Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Art Of Giving Dap by NBA Commissioner — Adam Silver

Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, greeted, from left, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green at the Warriors’ ring ceremony last year. Silver is known for giving dap, an intricate, intimate handshake, to players. Credit Photographs by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE, via Getty Images

So some Golden State Warriors players were surprised to see how N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver greeted them at their championship ring ceremony a few months ago.
Rather than extending a firm handshake and a cordial word or two while passing out the rings, Silver stood there and gave dap — that is, a more intricate, intimate handshake — to pretty much every player.
“Usually, you don’t see that,” said Shaun Livingston, a veteran guard for the Warriors. “You expect a more corporate-type handshake. I guess he felt comfortable enough.”
That night, Livingston and his teammates experienced what many other players and observant fans have noticed: Silver, who took over as commissioner two years ago, gives dap with great enthusiasm.
He gives dap when greeting players on stage at the June draft. He gives dap to players on the court before games. Theoretically, he could give dap several hundred times at next month’s All-Star Game weekend.

Silver dapped with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson after he was drafted by the Trail Blazers. Experts say his style of handshake may be an effort to project a sense of partnership. Credit Kathy Willens/Associated Press


“I tend to be a pretty physical person,” said Silver, who, when dapping, appears to favor the common three-step handshake plus half-hug combination.
Silver’s multistage clasps have inspired double takes from players and gleeful Twitter posts from amused spectators.
People seem to notice Silver’s handshake style because — as a 53-year-old white lawyer from Rye, N.Y. — he does not really look like a person who would shake hands that way. He laughed and acknowledged that colleagues were not greeting one another other like this when he was a litigation associate at the white-shoe law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore many years ago.
“You see him on TV and stuff, and he doesn’t seem like that type of guy,” said Kevon Looney, who was the 30th selection at the draft last year. “I just put my hand out there, followed his lead, and we dapped.”

Michael Jordan & Jay-Z givin' dap!
Back in 2014, when the public was still just getting to know Silver, “Saturday Night Live” anticipated the humor of this visual disconnect. It parodied Silver’s bookish mien in the wake of his decision to oust Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling had been recorded making racist remarks about black people, and Silver was quick to act.
“I’ve gotten more high-fives from random black people this week than any week in my life,” the cast member Taran Killam said as he impersonated Silver in the sketch. “And I’ve learned many wonderful new handshakes.”
In the grand scheme of things, of course, the stakes surrounding handshakes may be pretty low. And yet those moments can present a clumsy terrain for the participants, with age, status and race among the potential distractions.

Jay-Z & Nas providing dap!
Silver is aware of all this, and he acknowledged that the handshake greetings he now engages in sometimes presented potential trip wires. He compared it to his experiences going to Europe for games and being unsure how many kisses on the cheek were acceptable.

At the Warriors’ ring ceremony last October, Silver gave dap to 11 players and gave a more traditional handshake to just one: Andrew Bogut, a 31-year-old center from Australia who happens to be the team’s lone white player.
That moment actually mimicked a sketch from a different comedy show, Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele,” in which President Obama is depicted greeting a line of supporters, giving plain handshakes to white people and increasingly cozy greetings to blacks.
For that matter, Obama, in real life, gave rise to a popular basketball-related clip four years ago when he entered the United States national men’s basketball team’s locker room, shook hands with a white team staff member and then immediately thereafter gave dap to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.

