Over the past few years, The Flaming Lips have made some interesting choices in how they create their vinyl albums. In 2012, for Record Store Day, the packaging for their album included the actual blood of contributors to the project, including Kesha and Erykah Badu. While that’s pretty hard to top, in 2018, the band continued their trend of weird vinyls, with the band pressing their album using a custom Dogfish Head beer. However, in an interview with NME, the Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne, has another absurd idea up his sleeve, and it involves Miley Cyrus’ pee.Coyne told NME that he hoped to have a record pressed with Miley Cyrus’ urine, adding,You can’t really up the ante too much from human blood. … The beer was made especially for the Flaming Lips and has our influence in its taste and color. That’s not as insane as having a little bit of Erykah Badu, and Chris Martin’s blood in your records. Probably not as insane as that, but still pretty great. The next record we were talking about releasing was the Miley Cyrus and the Dead Petz record. We’d get a good amount of Miley’s pee and mix it with some glitter and put that in. I think that would up the ante. Don’t you?However, this collaboration, while certainly fucking insane, are not as unobtainable as you might imagine. In the past, Coyne has spoken highly of the pop princess gone rogue, telling Billboard in 2017 that he spoke to Cyrus “all the time.” Cyrus also was featured on the Flaming Lips’ Oczy Mlody track “We a Famly“, which was released in 2017, and she contributed to With A Little Help From My Fwends, the Flaming Lips’ tribute to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that was released in 2014.[H/T Billboard]
John Mayer opened up his world tour in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday night with a special tribute to the people of Christchurch, New Zealand. The pop-star-gone-Dead & Company guitarist/vocalist welcomed up Bella Kalolo to sing the hymn “How Great Thou Art”, or “Whakaaria Mai in te Re”, along with a kapa haka group who performed in honor of the victims of last week’s mosque shootings.“Thank you for coming out under such heavy circumstances, it means a lot to me,” Mayer said to the audience.Following the beautiful tribute, John Mayer delivered two jam-packed sets of music. The first set featured Mayer’s full band performing nine originals, including three of the newer tunes: “In The Blood” and “Changing” from 2017’s The Search For Everything, and 2018 single, “New Light“. Then, Mayer stripped down for the solo acoustic portion of the evening, starting with the only cover of the night, “XO”. The Beyoncé cover was followed by “Daughters”, “Emoji of a Wave”, and “In Your Atmosphere” to close the set.The full band returned to the stage for another complete set of originals, including fan-favorites “Helpless”, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”, and “Gravity”, as well as his newest single, “I Guess I Just Feel Like“. For the encore, John Mayer surprised fans with semi-rarity “The Heart of Life” from his 2006 album, Continuum, which had not been performed since summer of 2017. The Search For Everything‘s “Still Feel Like Your Man” closed the show.Watch the show-opening tribute below:[Video: Lee Fowler] John Mayer continues his world tour tonight in Brisbane, Australia. Head to his official website for a full list of tour dates.Setlist: John Mayer | Spark Arena | Auckland, New Zealand | 3/23/19How Great Thou Art (with Bella Kalolo singing Whakaaria Mai in te Reo, followed by haka)Full Band: Heartbreak Warfare, No Such Thing, Who Says, Waiting on the Day, Something Like Olivia, In The Blood, Changing, New Light, Queen of CaliforniaSolo Acoustic: XO, Daughters, Emoji of a Wave, In Your AtmosphereFull Band Set 2: Helpless, Paper Doll, Love on the Weekend, I Guess I Just Feel Like, Rosie, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, If I Ever Get Around to Living, GravityEncore: The Heart Of Life, Still Feel Like Your Man
Bay Area-based jam quartet Tea Leaf Green has announced an upcoming three-night run throughout Colorado later this month.The band—comprised of guitarist Josh Clark, keyboardist Trevor Garrod, bassist Eric DiBerardino, and drummer Scott Rager–will open up the run with a performance at Nederland’s Caribou Room on Friday, May 24th, featuring support from Amoramora. The following night, the four-piece will head south for an appearance at Colorado Springs’ Meadowgrass Festival on Saturday, May 25th. Tea Leaf Green will wrap their Colorado run with a show at Denver’s Levitt Pavilion on Sunday, May 26th with The Jive Tribe.Head to the band’s website for ticketing and more information.
