Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away Opens in China 18 Years After Its Original Release: See Beautiful New Posters for the Film

Animation fans all over the world love the films of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, but animation fans in China have never, until very recently, been able to see them on the big screen. Part of the problem has to do with the sensitivity of Chinese authorities to what sort of media enters the country — especially media from a country like Japan, with which China has not always seen eye to eye. "Miyazaki films did not open theatrically in China until a re-release of My Neighbor Totoro in December 2018," writes Indiewire's Zack Scharf, "one sign that the relationship between Japan and China is getting less tense."

Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli has produced few characters as winning as Totoro — the outsized guardian of the forest who resembles a cross between a cat, an owl, and maybe a bear — and his winning over of China's censors seemed to have opened the gates to the Middle Kingdom for the rest of Miyazaki's beloved filmography. "The Totoro release was a huge box office success with more than $26 million," writes Scharf, "and Spirited Away is widely expected to perform even better given its enduring popularity." Having opened in Japan back in 2001 as 千と千尋の神隠し, or "The Spiriting-Away of Sen and Chihiro," it stands not only as the top-grossing film of all time at the Japanese box office, but one of the several undisputed masterpieces among Miyazaki's works.

Spirited Away tells the story of a ten-year-old girl who, lost in an abandoned amusement park, finds her way into a parallel world populated with the countless spirit creatures enumerated in the Japanese folk religion of shinto — which, as revealed in Wisecrack's video essay "The Philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki," figures heavily into some, and perhaps all of the master's work. As displeasing as the presence of religion, let alone a Japanese religion, may long have been to Chinese higher-ups, the Chinese public's enthusiasm for Miyazaki's films can hardly be disputed.

That powerful force could even return to Spirited Away the title of most successful Japanese animated film ever, which it held until Makoto Shinkai's Your Name came along in 2017. The marketing of Spirited Away's eighteen-year-late Chinese theatrical release, which includes this series of posters newly designed by artist Zao Dao, will certainly help give it a push. Every Ghibli enthusiast in China will certainly come out for it, and with luck, they may also be able to see the upcoming How Do You Live? — Miyazaki's next and perhaps final film, for whose production he came out of the latest of his retirements — in theaters along with the rest of the world.

via @MadmanFilms

Related Content:

The Philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki: A Video Essay on How the Traditional Japanese Religion Shinto Suffuses Miyazaki’s Films

Watch Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Characters Enter the Real World

How the Films of Hayao Miyazaki Work Their Animated Magic, Explained in 4 Video Essays

Watch Hayao Miyazaki Animate the Final Shot of His Final Feature Film, The Wind Rises

Hayao Miyazaki’s Masterpieces Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke Imagined as 8-Bit Video Games

The Simpsons Pay Wonderful Tribute to the Anime of Hayao Miyazaki

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

 

A Wild 40-Minute Race Down Alpe D’Huez

Damien Oton, winner of last summer's Megavalanche, mounted a camera on his helmet and recorded his race down Alpe D'Huez. Buckle in, and enjoy the exhilarating wild ride. Once you start, it's hard to stop.

via Metafilter

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Scenes from HBO’s Chernobyl v. Real Footage Shot in 1986: A Side-By-Side Comparison

Audiences today can't get enough of history, especially history presented as a podcast or a prestige television series. Best of all is the historical prestige television series accompanied by its own podcast, currently exemplified by Chernobyl, HBO's five-episode dramatization of the events leading up to and the aftermath of the titular Soviet nuclear disaster. "The material culture of the Soviet Union is reproduced with an accuracy that has never before been seen in Western television or film — or, for that matter, in Russian television or film," The New Yorker's Masha Gessen writes of the show. "Soviet-born Americans — and, indeed, Soviet-born Russians — have been tweeting and blogging in awe at the uncanny precision with which the physical surroundings of Soviet people have been reproduced."

But along with all the praise for the accuracy on Chernobyl's surface has come criticism of its deeper conception of the time and place it takes as its setting: "its failure to accurately portray Soviet relationships of power," as Gessen puts it, or to acknowledge that "resignation was the defining condition of Soviet life. But resignation is a depressing and untelegenic spectacle. So the creators of Chernobyl imagine confrontation where confrontation was unthinkable."

Among the chilling truths of the real story of the Chernobyl disaster is how many people involved knew beforehand what could, and probably would, go wrong with the reactor that exploded on April 26, 1986. But Chernobyl, adhering to "the outlines of a disaster movie," instead pits a lone truth-teller against a set of self-serving, malevolent higher-ups.