Adam Silver & Nik Stauskas — Dappin' season is in session!
In the case of Silver and Bogut, there could have been other reasons for the plainness of their handshake, including the fact that Silver, as commissioner, represents the owners during collective bargaining. Last summer, after seeing that Silver had told reporters that “a significant number of teams are continuing to lose money,” Bogut posted a Twitter message ridiculing that notion and another one making fun of Silver’s appearance, comparing him to the singer Sinead O’Connor.
“I recognize they may be conflicted in terms of a relationship with me,” Silver said when asked why he had not dapped Bogut. “There may be something they’re upset about. I’m genuinely trying to read them. My recollection with Andrew was that, my sense was, he seemed more businesslike in his approach to it, and that’s fine with me.”
Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School who has written extensively about management behavior, as well as the N.B.A., said it seemed as if Silver was trying to highlight the ways he differs from his predecessor, David Stern, who was seen to be more authoritarian when it came to interacting with the players.
Stern instituted a dress code for the league, and he helped the owners win big concessions from the players during the last round of collective bargaining, in 2011.
Galinsky said Silver’s colloquial handshakes, in contrast, seemed like an effort to project a sense of partnership, which may be needed with negotiations already underway on a new N.B.A. labor deal to take effect after the 2016-17 season.
“It’s a symbol of, ‘We’re coming from the same place, rather than different places; we’re on the same side, not different sides,’ ” Galinsky said.
The handshakes may also symbolize the ways Silver has tried to navigate a league in which three-quarters of the players are black — and a large majority of team owners are white — and where black culture to an extent serves as a lingua franca within locker rooms.
LaMont Hamilton, an interdisciplinary artist who has conducted extensive research on African-American gestural language for a project on the dap, said the handshake originated from black soldiers serving in the Vietnam War and grew to prominence in conjunction with the Black Power movement.

“This is a secret handshake that’s done publicly,” Hamilton said. “It’s meant to be visible, but only people who understand its significance are initiated.”

Daps, which come in various forms, are now performed by people of all races and ages. The process of becoming mainstream has stripped the gesture in many contexts of much of its original meaning. But in the opinion of Hamilton, it remains an evocative act.
“I hate to put it in monolithic terms, but it’s a way of connecting blackness,” Hamilton said.
As for Silver, he said he was conscious of fostering a sense of partnership with the players, and he refers often to his feeling that the N.B.A. and its various subgroups constitute a family.
“The players recognize that often, I’m in an adversarial position from them, just by virtue of my job,” Silver said. “My sense is they’re sophisticated enough to see and understand that we’re all playing roles. I’m doing a job. They’re doing their jobs. But we’re in the N.B.A., and there is a sense that this is a family and that, at a personal level, we can count on each other.”
Justise Winslow, whom the Miami Heat selected with the 10th pick in last June’s draft, wondered at first whether he and the commissioner were forming a special bond when they greeted each another that night.
Then he realized Silver was offering the same handshake to almost everyone else.
“I thought he just did that with other Dukies,” Winslow said, smiling, in reference to Duke, their shared alma mater. “It’s cool. We were at the luncheon before the draft, and we dapped up then, too.”

Adam Silver welcomes Kristaps Prozingis to the NBA w/ an Epic Dap for the Ages!
Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks’ standout rookie, recalled his own anxiety at that draft. The team’s fans were jeering him as he traversed the Barclays Center stage as the No. 4 pick, but his mind was on something else entirely: Silver’s right arm.
“I was just focused on trying to read him, how he was going to give me his hand, so that it was not an awkward shake,” Porzingis said.
Porzingis watched Silver angle his fingers upward and out, so he followed his lead. They clasped thumbs and palmed each other’s shoulders. It was a smooth interaction that left Porzingis at once relieved and impressed.
“He doesn’t go for the regular shake,” Porzingis said. “That’s kind of cool. That’s the swag we have in the N.B.A.”
It was the exact congenial vibe Silver said he hoped to foster. He hesitated a moment, though, when told that Porzingis noted he had displayed “swag.”
“I’m not going to agree with that,” Silver said, finally. “But I appreciate the compliment from Kristaps.” — Andrew Keh | The New York Times

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sled Dogs: A One Of A Kind Breed

One of a kind: Sled dogs count as their own breed, according to a new genetic analysis

Sled Dogs: A Breed of Their Own

Breeders of purebred dogs select them largely for their looks. Golden retrievers are yellow and shaggy; basset hounds are short with long ears. But Alaskan sled dogs are selected to be fast, tough, and hard working. That's been enough to make them a distinct breed, according to a new genetic study.
When Heather Huson was growing up in Pennsylvania, her stepfather went to see a sled dog race and fell in love with the sport. "I started racing when I was 7," she says. Her family moved to upstate New York when she was a teenager because it had better snow. Now she's a graduate student in genetics at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks—but she's still interested in sled dogs.

