"Why I Paint" - Taylor Negron at Laemmle Royal

Renowned actor, comedian and storyteller Taylor Negron (Fast Time At Ridgemont High, The Last Boy Scout, Seinfeld) is opening an exhibit of original paintings at the Laemmle Royal in West L.A. The exhibit will be up from April 24 - July 25, 2014.

Taylor, who has been a key supporter of History of Cool, is the first in a series of History of Cool profiles.

Here is the link to the Event:


Tameeka Henry: Valerie June, Love and Education

Tameeka Henry tells us about an artist she had just discovered, Valerie June. She discusses the over-use of love and the importance of educational opportunities.

How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?

by Greg Dorn


In History of Cool’s most recent interview, assemblage artist Matjames Metson tells us how he found comfort in friendship and art after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina. His very survival depended on the daunting and courageous task of creating new work to make sense of the incomprehensible. Matjames intuitively set out to cope through unprecedented tragedy by immerging himself in passionate reflection.

The song “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?” surfaced in post-production of Metson’s extraordinary tale. The discovery of the tune came in large part to Bruce Springsteen’s rendition following the historical aftermath of Katrina. But it was American folk singer, Blind Alfred Reed, who first penned the song in 1929 in response to the Great Depression.  Clearly, the same song that touched nerves in the 1920s still resonated with folks nearly 80 years later.  This stands as a testament to the power of art to comfort the human spirit. Separated by decades and an immeasurable amount of misfortunes, we still can find ease through creative expression. That in itself is a comforting thought. 

Check out the original Blind Alfred Reed recording:

And here is Bruce Springsteen’s version:

Greg Dorn is a freelance writer and a member of the History of Cool team. He lives in Chicago. He is also a contributing Writer at Chicago Tribune Media Group. Follow him on twitter: @GregoryDorn

Valerie June’s song ‘Raindance’ is the Coolest song I’ve ever heard

by Shabrena Barnard
I must admit, I almost feel guilty for how much fun I’m having editing interviews here at History of Cool. Allowing myself to flow with the tides of life has led me directly to a passionate group of dedicated folks whose pure intention is to build a platform for positive discussion worldwide. I’ve found a place where I am consistently inspired, and am in direct access with Cool people who lead me to the waters of creative life. And oh how refreshing those waters are…

One upcoming Cool interviewee, the sparkly and charming Tameeka Henry, led me to a singer who is expanding my knowledge of human potential. 

Her name is Valerie June. Born and raised in Tennessee, Valerie’s look and voice are striking as the most brilliant iris. A true artist, her songs are a hopeful reflection of longing not only for personal freedom, but for the liberation of love in all of our hearts.  I am going to go on record and declare “Raindance” as one of the most powerful songs to ever travel the sonic gateway to my soul. 

Here are two gorgeous live versions of “Raindance”; one from the cozy studio of Seattle’s KEXP, and a slightly more damp forest performance in Holland.

Highly recommended - Valerie June: Manifest

This short documentary gives a glimpse into the delicately complex relationship Valerie has with her family, as well as insight into the determination it took to create her own life built on the principles of simplicity and loving acceptance.

Watch for more Valerie June in our interview with Tameeka Henry:

Shabrena Barnard is an editor, writer, and a member of the History of Cool team. Follow her on twitter: @shabsoasis


Assemblage artist Matjames Metson shows us his studio, talks about his friend and writer Henry Cherry, surviving the worst displacement of people since the dustbowl, and imagines how wearing Victorian clothes would change our perspective on the luxuries of today.



Someone once said, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” Hence the reason why so few people, primarily athletes, make it to the top of their profession. How did they get there? In most cases, at some point, they won. 

We then receive an even rarer breed, the cream of the already exclusive crop. These are the great ones, the very elite. They’ve achieved such greatness at what they do, we expect nothing short of victory. While scores of aspiring athletes yearn to reach that level, it also comes with a heavy burden. Even the great ones, every now and then, must lose. It’s the people who do so with class and dignity that separates them from the pack.

Cool Quotes, Misquoted.

imageMore often than we might think, the most memorable movie lines are not remembered correctly. The films that resonate with us usually encompass a moment, phrase or theme that endures well after the lights come up. Some of these moments have transcended the movie world and firmly engrained themselves in everyday life. Who hasn’t uttered the timeless expression, “There’s no place like home?” Try looking into a mirror without asking yourself, “You talking to me?”

These lines, and many others, have taken on a life of their own beyond the context in which we first heard them. History of Cool had the good fortunate of speaking with long-time producer Brian Frankish. Among his many accomplishments includes working on the film, Field of Dreams. Frankish recalled the majestic moment when Ray Kinsella’s persistent beliefs allowed for the rare opportunity to reconcile with his father. The quote that set him on his spiritual journey stacks up with the best of them: “If you build it, they will come.” We then realized this wasn’t the line at all. The correct wording turned out to be, “If you build it, he will come.” The “He” of course refers to Ray’s dad, the man who served as a metaphor for the regrets we carry throughout our lives.

If the wrong words can so easily roll off of our tongues, what else have we gotten wrong? The answer is a lot.

See these lists of misquotes in movies on Buzzfeed, WhatCulture.com, and  TotalFilm.com. Can you think of more examples?

It’s not limited to entertainment. Here is Listverse's Famous Historic Misquotes. 


But perhaps the question is not what, but why?

Imagine the children’s game, telephone. A group of kids sit in a circle, whispering a phrase to one another. Usually, once the words arrive at the last person, they come out differently than originated. Hence, history, is one big game of telephone. Words get passed down from generation to generation, often distorted from the initial phrasing.

