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All the posts on www.papermag.com.

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    tumblr_n7hk8mArKl1tcqv97o1_1280.jpgMeet your new favorite Tumblr: Saving Room For Cats, which puts a cat in-between the legs of guys who take up too much damn space on the train. NEWS ALERT: YOUR BALLS ARE NOT THAT BIG! 


    Jimmy Kimmel's "Lie Witness News" is back and this time he's asking people about the World Cup. His associate went around Hollywood Blvd. asking people about how they thought Landon Donovan had been playing -- even though Donovan famously was cut from the team in May. Too bad. We could've used his butt goal and tricycle kicks. [via Jimmy Kimmel]



    This isn't the newest prank in the book but it still manages to crack us up: some Australian knucklehead called one local Domino's Pizza franchise to place an order and then conferenced in another Domino's location and lots of confusion and hilarity ensued. [via Tastefully Offensive]

    tumblr_n7ss9h7ju31rn7bzro1_1280.pngBill & Ted's Excellent Court Room Adventure. [via Knusprig Titten Hitler]

    Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 6.50.06 PM.pngPigeons With Attitude. [via Instagram]



    Here's some goats performing the Jurassic Park theme song. [via Tastefully Offensive]

    tumblr_n19hxiEY0c1qf47bgo1_500.jpgHope your 4th of July is as dope as this monkey riding a goat! [via Afternoon Snooze Button]


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    Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.54.10 AM.pngFaithfully fueling the creative heart of New York City are the makers -- the artists, artisans and behind-the-scenes designers who propel craftsmanship to the next level. For 100 days this summer, the galleries of the Museum of Art and Design (2 Columbus Circle, NY) have transformed into a bustling hive dedicated to 100 skilled specialists representing 100 different trades flourishing in New York City today. A project that came together in just eight short months under the gaze of MAD's new director Glenn Adamson and curated by Jake Yuzna, NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial reverberates with local ingenuity and vitality.

    On view now through October 12th, 2014, the show pulses and pops with the energies of folks who make everything from wearable technology to coffee roasters to neon fabricators to scratch-and-sniff wallpaper. The traditional comfortably kicks it with the cutting edge; old-school masters mingle next to emerging talent. All creations, more than half of which were fashioned specifically for the biennial, are presented in immersive tableaus. Among those whose works are represented are Yoko Ono, Lower East Side Printshop, Laurie Anderson, stained glass artist Joseph Cavalieri, The Metropolitan Opera, clothing line Hood By Air, and Misha Kahn. The galleries will also play host to talks, encounters, fashion shows, screenings and performances throughout its run. Take a look at images from the show above and below.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.53.35 AM.pngScreen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.58.37 AM.pngScreen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.57.06 AM.pngPhotos by Eric Scott



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    DYLAN-REIDER-099vF.jpgThe pristine leather wingtips that 26-year-old pro skateboarder Dylan Rieder unpacks for our photo shoot look less like skate sneakers and more like the Barneys driving loafers he was wear-ing on arrival. Rieder, who designed the shoes for the streetwear brand Huf, is perhaps the first rider to inject some fashion sense into skateboarding's punk and hip-hop DNA. His tucked-in tanks, tight slacks and slip-ons -- not to mention the fact that he looks like an olive-toned River Phoenix with hand tattoos -- are almost as commanding as his legendary railslides.

    It's understandable, then, that the ratio of skateboards to models on Rieder's Instagram feed is about 1:1. Rieder has done some high-profile, if reluctant, modeling of his own, appearing in DKNY's Spring/Summer 2014 campaign and an Alexander Wang spread in Vogue two years back (both with fashion-savvy rapper A$AP Rocky). Seeing these shots or his part in Supreme's newCherry video, you start to wonder why every teen skater isn't already biting his style.

    "The kids don't have the jobs to pay for that stuff," Rieder explains, lighting one of many, many Camels. "That's always been tricky, trying to hit that mark." But there are signs that, with the new Huf shoe, style and quality might finally trump thrift. "More recently, it's like kids want to spend an extra $40 on a shoe 'cause it looks a hell of a lot better than a canvas shoe wrapped in a fucking tire."

    The day after we spoke, he flew to Berlin to finish a promotional video for Huf, one that will combine skate footage with a staged conversation between Rieder and model Kati Nescher. Jet-setting and models aside, his true obsession hasn't changed since he was a wiry Orange County tween: "I still think my fucking skating sucks. It's never good enough, no matter what. So I stick with skateboarding."

    DYLAN-REIDER-130vF.jpg

       
    ★ The Huf Dylan Pro will be available on HufWorldWide.com later this month. ★
       




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    TourDiary_Banner2A.jpgThroughout the summer, we're following around some of our favorite bands and DJs as they head out on tour. In each installment, these road dogs will be sharing a photo diary and sharing stories about what they do, see, and hear and eat while criss-crossing the country and the globe. Next up: Stromae, the Belgian electro-hip-hop-world music sensation (born Paul Van Haver) who's been dominating European airwaves since the release of his sophomore album, Racine Carrée, last year, and who is quickly gearing up to explode Stateside. We catch up with the artist following a huge show at Zenith Orléans in Orléans, France.

    stromae_1_new.jpg"This is us playing my song 'Je cours.' If you look closely you can see the set rising and leaning in underneath the musicians behind me, and the visual behind us does so as well."

    MOSAERT-Orleans numerique-0082.jpg"In a couple of minutes, I'll be going on stage for the first time in my life with the new arena show setup. I can see in my eyes that I was feeling nervous! Before each show, the whole team hugs!! Here I'm with Alex, our stage manager."

    MOSAERT-Orleans numerique-0054.jpg
    "I'm behind the screen, only a seconds away before entering the stage... The visuals are playing, the audience is cheering, and the show really starts now."

    MOSAERT-Orleans numerique-0077.jpg"My two musicians Florian and Manoli are hugging just before the show. We always do that. These kind of moments are really important for the whole team, it brings us together."

    MOSAERT-Orleans numerique-0080.jpg"Again, this is before getting on stage. All the team is clapping, so we can get motivated. I was very moved for this one, it was the first of our new show, a special moment."

    MOSAERT-Orleans numerique-0104.jpg"This during the special Congolese rumba edit for 'Papaoutai' during the show. It's a very fun moment!"

    MOSAERT-Orleans numerique-0103.jpg"I like this moment, where I'm suddenly appearing on stage all dressed up before playing 'Silence.' The pace of the show changes a bit there, we're closer to the end, things get sweaty."

    MOSAERT-Orleans argentique-0093.jpg"Here I'm rocking my MOSAERT clothes, dancing to 'Papaoutai.'" [Ed. note: MOSAERT is Stromae's creative label.]

    MOSAERT-Orleans argentique-0171.jpg"The team is eating at catering, just after the soundcheck. Good catering changes everything, when you eat well it puts everyone in a good mood!"

    MOSAERT-Orleans argentique-0179.jpg"Here I'm eating with my A&R, Romain, discussing the setlist, and the details he thinks we could improve on the show. That's work!!"

