All posts filed under: Current Events

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BREAKING NEWS: DAVID BOWIE DIES AT AGE 69

Popdose is very sad to report that legendary artist David Bowie has died at the age of 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer.  The singer, who just turned 69 on January 8th had also released his most recent album, Blackstar, on the same day.  Bowie was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats. He currently has a musical, “Lazarus,” running Off Broadway. Born David Robert Jones, Bowie’s career spanned more than 50 years, taking off in the early ’70’s with such hits as “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Space Oddity”.  A chameleon, Bowie changed his image with each album during his heyday and is credited as being one of the leaders of the “glam-rock” movement.

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Honor “The Artist”, Feed An Artist, Gift Your Favorite Little Prince

Last summer, POPDOSE talked with Seattle artist, Troy Gua, about his years-long celebration of a funky lil musical genius named Prince — and the lawsuit, global press coverage and short film (pun intended) that followed. Read the full interview here. As 2016 kicks off, we reconnect with Gua to discuss his latest project, one that could land your hands on this limited edition gem of a poster (see below): What inspired the Le Petit Prince poster project? LPP for those in the know. It was an end-of-the-year Instagram app that culled your 9 most popular posts of the year and compiled them into a grid for posting. I guess it should have come as no surprise that all nine of mine turned out to be LPP pics. I posted, someone said it would make a great poster, the wheels turned. Does this mark the end of the LPP era? It’s not the end of an era, but I had concentrated on an entirely new 80’s period series earlier this past year, so I thought a compilation would make sense and …

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Review: Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (Deluxe Edition)

Kurt Cobain’s first solo record – recently released 21 years after his 1994 suicide and paired with a suspect “documentary” film project of revisionist mythmaking and iconography – is a jumbled, scraping-barrel-bottom mess of an affair. It’s not to say that, for die-hard fans, there are not things to like about it. There are moments of, I’ll go so far as to say, genuine beauty. The opener “The Yodel Song” shows how easily Cobain could toss off a Nirvana-style melody without giving a second thought, and tunes like “The Happy Guitar” make you feel like, alone sometimes, Cobain genuinely just had a good time making music, even if – maybe especially if – there was no audience to intrude sans himself. And, yes, the acoustic take on “And I Love Her” and the instrumental “Letters To Frances” are sweet. But for every engaging moment (an epic “Do Re Mi,” a frequently bootlegged “Sappy” demo, the Melvins-ish “Reverb Experiment”) there’s a lot of grime. The scattered montages and audio collages, while interesting ephemera, are dated sonically and haven’t aged …

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BREAKING NEWS: R&B legend Allen Toussaint dies at 77

New Orleans musical cornerstone Allen Toussaint has died at the age of 77 in Madrid, Spain.  The award-winning artist was known for songs like “Working In The Coalmine”, “Southern Nights” and “Fortune Teller”. He suffered a heart attack shortly after coming off stage at Madrid’s Teatro Lara on Monday night;he was found in his hotel and resuscitated – but suffered a second heart attack en route to hospital.

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Keep It To Yourself: Sneaker Pimps

Like Run-DMC, me and My Adidas do the illest things. You know, slaying all suckers who perpetrate, laying down law from state to state.  And when I travel on gravel, dirt road or street, I wear my Adidas when I rock the beat. I’m guessing most of my KI2Y homies wear sneakers, too, at least some of the time. Maybe you go for that James Dean retro-style upstairs.  Maybe you sport those weird individually-toed “barefoot” sneaks, so you can feel the earth move under your feet, or whatever.  Maybe, if you know the right people, you get your kicks custom made by Etai Drori here in fashion forward LA.  But whatever your preference, you might want to buy a back-up pair.  That’s because the IP lawsuits are coming fast and furious and some models may be off the shelf faster than you can say Christian Louboutin red python Rantus Orlato Flats! It’s like so.  Consumers are presented with options like these: Which is which?  That would be Converse, Fila, and Skechers, going left to right on your screen.  Next up is the venerable …

