Search Results for: Billboard

The Billboard

Longreads Pick

When artist Stephanie Montgomery told the police that she was raped at work, neither they nor her manager helped, so she sought justice her way.

Published: May 30, 2019
Length: 33 minutes (8,330 words)

How the Hand Painted Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip Came to Be

Photo by Weho City, Flickr Rock N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip Exhibit Reception - July 30, 2013

Driving down the Sunset Strip has always felt a little like being in a magazine. The billboards loom and beckon, towering and untouchable and yet still totally in your face. Today they advertise luxury brands and new TV shows, but once upon a time—back when the Sunset Strip was at the heart and soul of rock ‘n’ roll—they were hand painted musical monoliths, larger-than-life variations on album art and psychedelic interpretations of soon-to-be hit records. As Hunter Oatman-Stanford put it, “in the 1970s, you knew you’d made it big if your record label paid for a hand-painted billboard on the Strip.” The hand painted rock billboards on the Strip were an art form specific to LA’s car culture, intended not for gallery walls but to be seen through a windshield at cruising speed, and preferably with the convertible top down.

According to the Los Angeles Times, each billboard took roughly ten days to produce, with costs ranging from $1,200 to $10,000. Craftsmen would hand paint the illustrations on individual wood panels at warehouses in Mid City, before ultimately reassembling the pieces on location in the wee hours. And they were by nature ephemeral—each was destroyed after its contract ended.

Luckily for us, a photographer named Robert Landau documented many of the billboards during their roughly decade-and-a-half heyday (from 1967 to the advent of MTV in the early 1980’s). Landau was a teenager living with his dad in the hills above the legendary Sunset Strip Tower Records when he first started documenting the fleeting masterpieces, shooting with a Nikkormat camera and Kodachrome film. A few years ago, he published a complete catalog of his photos with Angel City Press, and in a few weeks the billboards will finally grace museum walls, when an exhibit of Landau’s work opens at the LA’s Skirball Cultural Center.

Over at Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford has interviewed Landau about his work and the billboards themselves. Below is a short excerpt:

Collectors Weekly: Who started the music industry’s billboard trend?

Landau: As far as I can tell, it was the Doors in 1967 for their debut album. I talked with Jac Holzman—the head of Elektra Records who signed the Doors—while writing my book. In 1967, he had just come out here from the East Coast and opened an office on La Cienega Boulevard, not far from Sunset Boulevard, and it occurred to him that billboards were being used for everything except promoting records and music. A lot of radio stations where popular disc jockeys worked were farther east on Sunset, and he knew they drove on the Strip, and that the entertainment industry in general was based there.

The Doors were really into it; the whole band even climbed up on top for a photo shoot. Jim Morrison was quoted as saying he thought it was cool he’d be hanging over the Strip like a specter. I think at that time, it cost about a thousand dollars a month, which was quite a bit of an investment then. Elektra signed on for a year, and they had several different billboards. Little by little, the other record companies caught on.

Read the story

Billboard Artist of the Year: The Making of Whitney Houston’s Debut Album (1986)

Longreads Pick

How Clive Davis and Arista won the battle to sign Whitney Houston—then went searching for songs for her debut:

“Two years later, Griffith got a call from a friend. Had he ever heard of Whitney Houston? She asked him. He remembered her name immediately from the show he’d seen and said so. ‘You better move fast,’ she cautioned. ‘She’s negotiating with Elektra for a deal.’ The news shook him up. ‘I said, “Uh-oh – I better check this out,”‘ he recalls. As it turned out, Houston was performing that very weekend at another New York club, Seventh Avenue South. Griffith called Houston’s manager, Gene Harvey, and had his name put on the guest list.

“‘So I went down, and I was completely floored,’ Griffith says now. ‘She was mesmerizing. I couldn’t believe she had grown so much in that two-year period. She went from a teenager to a woman. She had a mature look, her voice was more mature, she had obvious star quality. It took no genius to see it – all you had to do was just see her and you knew. I’ll never forget, she sang the song “Tomorrow” from [the musical] Annie, and it was a showstopper. After I got up off the floor, I just knew that I had to bring her to the label.'”

