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    Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 2.52.58 PM.pngA company called Intelligent Environments say that they've developed an emoji PIN system, though actual banks have yet to get with it. Working off the theory that humans can remember pictures much better than numbers or letters, IE are positing emoji passcodes as a *fun*, easy-to-remember way to get bank access.

    And while the company claims that their innovation will create over 3 million unique permutations (rather than 7000+ for a traditional PIN), most passwords will probably just become virtual eggplant farms, seeing as how the most popular PIN right now is "1234" -- but hey, at least we won't forget 😳 

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    Chris Baio Cover Art.pngChris Baio, second weirdest Tweeter (and bassist!) of Vampire Weekend, dropped his second solo single, "Sister of Pearl," today in advance of the fall release of his debut album, The Names. Baio, working under the name -- what else? -- Baio, cites David Bowie and Bryan Ferry as influences on the summery pop song, which contrasts heavily with his debut single, a trance/alt-club banger titled "Brainwash yyrr Face." For us, though, "Sister of Pearl" is a reminder of Vampire Weekend's eponymous debut album, with an upbeat, "Oxford Comma"-ish synth line that keeps the track moving along. Stream it below.

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    Welcome back! Since the producers seem committed to this strange narrative structure that has each episode open up with a bunch angry dudes instead of the bachelorette lounging on a balcony and waxing poetic about #trulove, we open with Nick entering the hotel suite to a very hostile crowd-- if you remember, Kaitlyn decided to let him join her merry band of entitleds, and they are pissed.

    As the guys all lounge angrily on the same sectional sofa, Nick faces the firing squad and gives them the usual platitudes (he's not here to "cause drama"), and tells them he'd spoken with Kaitlyn before via twitter and text, and wants to see what happens. Tanner, clearly no stranger to US Weekly, drills Nick on hanging out with his ex Andi a couple weeks ago, and wants to know if he's here for his "16th minute of fame." My favorite, however, came from Josh, who had quite the episode. "Is she a cool chick or an amazing woman?" he demands of Nick, because #feminism. "She's both," Nick answers, which, fine.

    This sits real poorly with Shawn B., and the news has him stepping back a bit and putting his guard back up. They guys still have to attend a freezing cocktail party at Citi field, which JJ describes as "the grandiose stage that we're on," but perhaps he was speaking metaphorically. When the guys sit down with Kaitlyn they take turns throwing Nick under the bus, first with Tanner then Josh questioning Nick being there for the -- you know this one-- right reasons. However it's former vill JJ who cuts the tension and takes Kaitlyn in his arms to run the bases, which was actually pretty cute. JJ, you are definitely the winner after your Clint break-up.

    Shawn B. decides to play his hand by negging Kaitlyn pretty hard, telling her "I would hope that you were smarter...not smarter. I just think... that guy is full of shit. 110%""Do you trust me and my decisions?" Kaitlyn asks him, to which he replies that what she says and what she does don't match up. Kinda fair? At this point I'm going to out myself as a Shawn B. apologist-- the "heart" wants what it wants. At the rose ceremony -- which gave me winter PTSD, by the way -- Nick (of course) gets the last rose, sending home Britt-lover Jonathan, Corey (...) and Ryan, another initial Britt lover who went on to be a fan of skinny neck scarves. Weed 'em out, Kaitlyn!

    And with that we're off to find love in San Antonio, because Texas is a mecca for all those women's rights fans out there. BYO Plan B, Kaitlyn! Cute Ben H. gets the first one-on-one, and they enter a two-step competition. They wear some flannel and cowboy boots and makeout in a pickup truck before heading to dinner, at which Ben H. has some...trouble communicating his past relationships at first. "It's not easy to tell you, I think I just...I don't know. This is difficult." However, he eventually comes around: "I like you. And today was great, and I could see these days being something I appreciate and enjoy for a long time with you." Kaitlyn asks if he could be ready for a commitment at 26 (probably not) but his answer mollifies her and Ben H. stays, which is great because he's a charmer with franchise potential written all over him.

    Because I guess we're going to make performers out of these guys yet, the group date has them writing and singing mariachi songs for Kaitlyn. Ian is going to "kick ass" because he's "got the muscles and the brain and the heart." For Kaitlyn's part she would love to see Ian's sense of humor "if he has one." Spoiler alert! He does not. I once said that Ian could "get it" and I would like to formally rescind that invitation.

    Straight shooter Joe has the best line ("I would like to marry-achi you") and Ian predictably blows it, but it's Nick who wins the date, taking Kaitlyn to the top of the tower to belt out this bit of poetry: "We have such a huge connection, it gives me a huge erection. The guys didn't want me here at all, but for your heart I'm willing to brawl." Shots fired, Nick! This actually lands well with the guys ("it played, more power to him," Tanner reluctantly admits) and Kaitlyn thinks the guys "might be ready to trust my decision to let Nick move in," because hope is a well which never runs dry.

    Josh, who calls dance instructor Kaitlyn a "barber," has her give him a haircut and she  destroys his hair. Really just butchers it. While Kaitlyn and Nick passionately make out, Josh uses his "guy intuition" to state that all is not well with Nick. Something that is intrinsic to my gender tells me it's not wise to trust Josh's guy intuition but I can't quite put my finger on it... Anyway, you see what I did there.

    Josh pulls Kaitlyn away for another chat and JJ is right (I don't like it either) when he says the haircut is "pulling the pin from the grenade" for Josh-- he's about to explode. He again uses his intuition to tell Kaitlyn that no one is comfortable with Nick in the house and that everyone is lying to Kaitlyn's face, which understandably upsets her and her fringed, suede pencil skirt.

