Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

Revisiting the History of the Oakland Raiders Courtesy of Hunter S. Thompson

The Oakland Raiders have been a thorn in the NFL’s side for decades. From pugnacious owner Al Davis to the team’s raucously rowdy fans and years of mediocrity, the Raiders reveled in being the league’s black sheep. And on the rare occasion when the team was competitive, like during the late 1970s and early ’80s when the franchise won three Super Bowls, the Silver and Black still seemed to thumb its collective nose at the league’s Brooks Brothers-outfitted executives on NYC’s Park Avenue.

Well, those execs enacted their own form of revenge: thanks to a league vote this week, the Raiders will leave the Bay Area for Las Vegas. Much like the neutering of Cleveland’s Dawg Pound (when the Cleveland Browns left for Baltimore in the late 1990s), the vote was put to the NFL owners, and only one—the Miami Dolphins—voted against the move, marking the third team in the past 14 months to relocate. While the Raiders’ new stadium won’t be ready until 2019 (at the earliest), the Raiders will have a two-year memorial for the city that loved them like no other.

It’s worth revisiting when the Raiders were weird and good. In 1973, Rolling Stone sent Hunter S. Thompson to embed with the AFC West team. Thompson was deep into gonzo journalism by this point, and as an avid football fan, he desperately wanted to chronicle a season with what was arguably the NFL’s strangest team. Trouble was, Davis didn’t entirely trust Thompson, and neither did the Raider players, who the Rolling Stone writer plied with cocaine in order for them to open up (according to Robert Draper’s history of the groundbreaking magazine, Thompson then tried to write the coke off as a business expense).

What follows is Thompson’s first interaction with Davis as reported in Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl: No Rest for the Wretched:

…the other was a small wiry man in a tan golf jacket with a greasy duck-tail haircut who paced along the sidelines of both fields with a speedy kind of intensity that I never really noticed until he suddenly appeared very close to me and I heard him ask a sportswriter from the San Francisco Chronicle who I was and I was doing there…

The conversation took place within 10 yards of me, and I heard most of it.

“Who’s the big guy over there with the ball in his hand?” asked the man with the DA.

“His name’s Thompson,” replied Chronicle sportswriter Jack Smith. “He’s a writer for Rolling Stone.”

“The Rolling Stones? Jesus Christ! What’s he doing here? Did you bring him?”

“No, he’s writing a big article. Rolling Stone is a magazine, Al. It’s different from the Rolling Stones; they’re a rock music group… Thompson’s a buddy of George Plimpton’s, I think… and he’s also a friend of Dave Burgin’s-you remember Burgin?”

“Holy shit! Burgin! We ran him out of here with a cattle prod!”

I saw Smith laugh at this point, then he was talking again: “Don’t worry, Al. Thompson’s okay. He wrote a good book about Las Vegas.”

Good god! I thought. That’s it… If they read that book I’m finished. By this time I’d realized that this strange-looking bugger named “Al,” who looked like a pimp or a track-tout, was in fact the infamous Al Davis-general manager and de facto owner (pending settlement of a nasty lawsuit scheduled for court-action early this year) of the whole Oakland Raider operation.

Davis glanced over his shoulder at me, then spoke back to Smith: “Get the bastard out of here. I don’t trust him.”

Read the story

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, we’re sharing stories by Sarah Menkedick, Adam Davidson, Ross Andersen, Victor Luckerson, and Tara Murtha.

Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox. Read more…

The Relentless Relevance of ‘9 to 5’

In December of 2015, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of “9 to 5,” Rolling Stone ran an interview with Patricia Resnick, who wrote the original screenplay. The 1980 film, featuring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin as women who kidnap their chauvinist boss and run the business better than he ever could, was Fonda’s brainchild. It was inspired by the 9to5 organization, which advocates for women in the workplace. In the interview, Resnick addresses how little had really changed for women by 2015, and the threat of political forces looking to undo what progress there has been. Who could have predicted that would be an even bigger threat in 2017?

In some ways we’ve definitely moved forward a little bit, but there does seem to be a lot of sentiment in this country, in one of our political parties, that seems to be trying to undo what little we’ve been able to do. The other thing that makes it difficult is that so many people think that this is all been settled. We did a musical of 9 to 5 on Broadway in 2009, and it was really frustrating because a lot of the interviews that I did with male journalists, the first thing they said was, “Well, none of those issues are a problem in contemporary life, so how are women of today going to be able to relate to it?” I thought, yeah, you can’t sexually harass someone as obviously. We don’t call people “secretaries.” Other than that, what has changed? People would kill to work from 9 to 5.

Read the story

Stand Up For Transgender Equality: A Reading List

I was in the lobby of a theater in Washington, D.C. when I saw the first of the tweets about the Trump administration’s decision to stymie protections for transgender students on the federal level. It wasn’t until the play ended and I was on the Metro home that I had cell service; I began to piece together what exactly had happened. My palms were sweating. I tried to make conversation with my friend, but I felt nauseated and heartsick.

