Rachel Rotten finds home in roller derby

The 31-year-old Rachel Johnston, aka as Rachel Rotten, who started playing derby in 2010, says it wasn’t just a thirst for competition that brought her to roller derby and kept her there. Shortly after her first practice, she discovered something.

“When I found derby, I found that ‘wake up’ moment,” she said. “Because I didn’t have to justify my presence to anyone. And the part about how playing ‘like a man’ isn’t a compliment? I feel that in my bones in this sport.”

Outside the rink, Johnston, 31, has also been one of the game’s bigger diplomats. Putting to work her background in marketing and entertainment, Johnston has helped grow the game’s public face and its business operations as the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association sponsorship chair.

To read full story, click HERE

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Inside Jack White’s Third Man Records

For those who follow the vinyl revolution, worth watching the CBS profile on Jack White’s Third Man Record empire. To watch video, click HERE

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Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell honored on the Walk of Fame

AP PHOTO: @goldiehawn #kurtrussell kiss at a ceremony honoring them with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Congratulations to Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell who first met in 1968 while shooting Disney’s “The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.” The couple began dating on the set of their second film together, the 1983 comedy “Swing Shift,” and have been together ever since. This week, the charming couple had a rare double Hollywood ceremony where their stars were engraved side by side on the Walk of Fame.

“To you I owe my wonderful life,” Russell said to Hawn. “Simply put, Goldie, I cherish you and all the stars in the sky or on the boulevard can’t hold a candle to that.

“So if I am to be honoured with this sweet token of memorabilia: that is to be sunk forever in the cement of a street whereupon I will be subjected to the constant harshness of the blazing California sun, blowing winds and pouring rains. And stray dogs of both the canine and human variety perhaps in need of a little relief, and trod upon by the soles of shoes caked with earth from all corners of the globe… there’s no one else I’d rather be next to for all of that than Goldie Hawn.”

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Social Distortion’s Mike Ness: 10 Best Country-Punk Covers

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

“Around the house, my father liked country and my mother was more rock & roll,” Mike Ness tells Rolling Stone Country. “I remember a lot of Johnny Cash, the Dillards and Buck Owens. Country music was just always in the background and I absorbed all of it. Also, this was in the period of the folk revival, so we had that big Smithsonian box set [The Anthology of American Folk Music] where I distinctly remember hearing the Carter Family for the first time. Their tones and that style of music really resonated with me as a kid. Early on, I wanted Social D to be the Carter Family with electric guitars.”

Inspired by the Sex Pistols and punk’s no-rules approach, Ness channeled that unruly inclusivity to mix punk with the roots music he had grown up loving, seeing a distinct connection between the styles. “To me, the main shared characteristic between the two of them is that they’re both working-class genres that deal with working-class issues in an honest way,” says Ness, who recently produced the traditionally styled country singer Jade Jackson’s debut Gilded. “Whether it’s Billie Holiday or Howlin’ Wolf or Johnny Cash, they’re singing about real-life things and that’s what punk is – a dissatisfaction with the status quo and wanting to honestly sing about it.”

Click HERE for full article

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Bono on the Psalms

Bono discusses the Psalms with Professor David Taylor from Fuller Theological Seminary in five video spots. Click HERE.

Some of my fave quotes:

  • “All art is prophetic.” To clergy, “Look for the drawing in the sand.” To artists, “Draw in the sand.”
  • “I think there are trapped artists — and I’d like them to be untrapped.”
  • “What one difficult or troubling thing the Psalms have required of you?” Bono responds: “Honesty.” Nice discussion about the “alchemy of grace.”
  • “I became an artist through the portal of grief. It was a big hole, but luckily it was a big love.”
  • “It is art, rather than advertising, that the Creator of the universe is impressed by.”
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Summer of Love

By Steve Beard

As cultural mavens are more than aware, this is the 50th anniversary of the infamous Summer of Love when the hippie counterculture christened its fashions, ideals, art, and music. The pilgrimage of the Flower Children to Haight-Ashbury was an attempt to create a fleeting utopia, a chance to experiment with drugs, and an opportunity to dabble in “free love” – a co-ed sleepover without the parents.

When asked to reflect back on what he believed in the ’60s, satirist P.J. O’Rourke responded, “Everything. You name it and I believed it. I believed love was all you need… I believed drugs could make you a better person. I believed I could hitchhike to California with thirty-five cents and people would be glad to feed me… I believed the world was about to end. I believed the Age of Aquarius was about to happen… I managed to believe Gandhi and H. Rap Brown at the same time. With the exception of anything my parents said, I believed everything.”

This was also the summer when the Beatles unveiled Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. With its psychedelic vibe, Indian influences, funky cover art, and wink-and-nod references to drug use, it was a fitting soundtrack for the scene. This was an era of provocative new thinking, troubling for some and liberating for others.

