Climbing the Tower

On August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin with a cache of rifles, handguns, shotguns and ammunition. In 96 minutes he shot 45 people and killed 16. It was the biggest mass-shooting in the U.S. at that time. At the age of [...]

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Petey Greene is Talking

Petey Greene was a pioneer of shock radio and television who became the voice of his black community in Washington, DC from the 1960′s — the 1980′s. He achieved international fame for his hilarious, outspoken, outrageous rants and interviews and for his tireless activism for civil rights, poverty rights and the rights of prisoners. Greene [...]

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George Carlin’s Bad for Ya

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since George Carlin won a posthumous Grammy for the album version of his last HBO Comedy Special, It’s Bad for Ya. I wasn’t able to confirm these facts, but I’m almost positive that George was the first comedian to do an HBO Comedy Special and that [...]

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The Roast of Richard Pryor

In our ongoing examination of avant garde artists, here is yet another example of what happens when a sharp-edged talent takes a stab at the mainstream. Here’s a hint — it’s a bloodbath. In 1977 Richard Pryor got his own television show on NBC. On paper, the decision made sense — Pryor was already on [...]

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William Burroughs Meets Patti Smith

In our ongoing celebration of the William S. Burroughs centenary, here is photographer Kate Simon talking about her first meeting with Burroughs. She had accompanied Lester Bangs to the writer’s home to take photographs to accompany an interview. Patti Smith showed up and it just happened to be her 29th birthday. It was also the [...]

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Farewell to a Farmer

I got some sad news last night when I found out that Stephen Gaskin, the founder of The Farm commune in Summertown, TN, had died. The Farm was one of the longest-lived alternative-living experiments to be born out of the hippie movement in the 1960′s, and it was always a badge of pride to point [...]

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Carlin’s Collage-O-Rama

For today’s art lesson the History of Cool‘s YouTube channel has this super-rare look at the one and only piece of art made by the best comedian ever, George Carlin. One can imagine George in a beret in front of a half-finished canvas or shooting an experimental short film, presaging his own forays into movies. [...]

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Surreal Estate

This week, the Frist will open Real/Surreal: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art — it’s an exhibition of paintings, photos and prints that examine the way 1920′s European Surrealists like DalĂ­ and Magritte influenced the American artists of the 1930′s, 40′s and 50′s. Even if you’re not in Nashville, the questions the show [...]

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Resistance is Tactile

I’ve been tweeting and posting on social media lately about my ambivalent feelings regarding the World Cup: On one hand I think soccer is a beautiful sport and as an admirer of the Greek ideal I love athletics in their pure physicality. I’ve been looking forward to the World Cup for four years, but the [...]

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Arcade Anthems

Last Thursday night Antonia and I were watching the video for Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” Antonia pointed out that it was one of the first earnest video game songs she could recall — as most songs about arcade attractions are parody’s or novelty songs; campy cantos to clanging coins. So, we Googled “video game [...]

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