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Keep It To Yourself: Shaped Crusaders

Take a look at the picture above.  Do you know what it is?  Can you identify it?  Of course you can!  You probably remember its catchy “Gimme a break” jingle.  You might even be snacking on one right now.  The four-columned, snaptastic confection is so universally recognizable that its very shape is a trademark.  Or so one would think. Can shapes be trademarked?  The answer is yes, but unfortunately not the beloved KitKat bar.  Here’s why… In order for a 3D shape to be a trademark it’s got to be so distinctive that when people see it they know exactly what product it represents, and who makes that product. For example, you see one of these artifacts to the right and you recognize it as the container of the most ubiquitous high-calorie soft drink on Earth.  You may not know that Coca-cola was invented by a Confederate Colonel to cure his morphine addiction, or how much blow was in the original recipe, or that it was first sold as a medicinal cure for dyspepsia, headache and …

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Trans TV: The Big Debate About “I Am Cait” and “I Am Jazz”

As POPDOSE’s resident non-gender conforming correspondent, I thought it was high time to weigh in on this fabulous summer of Trans television: I Am Cait (E!) and I Am Jazz (TLC). What started off as a traditional television review (this is POPDOSE after all) turned into a more personal exploration leading to the question, Should Caitlyn Jenner be THE voice of the transgender Community? TV in and “on” Transition TV has come a long way since men in dresses were the punchline (M*A*S*H, Bosom Buddies) or Trans characters were relegated to that of serial killers or murder victims. Let’s not even talk about soap operas where female actresses are revealed as trans! in a shocking plot twist. I hear CBS’s Big Brother has a trans contestant this season, but that’s just a stunt. Let’s talk about people who are actually doing something positive. This summer, we’re being treated to two reality shows about budding icons in Trans culture. They have a lot in common; redundant titles (technically Jazz claimed the “I Am…” bit first), trans topics (“coming out” and “day in the life stories”) and captivating leads …

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Keep It To Yourself: Finding Vivian’s Copyright

A few nights past Dr. Keepit and I watched “Finding Vivian Maier,” a documentary about an unknown photographer whose street scenes, cityscapes and studies of ordinary people rival those of the great Robert Frank and Diane Arbus. Maier didn’t exhibit her photos during her lifetime; she spent most of her years toiling as a nanny for posh Chicago families, none of which ever saw her work. In fact, no one saw her work.  She took thousands of photos, producing countless rolls of undeveloped film that she dumped haphazardly into shoeboxes.  In 2009 she died a Dickensian death, penniless and alone, her genius a complete secret.  Her treasures were left behind in storage containers she couldn’t pay for. A box of Maier’s negatives was bought at auction by John Maloof, a Chicago real estate agent gathering material for a book he intended to write about the city. Astutely clocking that he had stumbled on a gold mine, Maloof set about buying up Maier’s possessions, including thousands of negatives, films, audio recordings, and tons of personal detritus packratted away over …

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Welcome To Pittsburgh #3: The Gotobeds Sign To Sub Pop

Yes, the rumors are true, Mr. and Ms. Column Follower. Local Pittsburgh indie-rock superheroes The Gotobeds have signed to Sub Pop Records. Everyone’s people have dotted the dotted line and announced it to everyone else’s people in much-anticipated press releases shot around the Interwebs a few hours ago in a parlance that used to be called “hot off the presses.” (Kind of a dusty term now, inn’it?) It is, as they say, official. The ink is drying. Et cetera. For those just joining the program, The Gotobeds are anything anybody in the Rust Belt underground has been able to talk about since the group released Poor People Are Revolting, a winningly titled, Gerard Cosloy-backed full-length debut, in September 2014. Go to Mad Mex near Chatham University in Squirrel Hill, and the waiter taking your Big Azz Margarita order is saying how “New York’s Alright” is an “East Coast anthem with Wire-style electricity burning a hole in your goddamn ear.” Get some ink at Pittsburgh Tattoo Company Downtown and the girl Shannon’s inking is running her …

