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The ‘Tiger King’ Alligators Have A Strange Michael Jackson Connection

In case you thought the outrageous story behind Netflix’s Tiger King couldn’t get any weirder, a new detail has emerged with a surprising celebrity connection. This time, though, it’s not Britney Spears.

According to Vulture, the seven alligators and one crocodile that died in a suspected arson fire featured in the Netflix series had belonged to Michael Jackson. A manager for Joe’s Oklahoma zoo reportedly acquired the reptiles when Neverland Ranch closed down, and Exotic took dubious care of them. It’s not a good sign when you’re describing an animal “boiling alive in a towering inferno” in a YouTube video.

As for the suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire that burnt down the crocodile enclosure with Jackson’s alligators inside, and more conveniently, the production studio for “Joe Exotic TV,” the docuseries seems to suggest that Exotic (real name: Joseph Maldonado-Passage) could have been behind the arson despite blaming animal activists. Via PopSugar:

Could Joe Exotic have set the fire himself? Or pay someone off to do it? According to his staff, he went to a funeral during the time of the fire. Returning to the wreckage, he offered a $10,000 reward for information about the arsonist. He blamed animal activists (and, of course, [Carole] Baskin). But was this all set up by Maldonado-Passage as a publicity stunt? It’s possible. This could’ve been a ploy to spite [“Joe Exotic TV” producer Rick] Kirkham or destroy incriminating evidence of animal abuse and other illicit activities on tape. Plus, the fire could’ve been a set-up for sympathetic people to give him money — after all, Baskin’s lawsuit drained him.

For the record, the case has yet to be solved by authorities, but you can watch the original The Oklahoman news report below where Joe Exotic is referred to as “Joe Schreibvogel” because, again, this story never stops getting weirder. As for how police knew the fire was an arson, deputies could still smell the gas when they arrived on the scene, so whoever did it was looking for the most bang for their buck.

(Via Vulture)

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All The Best New Indie Music From This Week

Indie music has grown to include so much. It’s not just music that is released on independent labels, but speaks to an aesthetic that deviates from the norm and follows its own weirdo heart. It can come in the form of rock music, pop, or folk. In a sense, it says as much about the people that are drawn to it as it does about the people that make it.

Every week, Uproxx is rounding up the very best of the indie releases from the past seven days. This week we got the beautiful Waxahatchee record, a reliable new effort from Pearl Jam, and a collection of brilliant love songs from Margaret Glaspy.

While we’re at it, if you want more music recommendations curated by Steven Hyden delivered directly to your inbox every week, sign up for the Indie Mixtape newsletter.

Pearl Jam — Gigaton

The new Pearl Jam album sounds like a Pearl Jam album: Eddie Vedder’s thunderous vocal with soaring guitar solos from Mike McCready and Matt Cameron’s propelling percussion. While this isn’t groundbreaking in any way, it is reassuring in a time when almost nothing else is. As Steven Hyden put it in his review for Uproxx, “I like how normal life feels when this album is on. What more could you want from a Pearl Jam record right now? During a moment when nothing that we rely upon seems to be working properly, a Pearl Jam record that competently delivers abundant Pearl Jam-ness suddenly seems revolutionary.” Throw on Gigaton and sit back to forget about how insane the world around you is, if only for 57 minutes.

Waxahatchee — Saint Cloud

While the last Waxahatchee album, Out In The Storm, sounded a bit like modern alt-rock revivalism, Saint Cloud instead features “sparking acoustic guitars and soulful keyboard tones [that] echo through every track, with Crutchfield’s high, lonesome vocals positioned squarely at the heart of an understated country-rock mix,” writes Steven Hyden for Uproxx. The shift in focus here results in what is without a doubt Waxahatchee’s strongest record to date, a gorgeous and emotional testament to rebirth and loneliness.

Half Waif — The Caretaker

Half Waif’s latest LP comes at a pretty fitting time, when almost everyone across the world is concerned about the world around them. The Caretaker is something of a concept album, centered around “someone who has been entrusted with taking care of this estate, taking care of the land, and she’s not doing a very good job,” according to Nandi Rose. In many ways, the record serves as a reminder to take care of yourself and the place where you live. Sonically, the album is chock full of synth swells and Rose’s pristine vocal delivery, making for a truly captivating listen.