Huson was interested in studying the genetics behind performance in her beloved animals. For this study, Huson visited eight kennels—four that specialize in distance races like the Iditarod, and four that specialize in sprints, races of 5 to 50 kilometers that last only a few hours. All of them use Alaskan sled dogs. Huson, who trained as a veterinary technician before graduate school, drew blood from a total of 199 dogs—"easier than trimming toenails," she says—and she or someone at the kennel ran each dog and scored its speed, endurance, and work ethic (i.e., how much of the run it was actively pulling as opposed to letting its teammates do the work).
Alaskan sled dogs seem like they shouldn't have much in common genetically. They look different—they can be long-haired or short-haired, floppy-eared or perky-eared, 13 or 30 kilograms. And though breeders of distance dogs tend to stick to other Alaskan sled dogs, sprint-dog breeders mix in other breeds, like English pointers, shorthaired pointers, and even greyhounds. But Huson found much more commonality than she anticipated.

To figure out which breeds the dogs were most closely related to, Huson analyzed microsatellites, small, repeating sequences of DNA. In earlier work, one of her co-authors had figured out patterns of microsatellites that identify each of 141 purebreds. Huson expected that sled dogs' microsatellites would group them with Siberian huskies or Alaskan malamutes, the breeds that were their most likely ancestors. But instead, they formed "their own little genetic group," she says—essentially a breed of their own, as unique as poodles or corgis. Although the microsatellite patterns of one sled-pulling mutt might include his pointer grandpa and Siberian forebears, most of the microsatellites represented the unique Alaskan sled dog pattern. "This is saying, 'Here's another genetic breed of dog, but they were selected for and bred based on performance,' " not on looks, Huson says. The study will appear online tomorrow in BMC Genetics.
Huson also determined which breeds brought different attributes to the dogs. Dogs with a lot of malamute and husky blood had more endurance; those with ancestors that were pointers and salukis were speedier.

Don't look for the Alaskan sled dog at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show anytime soon, though. The people who breed these dogs use them for work and have no particular interest in lobbying the American Kennel Club to recognize them as purebreds, Huson says.
The conclusion that sled dogs represent their own breed is unexpected, says evolutionary biologist Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. "It was a bit of a surprise to find that they're distinct from everything else." The work, he notes, should lead the way to finding genes behind a variety of behaviors in these dogs, like the willingness to pull a sled. — Helen Fields | Science Mag

Friday, February 5, 2016

Climbing The Great Pyramid Of Giza

Climbing The Great Pyramid Of Giza

Hello! It’s been awhile since my last post on my Blog. Today I want to tell you a bit about Cairo and my climb to the top of the Great Pyramid in Giza.
When I arrived at the airport in Cairo I knew that my hotel was located near the Talaat Harb Square but not where exactly. I wanted to take the metro in the early morning to Ramses Station and try to find my hotel. I decided to wait outside but that was a little problem. Around 10 people came up to me asking me for taxis. It is difficult to describe but I do not trust anybody of the taxi drivers. My thoughts were: “Maybe the driver will take me to a side street and he will rob me”. After 2 hours sitting around and doing nothing I decided to take a taxi to my hotel.
Before I entered the taxi I made a fix price with the driver (160 EGP). When I arrived at the hotel he wanted 50€ from me. I eased and gave him the money. These were my first impressions.
Now it’s time for my favorite part of my visit. The pyramid of Giza. The last standing world wonder. I took a taxi to the area of Giza where the pyramids are located. The hotel organized me a taxi with a fair price.

