FEAR & LOATHING IN PENNSYLTUCKY: A Savage Journey Into The Heart Of The American Nightmare

WASHINGTON POST: In a living room in western Pennsylvania, the Republican National Convention was on TV, and Melanie Austin was getting impatient. “Who’s that guy?” she said, watching some billionaire talk about prosperity and tolerance. “Prosperity and tolerance? Forget that sh–.” She lit a cigarette. Her boyfriend, Kevin Lisovich, was next to her on the couch, drifting to sleep, a pillow over his head. On the ottoman was her cellphone, her notes on the speakers so far — “LOCK HER UP!!” she had written — and the anti-anxiety pills she kept in a silver vial on her keychain. She was […]

Q&A With Nick Spitzer, Professor Of American Boogie & Host Of NPR’s American Routes

Illustration by ALEX FINE EDITOR’S NOTE: Like many of you, we were deeply disappointed to learn that WHYY-FM has elected to drop American Routes from their weekend programming, where it has been a fixture for more than a decade. (Boo-stink!) But fear not local lovers of Americana, WXPN has stepped in and offered American Routes a home on its airwaves. American Routes will air on Sundays from 3-5 pm starting Sunday June 19th. (Hooray!) To celebrate, we are re-running our in-depth 2009 interview with American Routes host Nick Spitzer. Enjoy!) BY JONATHAN VALANIA Nick Spitzer is a folkorist, ethnographer, professor […]

BECAUSE REALITY HAS A LIBERAL BIAS: Q&A w/ Comedian & ex-Totally Biased Host W. Kamau Bell

Illustration by GARY TAXALI© BY JONATHAN VALANIA Comedian W. Kamau Bell has been fighting the good fight in the stand-up comedy trenches of San Francisco since the phat pants ’90s. It was there that Chris Rock discovered him and eventually brokered a deal with FX for Bell to have his own TV show. In 2012, Totally Biased, a much-buzzed-about late night sketch comedy show starring Bell and produced by Rock, debuted to strong reviews and a big enough viewership to justify a second season until its ill-advised migration from FX to FXX, subsequent plummet in audience share and ensuing cancellation […]

Win Tix For A Conversation w/ ‘Making A Murderer’ Defense Dream Team Dean Strang & Jerry Buting

  Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, defense attorneys for Steven Avery in the Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer — aka The Bert & Ernie Of American Jurisprudence –– have commenced a nationwide speaking tour called A Conversation on Justice Tour which stops at the Keswick tomorrow night and, due to overwhelming popular demand, again on Sunday. Philly’s Tara Murtha will moderate a discussion with Strang and Buting about the Steven Avery case and its broader implications, as well as a discussion on the larger topic of the American criminal justice system. Each night will also feature a Q&A portion […]


Photo by CRAIG MCDEAN via Interview EDITOR’S NOTE: A shortened version of this interview first appeared on VICE’s NOISEY website on February 3, 2016 BY JONATHAN VALANIA In 1982, VU architect John Cale recorded Music For A New Society, an album of wrenching, emotionally-shattered torch songs that prophesied a denatured dystopia, somewhere between Blade Runner and Metropolis, looming ominously on the horizon, full of vintage violence and hysterical laughter, homicidal mothers and greedy angels with broken wings exfoliating the crawling skin of God. Thirty-four years later, we may not quite be there yet, but you can see it from here. […]

ZERO DARK THIRTY: A Q&A With Investigative Journalist & New Yorker Staff Writer Jane Mayer

BY JONATHAN VALANIA William S. Burroughs famously said “A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.” Cold comfort for the likes of Hillary Clinton who was widely derided back in 1998 for claiming there was “a vast right wing conspiracy” leveraging its colossal wealth and powers of persuasion to bring down the Clintons and the liberal progressive agenda they had come to represent (if not quite embody). Dark Money, the latest must-read by acclaimed investigative journalist and New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, reveals overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence that Clinton was in fact right. And then some. […]

REM: Radio Free Europe (Live Letterman ’83)