Ghost Light was back in action last night with a performance at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.. The Saturday night performance marked the latest stop on their 2019 spring tour as they continue to promote the new tunes on their recent debut album. The performance on Saturday also marked just the fourth show back after the band was forced to postpone a small handful of dates after guitarist Tom Hamilton was sent to the E.R. from a back injury.Related: Ghost Light Announces Dead & Company After-Party In BoulderThe band’s first of two sets only included four songs, but the band made sure to get the most out of each tune, as none found a playing time shorter than 10-minutes. The show opened up with a 16-minute “Diamond Eyes” with guitarist Raina Mullen leading the way on vocals, and continued right into a cover of Derek and the Dominos‘ “Keep On Growing”. Hamilton then revisited his American Babies and Brothers Past songbooks for his new band’s rendition of “Winter War Games” and “State Police”, before wrapping the set by returning to “Diamond Eyes”.The second half of the show didn’t hear as many extended jams, but certainly made up for it with some stand-out alt-rock covers spread throughout the set. Hamilton got the band going with a steady group intro into another American Babies tune in “This Thing Ain’t Going Nowhere”. Next came another Glost Light original to start a five-song, eight-part segue beginning with “Best Kept Secret”. The music continued right into their cover of The Shins‘ “Simple Song”, to a Raina Mullen original in “Afraid”, then Ghost Lights’ “Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My Dear”. The energy kept going as they briefly revisited “Simple Song” before continuing with reprises of “Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My Dear”, “Best Kept Secret”, and finally back into “Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My Dear” to close the set.The band would come back out to close the show with a cover of Radiohead‘s “Black Star” and a brief reprise of “Winter War Games”. Fans can listen to the player below to hear the full audio from Saturday’s show (sans encore).Ghost Light – The Hamilton – 5/18/2019[Audio: opsopcopolis]The band continues its 2019 campaign on Sunday with their appearance at Virginia’s Rooster Walk 11 Music & Arts Festival. From there, Ghost Light’s June tour schedule will see them making upcoming festival appearances at New York’s Disc Jam and Michigan’s Camp Greensky and Electric Forest festivalsFans should head to the band’s website for tickets and tour info.Setlist: Ghost Light | The Hamilton | Washington, D.C. | 5/18/2019Set One: Diamond Eyes > Keep On Growing (Derek and the Dominos cover), Winter War Games > State Police (Brothers Past cover) > Diamond EyesSet Two: This Thing Ain’t Going Nowhere (American Babies cover), Best Kept Secret > Simple Song (The Shins cover) > Afraid > Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My Dear > Simple Song > Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My Dear > Best Kept Secret > Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My DearEncore: Black Star (Radiohead cover) > Winter War Games
At its 7th meeting of the year on Dec. 1, the Faculty Council approved the Harvard Summer School Courses for Instruction for 2011. They also heard a review of the A.M. program in music with a specialty in performance practice, a proposal to change the name of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, and a report on the findings of the Library Implementation Work Group.The Council next meets on Jan. 26. The preliminary deadline for the regular meeting of the faculty on Feb. 1 is Jan. 17.
The Harvard men’s basketball team controlled much of the second half, but Ivy League rival Penn scored 15 of the last 20 points to stun the Crimson, 55-54, in front of a sold-out crowd at Lavietes Pavilion on Senior Night Saturday. The Quakers’ Zack Rosen hit two free throws with 23.2 seconds left to give Penn a one-point advantage, which Penn held in the final moments.Kyle Casey scored 12 points for Harvard and Wesley Saunders added 10. Penn (17-11, 9-2 Ivy) was led offensively by Rosen, who had 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Harvard shot 16-of-36 (.444) for the game and concludes the regular season 11-1 at home, as the Crimson’s 28-game home win streak was snapped.The Crimson remain in first place of the Ivy League, a half game ahead of Penn. The Quakers have three games remaining on its schedule, while Harvard has two. The Crimson will visit Columbia March 2 at 7 p.m., before facing Cornell March 3 in Ithaca, N.Y. Penn hosts Brown and Yale next weekend and finishes its Ivy slate March 6 at Princeton.To read the full story, visit GoCrimson.com.