Nap Eyes — Snapshot Of A Beginner

On their latest full-length, Nap Eyes have delivered their most hi-fi project to date. While most Nap Eyes records have been tracked live in a room, they recorded Snapshot Of A Beginner with producers Jonathan Low (Big Red Machine, The National) and James Elkington (Steve Gunn, Joan Shelley) at The National’s Long Pond Studio in upstate New York. With higher-end production, the record showcases vocalist/songwriter Nigel Chapman’s knack for writing deeply personal and direct lyrics, like criticizing the pitfalls of social media on “Mark Zuckerberg” and built-in insecurities on “So Tired.”

Dirty Projectors — Windows Open

For the first Dirty Projectors release with a new lineup, Maia Friedman also takes the role of lead vocalist on the new EP Windows Open. Featuring the lead single “Overlord,” that Carolyn Droke describes for Uproxx as “a tongue-in-cheek critique of surveillance,” the four tracks that make up Windows Open depict a band entering a new chapter, one we’re really excited to follow along.

Margaret Glaspy — Devotion

After gaining fans’ attention almost four years ago with Emotions And Math, Margaret Glaspy is finally back with a new full-length album. However, where Emotions And Math was a big guitar album, Devotion is built around synths and more electronic elements. After taking time off from touring to focus on her education with classes at Harvard, Glaspy’s new effort is true to its name. According to Caitlin White for Uproxx, Devotion “features twelve love songs that unflinchingly delve into the tender heart and dark underbelly of relationships, commitment, and romance.”

Nine Inch Nails — Ghosts V & VI

Trent Reznor surprised us last week with a tweet casually letting us know that there were two new full-length Nine Inch Nails albums available for free on their website, continuing the Ghosts series that the band launched in 2008 and did not speak about again until now. “Hours and hours of music,” Reznor said in his tweet. “Free. Some of it kind of happy, some not so much.” Perfect for quarantine! A fun fact about Ghosts from Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx: “In more recent times, Ghosts I-IV has become best known for “34 Ghosts IV,” which was sampled on Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road.’”

Trace Mountains — “Me & May”

After the dissolution if LVL Up in 2018, Dave Benton didn’t miss a beat before pivoting to his solo project Trace Mountains, releasing an LP before the end of that year. Now, Benton is back with Lost In The Country, the sophomore album from Trace Mountains. “Me & May, the latest sampling from the album, is “a loose story about past-life connections,” Benton said in a statement. The track features reverb-soaked guitars, Benton’s supreme knack for vocal melodies, and a bunch of other goodies.

Moon Taxi — “Hometown Heroes”

Nashville band Moon Taxi recently made a promise to give their fans something to remedy their cabin fever. “Hometown Heroes” is that remedy, an alt-rock track that sounds like it was made for the radio. Much of the instrumental melody is rooted around a ukulele, while digital flourishes give the track a uniquely modern feel. “We’ve been so excited to put this song out since the day we wrote it,” vocalist/guitarist Trevor Terndrup said in a statement. “More than anything, it is inspired by our long-lasting friendships. Putting it out into the world feels like the start of a new chapter for us but also an idealized look back. We hope it brings good memories to mind for you until we can create new ones together in the future.”

Christian Lee Hutson — “Talk”

Christian Lee Hutson’s new album Beginners was produced by Phoebe Bridgers, and promises a barrage of emotional songwriting with precise delivery. “Talk” is the latest offering from Beginners, a track that is lush with texture from string arrangements from Bright Eyes’ Nathaniel Walcott and features a strong narrative through-line. Thematically, according to Hutson, “Talk” tells “the story of a person, on the verge of parenthood, coming to terms with their relationship with their own absent parent.”

Pet Symmetry — “SS Decompressed”

Chicago emo heroes Pet Symmetry have been very quiet since the release of the Reflection EP in 2018. “SS Decompressed” is a welcome return for the trio, a ripper that reminds us why they were so awesome in the first place. The track’s chorus feels especially pertinent in today’s world, detailing a nightmare health care scenario: “An insurance claim! Nah. No way. Get real. No way. What the f*ck? Saving up our good will for a storm and a stroke of luck. Nah. No way. Get real. No way. What the f*ck? A prized possession wrecked, when the marriage of our lightning struck.” While we don’t have any official announcement of a new Pet Symmetry LP, it would seem as if the trio have music ready to roll out once the world calms down a bit.

Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Lizzo Donated Lunch To Hospital Workers Across The Country As Thanks For Fighting The Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for people around the world, and therefore, a number of charitable efforts have sprung up to help out. Lizzo decided she would do her part by helping to feed the people putting themselves in danger to keep folks safe: Lizzo has been donating lunches to hospital staffs around the country.

Yesterday, she shared a video highlighting some of the responses she has received from various medical centers — University of Washington Medicine Center Montlake Emergency Department, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and others. Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit shared the video that Lizzo made for them, presumably to play for the staff, in which she says, “I just wanted to say thank you so much for all you’re doing during this pandemic. It’s definitely not easy and you guys are putting yourselves on the front line, so because of that, I wanted to treat y’all to a meal. […] Lunch on me! I love you guys. Thank you so much for being the heroes in this story. We’re staying inside and praying and thinking of you every single day.”

She has helped out multiple hospitals in this way so far, and a rep tells Billboard that more are to come.

Check out posts about Lizzo’s generosity from some of the medical centers below.

Lizzo is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Kodak Black’s Attorney Says He’s Been Sentenced To 12 Months In His Federal Gun Case

Kodak Black has reportedly been sentenced to another 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to the federal weapons charges against him, according to his Florida lawyer, Bradford Cohen. Despite not working the case directly, Cohen shared the outcome of the case on his Instagram, writing that the case had been “resolved,” but shared his dissatisfaction with the handling of the case by the federal prosecutor.

“Some good news and some frustration in regards to Kodak Black,” Cohen wrote. “The case in New York is resolved. I was not his attorney on that case. Although it should have been completely dismissed, as it was for the other 2 individuals in the same car, who testified that Kodak knew nothing about the firearm in the vehicle, and it was registered and legal to one of the other individuals he was with, they agreed to 12 month to run concurrent with his current sentence.”

However, Cohen said, even the judge in the case was confused why charges were still being pursued despite Kodak already being locked up already. “Even the Judge asked the prosecutor why are they not dismissing. Kodak Black just wanted to resolve it so he doesn’t lose any time in federal. You see, when you are out of federal custody you lose that time on your federal case,” Cohen explained, clarifying that the time would actually push back Kodak’s release date after he was transferred to a New York State facility due to the coronavirus epidemic.

“Now with the Coronavirus, its unknown when they will pick him up due to this virus. BUREAU OF PRISONS @bureauofprisons needs to address these issues that federal inmates are credited back time they miss due to this outbreak. More information to follow this, as we really need to delve deep into how Kodak is being treated differently than any other inmate and any other defendant.”

Of course, Kodak seemed content to let the coronavirus last until his release date, so despite his attorney feeling that he’s receiving unfair treatment, it looks like the rapper himself doesn’t mind the extra time.

Kodak Black is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Clairo’s Lo-Fi ‘Everything I Know’ Demo Provides A Nostalgic Quarantine Escape

Clairo got her start after her demo “Pretty Girl” was posted to YouTube in 2017 and spread by the site’s algorithm. But Clairo has come a long way since making music from her bedroom. Produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, the singer’s debut album Immunity arrived last year. Clairo has since sold-out tours and graced festival stages, but she’s not done sharing music. The singer recently debuted a washed-out demo in February. Now, Clairo is back with yet another lo-fi track.

Clairo shared the demo “Everything I Wrote” for the internet-based Humble Records’ first volume of SoundCloud compilations. Written by Clairo last year, the demo calls back to her bedroom pop days with toned-down vocals and fuzzy guitars. The production is minimal but purposeful, crafting the distinct feeling of escaping to a nostalgic place. Droning guitars wash out Clairo’s tenor delivery as she sings of becoming distant from everything she knows. “Things I can’t control / Slip away before I know,” she sings on the demo.

Sharing the song to social media, Clairo wrote about the new demo: “‘Everything I Know’ a demo from earlier last year is featured on the Humble compilation vol. I,” she wrote.

Listen to Clairo’s “Everything I Know” above.

Immunity is out now via Fader. Get it here.

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Steven Spielberg Has Launched A Virtual ‘Movie Club’ With The American Film Institute

It’s not the same thing as watching Jurassic Park with the man himself, but it’s closest you, not-Jeff Goldblum, will get: director Steven Spielberg has launched a digital “movie club” with the American Film Institute. The daily virtual gathering is designed to “leverage our collective love of film on behalf of optimism,” according to AFI, and “[create] a communal viewing experience during these unprecedented times of social distancing.”