October 6th, 1983. The national television of a no-name band out of Athens, GA. And then they followed it up with the gorgeous CCR-inflected “South Central Rain,” a song they hadn’t even recorded yet. Who even does that? You know, I’ve had to take a fair amount of shit over the years for unabashedly loving REM, still do. I just want you to know that it was all worth it. Every sling and arrow, every derisive sneer, every snarky aside, every thrown elbow from black-hearted moshpit bruisers — it was an honor and a privilege. And it still is. I […]

NOTHING IS REAL, EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED: Howard Hunt & The JFK Assassination Conspiracy

Illustration by PRINT MAFIA The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt He was the ultimate keeper of secrets, lurking in the shadows of American history. He toppled banana republics, planned the Bay of Pigs invasion and led the Watergate break-in. Now he would reveal what he’d always kept hidden: who killed JFK BY ERIK HEDEGAARD/ROLLING STONE EDITOR’S NOTE: Ordinarily we would tease a few paragraphs from the story and then send you to RS’s web site, but for reasons unclear this article is no longer there. Hence we have run it here in its entirety. It originally ran in the […]

HUNGER GAMES: A Q&A With Carrie Brownstein

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Some say Sleater-Kinney is/was the Nirvana of Riot Grrl, that early ‘90s punk-rawk insurrection of punk poetesses and feminist studies majors storming the ramparts of indie-rock armed with little more than jagged guitars, spastic rhythms, thrift store chic, and the radical notion that feminism means women are people, too. And that goes double for rock n’ roll. Carrie Brownstein would probably just say that Sleater-Kinney was the Sleater-Kinney of Riot Grrl, which is more or less the takeaway from Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, her fascinating and revealing new memoir about the chaos and confusion of […]

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: Q&A With Author, Essayist & New Yorker Staff Writer Adam Gopnik

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on November 17th 2011, upon the publication of Adam Gopnik’s book The Table Comes First: Family, France & The Meaning Of Food. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Longtime New Yorker staff writer, author, essayist, children’s novelist and Philly homeboy Adam Gopnik will be delivering the keynote lecture of  the Philadelphia  Museum Of Art’s Object Lessons: New Thinking about Still Life symposium at 6:30 pm tonight — his talk is called Things that Mean Things: Objects and Inventory in American Art. Back in 2011, we got Gopnik on the horn and we discussed writing, food, crime and punishment, […]

Q&A: Kyle Dunnigan, Emmy-Winning Comedian, Inside Amy Schumer Writer, Billy Joel Superfan

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA For the last three seasons, comedian Kyle Dunnigan has worked as a writer/performer on Inside Amy Schumer, where he just won an Emmy for the boy-band pastiche “Girl You Don’t Need Make-Up.” In Trainwreck, he played “Kyle,” the obnoxious staff member of the equally obnoxious S’Nuff magazine that Schumer’s character writes for. He does a weekly podcast with fellow comedian Tig Notaro called “Professor Blastoff” which premiered at #1 on iTunes Comedy Podcast Chart, and consistently remains as one of the top comedy podcasts. He had a recurring role on Reno 911 as ‘Craig’ a.k.a The […]

REWIND: John Oliver Watch

Good Ol’ Johnny Boy, without you I would have to suffer through the second season of True Detectives. I wouldn’t wish that on Justin Bieber, and there isn’t much I wouldn’t wish on Justin Bieber. For all of the common folk out there, yes you, the individual not suckling at the teet of HBO, I will breakdown the major issue John Oliver tackles, as he most commonly does, in his sprightly, rosey posey-cheeked, British manner. This week? Stadiums. Now before the masses of cheese steak-chomping, gold chain-slinging, beer-smuggling 700 Level fight clubbers that Philadelphia has (in)bred for going on countless […]

INTRODUCING: The Don Lemon Watch

If you are one of those people who watch CNN you’re a better man than I, and that’s just not because I’m a woman. Somewhere along the way CNN went from 24/7 pre-Internet news ticker to non-stop eye roll-inducing exasperation factory. Much of the blame for that can be placed on the shoulders of Don Lemon, former Philly news talking head and currently Twitter’s favorite whipping boy, who plays Tweedle Dee to Wolfie Blitzer’s Tweedle Dumb. There he is tsk tsk-ing Ferguson protesters for the whiff of marijuana smoke in the air — even donning a gas mask, god forbid […]