you’ve got any curiosity to sate—but new compilation from Knitting Factory of his Koola Lobitos years aims to fill in the gaps in Westerners’ knowledge of his early years. Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969) was released last week, and while the collection contains some overlap with the 1969 sessions release, plenty of it has been mostly unheard in the West. Check out the genre anthem “It’s Highlife Time” and the almost Stax-y “I Know Your Feeling.”

Given that we’re talking about Fela and this weekend is (ugh) Record Store Day, we’d be remiss if we neglected to mention one of this year’s pitifully few genuinely interesting RSD releases—a 10” single of “I Go Shout Plenty” b/w “Frustration.” The songs were recorded in 1976, for an intended 1977 release, but the Nigerian government’s infamous and shocking attack on Kuti’s communal home, during which his mother was killed by defenestration, waylaid that and other Kuti releases. Both songs eventually made their way onto releases in the 1980s.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The inside story of when Run‑DMC met Aerosmith

My photograph of RUN-DMC was used for the cover of this epic single.

It was the first "picture sleeve" single they at "Profile records" ever did, before that they had only used generic label sleeves. I was offered $100, this is all we're willing to spend they said, and told me, "If you don't give it to us to use for $100, we'll just stick with the generic cover..." so I gave in, just wanting to be a part of a record of two great groups that i was into in their early years.

Run, himself, to his credit, when he heard of my generosity, took four hundred dollar bills out of his pocket from his wad of cash and said "Thank you Glen, here's my contribution and thanks" ... for dealing with those assholes at the label...

The Washington post ran a great story on the recording, check it out here:
The inside story of when Run‑DMC met Aerosmith and changed music forever

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This is Hart Island in New York City

from The New York Times:

An uninhabited strip of land off the coast of the Bronx in Long Island Sound has been the final resting place for New York City's unclaimed dead since 1869.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

School of Life Monday:
on LITERATURE - Voltaire

Voltaire was one of the wisest, funniest and cleverest people of the 18th century. He continues to have lots to teach us about toleration, modesty and kindness.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Watch the Buzzcocks;
farewell concert before they split in 1981

One of my all time favorite bands...

from Dangerous Minds:
The story of the Buzzcocks begins with an ad on a college notice board in 1975. The ad was placed by a young musician named Howard Trafford at the Bolton Institute of Technology. Trafford was looking for like-minded musicians to form a band. A student called Peter McNeish replied and the band that was to become the Buzzcocks was born.

McNeish changed his name to Pete Shelley. Trafford changed his to Howard Devoto. A drummer and bass player were recruited and the foursome played their first gig in February 1976.

They had ideas, they had a sense of what they wanted to do, but it didn’t really all gel until Shelley and Devoto traveled to London to see the Sex Pistols play. This was the kind of music they wanted to play—fast, furious, with purpose and edge. Being enterprising young lads, they booked the Pistols to play a gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester—the venue Bob Dylan played in 1965 when he went electric and was called a “Judas.”

The Sex Pistols first appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall was in June 1976. It’s been well documented and fair to say it was one of those gigs that changed musical history.  Among the 35-40 people in attendance that night were Mark E. Smith who would form The Fall, Steven Patrick Morrissey who would go on to form The Smiths, Ian Curtis who became the lead singer of Joy Division, Paul Morley who would write for the NME before becoming involved with record label ZTT and the Art of Noise, and er…Mick Hucknall….which proves that not all revolutionary events end in change.


He was there: Pete Shelley showing the poster for the Sex Pistols second appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall with support from the Buzzcocks.

The Buzzcocks were supposed to support the Pistols that night—but Shelley and Devoto couldn’t rally any musicians together. This led to a more professional attitude and a new more permanent line-up. Steve Diggle joined on bass guitarist with John Maher on drums. When the Pistols returned in July, the Buzzcocks did support them this time. The Buzzcocks name came from a magazine headline—a review of the Rock Follies TV show—containing the words “buzz” and “cock.” You can see how this Sex Pistols-inspired name appealed to a group of young guys.

The band formed a record label, New Hormones, to release their first EP (the third ever punk single in the UK) “Spiral Scratch.” Unexpectedly, Devoto quit the band. Shelley took over lead vocals and shared songwriting duties with Steve Diggle—who had moved from bass to guitar while Stephen Garvey eventually joined as new bass player.

Over the next four years, the Buzzcocks produced a selection of powerful, memorable and infectious songs (“What Do I Get?” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've),” “Harmony In My Head” and “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” to name but four) that were sharp and clever and often lyrically as good as songs written by Ray Davies for the Kinks but with a more frenetic beat.


The Buzzcocks should have been massive. They should have been one of the major bands of the 1980s. But somehow it never happened. Musically they had evolved from punk into New Wave—which Shelley described as a bit of “spring cleaning”—into their very own idiosyncratic style. But somehow the audience didn’t go with them. While the Buzzcocks matured as a band, the fans had moved on to, say, Gary Numan, electronica, and the lipstick and powder of the New Romantic groups like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Culture Club.

On January 23rd 1981, the Buzzcocks played their final gig before splitting-up in Hamburg. It was a superb farewell concert that makes you wonder why the hell they didn’t continue.

