Tag Archives: mister

The Singer of "Love Shack" Is Back With an Upbeat Solo Album

Mother Jones

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The B-52s have kept their glittery, campy party vibe going for nearly four decades, from early jams like “Rock Lobster,” through later hits like “Love Shack,” right up to 2008 with the release of their well-received album Funplex. With retro outfits, beehive hairdos, and funky dance moves, they made the thrift-store esthetic cool before Macklemore was even born. But while the band continues to perform live, founding member Keith Strickland announced in 2012 he would stop touring and no new music appears to be on the horizon.

Kate Pierson

Yet Kate Pierson, the band’s bassist, keyboard player, and singer, shows no signs of slowing down. This month, at age 66, she’ll release her first solo album, Guitars and Microphones. It pulses with energy and spunk powered by Pierson’s towering vocals and melodies from the enigmatic pop artist Sia, who produced the album.

“Sia and I were laughing all the time,” said Pierson about making the album. “It was a real fun process, light-hearted, it was magical.”

Pierson spoke with me about her new project from her snowed-in house in Woodstock, New York, where, when not on the road, she leads a quiet life with her partner Monica Coleman and their dogs. We covered the excitement and exhaustion of touring, ageism in rock and roll, Glee‘s rendition of “Rock Lobster,” and the trans community’s reaction to her new song “Mister Sister.”

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The Singer of "Love Shack" Is Back With an Upbeat Solo Album

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This Jeopardy Champ and Proud Geek Gives Swirlies to Gamergaters in His Spare Time

Mother Jones

Like Disney and the WWF, the game show Jeopardy! has its villains—or at least one, in the form of Arthur Chu, the 30-year-old Cleveland native who took home nearly $300,000 after winning an 11-game streak and seemingly pissing off half of America. How? His sins ranged from “pounding the bejesus out of his buzzer” to skipping wildly around the board in search of Daily Doubles, setting longtime viewers’ heads on fire. The “Jeopardy! bad boy” has continued courting controversy since his February appearance with a number of provocative essays on race and gender issues. He’s recently had a lot to say about Gamergate, a fierce debate going on in the world of video games over issues of diversity and harassment of women. I talked to Chu right before his Jeopardy! return in this week’s Tournament of Champions.

Mother Jones: So how does one study for Jeopardy?

Arthur Chu: A lot of flashcards. There’s a whole online community where people archive clues from the past. Since I talked about using that, I think they’ve started writing the show to make it harder.

People say Jeopardy! is getting “dumbed down” because there are more pop culture questions. I think it’s the opposite. There’s only so many classic operas you can study. For pop culture, you have to actually watch the shows. There’s one every week! It’s much harder.

MJ: What’s your buzzer strategy?

AC: The thing about being a lifelong gamer is that my eye-to-hand reaction time is faster than average. I actually went on a website that tests your reaction time and verified this to my satisfaction.

I knew Ken Jennings loved to buzz in and then start to try to figure out the answer after buzzing. Ken’s very smart, but that’s a little too dangerous for me. Jeopardy! is won partially by keeping your mouth shut when you aren’t sure, so you don’t lose points by getting something wrong.

Really, when you practice watching the show, you should practice reading ahead of Alex’s talking so that by the instant he’s done talking, you’ve digested the question and decided whether you know it or not.

MJ: The times you’ve played, were there any categories you just dreaded, and prayed they wouldn’t come up?

AC: Sports was a huge handicap for me in my original run. And what’s worse, it’s known that it was a huge handicap for me because everyone reported on that famous Daily Double where I bet $5 and blew off the clue. So I felt like I had to shore that up, and studied a ton of sports.

MJ: Switching topics to another kind of gaming, the Gamergate debate is clearly on some level a backlash to demands for better diversity in video games. But a lot of gamers say the lack of female lead characters in games—or brown characters, queer characters, and so on—simply isn’t a problem that needs fixing.

AC: You hear a lot of this. “Why are you dragging real-life politics into cyberspace? I go to gaming to get away from real-life issues.” For a lot of geeks, gaming is all about stripping who you are completely and entering this imaginary space, this world that’s made for you, where winning and losing have nothing to do with real life. They try to argue that representation in games has not been an issue because nobody is really themselves in a game; it’s all just avatars. They’re not seeing the many ways in which that’s not true.

This is a conversation that we’ve needed to have for a long time. And now it’s being dragged into the open.

MJ: So why are we having this conversation now?

AC: From the beginning, the internet has been dominated by white men. So if you wanted to be a part of the internet and you weren’t a white man, you had to adapt yourself to their world. It became normal for women on the internet to adopt gender-neutral or male screen names. If you’re not white, you didn’t talk about your background. It became normal to subsume yourself into a generalized American identity.

We’ve sort of reached a tipping point where people are tired of that. People are saying, “Look, I’m gay”—for instance—”and being gay is important to me and I’m going to talk about it and I’m not going to just sit here and pretend that the many little ways you take a crap on my identity don’t matter.”