I thought of the transgender and gender non-conforming kids in the youth group where I volunteer and the outspoken, proud, lovely trans kids in our county’s schools. I thought of Gavin Grimm, who’ll stand up against the Gloucester County School Board in front of the Supreme Court on March 28. I thought of how often trans folks have to reduce their stories to make them palatable to cisgender people, smoothing all of our glittering edges into sameness, rather than celebrating our differences, to win over those on the fence.

That night, I felt hopeless and scared. Today, I’m angry. It’s Friday as I finish this post, and the people of Chicago will protest for trans liberation tonight at the corner of Wacker and Wabash. I wish I could be there with them, to celebrate our community’s strength and resilience and to honor the lives of the seven trans women of color murdered in 2017: Mesha Caldwell, 41; Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28; JoJo Striker, 23; Keke Collier, 24; Chyna Gibson, 31; Ciara McElveen, 21; and Jaquarrius Holland, 18. Seven women, and it’s only March. Unacceptable and terrifying.

This Women’s History Month, I implore you: educate yourself and stand up for your trans sisters, not only your cis-ters. Stand up for all of your transgender and gender non-conforming siblings, especially our youth, who need advocacy and protection now more than ever.

1. “Trans Rights Already at Risk in Trump’s Bumbling, Bigoted Trainwreck of a Presidency.” (Rachel, Autostraddle, February 2017)

This article on Autostraddle was instrumental in my understanding of what exactly the Department of Justice put forth two weeks ago:

Under Obama, the Justice Department had been appealing a court injunction that prevents trans students nationwide from accessing the bathroom or other facilities consistent with their gender. Under Trump and Sessions, the first order of business was to cease that appeal, and to allow a lower court injunction to harm trans students unopposed.

Unfortunately, this lack of action? reversal? doesn’t bode well for trans rights. Rachel goes on to quote Mara Keisling of the National Center of Transgender Equality:

“While the immediate impact of this initial legal maneuver is limited, it is a frightening sign that the Trump administration is ready to discard its obligation to protect all students… Transgender students are not going away, and it remains the legal and moral duty of schools to support all students.”

Rachel also describes Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ historical support of anti-LGBTQ legislation, which is unsurprising but scary all the same, and explains how Gavin Grimm’s Supreme Court case could affect the administration’s decision to cease the appeal.

Update 3/6/17: The Supreme Court has referred Gavin Grimm’s case to the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit and will no longer hear his case on March 28. Read more at NYT and BuzzFeed.

2. “Janet Mock: Young People Get Trans Rights. It’s Adults Who Don’t.” (Janet Mock, The New York Times, February 2017)

Janet Mock, transgender author and activist, is the author of two memoirs: Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More and the upcoming Firsts: A Memoir of the Twenties Experience. In this passionate op-ed, Mock does what she does best: Use her personal experiences to advocate for trans youth. Mock contrasts her different school experiences–one with supportive adults, one without.

It’s adults like those in the Trump administration who don’t realize that pitting young people against one another has consequences. It encourages some to be bullies and turns others into sinister objects.

When trans students are told that they cannot use public facilities, it doesn’t only block them from the toilet — it also blocks them from public life. It tells them with every sneer, every blocked door, that we do not want to see them, that they should go hide and that ultimately they do not belong. When schools become hostile environments, students cannot turn to them. Instead they are pushed out. And without an education, it makes it that much more difficult to find a job, support themselves and survive.

Related: “What Trans Youth Need to Hear Right Now, According to Trans Adults.” (Sarah Karlan, BuzzFeed LGBT, March 2017) This isn’t longform, but it’s rare that trans kids have the opportunity to hear from trans adults who are happy and thriving.

3. “Pseudo-Feminist Trolls are Still Trotting Out Tired, Anti-Trans Ideology.” (Larissa Pham, Village Voice, February 2017)

Transphobia isn’t exclusively conservative territory. There are self-proclaimed progressives and feminists whose philosophies harm trans people in subtle and overt ways. Trans-exclusionary radical feminists, better known as TERFs, are obsessed with the false notion that trans women aren’t really women, and, unfortunately, their illogical arguments continue to appeal to the fearful.

4. Telling Our Own Stories.

The following essays and interviews feature the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming artists, authors, activists, students, cartoonists, administrative assistants, analysts and teachers.

“Telling Trans Stories Beyond ‘Born in the Wrong Body.'” (Meredith Talusan, Tiq Milan, Jacob Tobia, and Nico Fonseca, BuzzFeed LGBT, May 2016)

“Transgender Stories: ‘People Think We Wake Up and Decide to Be Trans.'” (Kate Lyons, The Guardian, July 2016)

“My Life as a Trans Woman Teaching High School in a ‘Bathroom Bill’ State.” (Aila Boyd, Broadly, February 2017)

“This is What It’s Like to Be a Trans Kid in a Conservative School.” (Nico Lang, Rolling Stone, March 2017)

“Tomboys Don’t Cry: Edgar Gomez Interviews Ivan Coyote.” (LARB, December 2016)

“Five Trans Cartoonists Respond to Bathroom Hysteria.” (The Nib, March 2017)

John Oliver on the Media’s Struggle to Confront Disinformation

Did you share the general shudder when Kellyanne Conway introduced the idea of “alternative facts”?

