Tommy Ramone dies at 65; last original member of namesake punk band

ramonesIf ever an opening song on a debut album could set the tone for the entirety of a band’s career, it was “Blitzkrieg Bop,” off the 1976 self-titled album by the Ramones. Lean, fast and propelled forward by a low-to-the-ground-beat and no-fuss lyrics (“Hey! Ho! Let’s go!”), the 2-minute, 13-second song doesn’t waste any time in putting the listener on high alert.

Today, it’s a rallying cry at sporting events the world over. Almost four decades ago, however, it served for many as the introduction to four leather-wearing men who looked as if they had emerged from a gutter in New York (in reality, from a well-kept neighborhood in Queens).

The anchor of that song — the first of many underground flags that the Ramones would cement in mainstream America — was Tom Erdelyi, better known as Tommy Ramone. The Ramones’ drummer on only its first three studio albums, Erdelyi served later as the band’s producer and was forever a principal in shaping the sound of one of America’s most beloved punk rock outfits.


Ultimately, Ramones songs such as “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Teenage Lobotomy,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” and “Beat on the Brat” were more personal stamps on forceful individualism than the politically charged U.K. punk later made famous by the Sex Pistols and the Clash.

To read the rest of Todd Martens’ article in the Los Angeles Times, click HERE.

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X Revisit Pair of Punk Touchstones at Explosive L.A. Shows

exeneRightly, the PA at the Roxy on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip blasted nothing but Ramones records in the hour before showtime. But on a day, July 12th, charged with the news of the passing of that band’s last, surviving original member, drummer Tommy Ramone, it was fitting – and heartening – to hear and see another foursome from punk rock’s first golden wartime, L.A.’s X, intact and in searing-rebirth form, on home ground.


Full-album gigs are now a common enough celebration among bands of a certain vintage. X have the catalog to carry that conceit and their greatest hits in the same show. Their summer tour will include more full-album runs – in New York in late August, then Chicago and Cleveland in September – as well as acoustic shows later this month and the usual, electric one-night stands. Still whole, still strong, X are playing, deep in their fourth decade, like a band in renewal – and poised, if they choose to write again at this level, for renaissance.

To read the rest of David Fricke’s piece in Rolling Stone, click HERE

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World Cup, Hobby Lobby, Nick Cave, and Louis Zamperini

orourke• DUP-Up To a Point: Oops, I Enjoyed Soccer by P.J. O’Rourke (The Daily Beast)

• Hobby Lobby: A Company liberals could love by Ross Douthat (NY Times)

• I am the real Nick Cave (NY Times)

• Remembering the “Unbroken” spirit of Louis Zamperini (CBS)

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Brian Setzer’s rockabilly riot, God and Mammon, Ann Coulter LOVES soccer, and Creative Habits

Brian Setzer. Photo by Russ Harrington

Brian Setzer. Photo by Russ Harrington

Q & A: Brian Setzer Out to Spark Another Rockabilly Riot: Melissa Locker chats with the guitar legend about his new album (Time)

• God and Mammon: Jesus drove money changers out of the Temple, calling them “a den of thieves.” Of the profit-centric world view, Pope Francis warned, “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market,” to provide economic justice. Others call Christianity and capitalism inextricable. (NY Times)

What Ann Coulter’s soccer diatribe misses about God by Laura Turner (RNS)

The unusual habits of 8 creative people: From Jay-Z to De Balzac, these famous creative minds have developed some odd habits on the path to genius by Rachel Gillett (Fast Company)

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What Jack White can teach the Church


By Jason Micheli

I’ve been listening to Jack White’s new album, Lazaretto, incessantly over the last two weeks.

Running, reading, driving.


In case you’re one of those cretans who only listen to pop music or, worse, are still listening to the same 11 Steve Miller Band songs you did in high school, Jack White is the auteur garage rocker behind the White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather.

In the early aughts Jack White took a plastic guitar and a 2-man garage band and made blues relevant again. As White truthfully said in Rolling Stone last month (and got crap for it), without him there would be no audience for popular bands like the Black Keys.

As the world gets more pop, an article recently described him, ‘the more rock Jack White strives to be.’ White’s music consistently goes against the grain of what we’re told people want in today’s culture, but as with any good gift- or should we say grace- White’s music points out wants we didn’t know we had prior to the gift.

