Pussy Riot Members Free Under Putin Amnesty!

Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina was freed from a prison in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia under amnesty granted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. She and fellow Pussy Riot member  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had three months remaining on their two year sentence for

hooliganism motivated by religious hatred

stemming from their “punk prayer” protest of Putin’s policies at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow’s main cathedral. The band played a song critical of the support given Putin by Orthodox Church patriarch Kirill I.

A third member of the punk rock band, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had her sentence overturned on appeal.

Tolokonnikova was released later on Monday and told CNN

she felt that the amnesty was a publicity stunt to bolster the government’s image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February.

Her husband Pyotr Verzilov  said:

Two months out of the almost two years that the girls have served is not much. So the effect of this amnesty for Maria and Nadezhda is not really felt..President Putin obviously used this amnesty option to (brighten) up his image before the Olympic games.

Pussy Riot’s future as a band is unclear.

Putin’s amnesty program, which is said to celebrate 20 years of the Russian Constitution, is timed nicely with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Greenpeace activists are among the prisoners who will be given amnesty.

Joan Jett To SeaWorld: Cease and Desist on “I Love Rock N Roll”

Vegetarian bad girl rocker Joan Jett has served SeaWorld with a cease and desist order over what she claims is the unauthorized use of her signature hit, “I Love Rock N Roll”, the song which kickstarted her solo career after the Runaways broke up. Gothamist reports that PETA member Jett, in an open letter to SeaWorld president Jim Atchison, wrote:

I was surprised and upset to see on YouTube that SeaWorld used ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ as the opening music for its cruel and abusive ‘Shamu Rocks’ show. I’m among the millions who saw Blackfish and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals. These intelligent and feeling creatures communicate by sonar and are driven crazy in the tiny tanks in which they are confined. If I don’t receive written confirmation that SeaWorld will cease and desist from using any Joan Jett & the Blackhearts music, I will be forced to take further action, and you’ll find me among the PETA protesters outside your parks. SeaWorld’s reliance on cruelty and captivity for commerce has been widely exposed. I hope you’ll take the respectable path and release the captive orcas to coastal sanctuaries so that they can live out their lives with other orcas in nature. This move would show that your company is truly family-friendly. This message is not a complete statement of my rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

It’s Blackfish backlash. The film, which documents what former trainers call abusive treatment of orcas, has raised awareness of SeaWorld and other marine parks’ practices. Gothamist reports that since the film’s release, Heart, Willie Nelson, and Barenaked Ladies all canceled their upcoming shows at Sea World’s Orlando park. Last year Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee already prohibited SeaWorld from using the band’s songs in the “Shamu Rocks” show.

Here’s Jett playing two more of her hits live this year at the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Don’t expect to see her ever at San Diego’s SeaWorld–unless it’s outside protesting.

(more…)

Pussy Riot To Be Freed: Amnesty for Russian Punk Band, Greenpeace Protestors and Others

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are being freed under the amnesty bill being submitted by Vladimir Putin to the Duma, the Russian parliament, on Monday December 9, to mark the Russian constitution’s 20th anniversary on Thursday. Nadya’s husband Pyotr Verzilov confirmed the rumors to The Voice Project:

It’s from the Kremlin and official already, they will be freed. We do not know yet when this will happen, because it is unclear when the bill will be voted by the Duma and how fast it will be applied to prisons – could be from 2 weeks to 2 months until they are freed.

The Voice Project also reports that Nadya’s father Andrei has also been able to confirm this from “reliable sources.” Nadya was moved to Siberia in November after protesting conditions and going on a hunger strike at her previous penal colony in Morodovia. She is now hospitalized in a Siberian prison facility, Regional Tuberculosis Hospital No. 1.

The BBC reports that Putin may also free the Greenpeace Arctic 30 campaigners currently on bail and facing trial on (reduced) charges of hooliganism, as well as some of the opposition activists involved in unrest in May 2012.