Author: Bud Scoppa
Source: Billboard
Published: Feb 1, 1986
Length: 10 minutes (2,556 words)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Lost Album, Human Highway

CSNY, January 1, 1970. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

David Gambacorta | Longreads | March 2021 | 15 minutes (4,190 words)

They needed a song, but not just any song. It had to be a throat-clearing, lapel-grabbing, hey-what’s-that-sound number that could open what was shaping up to be one of the most anticipated albums of 1970: the debut of the super group to end all super groups, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. “We don’t have that song where you know that a listener will not take that needle off the record,” Graham Nash told Stephen Stills sometime in the fall of 1969, after they’d already labored for countless hours in a recording studio in San Francisco. “We need that song where we’ve got them from the very beginning.”

Nash, a skinny, shaggy former member of the British group The Hollies, and Stills, a soulful, straw-haired survivor of Buffalo Springfield, knew plenty about grabbing listeners by the ear. A year earlier, they’d discovered — at Joni Mitchell’s house in California, maybe, or Cass Elliot’s, no one’s quite sure — that they could create heavenly harmonies with David Crosby, the ex-Byrds singer who wore a droopy mustache, and the amused grin of a man who was in on some cosmic joke. They released an album, Crosby, Stills & Nash, that was filled with instant classics like the soaring “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Then, at the urging of Ahmet Ertegun, the owlish Atlantic Records honcho, the trio turned themselves into a quartet, adding — with some reluctance — Neil Young’s reedy voice, barbed-wire guitar playing, and unpredictability to the mix. After the four of them played in front of 400,000 swaying, stoned people at Woodstock, their own concerts started to take on the feel of what Rolling Stone described as “mini-Woodstocks” that unleashed “effortless good vibes.”

Read more…

Shelved: Dr. Dre’s Detox

Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images for BET

Tom Maxwell | Longreads | March, 2021 | 6 minutes (1,743 words)

 

Dr. Dre’s Detox might be the best-known album that no one’s ever heard in its entirety. The legendary hip-hop producer’s supposed third album persisted in the public’s mind for 13 years, kept alive by rumors, leaks, and revised release dates. After first announcing the record in 2002, Dre finally admitted in 2015 that Detox was shelved because he “didn’t like it.” It’s probably just as well, because no album made by actual, fallible people ­— no matter how talented — could live up to such breathless, protracted hype.

Detox didn’t begin as an empty promise. We do have a few singles from the project to listen to, including “I Need A Doctor,” featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey, released in 2011.

 

 

Dre has apologized for physically abusing female partners — something that goes beyond the misogyny common in early ’90s hip hop — but only in a career as accomplished as his could such an epic dashing of hope become a footnote. Responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of millions of records sold, Dre is a rapper, producer, actor, and music industry entrepreneur — a musical architect who defined a generation of expression. He was a member of seminal rap group N.W.A. in the 1980s. He co-founded Death Row Records after that — almost single-handedly inventing the West Coast G-funk style in the process — produced Snoop Doggy Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem, to name a few, and founded Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Responsible for game-changing albums The Chronic (1992) and 2001 (1999), Dre has nothing to prove by producing the rumored Detox.

The most interesting thing about Detox is not what it would have sounded like had it been released, but its relationship to its creator. What compelled Dre to keep working on it year after year? How, for a record that was probably never even completed, much less issued, did it become so monolithic in the minds of his fans?

Born Andre Romelle Young in Compton, California in 1965, Dre had his first local hit with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru at age 19.

L.A. is the place for you to be

To witness Dr. Dre in surgery

He has a PhD in mixology

To cut on the wheels so viciously

One year later, in 1987, Dre helped design gangsta rap with N.W.A.. Songs like “Fuck Tha Police” from 1988s Straight Outta Compton talked openly about police brutality. Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy E did most of the rapping. DJ Yella and Dre designed the beats. The music was apolitical, explicit, angry, hedonistic, and unrepentant. It set up California as home to the most innovative hip-hop of the next decade.

Dre left N.W.A. in 1991 and formed Death Row Records with Suge Knight the following year. His debut album, The Chronic, made with the help of Snoop Dogg and The Lady of Rage (among others) went triple platinum. Dre won a Grammy for “Let Me Ride.” He also was Death Row’s in-house producer, responsible for Dogg’s massively successful Doggystyle as well as acting as the supervising producer for the Above the Rim soundtrack.

Parting ways with the notorious Knight, Dre formed Aftermath Entertainment, a boutique rap label, in 1996. After a shaky start, the label signed Detroit rapper Eminem. His The Slim Shady LP was certified quadruple platinum. Dre’s second solo album, 1999s 2001, sold at least six million copies.