    Josh lies to the guys by telling them he was in an interview and not talking to Kaitlyn, and I think the sharpest tools Josh has are in his actual, physical toolbox because he does not do well with any type of nuanced discussion. Kaitlyn asks the group point-blank if they're cool with Nick being here. "It's not that we don't care but it doesn't affect the relationships we have," Jared says, and Ben Z. backs this up as well. Do I think they're lying? Mostly, but Josh messed up this fact-finding mission big time. Nick gets the group rose, which was the right call-- she wants him there so deal with it. This episode was edited heavily in Nick's favor, so I'm thinking he's going to stay around for a long while.

    Shawn B. gets the second one-on-one, and I must say, I get it. "Shawn is so hot. He's such a babe. I love his voice," Kaitlyn enthuses, and yup, yup, and yup. That Gosling drawl is powerful. He also cautions her against Nick, telling her that Josh is coming from a good place and there were guys who were too afraid to speak up. At dinner Shawn shares the scary story of his very serious car accident, and they profess they're both falling in love with one anoth-- wait, what? Damn! I have never seen a mutual "falling for you" so soon-- but I'm sure it'll be fine, what's the worst that could happen? Anywho, Shawn gets a rose and please wear your seatbelts, folks.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ian's male privilege is taking a real beating. He was heavily #TeamKaitlyn at the start, and her lack of adulation for his gallant stance is really taking a toll. "I don't understand why Kaitlyn wouldn't want me...[I'm a] Princeton graduate and former model who has defied death and been around the world a couple times...I would make a great bachelor," he ruminates before telling Nick (!) "I don't find Kaitlyn interesting. I don't think there's something wrong with me, I think there's something wrong with her." He also equates the alamo stand for independence with his decision to wait until the rose ceremony to say mean things to Kaitlyn. Ian, any king who insists he is the king is no king at all.

    Kaitlyn makes out with Jared and his unconventional facial hair, and lo and behold, he's also falling in love with her! He, however, does not get a "me too"-- your days are numbered, Jared. She also makes out with Joe while Ian stews outside, and here we go.

    Against all of his logic Kaitlyn doesn't seem to want Ian, and he lists all his attributes for being the next bachelor ("I'm an enigma, and who I am is a gift for life") before sitting Kaitlyn down to be a big dick. "I came here expecting to meet the girl who had her heart broken and was devastated by Chris Soules, not the girl that wanted her field plowed" he says, because sadness > sex any day. But, he's not done: "I don't question Nick's intentions, I question your intentions. I see you as a surface-level person." Cut to Kaitlyn looking livid, and we fade out for the "next week on" segment.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have coitus. This will apparently be the sexpisode we've all been alternately waiting for and dreading. The heavy breathing, kissing sounds and balcony crying is back. Hopefully they'll at least give us a glimpse of Britt and Brady adopting elderly animals to temper Kaitlyn's wanton abandonment-- until next week!

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    There are just some things we never get over (and over and over and...) -- especially in combination.

    After all, who wouldn't love a partnership between perennial nu-disco favorites Hot Chip and Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts family? Well, praise Hot Chip frontman/Peanuts sweater enthusiast Alexis Taylor who obtained the rights from Schulz's estate and made it an actual reality.

    Emblazoned with images of Charlie, Snoopy, et al. in combination with beloved lyrics like "Why Make Sense When The World Around Refuses?" and "To Live Is To Dance, To Dance Is to Live!," there are now four limited-edition items available on the band's merch site, which are actually inspired by Taylor's own collection of 1960s Peanuts sweaters.

    Damn, looks like Morrissey missed his chance.  

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    got1.jpgOn Sunday's season finale of Game of Thrones, some stuff that tends to happen on Game of Thrones happened. (For more, turn to our expert coverage of Game of Thrones coverage.) Perhaps the Thrones-iest of those things was (spoiler warningfor humans who have somehow avoided the internet) the apparent death of Jon Snow, knower of nothing, in a Night's Watch mutiny. Stabbed repeatedly and left for dead, the conclusion of the episode sparked an unbelievable amount of speculation -- is Jon dead forever? That's totally a thing Game of Thrones would do, right? But the magic red lady showed up, she can resurrect him! And George R.R. Martin wouldn't kill Jon Snow, right? (Almost certainly not.)

    Still, people were very upset about the death of a fictional character who was not named Joyce Summers.Brokelynreports that someone made a memorial for Jon Snow in Williamsburg and left it at the corner of 7th and Bedford.

    Good joke! Or something.

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    Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.33.06 PM.png
    photo: Danny Williams for TOCK

    In honor of what would have been legendary rapper Tupac Shakur's 44th birthday today, both Jhené Aiko and Joey Bada$$ have dropped heartwarming tributes to their late and great inspiration.

    Earlier today, MTV posted an interview with Aiko, who said that "every birthday of his I always want to do something," with this year's homage being a trio of photos that recreate iconic Tupac shots, including the All Eyez On Me and Greatest Hits album covers. Capturing the spirit of her inspiration, Aiko sizzles in her intensity, capturing Pac's pensive attitude perfectly. 

    Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.29.22 PM.png
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    photos: Danny Williams for TOCK

    But what did Bada$$ do? Well, this morning the Pro Era prodigy also got up early on the West Coast to spit some freestyle bars over classic 'Pac instrumentals during Power 106's The Cruz Show -- and completely crushed it, particularly on his impressive "Ambitionz Az a Ridah" freestyle. 

