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Amazon sells baseball bats as plus-sized sex toys in Germany
03.17.2014
07:08 am

Topics:
Sex
Sports

Tags:
Germany

Baseball bat
“The Berlin Slugger”
 
It’s clear that there aren’t very many baseball fans in Germany. It’s a little less clear whether these Amazon.de listings for “Bondage Fetish Mega Dildos” (seems like German English have a common vocabulary for such items) are intended to be funny or not. It doesn’t really matter—because they are pretty funny!

The wooden bat costs 25.95 Euros (about $36), while the aluminum model costs 34.95 Euros (about $48.50). This pricing makes sense to me. After all, the aluminum model might be cold to the touch but is almost certainly more pleasant to use—that’s not even taking into account the splinter factor.
 
Baseball bat
“The Weisendorf Wanger”
 
The company listed as the supplier is called “FEIHOFF sarl,” and if you look at their other offerings on Amazon.de, it’s clear what they specialize in.

Both products feature the term “Basballschlägel” (baseball bat) in the description, so at least we can say with confidence that they do know what’s going on here. Both products also use the phrase—I love this—“Bondage für Kenner,” which translates as “Bondage for Experts.” Actually, here is a list of English words that can serve as accurate translations for “Kenner”: “connoisseur, maven, adept, fancier, appreciator, authority, classicist, dabster, expert, cognoscenti, sophisticate.” You get the point: beginners, do tread carefully!

Ordinarily we at DM like to put a video at the bottom of the post, but I think we’ll pass this time. If you’re curious to see this ... er… “implement” in action, well, Google is your friend!
 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Floating skate ramp on the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe
03.13.2014
09:23 am

Topics:
Sports

Tags:
Skateboarding


 
This looks fun as shit! The ramp is beautifully constructed, too. My only complaint is you’d have to have a lot of back-up boards handy as losing them in the water would be a bitch to retrieve every damned time.

As others point out in the YouTube comments, this isn’t the first floating ramp. Volcom made a floating mini-ramp three years ago and put in the ocean.

 
Via The Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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George Orwell’s special Olympics message: Sports are bunk
02.10.2014
04:41 am

Topics:
Sports

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George Orwell

George Orwell
 
In 1945, as all combatant nations were recovering from World War II, a notable “friendly” football (soccer) match took place in England. Football had been put on ice since 1939, and fans and athletes alike were eager for a resumption of the action. A Russian armed forces team had scored impressive victories over both its British and French counterparts, and the time had come for a top Russian team to take on a top British club. And thus it was that on November 13, 1945, FC Dynamo Moscow arrived at Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea FC. The attendance was officially listed at 74,496, but the true attendance is usually estimated to be between 100,000 and 120,000. Chelsea led at halftime 2-0, but the Dynamos were able to make it 2-2, and each side tacked on another goal each before the end of play. (Four days later, the Dyamos walloped Cardiff City 10-1.)
 
Chelsea-Dynamos
A Chelsea shot narrowly misses against the Dynamos.
 
About a month after FC Dynamo Moscow went home, a prominent (but hardly famous) journalist for the Tribune named George Orwell published an acid reflection on the nature of nationalism and athletics. In the piece, titled “The Sporting Spirit,” Orwell argued that, contrary to all assurances that nation-based sports competitions foster brotherhood and understanding among the peoples of the world (you will hear endless statements from Sochi over the next two weeks), such events, if anything, generate a modicum of ill will among national groups. The whole thing, according to Orwell, has the flavor of the jingoism that is whipped up before all wars.

Orwell clearly had little interest in sports and is missing part of the picture of fandom for a national team (or even a regional team like our pro squads), but the part he gleaned is instructive, and the entire essay is worth reading. Here are some of the choice bits:
 

Now that the brief visit of the Dynamo football team has come to an end, it is possible to say publicly what many thinking people were saying privately before the Dynamos ever arrived. That is, that sport is an unfailing cause of ill-will, and that if such a visit as this had any effect at all on Anglo-Soviet relations, it could only be to make them slightly worse than before….