    MOSAERT-Zenith-0313.jpg"And this is fun!! I'm with my A&R and brother, who is helping me on the artistic side of things, and with my manager Dimitri. We're trying to record a liner for media but it's getting out of hand..."

    Check out Stromae's single "Papaoutai" HERE.

    MORE TOUR DIARIES



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    "You are so bull-bullshit, we are so Wimbledon," announce NYC rap duo Rich White Ladies in their latest track "Wimbledon," offering the perfect anthem for drowning in drinks, while watching Venus and Serena slay on the court. Granted, that lyric makes absolutely no sense, but we can really see it becoming the next big thing. If someone cuts you in line at the club, smack them, but be sure to let them know that you are so Wimbledon. They'll probably be deeply confused, but it's okay because Rich White Ladies say it's cute. We're also really into the line, "serving face while I'm serving the ace" -- the queens of New York are going to die.

    Check out the amazing video for twerking and tea parties on a tennis court, including cameos from Semi Precious Weapons' lead singer Justin Tranter and bassist Cole Whittle. Justin really serves on stage, but his tennis serve is pretty on-point, too.

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  • 07/03/14--13:00: Our July 4th NYC Party Guide
  • AMERICA.gifFrom fireworks to fire twerks, we've got 20 fun ways to spend your 4th of July long weekend in New York City. U-S-A! U-S-A!

    Thursday, July 3


    Fire Twerk
    Kick off Fourth of July weekend à la Miley. With opening sets by DJ Miss Jade and TIG, and headliner Dalton, you'll be turning into a red-white-and-blond version of the pop star in no time -- and it's only the beginning of the weekend.
    Marquee, 289 10th Ave., Manhattan; 11pm-4am.


    Friday, July 4

    July 4th!
    Cameo plays host to the deep house and garage sounds of Brooklyn-based DJs Robert Lux, Evan Michael, and Jesse Rudoy, along with the chill downtempo beats of Lemonade at this 21+ event. Fair warning: leave your Hasbeen wedges at home. You'll want to be wearing your dancing shoes. Tickets start at only $5.
    Cameo, 93 N 6th St., Brooklyn; 9:30pm-Late. Tickets HERE

    Independence Day & Night with THE WOLF & Friends

    Le Bain brings out one of Brooklyn's best underground duos The Wolf (a.k.a. Wolf+Lamb) to celebrate 'Murica. The event also features DJ Ahmed Hashim, along with a mysterious "& Friends," to be announced later.
    Le Bain at The Standard, 444 W 13th St., Manhattan; 10pm-4am

    The Liberty Belle Extravaganza 2014
    Jump back in time at this vintage celebration with burlesque and vaudeville performances by Gal Friday, Hazel Honeysuckle, Maine Attraction, Elle Dorado and Albert Cadabra, along with live swing, jazz, and country music by Gelber & Manning and the Star Spangled Orchestra, Dandy Wellington and his Band, The Grand Street Stompers, and Jack Grace Brand. The rooftop party will be hosted by Mr.Dandy Wellington, and has sold out every year, so advance tickets are recommended. It'll be like Frontierland at Disney World but with more booze.
    Level R at Empire Hotel, 44 W 63rd St., Manhattan; 5pm-11pm. Tickets HERE

    Coney Island Fireworks Show
    The annual Coney Island spectacle will take place right off the beach with the best viewing coming from the Boardwalk on West 10-12th streets, the Steeplechase Pier, or even the Wonder Wheel, if you're feel like being a bit higher up.
    Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk near Steeplechase Pier, Brooklyn; 9:45pm

    11:11
    Toast the stars and stripes with Ladyfag while dancing to the sounds of DJ Sveta, Honey Dijon, Michael Magnan and special guest, Mess Kid. "Eleven Eleven" is free before midnight, so get there early and buy Amanda Lepore a drink.
    244 East Houston St., Manhattan; 11pm-4am. $5 after midnight

    Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest
    The summer equivalent to Thanksgiving, the annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest is back for the 2014 season, and expectations are high. A select few will come together to gorge themselves on wieners and buns for a full ten minutes -- last year's winner, Joey Chestnut, broke a world record by gorging on 69 of 'em. Before the event, you can also catch some live entertainment with performances by the rapper Eric "Badlands" Booker and other local artists. The contest and entertainment is free to watch.
    1310 Surf Ave (at Stillwell Ave), Coney Island, Brooklyn; Noon

    Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
    The Macy's celebration is back in Brooklyn for the first time in five years, holding the show live from the East River, using the Brooklyn Bridge as a backdrop. This year, the annual event is celebrating the 200th anniversary of "The Star Spangled Banner" with a 25-minute musical score featuring some of America's greatest vocal chords like Idina Menzel, who will be accompanied by the DIVA Jazz Orchestra and Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA. Other performers include Enrique Iglesias, Ariana Grande, the Zac Brown Band, and more, all hosted by Nick Cannon. You can watch the free event in person, or via live streaming on NBC.
    Public viewing sections on selected parts of FDR Drive; 8pm

    Zebra Katz at Rockaway Beach Surf Club
    Rockaway Beach Surf Club is hosting a sandy soiree complete with water guns, fireworks and a piñata for the 4th of July. Come for performances by rapper Zebra Katz, punk group Sunshine Gun Club, hip-hop collective Kin2KY and atmospheric crew Nuraxi -- all from New York. Cool off with free Ciao Bella Gelato.
    302 Beach 87th St., Queens; 2pm. Free.

    Second Annual Fourth of July Beach Party
    The party's starting off early in Coney Island this year, with a huge beach event. Hosted by Salsa Salsa & Friends, the bash will feature music by DJ John John & DJ Wally, lots of day drinking, and the potential for a mid-afternoon nap in the sun before the fireworks start.
    Coney Island (right side of the pier), Brooklyn; Noon-Midnight

    Leave Rochelle Out Of It
    On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, newish LES whiskey den Leave Rochelle Out Of It will be hosting backyard barbecues to celebrate America, the World Cup, and the three-day weekend. Expect to find beerpong,Tullamore Dew Whiskey slushies and hotdogs. 
    Leave Rochelle Out Of It, 205 Chrystie St., Manhattan; 12pm-4am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

    Wasabassco at City Winery
    When the fireworks show ends but the need for explosive sparkles lingers on, the only thing to do is go see a striptease burlesque show and drink a glass of wine...to honor our forefathers of course. Doc Wasabassco, the "Kingpin of Burlesque," is bringing his crew of acclaimed cabaret dancers to City Winery in the West Village, and if that's not enough, you can join the pre-party at 7pm at the Brooklyn Bell House, where the ladies of the night twirl their tassles as you gorge on barbecue and beer. 
    City Winery, 144 Varick St; Doors open at 10:45pm. Tickets HERE.