Chernobyl creator and writer Craig Mazin is not unaware of this, as anyone who has listened to the miniseries' companion podcast knows. On each episode, Mazin discusses (with Peter Sagal from Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, incidentally) the complications of bringing such a complex event, and one that involved so many people, to the screen three decades later, and the inherent tradeoffs involved between historical faithfulness and artistic license. The video essay from Thomas Flight above combines clips from the Chernobyl podcast with not just clips from Chernobyl itself but the real-life source footage that inspired the show. The six-minute viewing experience showcases the often-astonishing recreations Chernobyl accomplishes even as it casts doubt on the possibility of ever truly recreating history on the screen. But watching creators take on that increasingly daunting challenge is precisely what today's audiences can't get enough of.

via BoingBoing

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Hear What’s Likely the Only Known Recording of Frida Kahlo’s Voice (1954)

Perhaps no artist in modern history, save Andy Warhol, has been so well documented, and self-documented, as Frida Kahlo, or has used documentary methods, surrealist and otherwise, to so unflinchingly confront ideas about disability, gender, sexuality, national identity, and relationships. These qualities make her the perfect celebrity artist for our times, but unlike the average 21st century star making art out of self-presentation, Kahlo’s voice has never been heard, though she lived in a time almost as saturated with mass media—of the radio, TV, and film variety—as our own.

That is, perhaps, until now, with the unearthing of what the National Sound Library of Mexico believes to be a recording of her voice, “taken from a pilot episode of 1955 radio show El Bachiller [“The Bachelor”],” writes Steph Harmon at The Guardian. The show “aired after her death in 1954,” likely the following year. Though the program does not introduce her by name, the presenter does refer to her as recently deceased, and she does read an essay about her husband Diego Rivera, which happens to be written by Frida Kahlo. The case seems fairly conclusive.

Previously the little evidence of what she sounded like came from written descriptions, such as French photographer Gisèle Freund’s characterization of her voice as “melodious and warm.” Hear for yourself what is very likely the recorded voice of Frida Kahlo in the audio above. In her typically florid yet unsparing style she paints a verbal portrait of Rivera full of unflattering physical detail and layers of emotion and admiration. In one English translation, she calls him “a huge, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze.

Rivera's "high, dark, extremely intelligent and big eyes rarely hold still. They almost pop out of their sockets because of their swollen and protuberant eyelids—like a toad’s.” His huge eyes seem “built especially for a painter of spaces and crowds.” The Mexican muralist, she says is like “an inscrutable monster.” These are the words of a writer, we must remember, who was passionately in love with her subject, but who did not pretend to ignore his physical oddities. As she had practiced loving herself, she loved and admired Rivera because of his unique appearance, not in spite of it.

Researchers are making continuing efforts to verify that the voice on the recoding is Kahlo and searching through about 1,300 other episodes of the show, recorded for Televisa Radio, to find out if there are any more recordings of her. Given Frida’s flamboyant persona and minor art stardom in her lifetime, it’s hard to imagine we won’t hear more of her, if this is in fact her, as other archives reveal their secrets.

Related Content:

Frida Kahlo’s Passionate Love Letters to Diego Rivera

Discover Frida Kahlo’s Wildly-Illustrated Diary: It Chronicled the Last 10 Years of Her Life, and Then Got Locked Away for Decades

A Brief Animated Introduction to the Life and Work of Frida Kahlo

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Brilliant Colors of the Great Barrier Revealed in a Historic Illustrated Book from 1893

Paul Simon’s famous lyric about everything looking worse in black and white
is hardly a universal truth, but when it comes to William Saville-Kent's groundbreaking 1893 book The Great Barrier Reef of Australia: its products and potentialitiesthe assertion may have some merit.

Saville-Kent, a naturalist whose work in various British aquariums eventually led to a gig rebuilding depleted Tasmanian oyster beds, fell hard for the colorful fish, bêche-de-mer, corals, sponges, turtles, and other marine species he encountered in Australia.

He photographed the Great Barrier Reef while serving in Queensland as Commissioner of Fisheries. 48 of his images were published in the aforementioned book, offering readers an unprecedented armchair tour of a coral reef, albeit in black and white.

 

While Saville-Kent definitely achieved his goal of furthering the public’s awareness of the reef, he also upstaged himself by including 16 color lithographs inspired by his original watercolors.

These plates, by London-based lithographers Riddle and Couchman—whose work usually ran toward portraits of well-born gentlemen—exude a lively Seussian appeal.

