Advertisements

Rock & Roll Legend Chuck Berry Dies at 90 

Chuck Berry, the legendary “Father of Rock ’N’ Roll,” died at his home in Missouri on Saturday, said police in St. Charles County, just north of St. Louis.

He was 90 years old.

The composer and guitar innovator was known for the hits “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “My Ding-a-Ling,” “Maybellene” and “Sweet Little Sixteen” — chart-toppers that endure to this day.

The St. Charles Police Department said on its Facebook page that cops responded to a report of a medical emergency at Berry’s home at 12:40 p.m.

“Inside the home, first responders observed an unresponsive man and immediately administered lifesaving techniques,” the police posting said.

“Unfortunately, the 90-year-old man could not be revived and was pronounced deceased at 1:26 p.m.”

Police confirmed Berry’s identity and said his family requested privacy.

Berry was a major influence on generations of musicians, particularly on early rockabilly stars such as Jerry Lee Lewis and British Invasion bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Fashion Designers Are Boycotting Melania Trump. Shouldn’t Bakers and Florists Have the Same Right?

melania-t

Free association should not be for powerful liberals only

 writes: “As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady,” wrote fashion designer Sophie Theallet in an open letter this week.

“Personally, I applaud Theallet’s design to disassociate herself with the next occupant of the White House. I see Donald Trump as a shameful human being with few redeeming qualities as a leader and even fewer as a person, and if I were a business owner, I too would decline to serve his administration.”

People magazine reports Theallet, who has designed and donated clothes for outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama numerous times over the last eight years, may not be alone: “A source tells People, ‘This has already been going on for months. Designers wouldn’t lend to Melania, Ivanka or Tiffany, so they either bought the items themselves or wore Ivanka’s brand. … There was a lot of shopping their own closets.'”

Sophie Theallet

Sophie Theallet

As Theallet put it, ‘we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideals.’ I suspect Barronelle Stutzman, the white-haired grandmother who owns Arlene’s Flowers, feels the same way about her craft.”

Personally, I applaud Theallet’s design to disassociate herself with the next occupant of the White House. I see Donald Trump as a shameful human being with few redeeming qualities as a leader and even fewer as a person, and if I were a business owner, I too would decline to serve his administration.

arlenesflowers_122414

“But instead of assuming a live-and-let-live attitude on the matter, Washington state has systematically worked to destroy Stutzman’s business unless she agrees to take part in a celebration to which she is morally opposed.”

Likewise, I support Bruce Springsteen‘s right to cancel his concerts in North Carolina in protest of the state’s transgender-bathroom policies.

[Read the full story here, at Reason.com]

Both are examples of associational freedom—the right to make decisions for yourself about how and with whom you spend your time and energy. This includes the right not to take on a client or project that elevates, in your view, a value you disagree with. Read the rest of this entry »


Childishness and Intolerance on College Campuses Embody What’s Wrong with American Liberalism

hysteria-george-will

Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election.

George Will writes: Many undergraduates, their fawn-like eyes wide with astonishment, are wondering: Why didn’t the dean of students prevent the election from disrupting the serenity to which my school has taught me that I am entitled? Campuses create “safe spaces” where students can shelter from discombobulating thoughts and receive spiritual balm for the trauma of microaggressions. Yet the presidential election came without trigger warnings?

“Only the highly educated write so badly…the point of such ludicrous prose is to signal membership in a clerisy.”

The morning after the election, normal people rose — some elated, some despondent — and went off to actual work. But at Yale University, that incubator of late-adolescent infants, a professor responded to “heartfelt notes” from students “in shock” by making that day’s exam optional.

Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election. The compound of childishness and condescension radiating from campuses is a reminder to normal Americans of the decay of protected classes — in this case, tenured faculty and cosseted students.

