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    In honor of their -- SPOILER ALERT! -- incredible cameo in Seth Rogen and James Franco's new flick, This Is The End, we're dedicating this week's oldie but goodie Friday video to Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." We hadn't seen the video since Clinton was in office but after a little revisiting, it totally holds up! The whole video is one big Tim Burton movie-meets-Delia's catalog and it's so good. The boys from Orlando find themselves stranded in a spooky-scary house after their tour bus breaks down and dream that they all turn into horror movie characters. While watching the six-minute clip, we had a revelation: could perpetually underappreciated Howie Dorough actually be the hottest BSB member? Though our adolescent hearts had always been partial to Nick or Kevin (don't judge), Howie D. is totally giving us Johnny Depp-in-Willy Wonka-slash-Sweeney Todd vibes.

    In the words of Sandy Kenyon, "Do yourself a favor and watch this video."

    Happy Friday.  

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    Mia Farrow and Philip Roth may have trolled us all after Farrow joke-tweeted a photo of the two "watching 'Sharknado'" together but that doesn't mean a ton of other celebs weren't taking in the beautifully awful Syfy original movie. Below, the ten best celebrity "Sharknado" tweets.

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 12.56.32 PM.png

    10. Josh Gad (@joshgad)
    But at least Planet Earth producers still have the market cornered when it comes to providing hypnotic, hi-def imagery and soothing music for kids on mushrooms.

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 12.58.21 PM.png9. Superchunk (@superchunk)
    And indeterminate tan lines.
    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 12.53.21 PM.png8. Judah Friedlander (@JudahWorldChamp)
    "Viagravalanche"? Tell us more...
    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 1.09.55 PM.png7. Rob Delaney (@robdelaney)
    Cut to Sharknado walking toward you in slow motion, wearing tortoise shell glasses, a blazer with patches and a small, wry smile that says, "hey," while a Nico song plays in the background.
    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 1.04.57 PM.png6. B.J. Novak (@bjnovak)
    B.J., feel free to come hide out in our Williamsburg walk-up when Sharknado hits. And by "hide out" we mean "make out. With us."

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 12.52.36 PM.png5. Horatio Sanz (@MrHoratioSanz)
    So sad. We're sure Ramon was probably a really great guy.
    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 1.15.18 PM.png4. Olivia Wilde (@oliviawilde)
    2 Girls, 1 Tail, a web-only exclusive.

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 12.55.53 PM.png3. Kurt Loder (@kurt_loder)
    OK, but we'd download the shit out of a Sharknado app.

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 1.12.03 PM.png2. Ian Ziering (@IanZiering)
    Don't call it a comeback.

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 1.15.34 PM.png1. Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks)
    Cue some tasteful "side fin" shots and strategically placed algae.

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    Best Bare Bones Music Video: Julie Ruin's "Oh Come On." Because all you really need is a white room, some Christmas lights and Kathleen Hanna's insane energy does the rest. -- Elizabeth Thompson

    The Most Divisive Pop Star-Cartoon Moment of the Week: Britney Spears' "Ooh La La" video with the smurfs. Gays thought Britney looked pretty, everyone else thought it was depressing. -- Mr. Mickey

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 4.45.48 PM.pngBest Use of LEGOs This Week: Dean West and Nathan Sawaya's portraits, which feature huge LEGO sculptures hidden inside. -- Max Kessler

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 4.25.51 PM.pngMost Face Palm-y Thing We Witnessed in Brooklyn This Week: A dad skateboarding in the street while pushing his baby in a stroller. Really, Brooklyn, really? You've outdone yourself. [Ed note: This is not the dad...this guy looks ten times dorkier and way more safe.] -- Abby Schreiber

    SHWW.jpegMost Enraging Pie Chart of the Week: This one. -- E.T.

    Most Intriguing Sub-Culture of the Week: The mermaids of Weeki-Wachee Springs, as profiled in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. -- A.S.

    Best Vine: This Sharknado Vine. Steve Sanders has never looked hotter. -- E.T.

    Best Dog of the Week: The friendly female Pitbull who boarded a Staten Island bus by herself on Wednesday morning and took a seat in the back. She goes up for adoption if she's not claimed in the next 72 hours. MTA workers have dubbed her "Little Lola." Godspeed, LL! -- E.T.

    Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 4.02.30 PM.pngHottest Ticket of the Week: The six-hour Jay-Z lip sync-a-thon at Pace Gallery. -- M.M.

    News Best Accompanied By a Sarcastic "Oh Yeah, This Will Work Out Well" Reaction:
    The announcement of Lindsay Lohan's forthcoming reality show on Oprah's network, OWN. -- A.S.

    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 4.54.41 PM.pngBest Excuse All Week to Ogle Naked Athletes: ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue," which includes Matt Harvey, Kenneth Faried, John Wall and Colin Kaepernick. -- M.K.

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    Why Justin Timberlake's team would choose to name the first single off The 20/20 Experience Part 2 "Take Back the Night" -- the same name as the annual, worldwide event to help end violence against women -- is anyone's guess. But even if the title is awkward (especially since a Justin Timberlake song called "Take Back the Night" is totally going to be about dancing your ass off and getting it on allll night long) the song is really good. Timberlake sounds a lot like Michael Jackson in "Off the Wall," and the beat mixes disco (now speeding along towards ubiquity in 2013) with touches of Mariah Carey's "It's Like That" and JT's own "Rock Your Body." The feel-good hand-claps are the icing on the cake. Listen above.