MJ: I’ve noticed that the vast majority of people supporting Gamergate online are using anonymous avatars, while a lot of the people they’re piling on to are writing under their real names.

AC: It’s part of the whole idea that the internet is just “for lulz,” that the internet’s not real. Look at 4chan culture, which is the ultimate version of shedding your IRL in real life identity—you don’t even keep a consistent screen name from thread to thread. That’s very important to them, this belief in the possibility that what I do online is completely separate from who I really am.

MJ: Do you have any empathy with the young men who are the bulk of this movement, who, whether they realize it or not, are pretty clearly grappling with some gnarly issues of identity and change?

AC: Oh yeah, I do. I think I’ve tried to be open about the fact that I’ve changed a lot. As an early adopter of the internet, I’ve changed as the internet has changed, and I regret a lot of the things that I used to believe or used to do.

MJ: Like what?

AC: For example, in college I was known as Mister Reasonable Neutrality, always trying to find the middle, to be “rational.” And now that’s almost a cliché—that annoying guy on the internet who insists on playing devil’s advocate, on having a “rational debate,” insisting that emotions are always wrong or biased.

It took me a while to realize that it doesn’t help anyone to have these rational debates. A rational debate is never going to lead to an objectively rational conclusion. It’s never going to pull people out of where they are.

MJ: I feel like anyone who’s spent any time on Reddit has met That Guy.

AC: The joke when I was a teenager was, “Someday you’ll all be working for me.” Being a nerd meant being good with computers, book knowledge, and data, and being bad with people. So the idea was that if you got really good at working with things and manipulating objects, you’d reach a point in life where you wouldn’t need people to like you. You’d win purely by merit. There’s nowhere on Earth where this is actually true, but there’s people who believe that.

That’s why so much of nerd culture involves these power fantasies full of magic—literally reshaping the world through thinking about it—and superheroes with super abilities. It’s also why a lot of the people in geeky subcultures gravitate towards libertarianism. There’s a strong ideological belief in wiping out “politics,” because politics means having to interact with people, and negotiating with people who have different interests.

MJ: So you know a bit about being on the receiving end of a lot of online hate. Most of us will never experience anything like this. What was it like?

AC: I’m glad it happened the way it did. I became a C-list celeb for being controversial. I’m the guy everybody hates. I’m the villain. I thought, I can embrace that.

Every time I write an article, it’s like, I’ve already been the “most hated man in America” for this really dumb thing. How could it get any worse if it were for something I actually believe? I’ve got the money already from being on this stupid game show. The limelight is an unexpected bonus. If I use the limelight to make people like me for a fake image of me, abandon these things I was so passionate about back when it was just me writing to a bunch of my friends on Facebook, then what kind of a person am I?

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This Jeopardy Champ and Proud Geek Gives Swirlies to Gamergaters in His Spare Time

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Here Are Two Videos of NYPD Officers Pummeling Teenagers Suspected of Weed Possession

Mother Jones

Two videos emerged this week capturing officers of the New York City Police Department beating two reportedly unarmed teenagers suspected of marijuana possession.

The first recording is of surveillance footage showing officers swiftly approaching 16-year-old Kahreem Tribble after he was seen tossing a black bag onto a Brooklyn street. The video appears to show Tribble then slowing down, attempting to surrender.

Tribble puts his hands in the air, but the officers ignore him and begin pistol-whipping him in the face. He reportedly suffered cracked teeth, bruises, and bleeding in the mouth.

One officer has been suspended without pay; another placed on modified duty.

The second video, reported today, just one day after Tribble’s incident was uncovered, shows 17-year-old Marcel Hamer lying on the street while being placed under arrest. Hamer can be heard screaming, “Mister! It was just a cigarette!”

The arresting officer proceeds to punch Hamer in the face, who is immediately knocked out and appears lifeless on the street.

“Yeah, get it on film,” the officer can be heard taunting onlookers.

Hamer’s family says he now has brain damage.

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Statistics to keep in mind as you sit there bewildered and disgusted: New York City is home to 30,000-50,000 marijuana arrests a year, despite repeated calls to decriminalize low-level pot possession. Studies have shown time and time again, blacks are no more likely to smoke weed than whites. But data from 2002 to 2012 indicate an overwhelming 87 percent of those arrested for possession are either black or Latino youths.


Here Are Two Videos of NYPD Officers Pummeling Teenagers Suspected of Weed Possession

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Charts: Hollywood’s White Dude Problem

Mother Jones

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It’s 2014, yet women and people of color still are vastly underrepresented in the United States media landscape. A report published Wednesday by the Women’s Media Center found that, while some progress toward equality has been made, journalism and entertainment still lack a diversity of voices and a variety in representation. If the US media were a person, he’d be an old white guy.

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Charts: Hollywood’s White Dude Problem

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