Star Wars Episode VII is coming. What else do you need? (starwars.com photo)

24 current reasons to be thankful in 2014

Sure, the government’s a mess, the environment is spiraling out of control and American cities are actually burning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take time to consider some of the reasons we all have to be thankful. So everyone, please put down your torches and pitchforks long enough to appreciate the following blessings: 1) Your job doesn’t require you to balance anything on Kim Kardashian’s big shiny butt. 2) You’re not married to Robin Thicke, probably. At least not anymore. 3) Statistically, if you get pulled over by a police officer you still have a very good chance of not being shot to death. No matter what Nancy Grace says. 4) You’re not on Nancy Grace. 5) You’re not a Red Sox fan. Oh, you are? Er, sorry. 6) You weren’t in the last “Expendables” movie. Oh, you were? Er, sorry. 7) You didn’t let yourself get too attached to “Selfie.” 8) Your professional success doesn’t rely on cooperation from the Republican Party. 9) You didn’t have everything riding on that damn Benghazi report. 10) You …

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BOOK REVIEW: Jesse Frohman – “Kurt Cobain: The Last Session”

Twenty years after Kurt Cobain’s tragic suicide, he’s still, it seems, as popular as ever. Sure, Cobain and company have sold some 25 million records in the U.S. since 1991 alone, if Bloomberg Businessweek is to be believed. But, since Cobain’s death, Nirvana has released two LPs that rocketed right to the top of the charts: 1994’s MTV Unplugged In New York and 1996’s From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, two #1s. The odds-and-ends collection With The Lights Out, a worthwhile endeavor if anyone’s taking notes, went platinum, setting a record for single week sales of any box set. The “best of” black album, Nirvana, was a smash. And Cobain still regularly shows up in those Forbes lists of top-earning dead celebrities. In 2011, his daughter, Frances Bean, had an estimated worth of near $200 million. Enter Kurt Cobain: The Last Session. The first thing wrong with the tome, out via Thames & Hudson this month, is the title. Photographer Jesse Frohman provides about 100 shots of Cobain and, I suppose, incidentally, his band, …

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POP CULTURE: The Campaign To Buy Neverland Ranch

In most cases, I would say this was pretty good on the bullshit-factor scale.  BUT this is real, folks.  A fundraising campaign on GoFundMe has begun to purchase Michael Jackson, the now-deceased, self-proclaimed “King Of Pop”‘s mansion.  The asking price is 75 million U.S. dollars; the campaign has thus far raised $430.00 in a 7 day span. This is the work of Mr. Mark Blackwell, former Senior Editor of SPIN Magazine, Editorial Director of Raygun Publishing, co-founder of Nylon Magazine, screenwriter for such modern classics as “Just My Luck” and because I know these things, an early member of the late, great SENATOR FLUX.  He’s also an all-around good egg.  The campaign is designed to help maintain Neverland’s now-mythological status and should this somehow succeed, contributors will be able to visit and spend time, etc.  at the (forever haunted) estate. To understand the details, go here: http://www.gofundme.com/BuyNeverland If you think this is your bag, by all means – contribute.  Imagine the possibilities of owning a little piece of Jackson’s land…

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Interview: David Grubbs of Squirrel Bait