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    Queen of flower crowns (and ham crowns), Lana Del Rey has graced her fans with a snippet of her upcoming album, Honeymoon, expected to be released sometime this September. While she uploaded a graphic of lyrics for the title-track on her own Instagram account, she has also shared a link to an account dedicated to promoting her upcoming album. On the Honeymoon account, she has posted a snippet of what seems to be the music video for the new song. Watch a super 8 film-looking clip of Lana looking away from the camera in a classically sultry fashion, while a skulks out of a jungle.


    A video posted by Honeymoon (@honeymoon) on

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    It took just $500 for MS MR to rent out the spare Brooklyn rooms where the NYC-based duo would record their debut album, the dark, surreal-pop Secondhand Rapture. It stands to reason, then, that this summer's follow-up, How Does It Feel, would follow much the same DIY production model, with vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow sequestering themselves in a windowless room in Bushwick to write and record new material. But, as with their debut, they had the chance to spiff things up by laying down finishing touches to their tracks in some of the world's most famous studios like Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios in NYC.

    A first look at the fruit of their labors can be seen in the music video for the haunting acoustic version of "Wrong Victory," which we're premiering here. Shot in the attic of a '70s-era house in South London, the video features Plapinger -- whose aesthetic in the clip is a cross between a retro lounge singer and $-in-the-name-era-Kesha -- crooning lines like, "When your skin doesn't feel like home," while Hershenow taps at a tinny, intentionally out-of-tune piano. "'Wrong Victory' is one of our favorite songs from our new record," say Plapinger and Hershenow. "We love the intimacy and emotion of Lizzy's vocal in the recorded track and felt like it would lend itself well to a stripped-back acoustic version."

    The more mature feel of the track relative to prior hits "Hurricane" and "Fantasy" bodes well for their upcoming album, which they describe as an evolution from their previous work. After spending two years touring, becoming better musicians and learning how to better articulate what we wanted to create, we approached this album with much more intentionality," Plapinger and Hershenow say. "The drama and darkness is still there, but rather than wallowing in the angst as we did on the first record ... we've tried to incorporate an element of perseverance, a light at the end of the tunnel." Give the video a watch, above, and keep an eye out for the album when it comes out July 17th via Columbia Records. You can pre-order a copy HERE.

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    Madonna's Tonight Show performance of banger "Bitch I'm Madonna" was a DayGlo dry-humping Moschino dance party and her new video for the track, filmed at the Standard Hotel in New York, follows suit. It premiered today exclusively on Tidal, which you can watch here, or you can watch a grainy version above via Miss Info before YouTube hits the delete button. The clip features cameos from Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Kanye West, our current cover star, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Diplo, Alexander Wang and more.

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    C.P. COMPANY SPECIAL EVENT @ PITTI UOMO 88 - 007.jpgI spend most of my fashion time covering women's collections but every now and again I like to dip my toe into the men's fashion pool, which is how I ended up in sunny Florence for Pitti Uomo, a gigantic and glamorous men's fashion trade show that also hosts runway shows, presentations and all kinds of other high-style hootenannies.

    I arrived on Tuesday and zipped over to the Dogana, a former train station (it seems like Florence has converted a lot of train stations into event spaces), for the 40th anniversary of C.P. & Company, an old school Italian outerwear brand. It was hard to focus on the clothes on display (pieces from all 40 years brought from the company's archives) with so many cute ushers wearing #CP40th t-shirts but being a hardened veteran journalist, I made it work.

    To round out the day, I took a casual stroll to the wonderful Marino Marini Museum, which houses a wonderful collection of work by the well-known Italian sculptor and painter best know for his exuberant horse and rider statues. The museum is the former Church of St. Pancrazio and was the perfect location to host the temporary show Il Signor Nino featuring the personal collection of men's clothes of Nino Cerruti, a businessman and style icon who runs his family's textile business and also launched the Cerruti fashion house in 1967. The show was presented by Fondazione Pitti Discovery and curated by Mr. Cerruti himself along with respected fashion editor Angelo Flaccavento. The museum was the perfect backdrop for the tailored menswear pieces, which show off what a dandy Mr. Cerruti was and still is. Mr. C was at the opening hobknobbing and taking selfies with fans.

    It was a great start to Pitti Uomo and makes me excited to see how the next three days shake out.

    Welcome to .jpeg

    Il Signor Nino - 047.jpgIl Signor Nino

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    Il Signor Nino

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    Il Signor Nino

    Mr. Cerruti poses for a selfie with a fan

    Il Signor Nino

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    Behold, a new fashion craze/internet sensation sprung from Springfield, Missouri, known to some as the "Redneck Boot Sandal," and to most as the least humane thing to happen to your toes since foot-binding. 

    The devious invention of Springfield cobbler Scotty Franklin, this Franken-shoe is literally the stuff nightmares are made of -- and they can be your reality for a mere $75 (including shipping). Just send Scotty your favorite pair of boots and he'll make them into his signature boot-flops, which are currently being marketed as "this summers [sic] most functional and fashionable statement!" SMH.

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    The internet has been part of our lives for long enough that a generation of writers and artists has come of age with it, and used it as a tool to construct their creative and professional identities. But that also means that they grew up alongside an internet that today's teens would find foreign and scary, during the days when MySpace was the biggest social network, AIM buddy profiles were important social statements, and having your own GeoCities page was a big deal. Our new column, A/S/L, asks the people who are best at the internet to tell us about their personal Web 1.0.

    Maris.jpgThis week, we talked to Maris Kreizman, creator of the literature/pop culture mash-up blog Slaughterhouse 90210 -- soon to become a book (out on Flatiron Books this October). Her writing and criticism has appeared in, among other venues, BuzzFeed, The Hairpin, Vulture, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. It's not surprising that Flavorwire named her one of the writers who run the literary internet -- she's a publishing outreach lead at Kickstarter.