It is not unusual for Harvard to host a head of state. During one recent week, there were five on campus in five days.But it is unusual for Harvard to host the leader of a government in exile, as in Tuesday’s tightly guarded Tsai Auditorium lecture by Lobsang Sangay, LL.M. ’95, S.J.D. ’04. The 44-year-old Harvard Law School graduate is sikyong, or prime minister, of the Central Tibetan Administration, the government in exile’s top political official.The late afternoon talk was his first in the United States as a head of government and his first in a university setting. “It feels more like a reunion,” he said, “than giving any formal kind of speech.”Before the election in April 2011, Sangay worked at Harvard Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Program. He was the first Tibetan — there are 6 million — to earn the doctor of juridical science (S.J.D.) degree, the Law School’s most advanced degree. After the election, he became the first Tibetan prime minister to hold primary political authority. In May 2011, the 14th Dalai Lama officially transferred such authority to the elected leaders of the Central Tibetan Administration.To set up a democratic government in exile “has been his long-cherished goal,” said Sangay of Tibet’s revered Buddhist leader. After the transfer, Sangay added, the Dalai Lama enjoyed nine hours of dreamless sleep.“It is striking to imagine” such a structure, said Sangay’s Law School mentor Henry J. Steiner: a government in exile that was a theocracy and that now embraces the ideal of a secular, democratic state. Steiner, an authority on human rights and international law, is the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law Emeritus. He was Sangay’s dissertation adviser.The government in exile is in Dharamshala, a mountainous city in northern India. Thousands of refugees settled there after the failed uprising by Tibetans against China in 1959 — so many that the city is called “Little Lhasa,” named after Tibet’s traditional capital.“It runs like any government,” said Sangay of his administration, which has a parliament, a court system, and seven cabinetlike departments. It employs 1,000 civil servants, runs more than 60 schools, and oversees a diaspora of about 1.8 million in 70 settlements throughout India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The government in exile has foreign missions too, though it is not formally recognized by any nation.A sturdy, handsome man, Sangay displayed a knack for incisive, fine-tuned arguments during his talk. But he started by inviting everyone in the audience to Dharamshala, with its clean streets and pure mountain air. He included a warning though. The city on the threshold of the Himalayas is so cold in the winter that it can be warmer outside a house than inside.Sangay’s main task is to warm the Chinese government to the idea of resuming talks on the future of Tibet. In the past decade, the government in exile had nine rounds of talks with Chinese officials. The last round came in January 2010. The stalled talks became so frustrating that two main envoys resigned this May.At issue is the status of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, a place so heavily guarded and constrained politically, said Sangay, that there are “more surveillance cameras than windows.” He said there are no foreign journalists allowed in, there are police checkpoints at every 20 meters, and protest is often met with arrest, torture, and disappearances. Since March 2011, he said, 54 protesters have set themselves afire, and 43 have died. All this, he said, “reflects how desperate Tibetans are.”The desperation has an economic side too, said Sangay. Seventy percent of private enterprise in Tibet is owned or managed by the Chinese; half of Communist Party members are Chinese; 40 percent of educated Tibetans are unemployed. There is a toll on the environment too, he said, including excessive damming projects. There is also a cultural cost to Tibetans, said Sangay, including in schools, where he said the required “medium of instruction” is Chinese.Officially, Tibet’s government in exile does not support any form of protest inside Tibet. “But once it takes place,” said Sangay, “it becomes our sacred duty to support the aspirations” that protesters have. There are two main aspirations, he said: the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland and freedom for Tibet.