Before Louisville was associated with Palace, though after, I suppose, Hunter S. Thompson chronicled its seedy decadence during the Derby, there was Squirrel Bait, a nascent punk group of area teens churning out intricately layered but surprisingly accessible post-hardcore gems, a group of seemingly-always-do-wells who drew rave reviews, and rightfully so, from the likes of Husker Du’s Bob Mould and Big Black’s Steve Albini. Rumor has it that even the likes of Kurt Cobain worshipped at the altar of the group’s 1985 debut. Though bands like Languid & Flaccid and Maurice, two other great Louisville bands from the 1980s, circled in and around Squirrel Bait’s orbit during its heyday, it became even more renowned as time worn on in the decades that followed. Two of the band’s members, David Grubbs and Brian McMahan, went on to form Slint, Bastro, Gastr del Sol and The For Carnation and, in Grubbs’ case, pursue notable careers solo. Filmmaker Lance Bangs recently released a documentary on the rise of Slint, timed with a re-release of the group’s epic Spiderland, …

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MOVIE REVIEW: “The Internet’s Own Boy”

It isn’t enough that we live in a time of “Big Brother is REALLY watching you” with downloading documents from the internet and having authorities at your door a minute later.  Such is the tragic case of Reddit co-founder and technology prodigy Aaron Swartz, who tragically committed suicide in January 2013.  The Internet’s Own Boy is a very fine, very detailed look at his life, his amazing aptitude towards technology from a young age, his alleged crimes and the theories of what ultimately drove him to take his own life at the age of 26. In-depth interviews with his family members, friends, co-workers and legal experts paint a portrait of a not-all-too-complex but very forward thinking individual. The film shows the timeline of Aaron Swartz’ involvement in helping to develop RSS feeds to the beginnings of Reddit; he was very much a giant footprint in the internet’s rapid development and advancement.  Most salient is his laboring over  issues such as social fairness, justice and political organization, which led to a two year legal hell. You’ll …

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Keep It To Yourself: 50 States of Grey

Just so you know, this isn’t a sexy article.  It’s about recent legal developments concerning grey market goods; not some pervy tycoon and his obsession with nubile coeds.  Sorry! Now then, what are Grey Market goods?  In a nutshell they’re legally made products that are sold through unauthorized channels.  For example, drugs imported from Canada can cost a fraction of what you’d pay your local CVS under your fabulous health care plan.  They’re the same meds in the same packaging, but the price is far less than what Pfizer can charge domestically for them.  Their “greyness” is determined not by their authenticity, but by the fact that they’re distributed unofficially, or in a manner that the manufacturer did not foresee or intend. Black Market goods, by contrast, are products that may not be sold legally, either because they’re counterfeit (think $50 Rolexes) or of a type that may be genuine but are officially verboten to traffic in.  Weapons of Mass Destruction, say.  There are also Green Market goods, which used to mean recycled or refurbished …

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PopSmarts: Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

It’s been a little more than a week since Slate published a piece that — across your Old Professor’s little corner of the Internet, anyway — touched off a firestorm. Ruth Graham’s article is cheekily titled “Against YA,” but the click-baity headline is even more blunt: “Yes, Adults Should Be Embarrassed About Reading Literature Written For Children.” Graham throws down in no uncertain terms, exhorting grown-ups to take off the training wheels and read something age-appropriate. “[T]he enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia,” she says. “Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this.” Though her presentation is intentionally provocative, it’s not hard to sympathize with Graham’s argument. Young Adult fiction dominates the bestseller lists, and film franchises based on YA series — that is, the ones that aren’t based on comic books, another form of literature originally meant for children that’s been co-opted by grown-ups — have been reaping box office gold. But it’s not The Kids who …

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PopSmarts: Come On, Pilgrim

Critical objectivity can be difficult to sustain. As members of the family, we have an implicit contract with our readers to consider each work on its own merits, without undue preconceptions; to determine what a given project is trying to do, and base our critique on how well it accomplishes its goals. Our only bias — not just acceptable, but necessary — must be to favor good work over bad. Recognizing that true objectivity is probably impossible, we must, like judiciary officials, acknowledge our prejudices insofar as we are aware of them. And when those prejudices prove insurmountable, we must recuse ourselves. Such was the case for your Old Professor earlier this week. I was tucking into a newly-collected, critical acclaimed work — it would be unfair to call it out by name — in a peculiar, specific subgenre that I generally enjoy, from a creator now coming into her own after years in the field, who brings a distinctive and appealing voice to her medium and has become an inspirational figure to a broad …