It is inconceivable that the pyramids were made without any machines. If you are standing in front of the pyramid it’s stunning.

Walking around in the complex I was waiting for the right moment to start climbing The Great Pyramid of Giza. When I started climbing a street seller was standing behind me but I didn’t care about him I turned around he laughed and I continued climbing.
At the half some people got attention on me and looked up to. That’s how the police spotted me. They shouted something in Arabic I think but I didn’t care and kept going while listening to music.

From the very top of the Cheops Pyramid. It took me around 8 minutes to reach the top. Climbing down took me 20 minutes. Safety first!

In the background you can see Giza. Before my trip I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to go to Cairo but I was happy that I went there. Together against terror. At the last day there was a terror attack near the pyramids. A few people have been killed. That made me even thoughtfully.

Thank you for your attention. Until next time! Make sure to check out my video on YouTube from the pyramid climb! — Andrej Ciesielski

Ride Along: Danilo Gallinari's Life In Denver After Melo Trade

Ride Along: Danilo Gallinari on Life in Denver and the Melo Trade

Danilo Gallinari was once the neophyte toast of New York City. Now he's a seasoned vet coming back from a major injury in Denver. Through it all, he's been the most famous Italian basketball player in the world. In our newest episode of RIDE ALONG, we flipped the format with a bike ride to the Pepsi Center and discussed everything from getting traded for Carmelo to the crime lords that fill his Netflix queue.

2008 NBA Draft | New York Knicks | 1st Round | 6th Pick

Danilo Gallinari | #8 | SF | 6' 10" 225 lbs | Denver Nuggets


THE KILLDOZER — Bulldozer Rampage

An angry man bent on revenge builds a customized armored bulldozer to tear apart a small town.

†  †  †


Weird history accurately researched and presented humorously.
This month’s topic: Marvin Heemeyer and the terrifying killdozer he built to punish the whole town for being a dick to him.

“You meddled in my business, and took what I deserve away. You took advantage of my good nature. And another thing you should learn is that when you visit evil upon someone, be assured it will revisit you and that is what is happening.”

Those are the immortal words of Marvin Heemeyer, from his recorded manifesto. He later took an impenetrable bulldozer he had secretly built and nearly leveled his entire town. Precisely what you do when you have God on your side and some people were total dicks to you, right?

But how does someone get to the point where they build a Killdozer? Well, this yellow brick road is paved with mufflers. In the early 1990s, Marvin Heemeyer moved to the tiny Colorado town of GrandLake; population of about 450 people. He started a small chain of muffler repair shops, particularly one in Granby, less than twenty miles away. People described him as a terrific friend, albeit with a temper. He wrote his own newsletter about his views on politics, especially about how much he wanting gambling legalized. A newspaper interviewed him about his pro-gambling stance for an editorial, but when the reporter started reading points made by the opposition so Heemeyer could comment on them, he lost it and tried to beat the shit out the reporter. Another time, when a woman refused to pay for a muffler job she claimed he botched, he threatened to kill her husband. But that’s just Marv for you—don’t take no shit from no one.

Early on, Heemeyer bought two acres of land next to his main muffler shop from a federal agency for $42,000. He was later approached by the Docheff family, who wanted to buy the land and build a concrete plant. They agreed on the price of $250,000 but according to the family, he changed his mind and wanted $375,000, and then later started saying he wanted one million dollars. The Docheffs gave up talking to Heemeyer. They went to the city council about rezoning the property instead.

In 2001, Granby’s zoning commission and trustees approved to have a cement manufacturing plant built adjacent to Heemeyer’s muffler repair shop, despite Heemeyer showing up to all the city council meetings, probably pissed about never receiving a million-dollar deal. He was also using that land to get in and out of his muffler repair shop and the plant would close him in. His appeal against the construction was denied, and because kicking an angry animal is always the best plan, the town decided to fine him $2,500 for bullshit minor offenses, like having junk cars on his property and not being hooked up to a sewer line (was he shitting in a hole? Who’s to say). He attempted to get a petition with signatures from the community, asked if he could build a road to his shop, and tried get permission to cross eight feet of the cement plant’s property to hook up a sewer line. Everyone denied him.