“It’s quite difficult at the moment,” said Sangay of conditions within Tibet and of the rising pressure since talks stalled. But he still hopes that his government will win China over with its “Middle-Way Approach,” which includes dialogue backed by a promise of nonviolence. “We can solve this problem through dialogue,” said Sangay.His government has no ambitions beyond being a peaceful enclave within a larger nation, he added, using the French-speaking province of Quebec in Canada as an example. “If genuine autonomy is granted, then people choose to remain within.”It’s not as if Tibet is a military threat, said Sangay, who imagined how well a nation of 6 million would fare against mighty China, with 1.3 billion people and a huge standing army.Reopening talks would be to China’s advantage, Sangay argued. “We all know China is rising” and spending billions on soft-power initiatives to create a narrative of a regime focused on peace and prosperity. “The counter-narrative is Tibet,” a flashpoint of violence and friction that he said tarnishes China’s reputation. “You would like to be seen as good human beings,” said Sangay in a rhetorical address to the Chinese. “But what is happening in Tibet negates all that.”There are precedents for what the government in exile wants, he said. China has made political concessions in Hong Kong, Macau, and even Taiwan. “They have the political will,” said Sangay of Chinese leaders, so why not for Tibet as well?There are no constitutional, political, or cultural impediments to solving the issue, he said, but there may be “an ethnic or racial factor” impeding progress.Part of the answer to the deadlock may come in November, said Sangay, when the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China meets in Beijing. Seven out of its top nine leaders will retire, and younger leaders will emerge. “I remain hopeful that this new Chinese leadership will bring new perspective,” said Sangay, and that by next year serious talks can begin.After the lecture, there was nearly an hour for questions, all of them polite and some of them pointed, about territorial boundaries, protest, Indian sponsorship, Hong Kong parallels, Chinese tourism in Tibet, and economic advances in Tibet since 1959.Sangay conceded that there were more roads in Tibet, more electrical power, and new housing, but he said the Chinese benefit more than Tibetans do.Besides, there is a more fundamental issue than infrastructure, he said. “You don’t exchange power, roads, and toilets for freedom.” There is the issue of a fundamental attitude as well. “Tibetan people’s will is very strong,” said Sangay, and has lasted three generations to become “stronger than before. … The Tibetan issue will not fade away.”In the end, resolving conflict in Tibet is up to the Chinese, said Sangay. “It’s a simple issue, if they want to solve it.”
The conferring of honorary degrees at Harvard’s 362nd Commencement at Tercentenary Theatre on May 30, 2013.
Family and friends describe them not as radicals, but as well-behaved and diligent students at a London private high school. So it came as a shock when the three British girls slipped their passports into handbags, casually walked out of their homes, and boarded a flight to Istanbul to join the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Syria last month. British authorities believe that the teenagers, who disappeared last month, were likely aided by Aqsa Mahmood, a young woman originally from Scotland who helps recruit for the extremist group.The trio’s highly publicized defection to Syria, as well as the apprehension of three young British males in Istanbul this week as they headed to join ISIS, are just the latest among a growing number of teenagers and young adults from middle-class, educated, often suburban backgrounds in Britain, the United States, Canada, and various European nations who have been enticed to abandon their comfortable lives and join the Islamic State since last summer. In late February, the Washington Post identified “Jihadi John,” the masked man seen in several ISIS videos beheading hostages, as a college-educated computer programmer from a well-off family in West London. Although a precise figure isn’t known, Lt. Gen. James Clapper, director of U.S. national intelligence, told Congress last month that an estimated 3,400 citizens from Western countries have traveled to Iraq and Syria, presumably to join ISIS. Jessica E. Stern, Ph.D. ’92, is a fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and a lecturer in the Government Department at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). She serves on the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law and was a member of the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration. Stern has written extensively about terrorism and violent extremists. Her latest book, “ISIS: The State of Terror,” co-authored with J.M. Berger, will be released March 24. Stern spoke with the Gazette about how and why ISIS has been increasingly effective in luring young Westerners to its side.GAZETTE: We know that the so-called Islamic State is extraordinarily media-savvy. What social-media platforms have been most effective in reaching Western recruits?STERN: There’s been a lot of activity on Twitter. Aqsa Mahmood is a good example. She’s been accused of enticing the three young women from London who apparently left their homes to join the Islamic State. She’s also known as Umm Layth, which means “mother of the lion.” She spoke to them on Twitter, and then they ended up moving to an encrypted platform to continue their discussion, which is a common recruitment tactic. [Mahmood] also answers questions on Ask.fm. Somehow her postings are attracting young women, some of them very high-achieving, to leave home to join the jihad.There’s a big debate about what