As soon as strong feelings of rivalry are aroused, the notion of playing the game according to the rules always vanishes. People want to see one side on top and the other side humiliated, and they forget that victory gained through cheating or through the intervention of the crowd is meaningless. Even when the spectators don’t intervene physically they try to influence the game by cheering their own side and “rattling” opposing players with boos and insults. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting….

If you wanted to add to the vast fund of ill-will existing in the world at this moment, you could hardly do it better than by a series of football matches between Jews and Arabs, Germans and Czechs, Indians and British, Russians and Poles, and Italians and Jugoslavs, each match to be watched by a mixed audience of 100,000 spectators.

 
Orwell’s bleak conception of sports wouldn’t change over the years. A few years later, in his novel 1984, the following sentence appears: “Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”

Here’s a brief Russian report on the Dynamos-Chelsea match. Note the throngs of spectators crowding along the sidelines.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Capitalism in an eggshell: The San Diego Chicken explains free market economics
02.04.2014
07:59 am

Topics:
Economy
Movies
Sports

Tags:
San Diego Chicken


 
If anyone embodies the rewards capitalism can bestow on eccentric or ridiculous behavior, it might just be Ted Giannoulas, famous to our nation’s sports fans as “The San Diego Chicken.” The Chicken started out as a mascot for the San Diego radio station with the curious call letters of KGB-FM—a student at San Diego State University, Giannoulas landed his first gig as the Chicken when he wore the outfit for a promotion to distribute Easter eggs to children at the San Diego Zoo.

By dint of being unusually enterprising and entertaining (he really is very good), the San Diego Chicken became something like a mascot for sports at large. He was never affiliated with the San Diego Padres or any other San Diego team as such—what relevance would a chicken have for a team named after monks?—but he did appear at 520 consecutive Padres games at one point. In the early 1980s, the Chicken was also a regular on the Johnny Bench-hosted children’s show The Baseball Bunch, which also featured manager Tommy Lasorda as a Merlin-esque character named “The Wizard.”

With all the devil-may-care verve of Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or any number of middle school film strips, narrator Rex Allen intones in “Chickenomics: A Fowl Approach To Economics” (groan) points out that the Chicken enjoyed “a unique career ... that can only happen in a market economy.” Allen explains that the Chicken shows us five key facets of a market economy: “Private ownership of resources, self interest motives, consumer sovereignty, markets, and competition.” Zzzzzz. Later on: “Now you know why, from millions of chickens, this one humorous bird can be successful in our economy—that is, until it lays an egg! Any chicken can do that!”

I’m telling you, not even the magical Chicken can make this stuff entertaining to high school kids.
 
San Diego Chicken
 
However, the movie’s closing credits are scored to an unforgettable “boc boc” rendition of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.” This preposterous and pun-laden educational movie demands to be seen.
 

 
via A/V Geeks

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Take it off: Joe Namath’s 1970 motorcycle flick hit ‘C.C. and Company’
02.03.2014
02:52 pm

Topics:
Movies
Sports

Tags:
Joe Namath

C.C. and Company
 
Did you get a load of Joe Namath in his fur coat at the Super Bowl? It reminded me of the days when he was a Super Bowl star himself. As every football fan knows, in early 1969 the underrated Jets were set to play the mighty Baltimore Colts in a matchup between the NFL and the upstart rival league, the AFL. The Packers of the older NFL had already won Super Bowls I and II. Namath, as quarterback for the Jets, “guaranteed” victory and then delivered on his promise, which did a great deal to legitimize the newer league. Only a year or so later, the NFL and the AFL would merge, and everyone would live happily ever after except for the dudes with the concussions. Given that Namath’s team was from New York, that one game would ensure that sports fans in the Big Apple would never, ever shut up about “Broadway Joe.” (The Jets haven’t won a title since, and the Jets fans consider themselves, with fairly good reason, as being one of the more put-upon fan bases in the league.)
 