    [via Slate]

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    Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 5.43.59 PM.png
    Hesta Prynn A.jpgIn this weekly column, MC/DJ Hesta Prynn pairs pop culture stories with an original playlist.

    Growing up in the suburbs of New York City there was always that one family who made multiple trips to Chinatown to load up on fireworks. And, though July 4th is over, DIY versions of the Macy's Fireworks Spectacular are apt to continue throughout the summer so long as there are still hotdogs being fired up on the grill and Budweiser tall boys to be consumed. This week's Five 'n' Five pairs suburban fireworks greatest hits with songs that went '90s summer jams.

    Sparklers: "This is How We Do It" - Montell Jordan, 1995
    "To all my neighbors you got much flavor."
    This is, surprisingly, the firework most responsible for injuries due to the extreme heat at which they burn. In the suburbs this is a totally normal thing to hand out to five-year-old girls.

    Black Cats a.k.a. "Garbage Cans" Fireworks: "The Power" - Snap,1990
    "I've got the power!"
    Every July 5th, there are a handful of stories about the local accountant or executive at a beverage company who filled a garbage can full of these and melted his own face off. The story will go something like this, "John threw in a match, he waited and nothing happened so he leaned over and looked in the garbage can and that's when it exploded."

    Flying Spinners/Helicopters: "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" - Quad City DJs, 1996
    "Don't knock it until you ride it."
    Your next door neighbor's Dad seemed totally confident when he lit this up a mere three feet from his children, not so much so when it started spinning out of control and he headed for the hills. There's no telling which direction one of these will fly in, run for your life!

    Roman Candles/Bottle Rockets: "Slam" - Onyx, 1993
    "Let the boys be boys!"
    Your brother and his friends lined up in rows and shot these at each other. Your mom nearly passed out. It's great fun, so what if someone loses a limb?

    M80 Explosives: "Hold On To The Nights" - Richard Marx, 1988
    "Hold on to the memories..."
    Basically mini sticks of dynamite that should in no way be sold to the amateurs of New Jersey. Nonetheless every year without fail some fool puts a handful of these inside of a watermelon and explodes it over a group of screaming girls. Ah summer...

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    Here's a clip of 19-year-old Patton Oswalt -- introduced as "Patent Oswald" -- doing a mini-standup routine in a very bizarre educational video about college loans. You can see him at the 0:30, 5:40, and 8:50 mark. [via Vulture]

    wasabi-chan.jpgMeet Wasabi-Chan, the tiny kitty who got injured and needed to be put in little crocheted costumes to keep her from escaping her feeding tube. Even though she made a full recovery, we hope she stays in her mushroom costume forever. [via Jezebel]

    We're deeply fascinated by this clip of an austronaut washing her hair in space. If only we could get that kind of volume. [via Uproxx]

    SKHK.jpeg"'What a man,' Mimi cooed." [via mlkshk]

    SKZU.gifOur minds = blown. [via mlkshk]

    tumblr_mptonkc8td1rn7bzro1_1280.jpgNext project once we're done with our Cheers fan fic? [via knusprig.titten.hitler]

    Here's a video of a fuzzy little pup eating watermelon to get you through your Monday morning. [via Dlisted]

    tumblr_mifv3xXej51rrcahvo1_500.giftumblr_mifv3xXej51rrcahvo2_r1_500.gif"Genius is 1% inspiration and and 99% perspiration, even when under your mum's butt." [via Afternoon Snooze Button]

    tumblr_mpsnd3enRv1qanm80o1_1280.gifThis chart (which you can click to enlarge) definitively proves that all reality show stars are part of an Illuminati-esque cult led by Lauren Conrad. [via I'm With Kanye]

    tumblr_mptl3k03iW1rn7bzro1_12801.pngWe'd date you. [via knusprig.titten.hitler]

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    Everything from crop tops to muumuus to blood and eyeballs, these stylish singers aren't afraid to go there...

    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 11.53.13 AM.pngCharli XCX

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    Portland-based quintet Radiation City's new music video for "Zombies" -- which PAPERMAG is premiering -- may not actually feature the walking dead, but it does find a dreary community going through some kind of massive nuclear fallout. That may sound like a stressful video to watch on an insanely hot summer day, but singer Lizzy Ellison's airy vocals mix nicely with the fuzzy, shimmering beat, and the depiction of the world's end is more psychedelic art than grizzly gore. By the time the last living couple emerges -- having done all of the sexy, couple-y things they can think of to pass the time in their shelter -- you'll wish you were hanging out on their post-apocalyptic waterfront, drinking a cold beer. Watch above.

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    tumblr_mpb0s1f2Ix1s3cqiio1_500.pngAnd obviously a bitch ain't one. Illustrator Ali Graham created a new Tumblr called "99 Problems" that brings to life all 99 of the problems that the rap mogul has had to face on his long journey to the Magna Carta Holy Grail. Graham is currently on problem 45 and each day he'll unveil a new one. Some are lifted directly from Jay's lyrics (case in point: "Can't Get Dirt Off Shoulders") while others are of the more mundane variety. Check out some of the highlights below and start guessing what the next 54 problems will be: stains on his Tom Ford suit? Leg cramps from dancing too hard with Marina Abramović? We'll have to wait and see.

