Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jack LaLanne: The Godfather of Fitness

"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it." -Jack LaLanne
Jack LaLanne was addicted to sugar as a child, causing him to commit acts of violence, including setting his parents' house on fire and attacking his brother with an axe. He was so weak his family physician recommended he be removed from school to rest and regain his strength. Around this time, he and his mother attended a lecture by Paul C. Bragg, a nutritionist who told LaLanne he was a human garbage can. LaLanne turned his life around with a strict diet and exercise.

By the age of 18, he was running a home bakery selling healthy breads and a home gym where he trained policemen and firemen in exercise and weightlifting. LaLanne's reputation as a physical fitness guru eventually led to his 34-year stint as the host of TV's The Jack LaLanne Show (1953). There he taught exercise aimed principally at homemakers, using items found around the home.

Even as he exceeded 95 years of age, LaLanne continued to boast a fine physique, and encourage fans with health and fitness tips through videos and writing. LaLanne died of pneumonia at his home in Morro Bay, California, in January 2011, with his wife Elaine, family and friends surrounding him. Mr. LaLanne had been ill prior to his death.

Some of his amazing feats of strength include:
  • "He hasn't had dessert since 1929. He started his own gym in 1936, which included a health food store and a juice bar. He appeared on You Asked for It (1950), where he performed 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes. 
  • The Jack LaLanne Show was the longest–running television exercise program of all time. It was on television for 34 years.
  • At age 41 proving it possible to escape from Alcatraz by swimming to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while wearing handcuffs
  • At 45, completing a thousand push-ups and a thousand chin-ups in an hour and twenty-two minutes with blisters under his calluses
  • At 60, swimming from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a thousand-pound boat.
  • At 70, battling currents while handcuffed and shackled, towing seventy boats holding seventy people for a mile and a half across Long Beach Harbor.

Even at age 94, LaLanne was still exercising for two hours every day. 90 minutes of strength training. 30 minutes of swimming or walking. 10 raw vegetables. Every. Single. Day. For 60 years.

More information:
» Men's Fitness: "What We Learned from Jack LaLanne"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Neil Young - "The Restless Consumer" (2006)

Neil Young began writing songs for Living with War in a Gambier, Ohio, hotel room while visiting his daughter at her college. While retrieving coffee from a vending machine early one morning, Young saw the front page of a USA Today issue documenting a surgery room on an airplane flying seriously wounded US soldiers from Iraq to Germany. He later told Charlie Rose that the combination of the vivid picture and the headline (which focused not on any suffering and death depicted, but rather on medical breakthroughs made during the war) moved him: "For some reason, that was what did it to me. I went upstairs after that. I wrote this song, 'Families'; I started writing another song, 'Restless Consumer'; I started writing all these songs all at once; I had like four songs going at once."

The album was nominated for three 2007 Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (both for "Lookin' for a Leader").

Commenting on the lack of artists writing songs critical of American policy at the time, Young said, "I was hoping some young person would come along and say this and sing some songs about it, but I didn't see anybody, so I'm doing it myself. I waited as long as I could."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Delta Spirit - "Language of the Dead"

Delta Spirit is an American indie rock band from San Diego/Long Beach/Orange County, California, United States. After relocating to Brooklyn, NY in 2012, the band is now spread across Brooklyn (Winrich & Mclaren), Austin (Vasquez), and Los Angeles (Jameson & Young). Delta Spirit is most known for their intense live performances, their congregational song writing, and their driving rhythms. The band released their fourth album, Into the Wide, on 9 September 2014. It is the group's highest charting album in the United States to date.