To read the rest of this blog, click HERE.

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Jimmy Fallon and the Joy of the Lord

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 2.26.48 PMI’m not a super disciplined person.

But recently I’ve taken up a new spiritual discipline, and I’m quite excited about it. At night, when the rest of the family is in bed, I have been regularly and routinely seeking time alone to contemplate and commune with the Divine. You know, like one of the Desert Fathers or a medieval monk cloistered in the prayer closet.

Except my prayer closet is that weird Ikea reclining chair in the living room.

And my spiritual practice is watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. 

Read the rest of this great piece from Zach Hoag.

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Hula Mass and the faith of Hawaii’s Queen Lili`uokalani

lilliI was delighted to hear about a hula mass to honor the feast day of Queen Lili’uokalani, the last reigning monarch in Hawaii. Writer Dianne Smith tells a very interesting story about Hawaii’s last reigning monarch.

“Queen Lili`uokalani had great respect for the legacy of her great-grandaunt Queen Kapiolani, one of the first converts to the novel faith in the Lord Jesus Christ espoused by the haole ministers. Up till that time, the islanders lived in abject fear of a ferocious goddess of their imaginations named Pele, who supposedly lived inside Mt. Kilauea on the Big Island.

“When the volcano erupted with lava, the superstitious Hawaiians believed Pele was angry and needed to be appeased. Around 1820, Queen Kapi’olani put her faith in Christ and then did something very bold and courageous for her time. To show the people that Pele was not a god at all, she went to the “forbidden place” on Hawaii, now Volcano National Park, and lived to tell about it.

“At the rim of the caldera, she ate Pele’s sacred ‘ohelo berries and threw stones into the molten lava, in essence “spitting in Pele’s face.” Amazingly, nothing happened to Kapi’olani. She survived the encounter, proving Mt. Kilauea was merely a geologic wonder instead of a demoness. Pele was a fake, and the door opened for her descendants and the common people to trust Christianity.”

To read the rest of the story, click HERE.


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NPR’s interview with Over the Rhine

otrpress-photo-7-hi_wide-9dd218a703bfc379dff44bf1f4bd09d4ebc1db43-s40-c85Tremendous interview from NPR’s David Greene with Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist — the husband and wife duo behind Over the Rhine.  This conversation took place last year shortly after the band released Meet Me at the Edge of the World. This is one of my favorite questions and responses.

GREENE: Do you kind of draw a line anywhere to not get too religious because you don’t want to alienate some people? How do you deal with that?

BERGQUIST: Well, you don’t choose your audience — they choose you. And the more diverse our audience is, the better. Many different people have found our music, and I think part of that is because they are sort of landing where we are. I can summarize it best by the Rainer Maria Rilke quote that he wrote in Letters to a Young Poet where he says, “Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” And I love that quote; I embraced it in my 20s. It really does explain where I live and, I think, where a lot of our listeners live, as well.

Please listen to their music and read the rest of the interview HERE.

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The Bible Reduced To Minimalist Posters

01-genesisThe Bible is often referred to as the word of God. In reality, it’s significantly longer: around 775,000 words spread across 66 different books, when all is said and done. How do you distill the word of God down into a single cover, then? If you’re Joseph Novak, you don’t: you create a minimalist cover interpreting each and every one of the Bible’s many books.

A Presbyterian pastor who moonlights as a graphic designer, Novak describes his Minimum Bible as a “visual diving board” into the text of the Old and New Testament. Composed of 66 minimalist posters, the project is Novak’s attempt to distill each book of the Bible into a single symbolic design.

For full story, click HERE.

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Ash Wednesday Selfies


From Wall Street Journal

CHICAGO— Gaby Driessen stopped by St. Peter’s Church here and a priest put a thick smudge of ash on her forehead—a traditional way Catholics and other Christians physically show their commitment to the faith on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent.

Then she did what many 24-year-olds would. She took a self-portrait, or selfie, with a friend and they posted it on Instagram.

“My family—we’re all apart. Every year on Ash Wednesday, we send selfies,” she said.

The Ash Wednesday selfie—a modern mixing of Christian piety with social media self-involvement—is becoming a tradition for a growing number of Catholics.

Continue reading

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