Flush with capital to write, produce, and record anything he wanted, Dre announced the Detox project in 2002, referring to it as his “final album.” It was going to be the story of a hit man. Rumor had it that Denzel Washington would narrate.

“I had to come up with something different but still keep it hardcore, so what I decided to do was make my album one story about one person and just do the record through a character’s eyes,” Dre told MTV News in April 2002. “And everybody that appears on my album is going to be a character, so it’s basically going to be a hip-hop musical.”

“I’ve been blueprinting, getting ideas together for the past six months or so, just trying to figure out which direction I want to take and how I’m gonna present the project,” Dre continued. “Just gathering sounds and what have you. I want this one to be really over the top.” He predicted Detox would be released in 2003.

Less than a year later, Dre admitted to giving “the cream of the crop” of his Detox beats to 50 Cent for his album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. It has never actually been confirmed that the beat for what became 50 Cent’s single “In da Club” was intended for Detox, but that cream of the crop beat helped this song go to No. 1 for the rapper. 

 “Dre, he’ll play dope beats…they’re automatic,” 50 said of those sessions. “[He’ll say], ‘These are the hits, 50. So pick one of these and make a couple of singles or something.’”

Having abandoned its original concept, Detox’s release date was pushed back to late 2004. “I’d describe it as the most advanced rap album musically and lyrically we’ll probably ever have a chance to listen to,” co-producer Scott Storch told MTV News. “Dr. Dre always tries to top his last one. That’s why he spends so much time putting [albums] together and they don’t come out every five minutes. He puts a lot of time, energy and genius into the stuff.”

Dre told XXL that the album would have 12 or 13 singles. So I’m really taking my time with each one. No album fillers or nothing like that. No fast-forwarding.” But by May 2004 he’d changed his mind, telling the same publication that he wanted to concentrate on his Aftermath artists. (Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, released in 2000, sold in excess of 10 million copies.)

Years passed. Collaborators hinted at an unreleased masterpiece in other magazine interviews. “I’m thinking of making the album like a movie,” producer Imsomie “Mahogany” Leeper said, “like having 16-bar jazz pieces, live instruments.”

“I was really hoping to have it out this year, but it’s going to have to be pushed back a while because of some other things I’ve got to work on,” Dre told the L.A. Times in 2007. The following year, Snoop Dogg confirmed Detox was finished. “That record is real, it’s coming,” Dogg told Rolling Stone. “I was starting to doubt it myself and then I went up in there and he played so much music for me it knocked my head off.”

The first official release of anything from Detox came during a 2009 Dr. Pepper commercial. “For me,” Dre says, “slow always produces a hit.” He then shows a flailing young DJ how to slow a record down by putting a soda can on the turntable.

By then, Detox’s release date was scheduled for that year And indeed, singles purportedly part of the mix for Detox’s track listing dropped  — “Under Pressure,” “Kush,” and “I Need a Doctor.” The last single went double platinum. The album, however, did not come out.

More Detox songs were leaked in 2011 — “Mr. Prescription,” Chillin’,” and “Die Hard.” In a long-ranging interview with The Fader that year, Dre announced he was ready to take a break from music, mused at how successful his Beats by Dr. Dre line of headphones were, and said nothing about Detox. In 2015, he confirmed that the project was dead.

“Over the years Detox has become the most long-awaited album in hip-hop history, a project that has taken on mythical proportions, and with good reason,” Nathan Slavik wrote for DJBooth. “In addition to launching several of the biggest rappers of the last two decades — Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar — Dre’s first two headlining albums, The Chronic and 2001, were classics. It was completely reasonable to be excited about Detox until it was completely insane to think it would ever drop.”

In 2015, Dre released the soundtrack for Straight Outta Compton, a collection of tracks by N.W.A. and its former members. He also released Compton, his third solo effort, and first in 16 years.

But the story wasn’t actually over. When asked by reporter Chris Haynes in 2018 if Detox was permanently shelved, Dre replied, “I’m working on a couple songs right now. We’ll see.” As if on cue, more musical snippets from the project leaked in May of that year.

The best way I’ve found to think about Detox is that it was a catch-all name for, essentially, most everything Dr. Dre was working on for 15 years. Even noted perfectionists like Dre release material. Instead, as Detox became more mythic in the hip-hop community, it served, whether Dre intended to or not, as a useful publicity tease even as the hype proved impossible to live up to. Between 2009 and 2011, the best of the hundreds of song snippets he worked on were released. In such a rapidly changing musical universe, nothing recorded for Detox, no matter how inspired, was going to remain stylistically relevant over more than a dozen years.

