Category Archives: Reviews

Tales from the Drive-In

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988. A combination of live footage film and animation. Starring the talented Bob Hoskins, and directed byRobert Zemeckis, the end results were mixed. The lasting impression for me was not the movie itself, but the experience of seeing it at the drive-in.

My parents loaded up the family for a drive-in double feature of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the movie Vibes, starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum.

It began to rain as we drove, but my parents thought it would be fine to continue onward. We lived in Phoenix, and the drive-in was in south Scottsdale, so it wasn’t exactly nearby.

The rain kept up throughout Roger Rabbit, so the window wipers were left on, which lent itself to the pseudo noir setting of the movie.

The movie ended and it was still raining, so my parents decided not to stay for the second feature film. As we left the maze-like parking lot, my father got turned around, and ended up going the wrong direction through an exit, running over the ground spikes that avert traffic from going the opposite direction.

So the family was stuck at the drive-in exit, with blown tires, in the rain. My father walked in the rain to the nearest payphone and called my aunt Mary for a lift, and then called a tow truck.

Aunt Mary arrived to the scene, and we all packed into her VW bug, as father stayed behind waiting for the tow truck. We fell asleep on the ride back, only waling up as we arrived home. I haven’t a clue how late it was by the time father was dropped off home, but he was certainly there when I woke up the next day.

For a movie that was only mediocre, I never forget the rainy circumstances of which we saw it. The mishaps and shenanigans of trying to leave, and the eventual divorce it lead to.

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Cherry 2015 – If Loving A Fembot Is Artificial, I Don’t Want To Be Genuine

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One of the most prescient dystopian science fiction films of the 1980′s turned out to be the (direct to video?) 1987 movie, “Cherry 2000.”

The future depicted in Cherry 2000 is one where sexual encounters and relationships with real women have become complicated legal transactions requiring lawyers, and have been reduced to merely emotionless business arrangements. The women are typically aggressive, masculine, demanding and shrill. It leads to an environment where the rare romantic guy, who still longs for a traditional loving relationship, would actually find a courtship with a female android more emotionally fulfilling than one with a real live organic woman. It’s sort of a more sympathetic, less horrific spin on “The Stepford Wives” theme. In Stepford, the men killed their loving yet sassy wives in exchange for robot sex slaves who would do the dishes and clean the house without giving them any grief. They were portrayed unmistakably as as evil pricks. In contrast, the physically human women are the ones who display the robotic behavior in Cherry 2000, while the romantic men are forced to seek out the loving emulation of androids for any “meaningful” companionship. Of course the film sells out in the end, as the main character who sacrifices everything in a dangerous quest to replace his beloved, short circuited fembot(Cherry, played by Pamela Gidley) with the identical discontinued model, ultimately falls for the crass and bitchy, tomboyish tracker, “Edith”(Melanie Griffith) whom he’s hired to help locate the robot.

With the advent of “yes means yes” laws it doesn’t seem like it will be long before men will be required to get some type of verbally recorded or written consent to engage in sexual activity with a seemingly “turned on” girl, to shield themselves from litigation or criminal prosecution if she turns on them later. As if getting a girl pregnant or contracting an STD wasn’t enough to worry about, now we have bigger fish to fry. Indeed, there is already a phone app for sexual consent, called Good2Go.

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Recent developments over the past two decades have lead me to conclude we’re headed towards Cherry 2000 style dating in America. Indeed, I’ve started to notice that the crudely annoying spambots on Tinder and Okcupid have been getting more sophisticated in their programming to the point where interacting with them can be more romantically stimulating than talking to actual chicks(which, if you’ve ever had an unfortunate exchange with one of these Tinderbots you would realize is more of a knock on the sorry state of the 21st century female conversational experience than it is one marveling in wonder at the advancements in artificial intelligence spam.)

Then there are video game characters. Back in a particularly isolated time period of my life in 2001 and 2002, when all I did was drink diet pepsi, eat microwave popcorn and play old Super Nintendo RPGs in my studio apartment, I would occasionally develop what I guess you could call “crushes” on some of the female sprites in the games(such as Rydia from Final Fantasy IV, Marle and Schala from Chrono Trigger, Paula from Earthbound, etc.) even to where I began to curiously research the technological possibilities of transferring human consciousness to a computer. I was thinking of course that if i could somehow hack a sprite that resembled me into the game’s ROM, that it might be possible to get something going. Yeah, it’s crazy but so what? Realized dreams are the work of madmen. I also saw Tron in the theater when I was a kid so perhaps it left a subconscious impression on me.