Saville-Kent’s carefully captured fish, echinoderms, and anemones literally pale in comparison to the bright specimens the lithographers, who presumably lacked his firsthand experience of the forms they were depicting, brought to such vibrant life in the back of the book.

These days, alas, the Great Barrier Reef resembles Saville-Kent's photos more closely than those gorgeous lithographs, the victim of back-to-back bleaching events brought on by pollution-related climate change.

Saville-Kent is buried at All Saints Churchin Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, England. His grave is decorated with coral.

Browse a digital copy of The Great Barrier Reef of Australia: its products and potentialities here.

via The Public Domain Review

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, June 17 for another monthly installment of her public domain-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

An Interactive Map of Odysseus’ 10-Year Journey in Homer’s Odyssey

The Odyssey, one of Homer's two great epics, narrates Odysseus' long, strange trip home after the Trojan war. During their ten-year journey, Odysseus and his men had to overcome divine and natural forces, from battering storms and winds to difficult encounters with the Cyclops Polyphemus, the cannibalistic Laestrygones, the witch-goddess Circe and the rest. And they took a most circuitous route, bouncing all over the Mediterranean, moving first down to Crete and Tunisia. Next over to Sicily, then off toward Spain, and back to Greece again.

If you're looking for an easy way to visualize all of the twists and turns in The Odyssey, then we'd recommend spending some time with the interactive map created by Gisèle Mounzer"Odysseus' Journey" breaks down Odysseus' voyage into 14 key scenes and locates them on a modern map designed by Esri, a company that creates GIS mapping software.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in the whole concept of ancient travel, we'd suggest revisiting one of our previous posts: Play Caesar: Travel Ancient Rome with Stanford’s Interactive Map. It tells you all about ORBIS, a geospatial network model, that lets you simulate journeys in Ancient Roman. You pick the points of origin and destination for a trip, and ORBIS will reconstruct the duration and financial cost of making the ancient journey.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in December, 2013.

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What Ancient Greek Music Sounded Like: Hear a Reconstruction That is ‘100% Accurate’

Discover the “Brazen Bull,” the Ancient Greek Torture Machine That Doubled as a Musical Instrument

Learning Ancient History for Free

New Interactive “Murder Map” Reveals the Meanest Streets of Medieval London

How dangerous was medieval London? That’s a question that has recently been studied by the University of Cambridge’s Violence Research Center, and they have provided a handy interactive map for our perusal. Just in case we go back in time in a TARDIS or some such machine, we’ll know what parts of the city to avoid. And those parts are...well, most of it, actually.

The data containing info of 142 homicides comes from surviving coroner’s rolls from the first half of the 14th century. A coroner during this time was a bit closer to a police detective in ours, called to the scene of any sudden and unnatural death. And if it looked liked foul play a neighborhood jury of somewhere between 12 and 50 people were called to offer a verdict.

Hover over a marker on the map and you can discover what happened at that location. Here are a few examples:

On the evening of July 20, 1325, Peter Clark, a baker, was stabbed in the heart by a fellow baker called Walter after an argument. Walter took sanctuary in a church, confessed to the crime, and a month later made his way out of the country by boat.

On December 21, 1325, Roger Scott, a tailor, was quarreling with Robert de Oundle in the streets of Bishopgate, when Robert stabbed Roger with a hidden knife, killing him instantly. He also fled, to where nobody knew.

On February 13, 1324, William Warrock and William de Northamptone were arguing in the high street of Castle Baynard, when the former stabbed the latter in the heart. Warrock, who had no belongings, disappeared.

Sensing a theme here? We’ll never know the reason for these fatal altercations, but the knife industry was doing well out of it. The study crunched the numbers and found some statistics: the time of year did not seem to be a factor, but like today, the weekend was a deadlier time. And the hours between early evening and the first hour of London’s curfew, when the city insisted all fires be extinguished and people go to bed.

A whopping 52% of murders happened in the public square or the high street. No other location cracks 10%. And long knives were the weapon of choice at 35%, second only to short knives at 20%. And though it wasn’t reflected in the three random examples, most people got stabbed in the head. Unsurprisingly men committed the majority of the crimes, and all classes of society and profession murdered their way around London, including priests. (One example is given of a priest who stabs a gardener to death when the latter discovered him stealing apples.)

Professor and criminologist Manuel Eisner summed up the work of his group thus:

“The events described in the Coroners’ Rolls show weapons were never far away, male honour had to be protected, and conflicts easily got out of hand. They give us a detailed picture of how homicide was embedded in the rhythms of urban medieval life.”

And in fact, given the proportion of crime to the general population, London was pretty deadly, about 15-20 times higher than a modern British city.