Joe Namath
 
In late 1970, Embassy Pictures released C.C. and Company, a biker movie starring none other than Joe Namath as “C.C. Ryder,” an affable moto-counterculture type who hangs out with his The character name was obviously inspired by “C.C. Rider,” the 1966 hit by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, a rollicking track that provides the soundtrack for the opening credits. 

C.C. and Company was produced by Allan Carr, who later produce the 1978 hit Grease as well as the 1980 Village People vehicle Can’t Stop the Music. In the movie, C.C. is hanging out cheerfully shoplifting from a clueless supermarket when he and a couple of his gang mates from “The Heads” come upon a beautiful fashion journalist named Ann whose limo has stalled in the desert. Instead of letting his buddies rape Ann, he intervenes and gets them to go away, which pisses them off as well as the leader of the gang, named “Moon,” who’s played with effective menace by William Smith. C.C. and Ann begin to fall for each other as C.C. tries to extricate himself from the Heads.
 
C.C. and Company
 
The movie’s got a jocular style—but all in all, it’s pretty crappy. But this tells you everything you need to know about that era: this wasn’t some obscure release—according to Variety, C.C. and Company was the #1 movie in America for two solid weeks in October 1970!

So my only question is, when does victorious Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson start filming his biker flick? Shoot, I’d settle for some kind of Fast and Furious knockoff.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The Machine Is Bleeding to Death: How to turn the Super Bowl into a twisted Cronenbergian nightmare
02.01.2014
07:23 am

Topics:
Science/Tech
Sports

Tags:
Super Bowl
football

Mom about to get crushed yet again
‘Mom,’ about to get crushed yet again
 
One of the lovely things about video games is that, with enough ingenuity and determination, you can sometimes transform a game into something more personal and unexpected. For the 2013-2014 NFL season, Jon Bois at SBNation, in his “Breaking Madden” series, has been demonstrating the bewildering variety of forms that the popular NFL simulation Madden NFL 25 can take, by bending—nay breaking—“rules, injury settings, all manner of player ratings, player dimensions, and anything else the game’s developers have made available to us.” On Wednesday he released his special Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl ultra-mod—and it’s a corker with surprisingly emotional resonance. (Denver fans may want to stop reading about now…..)

A wonderful aspect of a highly refined NFL sim of this type is the ability for the player to intervene. Want to create a Barry Sanders clone that looks just like you and bears your name to boot? Have at it! That’s exactly the type of shit EA Sports, producer of Madden NFL 25, wants you to do—it creates unique user satisfactions, and that translates into brand loyalty and towering revenues for EA Sports.

In essence what Bois is doing resembles something that Morpheus says to Neo in The Matrix: “It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different that the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken. Understand?” Bois is hammering, hard, on the “rules” of an NFL game by maxing out various variables, such as the size and talent of the players, fatigue factors, and so forth. In one game Bois managed to induce 30 fumbles in a single half. In another, he equipped the Patriots with a team full of Tom Bradys and then engineered a situation whereby “Touchdown Tom” (Brady’s new nickname) could come back from a 74-0 halftime deficit.

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Bois’ goal was to generate a “Super Rout” in which one side scored one thousand points in a single game. With the appropriate caveats (as you will see, he wasn’t able to bring the game to completion), he succeeded in doing that. But along the way, Madden NFL 25 generated something far more poignant than a mere ultra-lopsided machina football game.

Bois’ idea was to create a Seahawks team full of massive, athletically gifted super-behemoths and make the Broncos a squad of puny weaklings. (Worry not, Broncos fans: Bois’ reasons for choosing the Seahawks to be the winning team were scrupulously fair; it just happened to work out that way.) Bois invited readers to submit personal names for all of the players on the two teams (with a real-life charity component), which is why the Broncos’ QB ended up being called “Mom.”
 
