Viking's Choice: Pinkwash, 'Burning Too'

Pinkwash.

Pinkwash. Amy June Breesman/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Amy June Breesman/Courtesy of the artist

What the hell even is Pinkwash? A punk duo with a thing for stoner-rock riffs? A prog duo that paradoxically meditates on two obliterating power chords? A noisy math-rock duo that can’t help but throw in a pop hook? After a cassette EP and 7″, the Philly band’s proper debut album Collective Sigh answers at least one question: Pinkwash is all about full-contact catharsis.

The heaving, two-minute “Burning Too” is a squirrely-eyed barnstormer, with powerhouse drumming by Ashley Arnwine, whirring keyboards and single-string riffs from Joey Doubeck. The song continues previous lyrical themes (addressing the death of Doubeck’s mother from breast cancer), but with less rage at the medical system and more focusing on coping, even as Doubeck yells, “I’ve burned all your bedsheets / Or I’ll burn when I sleep / Like you, we’re burning, too.”

YouTube

Collective Sigh comes out May 13 on Don Giovanni.

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The Evolution Of The Michael Jordan Crying Face Meme

A meme is born: Former Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan cries as he takes the podium during his enshrinement ceremony into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 11, 2009.

A meme is born: Former Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan cries as he takes the podium during his enshrinement ceremony into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 11, 2009. Stephan Savoia/AP hide caption

toggle caption Stephan Savoia/AP

No matter which teams win or lose in this weekend’s NCAA tournament Final Four games, at the final whistle, there will inevitably be one iconic, unavoidable face.

It will be Michael Jordan’s. And it will be crying.

The meme of the basketball legend’s tear-stained countenance is the sports world’s go-to symbol of sadness in defeat, so expect to see at least a few renditions of Jordan’s watery mug photoshopped onto losing players, losing fans, losing mascots, losing coaches, or anyone or anything else who is at all associated with a loss.

If you’re not on Twitter and have no idea what I’m talking about (Mom, this is for you) here’s the deal: In 2009, when Jordan was inducted into basketball’s hall of fame, he delivered an infamous, often-rambling, very emotional speech. An image of his face — eyes swimming, cheeks glistening — was turned into a meme some years later. The Internet, especially Twitter users, latched on tight, employing it to comment on any number of sports failures.

Golden State Warriors’ win streak ends:

pic.twitter.com/V2r2zZfVac

— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) December 13, 2015

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh misses a game-winning field goal:

Someone had to do it pic.twitter.com/qjNODXVXI3

— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) January 10, 2016

N.Y. Mets lose in the World Series:

pic.twitter.com/sgnpWTLj6C

— Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91) November 2, 2015

New England Patriots lose:

Since the meme took off in early 2015, people have used it to express disappointment, mock opponents, gloat — and, increasingly, not just regarding sports. The website Complex compiled a list in March 2015 called, “The Definitive Guide To Using the Michael Jordan Crying Meme,” that suggested use in such instances as “When Your Mom Eats Your Halloween Candy,” “When Your Barber Laughs At Your Hairline,” and other less family-friendly scenarios. Vice Sports went meta, photoshopping M.J.’s crying face onto actual photos of Michael Jordan in a post titled, “Stunning Photos Of Michael Jordan, Ruined By Crying MJ Face.” The Huffington Post published a printable cutout of the sad Jordan face to use as a Halloween mask.

The meme had such clout that the Arizona Cardinals even used it to troll themselves when they were getting trounced by the Carolina Panthers in last season’s NFC Championship game.

Is this what you want, Internet?! #BeRedSeeRed pic.twitter.com/SXVbQhOsAF

— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 25, 2016

Crying Jordan could not be stopped. Its pervasiveness expanded to politics, the lottery and a certain unfortunate courtroom sketch.

How all my #Powerball tickets looked! pic.twitter.com/luMZsL7AX3

— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) January 14, 2016

In an online environment where trends come and go in the span of hours, only a handful of memes reach the level of ubiquity necessary for Internet immortality. The MJ crying face, as it’s come to be known, is one of them.