In any case, if that kind of emotion was possible to evoke in the days of 16 bit SNES pixelation, I can only imagine how real a romance could be in the context of modern video games which are now much more advanced in their elaborate overworlds, roleplays and simulations. Thousands if not millions of men and women find the virtual experience of video games more appealing than going outside and playing. It would be naive to think that organic human love would be any less vulnerable to competition from artificial intelligence than other components of our earthly existence.

Dust off your 1980′s JC Penney catalog and get your fembots on order, men! This scene is coming to a nightclub or campus near you.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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You got your movie in my video game! You got your video game in my movie! Part 2

Double Dragon (1994)

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Double Dragon was a very popular video game from 1987 and is considered to be one of the first successful examples of the “beat ‘em up” genre.  The characters had to beat up and destroy every enemy onscreen before you could progress further.

Basically, you were forced to fight and/or kill everything to get anywhere in the game. No puzzles to solve or anything. It was pretty much tailored made for people like Mike Tyson.

The film is loosely based off the game. It takes place in a then-futuristic Los Angeles of 2007, now referred to as “New Angeles” as it has been crippled by a large earthquake. The city is styled as a mix between a post-apocalyptic and 80′s/90′s punk environment. Billy Lee and Jimmy Lee are two brothers who poses half of a powerful ancient Chinese talisman. An evil gang leader has the other half, and is determined to get the brothers’ half to have the complete medallion and gain absolute power.

The movie stars Scott Wolf as Billy Lee and Mark Dacascos as twin brother Jimmy Lee. Also starring Alyssa Milano as Marian Delario and Robert Patrick as antagonist Koga Shuko.

I am positive the thinking behind casting Scott Wolf as the lead star was based on his role in PARTY OF FIVE, the baby faced, teen heart throb. Neither of the main stars seem to know any martial arts or fighting training whatsoever.

Like the movie version of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS, the producers didn’t seem to be going for authenticity, as more a movie aimed at teens only, but by the time the movie came out, most of their demographic had never played the game.

Its very PG style action, bordering on G, if it weren’t for the raw sexual chemsitry of Alyssa Milano (LOL). It is a pretty horrendous movie, but I know that I like watching it before bed because it wont give me nightmares. Totally safe to show any kids.

Fun Trivia (for Brandon): In one scene, Kogo Shuko asks his henchmen (Huey and Lewis), “Huey, Lewis. Any news?” a reference to the band Huey Lewis and the News.

Time for pictures!

Billy Lee from the video game and in the movie:

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Jimmy Lee from the game and Jimmy Lee from the movie:

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Marian from the game, and the movie

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and Robert Patrick as the villain…. sort of…..

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Sakas In The Movies

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Picture a middle aged European guy with a thick foreign accent attempting say “Sex In The Movies” and it would sound something like the title of this review.  Let’s get right to it shall we?(the review not the sex!)

Veteran pop singer/songwriter and Twitter verified social media megalomaniac Jonathan Sakas came out with a new EP a while back that didn’t get the attention that it deserved.  Jonathan is known for writing dance songs about his favorite(or least favorite) subjects, sex and sadness. If you think those two things don’t go together at all, then you probably haven’t had much sex in your life.

The 2nd track on the EP is “I’ll Never Ever Let You Go,” is weirdly reminiscent of the Taylor Swift hit “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It’s as if it were the obsessed crazy guy from that song telling his side of the story. Being the misogynist that I am, i’m inclined to take Jonathan’s side on this. Bros before hoes and all, but man it’s Taylor Swift(one of the only classy people left in pop music ever since Miley Cyrus started sticking her tongue out like Gene Simmons from KISS and nudging down the path of Britney Spears’ shaved head era.)  As a bonus, “I’ll Never Ever Let You Go,” actually even includes some LFO style rapping(Rich Cronin RIP.)

summer love that you’d only find in movies
we were cool like the pool
but we were hot like a jacuzzi

My other favorite tune on this EP has got to be the opening song, “Movies.” It has a lovely melody and memorable lyrics and is simply a pop gem of of a jam.  You can just feel it when it starts to kick in during the chorus, which appears to include a reference to none other than Leo on the Titanic:

It’s like we think we’re in the movies…
We always know just what to say.
So even though the ship is sinking…
we hang on another day

Basically this music is a lot like the crap they play on the radio, except better and made by a more intelligent person with actual creativity and talent(but minus dancing ability.)  So if you enjoy listening to the radio more than I do(not including AM oldies stations or ironically entertaining political talk radio,) you will love Jonathan Sakas’ album, 1984.