Heemeyer, however, wasn’t one to accept defeat.

Heemeyer sent in a $2,500 check for the fines, with “cowards” written on the memo line. He had bought a bulldozer to build a road so costumers could access his repair shop, but its construction hadn’t been approved, and I’m guessing all bulldozer sales are final. He leased his shop to a trash company and then eventually sold the property. The new owners gave him six months to move out, but Heemeyer did the exact opposite and holed himself up in there with his bulldozer. Whatever was holding him together finally unraveled. Somewhere inside his “Give me a million dollars and read my political newsletter” brain a voice told him to start building. The lord’s voice. He’s was a mission from God, and we all know how well those stories end. (The Blues Brothers being the one exception.)

“I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things,” Heemeyer scribbled on scrap paper later found in his work shed. But he had a knack for more than clichés and rambling manifestos; he was also a wizard at building death machines. Whoever bought the property must not have checked up on it because Heemeyer was in there for a year and a half. He started modifying the bulldozer by first armoring it with thick slabs of steel, adhering them to the vehicle with large amounts of cement. In some places, the steel was a foot thick. That way the engine and tracks would be protected and it could withstand things like really big bullets or little bombs. He installed front and rear cameras wired to several monitors inside the cabin, to see where he was going. The cameras were protected on the outside by three inches of bullet-resistant plastic. Compressed air nozzles were fitted to blow dust away from the camera lenses. Fans and an air conditioner were set up in the cabin, as well as an air tank for circulation so Heemeyer wouldn’t get sweaty doing the lord’s work. There were three gun ports for a sniper rifle, another high-powered rifle, and a semi-automatic boomstick (confession: I have no working knowledge of gun vocabulary), all protected by a half-inch steel plate. Water and snacks were well stocked in the cabin, because he would need those Capri Suns and orange slices at halftime to keep going.

Several friends visited him to see how he was doing, but, according to Heemeyer, despite having part of the bulldozer in full view, no one saw it. He tried to get caught and nothing happened, which logically means God clouded their eyes so he could continue with his mission. “God blessed me in advance for the task that I am about to undertake. It is my duty. God has asked me to do this. It’s a cross that I am going to carry and I’m carrying it in God’s name.” These insightful quotes are not from the Bible, but from Heemeyer’s written or recorded manifesto. It lays out his motive for his dozer attack, but it’s really just a diary. It’s full of his feelings and thoughts, with the thesis being that he’s right, they’re wrong, and God is on his side. He mailed the nearly three-hour recorded message to his brother, who promptly gave it to the FBI because it’s three hours of someone talking out the justification for a killdozer.

Unfortunately, 2004 wasn’t a good year for Heemeyer. His father died and he caught his fiancée boning another dude. So on June 4, he woke up, mailed his manifesto tapes to his brother, and grabbed his handwritten list of targets. He lowered and attached the final thirty-ton top armor. In a puff of heavenly exhaust fumes and to the sound of a choir of muffler angels, the killdozer was born. He entered the bulldozer, welded himself into the cabin, and at about 3 PM, drove through the side of the shed, and smashed into the cement plant. Within several minutes, two cement plant buildings and a pile of cars were destroyed. A Docheff family member started yelling, but took off after being shot at from one of the gun ports and called 9-1-1. Then the killdozer rumbled towardstown.