Is it funny? Yes, for its obvious absurdity, but also for the anticipation of seeing how the meme will be deployed — that’s been as much a part of the fun as actually seeing it pop up on social media.

Yet as more and more people have glommed onto the joke, plastering the meme everywhere in hopes of getting a retweet, the usage of sad Jordan has become less creative and therefore less funny.

For example, take this edition of Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo after the team’s upset loss to Middle Tennessee State in the first round of this year’s NCAA tourney.

late but when I cry mj I cry mj with the utmost quality pic.twitter.com/dSri5WfsWm

— Connor (@alsoconnor) March 18, 2016

The meme was as predictable as the 2-seed’s early tournament upset was unexpected. There’s nothing special about it, except the craftsmanship — take a moment to admire the seamless merging of Jordan’s face and Izzo’s head.

At certain points, when Twitter timelines were especially saturated, users called for the meme to be retired.

Retire the mj crying face please

— Jessica (@_ItsFoxxy) January 17, 2016

Y’all run everything into the ground… Crying MJ meme needs to retire.

— Nuffer (@MileHighNuffer) March 18, 2016

Is there a petition I can sign to retire the Jordan crying meme?

It’s sports. There are always losers. We don’t need MJ each time.

— Stephen Schramm (@stephenschramm) January 12, 2016

There was hopeful speculation that MJ crying face would drop off in 2016, though that didn’t pan out, as Jordan’s son Marcus ruefully surmised in January.

I see the crying meme of my Dad is here to stay for2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣6️⃣?

— Marcus Jordan (@HEIRMJ) January 24, 2016

Even recent questions about possible copyright infringement for using and sharing the meme haven’t dampened enthusiasm for the sad Jordan face. The Associated Press took the original photo and could take legal action to protect the image’s copyright, ESPN reported.

“We own the rights in our photo, which was taken in 2009,” Associated Press spokesman Paul Colford wrote in an email to ESPN. “We could enforce those rights depending on the use and other factors, as is the case with all AP photos.”

A spokesperson for Jordan said he was aware of the meme’s popularity, according to The Chicago Tribune.

“I don’t recall when we first started noticing it — everything explodes so quickly on the Internet, and suddenly it was everywhere. Everyone seems to be having fun with the meme, and it just keeps going,” Estee Portnoy told the Tribune. “We haven’t seen anyone using it to promote their commercial interests, which is something that we’re monitoring.”

The lawyers better stay on their toes, because the MJ crying meme endures.

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Songs We Love: Million Dollar Ecstacy, 'Burning Inside'

Million Dollar Ecstacy

Million Dollar Ecstacy Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Million Dollar Ecstacy (Manufactured Recordings 2016)

Million Dollar Ecstacy (Manufactured Recordings 2016) Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

In the mid-1980s, Schyl Perry toiled as mortgage broker in a Bay Area real estate market that was still a generation away from going stratospheric. His million dollar dreams were less concerned with amortization tables and more obsessed with analog synthesizers as Perry built a small studio in his North Oakland garage. In 1987, Perry unleashed what he hoped would be his magnum opus, Million Dollar Ecstacy [sic], an album that ‘s best described as an outsider boogie funk new wave disco fusion project. Or something like that.

There’s perhaps no better representation of Perry’s bombastic bricolage than “Burning Inside.” The synthesized, symphonic swell that opens the track could be from a Debbie Deb or Trinere electro single, but then Perry’s wordless “ooooh” begins and it’s pure Thriller-era Michael Jackson. All this gets laid over a rhythm track that could be from Los Angeles funk bassist Steve Arrington….if he had grown up in pre-acid house Manchester. The one thing that can’t be placed easily are Perry’s tone-deaf vocals, which further enhance the song’s already mishmash-ed quality. You get the sense that, in 1987, Perry wanted to warp back half a decade, and that doing so, the gravity of his ambition ended up dragging in a delightfully bewildering set of other styles.

Not surprisingly, Million Dollar Ecstacy didn’t get Perry out of the mortgage business, but his record would become the stuff of collector frenzy, as intrepid boogie funk enthusiasts began scouring Bay Area thrift stores and swap meets for a sighting of the LP. Now that it’s gotten a proper release, Perry’s wondrously wacky one-off feels downright prescient. Retro-obsessed music producers today constantly try to find synergy by colliding styles together, but Perry seemingly stumbled on that magic formula in his garage nearly 30 years ago.