http://www.jonathansakas.com/
https://twitter.com/JonathanSakas

 

 

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Puppet Masters Of Evil Noise

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When most veteran trollish internet dwellers see the term “puppet masters” in a title, they start believing an incoherent rant about either the illuminati or the Anunnaki is coming. However, whenever I think of the word “puppet,” I’m reminded of “Senor Sock,” a talking sockpuppet from the classic  90′s show, “Talk Soup.” When I think of puppet masters I drudge up memories of Metallica and my own regrettable metal phase in 7th grade, the pictures from that era not even being suitable for a #tbt post on instagram(much like the photos from Halloween 1986 when I went dressed as PeeWee Herman.)

Anyhow, what’s all that have to do with the Noise Puppets, another electronic music project from Australia? Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that an article reviewing weird music demands a bizarre intro if it is to reach it’s targeted demographic. As for the Noise Puppets, they(I say ‘they’ because it is somewhat ambiguous as to how many are involved or whom they are, and I think they like it that way) describe their music as “weirdo dance music from down under,”  and I have to say it lives up to that description. What I noticed pretty quickly while listening to Noise Puppets’ debut album “Social Paranoia” is the diversity of styles within individual songs. It’s not uncommon for a song to completely change direction midway through. For example, the 5th track “A Matter Of Time” starts off with an almost tribal feel to it. If you listen creatively, you can hear imaginary voodoo chanting in the background as you picture a death scene from the Bond Film, “Live and Let Die“. However, shortly after that, the song morphs into spacey sci-fi “the super computer is about to attack it’s human creator” mode. The tracks all maintain this level of unpredictability, which keeps the listener engaged. When a song clocks in at 7:00 minutes plus, nobody will listen to the whole thing if they think it’s going to be the same loop the entire time.

The opening track, “Let’s Go F*cking Mental” opens similarly to the Brian Jonestown Massacre song of the same name. Beyond the opening though, they are not even remotely similar. It’s a solid way to kick of the album, with plenty of energy that sets the mood for some creepin’ on the dance floor. If I had to describe the difference in tonality between Subterralien and Noise Puppets, I would say that though they utilize many of the same synthy sounds and patterns, Noise Puppets’ music has a slightly more tribal or groovy feel to it. My favorite song on the album is “Midi Evil,” a catchy tune that seems to be the most melodic of the bunch. Noise Puppets also get bonus points for coming up with cleverly abstract titles that somehow manage to accurately convey the character of each individual song.

You can(and should) purchase Social Paranoia here.

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Subterralien Nation

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I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t another article about illegal aliens tunneling underground to get to their day labor jobs or a paranoid warning of a surprise Chinese invasion such as the one depicted in the 1967 classic, “Battle Beneath The Earth.” Perhaps less controversial(but equally as creative,)I’m actually talking about an electronic music artist from Australia, who goes by the name “Subterralien” and is currently signed to  Face Melt Limited.

 He describes his sound as  having “elements of glitch hop, IDM & psychedelic trance,” yet his Twitter account simplifies this further, stating matter of factly, “I make weird music.” Most people in the US who listen to his new debut album “Modnar” would likely associate it with the popular 8-bit old school video game or chiptune music movement, bringing to mind groups like the Minibosses. Yet Subterralien’s music seems slightly more artsy and creepy than the geeky and nerdy. I would say it goes back a bit further in time stylistically as well. His sound would fit in nicely in the era between 1976-1982, the tracks reminiscent of the synthesized background music of John Carpenter and other scifi/horror films of the same period.  For example, the song “Madspace,” would not have seemed even slightly out of place on the soundtrack to Logan’s Run(Hollywood please spare us from another awful remake of a beloved movie.)  “Mangoloid,” on the other hand(track number five) seems to have more of early nineties techno vibe, bringing back some fond memories for me of big pants, chain wallets and “Rave Krispies.”

The best way for me to describe Subterralien’s album would be “retro futuristic.” In the same way that the dystopian films of the late 70′s depicted a future that once seemed way ahead of where we actually ended up(but not so much now,) “Modnar” is still slightly ahead of it’s time musically, mostly due to the fact that mainstream pop music has taken us so far intellectually backward.  Do the world a favor, buy this album. Support melodic music that is interesting, that you can dance to, and that won’t shave points off your IQ in the process.

https://www.facebook.com/subterralien

http://www.facemelt.com.au/

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Secret Treasure Discovered In Wooden Hut

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Seriously though, I don’t mean something fleeting like the Beale Treasure or that German gold bar stash out of “Kelly’s Heroes.” Rather I’m talking about musical treasure, a little known band from Melbourne, Australia, called “Secrets Of A Wooden Hut.”