    What was the first internet service you made an account for? Was there a specific reason you made it? (i.e. I made my first AOL account so I could sign up for Neopets.)

    I first signed up for my AOL account as a teenager in the 90s, and at the time, frankly, I wasn't so sure about the whole internet thing. I was an internet late bloomer -- I didn't even create my fancy Tumblr meme until I was 30! I was such a non-early adopter that I used a word processor to write papers throughout high school -- WordPerfect on my dad's PC was just too technologically advanced.

    What was your first screen name? Email address?

    A cool thing about having the name "Maris" is that it's obscure enough that in the early days of screen names and email addresses, I got to use my first name only (I also never have to share my Coke with anyone). So in college I was

    On AOL I think I was marisk, which was short and sweet and well before Mariska Hargitay was famous so people didn't think I was her but with a letter missing.

    What was your most profound AIM away message?

    I didn't really do AIM away messages. I know, it feels like I missed a really good opportunity to express my angst. However, I did use Napster to download songs to make an ANGRY SAD BITTER mix that I burned to CDs and gave out to my friends. Lots of Indigo Girls on that one.

    (We asked Maris to recreate the ANGRY SAD BITTER mix as best she could.)

    How many MySpace friends did you have at your peak? How many LiveJournals? (No lying.)

    My platform of choice for dipping my toe in social media was Friendster. I only had about 300 friends, but I wrote glowing testimonials for almost all of them. I miss testimonials -- such a great antidote to self-promotion. Let's bring them back. I took a social media hiatus after the Great Friendster Debacle of 2005 -- when Friendster revealed to users who was viewing your profile. I try to remember the sheer horror of discovering that my ex-boyfriend could see that I'd been regularly visiting his Friendster page before I internet stalk anyone.

    Who were the first people you thought were big deals on the internet, and did you ever interact with them?

    Maud Newton was the first blogger who made me realize that the internet is a great place for talking about books. Now I can't imagine a world in which I didn't talk about books online every day, but Maud was a pioneer. I'm proud to call Maud a friend today, and I really can't wait to read her upcoming novel.

    Chart the history of your life in websites, by listing the most important site to you each year you've been online.

    1994-95 - AOL
    1996-2000 - Telnet (the email system for college)
    2001-2002 - Hotmail
    2003-2005 - Friendster
    2006-2007 - Gawker
    2008 - Facebook (Just to blow your mind, in college I had an actual printed copy of a facebook, a book filled with photos of my fellow classmates so we could identify each other.)
    2009-2011 - Tumblr
    2012 - Goodreads
    2013-2015 - Twitter (For better or for worse, I go to Twitter for news -- especially for citizen journalism.)

    What's the strongest relationship you've ever formed with someone you hadn't met IRL?

    I don't have any inspiring stories about corresponding for years with an online bestie, but I can say that some of my closest friends (and my boyfriend!) are people that I met or admired online well before I met them IRL. And it's magical when you find that people you actually get to know are even more charming than their online personae.

    Did you ever create alternate identities online or engage in proto-catfishing?

    Once when I was at a party in high school, a bunch of us had been sitting around drinking Zimas or something (sorry, mom and dad!) and we went into some porny AOL chatroom. I was a late bloomer IRL, too, so I remember how scary yet empowering it felt to pretend that I had the vaguest idea of what I was talking about, sexually. I would never have had the nerve to do it on my own, but with some friends by my side I was ready to spew filth the likes of which I'd only heard in, like, Clerks.

    What's the most important thing you learned from the internet?

    I've been a reader all my life -- books have always been my hobby, my refuge. The internet taught me that my passions could be interactive, that reading and enjoying books didn't have to be a solitary experience. I could be part of a community.

    Do you wish you had spent less time online when you were younger? Do you wish you spent less time on it now?

    I wish I had spent more time online as a kid. Is that perverse? I was a fully formed adult when I started blogging, so I have very little documentation of my youth online -- I don't have the pseudo-intellectual LiveJournal entries that people pull out today with the kind of showy shame that looks very much like pride. I'm jealous. My teenage ramblings were relegated to diaries that I haven't seen in many years and are probably gone.

    I'm happy to spend so much time online now, because I love the people I follow online. I feel smarter and happier and yes, even more creative and productive, for having found my own little corner of the internet.

    That said, I constantly struggle to remind myself that life's too short to argue with commenters and Amazon reviewers in my head. I've taken to preemptively blocking anyone on social media whose feed I might be tempted to hate-read -- I think Marie Kondo would approve.

    (End note: Maris and her boyfriend recently adopted a dog they found through the internet. Here is a photo of the three of them.)

    maris and josh and dog.jpg

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    ugh.jpgEDM Diplo/Skrillex superduo Jack Ü came together earlier this year with the Biebs (of all people) to bless us with the absolutely incredible banger properly known as "Where Are Ü Now." 

    And while Kaskade has already been playing his club flip for the past few weeks, the entire remix pack was finally debuted yesterday via the cultural tastemakers/crotch-lickers at Modern Dog. Featuring a soaring, sugary take via Glaswegian maximalist Rustie, a more contemplative ballad-esque rework by Ember Island and a thump-loving, bass-heavy mix by Marshmello, the remix pack just proves that the original has a subtle versatility that makes it perfect for everything from the club to a good cry.  

    Along with the official Pizzaslime-directed lyric video (so you can sing along to that mind-blowing flute hook), check out the full stream below and prepare to listen to nothing else for the rest of today. You're welcome.