    Sonny's Soda Shoppe at the Mondrian Soho
    Upgrade your beer slushy and hot dogs to Laboratorio gelato, Peroni beer, free Rosé, and Italian sausages, courtesy of Sonny's, while watching the fireworks from underneath a striped umbrella. Access to the highest party in NYC is $175, and well worth it.
    Mondrian Soho, 9 Crosby Street; 6pm-midnight

    Saturday, July 5

    Tiki Disco
    Head to the roof at Output for good tunes (by Tiki stalwarts Lloydski, Andy Pry and Eli Escobar), good drinks and good vibes.
    Output, 74 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn; 2pm-10pm. $10.

    High North at Cameo
    If you're looking to let off some steam Saturday night, Brooklyn's Cameo Gallery will be hosting an aggressive evening of psychedelic rock featuring Brachiosaurus, Giancarlo Bracchi and headliners High North. With band names that all sound like deadly diseases, it's guaranteed to be an interesting night.
    Cameo Gallery, 93 N. 6th St., Brooklyn; 8pm. $10.

    "Be Cute" at One Last Shag
    One Last Shag's monthly "Be Cute" booty bounce is back. The gay dance party will feature a killer DJ set by Brooklyn drag queen -- and Friend of Paper -- Horrorchata.
    One Last Shag, 348 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn; 10pm. Free.

    Sunday, July 6

    Jaws at Nitehawk Cinema
    Nitehawk will be screening an array of all-American films for the 4th of July, including the Steven Spielberg classic, "Jaws." See it on the big screen like it's 1975 because nothing screams "celebrate" quite like a film about a monstrous man-eating shark. We're serious.
    Nitehawk Cinema, 136 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn; 11:45am. $11.

    Topshop x Playland Summer Sundays
    In collaboration with Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach, Topshop will be launching a weekly Summer Music series starting this Sunday to continue through August 31st. Wrap up your weekend with DJ sets by Neon Indian and Liv Spencer, and a "Selfie Zone" that allows you to enter to win a $500 shopping spree at their Soho boutique.
    Playland Motel, 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd; 4pm-9:30pm

    FRAME at Glasslands
    Brooklyn singer-songwriter FRAME will descend upon Glasslands Gallery with an evening of emotional -- but sophisticated -- pop. Openers include Montreal's How Sad and Wake Island, but be sure to catch Dream Arcade, who's music sounds like The Get Up Kids if they were asked to make The Breakfast Club soundtrack.
    Glasslands Gallery, 289 Kent Ave., Brooklyn; 8:30pm. $10


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    We're excited to be premiering a new video for "Oxygen" by up-and-coming 'alterna-pop' trio Grand Cousin. The New York-based threesome, comprised of Evan Low, Robert Caplan and Henry Hall (son of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall), met as freshmen at Wesleyan and the recent grads have been jamming together in the four years since. "We tend to describe our music as alternative pop," Low says. "We want to achieve that same effect that pop music has when you get that good feeling after listening to it but we want to achieve that through alternative forms of music arrangements."

    To that end, the band's newest video, "Oxygen," packs good vibes courtesy of hazy surf pop and a storyline involving an octogenarian swimmer pretending to drown so he can get the pretty lifeguard on duty to perform mouth-to-mouth on him. Directed by Jack Coyne and Sidney Schleiff, the clip also features some fun underwater shots of the three members clowning around. "We had been talking about incorporating an old man in the video one way or another," Hall says of the idea. "We were thinking of featuring an old man going to a party and being the most popular guy there but ultimately it was Sidney [Schleiff] who came up with the idea of having him fake drown so he could get mouth-to-mouth from the lifeguard. The actor is actually a family friend of mine, Ron Crawford. He's an epic guy."

    Watch the video, above, and be sure to check out the band's forthcoming self-titled EP, out July 15th.

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    Our girl Lindsay Lohan has worn many different hats throughout her career, but her most important feat to date was a brief stint as a musician, releasing two albums that should've garnered way more attention than they ever did. Her debut album, Speak, and killer follow-up, A Little More Personal (Raw), were both guilty pleasures that really brought us through the motions. Whether we felt dirty, dancing in front of our bedroom mirror to the club anthem "Rumors," or bawled for hours, blasting the tell-all track "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)," Lindsay really appeased our emotional teenage years. In celebration of her 28th birthday yesterday, we've ranked our top five music videos from Lindsay's distant days of being a pop star in descending order. We're still waiting for that third album, Lindsay.
     


    5. "Over"
    In the video for angry rock-pop track "Over," Lindsay stares at a neighbor boy from her bedroom window, wears too much black eye makeup, hooks up with said boy in a random trailer and cries... a lot. This video has a completely over-the-top dramatic ending with Lindsay doing donuts with the neighbor boy in a vintage car (amazing), only to be interrupted by his abusive father. Lindsay cries more, breaks through a window with her heel and shatters a lamp on the ground. Yes, Lindsay, yes. We love it when you're angry.



    4. "First"

    The video for "First" came out at the height of Lindsay's paparazzi heyday, when everyone was up in arms about her shocking platinum hair and frail figure. Way before Miley Cyrus was ferociously twerking to shed her Disney reputation, there was Lindsay taking on a sexier, edgier persona with the same intention.  Watch Lindsay rock out in the middle of a race track, wearing a signature 2005 look -- we're pretty sure you could find those sunglasses in any 7-Eleven now, but back then she was so on-point.
     


    3. "Drama Queen (That Girl)
    This was a classic Lindsay moment for her 2004 flick Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, highlighting her fresh-faced days before she was of-age to legally enter a club. In the video, Lindsay works through four life-altering outfit changes -- the first look features low-rise baggy cargo pants (very 2004); in the second, she rocks an A-line dress that looks like a cat destroyed the hemline; the third ensemble seems to come straight from Missy Elliott's closet, and the last is all-American with a white tank top and jeans. Lindsay is very versatile.

     


    2. "Rumors"
    When is the last time you fled a club from a helicopter on the roof? This video looks like an episode of Law & Order: SVU, featuring Lindsay scaling the walls of a club, throwing herself around a cage and killing some sexy choreography on a rooftop. Everything that's been released after this video is basically irrelevant -- it's that amazing.
     


    1. "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)"
    Lindsay really pulled all the stops with this video, which dramatically sheds light on her turbulent childhood.  A young Lindsay -- played by Ali Lohan -- listens to her parents ferociously fight in the living room, while crowds of people watch and photograph the entire scene from the street. "I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders," moans Lindsay, crawling around the bathroom floor in a jeweled ball gown wearing pounds of black eye makeup. She throws a lot of things across the room, sheds pools of tears and grabs her hair incessantly. It doesn't get more intense than this.
     


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    Kevin Shea Adams White Lung-5739.jpg(L-R): Heather Fortune, Mish Way, Kenneth Willam and Anne-Marie Vassiliou

    Scraping myself off the floor at Dicken's Pub in Calgary after White Lung had just dropped the most lightning performance at this year's Sled Island music festival (more photos over here), I knew I needed to hit a Tim Horton's quick, grab some donuts, and write some really good interview questions. Back at White Lung's hotel, I took some photos and talked with the band's singer Mish Way about donuts, death and boredom.