    [via It's Nice That]


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    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 4.12.28 PM.pngThe Giudices pack

    Each Monday, Eli Yudin and Carey O'Donnell, authors of the very, very funny Twitter account @NotTildaSwinton, will be recapping the Real Housewives of New Jersey for us. Below, their next installment.

    Eli: THE CASTLE AWAITS. The retreat that is the talk of the town is finally upon us. The different families all prepare, packing their Louis Vuitton luggage that they apparently bought as a 12-pack at one point. Over in the Giudice war room, Joe plays "monster" with the children, while they all stand around in front of the giant mirror within which they've trapped the real Giudices, while the Japanese obake that have taken their form carry out their devious plan to cause cable-network drama. Jacqueline and Chris choose not to go, their real-world problems of raising an autistic child somehow trumping spending a weekend in an emotional pressure cooker. Chris, as usual, is more over it than anyone's ever been over it since the dawn of time. I keep expecting him to be checking his watch during the confessionals. Caroline and Al are out in the Jersey Highlands somewhere, where we're presented with the bone-chilling "bridge moment" where Al wants to cross a footbridge. THUNDER CRASHES! LIGHTS FLASH! A GATEWAY TO THE OTHERWORLD OPENS! "Please, Caroline, cross the bridge! It's the only way to avoid having our life-force absorbed into the great void, falling to the ground as grotesque husks! Please! " Caroline giggles and shakes her head, rolling around on the ground, playing with a ball she found in the bushes. "FOR MY FATHER, CAROLINE! CROSS FOR MY FATHER!" shrieks Al, tears of blood streaming from his eyes, his flesh beginning to bubble. Caroline eats some grass and then vomits. "WE MUST! IF OUR COLLECTIVE TIMELINE IS TO CONTINUE, WE MUST DRAG OURSELVES ACROSS THE THRESHOLD!" Anyways, they end up walking across, so that's a pretty cool 30 second sequence.

    Carey: Meanwhile, Kathy, SISTA ROSIE, Rich, Joe Gorga and Melissuh pile into a party bus complete with stripper poles, which serve as poignant reminders of when Teresa accused her sister-in-law of being a stripper. While their party bus whisks them to the retreat, Teresa and Joe drive up to the Lake George castle separately. When the different parties reach the bottom of the hill the old castle is perched upon, a black, driver-less horse-drawn carriage awaits them with open doors. Without much hesitation, they all pile inside, and are taken to the top of the slope. Under a winter sky that looks a sickly grey and yellow, the group arrives at a magnificent stone castle overlooking the vast lake. A gaunt man in a sweater greets the two groups at the large doors, ushering them into the grand parlor, a mix of dim lighting and heavy rugs and wood floors. Teresa makes the comment, "I hope there aren't no ghosts here," and immediately complains about Jacqueline's no show, saying "Well, if she is so busy, why'd she have time to TWITTER me?! You see what she TWITTERED at me?" Yes, Jacqueline tweeted something about Teresa being a moron, and described it as "spontaneous!", "impulsive!" "Can't fault me now!" she thinks, hastily typing into her phone while cackling. After initial tension, the parties retire to their respective state rooms before lunch, the smell of hot decay coating the thick air.

    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 4.14.35 PM.pngAn uncomfortable dinner

    Eli: As each guest walks into his/her room they find that they're not in a room at all, but have passed through a portal and are standing in a dank abandoned graveyard, their own headstone in front of them. "TERESA GIUDICE, 1972-2013 -- SHE TWITTERED." There's also a montage of all the characters complaining about how hot the castle is just to verify, one last time, that they are, in fact, in hell. They gather in the lobby, each clutching two gold coins, and pay their fare to Charon, who then takes them, one by one, across the River of Hades to the dining room. And so the tension begins. They begin to silently eat their dinner, the room silent except for the tinkling of silverware and the squeals of knives cutting against porcelain. Above the table is a chandelier of bleached bone. Slowly, it shakes itself loose, crashing to the table-top. The individual bones start to tremble, and assemble themselves into several skeletons that dance a slow jig, deep undulating moans coming from their nonexistent throats. One skeleton plays another's ribcage like a marimba. When their song is over, they are raised again to the ceiling. The families clap in unison, 21 times exactly. Then Rich tongue-kisses all the furniture in the room.

    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 4.11.14 PM.pngTeam-building exercises

    Carey: A knock at the castle gates breaks the silent lunch. Two figures appear at the door, each shrouded in hoods, the taller of the two holding a lantern to see in the black smoke that has enveloped the lake and castle. "That must be the team builders!" Rosie says; "It's the team builders," Melissa says, and Kathy says, and Rich says. Back at the Giudice crypt, Milania is covering an entire dinner table cloth with black crayon. She suddenly looks up and gazes out the window, over the rows and rows of dead aspens, into the swirling greys and golds of the winter sky. "The team builders," she mutters. Teresa opens the door for the new additions to the retreat. One is a gangly red-head with a large bald spot who, by all accounts, is Ron Howard. His name is Steve. With Steve is a short woman who could be anywhere from 11-years-old to 53. Her name is Stephanie. "We've just been in the Middle East!" Steve says, laughing. Ha ha. Yes. I imagine team building in the Middle East isn't the easiest task, Steve! They assemble da crew in the grand ballroom, where they lay out a rope circle on the floor, and have everyone stand around it. The first task, the ICE BREAKER, is where several square pieces of construction paper are laid out in the center of the rope circle; each person has to stand on the circle without touching the carpet, and each round, another piece of paper is taken, forcing them to work together to find balance and shared space on the lessening squares. GENIUS! Everyone thinks it's stupid. Steve and Stephanie laugh nervously. Steve then has Teresa and her bro "HASH IT OUT," asking them to express why dey're so mayd! As they begin bickering, flies start covering the tops of the windows of the ballroom, multiplying by the hundreds each second. The room becomes hotter and hotter as the air vents seal up. The rope circle has opened something -- something buried beneath the stone castle, beneath the bedrock of the frozen lake, traveling up faster and faster through the dirt and tree roots, whispering and laughing, as the voices above grow louder and harsher.