“In some ways the hippie generation appeared to be overturning generations of Christian morality and in other ways they were overturning a soulless secularism and arguing for truth, beauty, and justice,” Steve Turner, acclaimed British poet and author of Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year, recently told me. “Unpacking what happened is a difficult task. Anyone who says it was all bad is wrong. Anyone who says it was all good is wrong.”

From my perspective, I’m more than mildly intrigued by the Summer of Love because I’m a Cold War kid – raised as a punk rocker during the Reagan era on The Clash, Blondie, U2, The Ramones, and The Stray Cats. My generation had its own ideals but it was notably not expressed with saffron robes and sitar music. Despite being on a different side of the generational and cultural divide, I will always be a Beatles fan and have a soft spot in my heart for the ’60s. Despite their sometimes justifiable bad rap, the hippies may have ultimately been in search of spiritual transcendence.

“The rock ‘n’ roll bands are the philosopher-poets of the new religion,” wrote Timothy Leary, a 1960s cultural ringleader. “Their beat is the pulse of the future. The message from Liverpool is the Newest Testament, chanted by four Evangelists — saints John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Pure Vedanta, divine revelation, gentle, tender irony at the insanities of war and politics, sorrowful lament for the bourgeois loneliness, delicate hymns of glory to God.”

Of course, Leary was known for his hallucinogenic hyperbole while tripping on LSD. He is also the one who advocated, “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Nevertheless, his devotional verbiage was indicative of a Flower Power generation that perceived spiritual vibrancy in rock ’n’ roll, and viewed the church as flaccid and anemic. This was most inelegantly and bluntly stated by John Lennon: “We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t now which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”

Those ended up being fighting words to the agitated and alarmed faithful. Instead of engaging the prickly comments or turning the other cheek, some American fans doused their Beatles albums in kerosene and scorched them. Others sent death threats in purple crayon while the Ku Klux Klan nailed Beatles albums to burning crosses.

In trying to clarify his position, Lennon said, “Originally I was pointing out the fact with reference to England – that we meant more to kids at that time than Jesus did.” Who could argue with that? In one of his previous books, The Gospel According to the Beatles, Turner underpins Lennon’s point: “Members of this generation could have quoted more Beatles lyrics than they could Hymns Ancient and Modern and would know more about John the Beatle than John the Baptist, more about Paul of Allerton than Paul of Tarsus.”

As the Beatles would soon discover, fame and fortune were often vacuous taskmasters. At a later time in Lennon’s life he addictively found himself watching popular television preachers in search of answers. It was reported that Lennon sent a fascinating letter to the Rev. Oral Roberts in 1972, regretting having said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus and confessing that he took drugs because he feared reality. Additionally, he quoted the famous lyrics “money can’t buy me love” and sent a donation.

“It’s true. The point is this, I want happiness,” read the letter to Roberts. “I don’t want to keep on with drugs… Explain to me what Christianity can do for me. Is it phony? Can He love me? I want out of hell.”

In the midst of a thoughtful and lengthy response, Roberts wrote, “What I want to say … is that Jesus, the true reality, is not hard to face. He said, ‘Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’”

Despite the letters exchanged between the rock star and the TV preacher, Lennon’s restless journey eventually led him to embrace philosophies and beliefs that were all over the map.

“You could rattle human authority by growing your hair long, but you couldn’t conquer your inner demons in the same way,” observed Turner. “To ‘change your head,’ as John referred to it in [the song] ‘Revolution,’ required something much more radical.”

Few movements within American Christianity were more radical than the long haired, barefooted hippies getting high on Jesus, revolutionizing church music, tuning into verse-by-verse Bible study, enthusiastically sharing their faith, and being baptized by the thousands in the Pacific Ocean during the Jesus Movement after the Summer of Love.

Looking back 50 years, perhaps that was at least what some of the hippies were trying to discover during that season — something much more radical, a true reality, a change of heart, a touch from God. In hindsight, it’s not such a bad quest.

Steve Beard is the creator of Thunderstruck Media Syndicate.  

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Dissident artist Danilo Maldonado Machado on art and liberty in Cuba

Cuban dissident artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El Sexto,” was in Los Angeles recently for a show and a screening. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

At the tail end of 2014, Danilo Maldonado Machado, the graffiti artist known as “El Sexto,” was detained by the authorities as he made his way to a public park in Havana to stage a work of protest art. In his vehicle, he was carrying a pair of pigs that he had painted with the names of the Castro brothers — one “Raul,” the other “Fidel.” His plan was to release them and let members of the public catch them and take them home.

