The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


'Sound City': Music And Memories In An L.A. Landmark

Jan 31, 2013
Originally published on March 4, 2013 11:25 am

Dave Grohl has always been a joy to watch onscreen, whether bashing away at a drum kit like the heavy-footed, wild-haired spawn of John Bonham and the Muppets' Animal in Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video, or flashing an endearingly goofy grin in the Mentos-spoof clip for the Foo Fighters' "Big Me." And a big part of that appeal is the sense that no matter how long he's been in the business, Grohl is still a guy who is acutely aware that he's living out a teenage daydream every day of his life.

His first turn behind the camera as a director is essentially an extension of that same feeling, a celebration of just how unbelievably awesome it is to make rock music for a living — not to mention being so successful at it that you can get your childhood heroes to come over and jam.

That's where Grohl's debut documentary ends up. But before getting to the part where he giddily hosts recording sessions with the likes of Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield and the artist formerly known as the cute Beatle, there's the small matter of the whole reason they're all here: Sound City Studios.

Opened in 1969, the L.A. recording studio would wind up becoming the go-to spot for the biggest acts in rock. The number of gold and platinum records that originated in the modest space is staggering, from Fleetwood Mac's Rumours to Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes. All of those artists — and plenty more — answer Grohl's call to participate in this tribute to one of the great rock 'n' roll landmarks, though one not so well-known outside the community of musicians themselves.

Grohl's own introduction to the space came during the recording of another seminal record. In mid-1991, Nirvana jumped in a van and drove down from Seattle to make Nevermind, launching their own superstardom as well as a second tidal wave of interest in Sound City (the first came after Springfield's 1981 hit).

Grohl talks about being initially unimpressed by the look of the studio — a sentiment echoed by nearly everyone he interviews; Sound City was kind of a dump, a junky dive bar of a studio, but that didn't change the fact that it was a room where extraordinary sounds could be recorded.

The first hour-plus of the film sticks close to a standard rockumentary template: a chronological history combining talking-head interviews with archival photos and video, with the addition of some slightly geeky audiophile technical discussions. Both of those could easily slip into dull mediocrity, but Grohl recognizes that filmmaking isn't so different from writing a good pop song: Take a familiar structure, throw in some nice hooks to keep things interesting and add plenty of personality and attitude, and a touch of indefinable artistic magic.

Grohl's jovial presence is the hook; playing interviewer and emcee as well as director, he's the catchy bit you welcome every time it returns. The star-studded interview list provides much of the personality and attitude, as does a fantastically tense behind-the-scenes video of Petty and his band laboring long hours to craft their breakthrough record.

The magical aspect is the alchemy created by Sound City's studio and its custom Neve mixing board; it's difficult to quantify, but you can hear it on every musical clip in the movie. That magical mixing board practically becomes the star of the movie.

In fact, the board is the real reason the documentary was made: When Sound City had to shut its doors, Grohl bought it and had it installed in his own studio. Once he's finished telling Sound City's story — smartly using the venue's dogged adherence to analog tape to simultaneously tell the story of the industry's shift to digital technology — the film moves on to Grohl's studio, and to the pure joy of making music.

It's here where things also start to feel a little over-indulgent. The film could have easily been cut to a trim, focused 90 minutes without lingering so much on these jams and recording sessions. After a while, they begin to feel like they belong in an entirely different movie.

But the 15-year-old aspiring rock star still residing in my head makes a compelling argument excusing Grohl's excesses here: If you could get Paul McCartney to come play with your band, would you be able to resist showing it off a little?

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