Cops were on the scene immediately but couldn’t actually do anything. One officer unloaded nearly forty bullets from his handgun into the beast with no effect whatsoever. Other officers tried to climb the dozer to find a way to stop it, but Heemeyer had planned for this and had coated the entire thing in oil. They slipped right off like bumbling cops in a cartoon. Realizing bullets were having absolutely no effect, they brought in some explosives. One officer dropped a flash grenade down the exhaust pipe. The explosives did nothing and the divinely protected killdozer rolled onward. Police then focused on warning the entire town to get the fuck out of Heemeyer’s way. Once everyone was clear, they got a large scraper to try and mecha-battle the killdozer, but were easily shoved aside as Heemeyer kept going.

Not one to go cruising, Heemeyer swerved around and made wide turns, trying to control the top-heavy bulldozer. Nevertheless, he was able to aim for all his targets. He destroyed the car and home of a former mayor, the newspaper office that sided against him in an editorial, the business of a former city council member, city hall, and the blameless library—eventually destroying thirteen buildings over a two-hour rampage before heading for Gamble’s Hardware store. Heemeyer had sued the owner of the store at some point and was, surprise, still angry. About this time, authorities were seeing if the Air Force might stop by with an anti-tank missile to stop the divinely unstoppable. Cops and SWAT had been following the bulldozer all this time, occasionally firing so they could feel like they were doing something.

Heavy exhaust and fluids started to leak from the dozer as it went crashing into the hardware store. The weight of the thing had started to take out the engine. At the same time, the front end of the destroyer broke through the floor and into the shallow basement of the building. The engine was failing, the dozer was stuck, or both. As police and SWAT surrounded the weakened beast, a single muffled gunshot was heard within. After two hours and seven minutes and roughly seven million dollars in damage, the killdozer’s mission was over.

Despite the rampage ending, no one could get into the vehicle. Explosives still didn’t work, so it took twelve hours with a specialized torch and a crane to crack open the armored top. Inside lay Marvin Heemeyer, dead from a single self-inflected gun shot from a handgun he had packed in with him. He had every intension that this would be his final ride.

In the end, no one was injured. People still debate whether that was part of Heemeyer’s plan or proper planning by the police, especially since he had three mounted guns and a hit list with people’s names on it. Of course, pro-gun, anti-government online voices call him a “hero, patriot, [and] martyr” and think, as a nation, we should celebrate the day he destroyed everything and killed himself. The Shorebirds wrote a great song about him. The bulldozer was reduced to scraps and scattered between different landfills to deter collectors and destruction enthusiasts.

On the one hand, Heemeyer was anti-establishment and punk as fuck. But on the other hand, he was also a crazy person who thought God was guiding him into making a killdozer, which he then used to level an entire town full of people who didn’t all deserve it. Personally, as someone who constantly researches weird history, there is no greater evil deed than the destruction of a library.

This article is dedicated to Marv. Maybe. Actually, no, I take that back. — Donna Ramone | Razor Cake

Monday, February 1, 2016

Random Great Moments @ Norman's Rare Guitars

A Few Great Moments at Norman's Rare Guitars

The Norm's Touch

On any given day, you can walk into Norm's and see some of your favorite musicians and artists rocking out. Norm's offers lessons, repairs, trade-ins, and written appraisals. Although Norm's vintage guitars are the main attraction, he also carries an impressive collection of basses, amps, accessories, and clothing. You can purchase Norm's popular Lucky Brand shirt that appeared in the hit feature film Forgetting Sarah Marshall or the infamous Norman's Rare Guitars shirt that Nigel wears in the classic rock comedy Spinal Tap.

Norman's Rare Guitars | Located in 18969 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Return Of Punk Magazine — Rises From The Dead


In 1975, John Holmstrom and Eddie “Legs” McNeil stumbled into CBGB — the legendary and now-defunct punk club on the Bowery in Manhattan — to see the Ramones play eighteen minutes of blaring rock 'n' roll. As later recounted in McNeil’s 1996 bestseller, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy stomped into the dark, dingy room clad in black leather jackets and jeans, looking pissed-off and dangerous. Only a couple of notes into their first song, the Ramones started fighting with one another almost immediately, throwing their instruments to the ground and storming offstage. After taking a few minutes to cool off, the band plugged back in to finish up their set as Lou Reed laughed at the spectacle from his table.

