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Yola has walked through fire — literally — to become a paradigm-shifting country star

Walk Through Fire isn’t just a metaphor about perseverance. The title to the 2019 debut full-length from Yola also refers to a life-changing house fire she survived. In 2014, the British singer had been handling a bioethanol burner with a faulty fuel canister that, unbeknownst to her, leaked throughout the room and eventually ignited. […]

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From Judy! to Tom Tomorrow, Iowa City’s ‘revolutionary’ zine scene flourished out of Zephyr Copies

“Sometime during the early 1980s,” intermedia artist Lloyd Dunn recalled, “a number of people in many different places suddenly understood that they could afford to become publishers, as photocopy shops began to appear in cities around the world.” In the […]

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Book excerpt: The Fugs’ Ed Sanders incites a indie media revolution with his zine ‘Fuck You’

Ed Sanders grew up in western Missouri, in the small farm town of Blue Springs. After briefly attending the University of Missouri, he hitchhiked to the East Coast in 1958 to attend New York University. “I soon was enmeshed in the culture of the Beats,” Sanders recalled in his memoir, Fug You, “as found in Greenwich Village bookstores, in the poetry readings in coffeehouses on MacDougal Street, in New York City art and jazz, and in the milieu of pot and counterculture that was rising.” He also began volunteering at the Catholic Worker, a newspaper founded by activist Dorothy Day that was dedicated to social justice. […]

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Richard Hell’s New York City

Richard Meyers landed on New York City’s Lower East Side in late 1966. Within a few years he had reinvented himself as Richard Hell and transitioned from poetry to punk rock. This blending of art forms was not unusual among the residents of the city’s dilapidated downtown neighborhoods, a topic that he and writer, photographer and actress Lisa Jane Persky will discuss during Making a Scene: A Conversation About Downtown New York City, a free event that I will moderate at the Englert Theatre during the Witching Hour Festival.
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A true history of fake news: The many identities of Benjamin Franklin

Before the term “fake news” gained wide circulation during the 2016 presidential election season, deception had long been part of the U.S. media landscape. When Benjamin Franklin emerged as the publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette, he used it to plant ironic satires, partisan potshots and other false stories. […]

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Revisiting the Louds, America’s first reality TV family

Forty-five years ago — on Jan. 11, 1973 — the first reality series premiered on PBS, and television would never be the same. An American Family became an immediate pop culture sensation that was discussed by newspaper columnists, debated by television pundits and even taken seriously by respected scholars like Margaret Mead.
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Prairie Pop: Grey Area festival will suit local music fans, campers and circus freaks

Grey Area, a joint venture by Flat Black Studios and White Rabbit clothing store, is an unusual new festival taking place just outside of Iowa City on Aug. 18 and 19. Featuring live music and a diverse range of multimedia programming, it’s a celebration of our local musical community. The festival will span Friday afternoon to late Saturday night, and is set outdoors (on-site camping is encouraged; bring plenty of water, bug spray and other necessities, as well as blankets or chairs to sit on). […]

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UI professor went from small town Texas to building a musical chessboard, inventing the modern laser light show

“Lubbock or leave it,” the old saying goes, so Lowell Cross decided to leave the straight life behind for avant-garde adventures abroad. Born in 1938 and largely raised in that Texas town, this former University of Iowa music professor is a man of many unique firsts. Not only did he invent the modern laser light show (developed in part on the UI campus), but when Cross was a graduate student at the University of Toronto he collaborated with the paradigm-shifting composer and theorist John Cage. […]

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Prairie Pop: Former Angels of Light reminisce about the influence of their brother and son Hibiscus

Before George Harris III became Hibiscus and founded the genderfluid theater troupe the Cockettes, he put on shows with his family in Florida during the early 1960s. The oldest of six siblings — three girls and three boys, sort of an avant-garde Brady Bunch — George formed the El Dorado Players, named after the street they lived on in Clearwater, Florida.

“Hibiscus had real leadership qualities,” his youngest sister Mary Lou said. “He came out of the womb as the grand marshal. He was just like the leader of the parade — tons of ideas. ‘Let’s get it rolling. Let’s not even think!’” […]

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The Cool Kids bring their inventive approach to production to Flat Black

In 2008, the Cool Kids were “bringing ’88 back,” channeling a stripped-down eighties boom-bap rap aesthetic for a new generation. “When we started,” Sir Mike told me in advance of their appearance at this year’s Mission Creek Festival, “I was about seventeen and Chuck was twenty-two.” This led to a series of acclaimed singles and albums, a burst of activity that began with their debut “Black Mags” and abruptly ended after their 2011 LP, When Fish Ride Bicycles. […]

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