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    Last night pop culture came out for a cause. The amfAR Inspiration Gala glittered with celebrities and patrons who have lent their voice, dollars and support for the fight against HIV/AIDS and to end the epidemic by 2020. Last night’s honorees included the king of reality, Andy Cohen and our summer cover star, Miley Cyrus. Hosted by Anderson Cooper, and produced by Josh Wood Productions, this year's gala to benefit the Foundation’s AIDS research programs was a zeitgeist yearbook of fashion and activism drawing Laverne Cox, Ellen Barkin, Tyson Beckford, Kelly Bensimon, Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa, Joan Smalls, Lily Donaldson, and a performance by Mary J. Blige.

    Cyrus, dressed in a rhinestone heart ball gown designed by Jeremy Scott and fit for any Disney princess took to the stage in what could be seen as the third iteration of the Miley Cyrus we know and love, the activist and the voice of a young, at-risk LGBT Youth. Cyrus had Tyler Ford, a trans identifying activist, introduce her and her Happy Hippie Foundation initiatives. Cyrus declared her commitment to fight for an end to HIV/AIDS through her work with M.A.C Viva Glam, as well as give visibility for the Happy Hippie Foundation that creates programs and awareness for homeless youth, focusing on the vulnerable LGBT community. Miley broke down in tears as she thanked Tish and Billy Ray Cyrus, both in attendance, and hoped that this “made them proud and helped to make up for the crazy stuff.” Cyrus even lent her artistic vision to the night’s auction. Three embellished versions of the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair covers, reimagined by Cyrus, and signed by Jenner (which you can see here), went up for auction. When the bidding was not high enough to Miley’s liking, she took to the microphone and demanded a $69,000 price tag (which included cleaning the winner's house naked and a selfie with her that she would send to her 22 million followers, or nearly the population of Australia as they auctioneer pointed out). In coordination with this award and the Happy Hippie Foundation, Cyrus has also launched #InstaPride where she is bringing attention and awareness for the trans and queer community through a series of profiles being featured by HHF online during Pride month.

    This year amfAR will commit $100 million dollars to advanced research to help end this epidemic. It seems that after last night, they might just have a few more soldier to join the fight.

    To donate to amfAR go here. To donate to Happy Hippie Foundation

    Miley Cyrus and Tyler Ford

    Billy Rae Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, Tish Cyrus

    Wayne Coyne, Katy Weaver, Miley Cyrus and Tyler Ford

    Abbey Lee Kershaw, Alexander Wang

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    Official video for "Blackness" by Zeke Thomas ft. Chuck D and Jasiri X. Directed by Charlie Zwick and photography by Dan Budnik. Creative concept and production by Zeke Thomas.

    As far as popular music is concerned, the beginning of summer is usually reserved for lighthearted fare. For Zeke Thomas -- openly gay music producer, DJ, nightlife darling and son of basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas -- any season is game for hard-hitting social commentary. That's not to say that "Blackness," Zeke's latest single and accompanying music video, featuring Chuck D of Public Enemy and the talented Pittsburgh poet and "RAPtivist" Jasiri X, is some kind of public service announcement. Though absolutely a timely commentary on what is shaping up to be the civil-rights movement for the iPhone age, "Blackness" comes off like a cross between an old-school hip-hop jam and an electro banger. It's nostalgic in tone, but with contemporary sonic sensibilities and a fair bit of knowledge regarding the true state of "blackness" in America today.

    Pop legend and longtime political activist Harry Belafonte (whose 1956 Calypso album was the first to sell a million copies) introduced the three musicians several years ago via his organization Sankofa, which encourages artists and performers of color to actively create art that may serve as a catalyst for positive cultural evolution. Though it remains to be seen whether "Blackness" will stand the test of time like 1986's "We Are the World," which Belafonte also put in motion, it's encouraging to see black artists from multiple generations and backgrounds coming together to help guide what America alone calls "black culture" and the urgent national response to its needs and desires.

    The trio behind the track spoke with PAPER about how the project came together -- and what steps artists and human beings can take to mend a fractured cultural climate at one of the most racially complex times in American history. Give the video, which we're excited to be premiering exclusively, a watch above.

    How did the three of you come together to work on the track?

    Zeke Thomas: We had originally met through Mr. Belafonte at Sankofa meetings. The concept was solidified before my conversation with Chuck but I reached out to him shortly after a dinner meeting later on. He was receptive from the beginning. Working with him has been nothing but a dream -- I have so much respect for him not only as an artist but as a man, too.

    Chuck D: Seeing a young artist wanting to align with that human concern gets my services without much asking. Plus his base in House Electronica is an area that could use this message in its music for a refreshing change.

    Zeke, aside from the lamentable situations going on in this country with young black men being killed by police, was there any personal experience that served as a catalyst to write this track?

    Zeke: I have always wanted there to be a storytelling aspect to my music and videos. My debut single "Regret" touched on the subject of party culture and excess that too frequently leads to tragedy. For "Regret" I pulled from my real life experience of party culture, substance abuse, and the unfortunate day when I woke up to find my friend had passed away because of partying irresponsibly.

    With "Blackness," yes the subject matter is deep too, but it's real. The images in the video that were taken in the '60s don't look so different from today. When I came up with the theme for the record -- "Blackness" -- and I first shared it with Jasiri X, we talked at length about what it means to grow up black in America. I still have had more encounters with the law than one would like. I've been arrested. I've been told I couldn't go places because of the color of my skin. I've been called a n*****. I still was told that I could not date my high school sweetheart because I was black. I was still told my cousin couldn't come over to my best friend's house because he was black with braids. When I asked how he's different from me, I was told that "I'm a different kind of black." At the time, I took that to mean I had money and therefore I had more privileges.