And with the first pick in the AFI Movie Club, Steven Spielberg has selected… The Wizard of Oz. “I know you think you’ve seen it, but please think again, because right now at this moment in our history what better message is there then, there’s no place like home?” he explained. I guess E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial would have been too obvious.

Other special guests will announce select AFI Movies of the Day in short videos posted on AFI.com and social media platforms. To watch the films, audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub. While audiences watch, the daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points, and exclusive material.

AFI hasn’t announced the next featured guest, but whoever it is, I hope they pick Freddy Got Fingered, a true movie classic (“Daddy, Would You Like Some Sausage?” > “Over the Rainbow”). For more information on the Movie Club, click here.

(Via the Hollywood Reporter)

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New COVID-19 test numbers show that Italy is close to flattening the curve

The big reason that people around the planet are social distancing is to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that fewer people need to seek treatment and hospitals are not overrun. Epidemiologists call this practice “flattening the curve.”

In Italy, the curve wasn’t flattened fast enough and hospitals became overloaded with patients fighting the deadly virus. So patients went without having ICU beds and hospitals suffered from a lack of basic supplies.

Italy has seen the most COVID-19 deaths in the world with over 11,500.


via Science Alert

Italy’s healthcare workers have paid a tremendous price for their bravery during the crisis. Sixty-three have died because of the virus and there has been an average of 600 new infections among these workers every day.

However, there is good news coming out of Italy. On Monday, the Italian Civil Protection Department announced a clear slowdown in the number of infected people. The number has only grown 2% to reach 75,528.

“We are witnessing a slowdown [of the outbreak],” Fabrizio Pregliasco, a virologist from the University of Milan, said according to Newsweek. “It is not plateau yet, but it is a good sign.”

The total number of those who have recovered from the virus had a sharp increase, reaching 14,620.

Although the outbreak hasn’t peaked, Italian experts believe it’s near.

via Reuters / Twitter

The disease’s progress may be slowing, but Italy is looking to extend its lockdown which was scheduled to lift on April 3. Reports show that it may be extended at least another two weeks.

“The measures expiring on April 3 will inevitably be extended,” regional affairs minister, Francesco Boccia, said according to Newsweek.

“I think that, at the moment, talking about re-opening is inappropriate and irresponsible,” he added.

Italy appears to have the highest death rate on the planet from the disease. China had a similar number of infections but only a third of the deaths of Italy.

A big reason is that only the most severe cases are being treated because Italy’s medical system has been completely overrun by the pandemic.

“We have a national healthcare system that works very well, especially in Lombardy — but even our system has been hit by this,” Dr. Massimo Galli, head of the infectious disease unit at Sacco Hospital in Milan, said according to CNN.

“Miracles have been done in multiplying the numbers of beds in hospitals,” he continued. But medicine “has been lacking — and this is a big problem that will be felt by other countries.”

Another major factor is that Italy has the second oldest population on the planet behind Japan. The average age for Italians who have died after testing positive for the virus is 78.

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Mom launches ‘Masks for Heroes’ website that matches requests with donors and volunteers

Becky Vieira says she felt helpless when she found out parents at her son’s preschool who are doctors and nurses were in need of personal protective equipment (PPE). Though she helped to spread the word, asking friends and family to donate any masks or other equipment they might have, it didn’t feel like enough.

As a mom blogger with a social media following and connections with other bloggers, Vieira says she decided to reach out beyond her local community.


“I turned to Instagram where I could leverage the platform I’ve built, and also connect with my network of other mom bloggers. I started by asking if we could all source and share PPE requests from family and friends, and the response was so great that I created a separate Instagram account dedicated to the cause. Within a day I had someone offer to build us a website, and by day four we were receiving international requests, had nine engineers working on it, designers, a digital marketing agency and a PR team join the cause. All pro bono. And we’re not done yet — we have an updated website in the works that will launch soon.”

The initiative is called Masks for Heroes. Through the website, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities can submit requests for PPE with delivery/drop-off instructions. Volunteers and donors can then go to the website to see what’s needed and help fill those needs.

“Donors can see exactly who needs PPE and choose where to send it, such as a local hospital in their area,” says Vieira. “They know exactly where their donation is going. We help requesters and donors meet and collaborate.”