    Kevin Shea Adams White Lung-5681.jpgDescribe your ideal donut on the inside and on the outside. 
    Crispy outside with honey glaze, soft inside. The best donuts are from Honey's in Deep Cove.

    Kevin Shea Adams White Lung-5712.jpgKevin Shea Adams White Lung-5936.jpg
    What are your general thoughts on boredom? 
    Boredom is the place your sex appeal goes to die. Where confidence is ugly. Boredom can be a new start. It can be OK.

    Do you want to be buried or cremated?
    I would prefer to be fucked into oblivion.

    Kevin Shea Adams White Lung-5918.jpgGreen is the best color for obvious and scientifically verifiable reasons.  Is your favorite color green?
    Green is not my favorite color. Men love green. Why is that? I never wear it or use it in my home. Colors aren't something to like or love or anything. They just are. But I don't want green walls in my living room.
     
    Kevin Shea Adams White Lung-5714.jpgThe other night the crowd asked you to show them your tits -- how does that makes Kenneth feel? 
    It probably makes him feel left out.

    If Kenneth were an emoji which one would he be?
    Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 3.54.21 PM.png

    Do you think technology is bringing us closer together or further apart? 
    Closer together through our phones. We like to sit in a room texting and tweeting not talking. Technology is bringing silence.

    Do you believe in the afterlife? 
    I'll let you know if hell exists once Satan fucks all the good out of me.

    _MG_4827.jpg


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    world cup bracket1000px-10.jpg
    The playing field has now been whittled down to 16 studs. Scroll down to see who will clinch their group title (Best Williamsburg haircut, anyone?) and advance to the round of eight.

    CLICK HERE TO OGLE THE ENTIRE COMPETITIVE FIELD AND SEE WHO WAS PREVIOUSLY ELIMINATED.

    world cup bracket-03.jpg
    Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.33.17 PM.png
    Mario Yepes (Defender for Colombia) vs. Graham Zusi (Midfielder for U.S.)

    The Match: Graham gets bonus style points for the headband and for the fact that he always plays with his hair up in a fun and festive bun. Then again, as we've said before, we can never get enough of Mario's 'stripper Jesus' vibe...

    Winner: Graham.
    world cup bracket-06.jpgScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.32.54 PM.png
    Glen Johnson (Defender for England) vs. Jerry Bengtson (Forward for Honduras)

    The Match: Glen is the first man we've ever been attracted to whose name is Glen. Same for Jerry.

    Winner: Glen.
    (C'mon.)world cup bracket-07.jpg
    Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 5.01.41 PM.pngCristiano Ronaldo (Forward for Portugal) vs. Eduardo (Forward for Croatia)

    The Match: Both these dudes look like the types who would send unsolicited dick pics but, still, Eduardo at least doesn't have a look straight from the garbage bins of 2004. (And besides, we're still a little bitter about that Portugal game.)

    Winner: Eduardo.
    world cup bracket-02.jpgScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.33.42 PM.png
    Carl Medjani (Defender for Algeria) vs. Claudio Marchisio (Midfielder for Italy)

    The Match: Carl's cheekbones just don't quit but Claudio's eyes are like the crystalline teardrops of angels.

    Winner: Claudio.
    world cup bracket-05.jpgScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.31.18 PM.png
    Ehsan Hajsafi (Midfielder for Iran) vs. Gabriel Achilier (Defender for Ecuador)

    The Match: Though he's had questionable facial hair and wears sunglasses on airplanes, there's something about Gabriel that speaks to us.

    Winner: Gabriel.
    world cup bracket-04.jpg
    Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 5.03.28 PM.pngFrancisco Rodriguez (Defender for Mexico) vs. Robin Van Persie (Forward for the Netherlands)

    The Match: When there's a silver fox in the mix, ain't nobody got a chance. Team Salt 'n' Pepa.

    Winner: Robin.
    world cup bracket-08.jpgScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.32.04 PM.png
    Panagiotis Kone (Midfielder for Greece) vs. Tino Sven Susic (Midfielder for Bosnia and Herzegovina)

    The Match: Tino's a boy next door but Panagiotis is a MAN next door. You know what we mean.

    Winner: Panagiotis.
    world cup bracket-09.jpgScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.32.25 PM.png
    Manuel Neuer (Goalkeeper for Germany) vs. Park Chu-young (Forward for Korea)

    The Match: We love a baby face like Manuel's but there's something about him that makes he think he has a pair of 'dress Rainbow flip flops.' We're not about that life.

    Winner: Park.

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    Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 2.43.40 PM.png[Photo via Instagram]

    Future has a new song featuring Nicki Minaj and George Michael -- say whaaa? Well, not exactly, but his just-released track, "Rock Star," does sample (but totally chop up) some jazz sax from Michael's "Careless Whisper." It's because of the sample -- and attendant clearance issues -- that the song wasn't included on the rapper's LP, Honest. Listen to the autotune-and-drum machine-laced song, below, and get those sun roofs open ASAP.



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    I'll admit it: I'm a psycho Britney Spears fan. I used to call her assistant (thanks Yahoo! phone book) every Christmas Eve because I figured it was the only time she'd not be on a Britney world tour and might be willing to say hello to me. Her assistant would hang up immediately. I once regretfully hooked up with her disgusting hair colorist. When I was a tween, her sound guy told me to "shut the fuck up or move!" because of my gay squealing at her concert. I've experienced horror and have sacrificed lots of dignity for Britney. And I'm not going anywhere!

    That said, I feel comfortable in saying that Britney Spears' fans (aka the #BritneyArmy) are very delusional. (Some might prefer "loyal," but whatever.) True Brit Brit fans refer to her as "Godney," or -- my personal favorite -- The Holy Spearit. We tweet things like, "If Britney can survive 2007, I can survive today!" Additionally, when Britney executes a decent hair whip, she's Whipney; when she turns the mic on for two seconds, she's Vocalney; when she rocks a turtleneck complete with a Starbucks coffee stain, she's Realney. You get the picture.

    Regardless of my recent Britney tattoo (a scribbly heart on my bicep copied from the Britney Jean album cover art), I'm a grown-ass 27-year-old who can admit when Britney fucks up.  Which brings me to the leaked autotune-free vocals of "Alien," track number one from Britney Jean. It's all over the web and haters are majorly hating. (Meanwhile, the Southern belle remains unfuckwithable, shopping yesterday at Bed, Bath, & Beyond whilst rocking a straw hat, blue aviators and a halter top with a big ribbon centerpiece, so take that.)

    But, yes, the vocals are pretty side-eye-inducing. I mean, she does hit the high notes albeit with pinched vocals, but it's the many moments she goes flat that hurt my heart a bit. The song's producer, William Orbit, came to the Holy Spearit's defense on Facebook, saying that she was just warming up. Old me would defend Britney hardcore here, and list the many moments her vocals were amazing and unmatched in pop music, but I won't. (Feel free to DM me.) Instead, I'd like to direct your ears to another leaked, auto-tune free gem: It's Brit recording the immaculate banger known as "Break The Ice" from her game-changing Blackout album circa 2007 (think: Britney buzz cut). It features Godney chewing ice while recording a song about ice (according to one YouTube commenter, Britney was pregnant at the time and craving ice). Please take note of her vocal diversity -- one take showcases Britney's thunderous natural register, another her classic helium-ish baby doll vocals. In other words, it's #Slayney.