    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 4.11.47 PM.pngTempers flare

    Eli: Watching the team builders arrive at the house reminded me a lot of House of 1000 Corpses. One could even argue that some of the families are approaching Captain Spaulding levels of makeup. All that aside, it's clear that they should never have taken this assignment. As everyone ruins Teresa's plans by not immediately apologizing to her and devoting themselves to her whims and pleasures, the Jersey Volume dial is cranked up to eleven. Steve-Ron Howard looks on with a facial expression that would suggest he is currently drowning, and Stephanie wonders if it's possible for her to climb entirely into her down jacket, not crawling back out until the world has healed. Teresa takes turns shouting at everyone, and as soon as anyone responds, she informs them that she's not talking to them, forming an infinite loop wherein she shouts at everyone in turn until the Chosen One can arrive to break the cycle and so become the King of Jersey. In the background, Steven-Ron Howard and Stephanie embrace, then snap each other's necks simultaneously, and fall to the ground, finally free. But when Teresa finally succeeds in goading someone into calling her a name (in this case, "scum," which is an unconventional, almost retro choice by Joe Gorga) she runs outside and tells her meat golem about it. We then enjoy roughly three seconds of a fight that looks a lot like those old vibrating football table games.

    Carey: As the scuffle begins, a crow wraps its talons around a flimsy tree branch, hovering just above the ballroom patio. It is Kim D. She gazes down at the fighting bodies below, their yelling muted by the buzzing of the fly swarms. The red ring around the black of her irises grows deeper, almost auburn. Milania, looking out the window with her back to her sisters, and babysitter gathered on the couch in front of the television, sees it all. She places the palm of her small hand on the cold window pane and stares past everything -- the silent fighting, Kim D. perched on the tree branch. 'It'll all be over soon,' Kim D. whispers to Milania, letting out a caw and ruffling her feathers.

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    anita_headshot Final1.jpgEach week in our Chefs Off Duty series, we talk to some of our favorite chefs and industry folk around the country to find out their secret late-night spots where they like to grab a bite and a pint when their kitchens are finally closed. Next up: Anita Lo, Top Chef Masters alum and the chef/owner behind Annisa in the West Village. 

    Where do you like to grab a bite when you're leaving your own restaurant?

    We often go next door to Rockmeisha. It's a Japanese izakaya -- a little plates restaurant. They've got really great ramen there. It's tiny, maybe 15-20 seats. It looks like a little Japanese dive. The cooks don't even show up to work until maybe 5pm. No one's ever there.

    What are your favorite things to order there?

    They don't always have it but my favorite thing there is this broiled mackerel they do with all these little pickled onions on it and ponzu. It was so good. Maybe if I plead with them via this article, they will bring it back.

    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 5.10.04 PM.pngRockmeisha
    What are their other specialties?

    Their ramen is great. It's just pork ramen. I tend to get the same things over again and they do a really good tuna and avocado salad that's just slices of sashimi and slices of good avocado. We sometimes get roasted brussels sprouts with a sweet red miso on top. Delicious.

    Rockmeisha Izakaya, 11 Barrow St., New York; Sun-Thu, 6pm-1am; Fri-Sat, 6pm-2am

    More From Our Off Duty Series

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    Welcome to our weekly GIF roundup, featuring a collection of important, amusing and/or newsy GIFs and GIF sets by Mike Hayes of BuzzFeed and Gifhound.

    GIFS of the week! Dedicated to anyone who does amazing things...

    tumblr_mpuwig8cVz1qdlh1io1_400.gif...Like this real-life Jedi who walks amongst us. [via 4 GIFs]

    iyDdnbkHrYOBe.gifLike this turtle who makes going home look amazing. [via I Minus]

    Like these two guys. [via Sexter Morgans]

    tumblr_mpqmfvIt2g1qarjjvo2_r1_400.gifAnd this guy. Cosby. Still amazing. [via Today]

    788669662.gifBoth these guys think the other one is truly amazing. [via Twitpic]

    Sometimes Redditors do amazing things like this Pixar-inspired NSA logo GIF. [via Prosthetic Knowledge; Ed note: We'd love to post this GIF but it broke our system...maybe the NSA is more hands-on than we thought!]

    anigif_enhanced-buzz-19760-1373644293-19.gifAnd sometimes in Australia, something amazing happens. This Aussie who invented the cheeseball cannon is an amazing innovator. [via Buzzfeed]

    anigif_enhanced-buzz-19835-1373640613-4.gifThis local news reporter's technique for not getting killed by a bear is as amazing as it is true. This is exactly how you should avoid getting killed by a bear, guys. [via Buzzfeed]

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    Like most A$AP Mob videos, Shabba Ranks tribute "Shabba" takes old-school rap video imagery and ups it to the point of absurdity. Accordingly, A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg's mansion is filled with sexy girls, Ferraris, taxidermed animals, gilded furniture, and all manner of sinful treats. Whether someone's shoving cake in their mouths or re-creating the Last Supper, there are a lot of shenanigans going on and even more guest stars ready to join in: in addition to the entire A$AP Mob, there are appearances by Ian Connor, Snoop from The Wire, and -- best of all -- Shabba "Mr. Loverman" Ranks himself. Watch above while you count your gold rings.

