THE FOURTH of JULY WEEKEND STARTS HERE:
...with THE BEACH BOYS! It's Pate Reunion Weekend and time to "Do It Again." Because folks my age will always remember their mammoth July 4th concerts at the Washington Monument -- as with this 1980 take on "Good Vibrations." Given the time of year, I have to include this 1964 clip of "Surfin' U.S.A." which I think is from the same gig that produced these takes on "Little Deuce Coupe," "In My Room," "Shut Down," "Surfer Girl" and "Fun, Fun Fun." Their take on "Dance, Dance, Dance" from Shindig! later that year is like a slice of Christmas in July. There's also a nifty twofer of "I Get Around" and "'When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)" from their first UK TV appearance on Ready Steady Go! The Andy Williams Show serves up "Help Me, Rhonda," while The Jack Benny Hour produced these quick takes on "Barbara Ann" and "California Girls." There's a primitive video for "Wouldn't It Be Nice" that starts with a cameo from Brian Wilson's dogs (Banana and Louie), who appear at the end of the Pet Sounds LP. And I'll finish with a live version of "God Only Knows" from the 1967 European tour -- one of the last Brian would do for a decade or so.
RAY CHARLES performs "America The Beautiful" like no one else.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: Bruce Springsteen, circa 1978, before it came out on The River.
AMERICAN MUSIC: The Violent Femmes, circa 1992.
DAVE ALVIN: Hey, baby, it's the "4th of July."
JAMES LILEKS: Truth.
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER: From 2008, Hidden Track serves up 12 video versions. And the only ones not working now are Jimi Hendrix and Whitney Houston.
THE CUTOUT BIN: Holiday themed and streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.
THE UNITED STATES prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776. As the Wikipedia notes, this is a little arbitrary: New Englanders had been fighting Britain since April 1775; the first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 8th; and the Congress voted 12-0 for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Even so, the publication of the Declaration was momentous . If you're not in DC, the best way to see and learn about the Declaration may be through the Charters of Freedom website. But you can watch Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Renee Zelleweger, Kevin Spacey, Wynona Ryder and other Hollywood folk read the Declaration, after a short introduction by Morgan Freeman.
Of course, the holiday more broadly celebrates the American Revolutionary War, and the Founders' unlikely victory. People with the highest standard of living and the lowest taxes in the Western World fought a sometimes unpopular war for our freedom. Early on, the Revolutionaries (also known as "Americans" or "Patriots") had the active support of about 40 to 45 percent of the colonial population. By 1779, there were more Americans fighting with the British than with Washington, which is why Washington needed help from the French, the Spanish and freed Blacks. You can separate fact from fiction regarding the sacrifices and fates of the Founders at Snopes. You can hear two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough read from the first chapter of his 1776 via NPR. Or watch a nifty clip on the passage and public reading of the Declaration from the John Adams miniseries.
LINDSAY LOHAN is suing the makers of Grand Theft Auto V.
NOW SHOWING: Hey, I did that yesterday.
STYX & FOREIGNER tour buses go up in flames. It's an urgent emergency.
JEWEL is divorcing from husband Ty Murray after six years of marriage.
GWYNETH PALTROW establishes she's no Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Farrah Fawcett, or even Madonna.
KATHERINE HEIGL may be coming back, isn't really talking about why her career tailed off.
EXODUS: Your first look at Christian Bale as Moses.
THE NOTEBOOK turns 10; VH1 has things you may be shocked to learn about the now-classic film, straight from the director himself.
CHINA: Censors had their busiest day of the year, trying to squash news of massive protests in Hong Kong.
SOMALIA: U.S. military advisors have secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off threats by Islamist militant group al Shabaab, U.S. officials said.
IRAN: For a man widely reported to be playing a key role in helping Iraq’s routed military recover lost ground, Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s feared Quds Force, remains invisible.
IRAQ: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki offered a general amnesty Wednesday in a rare conciliatory move to undercut support for militants whose offensive has overrun swathes of territory and threatens to tear Iraq apart. As Islamic extremists seek to sweep away borders in their advance across the Middle East, Kurds in northern Iraq appear to be in the process of digging a new one, asserting their claim to hotly disputed territory and expanding their semi-autonomous region in a bid for greater autonomy or outright independence.
TWIGGY: Another Fourth of July tradition, the water-skiing squirrel. Great story. Compelling and rich.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG HAPPY during the fireworks.
A SNAKE CHARMER swallows a snake whole.
THE MANATEE's 47-year-run as an endangered species may soon come to an end, as the federal government assesses whether the tubby marine mammal can look forward to a brighter future.