This all feels like a Putin move to make Russia seem less yucky-looking in the buildup to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Simone Baumann’s film Putin’s Game, documenting charges of threats, corruption, and environmental damage is screening throughout Europe. Pussy Riot jailed, Greenpeace activists facing trial, “gay propaganda” banned and LGBTQ beaten, Elton John (finally) speaking out about anti-gay discrimination in Russia. From the stage. While performing a concert in Moscow. Add in a boycott of Smirnoff vodka and Putin had to do something.

In a surprising move, NBC has named the New Yorker’s editor and a former Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post, David Remnick as a guest correspondent:

Remnick said NBC had guaranteed him editorial independence with his commentary, including such politically charged issues as gay rights and the relationship between Russia and Ukraine. “There is nothing in the world — and I know they don’t intend to hinder me in this way — where I would not be honest in my analysis,” Remnick said. “It would be a waste of everyone’s integrity and time if otherwise.”

Meanwhile, it could be a very happy new year for Pussy Riot, Greenpeace, and other jailed Russian activists. (more…)

Heavy Metal in Latin: Arxplendida, Swiss Entry to Eurovision Song Contest

Latin nerds and metal heads may clash in the schoolyard, but damn, they rock in combo.

With metal gaining acceptance in the Eurovision Song Contest–Azerbaijan’s debut ESC 2008 entry is legendary, and Latin having been the reigning language back in ye olde olden days, well, it was only a matter of time before some metal band made a Eurovision-centric entry in Latin. Though part of the goal of Eurovision seems to be to not win because the winning country has to host the following year, some countries still take ESC pretty seriously.

The German Swiss entry, Arxplendida, with their song “Mercurii Diei” takes on the absurdity of Eurovision: Dorky national costume jackets and matching neckties;  super square haircuts; soaring metal vocals set against tragic green screen stock footage of farms, forests, and abandoned buildings; and a Eurovision nod in the lyrics. In Latin that looks and sounds super metal, and reflects in translation to German (and then into English) a contemporary slacker ennui. The band sees themselves as underdogs, commenting in the lyrics that they didn’t  do so well on Swiss Idol and were told they had no chance at Eurovision. However fans disagreed, and Arxplendida was voted into ESC.

Mercurii diei

Hebdomada miserrima fuit, nihil bene evenit.
Primum adamata me dimisit.
Tum locator me domo eiecit.
canis crus vicini mordicus paene abstulit.

Nunc est vesper Mercurii diei et nihil animum sollicitat,
Cum ad mensam nostram sedens cum amicis cervesiam poto.
Si mane corpus ad officia explenda non est paratum,
nihil interest. Talis enim est vesper operae pretium.

The week was a scream, it worked absolutely nothing,
At first I was thoroughly polished off [by]my girlfriend.
The landlord has kicked me out on it out of the apartment
And the neighbor’s dog has almost bitten off my left leg.

But today is Wednesday night and I whistle it,
If I on the trunk with my friends a beer sauf.
And if the body in the morning the service denied
That does not matter, such an evening is worth it.

Punk Rock Hero Johnny Rotten Malibu Home Sold: Asking Price $1.995 Million

 

Is punk rock dead because Johnny Rotten sold his  four bedroom, three bathroom Malibu home with beach rights at around the asking price just under $2 million?  It was listed as

Needs TLC, sold as-is

which sounds pretty punk rock. Judging from the photos of the interior, Rotten–who has gone by his birth name John Lydon for decades–and his wife, German heiress Nora Forster, may want to hire an interior designer for the next home. Seriously disappointing style. If  meant to be hipster ironic, it missed the mark. The house itself, minus the fixer caveat, sounds pretty nice:

It comes with a pool, beach rights, a big deck, pool with waterfall and spa, pool bar, cabana/gym, fruit trees, and two-car garage plus parking for four more.

I actually like it when punk rockers do well. It’s not selling out, it’s making the most of what you do, and it’s better than starving. Lydon has created great music and has had some fun with image as well, like in this  butter commercial, which helped reunite PIL and get a new album out. But again, John, please consider some decorating help!