Track listing: “Why She’s a Girl From the Chainstore,” “What Do I Get?” “Fast Cars,” “Fiction Romance,” “Harmony In My Head,” “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” “Lipstick.” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've),” “Something’s Gone Wrong Again,” “Airwaves Dream,” “Strange Thing,” and “Noise Annoys.”

The Buzzcocks reformed in 1989 and are currently on a 40th anniversary tour in North America and Europe, details here.


One of my top 10 LP's:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wintergatan - Marble Machine
(music instrument using 2000 marbles)

Get the audio track "Marble Machine" by Wintergatan:

Marble Machine built and composed by Martin Molin
Video filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson


Swedish band Wintergatan will play live concerts starting from summer 2016.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Skateboarding down Dubai’s Aquaventure waterslide at Atlantis

Three skateboarders made the most of the maintenance period of Dubai’s Aquaventure Waterpark, riding down 156 metres of twists and turns, a 14m wall and the temporarily dry Aquaconda waterslide.

Alex Sorgente, Milton Martinez and Jan Hoffman stepped up for a never to be repeated session on some of the most outrageous terrain ever touched. The massive transitions and high danger meant only the most capable got the call from the good people at Atlantis, The Palm Dubai’s Aquaventure park, for a lockdown session.

short version:

a longer version:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Today's Bummer:
Other Music record store to close its doors in June

from Dangerous Minds:

Other Music opened its doors on East 4th Street in 1995, right across the street from the gargantuan downtown branch of Tower Records.

After it opened, for a few weeks I obscurely thought that it must be an adjunct of Tower Records. It seemed perfectly plausible that Tower might open an annex called ‘Other Music’ across the street from one of its major locations. Plus the Internet wouldn’t have had good information on something like that back then, so I just didn’t know.

After a couple of visits, however, it became clear that something entirely else was going on at Other Music. They would always have the hip, newer stuff that was making the rounds online, like Clinic or Enon or Les Savy Fav, and would also focus on older material that wasn’t as prominent in the larger chain stores, like Neu! or Henry Cow. They did a pretty good job of making Tower look safe and provincial.

Of course, the 2000s weren’t kind to big-box retailers of music, and even though such an idea would have seemed absurd when it was starting out, Other Music outlasted Tower Records by a decade.

Today Other Music tweeted the sad news that it will be closing in a few weeks:

A week ago, Josh Madell, one of the owners of the store, commented, “We still do a ton of business—probably more than most stores in the country. It’s just the economics of it actually supporting us—we don’t see a future in it. We’re trying to step back before it becomes a nightmare.”

Rather than assume a snobby attitude about the music you should have been up on before you entered the store (ahem—Kim’s Underground), Other Music always went the other way, eager to bring you new stuff you hadn’t heard before. Its shelves always had enthusiastic and informative note cards written by staff members explaining why this or that obscure album was worth your fifteen bucks.

Few establishments have enhanced the East Village like Other Music. For a good while there—certainly through the 2000s—they always had the best used CD racks. I’m very sorry to see it go.

In 1999 Other Music paid the Scottish musician Momus to write a song about the store. So he did. This is how it came out:


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Watch DEVO’s first-ever live performance at Kent State University, 1973

from Dangerous Minds:


This clip of DEVO’s very first performance—so early in their career it predates the demo recordings that make up the Hardcore DEVO collections—surfaced on the laserdisc of The Complete Truth about De-Evolution 23 years ago. I assume it’s on the DVD, too, but I’ve only seen the laserdisc.



While the sleeve of The Complete Truth says this show happened in 1972, I’m convinced by the detailed notes at DEVO Live Guide, which date it to the Kent State University Creative Arts Festival on April 18, 1973. Billed as “Sextet DEVO,” founders Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale, Bob Casale (RIP) and Bob Lewis were joined by short-term spuds Rod Reisman and Chas. Frederick Weber III. Jerry says the group performed at the invitation of poet Robert Bertholf:

It was not really a band. We just called it Sextet DEVO because I had been doing de-evolutionary art… Bob Lewis’ connection to Bertholf sealed our position in the lineup, and then he demanded that Fred [Weber] sing because Fred was a beautiful singer and none of us could sing right.

Without further ado, here’s D-E-V-O from O-H-I-O playing “Private Secretary.”


Saturday, May 7, 2016

We should celebrate greats like Sly Stone
while they're still with us

from The Guardian
The outpouring of grief for Prince and David Bowie was justified – but another rock and funk pioneer languishes ignored by pop culture. Let’s give him his due

Sly Stone: his music still sounds startlingly current. Photograph: David Warner Ellis/Redferns

If you’d had to guess which rock/funk legend was going to die in 2016, Sly Stone would have been much higher up on the list than Prince. Stone, at 73, is 16 years older than Prince, and besides that has been ill for decades. Sly’s career was derailed by addiction in the 1970s, and he never recovered. Comeback effort after comeback effort fizzled, royalty disputes festered, and for a time he was living in a recreational vehicle. Given his lack of public profile and his history of addiction, many people have assumed he died years ago.