Million Dollar Ecstacy is out now on Manufactured Recordings.

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Top Stories: FBI To Help Unlock Another iPhone; Deadly Road Collapse In India

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— Overpass Collapse In Kolkata, India, Kills More Than A Dozen People.

— FBI To Help Arkansas Prosecutor Unlock iPhone Linked To Murder Case.

And here are more early headlines:

Several Injured As Tornadoes Strike Oklahoma. (Weather.com)

Nuclear Summit Opens In Washington, D.C. Today. (Washington Post)

U.S. To Transfer About A Dozen Guantanamo Inmates To Other Countries. (VOA)

New Myanmar President Seeks Broader Role For Suu Kyi. (BBC)

Protests Held After No Charges Filed Against Minneapolis Police In Deadly Shooting. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Alabama Lawmaker Seeks Governor’s Impeachment In Scandal. (Al.com)

Troubled Washington, D.C. Subway System Could See More Shutdowns. (The Hill)

Microsoft Again Removes Chatbot “Tay” After More Offensive Tweets. (Wall Street Journal)

Rhode Island Tourism Video Mistakenly Shows Image Of Iceland. (CNN)

Imre Kertész, Nobel Prize Winning Hungarian Author, Dies. (Guardian)

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Latitudes: Hear Great Global Music Right Now, With A World Premiere

Guitarist Asad Ali from the Sachal Ensemble of Lahore, Pakistan.

Guitarist Asad Ali from the Sachal Ensemble of Lahore, Pakistan. Mobeen Ansari/Courtesy of the artists hide caption

toggle caption Mobeen Ansari/Courtesy of the artists


It was five years ago that an unassuming — and highly unlikely — band became the toast of the jazz world. Pakistan’s Sachal Ensemble includes studio musicians from their country’s once-healthy film industry, which began to decline in the 1970s in a wave of political and religious pressure.

With their audience at home close to eviscerated, the members of the Sachal Ensemble and their champion and impresario, banker Izzat Majeed, were casting about to find some way of appealing to an international audience. They wound up blending distinctly American jazz with South Asian instruments like sitar, sarod, tabla and dholak along with Western instruments that had long been incorporated into local music, like violin and guitar.

The group’s road to a 2013 collaboration with Jazz At Lincoln Center became the subject of a documentary film, Song of Lahore, which will be in theaters in May. Along with the documentary, an album featuring the enemble with many well-known American guest artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Nels Cline, Jim James, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, and Meryl Streep.

On this track — premiering here on NPR Music — the Sachal Ensemble works with Sean Lennon on a cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” a song made famous by Elvis Costello. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their collaboration rides a rather George Harrisonian psychedelic wave.

The Easter Sunday bombing in Pakistan took place in the Sachal Ensemble’s hometown of Lahore, in an act of terrorism that seems to have been intended as an attack particularly on Christians there. The musicians’ work and this song in particular feel all the more tragically timely.

Vevo

An Indian rapper named Divine (a.k.a. Vivian Fernandes) has made something of a cottage industry in repping the harder-edged neighborhoods of his hometown, Mumbai — light-years away from the playgrounds of India’s super-wealthy.

The beat and backing tracks on this new song, “Jungli Sher” (Jungle Lions), tip toward the bombastic. But Divine’s flow is packed with brilliant internal rhymes and trenchant observations like “Hope is the rickshaw of the poor/on which the rich cruise.” (To catch the translation, turn the subtitles to “English [United Kingdom]”.) The video’s visuals, shot via iPhone, are just as scrappy as the lyrics.

Sony Music India YouTube

The Congolese-French singer and rapper known as Maître Gims (Gandhi Djuna) has a brand-new ballad featuring Sia called “Je Te Pardonne” (I Forgive You), out this week. It’s already been viewed on YouTube well over 2 million times. That’s a big ballad, but I still prefer the thoroughly African beats of his smash-hit ode to well-dressed men called “Sapés comme jamais” (Dressed Like Never Before), featuring fellow rapper Niska.