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    How was it possible that the Internet was sleeping and missed this four-minute clip uploaded to Youtube in 2010 (2010!) that shows Kanye West doing horrible improv in an unaired pilot for HBO? Back then, 'Ye was making more modest comparisons -- before he was going around saying "I am a God," he was telling reporters that he was the "black Larry David." We kinda like that. [via Laugher Key]

    tumblr_mpy28tPk3O1sanux8o1_500.jpgDon't you just wish John Goodman was your uncle? [via Rrrick]

    ICYMI: This parody for Miley Cyrus' ridiculous "We Can't Stop" video is so, so good. Prop for calling out the product placements (like those "tampon-shaped" Beats by Dre speakers), the other-the-top humping and the general what the eff-ness. [via HuffPo Comedy]

    tumblr_mptz03dKd41s2yegdo1_400.gifWHAT IS GOING ON HERE? [via Bunny Food]

    Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 6.36.24 PM.png"The saddest margarine ever" likes to listen to James Blake in its bedroom while gently weeping into a crochet pillow. [via HuffPo Comedy]

    tumblr_mpzhq0cI2s1qf5do9o1_500.gifWe've had recurring nightmares in which Honey Boo Boo chases us through the chips and soda aisle in the grocery store. Ahhhh! [via The Clearly Dope]

    Watch Carly Rae Jepsen throw the world's worst opening pitch at a Rays-Astro baseball game. [via Dlisted]

    tumblr_mpfc4wHxgI1stzmhfo1_500.jpgAre you gonna go to Catnipz' DJ night? I think he goes on at midnight. I might go. I don't know, I'm a little tired. Whatever. [via Bunny Food]

    Actors Riding In Elevators: A Super Cut. They sure spend a lot of time in there. [via Tastefully Offensive]

    tumblr_mp3c0uPh8f1qzwhb0o1_r1_400.gifTuesday vibes are brought to you by $wag Nana. [via F Yeah Dementia]

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    Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 11.37.39 AM.pngAfter spending enough time with Daughn Gibson's 2012 debut album, the stunning, Lynchian country dirge All Hell, you'd be forgiven for considering a cross-country drive in search of some existentially bleak lowlifes, on the lam from an arrest warrant issued a few states over, taking refuge in a dive bar, drinking whiskeys at 1:00pm on a Wednesday. All Hell was 2012's left-field gem, written and produced by Gibson alone with the aid of some Ableton recording software, lending a discomforting intimacy to his work. Its songs are littered with the tragic trials of the eternally down-on-their-luck, like the old man crying into his drink in "A Young Girl's World," or the girl who keeps seeing her father's arrest on old Cops re-runs in "Tiffany Lou", or the maniacal preacher screaming about a baby poisoned by Satan in "All Hell." Gibson's thick basso profundo, which shares more than a little lineage with Johnny Cash, is thunderous but intoxicating, rapturously relaying one haunting spell after the next in front of laptop-produced tracks that mutate rockabilly, country, and old-fashioned rock and roll into smoky storms brimming with portent and doomed consequences.

    And while Gibson's earlier gig as drummer in the Nazareth, PA blues-metal band Pearls and Brass never really pointed to his future as a dusty, troubled troubadour, his professional life outside of his music aligned with his working-class romanticism. He worked odd jobs around his home town of Carlisle, PA (right outside of the state's capital of Harrisburg) including a stint as a truck driver delivering paper, using the rural weirdness of small town life in central Pennsylvania to fill out the edges of his work. Now, Gibson returns with his panoramic sophomore album Me Moan, full of dark homespun tales of death, regret, and passion that are blown up like technicolor movie strips of sensationalized pulp. The production this time around is busier and more polished, showing off his growing studio acumen and compositional mastery on tracks like the beautiful slow burn of "Mad Ocean" (check the recurring bagpipe fugue that appears throughout), the deep-fried honky-tonk of "Kissin' on the Blacktop," and the sinister criminal churn of lead single "The Sound of Law." We linked up with Gibson -- appropriately, while he was on the road -- to talk about his new album, the moving beauty of a Kenny Chesney ballad, and why country music makes him emotional.

    There was a quieter, home-spun vibe to your first album All Hell, which seemed to really suit the material. It seems like with Me Moan you had a chance to stretch your legs in a studio a little bit. Were you worried you were going to lose the intimate spark of the first record by embracing a larger, studio-influenced sound with more collaborators?

    I wasn't really worried about it. I didn't know the recording process would be that way until I was done. I mean, the whole process was virtually the same as All Hell -- I think I got better at what I was doing. I got better at selecting, and better at mixing. I wasn't sitting down collaborating with anyone. It was very much like I was sampling live humans and then taking it back to my little cave and stitching it together. 