It’s also possible that Dre buckled under the weight of expectation. “I worked on Detox,” DJ Quik told DJBooth. “Just, in theory, Detox is a super smart-ass piece of music, but it’s all music, you know what I mean? That’s what could be the stumbling block for the record. Because it’s all music, and you got so many people to please. If you’re off with one, it won’t be a classic record. So, I understand Dre’s concerns about putting it out. But, some of the tracks I heard, oh my God, get the fuck out of here… Sound-wise, it was gonna be better than Chronic and 2001, and idea-wise.”

“By all accounts — and believe me, I heard every account there was — it seemed like the album had become any creative person’s nightmare,” Slavik wrote.

Given an unlimited budget and no deadline, could you spend the rest of your life locked in a perfectionist’s jail, constantly terrified that the music you’ll make next will be better than the music you’ve made so far, each passing day only becoming further justification to take your time, the pressure of expectation becoming suffocating until one day you realize decades have gone by and you’re even farther away from the finish line than when you started? You seemingly could, and Dr. Dre was living proof. 

***

Tom Maxwell is a writer and musician. He likes how one informs the other.

Editor: Aaron Gilbreath; Fact-checker: Matt Giles

I Will Always Love You: A Dolly Parton Reading List

Dolly Parton attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at the Staples Center on February 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Central Florida doesn’t do glamour. I know because I was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida, the birthplace of Publix supermarkets and where Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, died in a nursing home. Growing up, my sister Abby and I had a never-named game where we’d see a figure skater, Vanna White, anyone, wearing a pretty dress on television, and then we’d passionately bicker over who got to have the rhinestoned, beaded, or sequined costume. We knew what glamour looked like, and we wanted it. By the time I’d graduated high school, I knew glamour in real life. I’d seen it in person three times.

My high school band competed in an annual competition up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Each year, when the music part of the trip was over, we’d go to Dolly Parton’s dinner theater show one night, and spend a day at her theme park, Dollywood. And inside Dollywood, inside Chasing Rainbows, a museum dedicated to telling Dolly’s life story, was my pilgrimage: a collection of Dolly’s rhinestoned, beaded, and sequined costumes, more beautiful and breathtaking than anything I’d ever bickered over in the never-named game of my childhood.

Two years after high school, I moved to New York City and dug my heels into culture shock. Five years in, I got into a Dolly Parton-themed holiday party put on by a fancy New York PR firm. I glided through the night among the well-dressed and well-heeled. I sipped moonshine and peach iced tea with a party-themed name like it was mother’s milk. I danced to Kylie Minogue performing Dolly covers. And I held my head up high all night because I’d long already seen the installation in the front room, a sparkling display of Dolly’s costumes on loan from Dollywood.

I won’t say Dolly Parton changed my life. I’ve only just read her 1994 memoir “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business,” loaned it to three people, gave it as a wedding present, and have the first and only edition in paperback and hardcover. I recently got the first Christmas album Dolly recorded with Kenny Rogers, “Once Upon A Christmas.” I’m pretty proud of that. I don’t own any Dolly T-shirts or anything like that (maybe I should), I just think she’s a gift to humanity — a living, breathing embodiment of dreams. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. Dolly would say, “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Maybe she’s not for you, even though she’s for everyone. But, hey, don’t take my word for it.

1. “Outta That Holler” (Sarah Smarsh, Slate, October 2020)

In this excerpt from her 2020 book, “She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs,” journalist Sarah Smarsh describes Parton’s brand of implicit feminism. By harnessing the value of economic agency and sexual power to overcome the poverty that defined her childhood — born the fourth of 12 children, “wearing dresses made of feed sacks” and “dyeing her lips with iodine from the family medicine cabinet for lack of lipstick” — Parton has shaped the person she is today.

She reminds her audiences that, no matter where they came from, everyone can identify with being shamed one way or another, and no one deserves it. Never be ashamed of your home, your family, yourself, your religion, she says, and adoring crowds applaud. One need look no further than her immense LGBTQ following to know that Parton’s transformation from a slut-shamed, talented teenage bumpkin to entertainment superstar contains a universal struggle that has less to do with being Appalachian than with being human. If her presence and the appreciation it instills in people could be whittled to a phrase, it’s “be what you are.”