Madden NFL 25
 
To get the whole picture of what happened, I heartily recommend reading Bois’ piece; it’s crammed with animated graphics, and they really paint a picture. I also recommend watching Bois’ video preview linked below, if you’re having trouble following what’s going on or why it matters, it’s very helpful.

As expected, Bois’ Seahawks dominated every play to a phenomenal degree. Before the first quarter was even over, the Seahawks were winning 366 to zero. Every Broncos play was resulting in a fumble, and every Seahawks play was resulting in a touchdown. The Broncos were outmatched to an extent that would never be imaginable in real life.

But weird things were happening along the way. An inordinate number of the Seahawks kickoffs were striking the hind quarters of the Broncos return personnel—in other words, bouncing off their asses. Beyond that, after a while Madden NFL ceased being able to tally the score accurately. At one point the score was both 255-0 and 266-0 according to different displays, and Bois says neither score was actually the correct one at that juncture. Even weirder, the Broncos players stopped trying (!), which is more or less what you’d expect to happen in real life but not in a computer simulation. At one point Madden NFL 25 called a false start penalty even though Bois had turned off penalties for the game. There’s a reason Bois titled his writeup “The Machine Is Bleeding to Death.”
 
Broncos-Seahawks hybrid
 
Broncos-Seahawks hybrid
 
The magnificent ending to all of this occurred just before the end of the first quarter. Bois called for a replay of that weird shouldn’t-have-been penalty, and instead of a replay the system produced, perched alone on the 50-yard line, a single hybrid fetus player in the center of the field. It was vaguely equine-looking. You can see it above. The ... “player” was wearing both Seahawks and Broncos gear at the same time, and didn’t have the four limbs one expects from a humanoid figure. Madden NFL 25 had coughed up a creature out of any number of David Cronenberg movies, and the experiment’s facile similarities to Videodrome were only part of the eerie, weird beauty Bois had managed to wring out of the game.

At that point, interpreting the odd football fetus-creature as something akin to Madden NFL 25 crying “uncle,” Bois invoked the mercy rule and stopped the game.

Speaking for myself, Bois’ article was the only bit of pre-Super Bowl commentary that induced a surprising reaction in me; I enjoyed the hell out of it. And I’m putting down $50 on a 366-0 Seahawks victory at Vegas…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard: College baseball stud pitches no-hitter
01.31.2014
08:42 am

Topics:
Music
Sports

Tags:
baseball
Guided By Voices
Robert Pollard

Robert Pollard
 
Ohio rock god Robert Pollard is primarily known for two things: writing roughly one rock ditty per day and consuming appalling amounts of brewski during every Guided by Voices gig. Not as well known is that Pollard was once an ass-kicking baseball hurler for Wright State University in his hometown of Dayton—indeed, one time he threw a no-hitter, made the newspapers and everything!

The date was presumably May 11, 1978, the opponents Indiana Central. The score was 9-1. It was the first no-hitter in the history of the Wright State baseball program.

Magnet Magazine‘s Matt Hickey caught up with Pollard and ran him through a brief no-hitter catechism. Amusingly, Pollard (quite credibly) claims that he didn’t realize he had a no-hitter going until his teammates mobbed him after the final strikeout. Furthermore, his dad recently tabulated Pollard’s finest pitching performances stretching back to childhood, apparently he had 12 no-hitters over the years! We’ll want to get a fact-check on that pronto!

Magnet also found time to mention that GBV has a record coming out on February 18 called Motivational Jumpsuit.

I’ve known for years that Pollard is a closet jock. Pollard and I have friends in common, most notably his former bandmate and current Cobra Verde frontman John Petkovic. I can’t believe that this interview is still online (enjoy the ridiculous 1998-ish HTML!), but here’s a lengthy sports-obsessed interview with Pollard and Petkovic conducted by “Chin Music” (whatever that is). Based on the references to Marquis Grissom and Paul Assenmacher, I’d put this interview right after the 1997 season, but I could be wrong.
 

