Williamsburg’s Kokie’s Coke Bar

Vice provides a typical Vice story about a Puerto Rican dive bar called Kokie’s that sold coke out of a closet. Want to read crazy coke stories from the turn of the millennium? This is the post for you. Of course it all went to hell eventually but they had a surprisingly long run selling shitty cocaine to strung-out proto-hipsters.

Please Snort Me

Vice.com, 6.1.08

The 1966 University of Texas Massacre

Mass shootings are sadly commonplace in America today but in 1966 the opposite was true. When Charles Whitman opened fire from the University of Texas Tower in 1966 it took awhile for people to understand what was happening. One group thought he was shooting pigeons. Some thought the victims were part of a theater troupe or a psychology department experiment. The University of Texas has ignored this seminal event in our history, with no official commemoration or memorial to the 17 dead, but the Texas Monthly does a commendable job of piecing together a comprehensive oral history from people in Austin at the time.

96 Minutes

TexasMonthly.com, 8.2.16 (originally published in the August 2006 print edition)

Lilith Fair

As strange as it may seem today in the early 90s promoters didn’t want multiple female acts on a single bill, convinced that it wouldn’t sell. The strong-willed (and successful) Sarah McLachlan decided she’d had enough of male-dominated festivals and tours, so she founded her own festival, Lilith Fair, and its record-breaking success changed the music industry forever. Some artists said immediately said yes, including Paula Cole, Lisa Loeb and Emmylou Harris, but others passed on the first year before reconsidering in later years. McLachlan took some heat for an over-representation of white artists, but successfully rectified that issue after the festival established its financial foothold. Lilith Fair was very 1990s phenomenon as female artists pushed boundaries in every direction and Glamour takes a nostalgic (and gorgeous) look back.

The Oral History of Lilith Fair, As Told By the Women Who Lived It

Glamour.com, 7.5.17

Just a Bit Outside: “Major League” (1989)

Major League made baseball fun again. An expertly silly look at the then-perenially awful Cleveland Indians World Series run, led by some of sports movie’s iconic characters: Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Willie Mays Hayes, Dennis Haysbert’s Pedro Cerrano. Yes, the oddities and quirks of Major League Baseball were pushed to 11, but the caricatures rang true (and were funny as hell). Sports Illustrated looks back at a beloved classic.

A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN

SI.com, 7.4.11

CBGB: The 70’s Home for NYC’s Dirty Rockers

CBGB is a club with a worldwide reputation, but it started out as a tiny, dirty hole in the wall furnished entirely in wood. It opened in 1973 and quickly became a favorite destination for the artsy weirdos and outcasts of New York City. Although known as a punk club, and birthplace of The Ramones, it housed a diverse mix of mix, including Patti Smith’s art rock and later the Talking Heads new wave stylings. The most commercially succcessful band was Blondie, fronted by the iconic Debbie Harry. Cuepoint put together a wonderful history of the club with numerous high-res images and a link to a CBGB-inspired music playlist.

Our Hole in the Wall: An Oral History of the CBGB Scene

Medium.com, 2.12.15

 

 

Miami Hurricanes: The Millennium’s First Football Dynasty

Miami came into the 2000s on a mission, having recovered from the sanctions that plagued them in the second half of the 1990s, they were ready to rumble. In 2000 they would go 11-1, with their only loss a 34-29 crusher in a blisteringly loud Husky Stadium. They came back the next year on a mission and put together one of the most dominant seasons in the history of college football, averaging over 40 points score and under 10 allowed, doing this with five top-15 teams on their schedule. The national championship winning team would eventually have a silly 38 players drafted in the NFL, including 17 first-rounders. Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey led the way, with underclassmen Frank Gore, Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle and Kellen Winslow Jr. seeing plenty of PT as well. The Hurricanes almost repeated the next year if it hadn’t been for a questionable pass interference call favoring Ohio State. Fox Sports puts together a fitting tribute the century’s first dynasty.

Miami Hurricanes’ pursuit of perfection in 2001: an oral history

FoxSports.com, 9.17.14

 

 

The Wild Rejected Plotlines for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979)

The original Star Trek was cancelled in 1969, but the cultural phenomenon continued to grow with wildly successful reruns and a burgeoning convention scene. Paramount knew it had a successful property on their hands and tried multiple ways to capitalize, including a short-lived animated series. They then decided on a movie and cast their net wide for potential screenplays. Series creator Gene Roddenberry pitched an ambitious good-versus-evil story that featured Kirk fighting a shape-shifting Jesus character on the Enterprise‘s bridge. Another had the gang stopping the Kennedy association. Still another had Scotty transported back to 1937. The final product was considerably more tame, but The Hollywood Reporter does their typically fantastic job of telling the story of how that film came to be.

‘Star Trek’ Oral History: When Captain Kirk Fought Jesus

TheHollywoodReporter.com, 6.27.16

 

Ms. Magazine Changes American Media Forever

In 1971 American media was still dominated by white males, even properties marketed to women. Female journalists were pigeonholed into writing about food, fashion, and marriage. That changed when Gloria Steinhem and a collection of New York feminist journalists founded Ms. magazine. They were concerned whether there was a market for a glossy monthly magazine–the first issue sold out in eight days. Proposed articles showed that they were finally writing the stories they wanted to write: “A Secretary is an Office Wife,” “Someone Should Have Liberated Pat Nixon,” and “The Politics of Sex.” The magazine would help launch an entire media market, but its own fortunes waned as the century drew to a close, worn down by infighting, cultural change, and competition. Today, it is still published as a quarterly, and has a solid online presence. Its articles can be found in women’s studies syllabi across the country. New York Magazine, which helped with the initial launch of Ms. takes a multi-faceted look back at an American cultural institution.

How Do You Spell Ms.

NYMag.com, 10.30.11

“Badlands”: Terrence Malick’s Debut Masterpiece

Terrence Malick has a well-deserved reputation as the J.D. Salinger of film, a genius recluse who produces art on his timetable alone. His first picture, Badlands (1973), had a notoriously awful production that included most of the crew quitting and the special effects guy getting badly burned. Malick shot enough film for five movies. But the actors, including stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, swear that the quiet, meditative director is the best they ever worked under. Their faith was rewarded as Badlands debuted to rave reviews as the opening film of the New York Film Festival. Described as a timeless, European-style film that showed the humanity and raw ambition of its murderous lovers, the movie established Malick as an original voice in American cinema.

Badlands: An Oral History

GQ.com, 5.26.11

Columbia House: The CD Distribution Titan

For us 90’s kids, Columbia House (and their rival, BMG) were ubiquitous and important purveyors of CDs. Their infamous “8 CDs for a Penny” promotion was touted everywhere and many (including me) were hooked. It had a very tangible effect on the music business: some estimates say 15% of CDs sold in the 1990s were from mail order companies. How did this business model work? When you signed up, you turned on the firehouse–they would keep sending you full-price items on a monthly basis until you cancelled. This actually worked. The A.V. Club talked about working at Columbia House with four now-famous individuals who worked there as 20-somethings in the 90s, including journalist Sasha Frere-Jones and online content god Piotr Orlov.

Four Columbia House insiders explain the shady math behind “8 CDs for a penny”

AVClub.com, 6.10.15