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    Whenever someone starts screeching "How can you not have [so-and-so]? You have to get it!" I start yelling back, "No, I don't. But you have to get out of my face!" Here are the 10 supposed essentials that one could easily live without.

    HBO_logo_635.jpgPremium channels
    "You have to have HBO" sounded the cry in the 1990s and beyond, when life without Sex and the City or The Sopranos seemed absolutely unthinkable. But the more people screamed that into my ear, the more resolutely I stuck to my guns and simply stayed with basic cable. It helped that as a press person, I sometimes got invited to season premiere events for those shows, so I saw those episodes, complete with a free buffet. But there was also the chance to see them at friends' houses, or to not see them at all. Either way, I didn't see the urgency. And I lived!

    kb100053_003.jpgDVR
    Again, it is not at all essential to have this feature. I don't need to ask my set for everything with Sandra Bullock that will air and then proceed to obsessively tape every one of them. I can just play it by ear! And believe it or not, I have an old-school combination VCR/DVD payer, which can tape things off the tube when I feel the urge. It still works, and as a result, I save at least, um, six bucks a month.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 4.17.55 PM.pngAn iPhone
    I have no idea what features this thing is capable of, but I'm sure it's absolutely marvelous. I'm also certain, however, that I can keep going with my old flip cell phone and manage to get by! No, I don't even have Internet on it, but I can wait till I get home to get my emails--and besides, I can ultimately get Internet on it if I so decide. The result of my delightfully spare contraption is the cheapest cell phone bill in the world--in fact, the cheapest any kind of bill. And I'm fine, thank you.

    Fuerza-Bruta-2-816x1024.jpgTickets to the latest interactive show
    "You have to see Tony n' Tina's Wedding, Sleep No More, and Fuerza Bruta" drone the theater nightmares, as if it's illegal to avoid these "must-see" immersive experiences. The reality is, I like to just sit down and be entertained, OK? I don't want actors pulling me down a hallway to spout inanities, water-filled balloons dropping on me from the ceiling, or scenes moving around, forcing me to make a decision as to which way to go. Faced with that quandary, I will go to the exit. And funny, there's plenty of other theater I'm able to enjoy without submitting to the interactive-psychodrama tyranny. Leave me alone!

    LB336S_frequent-flyer-t.jpgImage via


    Frequent flyer miles
    I have no use for them! Because I don't travel!

    popular-credit-cards.jpgMultiple credit cards
    People that have a whole deck of these often have an abusive spirit towards them, like bad parents who insist on having more and more kids. They obviously need to pile on cards to distract from the rather unsavory debt they're building on the first few. One good credit card should suffice. Stick to it, enjoy it, don't overdo it, and make sure you pay it off.

    ari-gold-1024.jpgAn agent
    These people can get you deals, but they want money for that! And sometimes they can't even get you deals -- they just want to mooch off the jobs you've gotten for yourself. One book agent once wanted me to sign something saying he'd get a percentage of all my earnings, whether he got the jobs for me or not. That sheet of paper got ripped up quickly, as I threatened to head elsewhere. By the time my last several books came around, I made the deals myself, finding I was savvy enough to work out the details (after doing some research) while clutching onto every penny instead of my pearls.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 4.30.29 PM.pngA pet
    When my turtle turned to soup, I became a rather traumatized Brooklyn child. It took me many years before I could break down and buy a bowl of fish, but when they started transitioning too, I vowed to stay away from animal roommates. They're so disappointing! Besides, the upkeep can be expensive and intrusive, especially when you have an actual life. "But they love you unconditionally," sound the cries of people urging you to get a dog, cat, or hamster. Yeah, because they're waiting for you to feed them!

    go-vegan.pngA vegan diet
    In my family, people eat meatballs, sausage, ziti, mozzarella and chocolate eclairs 24 hours a day and they live well into their 90s. You want to eat kale? Fine, enjoy.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 4.36.36 PM.png

    A spouse
    With gay marriage approved in New York State, it's made me more and more of an outcast as a confirmed bachelor for life. But it's OK! It's legal to get married, but it's not illegal to not get married. Get hitched if you want to, but allow me the pleasure of my distinctly singular state. In fact, you're all invited to the noncommitment ceremony.









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    Canadian artist, filmmaker and sexual provocateur Bruce LaBruce has a new photography exhibit opening tomorrow at The Hole Gallery where he'll also debut his "Obscenity" fragrance.  LaBruce, who's famous (or infamous) for blurring the space between art and queer pornography, aims to examine both "sexual and religious ecstasy" in his new show. According to The Hole's statement, both the exhibit and the fragrance represent LaBruce's exploration of the idea of obscenity, his extraction of the embedded word "scent," and his rejection of "obscene" as a denouncement. It's his second show at The Hole since his "bloodied x-rated zombie extravaganza" in 2012 and, judging by these preview images, it's sure to be just as fun.

    BLAB_Parfum_Ad_120x60_12_140702.jpg
    BLAB_Parfum_Ad_120x60_01_140702.jpg


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    "All the Rage Back Home," the lead single off of Interpol's upcoming album El Pintor and a song we've had in stead rotation this summer, creeps along slowly before exploding into a post-punk earworm. The black and white video, directed Banks and Sophia Peer, features a lone surfer  riding huge waves crashing in slow motion. (Fingers crossed that the surfer is really mid-aughts NYC heartthrob and former Interpol bassist Carlos D.) El Pintor, the band's first album in five years, comes out September 9th.

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    This promo for 'Bounce by the Ounce,' a club night somewhere in the UK, is the best thing the Internet has dredged up all week (even though the guy at the 1:42 mark is most definitely gonna give us nightmares). [Vice via Gawker]

    tumblr_n6y4ydCxIT1s7x8zro2_500.pngThursday motto. [via Tall Whitney]

    tumblr_n8ddcyZj2B1qe0wclo1_500.png
    Genius. [via The Clearly Dope]



    Two parents try to surprise their kids with a trip to Disney World and...things don't quite work out how they had imagined. [via Tastefully Offensive]



    This tiny hedgehog's birthday party = heart explosion. [via HuffPo Comedy]

    tumblr_lzs54f2TO41r02qqfo1_500.jpgSnoop Doll just spending some quality time with some lemons. [via F You No F Me]

    tumblr_mwn9qyNLK31rhd0aco1_500.gifNever forget. [via Coin Farts]


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  • 07/10/14--09:30: Anna Lunoe Goes "All Out"
  • Australian house producer and singer Anna Lunoe first stepped on the scene in 2006 and, in the years since, has caught the eyes of everyone from Diplo to Steve Aoki and his Dim Mak crew with her cotton candy voice and pulsating bass layers. She has a new video out for her recently-released track, "All Out" (via Ultra Music), a collaboration with director @LILINTERNET, who's previously directed Beyoncé's "No Angel" video and produced Azealia Banks' "Yung Rapunxel" track. In the clip, we see Anna living the DJ life in-between LA and Miami and, like the song itself, the video stands somewhere comfortably between glitzy and breezy, mixing the languid LA beach landscape with neon and fluorescent-speckled club scenes. Keep an eye out for a new Anna Lunoe EP later this year and catch her when she plays Brooklyn's Verboten on August 1st.