Robert Pollard: So the singer’s the pitcher?

Chin Music: Yeah, like Johnny Rotten, or even Mick Jagger.

RP: Well I did have a live arm. In college I had a 95 mph fastball.

CM: (incredulously) Oh c’mon! 95 mph? Oh, cut it out.

RP: Really, I could throw a football 70 yards. A baseball 95 miles an hour. Honestly, my dad thought I had a golden arm. He used to milk it down every night like (in crusty old Burgess Meredith voice) “You got the golden arm…” (much laughs all around) That’s why he was so disappointed when I went into rock. He was like “Ya’ bleeeww it!...Ya’ had a golden arm, but YA’ BLEW IT!!!”

(big laughter action)

CM: ...But did you have a breaking ball?

RP: Seriously, I did throw 95 miles an hour in my senior year in high school, and in my summer of Legion ball I popped a tendon in my elbow, but I still continued to pitch in college, for Wright State in Dayton. I threw a no-hitter at Wright State. I never threw as hard, I bet I threw only 85-88. I used to warm up before games—my brother used to catch me, he’s five years younger than me—and I warmed up with a croquet ball.

CM: (laughs) That’s a mean thing to do to a little brother!

 
It goes on from there at some length.

A cursory search of the Internet yielded this obscure GBV song about baseball, appropriately titled “Look, It’s Baseball”:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Video of skateboarders on Brooklyn rooftops is both mesmerizing and terrifying
01.27.2014
08:44 am

Topics:
Sports

Tags:
skateboarding NYC
Brooklyn


 
I never got particularly good at skateboarding. Or even reasonably good. Passably good? No. Actually, I was a really, really bad skateboarder. Sports that require practiced precision just aren’t safe for someone with my attention span, and since that precision is the only thing between you and the concrete, my skating “career” was little more than a series of painful falls.

So when I saw this promo video for Tengu: God of Mischief, an ambitious film of high-risk skating, all I could think was, “No, this one is actually going to die.” To be fair, there’s a pretty big market for skate videos featuring nothing but wipe-outs and injuries.

Director Colin Reed spent over two years collecting footage of Brooklyn rooftop skaters for the video, in addition to other terrifyingly dangerous feats in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Bordeaux. Much to my teeth-grinding relief, no one went kersplat, and upon the second viewing, I was able to unclench every muscle in my body for long enough to see some really beautiful shots of some incredibly impressive skating.
 

 
Via Gothamist

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Bill Murray and Christopher Guest cover Super Bowl X, 1976
01.23.2014
12:12 pm

Topics:
Sports
Television

Tags:
Super Bowl


 
The pithiest comment ever made about the Super Bowl came from a player who was famous for not talking to reporters—Cowboys’ running back Duane Thomas, who said in the early 1970s, “If the Super Bowl is the ultimate game, how come there is another one next year?” As of last Sunday, the matchup for Super Bowl XLVIII, to be held, bizarrely, in frosty East Rutherford, New Jersey, is set: it will be the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s been widely noticed that the home states of the two teams are the ones that have pursued marijuana legalization the farthest, so we appreciate the positive advertisement of the general salubriousness of reefer.

Thirty-eight years ago, the film collective TVTV sent noted sports fan Bill Murray and noted deadpan satirist Christopher Guest down to Miami, Florida, to cover Super Bowl X, between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in order to help with a loose, impressionistic documentary about all the hoopla. In an article about the documentary posted by Deadspin a year ago, TVTV honcho Allen Rucker explained why the collectives’ techniques were so ground-breaking:
 

In 1976, no videomakers had ever walked into a pro football locker room and hung out with the players. No videomakers had ever invited the players to drop by their own hangout—in TVTV’s case, a rented mansion that could communally house 30 or 40 counterculture types making the program. No videomakers had ever had the idea of giving a player his own portable video unit for a night to go back to the off-limits player dormitory and shoot whatever he wanted.