But Eisner notes the comparisons can only go so far: “We have firearms, but we also have emergency services. It’s easier to kill but easier to save lives.”

Visit the interactive medieval murder map here.

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An Interactive Map of Odysseus’ 10-Year Journey in Homer’s Odyssey

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Atheists & Agnostics Also Frequently Believe in the Supernatural, a New Study Shows

To be a non-believer in some parts of the world, and in much of Europe for many centuries, means to commit a crime against the state. Even where unbelief goes unpunished by the law, “atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers,” writes Scotty Hendricks at Big Think, “are among the most disliked, untrusted, and misunderstood people.” Identified with Satanists (who are equally misunderstood), non-believers are presumed to be anti-theists, hell bent on destroying, or at least maiming, religion with their know-it-all dogmatism and hatred of different beliefs.

There may be some projection going on here, and maybe it goes both ways at times, though the balance of power, at least in the U.S., decidedly tips in favor of certain dogmatic religions. But as a new whitepaper from the UK group Understanding Unbelief found, in a wide-ranging survey of non-believers in six countries around the world, “popular assumptions about ‘convinced, dogmatic atheists’ do not stand up to scrutiny.” The outlier here is the religiously inflamed U.S. “Although American atheists are typically fairly confident in their views about God, importantly, so too are Americans in general.”

The paper’s authors are professors in theology, psychology, anthropology, and religious studies from four major U.K. Universities. They outline their eight key findings at the outset, then get into specifics about what the data says and how it was obtained, with large, full-color charts and graphs. The study shows more agreement than most of us might assume between the religious and non-religious on “the values most important for ‘finding meaning in the world and your own life.’”

“Family” and “Freedom” ranked highly. “Less unanimously so,” did “’Compassion,’ ‘Truth,’ ‘Nature,’ and ‘Science,’” which may come as little surprise. The social and political identifications of non-believers fluctuate widely between the six countries—Brazil, Denmark, Japan, China, the U.S., and the U.K.—but, “with only a few exceptions, atheists and agnostics endorse the realities of objective moral values, human dignity, and attendant rights, and the ‘deep value’ of nature.”

These conclusions should interest non-believers and believers alike in the six countries surveyed, but the most sensational research finding states that “despite rejecting or at least questioning the notion of gods, unbelievers aren’t wholly divorced from superstitious belief,” writes Hendricks. The study’s authors put things in a more measured way: “only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each of our countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists,” ruling out the supernatural entirely.

Hendricks lists some examples:

Up to third of self-declared atheists in China believe in astrology. A quarter of Brazilian atheists believe in reincarnation, and a similar number of their Danish counterparts think some people have magical powers.

These findings might be consistent with the study’s methodology, which surveyed people who agreed with either 1. I don’t believe in God [or other divinity or spirit] or 2. I don’t know whether there is a God, and I don’t believe there is any way to find out. Neither of these mutually excludes the à la carte spiritualism of astrology, reincarnation, or magic, a fact that many religious believers cannot wrap their heads around.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, belief in seances, tarot, mesmerism, and other seemingly supernatural phenomena flourished, quite often independently of particular religious belief systems. One of the most rational minds of the time, or the creator of the most rational mind of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, believed in fairies. Pierre Curie “was an atheist who had an enduring, somewhat scientific, interest in spiritualism.”

The study’s findings are “in line,” Hendricks points out, “with previous studies that show non-believers are just as prone to irrational thinking as their religious counterparts.” Significant percentages of atheists and agnostics express some belief in astrology, karma, "a universal spirit or life force," and other supernatural phenomena. Hendricks quotes Michio Kaku’s suggestion that there may be “a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic.” I don’t believe geneticists have found such a thing. But culture, at any rate, is not reducible to biology.

The fact that humans see, hear, feel, and believe things that may not actually exist seems to be an evolutionary trait. What may be equally, if not more, interesting is the way those supernatural things, whatever they are, both resemble and vastly differ from each other, their cultural specificities woven inextricably into the texture of language and custom. What and how we think cannot be fully separated either from our genes or from the conceptual apparatus we inherit, and that forms our picture of the world. Read the full Understanding Unbelief study here.

via BigThink

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Subway Map of Human Anatomy: All the Systems of Our Body Visualized in the Style of the London Underground

We all have bodies, but how many of us truly know our way around them? Plenty of books explain in detail the functions of and relationships between each and every part of our anatomy, but few of them do it in a way the layman — and especially the layman not yet accustomed to the sight of human viscera laid bare — can readily grasp. We need a visualization of the human body, but what kind of visualization can best represent it with a maximum of clarity and a minimum of misleading distortion?