Being a sapeur — that is, an adherent to the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (The Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People) — is a way of life for a certain stratum of Congolese men. And that is something that Maître Gims can claim as part of his heritage. His dad, Djuna Djanana, was a band member for Congolese rumba legend Papa Wemba, the artist nicknamed Le Pape (The Pope) de la Sape.”

Maître Gims VEVO YouTube

By this time, it’s no secret that I’ve become a big fan of the trio of sisters who call themselves A-WA: Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim. They come from southern Israel and draw deeply from their Yemeni Jewish roots, not just in terms of the language they sing in — Yemeni Arabic — but also in their particular aesthetic. They frame their tradition with thrillingly up-to-date sounds and ideas.

So I was thrilled when they agreed to a late-night meetup with the NPR Music crew at SXSW this year to perform a lullaby of sorts, an achingly sweet love song, sung in Arabic and in three-part harmony, called “Ya Shaifin Al Malih.”

NPR Music YouTube

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Popular Video Of Porcupinefish Rescue Hinges On His Companion

A puffer fish.

iStockphoto

A video of a porcupinefish trapped in a net in Chaloklum Bay, Thailand, being freed by snorkelers who happened upon it got lots of traction last week.

But it’s not just this act of kindness that’s driving the video to be viewed. There’s something special about the two-minute clip, even beyond this — even beyond the porcupinefish’s ability to puff up. Have a look:

YouTube

How striking that the second fish hovers so closely near the trapped one, even as the humans intercede! This, I think, is why the video has more than half a million views on YouTube.

The snorkelers were associated with Core Sea, the group devoted to marine research and conservation that first posted the video, filmed March 20.

I reached out to Core Sea this week in search of some details. For instance: Is the fish that was trapped a male and his companion a female, as I strongly suspect? I haven’t heard back.

What I do know is that this species (Diodon liturosus) is the black-blotched porcupinefish. These fish not only can swallow water and raise their spines to make themselves look bigger and fiercer, but they also harbor in their bodies a neurotoxin that contributes to self-defense.

Jonathan Balcombe, author of many books on animal behavior and emotion, including the forthcoming What A Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, had this to say:

“This touching video shows virtuous behavior in two distantly related vertebrates. A porcupinefish bravely keeps vigil for his entrapped comrade, while a kindhearted snorkeler gingerly negotiates the situation with an improvised cutting implement — the bottom of a broken bottle.

A skeptic might think the bystander fish is just curious, but if that were the case, the fish would have fled the scene when the large ape approached. Like many fishes, pufferfishes (of which the porcupinefish is a member) can live a decade or more and can form lasting bonds with others of their kind or with human caregivers.”

Increasingly, animal behavior researchers recognize lasting bonds in animals beyond mammals and birds. Animal friendship is a real phenomenon. For my definition to apply, we would have to see these two porcupinefish hanging around together for a while before invoking “friendship.” If they stay close together only during mating, then separate — which according to my reading is a probable explanation — then their filmed togetherness wouldn’t qualify as a friendship.

But it would qualify as a strikingly close bond, and as yet more evidence that fish have a lot of fascinating things going on in their lives.


Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary. She often writes about human evolution, primate behavior and the cognition and emotion of animals. Barbara’s most recent book on animals is titled How Animals Grieve. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape.

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Overpass Collapse In Kolkata, India, Kills More Than A Dozen People

After an overpass partially collapsed in Kolkata, India, residents and rescue workers rushed to clear rubble and reach dozens of people who had been under the structure when its supports gave way.

After an overpass partially collapsed in Kolkata, India, residents and rescue workers rushed to clear rubble and reach dozens of people who had been under the structure when its supports gave way. Bikas Das/AP hide caption

toggle caption Bikas Das/AP

Emergency crews are scrambling to reach people trapped when an under-construction elevated roadway collapsed onto a busy street in Kolkata, India, Thursday. More than a dozen people have died, local media say, and dozens more are trapped.

News of the number of dead or injured is still emerging, and those reports are currently fluctuating. Citing police, Asian News International reports that at least 14 people are dead, with more than 70 wounded.