 
Amusingly, according to Rucker, Newsweek had labeled those very “counterculture types” a bunch of “braless, blue-jeaned video freaks.” Mercy me!!

Given all the emphasis on the shaggy, guerrilla tactics of the TVTV crew, the resulting documentary is surprisingly gentle, which certainly constitutes a strength. In honored vérité style (Fred Wiseman was still very big back then), there’s no commentary at all; the doc is a loosely connected series of clips on various themes, including “Steeler Wives,” “Sports Facts” (that one is, subversively, about the players’ union), “Fans,” “Super Sunday,” and so on. To its credit, TVTV’s approach was not to lecture but to soak all the craziness in.
 
Bill Murray and Christopher Guest
 
Murray and Guest were on hand to ... er, “commentate” a curious game of touch football, billed as “Super Bowl IX 1/2,” involving a passel of former greats, including Sonny Jurgensen, Johnny Unitas, and Paul Hornung. Compared to their current statures, Murray and Guest were essentially unknown in 1976. Murray’s debut on SNL came a year later, almost to the day (January 15, 1977), whereas Guest, known at that time primarily as a National Lampoon writer and actor, would have to wait until 1984’s This is Spinal Tap for his big boost in exposure. If you want maximum Bill Murray, you’re going to want to watch Part 2 of the four videos. The interface between the counterculture and establishment culture may be most evident in that section: Murray’s innocent question to Phyllis George about which player she’d like to date induces an exasperated response about “sexist questions”: in other words, she doesn’t entirely realize that Murray is basically joking and that the stakes aren’t all that. Hilariously, Murray gets Pat Summerall, who was well on his way to becoming an axiom of CBS’ football coverage for a generation, to say, “I think there’s too much damn television, don’t you?”

The vaguely workers-oriented stance of the doc is its most interesting aspect—not just Colts owner Robert Irsay’s inane antics in which he likens the head of the players’ association to a babbling monkey but also the comments of Aleta Bleier, wife of Steeler’s halfback Rocky, on the physical and economic sacrifices the players make: “It’s a hell of a big business! Who’s gonna make all that money, the players, or—does Dan Rooney [president of the Steelers] deserve to make $5 million or does your husband [Becky Clack, wife of Jim Clack] deserve to make $30,000 instead of $18,000?” Right at that moment in baseball, the players were securing their fair share of the income, a process that would occur somewhat later for pro football players. Today all the athletes make plenty of money, and the moral force of Aleta’s argument is not something you’d be as likely to encounter today.

Oh yeah—the Steelers won that one, 21-17.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Surreal Tony Alva pool shredding dream sequence will leave you mesmerized
12.19.2013
06:37 am

Topics:
Movies
Sports

Tags:
Skateboarding

Alva
Photo by Glen E. Friedman.
 
Check out legendary ripper Tony Alva doing what he does best in a pool at an abandoned Hollywood Boulevard apartment building in this gorgeously sinister testament to the beauty of skateboarding as an art form.
 
L.A. production company, Six Stair, perhaps best known for their righteous 2002 documentary, Fruit of the Vine, about the search for skateable empty pools around the U.S., shot the footage below for Gus Van Sant’s 2007 film, Paranoid Park, but it was never used.

According to Buddy Nichols, who also appears in the segment along with Rick Charnoski and Ivory Serra (Buddy and Rick are the brains behind Six Stair, and Ivory is sculptor Richard Serra’s nephew), the deserted apartments were once home to drag queen actor, Divine, and are rumored to have hosted a few Marilyn Monroe/JFK liaisons.

The spastic, sludgy free-jam supplied by former Don Cabellero bassist, George Draguns, is the perfect accompaniment for this nightmarish (in a good way) clip shot at 54 frames per second on super 8.

You can hear more from George Draguns at his Soundcloud pageParanoid Park is streaming on Netflix.
 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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