should be taken off Twitter and whether Twitter is inadvertently facilitating terrorist recruitment. Twitter’s automated list of “who to follow” makes it easy for a person interested in ISIS to rapidly find additional ISIS supporters. Sometimes, ISIS accounts are suspended, but often, shortly afterward, a new account with a new name appears, which serious followers can find.There’s a debate among those who think we should allow those accounts to remain active, and those who think that Twitter should be suspending terrorist accounts. Those who say that the accounts should be left alone argue that they’re a good way to gather intelligence, and that removing them would only result in recruiters moving to a less-transparent platform. Those who want the accounts shut down say that private companies should not allow ISIS and other groups to use social media to recruit followers, and that terrorists’ use of social media to promote violence does not constitute protected speech. Twitter recently suspended over 2,000 ISIS-related accounts. ISIS has now declared war against Twitter, threatening the lives of its staff.GAZETTE: What is the pitch to male and female potential recruits?STERN: For the men, it’s, “Come and fight if you can fight; if you can’t fight we also need doctors, we need social-media experts, engineers … We’re running a state, and so if you feel you can’t handle fighting, we can still use you.” The women are often recruited to marry jihadists: “You can participate in the jihad by marrying. You can be the mother of the next generation.” It is a fairly traditional female role.There are tremendous social benefits for recruits: You’re making a world a better place, or so the group claims, which provides a kind of spiritual reward. There’s financial reward for the fighters. ISIS actually pays the fighters, gives them free housing, offers to provide them wives. Hence, the need to recruit young women. There’s also the tremendous lure of extreme fundamentalism. I think we can all understand the appeal: Wouldn’t it be nice to have easy answers to every morally complex question? Inside a group like ISIS, life becomes morally simple. The rules are clear. Good and evil come out in stark relief.GAZETTE: What’s the psychological profile of those people most susceptible to their message?STERN: We don’t have a profile of the Westerners joining ISIS yet because there haven’t been large studies. But I can tell you that [British intelligence agency] MI5 did a study of Westerners who were involved in or closely associated with extremist activity, prior to ISIS’s recent recruitment drive. They found that a surprisingly high number of them were converts to Islam. Many in the MI5 study were relatively ignorant of Islam, even if they were Muslim. Umm Layth is a good example. She grew up in a secular Muslim family and went from relative ignorance about Islam to recruiting for ISIS.An important factor seems to be the desire to forge a new identity, an identity with dignity. I interviewed terrorists for many years and I can tell you that identity is often absolutely key. We also know that there is a higher rate of mental illness among so-called lone wolves, people who are inspired (often online) to commit terrorist actions without physically joining an extremist group. Studies of Westerners joining jihadi organizations, prior to ISIS’s recruitment drive, have shown that foreign fighters tend to be alienated or marginalized within their own societies; they may have had a bad encounter with police or distrust local authorities. They tend to disapprove of their nation’s foreign policies. If they’re living in an ethnic enclave, they’re likely to be alienated from people living alongside them, as well as the country as a whole, whether it’s the United States, or the U.K. or elsewhere in the West. For those who join ISIS, I think that there’s got to be an element of thrill-seeking as well, perhaps even an attraction to violence. It’s hard for me to imagine that anybody who gets recruited today doesn’t know about ISIS’s extreme brutality.GAZETTE: Is the impulse to join the Islamic State very different from, say, the idealistic impulse of young people to join the Peace Corps or a nongovernmental organization, or any global organization they believe is doing important and uplifting work?STERN: Many of the people who join terrorist organizations believe they are making the world a better place. They see pictures of [Syrian leader Bashar] Assad’s brutality against his own people, and they feel the desire to help. That sense of righteousness is a very appealing aspect of joining a terrorist group, for some. But I would say in some ways it’s more like joining the Weather Underground than the Peace Corps. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone joining without knowing that they’re going to be involved in real atrocities.GAZETTE: But in their minds, those actions are righteous.STERN: Absolutely.GAZETTE: How effective is Mahmood as a recruiter, and what makes these Western recruiters so successful? Do they tend to be true believers or mere cynical mercenaries?STERN: She is very effective. My guess is that it’s partly because she knows how to relate to young women like herself. She knows their lives. ISIS is using Westerners to run the social media campaign to recruit Westerners.GAZETTE: The State Department has recently announced that it has stepped up its counter-messaging efforts. What are they doing, and is that likely to be sufficient, given the sophisticated and prolific nature of the Islamic State?STERN: They have a program called “Think Again Turn Away,” and if you look at what they’ve been doing and compare it with what ISIS has been doing, it’s so boring. ISIS has professional cameramen. …GAZETTE: The ISIS production values are quite high. It’s not like the old al-Qaida training videos we used to see.STERN: No, it’s not. If you look at what the State Department puts out, sadly, you can tell that they didn’t have a lot of money. But the guy who ran that program told me, “Look, I know we can’t compete with the video imagery showing, ‘Here’s your chance to create this very pure state, and you’re going to get to kill infidels and Shiites.’”GAZETTE: They can’t compete on the messaging or on the production values?STERN: Both. ISIS has made an enemy of the entire world, other than those who join it. I hope that we’re going to get much more serious — we outside the government — to find ways to respond. There is a program that I’d like to bring to Harvard. I’ve been advocating for years to have young people design counter-messaging programs, rather than State Department employees or Madison Avenue. There is an organization, EdVenture Partners, that created a curriculum for students around the world to compete to create the most effective counter-messaging. The students will create digital platforms to amplify the messages of clerics who can argue against ISIS’ interpretation of Islam, or of former members of ISIS who turned against the organization. Those are just two examples; there are all kinds of things that can be done. The initiative is called “P2P: Challenging Extremism.” I would love to get students from across the University, students in engineering, students in political science, students who speak languages, or who are very good at communications … ideally we want a completely interdisciplinary group. I’m just so excited about this.GAZETTE: Besides better coordinating the State Department’s fragmented messaging efforts, I wonder if that’s ever going to be sufficient compared to the prolific nature of ISIS. I understand they’re sending out as many as 200,000 social media messages per day.STERN: No. It’s never going to be enough. I think the private sector has to get involved. I’m hoping Harvard alumni will be inspired to get involved.GAZETTE: What is the Islamic State’s end game? Is it to provoke global Armageddon, or does it want to control the world and have everyone live under its terms?STERN: They want to establish a worldwide caliphate. The dream is to take over the world. They are also obsessed with the Apocalypse. Although ISIS claims to justify its actions by referring to religious texts, ordinary Muslims have no idea what ISIS is talking about. The Quran is not an apocalyptic book, so ISIS has to borrow from different apocalyptic narratives. Their online English language magazine, it’s called Dabiq, which is the name of the town where ISIS believes the final battle of the Apocalypse will take place.They believe that sexually enslaving women who are from religious minorities is a good thing; it’s a sign that the End Times are coming. They also justify sexual slavery as a way of avoiding the sin of adultery or premarital sex, because if you have sex with a slave, it’s not really sex, or so they claim. They can be pedophiles.GAZETTE: Why is religion such a useful framework or pretext for terrorism, subjugation, and genocide?STERN: ISIS is a millenarian movement. They want to create a new human being the same way the Soviets wanted to create a new human being. They want to recreate humanity, and they want to create a purified world. It’s a cosmic battle to them. It’s not totally different from communism or other ideologies, but God is a pretty compelling citation.GAZETTE: Does religion give it a patina of righteousness or defuse any accusations that this is a mere power grab?STERN: I think religion is often a patina or marketing strategy for terrorists to accomplish more worldly goals. In the case of ISIS, many of the leaders are former Baathists, the secular political party that ruled Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion. [Abu Bakr al-] Baghdadi, the “caliph” of the Islamic State, recruited former military and intelligence personnel from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. They have important, useful skills. ISIS’s religious agenda is clearly intermingled with its more secular goals. ISIS is capitalizing on the feeling among Sunni Muslims that they are under threat in the new Iraq, and that ISIS is the only protection they have from the Iraqi leadership’s anti-Sunni, sectarian policies.GAZETTE: In human history, where does ISIS rank in terms of what they’ve been able