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    With the Internet abuzz over James Franco's new collection of poetry, "Directing Herbert White," published earlier this week, we got to thinking: has this happened before? Have celebs been penning their experiences in Moleskine notebooks between red carpet premieres and rehab all along? Below, we've collected some of our favorite prose from Hollywood's finest, which all answer this question with a resounding yes, yes they have.

    6349105298321925001142856_23_Road1_20121213_JIC_012.JPG(Photo by Jimi Celeste/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Kristen Stewart
    Not only can Kristen Stewart grimace and silently face-judge her way through a movie, but she can also write really weird poetry. In an interview with Marie Claire for her March 2014 cover, she read one of her poems, "My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole," aloud and gave them permission to publish the verses in the issue. After numerous readings, we can honestly say we have no idea what this is about -- and what does "strafe" even mean?

    Excerpt from "My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole," by Kristen Stewart
    "I reared digital moonlight/
    You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black/
    Kismetly...ubiquitously crest fallen/
    Thrown down to strafe your foothills/
    ...I'll suck the bones pretty.

    Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps/
    Spray painted everything known to man/
    Stream rushed through and all out into/
    Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck/
    Through our windows boarded up/
    He hit your flint face and it sparked." [via]

    6343403149145825008236320_11_SSomers_022211_170.JPG(Photo by Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Suzanne Somers
    In her book of collected poems, "Touch Me," published in 1980, the Three's Company and Step by Step actress writes about exactly what you think she would be writing about: that time she wore her green sweater, wanting to be touched (and likewise, to do some touching), and how she'll probably have an affair with the house boy -- but only probably. In this poem, "Beautiful Girls," Somers tells us just how hard being the most attractive person at the party is -- it's a sentiment we don't all relate to, mainly because she tells us so.

    "Beautiful Girls" by Suzanne Somers
    "There are rules
        For beautiful girls to abide by:
    You must notice other women
        Or you're a snob
    And you must let their men alone
        Because every worthwhile man
            Belongs to someone.
    So men stand back
        In deference to their wives
    And women stand back
        To watch their husbands
    And only bores step forward
        To tell interminable tales
        And get so close
        And so enthusiastic
    That little spitballs fleck your nose.
    And even the single guys
        Who look special and exciting
        Stand back and give way to the bores
    Figuring that a girl as beautiful as you are
        Certainly wouldn't have any free time.
    But you do-lots of it-
        Because there are rules-lots of rules-
    For beautiful girls." [via]

    6345134106452725001138545_4_CSheen_091011_012.JPG(Photo by Brian Lindensmith/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Charlie Sheen
    In the early '90s, while his tiger blood was flowing young and strong, Sheen self-published a book of poems, "A Peace Of My Mind," and distributed copies to close friends. In this poem, "I.D. Blues," he basically has crowds of people trying to talk to him during dinner, freaks out, and reveals that he's a dead past president. We can't make this stuff up.

    "I.D. Blues" by Charlie Sheen
    "'Excuse me, aren't you...?'
    'Hey, you look just like...'
    'Oh my God, that's...'
    'Sorry to interrupt your dinner, but aren't you...'
    'Look, I never do this, but, my wife thinks you're...'
    'My friend is so convinced that you're...'
    'I'm so embarrassed, but, aren't you...?'
    'I know you must be tired of this, but...'
    'WAIT!!'
    All eyes held in stare, all mouths locked open in shock, as he pulled the latex Charlie Sheen mask from his head, revealing the rotted skull of President Lincoln." [via]

    634699710011791250540659_1_StellaMcCartney_20120413_006.JPG(Photo by Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Pamela Anderson
    In Playboy's January 2011 issue, Pamela Anderson was gracing the cover -- and centerfold -- with her various attributes for the 13th time, but for this go-round, she wanted to offer the viewers -- ahem, readers -- something more: poetry. In a poem called "Musings From The Bed Of Pamela," Anderson literally just...muses. We're assuming on a bed. There is really no other way to explain this.

    Excerpt from "Musings From The Bed Of Pamela," by Pamela Anderson
    "The youth...The wild that rose up from the ashes. The adults...Living and dead that fought for our rights...Artists...Sweet artists...Hold on...Crazy, the world goes on...And goes..." [via]

    6353441835458200002447026_34_AOLN1_20140429_JIC_025.JPG(Photo by Jimi Celeste/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    James Franco
    James Franco has proven to us once again that you can be ridiculously good-looking and still act like that weird kid in middle school that ate glue and laughed to himself in the back of the classroom. In his latest book of poems, "Directing Herbert White," Franco writes about all kinds of stuff, but our favorite might be this excerpt featuring River Phoenix talking to Franco from the afterlife. Is this his way of trolling us, or is he actually serious? Either way, we're still madly in love with him.

    Excerpt from "Directing Herbert White," by James Franco
    "I died at age 23, ten years before your age now
    James, you're the Jesus age." [via]

    635157550239807500045179_3_ROSIE_20130925_PB_001.JPG(Photo by Paul Bruinooge/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Rosie O'Donnell
    Celebrities are people, too. So when Rosie O'Donnell writes personal poetry on her blog, we shouldn't be weirded out or anything, right? Her poems include verses about pretty regular things like butterflies, being together with her kids in their Florida house and seeing dolphins. The best part? It's written in early 2000s AIM talk. It'll leave you reminiscing about the days of dial-up and wondering why exactly she decided to upload this to the Internet.

    Excerpt from Butterflies, by Rosie O'Donnell
    "...mish and i ate with r new neighbors
    bob and rita
    sincere silly saintly seniors
    who make me yearn for parents

    ones who kiss me goodnight
    with a twinkle in their eye
    that says i love u
    without having to..." [via]

    635106339301001250844652_30_SMURF_20130728_AB_0009.JPG(Photo by Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Britney Spears
    Britney Spears was having a rough go of it in the mid-2000s, and as if all the paparazzi coverage wasn't enough, she decided to tell the world about all her problems through poetry. Spears posted a poem about her then-husband Kevin Federline to her official website, called "Remembrance Of Who I Am," where she talks about how Federline has poisoned her, practiced voodoo on her, and tried to steal a crown from her?! The disclaimer at the end, "This is for everyone who thinks they know me...", reminds us of the old Britney we knew and loved, circa "Oops, I Did It Again." #SLAYNEY 4 LYFE.

    Excerpt from "Remembrance Of Who I Am," by Britney Spears
    "...The guilt you fed me
    Made me weak.
    The voodoo you did
    I couldn't speak.

    You're awakening
    The phone is ringing.
    Resurrection of my soul
    The fear I'm bringing.