    It sounds like the dive bar darkness still remains, but there are a slew of different textures and moods on this album, and maybe some brightness and optimism. What were you listening to/inspired by when you were making this record?

    I wasn't listening to anything in particular that was special. It's largely a product of television and books. I was reading books by Donald Ray Pollock and Bonnie Jo Campbell, Midwestern writers who write about their hometowns more or less. I was watching a lot more TV, too, and I was trying to empathize with characters a little more, trying to make them more detailed and make them a little more rich, than just, you know, a melody and an 808. I was trying to nail what I thought a person would be going through and what that would sound like in their own head.

    A lot of your songs are written from the first-person perspective. Do you approach writing each song like writing a short story? There appear to be passages on this album that are very novelistic and literary -- is that how you think about your music?

    I definitely do though if I was to attempt to write a book of short stories, I wouldn't write the whole book in my perspective. I was just trying to take on a moment in one particular character's life. "You Don't Fade" is about someone who is left with a kid. "Sound of Law" is basically about a ne'er do well ready to fully embrace a criminal life. These aren't aspects of me, necessarily -- they might be fantasies of mine, in a weird way, but they aren't in any way, shape, or form, totally personal.

    Thinking about a song from your last record, "Tiffany Lou," you used third-person perspective a little but then later switched to first-person perspective. With every songwriter there's always the question about the real life-truths hiding behind their work, but from what you've just said, it sounds you see these stories that are outside of you but write through your own perspective. 

    Yeah, and especially with a song like All Hell's "Tiffany Lou" and another song on this record called "The Pisgee Nest," those [are written from the perspective] of witnesses at the scene who are seeing something transpire and telling the story on their own. I'm attempting to try and get into their voice.

    You still call Carlisle, PA home, right?

    I do, but I'm spending so much time in Chicago I might have to do double-duty.

    Why are you traveling so much to Chicago?

    My band is there so I come out here and we practice usually a week before tour.

    Is there a desire to move to a bigger city or a bigger scene, like Chicago, or do you prefer calling a smaller town like Carlisle your home base?

    I love coming home to Carlisle. That's kind of the one distinction I can make. No one completely loves where they live, but traveling a lot, I love coming home here. So that's why I stay.

    Almost every interview/article on you focuses on the truck driving/nomadic job aspect of your past and that connection with country music/David Lynch bedroom vibes. Was it exhausting to always be linked to this sort of romantic notion of a troubled working man troubadour with a certain set of signifiers, or did you embrace that perception?

    I guess I haven't thought about it too much. I have wondered that if I played in a regular indie rock band if anyone would give a shit about where I worked. But since my working past links up with country music and working-class lifestyles, it's an appropriate fit. I mean, everybody works, everybody has a job, so it's kind of weird but cool.

    Moving back a little bit, when you were a drummer for Pearls and Brass, were you writing songs or thinking about the music you're making today?

    We shared the same scene and practice space/warehouse space with this band Pissed Jeans, who was also from Allentown, PA like our band, and I remember one time at practice saying to Matt [Korvette of Pissed Jeans], "Let's just start a fucking country band." Matt and I both bonded a lot on listening to new Millennium, bullshit country music. And, like, Pissed Jeans would cover Toby Keith songs occasionally. It was totally fleeting because it was a matter of chops because I don't play any instruments and no one wants to play country music! I'd really dreamed about [making music as Daughn Gibson] for about ten years, just saying to myself "How do I do this?" I kind of started to mess with [high-end home recording software] Ableton, trying to emulate and mimic the stuff I liked and I fell into this. I did a song that was dusty enough that when I got up to the mic, I just belched it out, and I was like "Oh, okay. Well...let's do another one." And then ended up doing a song a day from there on out.

    As a self-proclaimed country music fan, is there anything going on in country today that you find interesting or valuable?
    [Laughs] I mean, at this point, my love of country is such a personal thing to me; I don't share that listening experience with anybody. As a result, I have a hard time waxing about what is important in country music because really all I'm paying attention to is different songs and how they make me feel, and it's a very natural, visceral feeling. I either like it or I don't, or I laugh, or I think it's absurd. Some of the new batch, while I'm sure they are all great people, are just writing about parties and sexual euphemisms, saying [in a country accent], "Let's just have a good time! Get the keg out!" And that seems to be the trend right now. And, I mean, I dig it. That's cool. Everybody likes to party. Artistically, it's utterly ridiculous. So there's nothing influential or special or creative about it at all, which makes me admire it a little more!

    Well, to provide a little guidance for the uninitiated, what's one of your favorite recent country songs of the past twenty-odd years?

    Well, I mean...there is a Kenny Chesney song that...dude you gotta go listen to it. Everybody I play it for, I say "Just take a minute, and just listen to these lyrics, and get over all the stuff you think about country and just listen to the song." And everyone I play it for is in tears by the end. The song is called [singing in a twangy baritone] "Oh I...I've done a lot of things." "A Lot of Things Different" is the name of it. That's a song that punched me in the face and blew me away emotionally and, I'll be honest, I don't get that from any other genre of music. I'm not moved to utter sadness by rock music or rap, or electronic. I feel emotional when I listen to country, and I could even be laughing -- laughing is an emotion, too, and an essential one. And if something is inherently hilarious, whether I'm laughing with or at someone, it's still moving me more than anything else.