GoldieBlox Sues Beastie Boys Over “Girls”: Preemptive Move Claiming Fair Use, Parody

I thought from the GoldieBlox online commercial that the Beastie Boys were involved with the company which creates these toys for future inventors, or at least endorsed it somehow, since their name was attached to the video and their song “Girls” was used. I guess a lot of people thought that, and the Beastie Boys’ name and the song helped boost the video into viral status. It’s now a finalist in a contest sponsored by Intuit to air a commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl.

And while the Beastie Boys publicly support the message of the commercial and its product, they never gave permission for the song “Girls” to be parodied, and more importantly, for their name to be used in conjunction with the ad.  This was a very prominent part of the late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch’s will:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.

Rolling Stone reports that the phrase

any music or any artistic property

was written in Yauch’s own hand. He died of cancer in May, 2012. The Beastie Boys wrote the music together, so “Girls” falls under his will. So basically, GoldieBlox has defied and disrespected a dying man’s wishes for their own purposes.

Lawyers for the band, which does not permit use of their name or music in ads, contacted the company to ask what was going on and explained that GoldieBlox version was

a copyright infringement, is not a fair use, and that GoldieBlox’s unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a “big problem” that has a “very significant impact.”

So GoldieBlox filed a preemptive  suit. (And I hope they don’t shift strategies, calling the whaaa-mublance and starting to bawl about how they are being picked on by the big mean rock stars and their big mean record companies; that would be conduct unbecoming. But they should fire whoever told them it was a totally cool, no problem thing to just blithely parody a major hit and use the band’s name to promote their product.)

You read that right: GoldieBlox is suing the Beastie Boys. And their record labels and publishing companies. GoldieBlox is hoping for

declaratory judgment and injunctive relief

with the hope that their unauthorized use of the song will be declared Fair Use parody. They want to protect their version of the song, it’s integral to the GoldieBlox promo video that’s received almost 9 million views on YouTube. (Using the Beastie Boys’ name to promote the video isn’t gonna help the case at all, that was a very foolish move). Here are the standards for considering Fair Use:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Well, the song was clearly parodied for commercial purposes.  One could argue that Weird Al Yankovic also parodies for commercial purposes, but he secures permission and royalties are paid. And he is not selling a separate product, simply  the song itself. The tune  and phrasing of the original is used, along the with distinctive chorus. Weird Al changes the words completely, along with the overall meaning. Again, he pays royalties. But is this just about money? The Beasties say no, it’s about their principles: They don’t allow their music to be used in commercials, period. And they don’t allow the band’s name to be used in commercials. And the GoldieBlox video is an ad. It may be on YouTube, but it’s an ad. And it could be shown on the Super Bowl.

The Beastie Boys issued this statement:

Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial ‘GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,’ we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.

We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.

As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song Girls had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.

In their court papers, GoldieBlox makes the point:

Set to the tune of ‘Girls’ but with a new recording of the music and new lyrics, girls are heard singing an anthem celebrating their broad set of capabilities — exactly the opposite of the message of the original. They are also shown engaging in activities far beyond what the Beastie Boys song would permit. GoldieBlox created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes.

Actually the band’s original song was pretty much a parody of macho attitudes.

I wonder though, maybe GoldieBlox anticipated the Beasties’ reaction and figured that (along with making the world better for girls with their cool toys), they would get additional PR, and also pry open the door for greater Fair Use. This could end up being very expensive battle, and the odds of it being resolved before the Super Bowl are slim.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since Felix Salmon at Reuters points out this isn’t the first time GoldieBlox has used a song without permission for their online videos. The Silicon Valley startup’s first video “GoldieBlox Breaks into Toys R Us” used Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and there was no parody of lyrics at all. I am starting to like this company less and less.

Late Night: Witch, Please! Stevie Nicks Coming to Coven

I love American Horror Story: Coven. It’s way prettier and less suburban and lots funnier than the drab Witches of East End. And now Stevie Nicks is gonna make a cameo appearance. In the series, swamp witch Misty Dawn who has a really extensive collection of diaphanous neo-boho faux homespun fairy wear, is obsessed with rock goddess Stevie Nicks, playing her songs on 8-track tapes. Today series creator Ryan Adams tweeted that Nicks–who is aware of her influence on the show–will be appearing at some point, making 11/12/13 truly a magical day.