2. “The Grit and Glory of Dolly Parton” (Emily Lordi, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, November 2020)

The person and brand that is Dolly Parton did not just happen overnight. Emily Lordi provides an overview of Parton’s decades-long career, illustrating how it’s been furthered not by reinvention, but through the reintroduction of Parton and her music, all while Parton herself engages with the times. Lordi first interviewed Parton over the phone, then in person after providing a negative COVID-19 test.

People want her gifts, her glow, her time; and Parton, who, as she says, “loves everybody and wants everybody to love me,” is often happy to oblige. She can’t sit still anyway — and early on in the pandemic, she decided to keep working, as long as her team could do so safely. Last May, she released “When Life Is Good Again,” a song of reassurance that justifies the journalist Melinda Newman’s claim, in Billboard, that, during the coronavirus crisis, Parton seems to have appointed herself America’s “comforter in chief”: “When everything is on the mend, / I’ll even drink with my old friends, / Sing and play my mandolin … And it’s gonna be good again.”

3. “Dolly Parton Steers Her Empire Through the Pandemic — and Keeps It Growing” (Melinda Newman, Billboard, August 2020)

The daughter of an industrious sharecropper father and a musically inclined mother, Parton is a savvy businesswoman whose earliest and latest decisions in the music industry are only the core of her empire. As Melinda Newman writes, “Her legendary body of music is just the start of what makes her Dolly. …”

She sounds surprisingly giddy as she talks about the next chapter of her career as if it’s her first. “I’m touched and honored that I’m still around and that I’m able to still be important in the business,” she says. “I honestly feel like I’m just getting started. I know that sounds crazy but I really feel like I might have a big music career, record career. Who knows?”

4. “Dolly Parton on How to Be More Like Dolly Parton” (Anna Moeslein, Glamour, November 2019)

In an interview with Parton, Anna Moeslein and Parton review “Heartstrings,” a Netflix series in which each episode is based on a different Parton song. They also discuss emotions and Parton’s position on what people can do to bring “a little Dolly in their own lives,” as well as fashion and beauty.

Well, I think it’s always important for us to be allowed to be who we are, all that we are, and appreciate that. And I know being a woman in this world…I’ve always been proud that I was born a woman, and I’ve joked that if I wasn’t, I would have been a drag queen. That’s my favorite line, but it’s probably true. I love being able to express myself, and I want to be seen and appreciated for who I am. So I’ve always appreciated and loved people for who they are. Because we don’t need to all be the same.

5. “Is Dolly Parton the Voice of America?” (Rachel Riederer, The New Republic, December 2020)

Citing Jad Abumrad’s Radiolab podcast (“Dolly Parton’s America”), Parton’s Netflix series, shoutouts from Nicki Minaj and Drake, and even a history course at the University of Tennessee, Rachel Riederer discusses the latest Dolly Parton renaissance. And, given the political landscape of the U.S., Riederer wonders if there’s a place for Parton’s enduring position to sidestep politics — which Abumrad refers to as “Dollitics.”

You cannot talk about sharecropping without talking about politics, and to say more would not be her style. She was not shy about her desire to sell books or to present her life as a fairy tale, and you sell a fairy tale by focusing on the romance and adventures of the rising princess, not the conditions that made her a scullery maid.

6. “Springtime for the Confederacy” (Aisha Harris, Slate, August 2017)

When I mentioned Dolly’s “dinner theater show” above, I was intentionally vague. Despite my setup, I know Dolly is human. And humans are complicated. Dolly’s dinner show seems complicated, too, but really, it’s not. The show, known until 2018 as “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede,” is performed before an arena split into the “North” versus the “South,” where the audience, feasting on a four-course dinner eaten without cutlery, cheers on white-washed narratives of colonization, then the Antebellum South, then a performance competition between the North and the South. As a high schooler attending the show, I sat and watched from the North side, not fully grasping how problematic the programming was. I suppose I could do what Parton did in the Billboard article above: plead “innocent ignorance.” As an adult, I know better.

The last time I saw the show was in 2006. Aisha Harris reviewed the show in 2017, after watching it the same week as Unite the Right, a white supremacist rally, descended on Charlottesville, Virginia. At the rally, a neo-Nazi intentionally drove into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing an innocent woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring others. (The president notably remarked in the aftermath that there “were very fine people, on both sides.”) Harris recorded the experience of the dinner show from start to finish, without holding back.