The events of that night would serve as the foundation for the inaugural issue of Punk, the seminal counterculture magazine Holmstrom and McNeil founded with publisher Ged Dunn in January of 1976. Throughout much of the late Seventies, the publication helped mold and popularize the genre of punk rock in the U.S., providing a platform for interviews, essays, and cartoons centered around bands like the New York Dolls, the Sex Pistols, the Dictators, and the Stooges. This month marks the fortieth anniversary of Punk, and in honor of the milestone Holmstrom has collaborated with Howl! Arts, a nonprofit gallery and performance space on East 1st Street, for an exhibit featuring classic Punk magazine covers and rare memorabilia.
Today, the phrase “punk is dead” has become a worn-out cliché, the expression itself dead and buried long ago. But while punk, in many ways, continues to thrive in 2016 — expanding and becoming more diverse every year — Punk magazine and the exhibit at Howl! harks back to a time when the genre fed off raw attitude, angst, and rebellion.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a scene in the twentieth century that produced as much talent as the CBGB scene,” Holmstrom, who served as Punk’s chief cartoonist and editor, tells the Voice. “The music today is really terrible. You have all these generations today who want to be conformists. They all want to have a Facebook page that people ‘like.’ If we were young, we’d want everyone to hate our Facebook page.”
“It never bothered me at all that I wasn’t popular in high school,” he adds. “I liked being unpopular.”
Holmstrom met McNeil and Dunn while growing up in Cheshire, Connecticut, a small town fifteen miles north of New Haven. But it wasn’t until he moved to Manhattan to attend the School of Visual Arts that he had the idea to start a magazine, hoping to combine his love for music with his training as an illustrator. Having studied with Harvey Kurtzman, the founder of Mad magazine, and Will Eisner, the creator of the comic series The SpiritPunk would often take on the comedic, cartoonish style passed down by Holmstrom’s mentors.
Courtesy of Howl! Arts
By the mid Seventies, the term “punk” had already been printed in music magazines like Creem and NME, used to describe everything from hard rock to garage to glam. But Punk magazine is often credited with giving the term its definitive meaning and modern aesthetic, plastering New York City with posters that warned of the impending punk invasion. After getting his friends on board, Holmstrom volunteered to be editor, while Dunn, who passed away last year, would take on the role of publisher. McNeil, they agreed, would serve as their “resident punk,” a mascot and antihero of sorts for the magazine.
“John Holmstrom and his living cartoon creature, Legs McNeil, were two maniacs running around town putting up signs that said, ‘Punk Is Coming! Punk Is Coming!’” remembers Blondie’s Debbie Harry in Please Kill Me. “We thought, 'Here comes another shitty group with an even shittier name.'”

The name stuck, however, and soon the mainstream media started coming around, asking questions about the new phenomenon.
“You’d pick up Creem magazine and they would write about punk rock as if everybody knew what it was,” says Holmstrom, who also illustrated the album covers for the Ramones’ Rocket to Russia andRoad to Ruin. “I was kind of shocked, because when we brought out Punk all of a sudden the media shows up and they’re asking us, ‘What’s punk rock?’ And to me, it was like, ‘Hey, it’s rock 'n' roll.’”
The magazine quickly built up a subscription base of 2,500 and started distributing more than 20,000 copies each issue. McNeil would repeatedly leave the magazine, feeling frustrated by his role and returning as an editor. And though a number of writers published in the pages of the magazine went on to form illustrious careers — McNeil among them — Holmstrom found it difficult to sit many of his contributors down and have them actually write about music. He remembers the legendary rock critic Lester Bangs stumbling into the Punk magazine headquarters, an old office space on 10th Avenue and 30th Street nicknamed the "Punk Dump." In the past Bangs had only allowed his poetry to be published in Punk (“His poetry sucked!” Holmstrom still moans today), but having quit Creem in 1976, he came to New York looking for new work.