La Stevie has downplayed rumors of her interest in the occult in recent years, but in the 1980s my friends in the antiquarian book business (great sources for insider info; what people collect reveals so much about them)  told me that Nicks bought lots of old, old books on witchcraft, magic and alchemy, and had amassed quite a collection.

The witch world and blogosphere are bubbling like a cauldron at Yule with news of Nick’s appearance. I met Nicks once, in the early 1990s when I was working at Atlantic Records; she came in for a meeting with my boss, wearing a very sedate black and white fitted silk dress, she was tiny, nice, and very pretty–my boss, knowing my occult interests insisted that I come in and meet her (as well as taking the coffee and Perrier orders, lol!). She had a certain vibe about her, one of woman who is capable of achieving her goals.

Misty Dawn, the AHS:C witch who worships Nicks, has the magical power of resurrection, so it’s appropriate that the next phase of Stevie Nick’s career emanates from her hands, and how wonderful that Stevie has embraced her legend, inspiring a whole new generation of witch-lettes like she did in the 1970s and ’80s when a friend of mine named her daughter, born in the mid-’80s, Rhiannon (and Riri lives up to it, too; she’s quite good at the mantic arts!).

My goddess-daughter, Rhiannon. (more…)

Paul Lynde Halloween Special: Little Monsters, KISS, and Camp

Shades of Lady Gaga  nearly two and half decades before Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta donned platform shoes and a meat dress. Watch Paul Lynde thanking his

Little monsters

at the close of his surreal 1976 Halloween special; it shows a throughline of queer consciousness.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a mash-up of 1976′s culture clashes. Lynde makes jokes about the upcoming election while KISS, Betty White, Donnie and Marie (in an uncredited appearance), Margaret Hamilton, and other surprise guests perform sketches with the Crown Prince of Camp, Paul Lynde.

For many years, Paul Lynde and Liberace [Lee] were the two most visible gay men on television, and Lynde was always cooler than Lee, appealing to a younger generation.  He played sarcastic, practical joking Uncle Arthur on Bewitched  and was also the center square on the game show Hollywood Squares, where his snarky double entendres (and center spot on the game board) made him a favorite. Many jokes on the Hollywood Squares centered around thinly veiled references to Lynde’s sexuality, and I still wonder if my grandmother and her generation got them…

Q: You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?
Lynde: Humble.

Q: What unusual thing do you do, if you have something called ‘the gift of tongues’?
Lynde: I wouldn’t tell the grand jury; why should I tell you?

This 1976 television special is over-the-top crazed, with Lynde being granting three wishes by the witches (Hamilton and Billy Hayes from HR Pufnstuf). One wish is to be the Rhinestone Trucker with a big rig (trucking was huge deal in the mid-70s, popularized in songs and movies and on TV). In another wish skit Lynde becomes a sheikh in the desert, a great lover who tries to seduce Florence Henderson (high points are the jokes about a cockatoo and milking a cobra). The third wish transports Lynde and the witches to a haunted disco where Florence Henderson sings “That Old Black Magic”  and KISS performs their hit “Beth.”

KISS, Florence Henderson and Paul Lynde together makes for one of the freakiest TV experiences ever, stranger even than David Bowie and Iggy Pop with Rosemary Clooney on Dinah Shore’s afternoon talk show. And the Halloween special gets even more surreal when Lynde starts to sing “Disco Lady” with Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly. There’s more strangeness throughout the show, but I don’t want to spoil it for you–it has to be seen to be believed. All I can think is that there must have been booze involved, along with a desire to appear relevant to all ages in the concept and execution of what is now a bizarre slice of Americana.

Huge bear hug to Suzanne at PoliCybear.com  who posted about Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special–ahead of me by 24 hours.  Great minds think alike!

N.W.A., KISS, Nirvana Among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

WARNING LYRICS NSFW!

N.W.A., the revolutionary rap group which famously sang “Fuck tha Police,”  has been nominated for a second time to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton had the distinction of being one of the early adopters of  the Parental Advisory label

WARNING: Moderate impact coarse language and/or themes.

