Tag Archives: paste magazine

the year in album art

13 Dec

Six of the year's best album covers, according to Paste Magazine

Paste Magazine‘s List of the Day yesterday was the year’s best album art. Scrolling through, I realized I’d seen a lot of the covers, even if I hadn’t heard the album, and I remembered being struck the first time I saw the art for Gloss Drop by Battles (No. 26) and Mastodon’s The Hunter (No. 6). Cut Copy’s Zonoscope was one I’d missed, but it definitely deserved its place at number five. And though King of Limbs lost its luster after a few listens, I did love its artwork, so I’m glad it made the list at seventeen.

The blue ribbon? Iron & Wine’s Kiss Each Other Clean, an album and cover that didn’t mesmerize me. Assuming I was missing something, I searched for some information on who made it. Continue reading

the man from callicoon

21 Jul

Mark Ruffalo talks with the reincarnated Paste about Callicoon, a central New York town he’s made home for 15 years. Its population? 250.

“You know, I came up here while I was doing a play. All my possessions were in boxes and a suitcase. I came out to visit a friend, and he had 70 acres that he’d bought for $70,000. And I saw it, and I was like, ‘Are you joking? 70 acres? I have friends who pay more for cars than that.’ And I had about $5,000 saved. And I started driving around with a realtor and I took the second place I saw. It wasn’t 70 acres, but it was 30 acres, and it was only $40,000. I owned my second home before I even owned my first home. And that became a 15-year love affair.”

It’s hard to know whether a modest place cultivates a sense of humility in a person, or whether humility drives a person to seek a modest place.

“People talk to you here, not around you. Almost to the point where you wish you could get away, but there’s nowhere to run. I mean, this is serious living here; it’s not for the faint of heart. You live really deeply into your life, in a way.”

The rest of the piece is good too, and there’s video of him describing what he had to do physically to become The Hulk in the upcoming Avengers film. Check it out—and the rest of the new Pastehere.

Look what the Cat (me) dragged in (from last September)

19 Mar


OK, friend and fellow journalist-+-music-connoisseur Christina Hansen (pictured below) fell in love with the Golden Shoulders (from Nevada City, CA) pretty soon after I did. I specifically remember class together (Linda Puntney shout out goes here), listening to them while we designed K-State’s J-School Alum Magazine together.


Then Miss Hansen goes off to intern at Paste and blows us all away and has this secret mission to get the Shoulders mentioned in the magazine. And as far as I knew, she never pulled it off, despite her best, and wily, efforts.

But then, lo and behold, I find this. It may be published online, but who cares? Christina, in my eyes, you have succeeded. You are a golden god (that particular rock appears a lot in this piece). So here’s to you, this article, that band, those memories, and (hopefully) some more songs from them soon.

(Word on the street is they wrap up recording soon)

And as for all you music-lovin’, book-readin’ types back in Manhattan — stay tuned for a Golden Shoulders stop at the Dusty Bookshelf next fall. That is if they don’t stray too far from the norm… dusty1

And for Chicagoans, May 15, allegedly.


Bad News Bingo

19 Mar

By Muriel Vega on March 18, 2009 3:20 PM

Renting a movie is like a purchase with insurance: If you don’t like the movie, at least you paid $4 for it and you don’t own it; but if you love it, you get to watch it and all the special features at a fraction of the retail price. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is about to take the insurance away from us. Starting March 31, Fox will begin stripping rental DVDs of their special features in an attempt to increase DVD sales.

There will be two types of discs: premium versions with special features and a digital copy for the retail market and stripped-down offerings for rental. The rental copies will not contain special features such as deleted scenes, commentaries and featurettes with the cast and director.

The new policy may not work as efficiently as they expect because according to the First Sale Doctrine, retailers are allowed to rent legally purchased DVDs. This means customers may still see retail copies at Blockbuster.

The question is: What will Netflix do? Netflix customers have enjoyed renting DVDs with special features since its inception, and they are not a mortar store. Will Fox include them in the policy?

The first DVDs to face the new policy include Marley & Me, Slumdog Millionaire, The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Wrestler and Notorious.


Excerpts from MY HISTORY OF VIOLENCE by John H. Richardson

22 Jan

A rumination on art, death, truth, hubris and the unsexy call for media accountability

~+~ When I was a cub reporter starting out at the Albuquerque Tribune, I found a report in the police blotter about a pair of 16-year-old lovers who gassed themselves in a car. I about choked on how great a story it was, did a little reporting, found out they did it in a closed garage and that their bodies were discovered by the very same parents who were trying to split them up. Then I pitched it to my editor. no way, he said. I said, “What? Are you crazy? It’s Romeo and fucking Juliet!” He gave me a sad look. “If I run this story, and give it big play and a nice layout, I guarantee you there will be a copycat suicide. Maybe a bunch of them. Do you want that on your conscience?”

~+~ I said, it’s not my responsibility what crazy people do. It’s the truth and that’s what I want to write, the truth. Would you tell Shakespeare to stick to comedies? Would you tell Tolstoy to write Peace and Peace? I may have even cited my old college professor Sylvère Lotringer, who taught a class on death and who once told me that the cheap horror movies I loved in those days (from Halloween to The Evil Dead) were “an inoculation” against the violence in society.