[Read the full text of George Will’s column here, at The Washington Post]

As “bias-response teams” fanned out across campuses, an incident report was filed about a University of Northern Colorado student who wrote “free speech matters” on one of 680 “#languagematters” posters that cautioned against politically incorrect speech. Catholic DePaul University denounced as “bigotry” a poster proclaiming “Unborn Lives Matter.” Bowdoin College provided counseling to students traumatizedby the cultural appropriation committed by a sombrero-and-tequila party. Oberlin College students said they were suffering breakdowns because schoolwork was interfering with their political activism. California State University at Los Angeles established “healing” spaces for students to cope with the pain caused by a political speech delivered three months earlier . Indiana University experienced social-media panic (“Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight”) because a Catholic priest in a white robe, with a rope-like belt and rosary beads, was identified as someone “in a KKK outfit holding a whip.” Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Beach Boys Icon Brian Wilson on Faith, Forgiveness and His New Memoir

la-et-ms-brian-wilson-20150404

On Oct. 11, Random House Canada will release I Am Brian Wilson, written with Ben Greenman. It’s Wilson’s first real memoir, having disowned a title from 1991 completed while he was still under the “care” of psychotherapist Eugene Landy. Landy, who helped Wilson recover from the addictions he struggled with in the 1970s – but later kept him in a fog for several years while limiting his contact with family and friends and charging him up to $35,000 a month – is a major character in this edition.

So is Wilson’s wife, Melinda, whom he met at a car dealership in the 1980s, and who worked with his family to emancipate him.

[Read the full review here, at The Globe and Mail]

And so is his father, who pushed him toward a musical career but was physically and emotionally abusive. Wilson says he forgives his dad, who died in 1973, but it will take “a year and a half” to forgive Landy. “Actually, I’ve already forgiven him,” he says during an interview in his hotel suite in New York. “He wasn’t all that nice to me, but he taught me how to eat right, how to exercise, how to sleep at night.”

“When I sit at a piano, I feel God this far above my head. And I can feel his presence – makes my hands glide over the keys, and it helps me write a song.”

wilson-piano

“It’s a feeling that you can’t deny. Something you can really feel. You just know there’s somebody, a higher power above me, that helps me out when I’m scared.”

— Brian Wilson

It’s useful, if somewhat strange, to review Wilson’s narrative in the light of 2016.

He is still beloved, but the boomer market is shrinking, and millennial fans like myself constitute a niche. For a lot of listeners, the Beach Boys stand for white-dad rock, which stands for a worldview we’re in the necessary process of
dismantling. The 1960s mainstream was tailored to a limited range of people, with a limited range of experiences. This also means that Brian Wilson’s story was forged at la-et-ms-brian-wilson-tribute-benefit-hollywood-best-fest-20150324a time when empathy was less considerate of the personhood of people with mental illness. The flip side of stigma is fetishization.

“What made it worse, at least early on was that the voices that were in my head trying to do away with me were in a crowded space. They were in there with other voices that were trying to make something beautiful. Voices were the problem, but also the answer. The answer was in harmony.”

Wilson started the Pendletones, soon to become the Beach Boys, with his brothers Carl and Dennis, cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, scoring a long string of hits in the early 1960s – “it’s been written about so many times that it’s almost like a story that someone else is telling me instead of a piece of my own life,” Wilson writes. (Love, who has elsewhere been pegged as the villain of that story, has his own memoir out this year.) In late-1964, Wilson had a breakdown on a flight to Houston, and decided to stop touring, devoting himself instead to songwriting.

That was the year he first tried LSD, and shortly thereafter he started hearing voices, which would continue for the rest of his life. He’d hear his father and early manager, Murry. He’d hear Phil Spector, whose production of Be My Baby had changed Wilson’s life. And he would hear other, stranger and more menacing voices. “I said, ‘What happened?!’ I took this stupid drug, and that drug made me scared,” he says today. “But it made me write better music. It made me write more sensitive music. I was going to make an album called Sensitive Music for Sensitive People. Isn’t that a great title?”