About 5 seconds into their EP, “From The Outside,”I realized just how incredibly polished their songs are. The production values are as good as anything on the radio in the USA, but without the dumb lyrics or overproduced “autotune feel” that plagues most top 40 American music. My favorite song on their EP has to be the catchy and melodic track, “The Madness,” which I listened to several times in a row. The lead vocals by Samantha Sharpe(an unassuming and mild mannered yet amazing singer) really sparkle. They carry all the songs well and are assisted from the effects which were chosen by some people who obviously know how to mix a jam. The same can be said of Heath Mitchell on guitar. Out of the zillions of different pedals, amplifiers, plugins, filters, etc, he manages to nail down precisely the perfect tone for the music at hand. Drummer Scott Murdoch keeps a solid clean rhythm without any of those overly abrasive hi-hat frequencies I’ve come to expect from indie bands that still play traditional drums. Watching their mini documentaries, you can’t help but notice that for such a talented bunch, the members of Secrets The Wooden Hut seem uniquely down to earth and likable.

If there was any area for Secrets Of The Wooden Hut to improve on, it wouldn’t be in the music but in the marketing. They need more exposure. That’s the thing with treasure though. One actually has to get curious, take the initiative and go out and listen for it.

https://www.facebook.com/SecretsOfAwoodenHut

https://twitter.com/SOAWHband

 

 

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Don’t Cut Out of Here Till We Get On Cloud 9.

If you really want to annoy your romantic interest, just start talking like Edd “Kookie” Byrnes when you’re hanging out with her. I used to listen to this album around Christmas time in 2008, and after a while I started actually talking like this dude in real life on a day to day basis, to the disgust of many people. I picked up a lot of his phraseology and lingo. Enjoy a girl’s mortified reaction when you hit on her by telling her she’s the “ginchiest” in town. Or if you really want to impress her just say “I do 130 in a full house Deuce, with a Corvette mill on nitro juice.”

I wish I could find some of the other songs on this album to post…
Your GF will get mildly irritated but you can’t help but listen to this on repeat. Don’t let her bag on your groove. Let me clue ya, some of the jams on here are so far out they’re in. Shazam! I mean we’re talking the maximum utmost! The best ones are “Kookie Kookie Lend me your Comb,” “I don’t Dig You, Kookie” and “Like, I Love You.” Kookie (Edd Byrnes) is Kaptain Kool and an American original.

My ex girlfriend’s response was always to roll her eyes and curiously ask the all too familiar “so, is this like considered music or what would you call this?”

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You got your movie in my video game! You got your video game in my movie! Part 1

This is part 1 in a series of movies released in America that are based off popular video games.  I saw these mostly as video rentals from when I was growing up and some in theatres when I was an adult. The results weren’t always as bad as their reputation suggests.  Here we go!

Mario Brothers (1993)

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It’s logical that the biggest video game would be turned into a theatrically released movie. By 1993 anyone that played home video games knew who Mario was. He became the mascot for Nintendo.

I will totally acknowledge that this movie is a mess. It feels like a movie where the script went through several different writers and revisions. The story tries to stick too closely to the video game,  which is pretty insane considering the game was about plumber saving a princess from a demon turtle.

The great UK actor Bob Hoskins is cast as Italian plumber Mario.

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Colombian born actor/comedian John Leguizamo is Luigi (sans mustache).

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and legendary Dennis Hopper starred as the monster turtle villain named King Koopa.

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Obviously the reason people went to see SUPER MARIO BROTHERS was because of the video game. So to that target audience, it didnt matter who was cast, who was writing the movie, who was producing, and who was directing. They just wanted to be entertained. Entertain us! that’s what they must have shouted in their minds.  It makes sense as the movie is based off a pure form of entertainment, video games.

I started this article with the intent to defend the movie in a way, to explain why I enjoy watching it from time to time. As a reminder of an era where studios began making movies strictly for the under 21 crowd.  But then I was reminded of the passing of Bob Hoskins, and a majority of the idiots on the internet show their sorrow using pics from WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and this movie. That was a reminder that his amazing acting career had been reduced to kids movies. That made me furious.