~+~ Somehow, my editor managed to resist my blinding rhetorical onslaught. He didn’t run the piece. And I thought, this little burg is just too small-town for me, baby. These people don’t understand art. They don’t understand transgression. So I went to Hollywood. And just after I got there, some guy made a movie called The Program that had a scene where some kids lay down on a highway divider as a dare—and sure enough, there were copycats out in Pennsylvania who laid their dumb asses down on highway dividers and got squashed. And the studio said, hey, it’s not our responsibility what crazy people do. These people just don’t understand art.

~+~One day I found myself at lunch with David Fincher at one of those L.A. restaurants so impossibly cool it looks like a warehouse from the outside. He told me about this movie he wanted to make about serial killers. I tried to talk him out of it. “Make something human instead,” I begged him. “Something about real people and real problems, not fantasy bullshit about psycho killers you never met and have nothing in common with.” But no, that polite and likeable young man went out and made Se7en, a movie only a sociopath could love. Then Fight Club, another nauseating piece of “cool” bullshit about how everybody else is crazy except us artists who are just using all this violence as… social criticism. …Judging by the canonization of Cormac McCarthy, who writes about scalpings and coin-flipping symbols of death and babies roasted on spits and the Apocalypse Blooming From Every Man’s Evil Heart, nihilism is now so universally confused with profundity that even the serious literary establishment can’t see that he’s really just Stephen King without the entertainment value.

~+~So I tried looking at it from the pain-artists point of view. The beast is already there in every heart, and muzzling him just rouses a nasty temper. So why not let art take him out on a leash? Why not write a thriller and let him romp a little?

Good little beast. Watch the teeth.

As self-serving justifications go, it’s a popular one. Cormac McCarthy rarely does interviews because he’s too busy playing with scorpions and Mojave rattlesnakes, but 16 years ago he gave this response to a question about his use of extreme violence: “There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.”

~+~So these people have no conscience, no heart and very little between their ears besides platitudes about living on the edge that were better expressed in Conan the Barbarian—or Mein Kampf. Even if you take Astrid’s generous view that they are merely expressing the pain that has been inflicted on them, how is that any different than an abused child growing up to beat his wife?

~+~It’s true that there are lots of troubling studies, including one where kids who watched violent TV hesitated to call grownups when they saw a fight and felt less sympathy for the victims. But do TV and movies really desensitize us more effectively than old-school methods like going to war or slaughtering animals in the barn? On this point, Palahniuk may actually be right—it’s the lack of real violence in modern life that makes us crave fantasy violence. Which is why he’s thrilled that real fight clubs are popping up in backyards across America. “It has to be meeting a need,” he says. “If there wasn’t a reward or big pay off, why the hell would people be doing it?”

~+~But there’s one thing nobody can dispute. However dubious the general cultural critiques are, the copycat effect is real. After The Deer Hunter opened, at least 31 kids died imitating the Russian roulette scene. People will imitate anything, and you never know what it’s going to be. In 1774, Goethe published a novel called The Sorrows of Young Werther about a romantic lad who shot himself because he was in love with the 18th-century version of Jessie’s girl. Soon “Werther fever” swept through Europe: Some 2,000 young men killed themselves. …And every few years some bonehead penitente dies on the cross after taking the whole imitation-of-Christ thing a little too seriously. If you’re going to be serious about solving this problem, the only real solution is to censor everything.

~+~The experience changed him (William Matrisimone, writer of Pulp Ficition) forever. The next thing he wrote was called “Confessions of a Violent Movie Writer,” a goodbye-to-all-that essay full of furious zingers: The kids cheering Natural Born Killers were “drunken Roman citizens watching humans thrown to the beasts in the Colosseum,” the kids watching Pulp Fiction “weren’t seeing black comedy. They were loving the total freedom of these two men to rove about with guns.” The Hollywood filmmakers who denied the connection between entertainment and violence were “no different than the cigarette companies who lied for decades that there is no cause-and-effect between smoke and cancer.”

Then again, it’s not like Mastrosimone completely turned his back on violence. After all, he massacred a whole Indian village for Into the West. So if a guy goes into the Bada Bing Club and smacks a stripper, fine. Gangsters smack strippers. But why keep hitting her? Why show the blood? Why kick her in the teeth? Because certain things do trigger people. The kid who murdered three classmates in West Paducah, Ky., said he was inspired by Leo DiCaprio in Basketball Diaries, the scene where he’s humiliated and comes back and shoots them all. “It’s only a dream in the movie,” Mastrosimone said, “and that’s what people in Hollywood say—‘It’s only a dream.’ But it’s not just a dream for the people watching it. It has an emotional impact.”

~+~Yes, we should be concerned. Although the desensitization phenomenon is neither new nor all that statistically significant, certain types of things seem to trigger imitation, especially violent public revenge against bullies, and also some forms of suicide—my editor back in Albuquerque was right about that. Children are especially vulnerable. But I’m still writing the thriller. In fact, I just wrote my first really violent scene and it was more fun than I’ve had at my desk in years.

Originally published in Paste Magazine, September, Issue 47
You can find the essay in its original form here.