"Most people might imagine an intricate network of blood vessels or the complex neural circuits of the brain," writes Visual Capitalist's Iman Ghosh. "Or we might picture diagrams from the iconic medical textbook, Gray’s Anatomy." But how about a visualization of the body in the style of a classic piece of information design we've all seen at least once, the London Underground map? "Created by Jonathan Simmonds M.D., a resident physician at Tufts Medical Center," Ghosh writes, "it’s a simple yet beautifully intuitive demonstration of how efficiently our bodies work."

Just as Harry Beck's original 1933 London Underground map straightened out and color-coded each of the lines then in operation, Simmonds' anatomical map traces thirteen different "lines" through the body, each of which represents a different system of the body: the nervous system in yellow, for example, the airway system in black, and the lymphatic system in green. "While dashed lines represent deeper structures, sections with ‘transfers’ show where different organ systems intersect," Ghosh writes. If you're wondering where to start, she adds, "there’s a helpful 'You Are Here' at the heart."

You can take a close look at Simmonds' work in a large, high-resolution version here. Not only does following the model of the London Underground map introduce a degree of immediate legibility seldom seen (at least by non-medical students) in anatomical diagrams, it also underscores an aspect of the very nature of our human bodies that we don't often consider. We might instinctively think of them as sets of discrete organs all encased together and functioning independently, but in fact they're more like cities: just as busy, just as interconnected, just as dependent on connections and routines, and just as improbably functional.

via Visual Capitalist

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The Genius of Harry Beck’s 1933 London Tube Map–and How It Revolutionized Subway Map Design Everywhere

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Radiohead Releases 18 Hours of Demos from OK Computer for a Limited Time–After Hackers Try to Hold Them for Ransom

This strategy will not work in most ransomware attacks—if your personal data is stolen, releasing all of it to the public for a small fee might diffuse the blackmailer’s bomb, but your problems will only have just begun. But for Radiohead, releasing 18 hours of demo material from minidisks recorded between 1995 and 1998, during the making of their landmark OK Computer, turned out to be just the thing. For a limited time, 18 days from the announcement, you can buy all 18 hours of that material on Bandcamp for the low price of £18 (about $23), with all proceeds benefiting the climate change advocacy group Extinction Rebellion. The music can also be streamed for free (click on the player above) during that time.

The minidisk archive was stolen from Thom Yorke by a hacker who demanded $150,000 or threatened to release them. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood announced the theft on Twitter and Facebook. "We got hacked last week—someone stole Thom's minidisk archive from around the time of OK Computer…. For £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom.”

He prefaced the demos with some modest commentary: “Never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reach the cassette in the OK Computer reissue) it's only tangentially interesting. And very, very long. Not a phone download. Rainy out, isn’t it though?"

Although bands release demo material all the time—or their record companies do, at least—few go out of their way to talk up alternate takes, sketches, skeletal early versions, and rejected songs. But fan communities often treat such material as akin to finding lost ancient literary sources. Witness the 65-page document titled OK Minidisc already published online, a detailed analysis of the demos by a group from online Radiohead fandom that will likely now forever feature in the band’s accumulated lore.

The demo collection, simply called MINIDISCS [HACKED], will give Radiohead scholars lay and professional a wealth of evidence to draw on for decades—insights into their production process and the evolution of Thom Yorke’s writing. (The first track is an early version of OK Computer’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” with mopey, self-pitying lyrics that might have fit better on the band’s debut album).

As a listening experience, sitting through 18 hours of outtakes may be “only tangentially interesting” and certainly “very, very long.” But when it comes to an album as widely and deeply worshipped as OK Computer, this material might as well be Dead Sea Scrolls.

Surely the minidisk archive’s kidnapper(s) counted on the massive profile of the 1997 album when they named their price, but they didn’t know quite who they were dealing with. Contribute to climate action and become an independent Ok Computer scholar yourself by buying and downloading (with a solid broadband connection) all 18 hours of the MINIDISCS [HACKED] collection at Bandcamp. Or stream it all above.

Related Content:

The 10 Most Depressing Radiohead Songs According to Data Science: Hear the Songs That Ranked Highest in a Researcher’s “Gloom Index”

Classic Radiohead Songs Re-Imagined as a Sci-Fi Book, Pulp Fiction Magazine & Other Nostalgic Artifacts

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Gives Teenage Girls Endearing Advice About Boys (And Much More)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness





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