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PopSmarts: Wave a Red Rag

There’s a feeling you get. You know the one. You’re listening. It’s a song you’ve heard before, maybe many times. Heard it, but really never listened. One of those songs that always just sort of been there. But this time, on your hundredth hearing, or your thousandth, something is different. Something jumps out at you: a lyric you’ve never caught, a familiar snatch of melody repurposed, some quote or allusion or reference that gives you a shock of recognition. And this song, this evergreen, this classic-rock chestnut, this battered and clapped-out auld whorehorse becomes something wonderfully fresh and new. And a secret unfolds in your mind. No: Not unfolds. The opposite. Something opaque and featureless assumes new form and contour, a blank sheet of paper resolving into an origami swan. That feeling. There must be a word for that. It’s difficult, in practical terms, to define your Old Professor’s precise field of academic interest — turns out you can’t actually get a degree in Being A Smart-Ass, more’s the pity — but Modern Languages was …

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PopSmarts: What Becomes a Legend Most?

The second season of Vikings, last year’s basic-cable breakout hit, is coming into its homestretch, and the intrigues are piling up. Handsomely shot on locations in Ireland and Canada, and boasting magnetic lead performances, Vikings tells the story of Ragnar Lothbrok, a semi-legendary Danish chieftain and raider who plundered his way up and down the English coastline in the dawn years of the 9th Century. Vikings is the first scripted drama created for History — formerly known as the History Channel, but rebranded, like so many cable networks, to blur the distinction between the thing being disseminated and the vehicle for its distribution — but its historical provenance is doubtful, at best. That’s because the historical record is itself exceedingly thin. Although the Vikings had a written language, rendered in runes, it was reserved only for ceremonial inscriptions. The Norsemen relied on oral transmission, and there was a lively tradition of bardic poetry and song. It wasn’t until the simultaneous introductions of Christianity and the Latin alphabet in the 12th Century that the Vikings thought …

PopSmarts: Fractured Mirror

There’s a new top dog on the Young Adult block. The film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s bestselling YA novel Divergent opened a couple of weeks ago to stellar box office returns. The first in a projected trilogy of movies, Divergent may mark the start of a new killer franchise — or it may just be a way for teen audiences to mark time ‘til the next Hunger Games movie. Because make no mistake: Katniss Everdeen casts a long shadow across Roth’s literary dystopia. Divergent, like Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books, takes place in an ugly future where the lives of young people are treated as disposable commodities. In a postapocalyptic Chicago, society is cloven into five castes, or “factions.” The peace-loving Amity do the nurturing work of farming; the Erudite, for whom intelligence is the greatest virtue, are planners; the Candor, brought up to be truthful in all things, are the lawyers, and so forth. The labeling is familiar to kids brought up on Harry Potter. But Divergent adds an element of free will to …

"'Scuse me, while I sue this guy."

Keep It To Yourself: The Hawking Dead

My very first KI2Y column on PopDose was this clever bit about how rights of publicity might attach to dead celebrities.  Do rights to famous folk’s images survive their tragic demise, or do they rest in peace in Hollywood Forever Cemetery?  Let’s revisit this question now because a recent decision has added a new twist to this already kooky area of intellectual property law.  And, it involves our favorite Woodstock casualty, Jimi Hendrix! My attractive and urbane readers know that there is no uniform federal right of publicity – the law varies widely all over the country.  Just over half the states have rights of publicity laws protecting living stars; only a handful have laws pertaining to the deceased ones.  In New York, post mortem rights of publicity law are not recognized at all.  This is an important quirk for us because although Hendrix expired under dodgy circumstances in a London hotel, he was a resident of New York when he joined the 27 Club. A little background: Hendrix was a favorite son of Seattle, Washington. (This was …