    What will you say
    And what will you do?
    She's not the same person that you're used to.

    You trick me one, twice, now it's three.
    Look who's smiling now
    Damn, it's good to be me!" [via]

    6353328778167687505246852_41_NOAH1_20140326_JIC_053.JPG(Photo by Jimi Celeste/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Russell Crowe
    For his BAFTA appearance in 2002, Russell Crowe recited a few verses, and at the 2009 Empire film awards, he did it all over again when accepting the "Actor of our Lifetime" award. The poem takes lines from other famous works, and seems to be his way of giving advice to the crowd while at the same time talking about what a poet he is.

    "I am celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo.

    Imagine there's no heaven.

    I don't know if you're loving somebody. To be a poet and not know the trade, to be a lover and repel all women. Twin ironies by which great saints are made, the agonising pincer-jaws of heaven.

    If you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue, walk with kings but not lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much;

    yours is the earth and everything that's in it and what's more, you'll be a man.

    It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your breath away." [via]

    634518587917371250138738_51_ATamblyn_091611_017.JPG(Photo by David Crotty/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Amber Tamblyn
    Amber Tamblyn, the creative-yet-misunderstood one in our favorite pre-pubescent movie, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, is actually just as artsy-fartsy in real life, having published two books of poetry and co-founding the nonprofit Write Now Poetry Society. Yeah, we had no idea either. In the poem "Laurel Gene," Tamblyn talks about what it's like to be a star that isn't in the spotlight anymore, and damn, it's actually pretty good.

    Excerpt from "Laurel Gene" by Amber Tamblyn
    "...When I vacuum I think of Ingmar Bergman
    fucking me from behind. I open
    like the palms of Julius Caesar to a crowd.
    Men used to rearrange their months to fit my seasons.

     I suck a finger then the caldron in his tip.
    He films my apron sticking to the sweat.
    Makes this bad heart a pulse from the sky.
    I am a distant explosion of myself again. A star." [via]

    6348249236155662503841718_21_STYLE_OMH_20120905_039.JPG(Photo by Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Ed Westwick
    Who would've thought Chuck Bass had a sensitive side? In an interview with People Magazine back in 2008, the actor decided to share some memorized verses that he says he wrote at "like six in the morning," about someone in a dress. Although he claims the poem doesn't mean anything, we know Blair must've had something to do with it.

    "Tell me what you want?
    You've got it all.
    Things are real in a handshake.
    Rest my bones these days in a different way.
    Cherish the change; it may not stay.
     I remember your dress,
    Like dreams when you wake with a sudden start.
    You're beside me in the dark,
    Wrapped in my arms.
    Love is being entranced in a glance,
    To muster up courage when you're flustered,
    To stumble on the words you prepare.
    Don't worry about the money that went down the drain
    Because the best things in life are free." [via]

    6337674315374300008129604_33_lnimoy_043009_02.JPG(Photo by Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Leonard Nimoy
    Leonard Nimoy is way more emotional than his Vulcan counterpart -- the actor has published a few collections of super sappy poetry and in our personal fave -- "You Fill Me With Your Love" -- Nimoy tells us exactly what he's filled with. Ooookay.

    "You Fill Me With Your Love," By Leonard Nimoy
    "You fill me
    With your love
    You fill me

    With your caring
    You fill me
    With your thoughts

    You fill me
    With your sharing" [via]

    635374391270636732147340_47_PAU_6178.JPG(Photo by Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Alicia Keys
    It's no surprise that Alicia Keys has released her own book of poems and lyrics, "Tears for Water," or that she's participated in Def poetry -- and kills it, if we do say so. In her performance of "P.O.W.," Keys tells us how she's stayed silent for too long, and we can't help but remember her fedora-donning days and think: really? We love your soul-bearing regardless Alicia (and those boots).
     
    "P.O.W." by Alicia Keys, Def Poetry Performance
     
    [via]

    6349609470314837793343173_3_PreGrammyGala_20130209_090.JPG(Photo by Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Ashanti
    Our favorite Ja Rule collaborator, Ashanti, published a book of poems called "Foolish/Unfoolish: Reflections on Love" in the early 2000s, complete with a close-up cover of her laying in bed and all. The poem "Three-Way" is probably our favorite, simply because it features a three-way call to find out if her boyfriend's been cheating and has the word "conversatin." This is millennium-era gold.

    Excerpt from "Three-Way" by Ashanti
    "...I gave you a call
    to see exactly what you'd say
    You said, 'Girl you know I'm not lyin!'
    Good, lets call her on three-way

    Now stay on the line
    We've gotta end this today
    When she picks up the phone
    Talk like nothings wrong

    Now I've got you on three-way." [via]

    634410270609687500537423_0_ASheedy3_051411.JPG(Photo by Leandro Justen/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    Ally Sheedy
    Ally Sheedy has been making art since even before she enthusiastically scratched dandruff out of her hair and onto a drawing. While in rehab for an addiction to sleeping pills, she wrote a book of poems, "Yesterday I Saw The Sun," which is surprisingly not bad. In her poem, "New Jersey," Sheedy seems to be stuck in a dream -- at least there 's a jet-ski.

    Excerpt from "New Jersey," by Ally Sheedy
    "Silver Lake
    float away my dreams
    slicing through your waters
    in a conscious jet-ski stream
    rolling toward your ocean
    on the swells of movie themes
    my mind has come apart
    finding liberation in extremes" [via]


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  • 07/10/14--12:00: Why Ja Rule Is Underrated
  • JRule_031408_2.JPG(Photo by Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com)

    For one night in May, it was 2004 all over again.

    Several weeks ago, I watched Ja Rule hit the comeback trail at the House of Blues in Boston. Pulling from his best material, he performed all the hits -- everything from his Ashanti period ("Always on Time," "Mesmerize") to his J. Lo period ("I'm Real," "Ain't It Funny"). He even sang a few bars from "Rainy Dayz."

    For those in the audience looking to recapture the glory days of their high school dances, the former Murder Inc. star did not disappoint. Though the rapper certainly knew his millennial audience and packed his set with throwback hits, the experience left little doubt in my mind: Ja Rule, a once-admired figure in the hip-hop world whose name would become a punchline in the mid-to-late aughts, is one of music's unsung pioneers, a multi-talented artist whose distinct brand of mass appeal set the mold for many of today's rappers and pop stars alike.

    It's been a long decade for Mr. Rule, whose new memoir, Unruly, came out last week. But on that night, it was like no time had elapsed. When Ja was at the forefront of the pop-rap universe, he was a bona fide hit maker -- from 1998-2004, he was featured on the Billboard Hot 100 nineteen times. It seemed mainstream music would forever feature a gravelly voiced rapper half singing rhymes about love and street coda, with the occasional guttural "It's Murdahhh."

    Then, just like that, it stopped. Feuds with then-immensely popular 50 Cent and Shady Records initially shot Ja across his bow, severing his street credentials and undercutting his popular appeal. Next, Murder Inc. nearly disbanded under federal investigation for racketeering charges. Ja himself would eventually spend several years in prison for attempted illegal gun possession and tax evasion.