So super fuck you to anyone who used SUPER MARIO BROTHERS or WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT as reference points when Bob Hoskins passed away. That is such ignorant bullshit. He was so much more than this kid movie garbage! Fuck WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and fuck SUPER MARIO BROTHERS!!!!

Go fucking see THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY!!

or MONA LISA!!

 

obligatory SUPER MARIO BROTHERS trailer… bur really, see the other movies first…..

 

 

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Good Sports

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Songs don’t simply exist in a vacuum. Music is not necessarily to be enjoyed merely for what it is, but rather, where it can take you. For many stereotypical hipsters, mention of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Sports” takes them to the ironically unpleasant scenes of violence featuring Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen in “American Psycho,” whose assessment of the music I mostly agree with:

Do you like Huey Lewis & The News? Their early work was a little too ‘new-wave’ for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own – both commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost.

Yet, the year 2000 and American Psycho isn’t where it takes me. When I hear songs like “Heart Of Rock & Roll” I’m transported to the summers of 1984 and ’85, riding in my mom’s 1981 Ford Fairmont on the way to Ben Franklin drug store to buy Garbage Pail Kids or coming back from an extended trip to Brookfield Square Mall, where I would wait patiently for hours as my mother shopped for 80′s fashion, knowing that at some point she would probably buy me some Insecticon Transformers from Kaybee Toys. As he called out the various cities in the song, we would eagerly anticipate the moment when Huey yells out “Milwaukee!” Of course we didn’t realize then that they had released different versions targeted to the individual radio markets. For many years I wondered if I had imagined hearing “Milwaukee” in the song, since I never heard it in there again in all the thousands of times it has been on the radio. Thanks to the internet, I know I’m not crazy(at least in that way.) Yep, I totally fell for that marketing tactic, like a wide eyed girl who responds enthusiastically after receiving a seemingly personalized yet copy and pasted message that was sent to 50 other hot babes on the same dating website.

Or sometimes the song sends me to the same mid 80′s summers, only I’m in my dad’s jeep on our way to the zoo to see “Chandar” the white tiger, excited at the prospect of getting those plastic animals from “Mold-A-Rama” vending machines to add to my collection.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate “If This Is It” more, with its simplistic yet relatable lyrics, which resonate with me and are probably applicable to most people’s romantic experiences. I don’t care much for most of the other songs on the album. The line in “I Want A New Drug” about face breakouts conjurs up awful memories of high school anxiety and depression making me unable to enjoy the jam. Though I am getting over this. Not to mention I’ve never been into drugs really. I much prefer the Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters” theme song, which they accused of having plagiarized the melody from this song.

Despite the fact that Huey Lewis and The News are frequently described as the embodiment of 80′s mainstream “corporate yuppie rock,” the yuppie white liberals that inherited today’s world want nothing to do with them. Blender Magazine listed “Heart of Rock & Roll” as #6 on their “50 Worst Songs Ever” list in 2009, a list that probably tells you more about the people who created it than those who appear on it(to paraphrase an unknown forum commenter from the internet hinterlands.) To call Huey Lewis and The News’ “Sports” mainstream corporate rock would not be a lie. Yet such an incomplete proclamation ignores the reality that the popular rock musicians of that era were made up of people who struggled for many years paying their dues. Notice how many rockstars of the time were in their mid 30′s. Huey Lewis turned 34 in 1984 and had been playing in bands since Clover in 1971. The members of Dire Straits were roughly 35-36 when “Money For Nothing” hit it big. These songs were triumphalist songs of professional culmination through years of hard work and experience. Unlike the auto-tuned trust fund pop rock of today of teenagers plucked out of crowds for their looks and dancing ability, these were veteran musicians who paid their dues and mastered their craft. These mid 80′s “victory” songs were a part of the renewed spirit of the Reagan and Thatcher years… a rebound from the malaise of the 70′s and the demise of disco(though I happen to love the the late 1970′s and disco personally.) I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a child in this optimistic and carefree era, the last of it’s kind.

One doesn’t have to embrace Reagan or Thatcherite conservatism(Bruce Springsteen certainly didn’t) to appreciate these apolitical jams though. So next time you’re listening to what used to be called the “oldies” station(yet now seems more likely to play Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” than a song by the actual Buddy Holly, and “Heart Of Rock & Roll” comes on, don’t let the indie hipster inside you make you feel ashamed to enjoy it, or worse yet, fall into the trap of liking itironically like some impromptu meal at Red Lobster. Just crank it up and sing along(the “stutter” part at the beginning of the chorus is my favorite.) Revel in their hard earned success with them as they take you to a better time and place in your mind.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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