    At the end of the day when you turn on the news and see innocent life after innocent life taken without just cause it makes you wonder, have we made it or do we just have more privileges now?

    What do you think we should do to come together, regardless of race, in solidarity for human rights and civil rights?

    Chuck D: We must be human beyond our borders. Citizens should aim to be Earthizens and being "netizens" is halfway there. And [in terms of civil rights] the further we move away from 1963, it requires elders electrifying younger adults to stand up and maintain a certain principle and value to make [MLK's] dream a collective reality for this 21st century.

    Jasiri X: We have to start with honest and open dialogue about the real divisions that separate us, particularly race, class and gender. What we can't do is pretend we treat everyone the same and don't see color [or gender] while women are being paid less for the same jobs, Black people are being killed everyday by the police and the richest 1% get even wealthier while the rest of us suffer. It's our generation to make this a world where everyone is free, justified and equal.

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    Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 2.26.59 PM.png(Photo of Donald Trump by Neil Rasmus/; Photo of Neil Young by Aleks Kocev/

    In light of Neil Young basically telling Donald Trump to fuck off after the billionaire played "Rockin' in the Free World" during his announcement that he was running for president yesterday, we're revisiting our story from the 2012 cycle that looked at the long, long history of musicians issuing cease-and-desist letters to (mostly) GOP candidates.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 2.15.20 PM.png

    Barry Goldwater v. Broadway Producer David Merrick
    When? 1964 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "Hello Dolly"
    What happened?
    Merrick threatened to sue Goldwater for his use of "Hello Dolly" (changing the lyric to "Hello Barry") during the 1964 presidential campaign. Incidentally, however, Merrick permitted Lyndon Johnson to use the tune and change the lyric to "Hello Lyndon."

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 2.34.11 PM.png

    Ronald Reagan v. Bruce Springsteen
    When? 1984 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "Born In the U.S.A."
    What happened?
    Bruce Springsteen sent a cease and desist to Ronald Reagan for trying to use "Born in the U.S.A." during his 1984 presidential campaign against Walter Mondale.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 2.43.37 PM.png

    George H.W. Bush v. Bobby McFerrin, 1988 Presidential Campaign
    When? 1988 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
    What happened?
    Bobby McFerrin asked Bush Sr. to cease and desist from using his song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy"in his presidential race against Michael Dukakis.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 2.55.24 PM.png

    Bob Dole v. Rondor Music International/Sam and Dave
    When? 1996 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "Soul Man"
    What happened?
    During his race against Bill Clinton, Bob Dole tried to change the words to Sam and Dave's "Soul Man," written by the legendary Isaac Hayes, to instead say "Dole Man," leading Rondor International Music, who had rights to the song, to threaten a lawsuit.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 3.16.11 PM.png

    George W. Bush v. Tom Petty
    When? 2000 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "I Won't Back Down"
    What happened?
    Tom Petty sent Bush a cease and desist letter during the 2000 campaign against Al Gore.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 3.16.41 PM.png

    George W. Bush
    v. Sting
    When? 2000 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "Brand New Day"
    What happened?
    Sting asked Bush and his team to stop using "Brand New Day" in their campaign rallies but apparently permitted Gore to use the song in his campaign, even though he initially said he didn't wish his music to be associated with either party (but, hey, looks like Sting is friends with Al).

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 3.16.59 PM.png

    George W. Bush v. John Mellencamp
    When? 2000 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."
    What happened?
    Mellencamp asked Bush to stop using "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." during his 2000 campaign.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 3.32.00 PM.png

    George W. Bush
    v. John Hall of Orleans
    When? 2004 re-election campaign
    What song?
    "Still the One"
    What happened?
    Kerry supporter John Hall objected to Bush using "Still the One" during the 2004 re-election campaign.  Interestingly enough, Hall went on to run for Congress and was elected as a Democrat in 2006. Later in 2008, McCain repeated Bush's mistake and tried to play "Still the One" during his own campaign. You can guess where that went.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 3.40.38 PM.png

    Mike Huckabee
    v. Boston
    When? 2008GOP presidential primary campaign
    What song?
    "More Than a Feeling"
    What happened? Boston's Tom Scholz, who wrote the song, sent a letter to Huckabee asking him to stop playing it at campaign rallies.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.15.55 PM.png

    McCainv. ABBA
    When? 2008 presidential primary campaign
    What song?
    "Take a Chance on Me"
    What happened?
    McCain, a noted ABBA fan, played the Swedish group's hit on heavy rotation but finally dropped it due to the cost of using it and a cease and desist letter from the band.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.16.15 PM.png

    v. Jackson Browne
    When? 2008 presidential campaign
    What song? "Running On Empty"
    What happened?
    As noted earlier, Jackson Browne actually sued McCain for using "Running On Empty" in a campaign commercial and a judge ruled in Browne's favor.  The terms of the financial settlement were not disclosed.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.19.20 PM.png

    v. John Mellencamp
    When? 2008 presidential primary campaign
    What song? "Our Country" and "Pink Houses"
    What happened?
    During the 2008 primaries, John Edwards supporter John Mellencamp had to ask McCain to stop playing patriotic rock favorites "Our Country" and "Pink Houses" at his rallies.  For his part, Edwards apparently had been allowed to play those same songs at his campaign stops.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.16.26 PM.png

    McCain v. Foo Fighters
    When? 2008 presidential campaign
    What song? "My Hero"
    What happened?
    When McCain started using "My Hero" on the campaign trail, the Foo Fighters released an official statement denouncing the association between their song and his candidacy.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.16.06 PM.png

    McCain v. Van Halen
    When? 2008 presidential campaign
    What song? "Right Now"
    What happened?
    When McCain used the Van Halen song to close his big rally announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate, the rockers took offense and immediatelyissued an angry statementdisassociating the band's music with the campaign.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.47.18 PM.png

    Sarah Palin
    v. Heart
    When? 2008 presidential campaign
    What song?
    What happened?
    After Sarah "Barracuda" Palin played "Barracuda" on the 2008 campaign trail, the Wilson sisters emailed a statementtelling her to stop immediately.  After Palin didn't listen, they rightfully fired back with another angry statement saying, "Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women."