to accomplish — their lethality and their organizational strength — in such a brief amount of time?STERN: Compared with modern terrorist organizations that we know, they rank very high. However, compared with the Khmer Rouge, the Nazis, the communists, they rank pretty low both in terms of their accomplishments and even in terms of their brutality. We’ve seen much worse. ISIS is not just a terrorist group; it is also an insurgent army. While it’s shocking to see how much territory ISIS acquired so quickly, we’re comparing it with terrorist groups that weren’t necessarily trying to acquire large amounts of territory. The ideology, the brutality of this group — I have to think they’re going to self-destruct before they manage to spread as far as, say, the communists or the Nazis. The Nazis weren’t advertising their atrocities; ISIS is publicizing its atrocities, flaunting its brutality. It’s part of the End Times narrative that ISIS hopes to spin.This article has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Rob Reider is a verified Twitter user, though chances are you haven’t heard of him.But he has walked the halls of MTV studios, jammed acoustically for “Total Request Live,” and made several music videos. He’s been on the road for months at a time, bathed in the doe eyes of shrieking fangirls, and had a single on the soundtrack for the Kristen Bell rom-com “When in Rome” and one of the “American Pie” movies. But that was then, and last year when “some dude in Belgium stole my credit card info,” that unknown bandit likely made away with a few of the royalty dollars Reider receives each year from his stint in the pop punk band The Friday Night Boys.Haven’t heard of them either? Not a surprise. They didn’t have the cantankerousness of the Sex Pistols — they were all just really good friends. When The Friday Night Boys formed in 2006, the average age of its members was a mere 21. They hailed from middle-class Washington, D.C., suburbs, where mostly they’d grown up together.Reider, an administrative coordinator with Harvard’s Campus Services, played bass. The band debuted in the heyday of MySpace, and the boys began posting mp3s of their songs with titles like “High School” and “Better Than You” during the brief window when the site was a platform for launching bands, said Reider. The music attracted managers who sent the group on record label showcases in Los Angeles.By 2008, The Friday Night Boys were signed to Fueled by Ramen Records. “It was a bit surreal,” said Reider. “It wasn’t shock — it was what we all wanted.”“We recorded at the nicest studio in L.A.,” said Reider. “It was so exciting. We were next door to Lindsay Lohan, Ludacris, Justin Timberlake. And our producer was super into the record.”The band sold 60,000 copies of its 2009 album, “Off the Deep End,” which reached 198 on the Billboard 200 in the summertime. By the next year, the band was done.“We finished our last tour in Altoona, Pennsylvania,” said Reider. “We were all just getting older and wanting something more stable.”Reider moved to Boston. “I had friends here, and I loved the music scene,” he said. He started working at Harvard, first as a staff assistant for Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Kevin Casey, helping with numerous community outreach events and programs. He got married. He moved on to his other job. But there was something more that gnawed at him.“I’ve always had this affinity for small, DIY labels. I’d find these bands I loved, and do some research, and see they were on a label run by one or two people out of a garage or a bedroom,” he said.Early this year, Reider founded Bob Records out of his apartment in Allston.“I thought about it for a couple years, actually,” he said. “But then my friend’s band People in Cars were working on a release, and I asked them how they felt about me putting it out on my newly devised label.”Bob Records is now gearing up for its eighth and ninth releases by Philadelphia instrumental band Mohican and Charleston-based punk outfit Drunk Couples.Reider isn’t just digitizing the music by way of his Bandcamp page, he’s recording the music on cassettes and seven-inch records.Cassettes, though?For one, it’s cheap, said Reider, and turnaround time is shorter. “And you’re listening to a whole album and not skipping tracks,” he added. “You’re hearing it the way the artist made it.”Reider’s also playing music again. Alongside his guitarist brother-in-law, Reider pounds the drums for the Rococo Bang. The instrumental duo is a departure for Reider, who describes their sound as “funky at times, drony at times, Wall of Sound-y at times, loud, intriguing, drenched in riffs.”While the band is set to make their public debut this spring, Reider has no plans to slow down on Bob Records. He’s enrolled in a marketing class at the Harvard Extension School and frequently checks out local venues, looking for that next band to add to his roster.But he’s content to keep his enterprise small, personal — a true labor of love. “My goal is just to sell enough of one artist and put out another artist,” he said. “I have no delusions of grandeur.”