Isaac Chotiner interviews Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho and an evidently half-hearted believer in the idea that America has overreacted to Donald Trump's elevation to the presidency.
[Chotiner] There are a lot of things to get angry about: children being separated from their parents, Trump saying nice things about marchers in Charlottesville. What is it that bothers you about this?
[Ellis] You do know that plenty of people don’t think that? You do understand that?
Don’t think what?
Don’t think all these things you are saying about Charlottesville. What does he have, a ninety-three-per-cent approval rating, or, let’s say, a hundred per cent, from his base? Let’s say it is, over all, way up, from thirty-eight per cent to fifty per cent, or even higher. And let’s say Latinos are now fifty-per-cent approval for Trump.
That’s not true, but O.K.
The tendency for Chotiner's interview subjects to unravel under his fair but persistent questioning (Giuliani, Buruma, take your pick) is genuinely amazing. Chotiner is journalism's Chigurh on the stairs. His targets surely sense that their rules have led them to a murderer, but the same rules impose upon them a strange duty to go back to their rooms with him, to talk and die. Read the rest
The inimitable Robert Smith on the red carpet following The Cure's induction last week into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Here's their performance:
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In 1978, Mr. Rogers hosted a television show for adults called "Old Friends...New Friends" in which he interviewed interesting musicians, artists, athletes, teachers, and others "about their search for meaning in life." A clip of the show appeared in last year's documentary about Fred Rogers, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?." Above is that complete episode, titled "Inner Rhythms" and featuring classical pianist Lorin Hollander. There are 19 other episodes profiling the likes of composer Hoagy Carmichael, barrio teacher Nancy Acosta, comedian Milton Berle, and psychoanalyst Helen Ross.
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The New York Public Library's Riverside branch invites you to check out a necktie, briefcase, or handbag suited for a "job interview, wedding, audition, graduation, prom, or other formal event." It's part of their NYPL Grow Up initiative. From the NYPL:
Adults and teens who have low fines (less than $15) or no fines on their library cards can borrow items for a one-time, three-week lending period.
We also have information sheets on job interview tips, free career resources and suggested books, and websites and organizations that can help with professional fashion advice and attire.
(via Open Culture) Read the rest
The New York Times interviewed Stephen Colbert on stage. Among other things, he describes his typical working day, and what goes into producing The Late Show. I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but what I've seen so far is really good.
I had the privilege of being on the Colbert Report twice. Each time, Colbert came into the green room and spent about 20 minutes chatting with me. He was really nice. I also noticed that the crew adored him and had a great relationship with him. Read the rest
One of my favorite writers has a new book out and was interviewed by The Cut. He talkes about his transition, gender identity, bylines, and the new context of his past work. Read the rest
How a scholarly hippie got pulled into the orbit of the psychedelic revolutionary whom then-President Nixon labelled “the most dangerous man in America”
I played this video to watch Buddy Rich say mean things about country music (at 9:46 in) ("Anybody could play it on one string"), but his drum solo was a lot more fun.
Incidentally, here's Buddy Rich's classic dressing down of his band. Obviously the inspiration for the abusive band teacher in Whiplash. Read the rest
George Michael, 23, had just ended Wham! and launched his solo career when he spoke with Joe Smith, author of Off The Record: An Oral History of Popular Music:
I do have the advantage of youth. I’m going to make two types of music: one is the type that people are expecting me to make because it’s really what I’m best at and what I would imagine whatever happens from now on or probably be remembered the most for is my songs in terms of structured ballads and stuff like that with strong melodies. You know, I’ve done that, I’ve done Careless Whisper.
But also there’s a kind of sexuality that I haven’t really made the most of with the first part of my career. I suppose obviously as a 22 year old, 23 year old, obviously I’m more experienced sexually than I was as an 18 year old. So maybe it’s time for that to start reflecting in the music.
(Blank on Blank)
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UPDATE 3/5/2107 Peter Sjöstedt-H emailed me: "Thank you for promoting my interview with Tim Scully. Tim has emailed me to ask if the title of your article could be altered a little as it is now factually incorrect: Scully did not manufacture "750,000,000 Doses of LSD" but only *wanted to*. He actually only manufactured about 3,000,000 doses of 300 ug.
Peter Sjöstedt-H interviewed famous 1960s acid chemist Tim Scully for High Existence.
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In 1977 Tim Scully was imprisoned for the manufacture of LSD, a high-standard variety thereof well known in the 1960s as Orange Sunshine. Following his release in 1980, Scully returned to a life concerned more with electronics than with acid-infused ideology. The story of his acid adventures with Nick Sand have been documented in the new film The Sunshine Makers – philosopher Peter Sjöstedt-H here asks Tim Scully eight questions stemming therefrom.
In the documentary you complained of “bad trips” after your run in with the law. Do you believe that the so-called “bad trip” can be beneficial?
There wasn’t room in a 90 minute film to explain this point fully. During the time from late 1966 through mid-1970 I was frequently followed by federal agents. I had to lose them before doing anything important. They knew that I knew that they were following me and I knew that they knew.