    Me Moan is out now via Sub Pop

    Photograph courtesy of Sub Pop

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    image969787.jpgHip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa has one of the most important record collections out there and for the next three days, he's inviting the public to look through his records at Gavin Brown's Enterprise while archivists prepare to move them to Cornell University. Better yet, take a few long lunches this week and stop by GBE's "Lunch Breaks" shows to catch Crazy Legs, Grand Wizzard Theodore and BreakBeat Lou spinning select records from the archive while you dig through rare vinyl (some of which you can see in the images below). Check out the schedule and learn more about Bambaataa's plan to build an international hip-hop museum here.

    Gavin Brown's Enterprise, 620 Greenwich Street:

    July 16, 2-4 PM Lunch Breaks Show Bronx Time with Crazy Legs Special Guest Joe Conzo
    July 17, 1-2 PM Grandwizzard Theodore
    July 18, 1-2 PM Break Beat Lou Ultimate Breaks and Beats

    George Mickens - Rock & Freak.jpg

    Kraftwerk - Autobahn.jpg
    Lonnie Smith - Funk Reaction.jpg
    Renegades of Funk - Label.jpg
    Sunshine Sound.jpg
    T La Rock - Label.jpg
    Tommy Boy - Cosmic Punk Jam.jpg
    Zulu Nation - Funk.jpg

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    carla-bruni-presse1.jpgCarla Bruni needs no introduction. The singer, model and ex-First Lady of France is one of Mr. Mickey's biggest idols and also one of the classiest dames alive today. While in town to promote her new record, Little French Songs, Mickey was lucky enough to sit down with the always belle Bruni and chat with her about stage fright, the language she uses for love, and Edith Piaf. Read below and sois jaloux.

    Mickey Boardman: I see you have a BlackBerry. I used to love the BlackBerry. It was a hard changeover [to the iPhone]. I liked the typing on it.

    Carla Bruni: Why did you change, then?

    MB: Because I did it for work and everybody else was. Plus I do love Instagram. Are you on Instagram?

    CB: What is Instagram?

    MB: It's like Twitter, except just with photographs. Just photographs.

    CB: Oh, okay, okay.

    MB: So congratulations on your record! I love when you sing in all different languages in the same song. Do you feel like French is better for a love song or is English better?

    CB: For a love song I think Italian would be better. And English because I think there's something know it's very hard in French to be naive and to be pure. There's something very simple about both [English and Italian]. You can easily say, "I'll always love you." It's very hard to say "je t'aime." English allows a lot of simplicity in a love song and Italian is really vocal and a sort of romantic sound, whatever you say. But I like to write in French as well because there's something a little more sophisticated in the French language that makes it easier to use very classic, loving images like desire, despair, tenderness.

    MB: You come from a musical family. Were there singers that you listened to when you were younger, like Edith Piaf?

    CB: Oh, I love [Edith Piaf]! When I was younger I listened a lot to the French singer Barbara. Did you ever listen to Barbara? I don't understand why Barbara was never that famous. To me, she should have been famous just like Edith Piaf. Maybe she had something dark; she was a dark lady with black hair and a very special voice. I even listened to Jacques Brel who's Belgian but sings in French. It was really like a discovery for me because they put a lot of meanings in their songs. They have those songs that you listen to. Not only you hear them but also you listen to them and I like that.

    MB: Did those those singers inspire your new song, "Little French Song?"

    CB: You know, "Little French Song" was like an homage to these people that I listened to. Those are the people that made me try to write songs in the beginning. I thought it was mieux to give an English title to a song that's [all about being] French. Whenever someone Italian, French, Belgium, or German tries to speak English, they always try to get the good accent. But in that song, I don't. I really sing with the French accent and that was hard too. So it's an homage to French songs and at the same time it's a little joke about languages.

    MB: And you're a French citizen and an Italian citizen?

    CB: I'm both, yeah.

    MB: So do you relate more to your French side or your Italian side?

    CB: I've been Italian a good third of my life, or even half of my life. And then I became French when I got married, and my grandmother was French so I was always very connected to French culture and French language. I think I write in French because my grandmother must have been talking French to me [my] whole [childhood], because she wasn't speaking very much Italian. She was married to an Italian man, but still French was her language. So, I feel Italian but maybe my language is French because I came to France when I was six.

    MB: And had you always been a performer? Have you ever been shy?

    CB: Yeah, I'm so shy. I don't know why I'm exposing myself! It's really like a contradiction -- hello, Dr. Freud! I die when I get in front of people. But not like this [interview] -- not like a direct relationship with a human being. Then I guess the Italian side comes over. I get in touch with people very easily, I get connected with people. And that's why I like America -- you know, people [here] are insane. They give introductions for hours and I like that about America. It's the same in Italy. You can meet your best friend, you can meet your lover in the street without being introduced. France is a bit different.

    MB: What was it like to perform before you became a pro? 

    CB: The first time I tried I thought I was going to get sick. I really wasn't physically well. My heart! And I was sweaty and I couldn't control my body. It seemed to move without me. So I tried to control it and it was the worst when I tried to control it.

    MB: What have you been doing while you're in New York?

    CB: Yesterday we were downtown -- with the trees and the summertime. I loved it.

    MB: Are you going to do more performances?

    CB: Yes, I'll be coming back to New York to do a real concert in April 2014. You should come.