While the show makes zero mention of slavery, that’s not to say there were no references to the Civil War. The war was alluded to both in the overarching North-versus-South conceit and through details both subtle (the gray and blue color schemes on each side) and blatant: The racing piglets were named after Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Scarlett O’Hara. Dolly says that the show is about bringing back “those good old times,” referring to her childhood, but of course she wasn’t around during the days of Grant and Lee.

Harris wrote a follow-up to this piece after the show responded to her initial review, and again in April 2018, when the show dropped “Dixie” from its name.

7. “Living with Dolly Parton” (Jessica Wilkerson, Longreads, October 2018)

Jessica Wilkerson, who grew up in East Tennessee, where Dollywood is located, confronts the worldviews of her upbringing with those acquired as an adult after moving away from home for graduate school in New York. Weighing the socioeconomic implications of Dollywood’s hiring practices and confronting “Dolly Parton’s blinding, dazzling whiteness,” Wilkerson strikes a reluctant balance, compartmentalizing more than one version of Dolly Parton.

But the aftermath of Dollywood left me low-spirited. I was nestled into a cozy room in the log house my dad built on top of a ridge, where we lived. From the peak of that ridge, I could stand and see the Smoky Mountains, where Dolly Parton grew up and where she built a simulacrum of her mountain childhood. Hers felt more real than mine. I was sad, but jealous, too. I lived in the real world of Appalachia. A world of layaway stores and packaged foods, bleary-eyed workers and stressed-out mothers. I longed for the simulation.

Alison Fishburn is an American writer living in Paris, Ontario.

Shades of Grey

Getty Images

Ashley Stimpson | Longreads | October 2020 | 26 minutes (7,001 words)

It’s been nearly a decade since the numbers were tattooed in her ears, but they remain remarkably legible. In the right one, dots of green ink spell out 129B: Vesper was born in the twelfth month of the decade’s ninth year and was the second in her litter. The National Greyhound Association (NGA) gave that litter a unique registration number (52507), which was stamped into her moss-soft left ear. If I type these figures into the online database for retired racing greyhounds, I can learn about her life before she was ours, before she was even Vesper.

Smokin’ Josy was born to a breeder in Texas, trained in West Virginia, and raced in Florida. Over three years, she ran 70 races. She won four of them. In Naples on May 12, 2012, she “resisted late challenge inside,” to clinch victory, according to her stat sheet. In Daytona Beach on April 17, 2013, she “stumbled, fell early.” Five days later, after a fourth-place showing, she was retired.

Read more…

Shelved: Pink Floyd’s Household Objects

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Tom Maxwell | Longreads | September 2020 | 13 minutes (3,433 words)

 

Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon is one of the best-selling records of all time. Released in March 1973, the album didn’t leave the Billboard 200 chart for over 14 years. By 2006, EMI/Harvest claimed the album sold in excess of 40 million copies “and still,” according to a Billboard article from that year, “routinely moves 8,000-9,000 copies on a slow week.”

Listening to a renowned album as cohesive as The Dark Side of the Moon, you would never guess that the follow-up to that historic release was going to be made using everyday items. Household Objects, recorded during several desultory sessions over a two-year time frame, was constructed with rubber bands, wine glasses, spray cans, newspapers, brooms, and other such utilitarian gear. It was shelved.

Read more…

Sleeping with Amazon

(Photo by Uwe Zucchi/picture alliance via Getty Images)

David Gutowski | Longreads | July 2020 | 5 minutes (1,500 words)

“At the end of the day, I have to sleep with myself.” Over the 18 years of publishing my literature and music website Largehearted Boy, that has always been my creed. When offered sponsorships and advertising from products I didn’t believe in, that belief guided my advertising (and lifestyle) decisions. When my bed became crowded while working for Amazon Books, insomnia set in.

My world pivoted in the mid-2010s. Then shook. Then reversed on its axis. In 2014, I separated from my wife, got a divorce, and met the love of my life. I left Brooklyn for Manhattan. Website advertising, long in freefall, plummeted even more. In 2016, my personal life disintegrated along with my savings. I attempted suicide and was forced to finally deal with lifelong mental health issues including major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder. I returned to school in 2018 to finish my undergraduate degree in creative writing. My mental health, at long last, improved, and with it, so did I.

Read more…