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.57.00 PM.png

    Barack Obama v. Sam Moore

    When? 2008 presidential campaign
    What song?
    "Hold On, I'm Coming"
    What happened?
    In the only instance we could find in which a musician sent a cease and desist letter to a Democratic candidate, Sam Moore (from Sam & Dave) asked Obama to stop playing "Hold On, I'm Coming'" despite the fact that on a personal level, he thought it was "thrilling" that a black man was running for president.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 5.05.00 PM.png

    Rand Paul v. Rush

    When? 2010 senate campaign
    What song?
    "The Spirit of the Radio"and "Tom Sawyer"
    What happened?
    Though claiming it was a "copyright issue," the Canadian rockers nevertheless sent a cease and desist letter to Paul when he started playing the song at his senate campaign stops.


    Charlie Crist  v. David Byrne
    When? 2010 senate campaign
    What song?
    "Road to Nowhere"
    What happened?
    The former Governor of Florida used the Talking Heads song "Road to Nowhere" in a campaign ad, prompting Byrne to sue him over unauthorized usage. Byrne won and Crist eventually -- and sort of bizarrely -- had to make a public apology on YouTube as part of the agreement. (You can watch the apology video HERE.)

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 5.20.41 PM.png

    Michele Bachmann v. Tom Petty
    When? 2011 GOP presidential primary campaign
    What song?
    "American Girl"
    What happened?
    Though Hillary Clinton notably used "American Girl" during her 2008 presidential run, when it was Bachmann's turn, Tom Petty took offense and protested her using it.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 4.31.34 PM.png

    Michele Bachmann v. Katrina and the Waves
    When? 2011 GOP presidential primary campaign
    What song? "Walking on Sunshine"
    What happened?
    Shortly after Bachmann started playing the song, the band issued a statement objecting to its use and saying that they had "instructed their lawyers accordingly."

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 5.35.29 PM.png

    Newt Gingrich v. Frankie Sullivan
    When? 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign
    What song?
    "Eye of the Tiger"
    What happened?
    Earlier this year, Survivor band member and "Eye of the Tiger" co-writer Frankie Sullivan sued Gingrich over his use of the song during his campaign, adding that Gingrich had been using the track at political events as early as 2009.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 5.37.04 PM.png

    Newt Gingrich v. The Heavy
    When? 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign
    What song?
    "How You Like Me Now?"
    What happened?
    After using the song on the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich was ordered to cease and desist by the British band who posted the following message on their Facebook account: "If you heard "How You Like Me Now?" being used by Republican, Newt Gingrich, in his campaign, we'd like you to know it had fuck all to do with us and we are trying to stop it being used. TWATS."


    Mitt Romney v. K'Naan
    When? 2012 GOP primary campaign
    What song?
    "Wavin' Flag"
    What happened?
    Though he said he'd "happily grant President Obama's campaign the use of""Wavin' Flag," the singer was unhappy when Romney started using it instead and threatened legal action.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 5.43.21 PM.png

    Mitt Romney v. Al Green
    When? 2012 presidential campaign
    What song? "Let's Stay Together"
    What happened?
    When the Romney campaign put out an ad poking fun of Obama singing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," representatives from BMG pulled the video from YouTube, citing a copyright claim.

    Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 5.45.03 PM.png

    Mitt Romney v. Silversun Pickups
    When?2012 presidential campaign
    What song? "Panic Switch"
    What happened?
    Finally, in the most recent example -- and one of the only occasions in which a candidate attempts to use an "indie song" -- Silversun Pickups issued a cease and desist after Romney starting playing "Panic Switch" at his campaign events. We're going to guess that some twentysomething campaign intern, maybe the same one who helped Urban Outfitters dream up these funky-fresh '2 Legit 2 Mitt' shirts, suggested this. (Or is Mitt a secret hipster who is wearing those mom jeansironically?)

    Screen shot 2012-08-23 at 12.18.02 PM.png

    Dee Snider v. Paul Ryan
    When? 2012 presidential campaign
    What song?"We're Not Gonna Take It"
    What happened? After Ryan started opening his campaign stops with the classic glam metal party song, the Twisted Sister frontman quickly responded with the following barb, "I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan's use of my song 'We're Not Gonna Take It' as recorded by my band Twisted Sister.  There is almost nothing on which I agree with Paul Ryan, except perhaps the use of the P90X."  Zing!

    Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 2.14.08 PM.png

    DNC v. Cyndi Lauper
    When? 2012 presidential campaign
    What song?"True Colors"
    What happened? The DNC used Lauper's song in a Romney attack ad. Cyndi was not a fan.

    Honorable Mention:

    Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 2.14.52 PM.png

    Scott Walker v. Dropkick Murphys
    When? 2015 (Though this was not during a political race)
    What song?"I'm Shipping Up to Boston"
    What happened?Walker played the song before he gave a speech in Iowa, prompting the Boys from Beantown to deliver one of the most withering tweets ever. It read: "@ScottWalker @GovWalker please stop using our music in any way... we literally hate you!!! Love, Dropkick Murphys."