Vieira says every PPE request is verified before it is listed on the website. Currently there are more than 200 requests from medical facilities listed, with 50 more awaiting verification. There’s even an interactive map to make it easy to find the needs of facilities in a specific area.

“We do not accept monetary donations and we are not involved in any monetary transactions,” Vieira adds, saying that there are scammers out there trying to profit off of the pandemic. This initiative is simply matches up the specific needs of medical professionals with people willing to provide those specific needs.

Since most of us don’t have PPE lying around our homes, that often means making and donating homemade masks. Not an ideal solution, but better than nothing in most cases.

Individuals and companies have quickly stepped up to help. Adrienn Braun, a fashion designer and owner of Adrienn Braun Bridal In Hoboken, New Jersey and her team are sewing approximately 100-150 masks a day. They’ve already shipped out 550 masks and have plans to make 2000 more.

A clothing manufacturer in Virginia, Kurdistan Godani, has sewn 300 masks so far. She’s delivered around 100 of those already and plans to make “hundreds more.” She says since she can’t sell clothes right now, she’ll use her fabric to sew masks.

Free People (from Urban Outfitters) is also taking part in the fulfillment, sewing masks for facilities requesting them.

“I am still in shock at how far we’ve come, and that we’re being supported like this,” says Vieira. “I’m so proud of the women I know who helped raise the initial awareness that led us to where we are today. Never doubt the power of moms.”

Anyone who has a little time to spare can get involved:

“We encourage anyone with N95 masks or other PPE supplies—gowns, surgical masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, etc.—to donate. Check your garage, look in your attic, search your house for any masks you may have forgotten you have. Ask your neighbors, friends and family to do the same. Call local construction companies! Many facilities are accepting hand sewn masks, and we have patterns and tutorials on our website, masksforheroes.com.

If someone doesn’t have masks and can’t sew (like me!), they can help us raise awareness of this situation. Follow us on social media, share posts, tag their friends. Share local requests to your social media pages and community groups. Anything helps.”

Vieira points out that there is some misinformation out there about homemade masks and their effectiveness during this pandemic. “People are saying it’s not worth making them as they don’t protect against the virus,” she says. “But these masks are often used for non-vital patients to free up PPE for others or to cover masks that healthcare workers are having to refuse—because many are being asked to wear single use masks for an entire week. At least they can wash the hand sewn masks between uses.”

“And yes, in other cases they actually are being used as the only protection,” she adds. “They are a last resort for many health care workers, and people need to realize that’s where we are: at the last resort.”

Check out the list of PPE needs in your area on the Masks for Heroes website and find out how you can help. Instructions for making masks can also be found on the site.

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For Any Parent About To Lose It, Spotify Kids Is Here To Help


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We’re Competing In The NBA 2K League’s Three For All Showdown, Here’s How You Can Watch

The NBA 2K League is in the midst of a tournament that looks to give fans a way to enjoy basketball during the NBA’s ongoing suspension due to COVID-19. The NBA 2K League Three for All Showdown, which was announced earlier this month, just finished up the fan portion of the festivities, and now, it’s moving into its second leg, which pits fans against a whole host of folks, from 2K League players to those who suit up in the NBA, WNBA, and NFL, among others.

Included in all of this is a trio of players from our very own website. Our social media ace, Tony Xypteras, our do-everything writer/editor, Ryan Nagelhout, and myself will fire up our Xboxes and compete as the 16-seed in the X Bracket. Our first-round matchup is against 17-seed Watch Us Work, which consists of three WNBA players: Alexis Jones, Allisha Gray, and Aerial Powers.

In classic 16-seed fashion (non-UMBC division), we are not optimistic about our chances, but if you would like to watch, there are a few avenues to do this. The festivities begin tonight at 8 p.m. EST, and our games — first to 21 wins, best two out of three, the finals are best three out of five — will begin around 10 p.m. We have our own Twitch channel (which, if you’d be so kind, subscribe!), and we’ll be streaming our game there, but you can follow along with all the action on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels.

I speak for all three of us when I say that our goal, first and foremost, is to have fun. From there, we hope to not lose by a ton of points and if we get extremely lucky, pick up a win or two. In the event we go on any sort of run, well, that would be nothing short of a miracle. Here are the brackets (XBox and PS4) and schedules for the entire tournament, and here’s the roster list for all of the teams in the field. Ryan, Tony, and myself would like to wish the best of luck to all of the other teams in the field, and to Watch Us Work, please don’t run up the score on us.