Even when Stone does pass on (hopefully many years from now), there’s unlikely to be a Prince or Bowie sized outpouring of grief – and think-pieces. Though Sly’s widely acknowledged as a rock legend, after 40 years out of the spotlight he barely figures in pop culture. You can gauge the extent of Stone’s marginalization by the reaction to the death last year of his collaborator and the mother of one of his children, legendary funk trumpeter and singer Cynthia Robinson. She received brief obituaries, but people on social media hardly noticed.

Stone may not be much thought about, but his music still sounds startlingly current. More than George Clinton, more than James Brown, more even perhaps than Prince, Sly and the Family Stone’s hits foreshadow the bricolage construction and magpie eclecticism of hip-hop. The first track on Sly Stone’s first album, 1967’s A Whole New Thing, opens with what is effectively a proto-sample: a horn riff from, of all things, Frère Jacques.

He continued to use quotations throughout his career – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) name-drops his own earlier hits; I Don’t Know (Satisfaction) is a stoned, stunned remix of the Stones hit. But even when he was writing entirely new material, his songs sound like they’re built out of bits and pieces glued together; Dylan’s harmonica, Motown grooves, rock guitar sting, Stax horns – everything went into mix, not blended together but turned into a single psychedelic explosion. Sing a Simple Song, perhaps the funkiest track ever recorded, has been sampled hundreds of times, which makes sense since it sounds as though it’s built out of samples. Vocals, horn beats and bass burps zip in and out of the staggering beat, while Sly’s own shouted disembodied cry of ecstasy pans from channel to channel, foreshadowing generations of funk studio trickery to come. You can hear everyone from George Clinton to Public Enemy to De La Soul to Timbaland to FKA twigs to Kendrick Lamar to, of course, Prince taking notes at each “try a little Do! Re! Me!” Sly is the place you go if you want to learn how to smash a song apart and reassemble the broken pieces into something weirder, funkier and better.

Stone’s message also continues to resonate. It’s a cliche by now to talk about the transition from his earlier, optimistic flower power hits to his later downer mumbled grooves. There certainly is a contrast between Everyday People, and 1971’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, which starts with Sly muttering: “Feel so good, don’t wanna move.” But the truth is Sly always mixed irony, hope and despair, balancing the sunny dynamics of his (pre-Prince) multi-gendered and racially integrated band with his studio play-every-instrument-himself control freak insularity. Thank You For Talking to Me Africa, his ominous, slowed-down, screwed-and-chopped-before-there-was-screwed-and-chopped remix of Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) can be heard either as a statement of black pride and resistance or as a bitter comment on the end of the civil rights movement’s racial idealism, or as both. In any case, “Lookin’ at the devil / grinnin’ at his gun / fingers start shakin’ / I begin to run” could have been written yesterday for the Black Lives Matter movement – as could “If I could do it all over again / I’d be in the same skin I’m in”, from his last classic, 1973’s Fresh.

And then there’s the early, cheerful-sounding Run, Run, Run, where the bright chimes and doo-wop Beach Boy harmonies provide a backdrop for a bleak, blunt assessment of white America. “Don’t try to figure out what’s happenin’ inside their heads / Ain’t too much goin’ on inside the head of the dead.” When Robinson shouts, “People, listen!” it’s part call to party, part warning – the ambivalence only underlined when the rest of the band takes it up in sweet harmonizing. Stone’s mixture of joy and paranoia doesn’t seem too dated for 2016; if anything, it seems too pointed. Prince and Bowie both in their ways took the 60s as a touchstone for eccentric, and erotic, transcendence. Stone, even at his happiest, had an eye on the broken shards lying around on the asphalt after the spaceship cracked.

Maybe Stone would be a little more discussed or acknowledged if his message wasn’t so insistently political and uncomfortable. Still, the real reason there aren’t a bazillion Sly Stone think-pieces whooshing through the net isn’t because of that. It’s just a marketing failure. “Ain’t nobody got the thing I can hear / But if I have to I will yell in your ear,” he sang in one of his 70s tracks, Time for Livin’, but he’s been singularly bad at shouting in anyone’s ear for decades. The media needs a news peg, and when an artist isn’t releasing music, or performing, or maintaining the brand, it’s difficult to generate interest.

Sly & The Family Stone in the early 70s: mixing irony, hope and despair. Photograph: GAB Archives/Redferns

The one exception, of course, is that final news peg, death. If you’re not in the spotlight, nobody looks at you – until you die, at which point think piece writers are all given one last chance to consider your legacy. “You only funky as your last cut / You focus on the past your ass’ll be a has-what”, as Sly-and-Prince-disciple Andre 3000 said, back when he was still relevant and people wrote think pieces about him. Time and the media chug ahead, and Stevie Wonder’s career is less important at the moment than whatever Justin Bieber happened to say yesterday on Twitter. That’s pop, and there’s not much point in being bitter about it. Still, it’s worthwhile to take a moment now and then to think about the legends while they’re here, rather than waiting for that arbitrary online instant when everybody all at once will be allowed to remember, after Sly’s left, how important it was for him to have been here all along.

thanks, Ian Rogers