image

Pet Sounds was released in 1966, to famously lukewarm sales, followed by less celebrated but still canonical albums such as Wild HoneyFriends, and Surf’s Up. But Wilson began to struggle with drugs, alcohol and overeating, gaining more than 100 pounds and retiring to his bed, leaving his first wife, Marilyn, to take care of their two daughters. Desperate, she called Landy, a “therapist to the stars” whose 24-hour methods, unbeknownst to her, would involve screaming at Wilson while wresting control of his creative output, fortune, and cognition. “If you help a person to get better by erasing that person, what kind of job have you done?” Wilson writes. “I don’t know for sure, but he really did a job on me.” Read the rest of this entry »


President Obama at Hollywood Fundraiser

barack-obama-steven-spielberg-1

Image: Jeff Kravitz/FIlmMagic

From Variety:

…Among the 90 or so in attendance were Barbra Streisand, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Rothman and James Brolin, according to a pool report. Guests had dinner under a tent in the Horns’ backyard. The event at the Horns’ Bel-Air home was to raise money for the House Senate Victory Fund, a joint committee set up for congressional candidates.

“I know you left Washington 6 hours ago, But I left Burbank seven hours ago.”

— Conan O’Brien

The Horns are longtime Democratic donors, although this is the president’s first visit to their home for a fundraising event, which also included House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). Cindy Horn introduced Obama…

spielberg-photobomb1

Image: Jeff Kravitz/FIlmMagic

Tickets to the event started $10,000 per person, including dinner and a photo op. Those donating $32,400 per couple got listed as “sponsors” and could take part in a VIP reception. Those donating $64,800 per couple were listed as “hosts” and could take part in a “VIP clutch.”

The House Senate Victory Fund is splitting proceeds equally between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Springsteen & Fallon: “Gov. Christie Traffic Jam” (“Born To Run” Parody)

Bruce Springsteen & Bruce Springsteen rework “Born To Run” to address the Fort Lee, NJ bridge scandal.

Bruce Springsteen & Jimmy Fallon: YouTube


Celebrity Hypocrites

george-clooney-funny-face

John Stossel writes:  I’m annoyed that so many Hollywood celebrities hate the system that made them rich.

Actor/comedian Russell Brand told the BBC he wants “a socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth.”

Director George Lucas got rich not just from movies but also by selling Star Wars merchandise. Yet he says he believes in democracy but “not capitalist democracy.”

Actor Martin Sheen says, “That’s where the problem lies … It’s corporate America.”

And so on.

On my TV show, actor/author Kevin Sorbo pointed out that such sentiments make little sense coming from entertainers. “It’s a very entrepreneurial business. You have to work very hard to get lucky, mixed with any kind of talent to get a break in this business. I told Clooney, George, you’re worth $100 million — of course you can afford to be a socialist!”

It’s bad enough that celebrities trash the only economic system that makes poor people’s lives better.

What’s worse is that many are hypocrites.

Read the rest of this entry »


VIDEO: Louis C.K. on smartphones: Kids shouldn’t have them and life is sad

Last night Louis C.K. spent an hour talking to his old boss, Conan O’Brien. They relived the old days a bit—including the time C.K. attempted, disastrously, at an after party, to flirt with Gwyneth Paltrow. And C.K. also explained the reason he doesn’t want his daughters to have smartphones. His reasoning is impressively existential, even for him—and harkens back a bit to the “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy” routine that helped break his career wide open. As Neetzan Zimmerman at Gawker notes, that nearly five-year-old riff was also shared on a Conan O’Brien show, albeit one on NBC.

His case against smartphones also includes dueling Springsteen impressions by him and Conan. The whole thing is worth watching. (VIDEO)

 


14 Principled Anti-War Celebrities We Fear May Have Been Kidnapped

Our government is yet again marching us towards a war of choice in the Middle East and our non-partisan, peace-loving celebrities have gone missing since late 2008. We fear the worst.

1. Sheryl Crow

crow

LAST KNOWN PRE-2009 COMMUNICATION:
“I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”
— Sheryl Crow Read the rest of this entry »