In mid-1968 my 2nd Denver lab was busted as shown in the film when I was out of town. I was arrested by federal agents in the spring of 1969 on a fugitive warrant from Denver.
Interviews with six employees who work in Silicon Valley about the ways Trump's recent actions against immigrants have affected them. Powerful stuff.
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"Banned" features six interviews of Silicon Valley employees who are directly affected by immigration policies introduced by the Trump administration. The goal of this project is to provide an uninformed public a more comprehensive picture of who these policies will affect, to bring awareness to Silicon Valley about the issues facing members of their own community, and directly address ongoing stereotypes around immigration.
It is perhaps very telling that all of the review blurbs on the back cover of Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt's Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC are written by fellow musicians and songwriters. Andy Partridge has always been a musician's musician.
Complicated Game is a series of candid and detailed interviews with Andy Partridge about many of XTC's most well-known songs. Todd Bernhardt, the interviewer, is a fellow musician, XTC mega-fan, and friend of Andy's, so they don't shy away from discussing the nitty-gritty details of chord changes, instruments used, studio hacks, and other compositional and engineering minutia.
In the chapter on "Senses Working Overtime," Andy explains how the whole song came about as he was fooling around on a new Martin guitar and he played a "messed-up E-flat." He thought it sounded very Medieval so he tried to find other chords that went with it (A-flat minor and D-flat). He says the rest of the song sort of composed itself from there. We also learn that "English Settlement" was their "new instruments record." The bandmembers had all just gotten new instruments (Andy, the Martin, Dave Gregory, a 12-string Richenbacker, Colin Moulding, a fretless bass) and they were excited to noodle around on them to see what they could do.
There are many other interesting and fun revelations in the book. "This is Pop," from White Music, was Andy's way of rejecting the pigeonholing of the punk label, making sure that everyone was reminded that this is pop music, plain and simple, and that ain't a dirty word. Read the rest
Our guest on the Cool Tools Show this week is Ron Hale-Evans, the open source software blog, Planeta Diego: Linux Y Software Libre, once described Ron as "writer by profession, game designer by vocation and psychologist by training." He’s the primary author of the 2006 book Mind Performance Hacks and co-author of its 2011 spiritual successor Mindhacker.
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WhiteCoat Clipboard ($31)
"The WhiteCoat Clipboard [are] folding clipboards and they're all medical editions of one sort of another and, one morning a few years ago for some reason, I woke up with the idea that I just had to have a folding clipboard to fit in my bag. I searched for folding clipboard on Amazon and 'The WhiteCoat Clipboard' was pretty much it. It folds up so it will fit into a doctor's or nurse's coat pocket. ... You can put stickers on it or decorate it in some other way, but I keep mine plain, because it's kind of fun to look at. … It's also good for when you just throw it in your bag, if you have notes in it, they don't get all creased and crumpled, because the folder protects it."
Alphasmart Neo - Handheld ($27, used)
“It's kind of like a calculator screen, but bigger. It's just great, you just type in it all day and then at the end of the day, you plug it into your laptop or whatever via USB and it pretends it's a keyboard, and it essentially simulates typing into whatever document you got open and it dumps it that way. Read the rest
I had a great time interviewing cartoonist Daniel Clowes at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles about his Complete Eightball anthology. This video was shot in glorious VHS by filmmaker Rocio Mesa and was produced by Gaston Dominguez-Letelier.
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One day in September 1951, Dr. Joseph Cyr, a surgeon Lieutenant of the Royal Canadian Navy, was on board a Navy ship in waters off the coast of North Korea. This was during the height of the Korean War, so when crew members spotted a small Korean junk off in the distance, they became suspicious, especially because the boat was headed straight for them. As the junk approached, the lookouts could see someone on the deck frantically waving a flag, and when the junk got closer, they saw that the men on board were more dead than alive. Their bodies had been torn apart by bullets and shrapnel. As soon as they were lifted aboard, Dr. Cyr immediately began operating on them. As the only person on the ship with medical qualifications, he spent the next 48 hours performing surgery, saving the lives of 19 men. He was hailed a hero at home, and he certainly would have received honors and a promotion from the Navy, if only they hadn’t discovered that Dr. Cyr was not a doctor and had never performed a surgical operation in his life before that day. He didn’t even have a high school degree. And his name wasn’t even Joseph Cyr, it was Ferdinand Demara. He’d stolen the identity of the real Dr. Cyr, a friend of his who knew him as Brother John Payne of the Brothers of Christian Instruction. Read the rest
“If at a certain point you were into arthouse movies when you’re young, Wim Wenders was your best friend,” my friend Bilge Ebiri tells me the other day, and I can put it no better way. The German filmmaker secured a legendary reputation early on for the successive one-two hit of his widely regarded masterpieces Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire. Even now, having just celebrated his 70th birthday, he was recently Oscar-nominated for his documentaries Pina and Salt of the Earth, and continues to take photographs & write essays about art and film, with a new volume yet to be translated into English. Read the rest