Frontman Matt Vasquez pulls triple duty as he also directed and wrote the video, which features Agamemnon, Robert E. Lee and Leo Tolstoy, all played by various band members, teaming up in order to vanquish a terrifying space monster, played by Vasquez’s own cat. There are also spaceship, planets, black holes and a whole lot of green screen.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wolf Alice - "Giant Peach"

Wolf Alice are a four-piece alternative rock band from North London, consisting of Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis. They released their debut single "Fluffy" in February 2013, the "Bros" single followed this in May. In October 2013, they released their debut EP Blush. Their second EP Creature Songs was released in May 2014 on Dirty Hit Records. On February 24th 2015 they released the lead single "Giant Peach" from their debut album My Love Is Cool, scheduled for release on 22 June 2015.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Daily Show Without Jon Stewart

The Guardian:
Jon Stewart is to step down later this year as host of The Daily Show after nearly two decades spent satirizing – and influencing – U.S. politics. Stewart, 52, announced his departure in an emotional address at the end of Tuesday's show on February 10, saying his 16-year run in the hot seat was enough.

“In my heart I know it is time for someone else,” Stewart, at times close to tears, told the audience. He was still working out details of his exit, which could come anytime between July and December, he said. “I don’t have any specific plans. Got a lot of ideas. I got a lot of things in my head.”

Stewart hinted at a yearning for a change of pace after the treadmill of hosting a broadcast four times a week. “I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people. This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you.”

Born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in New Jersey, in 1962, Stewart was a stand-up comic who landed a slot at the famed Comedy Cellar. His first break came in 1989 with cable TV’s Short Attention Span Theatre, before he forged a friendship with David Letterman.

By 1993 Stewart was hosting his own MTV show, but when that show was cancelled in 1995 it seemed he had peaked. When Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show in 1998 he was replaced by Stewart as the face of what rapidly became the most talked about comedy show in America. The show established Stewart as a singular force in U.S. political and media life.

The comedian, who serves as executive producer, has garnered about 2.5 million viewers per night with biting satire that entertained, provoked and at times shaped the political agenda – often with progressives echoing his talking points and conservatives denouncing them.

Stewart's version is currently the second longest-running program on Comedy Central after South Park, and has risen to critical acclaim. It has received two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Between 2001 and 2012, it has been awarded 18 Primetime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series (winner for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012) and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program, and a further seven nominations. The show has also been honored by GLAAD, the Television Critics Association, and the Satellite Awards. America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, the 2004 bestseller written by Stewart and the writing staff of The Daily Show, was recognized by Publishers Weekly as its "Book of the Year", and its abridged audiobook edition received the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

The program is popular among young audiences, with organizations such as the Pew Research Center suggesting that 80% of regular viewers are between 18 and 49, and that 10% of the audience watch the show for its news headlines, 2% for in-depth reporting, and 43% for entertainment, compared with 64% who watch CNN for the news headlines.

The comedian took time off in 2013 to make his film writing and directorial debut, Rosewater, a political drama about Maziar Bahari, a journalist accused of spying and imprisoned in Iran. Critics acclaimed it, prompting the Los Angeles Times to joke that Stewart “may have a promising back-up career”. Stewart also emerged as a forceful proponent for Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist curtailed by Egypt's post-Arab Spring rulers.

In its own announcement, Comedy Central, which has aired the show since 1996, said Stewart would step down later this year. Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, hailed Stewart as a comic genius. “Through his unique voice and vision The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come.”

In the mid-1990s, Stewart launched his own production company, Busboy Productions, naming the company in reference to his previous job as a busboy. After Stewart's success as host and producer of The Daily Show, he revived Busboy Productions with Daily Show producers Ben Karlin and Rich Korson.

In 2005, Comedy Central reached an agreement with Busboy in which Comedy Central would provide financial backing for the production company. Comedy Central has a first-look agreement on all projects, after which Busboy is free to shop them to other networks. The deal spawned the Daily Show spin-off The Colbert Report and its replacement The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Other projects include the sitcom pilot Three Strikes, the documentary Sportsfan, the series Important Things with Demetri Martin, and the film The Donor.

More information:
» The Atlantic: The House That Jon Stewart Built
» New York Times in 2008: "Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?"
» New York Magazine in 2014: Jon Stewart In Conversation