“He showed up in our office. I think he was probably doing speed and drinking, and he sat down and banged something out on the typewriter,” Holmstrom says. “It was this rambling crazy thing that was unpublishable. I think I edited it and I ended up with about four usable sentences.”

The magazine’s rise was meteoric but short-lived. By the end of the Seventies, the Sex Pistols had imploded, and chants of “punk is dead” were already starting to take hold. Tom Forcade, the founder of High Times, died in 1978. Larry Flynt, the publisher ofHustler, was shot that same year. Holmstrom considered both allies of Punk, and saw his dreams of having the magazine picked up by a larger distributor drift away. Fear around the unsavory, dangerous aspects of the genre became a hot-button issue in the media, too, and Holmstrom felt the tides turning against him. 
“There was political pressure to put us out of business,” he says. “Everybody hated punk. Everybody hated the term; everybody was afraid of it. Debbie Harry and Blondie were [associated with] punk and radio stations were afraid to interview her. They thought that she’d pull a knife on them.”
“Sometimes I think God hates punk rock,” he adds, thinking back to the closing of CBGB and the many calamities that have derailed the movement over the years.

Though Holmstrom briefly revived Punk in the early Aughts, the magazine’s original incarnation folded in 1979. Today, he says he’s been asked to resuscitate the publication once again and is willing to bring Punk back from the dead if he can find the right financial backer. Until then, the exhibit at Howl!, which concludes its run this weekend, provides a window into the glory days of punk — a style that continues to inspire revolt and rebellion among America's youth even 40 years later.
“If you think about it, these kids are born after the Ramones broke up, but they still love the music. It’s still associated with something dangerous and people still hate it,” Holmstrom says fondly. “No music form is dead. Punk is not dead. Rock 'n' roll is not dead. There’s always some band out there that keeps the music alive.” — Jackson Connor | The Village Voice

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Roger Ebert — More Than Just A Film Critic

Life Itself - Official Trailer

Acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) along with executive producers Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball) present LIFE ITSELF, a film that recounts the inspiring, entertaining and colorful life of world-renowned film critic Roger Ebert--a story that is by turns personal, funny, moving and transcendent. 

LIFE ITSELF (2014) -starring- Roger Ebert | Directed by Steve James

Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, LIFE ITSELF, explores Roger Ebert's legacy--his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times, his turn as screenwriter of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, his on and off screen relationship with Gene Siskel, all culminating in his ascension as one of the most influential cultural voices in America.

Chaz Ebert, Wife Of Deceased Film Critic Roger Ebert, 'Used To Like Gene Siskel Better' — Huffington Post

† R.I.P. — Gene Siskel (January 26th, 1946 – February 20th, 1999) — R.I.P. 

Remembering Gene by Roger Ebert

R.I.P. Roger Ebert (June 18th, 1942 – April 4th, 2013) R.I.P.


I Am Street Fighter | 25th Anniversary Documentary

I Am Street Fighter - 25th Anniversary Documentary

Street Fighter was designed by Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto — making its arcade debut in 1987. Originally called "Fighting Street" before morphing into "Street Fighter" — galactically transforming into a larger-than-life / legendary video game franchise by Capcom.
The revolutionary fighting game's playable characters originate from various countries around the world — each with his or her own unique fighting style & technique. Capcom's colossal franchise would achieve worldwide success and attain a cult-like following.
Street Fighter and its memorable characters, revolutionary graphics, signature sound-effects and unforgettable moves has evolved through-out the years as well as through many generations — remaining one of thee most popular video games in the world today.

DID YOU KNOW? Approx. 67 total playable Street Fighting characters thus far!
Hadoken! The History of Street Fighter — CCC

Street Fighter 5 | Official Trailer

Capcom Co., Ltd. founded in 1979 created Street Fighter and released it on Arcades in 1987 and still now is releasing the series on different platforms.

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