Back when Pearl Jam was at their height, they had the clout to do anything they wanted. Anything.
On September 26, 2000, the band released 25 double CD live albums—what they referred to as “official bootlegs”—featuring performances from virtually every show they played on European tour in support of their Binaural album. Of those 25, five immediately made the top 200 album chart. This was the first time any act ever saw more than two new albums show up on the chart in the same week.
Two other sets just missed the cut. Had they made the charts that week, Pearl Jam would have joined The Beatles, The Monkees, and U2 as the only acts to that point with seven albums on the charts at the same time.
A question from new parents: “Should I expose my baby to live music?” The answer is “yes.”
A recent study at the University of Toronto revealed that infants have longer attention spans when experiencing live music. Sure, you might want to give them an iPad to stare at, but that apparently doesn’t work as well as live music. Videos don’t captivate them a whole lot but live music elicits physiological changes like a synchronization of heart rate to the music.
The final conclusion? “Findings suggest that performer–audience interactions and social context play an important role in facilitating attention and coordinating emotional responses to musical performances early in life.”
The big caveat? Volume. The live music cannot be too loud for those delicate little ears.
The Flaming Lips are certainly unconventional and experimental. One of their weird projects was a very, very long song called “7 skies H3” which, in its original form, ran for 24 hours.
It consisted of several separate pieces, each running anywhere from 25 minutes to seven hours. If that wasn’t enough, just 13 copies were released on flash drives that were encased in actual human skulls. They went on the market (appropriately) on Halloween 2011 and cost $5,000. And yes, they sold them all. If you can’t find your own copy—imagine that—they also set up a website with the song on a continuous loop.
And if you would rather have a physical copy, there is an edited version that runs 50 minutes and was released for Record Store Day 2014.
Back in the 1930s during the Great Depression, there was a phenomenon known as the dance marathon. Basically, couples would take up a challenge to see who could remain dancing longer than anyone else. They were held in ballrooms and auditoriums and could continue for not just hours, but days and even weeks.
Spectators paid to watch, too. The longer the marathon went on, the higher the admission price. Couples had to stay in motion continuously resulting in blisters, injuries, and collapse from exhaustion.
Why would anyone subject themselves to such a thing? Like I said, it was during the Depression. Many people signed up for these marathons because it meant food, shelter, and a place to sleep, even if it was just a few minutes an hour. Those who won were given a cash prize. Hey, the Depression was rough. People were willing to do anything to survive.
All the original Ramones are no longer with us. While Dee Dee died of a heroin overdose, his three bandmates suffered from different forms of cancer. Joey died of lymphoma. Johnny? Prostate cancer. Tommy suffered from bile duct cancer. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Some suspect these cancers are the result of the conditions of a loft on East 2nd Street where the Ramones rehearsed and printed t-shirts. It was the former home of a plastic flower factory and some believe that the toxic residue left over from the chemicals used in their manufacture. They permeated the entire building.
Oh, and one more thing: Arturo Vega, the Ramones’ art director and the guy who designed and pressed up all those t-shirts in that loft? He also died of cancer.
WATCH: 2018 Midterm Elections: Democrat Bob Menendez retains seat in U.S. Senate
Powerful U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was charged Friday with secretly aiding the authoritarian government of Egypt and trying to thwart the criminal prosecution of a friend in exchange for gold bars and cash under a corruption indictment that accuses him of using his foreign affairs influence for personal gain.
Menendez was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but said he would not resign from Congress, though New Jersey’s governor, a fellow Democrat, said he should.
The indictment, the second in eight years against the 69-year-old senator, alleges an illegal commingling of Menendez’s obligations to advance U.S. priorities and his private interest in cultivating relationships with wealthy businessmen. It also includes charges against his wife and three New Jersey businessmen who authorities say showered the couple with money, gold and a luxury car in exchange for official favors.
A previous indictment of Menendez stemming from different allegations ended in 2017 with a deadlocked jury.
Hours after the latest case was unsealed, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy demanded Menendez’s immediate resignation, saying the allegations were “so serious that they compromise” the senator’s ability to serve. Additional calls for him to resign came from New Jersey Reps. Andy Kim and Mikie Sherrill among others.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Menendez would step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations panel “until the matter has been resolved,” as per the rules of the Senate Democratic caucus, but Schumer stopped short of calling for him to to resign.
Menendez in an emailed statement accused prosecutors of misrepresenting “the normal work of a congressional office” and said he would not allow his work in the Senate to be distracted by “baseless allegations.”
Authorities who searched Menendez’s home last year found more than $100,000 worth of gold bars, as well as over $480,000 in cash — much of it hidden in closets, clothing and a safe, prosecutors say. Photos in the indictment show cash that was stuffed in envelopes in jackets bearing Menendez’s name. Investigators also say they discovered a Google search by Menendez for the value of a “kilo of gold,” and DNA of one man prosecutors say bribed him on an envelope filled with thousands of dollars.