Images from the scene in eastern India show cars and trucks pinned under large concrete sections, as scores of people work around tangled metal supports to try to help others who were injured or trapped by the collapse.

Rescue crews are using cranes to clear debris and pull cars and other vehicles from the wreckage in central Kolkata. The army is helping with the effort.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently arrived in the U.S. for a nuclear security summit, said via Twitter that he is “shocked and saddened” by the collapse and is monitoring the situation. He expressed his sympathy and hopes for recovery to those affected.

Shocked & saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation & rescue operations.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 31, 2016

Responding to the tragedy, local politicians are promising an investigation and to punish anyone found guilty of corruption or dereliction of duty.

The collapse struck near Girish Park, where the construction project to build an overpass for Vivekananda Road had already suffered years of delays. Back in 2013, a Times of India article noted that a large section of the project had an initial deadline of 2011.

Last November, India’s The Telegraph listed the many obstacles the project still faced, including work days of only four to six hours, land rights disputes — and the surprising discovery of underground brick sewers where two support piers for the overpass had been planned.

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Women Farmers Band Together To Vent, Seek Support And Exchange Ideas

Farmer Aubrey Fletcher of Purdy, Mo., is one of thousands of women who have taken on leadership roles in the traditionally male-dominated agriculture industry. Despite her busy workload, Fletcher has been making the time to meet regularly with a new group of women dairy farmers in her area.

Farmer Aubrey Fletcher of Purdy, Mo., is one of thousands of women who have taken on leadership roles in the traditionally male-dominated agriculture industry. Despite her busy workload, Fletcher has been making the time to meet regularly with a new group of women dairy farmers in her area. Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media hide caption

toggle caption Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media

Aubrey Fletcher knew she wanted to work on a dairy farm ever since she was a little girl.

“I do remember my mom asking, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’ ” Fletcher recalls. She knew the work would be tough — she grew up milking cows every day. But it’s what she wanted.

So she and her husband’s family collaborated to start Edgewood Creamery outside of Springfield, Mo., last August. They recently opened a storefront on the farm selling their milk and cheese.

Between the new business, milkings, feedings and fixing things that need to get fixed, there is a lot to do on the farm. “And very rarely my house gets clean,” Fletcher says, laughing.

Fletcher is one of thousands of women who have taken on leadership roles in the traditionally male-dominated agriculture industry. Over the past 15 years, the fraction of U.S. farms run by women has nearly tripled to about 15 percent. And nearly one-third of farms in this country are run by couples working together.

Increasingly, these farm women are banding together through regional groups where they trade tips and seek social and emotional support.

Despite her busy workload, Fletcher has been making the time to meet regularly with a new group of women dairy farmers in her area. It’s a place where she can go to vent.

Fletcher collaborated with her family to start Edgewood Creamery last summer.

Fletcher collaborated with her family to start Edgewood Creamery last summer. Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media hide caption

toggle caption Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media

These women — “they understand that, ‘Oh, you had three calves this morning and you didn’t get your kids to school on time.’ They understand the struggles of being a dairy-farm-wife-slash-mom, and it’s easy to just talk to them about the struggles, and the good times,” she says.

These gatherings can also serve as a space where women can learn from each other, says Reagan Bluel, a dairy specialist for the University of Missouri Extension who runs the group for women dairy farmers in southern Missouri. Women can exchange ideas with their peers and “see what is successful on those farms,” says Bluel.

The group offers more formal educational opportunities, as well. In the next few months, Bluel is organizing sessions about everything from calf-raising to stress management.

Such groups are a nice alternative to the big farm shows and meetings, where women who attend can really stand out, says Rebecca Connelly, who started a group for women in dairy in Pennsylvania. “The role of women on farms has always been there,” she says. “It’s just now women are looking for more information off the farm.”

Connelly and her colleagues are organizing a national conference for women dairy workers this year so they can come together to learn from experts and each other.

Farming can be an isolating endeavor, Connelly says. “So this is a great way to meet other women in their area.”


Suzanne Hogan reports from Missouri for KCUR and Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting collaboration that focuses on agriculture and food production issues.

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