CINEMA: Being Val Kilmer

VAL (directed by Ting Poo & Leo Scott, 109 minutes, USA, 2021) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC  Val is culled from 40 years of footage shot by Kilmer who was never apparently without his trusty video camera, obsessively documenting everything from his highschool stage plays to his recent victory over throat cancer. While enticing the casual viewer with peeks of his time on such iconic films as Batman, Top Gun and Heat, this doc pulls back the curtain letting fans in on the psychology behind his approach to acting, while painting a intimate, tragic and ultimately hopeful story in the […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

  FRESH AIR: In a new book, two New York Times journalists report that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg often doesn’t see the downside of the social media platform he created. In their new book, An Ugly Truth, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang write that Zuckerberg tends to believe that free speech will drown out bad speech. “[Zuckerberg’s] view was that even if there were lies [on Facebook] — lies from a politician such as Donald Trump — that the public would respond with their own fact checks of the president and that the fact checks would rise to the top,” […]

CINEMA: Kiss Of The Spider Woman

  BLACK WIDOW (directed by Cate Shortland, 133 minutes, 2021, USA) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC While all her male Avengers counterparts launched with their mandatory solo vehicles, the Black Widow standalone film has quietly languished in development hell ever since it was teased circa 2010’s Iron Man 2. I honestly thought the film had lost any relevance it once had,  given that’s she perished in Endgame, and we are now neck deep in the new batch of heroes who have stepped in to fill the vacancy left by their battle with Thanos. But after a decade in development limbo […]

HOW TO GROW UP TO BE A DEBASER: An Intensely Personal Q&A w/ The Pixies’ Black Francis

Photo by NOAH SILVESTRY EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the complete and unabdridged version of my 7200 word Q&A with Black Francis of The Pixies’ for the cover of the March 2014 issue of MAGNET MAGAZINE. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA The year is 1988. I’m a college DJ stranded in the middle of Pennsyltucky. Entranced by the naked boob on the cover of Surfer Rosa, I slap it on the turntable and…they had me by the first 20 seconds of “Where Is My Mind?” They never really let go. Shortly thereafter I got a gig working for a Pennsyltucky daily. They […]

FROM THE VAULTS: A Man Called Francis, Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview first published on October 19th, 2006. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Welcome to part two of our bazillion-word interview with esteemed jazz critic Francis Davis, wherein our man Fran will be talking non-smack about Coltrane in Philly, Sun Ra on Uranus and the pre-historic beginnings of Fresh Air. If you are just finding us for the first time, you can find Part One here, along with his illustrious CV. When we last left our hero, he was beaten, bloodied and long haired, handcuffed in the back of Philadelphia Police Department paddy wagon charged with aggravated assault and battery […]

FROM THE VAULTS: A Man Called Francis

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published back in 2006. It’s still a fascinating read. Welcome to the second installment of our Grumpy Old Men series, wherein we learn from our elders and soak up their salty yarns like Bounty Quicker Picker-Upper. Yesterday we had Robert Christgau, today Francis Davis. Tomorrow? The Pope. What’s that you say? You never heard of Francis Davis. Oh buddy, it’s good thing you found us! Check out his CV: He has written about music, film, and other aspects of popular culture for The Atlantic since 1984 and was appointed lead jazz critic for the Voice […]

EXCERPT: One False Move

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE It’s the Ides of March, a date that lives in infamy, the day that Julius Caesar was betrayed and butchered by members of the Roman Senate — friends, Romans and countrymen, to a man. That was back in 44 BCE, and it’s been a bad-omen day ever since. But John Fetterman, the hulking lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and, as such, the president of the state Senate, which he’s moments away from gaveling into session, isn’t sweating it. After all, he gets Et tu, Brute’d by the Republican-controlled Senate on a semi-regular basis. At […]

CINEMA: Un-Viva Las Vegas

ARMY OF THE DEAD (directed by Zack Snyder, 148 minutes, USA, 2021) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Of all the bizarre announcements that came from Netflix’s blank-check spending spree a few years back, when almost every A-List director got some insane vanity project green lit, was Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. This was a project he had been working on since 2004, which incidentally was when he did the impossible and remade Dawn of the Dead — George Romero’s classic deconstruction of consumerism aka his “zombies in a mall” epic — and actually knocked it out of the park. […]

BILLY F. GIBBONS: Desert High

“Desert High” is one of the more idiosyncratic and evocative tracks from Hardware, Billy F Gibbons’ third solo album, out June 4 from Concord. The song, available now, takes the form of a narrative tone poem with mysterious instrumental accompaniment. It clearly derives inspiration from the high desert location of Escape Studios where the Hardware recording sessions happened last summer. The album was recorded by Gibbons along with drummer Matt Sorum and guitarist Austin Hanks. Both Sorum and Hanks, it should be mentioned, are based in the California desert these days with Gibbons front and center. The song, which is […]

SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Republican Bill Of Rights

  BY WILLIAM C. HENRY In recognition of Republican Jim Jordan’s tireless, and often successful, efforts to extinguish the remaining embers of American democracy, I feel it only fitting and proper that I make public what is purported to be the final draft of Jordan’s soon to be proposed twenty-eighth amendment to the United States Constitution. It is to be titled “The Bill of Republican Rights” (co-signers include Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, Josh Hawley, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio). With full acceptance of Republican party racism, bigotry, xenophobia, gullibility, and armaments worship, […]

WIRE FROM THE BUNKER: Meet Peter Case

  BY JONATHAN HOULON FOLK MUSIC EDITOR My contempt for radio – particularly the local variety – has been well-documented in these pages.  But at the risk of belaboring the point, let me say:  fuck you very much.  It wasn’t always like this.  1986:  I’m driving my folks’ American Eagle station wagon down the Pike in Rockville, Maryland, possibly on my way to chess club practice, most definitely not en route to rendezvous a non-existent crush, when a song came on the radio that compelled me to pull over and listen.  The ‘80s were a tough time for those of […]

CINEMA: Destroy All Monsters

GODZILLA VS KONG (Directed by Adam Wingard, 113 min., USA, 2021) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC The original King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) was a weird East meets West affair that simultaneously exploited Japan’s burgeoning obsession with professional wrestling and celebrated the 30th anniversary of Godzilla’s corporate overlord, Toho Co., Ltd, by having the two larger than life icons duke it out on the big screen. Now almost 60 years later, we are getting an American-produced rematch that wants to be the Batman Vs Superman of the Legendary Monsterverse. The primary difference here is that director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, […]

SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: American Carnage Cont.

  BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Hey, hey, NRA–and the political pawns you pay to perpetuate your mass-murdering ways–how many Americans did you terminate today? If that sounds radically morbid, I certainly hope so. Since 2018 some 1453 Americans have been killed in mass shootings in this country (I would have included the staggering mind-numbing year-by-year gun violence statistics but that still wouldn’t sway these conscienceless Republican killers one scintilla). Have Republican politicians EVER done anything substantive about gun violence? Of course not. Will they? Not a chance. Their feet and their feelings are so calloused that they can’t even sense the […]