    Daily Kos
    The Toronto Star

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    It's easy to fall into the trap of sentimentalizing the pop culture symbols from our youth but if London-based designer Katie Eary has any say, we'll never look at a major (and majorly resurgent) childhood icon the same way again. At the debut of her new clothing line, which she says is "designed to overthrow innocence," models rocked the London Men's Fashion Week runways wearing shirts and shorts printed with images of My Little Ponies sporting giant penises.

    While Eary said that the main goal of her prints was to subvert childhood, perhaps there are larger reactionary implications to her collection -- namely a graphic and extremely visceral step away from the tie-dyed, pastiche-loving '90s-overload we've been inundated with for the past few seasons. 

    Another sneak preview GIF shot by @mrjakewalters #cockabillyss16 #katieeary #lcm

    A video posted by Katie Eary (@katieeary) on

    After all, the revival of infantilizing primary school trends of Millennials' collective yesteryear (i.e. tattoo chokers, jelly sandals and yin-yang symbols) have been the go-to look for Tumblr-bred teens and twentysomethings for a while, and is admittedly a tired fad that's lived long enough to even be extended to the very post-modern "kidcore" mess of overalls and pigtails. Perhaps this is Eary's very obvious protest against what many have called the fetishization of '90s kid culture, one that simultaneously protests our notions of typical "manly" fashion at that.  After all, the Brony Movement has been noted for shifting traditional ideas of masculinity -- so maybe it's high time for fashion to follow suit by having men wear My Little Pony andfloral brocade? If so, no wonder Eary decided to emphasize the endowment of those equines...but at the same time it makes us think about the darker, ickier ideas explored re: things like brony sex toys etc. Was that the intent? To maybe also address the scarier side of Internet-driven nostalgia?

    Whatever the case, it's definitely an eye-catching look for anyone daring enough to sport it down the street. Rick Owens, watch out. 

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    90s suck.jpgRemember when Scream was a movie in theaters instead of Netflix, or when the Notorious B.I.G. made music between 1990 and 1999? Remember when Smash Mouth, long before they were famous for being hit with bread, made not one, but two whole songs that people listened to? Do you remember this all through either a haze of alcohol consumption or the sugar rush you associate with your memories of loading Rafi cassettes into the car? Well, you're in luck. That most venerated of institutions -- the modern music festival -- is here to fulfill your deepest, darkest Dougest desires.

    Enter 90sFest, an event that you can attend for a mere $60. In addition to Smash Mouth themselves, Lisa Loeb, Tonic, and Naughty by Nature may all ask you to put your hands in the air and wave, etc. There will also be an attempt at setting a world record for doing the Macarena, a ton of memes featuring a sad James Van Der Beek, and the hosting stylings of Paulie Shore upon his resurrection from cultural, chronological, and comedic stasis.

    It would be one thing if a bunch of musical dinosaurs were having a festival for like-minded people -- that's been happening for years, and at least creates a sort of weird, viable subcultural bubble. But 90sFest adds so many things from so many different parts of the '90s that it raises a very simple, painful question: why?

    What is the point of this event, exactly? Is it reliving the '90s? Is it everyone involved saying "hey, remember how there were some weird things we thought were cool in the '90s? What ever happened to Good Burger? Wasn't it cool when our understanding of the world was undiscerning enough that we thought everything with ninjas in it was awesome and we didn't understand many of the harsher realities and contingencies of existence, making it easier to achieve fleeting feelings of happiness?"

    Actually, it's not -- the purpose of 90sFest is to facilitate a space in which people at the festival can "interact with brands." So we're using the late capitalist trappings of some stuff that happened a while ago to bolster marketing-speak that supercharges the late capitalist trappings of now! Nostalgia, particularly for the '90s, has been increasingly mined for hacky products from confused people. Soon (if not already), we will pass an event horizon beyond which it will be impossible to tell what is genuine love of old entertainment products, what's shrouded in irony, and what's just another way to sell stuff. Shut it down. Or, you know... go somewhere else on September 12.

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    There are never enough options when it comes to good-quality men's underwear, but now we can add a new favorite to our short list. Founded by the creative team of Leesa Wagner, Jason Cauchi and Annebet Duvall, The Eighth does not disappoint. Retailing from $48 to $360, stylesfrom briefs to boxers to long johns are updated in luxurious signature fabrics including Sea Island cotton, cashmere-cotton blend and washed silk. For the more adventurous guy, select styles are offered in some interesting prints, including the floral "Englishiman" motif  and "wears the eighth," which features 40s-era cartoons of wrestlers and body builders. You can shop it all on the Eighth's sleekly designed site here

    Below, check out a few very sexy exclusive shots by by Brian Jamie from a new campaign featuring model Henry Thiel wearing some new designs.


    Hen-02 (Exclusive to Paper).jpg

    Hen-04.jpgHen-06.jpgHen-07.jpgHen-09.jpgHen-10 (Exclusive to Paper).jpgHen-11.jpgHen-12.jpgHen-13.jpgHen-14 (Exclusive to Paper).jpgHen-16.jpgHen-18.jpg

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    When it comes to musical inspirations in the queer community, Grace Jones is a giant amongst men, literally and figuratively -- and to pay tribute to her royal highness, San Francisco-based duo Double Duchess have released a kickass cover of her tune "Bullshit."

    Known individually as Krylon Superstar and DavO Richardson, together the pair have reanimated Jones's obscure B-side -- turning it into a ferocious, club-ready pumper that  builds to a head-rattling climax around the two-minute mark. Spun a tad darker and infused with ample amounts of ballroom-inspired vogue bass and a scintillating bubble synth line, it's the perfect song to strut your stuff to on a Saturday night. After all, you ain't got time for no bullshit. Listen below.

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