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The Secret History And Uncertain Future Of Comics Character John Constantine

John Constantine

There’s never been a comics character like John Constantine, DC Comics’ trench-coat-sporting magician and wisecracking righter of wrongs. He’s openly, specifically political. He’s queer. He’s working-class. He’s wordy. He’s indelibly and un-stereotypically English. Astoundingly, he’s remained largely unchanged since he first took to the page in 1985 and throughout 26 years of constant publication — a kind of character consistency that’s unheard of even among icons like Superman or Batman.

And there’s also the matter of how often he appears before his writers. Like, literally shows up out of nowhere on an otherwise ordinary day. Flesh and blood, cigarette and tie. They swear to it.

More at Vulture

The Day UFOs Stopped A Soccer Match

Football Stadium

Sixty years ago a football match ground to a halt when unidentified flying objects were spotted above a stadium in Florence. Did aliens come to earth? If not, what were they?

It was 27 October 1954, a typically crisp autumn day in Tuscany. The mighty Fiorentina club was playing against its local rival Pistoiese. Ten-thousand fans were watching in the concrete bowl of the Stadio Artemi Franchi. But just after half-time the stadium fell eerily silent – then a roar went up from the crowd. The spectators were no longer watching the match, but were looking up at the sky, fingers pointing. The players stopped playing, the ball rolled to a stand-still.

More at BBC

Nation’s First Non-Profit Supermarket Is Picking Up Steam

Non-Profit Supermarket

About one year ago, food justice advocates tuned in to a promising remedy for food deserts in the city of Chester, Pa., about 15 miles south of Philadelphia. Could Fare & Square — the nation’s first non-profit full-scale supermarket — be a sustainable model in a 34,000-resident city where there hadn’t been a supermarket of any kind in 12 years? I covered the grand opening last October, and recently I went back to the post-industrial city to see how the supermarket has progressed.

More at Next City

Why 2014 Is The Year Of The Ginger Cat

Ginger Cat

Hit movie Gone Girl has marquee names: director David Fincher, actor Ben Affleck and a music score by Trent Reznor. But the breakout star is a cat who, heretofore, has remained uncredited.

The mellow ginger (whose name is actually Boris) appears in almost every scene, acting as a foil to the crazy main characters. Not to give too much away, but the cat’s prowess is undeniable: Boris’s expression when Ben Affleck’s character eats ice cream from the carton feels like Oscar bait. Appropriately, Boris has attracted considerable attention online and in the press–Vogue magazine called it the movie’s “emotional marker.”

More at Fast Company

More Cities Are Making It Illegal To Hand Out Food To The Homeless

Food For Homeless

If you don’t have a place to live, getting enough to eat clearly may be a struggle. And since homelessness in the U.S. isn’t going away and is even rising in some cities, more charitable groups and individuals have been stepping up the past few years to share food with these vulnerable folks in their communities.

But just as more people reach out to help, cities are biting back at those hands feeding the homeless.

More at npr

The Man Who Turned Speedboats Full Of Weed Into Indy 500 Glory

Weed Car

In 1986, everyone knew Randy Lanier was fast. He’d just won a sportscar championship and shattered an Andretti record to become the Indy 500 rookie of the year. What most people didn’t know is he paid for his racing dreams by smuggling massive quantities of marijuana past the feds.

By 1988, Lanier was a fugitive in the Caribbean, running from the government and from responsibility for his role in a $300 million drug smuggling operation. Before long he would be caught and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

More at Jalopnik

Digital Death And The Digital Afterlife. How To Have One And How To Avoid It

ssjm1001memorial

In 2012, the UK’s Sunday Times reported that actor Bruce Willis was going to sue Apple because he was not legally allowed to bequeath his iTunes collection of music to his children. The story turned out to be false (and shockingly bad journalism) but it did start a conversation about what we can, and can’t, do with our digital possessions.

It turns out that “possessions” is actually a misnomer. We actually don’t own the music, books and movies we “buy” from Apple and Amazon. As Amazon puts it in its license terms, “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider”. In other words, we are allowed to read the content but we are not allowed to pass it on.

More at The Conversation

Streaming Music Has Left Me Adrift

Streaming Music

It’s hard to imagine now, but there once was a time when you could not play any song ever recorded, instantly, from your phone. I call this period adolescence. It lasted approximately 30 years, and it was galvanized by conflict.

At that time, music had to be melted onto plastic discs and shipped across the country in trucks. In order to keep this system running smoothly, a handful of major labels coordinated with broadcasters and retailers to encourage everyone to like the same thing, e.g. Third Eye Blind. This approach divided music into two broad categories: “popular” and what I liked.

More at The New York Times

Jeff Koons: Beyond Taste And Shame

Jeff Koons

Something about Jeff Koons gets people very bothered. When the artist appropriated in 1992 a kitsch image of a vacantly grinning couple with a litter of puppies to blissfully creepy effect, blown up to life size in polychromed wood, the greeting-card photographer who owned the image sued. Judge Richard J. Cardamone of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against Koons, taking care to note that many found the artist “truly offensive” and that his works sold for over $100,000.

Koons’ work also prompted Basque terrorists to pose as florists and arrange bomb-laden flowerpots around Koons’ giant topiary “Puppy” outside the Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997. (They were busted by two Spanish policemen, one of whom was shot dead.)

More at Aljazeera America

Inside The Motörhead Motörböat Cruise

Motorhead Cruise

I had heard rumors that the Motörhead “Motörböat” cruise ran out of booze before the trip was over. Of course that’s not shocking news when you’re talking about a boat full of hard-drinking headbangers, Lemmy Kilmister (who despite his recent health issues has switched out his beloved Jack Daniels for vodka because it’s “better for you”) as well as various other metal bands that love their party liquids.

More at Dangerous Minds