    MB: Where will it be?

    CB: I don't know where precisely, but there's so much music [in New York]. It's a lucky thing to be able to come here. It's really, really cool. I love to be here. The only thing is I should have brought the kids because I miss them. Badly.

    MB: Are they musical? Have you tried to make them take piano lessons?

    CB: They're musical and I have tried, but one has to choose it. Especially with music or writing: it is not a hobby. For a hobby, anyone can do whatever he wants. But music you can't learn without [conditioning]. So, my son did piano and guitar and I always had to push him to do it, so I said, "Listen, if you do it, you do it." Also, with young children, you make them do things but all of a sudden they get their own taste and that's when they really do something. They have to find their own way.

    MB: My grandmother made my father take piano and he is so great at it, but he hates it because she made him do it.

    CB: And did you play when you were a kid?

    MB: A little bit. I wish I could sing, but I really have no musical taste except to dance along to little French songs.

    CB: It's also an education. They took very young kids in Romania once, like one to two-year-old kids and they educated their ears and they realized that actually every human being has a [good] ear. It just has to be taught. Some people have it spontaneously. You know, I can write with rhymes but if I had to be a journalist it wouldn't be easy. When I have to write without rhymes it is very confusing and slow, like when I have to write a letter to someone. If I could write a letter and rhyme it, it would be faster. Everyone has their skills and I don't think it's good to force. There's not enough time, you know? You can really do something well when you do it with desire.

    MB: By the way, I love that you smoke Vogue cigarettes with a leopard-print lighter.

    CB: Do you smoke?

    MB: I don't, but I love leopard-print and I love Vogue. Have you tried to quit?

    CB: Oh yeah, I've tried to quit, and gladly here in America you really can't smoke.

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    "There was one woman pushing a baby stroller and wearing super-tight American flag spandex with the stars on the butt and a red crop top on," Brooklyn-based freelance illustrator Paul Tuller remembers. "I went up to her to ask if I could photograph her and she said that the condition was that the baby couldn't be in the photo and I had to let her do a pose. She immediately struck this diva pose." Since this past January, Tuller has cataloged many such encounters as part of his new project examining Americana imagery (specifically, the American flag) in fashion and the motivations behind people wearing it in New York in 2013. "A lot of big clothing companies were releasing all these Americana shirts and I was seeing more and more people on the street wearing them," Tuller says. "I started wondering if people actually think about how wearing the flag kind of represents the politics of America or if they're just wearing it because they look good in red, white, and blue."

    As you might have guessed in a place like New York, fashion often trumps politics. "Younger people wear the flag ironically or because they look good in it but I also found a lot of people from other countries who have moved here for work and brought their families here and those people gave the most passionate quotes," Tuller notes. The illustrator found his participants everywhere, from sidewalks to subway stations and even parties at Top of the Standard, providing him with a diverse mix that includes a chef, an architect and performance artist/entertainer Mx. Justin Vivian Bond ("[Bond] has given me my favorite quote so far"). After taking a photo that would later be turned into an illustration, Tuller interviewed each subject to find out who they were and why they were wearing the American flag. Each had their own reasons for wearing the stars and stripes, though Tuller says he noticed a pattern of people wearing it to convey the same sense of freedom, youth and nostalgia for the American dream of yore that he sees echoed in someone like Lana Del Rey's '70s-tinged style. "Before I started this project, I did generally think that people who wore the flag were not liberal," Tuller says. "But I think ultimately that this whole image of the nostalgic American lifestyle can exist outside of politics."

    Take a look at Tuller's illustrations above and below. You can find more images from the project on his website HERE.


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    RiFF RAFF wants the world to know just how popular he is with his new song, "MR. POPULAR." But while Jodie Highroller may be a very sought-after man in real life -- although now that he's suing Spring Breakers for making a character in his likeness without giving him a percentage of the cut, his image may take a hit -- in this music video, he's only popular enough to have a friend over to watch him dribble a basketball and smoke some blunts. It doesn't matter, though: the lyric, "Took a flight to Spain / Just to heat a baked potato" is pure, sweet poetry. Never change, RiFF RAFF.

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    anigif_enhanced-buzz-26525-1373941034-0.gifanigif_enhanced-buzz-23755-1373976573-1.gifBuzzfeed's Jen Lewis has illustrated Nicolas Cage as various Disney princesses and it's glorious. See all GIFs here.

    tumblr_mhwz6dqM0s1rhi0rbo1_500.pngI love you, Elizabeth Williams, whoever you are. [FYouNoFMe]

    1pride071413.jpeg Just FYI, Minneapolis native Vincent Kartheiser is playing Mr. Darcy in a local production of Pride and Prejudice. [StarTribune]

    tumblr_mq13hfWVhv1qe0wclo1_500.jpgThis lizard has a tiny, damn fine El Camino on cinderblocks parked behind those leaves that he secretly works on at night while listening to CCR.  [TheClearlyDope]

    Mets pitcher Matt Harvey asks New Yorkers what they think of Matt Harvey. [LateNightWithJimmyFallon]

    Jonsey the boxer finally gets to meet the cows he likes to bark at from the car. Confusion/fascination abounds. [TastefullyOffensive]

    bryan-cranston-gq-magazine-august-2013-11.jpgTiny Bryan Cranston, 1963. [GQ]

    Pelicans are the worst. [LaughterKey]

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