One set of allegations is that Menendez directly interfered in criminal investigations, including by pushing to install a federal prosecutor in New Jersey he believed could be influenced in a criminal case against a businessman and associate of the senator. Prosecutors say he also tried to use his position of power to try to meddle in a separate criminal investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.
Other accusations include repeated actions by Menendez to benefit Egypt despite U.S. government misgivings over the country’s human rights record that in recent years have prompted Congress to attach restrictions on aid. His efforts include ghost-writing a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of U.S. government support, as well as transmitting nonpublic information to Egyptian officials about military issues, the indictment says.
Menendez, in his emailed statement, said, “For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”
David Schertler, a lawyer for Menendez’s wife, Nadine, said she “denies any criminal conduct and will vigorously contest these charges in court.”
Menendez appears to be the first sitting senator in U.S. history to have been indicted on two unrelated criminal matters, according to the Senate Historical Office. His trial on charges that he pressured government officials to resolve a matter involving a Florida eye doctor — who had lavished him with gifts and campaign contributions — ended with a deadlocked jury.
He faces reelection next year in a bid to extend his three-decade career in Washington as Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate.
“Bob Menendez has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey. He has a right to due process and a fair trial,” Democratic leader Schumer said in an emailed statement.
Prosecutors allege Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from three business associates, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes. He used his influence to push to nominate Philip Sellinger as U.S. attorney because he believed he could influence Sellinger to protect Daibes, a longtime friend and prominent New Jersey developer who faced criminal prosecution, they said. Sellinger, who currently serves in the position, is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Daibes pleaded guilty last year to bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced in October. His plea deal calls for him to serve only probation in that case.
The White House declined to comment on the indictment, including on Biden’s nomination of Sellinger.
Requests for comment from lawyers for Daibes and Uribe were not immediately returned. A spokesperson for Hana, Steven Goldberg, said the indictment was still being reviewed but that the charges appear to have “absolutely no merit.”
In April 2020, shortly after meeting with an Egyptian official, authorities allege, Menendez lobbied then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to increase American engagement in stalled negotiations involving Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to build a dam over the Nile River, a key foreign policy issue for Egypt.
Separately, after Menendez called a government official about an investigation of a Uribe associate, Uribe and Hana worked to provide the senator’s wife with a Mercedes-Benz convertible. The indictment says that after the transaction was complete, Nadine Menendez texted her husband to say: “Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes,” with a heart emoji.
The first time Menendez was indicted, he had been accused of using his political influence to pressure government officials to resolve a Medicare billing dispute in favor of a friend — Dr. Salomon Melgen — securing visas for the doctor’s girlfriends and helping protect a contract the doctor had to provide port-screening equipment to the Dominican Republic.
Menendez has always maintained his innocence, and prosecutors dropped the case after a jury deadlocked in November 2017 on charges including bribery, fraud and conspiracy, and a judge dismissed some counts.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Menendez has held public office continuously since 1986, when he was elected mayor of Union City, New Jersey. He was a state legislator and spent 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2006, Gov. Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to the Senate seat he vacated when he became governor.
The new charges follow a yearslong investigation that examined, among other things, how Hana’s company — IS EG Halal — was able to secure sole authorization from the Egyptian government to certify that meat imported into that country meets Islamic dietary requirements.
The designation surprised U.S. agriculture officials. Previously, several other companies had been doing that certification, but they were dismissed by Egyptian agriculture officials in favor of IS EG Halal, which had no previous experience in the field.
Prosecutors say Menendez then pressured a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to stop opposing Hana’s company as the sole halal certifier. Hana’s company was used to send bribes payments to a business set up by Menendez’s wife called Strategic International Business Consultants, LLC, prosecutors allege.
Senate disclosure form amended by Menendez in March of 2022 show Nadine Menendez’s assets included gold bars valued between $100,000 to $250,000. Between April and June of 2022, the couple cashed out at least part of their precious metal holdings, forms show, selling between $200,000 and $400,000 worth of gold bars, while keeping at least $250,000 worth.
Richer reported from Boston and Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press reporters Michael Catalini in Trenton and Farnoush Amiri, Mary Clare Jalonick and Seung Min Kim in Washington contributed.
Police in the Okanagan are recommending charges against a Calgary driver after a spikebelt was used to stop his pick-up truck.
According to the Penticton RCMP, the incident began when an officer on patrol on Thursday evening noticed a truck with brake lights that weren’t functioning properly.
“Upon the officer activating his lights and siren, the driver continued driving north on Highway 97, failing to stop for the officer,” said police. “Keeping public safety in mind, the officer did not pursue.”