It’s just a framing device, an ear-catching phrase, but it’s nothing new. The content of what she’s wrapping a bow on is something that everyone has been bearing witness to. We’ve had 18 months of feelings over facts. The only thing that’s remotely new about it is the location that it’s coming from.

Is interviewing her essentially pointless?

In general, it’s very dangerous to keep the old campaign architecture around with this presidency, to have an eight-person panel on CNN debating whether or not he said something. “Did he or did he not do this thing we watched him do?” There’s actually serious harm in that discussion. And, yeah. I really don’t see the point of talking to Kellyanne Conway because her language jujitsu is so strong. You know she can look you in the eyes and tell you the opposite of what you just saw happen, and she will be more confident in her answer than you are in your question.

-John Oliver, in a wide-ranging Rolling Stone interview with Brian Hiatt, on how his weekly HBO show Last Week Tonight will need to adapt to the chaos of the Trump Administration. His season four premiere attempted to tackle the question of Trump and reality:  Read more…

What We Talk About When We Talk About Leonard Cohen’s Legacy

As if last week—and 2016 in general—weren’t already difficult enough, we lost another beloved musical great, Leonard Cohen. The Canadian-born singer-songwriter, a prolific poet and novelist as well, leaves behind a huge body of work. What will become of it all? It made no difference to Cohen. Two years ago, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Cohen said he didn’t care.

A few months later, in January of 2015, writer Kevin Mandel responded to that interview with an essay on The Millions in which he tried to understand why Cohen’s legacy matters more to him, a fan, than to the artist himself.

In an interview timed to coincide with the release of Mr. Cohen’s 13th studio album, an event in turn coinciding with his 80th birthday, the man says essentially that he cares not at all what becomes of his work after he dies, nor what his legacy will be. The music? The poems? The novels? The life? He could give a damn.

Ouch, a Cohen believer might predictably reply.

They who tend to be a mite sensitive to begin with. And remember also the bad old days, before the present éminence grise phase of the career. When to speak too lovingly about Leonard Cohen was a sure way to get one’s emotional stability called into question. So now might be excused for getting their backs up. Certain that a blasphemy has gone down, in an “et tu, Brute” kind of way.

At least that’s what I feel, but why? What is it about Leonard Cohen that not only commands my interest but can also set off no small burst of emotion? Something else, too: what exactly is my legitimate stake in someone else’s posterity? Even as a fan. Somewhere in my bones I hear my late grandmother putting it this way: if Leonard Cohen doesn’t care what becomes of his work and legacy after he dies — what’s that your business?

Read the story

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

* * *

Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

* * *

Read more…

Buddy Guy and the Inequity of Musical Fame

Guy heads into his living room and points out some of his favorite memorabilia collected over his 60 years in the business: a photo of him grinning onstage with Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall in 1990; a thank-you note from Mick Jagger for appearing in Shine a Light. There’s a photo of Guy with his family and the president and first lady from the first of four times Guy was invited to the Obama White House. “He’s from Chicago, so he knows,” Guy says of Obama. “As soon as he put his arm around me, I said, ‘Mr. President, it’s a long way from picking cotton to picking the guitar in the White House.’ And we laughed.”

Guy points out a painting of Hendrix, and tells the story of the day Hendrix brought a reel-to-reel recorder to tape Guy’s guitar workshop at Newport. “Everyone was saying, ‘Hendrix is here,'” Guy says. “I’m like, ‘Who?’ We went back to the hotel and played until the sun rose. He was so damn good, so creative.”

Next to that is a painting of Stevie Ray Vaughan, playing his guitar behind his back — a trick he learned from Guy. “That one’s priceless,” he says. Vaughan had been a fan ever since he heard Guy singing and playing alongside Wolf and Waters on the 1963 American Folk Festival of the Blues LP as a kid. Whenever Guy played Antone’s nightclub in Austin, he invited Vaughan and his older brother Jimmie onstage. “He became like a big brother to us,” says Jimmie. “It was such a trip.” Guy played with Stevie Ray at Wisconsin’s Alpine Valley in 1990 — Guy took a different helicopter back to Chicago; Vaughan’s helicopter crashed, killing him and four others.

Patrick Doyle, writing in Rolling Stone about the life of trailblazing bluesman Buddy Guy, a brilliant guitarist and longtime Chicago club manager whose influence is as sweeping as Howlin’ Wolf’s, B.B. King’s and Sonny Boy Williamson’s, but whose name isn’t as recognizable.

Read the story

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

* * *

Read more…