    It's been a decade since he released an album that topped the charts. His most recent effort, 2012's Pain Is Love 2, peaked on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart at #197, a full 190 spots worse than 2004's R.U.L.E., which peaked at #7, and a big contrast to its prequel, Pain Is Love, which peaked at #1 when it came out in 2001. In those ten years, the cultural gods have not been kind to Ja. As Eminem spat in his vicious 2003 diss track "Bump Heads," there are many in the hip-hop game who see the rapper as an ecstasy-addicted poseur, a poor man's 2pac. His once ubiquitous popularity is something many look back on with a mixture of fondness and slight embarrassment (kind of how some remember, say, their love of Full House). As critic Nathan Rabin put it in a review for A.V. Club, at his best Ja was always nothing but an irresistible pop star "whose ideal medium is the three-minute single, the guilty pleasure that sounds terrific in clubs or booming out of passing cars, but doesn't inspire much contemplation." 

    But Ja Rule's legacy is underrated.

    Take the context of his rise. Though Ja Rule didn't release his first solo LP until 1999 (Venni Vetti Vecci), he signed with Def Jam in 1998 and started composing hits for other rappers like Jay Z's "Can I Get A..." He was coming up at a time when rap was at a crossroads following the untimely deaths of Pac and Biggie. The genre was facing a choice: would it continue trying to cross over to a mainstream audience or return to the underground? And if it followed the former path, would hip-hop find itself neutered by an embrace of Puffy and Bad Boy Records' glossy output? Hip-hop needed to straddle these two paths, to grow its audience without alienating its hardcore fan base. It needed ambassadors who could simultaneously convey the legitimacy of artists like 2pac and Biggie while scoring chart hits during a bubblegum era dominated by boy bands and pop princesses.
     
    And contrary to his reputation as a 2Pac clone, Ja didn't so much bite him as pick up his baton and apply his sensitive thug schtick to a new, hip-hop/pop hybrid sound. 2Pac was many things -- not least of which a rap icon -- but he never really broached working with a member of the pop music establishment. He was Thug Life. By contrast, Ja fully embraced a pop role and shrewdly seized on opportunities to work with a wide array of singers -- and even sing himself. Capitalizing on the historic success of songs like 1994's "All I Need" by Method Man and Mary J. Blige, he upped the ante and added an infectious, Top 40 radio-friendly sound to hits like "I'm Real (Murder Inc. remix)" with Jennifer Lopez or Mary J Blige's "Rainy Dayz." 

    Ja's ability to apply his former gangsta rap persona to a diverse array of radio-friendly singles paved the way for competitors like Eminem and Nelly to eventually carry a tune and helped cement his status as something greater than, say, a MC Hammer-esque one-hit wonder. And, yes, timing was a part of his success -- but rap has always been trend-driven and Ja has been unfairly overlooked within the larger scope of rap's success story.

    Ja was at the forefront of this style just as the Grammys introduced the award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2002; he received nominations in '02 and '03 for "Livin' It Up" and "Always On Time," respectively (he didn't win). And today, the formula still works: Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and even BadGalRiRi constantly release singles specifically designed to reach multiple niches.

    But it was this lucrative new sound that was also his undoing. As Rolling Stone stated in a review of his ill-fated 2012 follow-up to Pain is Love:

    Ja reigned supreme in the late 1990s/early 2000s with a myriad of hits that straddled that all-important line, appeasing women without leaving male fans feeling emasculated. His spot was usurped by newcomer and fellow Queens rapper 50 Cent when 50 threw a string of jabs and marked Ja the pariah du jour. In hip-hop, you were either a 50 Cent fan or a Ja Rule fan and there was no in between. Once Ja was completely marginalized, 50 dealt the real coup de grâce, co-opting an identical musical style and garnering tremendous success.
    50 Cent's feud, alongside the frequent comparisons to 2pac and DMX, might make Ja's influence on commercial rap seem minimal, but his brand has been mimicked in all corners of hip-hop. Think of Wayne's radio hit, "Lollipop," as a natural structural cousin to Ja's own "Livin' It Up." Catchy, upbeat production, appealing yet suggestive lyrics. Substitute hook provider Static Major for Case and the two basic songs closely resemble one another. As it stands, Ja's recording hiatus and incarceration came at precisely the moment when Lil Wayne broke through into the mainstream, gobbling up much of the fan base once addicted to Rule and his (somewhat) melodious duets with pop R&B singers.

    As Wayne himself rapped on Ja's Rule's 2007 track, "Uh Ohh": "Young Money just crept in like uh-ohhh!"

    ***

    Today, Ja the performer is a human time capsule. He delivers exactly the kind of show you'd expect from a prominent rapper from the early-mid 2000s, even pausing to pay tribute to Aaliyah and Left Eye Lopez. But it's exactly this throwback schtick that might bring him back to the spotlight. Juicy anecdotes from his memoir about mid-00s rap feuds or '90s-era drug dealing have already been covered in publications as varied as VIBE and NPR. A few days ago he announced that he's got a new album in the works, Genius Loves Company, that'll come out next year. But, above all, it's pop culture's '90s nostalgia -- that's quickly shading into an obsession with the early '00s -- that makes it conceivable that Ja will get another chance at "Livin' It Up."

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    TourDiary_Banner2A.jpgThroughout the summer, we're following around some of our favorite bands and DJs as they head out on tour. In each installment, these road dogs will be sharing a photo diary and sharing stories about what they do, see, and hear and eat while criss-crossing the country and the globe. Next up: Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, whose shares her dispatches from tour dates across the U.S. and UK.

    2014-06-17 15.40.25.jpeg

    "This is at WFMU radio station in Jersey City. The sign says "Break in the emergency of Bob Dylan's death" and it contains a DAT tape of a pre-recorded obituary to be played the minute that someone hears Bobby D has passed."

    2014-05-28 21.08.32-2.jpeg"This is a window display I saw somewhere. I have no idea what the store was. Who cares. I used to line up all my troll dolls on my desk at school and it made me smile."

    2014-05-29 23.57.14.jpeg"This is my London crew after our show in Islington. We're at a secret Harry Potter bar."

    2014-06-07 14.58.47.jpeg"This is in Shoreditch, London. Whoever did this is awesome."

    2014-05-04 16.50.15.jpeg"Here are my bandmates Dave and Bones in Glasgow. After walking up and down all the driveways in the entire block with all of our suitcases, we finally found our hotel in a totally different location."

    2014-05-06 15.07.04.jpeg"This is in Newcastle, England. Here's Bones with a goat that looks like the Loch Ness monster."

    2014-05-23 20.02.11.jpeg"Geese crossing!"

    2014-04-28 18.35.36-1.jpeg"New York -- 'avant gards.'"

    2014-04-17 11.57.54-1.jpeg"This is the roadside somewhere. Someone said those plants are canola, someone also said it's super poisonous. I think it looks pretty whatever it is."

    Barnett's EP, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, is out now.


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