RCMP say officers in both Penticton and Summerland observed the same vehicle, and that “the driver continued to disregard traffic control devices and failed to stop for officers.”
At approximately 10:30 p.m., officers deployed a spike belt near Highway 97 and Eckhardt Avenue, which disabled the truck.
Police say a 34-year-old man from Calgary was arrested, and charges of dangerous driving and flight from police are being recommended.
The man was also charged with impaired driving and issued a three-day immediate roadside prohibition.
“Ensuring the safety of our community is at the core of every decision our frontline officers make,” said Cpl. James Grandy. “We’re thankful this incident concluded without injury to our citizens or officers.”
Warning: This story deals with disturbing and graphic subject matter that may upset and trigger some readers. Discretion is advised.
A lawyer for Ibrahim Ali at his B.C. murder trial has highlighted part of an expert witness’s report saying there’s “considerable overlap” between the type of injuries that can occur in consensual and non-consensual sex acts.
Sexual assault expert Dr. Tracy Pickett previously testified that injuries suffered by a young teen girl found dead in a Burnaby, B.C., park six years ago “strongly indicated” sexual assault.
Pickett pushed back under cross-examination by Ben Lynskey in the B.C. Supreme Court, as the two had a lengthy exchange about what “considerable” actually means.
Ali has pleaded not guilty to the girl’s first-degree murder.
Lynskey has focused his cross-examination on the medical limitations of assessing whether a sex act was consensual or non-consensual.
Pickett, who specializes in emergency and clinical forensic medicine, says there are many topics in the medical field that cause controversy and overlap could be attributed, in part, to the fact the genital region is “a small area.”
She later agreed with Lynskey that some of the girl’s injuries, including bruises on her arms and abrasions on her head, could be unrelated to sexual activity.
Pickett previously told the court she considered all of the injuries the girl sustained, including to her face, head, neck, knees, back, both legs and arms, and genital and anal regions, before forming her conclusions.
The girl’s body was found in Burnaby’s Central Park early on July 19, 2017, just hours after her mother reported her missing.
The teen can’t be named because of a publication ban.
Crown witness and RCMP forensic biologist Christine Crossman had testified last week that only the DNA of Ali and the girl was detected from swabs of her vaginal area, with sperm cells matching Ali’s DNA.
Pickett testified Friday that semen would pool in a woman’s vaginal vault, as it is biologically designed to do, but it would leak out “relatively quickly” due to gravity if she then had been vertical, particularly if she was being active.
“My opinion would be there would not be a large volume (remaining) if she was vertical, walking around (or) active after, particularly not hours later,” she said.
Pickett said that would not happen if the woman remained lying down.
Kevin McCullough, another lawyer for Ali, has previously suggested that whoever had “forced sex or sex” with the girl may not be the person who killed her.
Crown attorney Isobel Keeley said in an opening statement in April that the court would hear evidence showing the girl was walking or running through the neighbourhood park when she was dragged off a pathway into the forest by Ali, who sexually assaulted and strangled her to death.
The defence has not yet told the jury its theory of events, but has said Ali’s genetic profile only matched samples from the 13-year-old girl’s vaginal and anal areas.
McCullough asked Crossman to confirm several pieces of evidence were not tested for DNA, including the girl’s stained clothing, which could have established another suspect in the case.
WATCH: After a magical playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Saskatoon Blades believe they have the veteran pieces in place to contend for a title as the 2023-24 WHL season gets underway.
It’s only September, but judging by the tempo of. the Saskatoon Blades practice this week you’d be forgiven for believing it’s the middle of the Western Hockey League season.
A heavy-lifting slog of a practice Thursday was followed up by a high-intensity 45 minutes of training Friday, which by all accounts capped off a breakthrough week for the club.
“I think it was our best practice of the year so far,” said veteran defenceman Charlie Wright. “Myself, I’m really pumped to get going and I think the team is as well.”
The Blades are entering the 2023-24 WHL season as one of the favourites to contend for the Ed Chynoweth Cup after a memorable run to the Eastern Conference finals last spring.
A pair of seven-game victories over the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels captivated the city, which included just the third reverse-sweep in WHL history as the Blades rallied from a 0-3 deficit in the second round versus Red Deer.
While replicating their 101-point season will be a tough task, the Blades believe they have the pieces in place to make another charge up the standings in 2023-24.
“We feel like this is our time,” said Sonne. “From the staff, the players, everyone. So that’s what we’re working towards. Last season we accomplished a ton of goals. I think we had 16 total goals and we accomplished 14. The last two are East Division banner for the regular season and a WHL championship.”