N.W.A., their record label, Ruthless, and distributor Priority also received a letter from the FBI, raising Congressional and free speech advocates’ eyebrows. N.W.A’s  lyrics, which laid out life in Compton, including sex, drugs and violence, enraged ninny-brained sandy-pantied busybodies Focus on the Family. In 1989, the uber-uptight  conservative group pressured  FBI assistant director of the FBI office of public affairs, Milt Ahlerich, into sending a letter advising the rappers that

advocating violence and assault is wrong and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action…I wanted you to be aware of the FBI’s position relative to this song and its message. I believe my views reflect the opinion of the entire law enforcement community.

When informed of the letter from Ahlerich, Rep. Don Edwards (D-CA, San Jose), chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights, charged with monitoring FBI actions regarding U.S. citizens, responded:

The FBI should stay out of the business of censorship…We’re going to try to find out more about this letter.

According to Rolling Stone “Fuck tha Police”

became subject of an intense fax campaign among local police departments, with the lyrics transmitted to cops in cities where NWA toured. The number was deliberately excluded from the tour’s regular set list.

In some cities, police refused to provide security at venues hosting the group, affecting N.W.A.’s ability to tour. But the controversy only helped N.W.A. which went on score platinum success with Straight Outta Compton. Their influence, lyrically and musically, has influenced music over the past three decades.

KISS, one of the world’s best selling rock bands, and also up for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saw controversy in the late 1970s and 80s. Some parents freaked out that the band’s name was an acronym for “Knights in Satan’s Service,” KISS, who performed in full face makeup and leather and sang phallocentric songs about  “love gun” and the notorious “Plaster Caster” groupies, probably did freak out a few folks when they added a vial of band members’ blood to the ink used to print the first edition of their comic book. But seriously, how scary is a band who recorded “Beth“ and whose faces are on lunch boxes?   On Hello Kitty lunchboxes, to boot!  In Germany, where the lightning bolt double S is banned because it evokes Nazism, KISS uses a double Z. Like N.W.A., KISS has been nominated before.

A band is eligible for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the commercial release of their first single. Credited with popularizing grunge music and the slacker lifestyle (now known as “hipster” and practiced by many who were not even in elementary school let alone born during the band’s formative years), Nirvana released “Love Buzz” on Seattle’s SubPop Records in 1988. Nirvana’s success on Geffen Records, coupled Cobain’s turbulent life with wife Courtney Love and subsequent suicide have made him a rock and roll an-hero.

Other nominees include The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, LL Cool J, The Meters, The Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes, and The Zombies.

A group of more than 600 music industry members, including all living Hall of Fame members, other musicians, executives, journalists and critics vote. Fan votes are also included; the top five bands on the public’s vote will constitute a “fan’s ballot” that will be included in the final vote count. You can vote through December 10 here: rockhall.com/vote.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony will be in April 2014 and broadcast at a later date on HBO.

Government Get Down: Motive’s Burn Down Brooklyn

As I write this there’s actually a countdown clock on CNN and as of right this second now- there’s 13 minutes and 54 seconds left until shit basically hits the fan.

I could rant about how pathetic and stupid this all is or I could present you with some sweet tunes by some great dudes in the interest of making your shut down more musical.

I’m going to do that.

Fresh off a successful Kickstarter for their debut album, their new video finds the boys of Motive literally on fire.

The video for their song Burn Down Brooklyn – features the sort of dirty rock wrapped in a quirky video (sting rays and space!) that’s landed this indie band on MTV2′s 120 Minutes with Matt Pinfeld top ten twice.

Based in Brooklyn– the band doesn’t really want to set the town on fire.  Rather the song tackles feeling suffocated to the point that you want to burn things down and start anew.

Sounds pretty damn relevant and applicable right about now…

I’ve known these guys for a long time. In addition to being super talented, they’re also awesome human beings.

Check them out and keep an eye out for their album set to release in March of 2014.

In the meantime; burn down, get down, the government’s about to shut down.

Update: The Government has shut down and CNN’s count down clock now reflects how much time has passed since the Government has shut down.  As of right this second now it’s been 9 minutes and 28 seconds.

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