Is this a bad thing? Not really. We remember things in a certain way for a reason. A line from a movie or a lyric from a song can mean something completely different to one person than it does to another. People hear what they want. And if someone can find some sort of comfort or personal revelation once the words reach their ears, the art has done its job.

Greg Dorn is a freelance writer and a member of the History of Cool team. He lives in Chicago. He is also a contributing Writer at Chicago Tribune Media Group. Follow him on twitter:@GregoryDorn

"The Book Was Better"


We’ve all heard it before: “The movie was good, but the book was better.” In many cases, this phrase comes from the mouth of a pretentious antagonist: someone who would go on to describe how said movie “spoiled” the book’s integrity. 

 But if a treasured piece of literature gained integrity in the first place, can anything -including a bad movie - really do it damage?

The Chicago Eight

by Greg Dorn

What is cool? Who is cool? These questions will no-doubt yield an array of different answers, thoughts, feelings and emotions. In fact, the very interpretation of these quandaries can often guide the conversation. When History of Cool sat down with L.A. Weekly founder Jay Levin, cool to him meant friend and activist Abbie Hoffman.  


Although vocal up until his death in 1989, Hoffman is perhaps best known as a member of “The Chicago 8” (later renamed “The Chicago 7”), a group of protestors arrested and tried for conspiracy and inciting to riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The opposition for U.S. involvement in Vietnam had reached a boiling point by ’68. Hoffman set his sights on the Chicago convention, as the Democratic-led White House embodied the establishment responsible for the war.

Founder of LA Weekly on Abbie Hoffman and Radical Sanity

LA Weekly founder Jay Levin came to the History of Cool studios to discuss what he thought was cool. He talked about Radical Sanity and answered our Three Question Interview. The video was published today on our YouTube channel

When asked what Levin thought was cool, he mentioned his friend Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989). Hoffman, a political and social activist who co-founded the Youth International Party (“Yippies”), was one of the Chicago Seven convicted of inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Hoffman’s conviction was later overturned.

Sid Caesar 1922 – 2014


If Milton Berle served as Mr. Television and Jack Benny embodied comedic timing, Sid Caesar was the resident goofball. Welcome to the golden age of television, when talk shows, variety hours and sitcoms still ruled the airwaves.

Caesar first set out to become a jazz musician, choosing the saxophone as his axe. His commanding officer in the army witnessed him cracking up his troops, and the rest is history. Perhaps not as celebrated as other TV stars, Sid Caesar set the standard for organized insanity. His first writing team for the groundbreaking Your Show of Shows can be described as the “Dream Team” of comedy: Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Mel Tolkin and Neil Simon. Although short lived, Your Show made way to Caesar’s Hour, championed by an unknown, neurotic funnyman, Woody Allen. As the variety hour concept became more prevalent and crowded, Caesar’s star diminished.

It was 50 Years Ago Today

by Greg Dorn


February 9, 2014 marks 50 years since The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show to an estimated 73 million viewers.

A mere ten weeks earlier, the nation went into mourning after an assassin’s bullet killed our beloved President. John F. Kennedy stands as the closest thing this country has ever had to royalty. His youthful essence and charismatic charm infused a sense of hope and optimism for a better tomorrow. After the untimely passing, the idiom known as the “60s” began to take shape. The mysterious murder fueled a distrust in our government that still exists today. A mostly unknown war gained significant steam in Southeast Asia. People started to see children and young adults as their own entity, rather than just a pathway to adulthood. Although in its infant stages, rock and roll had already began to shake the foundation of what music could be. The so called “jungle music” created a divide between kids and their parents. The world was on the brink of a cultural and political revolution. And The Beatles arrived at the exact right place, at the exact right time.

These odd-looking lads from Liverpool not only embodied the ready-to-explode youth culture, they became a voice for their cause. Teenagers were tired of hearing records from The Singing Nun or Andy Williams. They needed something fun, exciting, dangerous and different. The Beatles were a breath of fresh air, and exactly what we were looking for.

Their strange hair, quirky accents and unprecedented sound were intoxicating. Immediately put in front of the world’s stage, they handled it with class, wit and charm. The Beatles were a welcomed sign of change, and the kids ate it up. 

This is why, 50 years later, The Beatles continue to mesmerize the masses. Their story has reached mythical heights, with Decca Records infamously stating, “guitar groups are on the way out.” They were no doubt kicking themselves when a then-record 73 million people watched The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (roughly 38% of the U.S. populations). 

From the first words out of Paul McCartney’s mouth, “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you,” America knew they had found something special. This was largely in part due to older folks perceiving them as longhaired, inappropriate hooligans. What more would make a kid find something cool than if their mom or dad hated it? Much like a superhero needs a villain, The Beatles needed the naysayers. 

It didn’t hurt that The Beatles had a very strategic and intentional branding plan. As each member’s name ran across the screen, kids instantly chose their “favorite Beatle.” Names like the cute one (Paul) or the quite one (George) became common phrases at school. If you didn’t have an answer to “who’s your favorite Beatle,” hip and cool you were not.

Now, we find ourselves in the year 2014, and The Beatles remain as relevant as ever. Perhaps it’s simply because they created the greatest body of work ever assembled from a rock and roll band. Maybe we still speak of them as cultural visionaries; a group who changed the world, and in turn, changed them. Needless to say The Beatles’ story continues into the 21st Century because they offered something, whether it was a song or a feeling, that we desperately needed in a confusing and turbulent time. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. 

Greg Dorn is a freelance writer and a member of the History of Cool team. He lives in Chicago. He is also a contributing Writer at Chicago Tribune Media Group. Follow him on twitter: @GregoryDorn

Dan Bern talks about the coolness of the E and C chords.


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