But the piece, titled “Rebelión en la granja” (after George Orwell’s “Animal Farm) never happened. Instead, Maldonado spent 10 months in jail. His case drew international headlines. As did a subsequent detention in which he publicly celebrated the death of Fidel Castro on a Havana street.

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What did being in prison teach you about Cuba?

It’s that the majority of people who are in jail, even though they wouldn’t consider themselves political prisoners, they are political prisoners. They are prisoners because they don’t work for the state — and that’s dangerous to the state. If you sell peanuts because you don’t want to work for the state’s miserable wage, you can end up in prison.

But [the Castros], they’ve never been held responsible for the crimes they have committed. On the contrary a lot of people think [Fidel] is cool. There are a lot of people in Latin America who think he is cool. But that’s not cool. Cool is Ghandi. Cool is Martin Luther King Jr.

To read entire interview, click HERE

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Jim Marshall, maker of rock-and-roll guitar amplifiers, dies at 88

To the parents of teenage wannabe bedroom rockers, Mr. Marshall’s amps were not welcome household company. But to those young players, Mr. Marshall was the Lord of Loud, the man who gave rock its gritty, beautifully distorted, cacophonous sound.

The big, black boxes resembled refrigerators, and when arranged in formation, they emitted a wall of sound.

Many of the most popular guitarists in history used Marshall amps, including Pete Townshend of The Who, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.

Marshall amps became such staples of the rock world that they became fodder for comedians, memorably in Rob Reiner’s 1984 satirical documentary “This is Spinal Tap.” In one scene, the fictional band’s clueless lead guitarist, Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest), explains that he uses special Marshall amps that “go to 11” as opposed to ordinary amps that only have a top volume setting of 10.

“Does that mean it’s louder?” asks the fake documentary director Marty DiBergi (played by Reiner).

“Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it?” Tufnel replies.

To read the entire story about Jim Marshall, click HERE

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Bob Dylan on the launch of rock and roll

Rock and roll was indeed an extension of what was going on – the big swinging bands – Ray Noble, Will Bradley, Glenn Miller, I listened to that music before I heard Elvis Presley. But rock and roll was high energy, explosive and cut down. It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness and rode in on the atom bomb and the artists were star headed like mystical Gods. Rhythm and blues, country and western, bluegrass and gospel were always there – but it was compartmentalized – it was great but it wasn’t dangerous. Rock and roll was a dangerous weapon, chrome plated, it exploded like the speed of light, it reflected the times, especially the presence of the atomic bomb which had preceded it by several years. Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up. We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over, life was cheap. That was the feeling at the time and I’m not exaggerating. Doo-wop was the counterpart to rock and roll. Songs like “In the Still of the Night,” “Earth Angel,” “Thousand Miles Away,” those songs balanced things out, they were heartfelt and melancholy for a world that didn’t seem to have a heart. The doo-wop groups might have been an extension, too, of the Ink Spots and gospel music, but it didn’t matter; that was brand new too. Groups like the Five Satins and the Meadowlarks seemed to be singing from some imaginary street corner down the block. Jerry Lee Lewis came in like a streaking comet from some far away galaxy. Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom. It didn’t seem like an extension of anything but it probably was.

To read entire interview, click HERE

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Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on St. Patrick’s Day

The ties that bind our two countries are deep and historic. And Ireland and the United States have a unique relationship that goes back to the earliest days of the original 14 colonies.  Irish foreign military officers assisted George Washington to win that war of independence.  Indeed, they’ve fought in every war for America since then.  And this very house was designed by James Hoban from Kilkenny, modeled in part after the Leinster House in Dublin, where the Irish parliament has met on our own independence since 1922.

It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy.  He, too, of course, was an immigrant.  And though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also a symbol of, indeed, the patron of immigrants.

Here in America, your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years.  Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed, four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the “wretched refuse on the teeming shore.”  We believed in the shelter of America, and the compassion of America, and the opportunity of America.  We came, and we became Americans.

We lived the words of John F. Kennedy long before we heard them:  We asked not what America could do for us, but what we could do for America.  And we still do.  We want to give, and not to take.  We know the Irish have built the bridges and the roads, protected the public as firefighters and police officers.  We’ve cared for the sick in hospitals, entertained as poets, as singers and writers, as politicians, as judges and legislators.  And as entrepreneurs, they provided hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans, including most recently, in exciting technology companies.

 

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To Irish-Americans coast to coast, I say, these days especially, we hold you in our hearts.  And tonight, I thank you again for your warm hospitality.

Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, may I wish you and your lovely families every good wish and blessing on this very special day.  Indeed, I’m reminded in many ways of the dream of another American President — which Ireland will work with you for — when he spoke the words and said, “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last, best hope of Earth.”  Spoken by Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. President, Ireland will help you build on that foundation to achieve the ultimate dream.  Thank you, sir.  And God bless you.

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