The Blades had some turnover in the off-season, saying goodbye to a trio of graduates such as two-year captain Aidan De La Gorgendiere, veterans Josh Pillar and Blake Gustafson, as well goaltender Ethan Chadwick and forwards Conner Roulette, Justin Lies and Jayden Wiens in separate trades.
However, the 2023-24 Blades roster will include 17 players who went on Saskatoon’s playoff run, returniing with another year of experience.
“I think anything short of a championship this year would be a bit of a disappointment,” said Wright. “I think everyone is on the same page, everyone understands what we want to accomplish. So we’re really excited to get started.”
Wright and speedy winger Brandon Lisowsky have returned from NHL training camps in time for the regular season, while the Blades wait to see if forwards Egor Sidorov and Jake Chiasson, defender Tanner Molendyk and netminder Austin Elliott will be back in the ‘Bridge City.’
With the majority of the core returning to Saskatoon, newly minted captain Trevor Wong said he’s never played with such a collection of veteran talent before.
“No, obviously last year we had a pretty deep team and a pretty good team,” said Wong. “This year we just got a lot of that core returning, a lot of guys returning and obviously a bunch of good, young guys coming up here. It’s very exciting to know that we have such a deep team and guys who can step up at any time.”
Entering the regular season, the Blades are ranked ninth nationally in the Canadian Hockey League pre-season rankings.
“Our trainer said this is the strongest team we’ve ever had that he’s seen,” said Wright. “I think everyone came prepared to go a long ways.”
Entering their 60th season as a franchise, the Blades are still searching for their first WHL championship and have not raised a banner of any kind at SaskTel Centre since 2013.
A drought spanning a decade that Sonne is eager to put in the past, while keeping the excitement of Blades hockey growing in the city.
“We’re going to try to make it even better this year,” said Sonne. “The buzz is really fun, it’s cool and we hope our performance results in the buzz continuing.”
The Blades hit the road Saturday night for their first game of the season against Regina, before returning to SaskTel Centre on Sunday at 4:00 pm to face off with the Prince Albert Raiders in their home opener.
Alberta school bus companies gathered Thursday night in Edmonton to raise concerns about filling driver vacancies, which are leaving fewer buses for students to get to school. Mark Critch, president of the Alberta School Bus Contractors' Association, says he sympathizes with parents making alternate plans to get their kids to class. As Kabi Moulitharan reports, bus companies warn if there aren't any changes made, services may dissolve altogether.
School bus companies across Alberta gathered Thursday night at the Chateau Nova Yellowhead Hotel in Edmonton with the goal of addressing what they describe as a crisis in their industry.
“It’s been a tough school start up for school busing. Lot of routes not covered.
“Lots of shortages of drivers around the province and kids not getting that school bus everyday on time and sometimes not at all,” said Mark Critch, president of the Alberta Student Bus Contractors’ Association.
Drivers pitched for increased wages, provincial funding and benefits to support members.
“We know we need to pay drivers better. We need to look at things like benefits or other opportunities to show drivers that we value the importance of the job,” Critch added.
Les Cross, president of Pacific Western Transportation School Division, said as the cost of living continues to rise, he understands why drivers are leaving the industry.
“It’s a tough time for people. You know, groceries are costing more. Rent is costing more. Mortgages are more,” he explained.
The drivers remaining left on his team are now running late on some routes because they’re doubling up.
“We used to have a lot of retired folks where this would be a supplemental income and today that doesn’t work for them,” he added.
It’s disappointing for Kathy Fenton, who’s been driving buses for more than 20 years. As the owner of Fenton Bus Lines, she said she’s fighting for her employees.
“I love that I drive a bus because I’m in touch with the people I hire. This is why we’re here tonight. And that’s why I came here because we can’t get bus drivers trained. We can’t keep them. They are just struggling,” she explained.
The concerns were heard by the Minister of Education Demetrios Nicolaides, who attended the town hall. He said the province has been working on a solution.
“In the last budget, we announced over $400 million in new funding, including a 32 per cent increase in transportation funding this year alone, in addition other programs for driver retention,” Nicolaides explained.
He said he will continue to raise those concerns at the legislature but cannot yet commit to making the changes drivers recommended.
“The folks that are here have so much expertise on the world of bussing and student transportation so I’m looking to hear more from them,” the minister added.
Critch said he sympathizes with parents, knowing the lack of buses on the roads puts them at an inconvenience and finding alternative plans to get their kids to class.
“It’s a challenging time for parents. They’re late because they are taking their kids to school. Kids are waiting on the side of the road for a bus way too long,” he explained.
Fenton pleaded with parents to join them in solving the crisis by contacting local and provincial officials.
“Help us. Help us. Don’t be mad at us. Help us,” she said.
“Bus drivers want to make you happy. Work with them.”