California’s 1846 Bear Flag Revolt

California’s 1846 Bear Flag Revolt

Anticipating the outbreak of war with Mexico, American settlers in California rebel against the Mexican government and proclaim the short-lived California Republic.The political situation in California was tense in 1846. Though nominally controlled by Mexico, California was home to only a relatively small number of Mexican settlers. Former citizens of the United States made up the largest segment of the California population, and their numbers were quickly growing. Mexican leaders worried that many American settlers were not truly interested in becoming Mexican subjects and would soon push for annexation of California to the United States. For their part, the Americans distrusted their Mexican leaders. When rumors of an impending war between the U.S. and Mexico reached California, many Americans feared the Mexicans might make a preemptive attack to forestall rebellion.

In the spring of 1846, the American army officer and explorer John C. Fremont arrived at Sutter’s Fort (near modern-day Sacramento) with a small corps of soldiers. Whether or not Fremont had been specifically ordered to encourage an American rebellion is unclear. Ostensibly, Fremont and his men were in the area strictly for the purposes of making a scientific survey. The brash young officer, however, began to persuade a motley mix of American settlers and adventurers to form militias and prepare for a rebellion against Mexico.

Emboldened by Fremont’s encouragement, on this day in 1846 a party of 33 Americans under the leadership of Ezekiel Merritt and William Ide invaded the largely defenseless Mexican outpost of Sonoma just north of San Francisco. Fremont and his soldiers did not participate, though he had given his tacit approval of the attack. Merritt and his men surrounded the home of the retired Mexican general, Mariano Vallejo, and informed him that he was a prisoner of war. Vallejo, who was actually a strong supporter of American annexation, was more puzzled than alarmed by the rebels. He invited Merritt and a few of the other men into his home to discuss the situation over brandy. After several hours passed, Ide went in and spoiled what had turned into pleasant chat by arresting Vallejo and his family.

Having won a bloodless victory at Sonoma, Merritt and Ide then proceeded to declare California an independent republic. With a cotton sheet and some red paint, they constructed a makeshift flag with a crude drawing of a grizzly bear, a lone red star (a reference to the earlier Lone Star Republic of Texas), and the words “California Republic” at the bottom. From then on, the independence movement was known as the Bear Flag Revolt.

After the rebels won a few minor skirmishes with Mexican forces, Fremont officially took command of the “Bear Flaggers” and occupied the unguarded presidio of San Francisco on July 1. Six days later, Fremont learned that American forces under Commodore John D. Sloat had taken Monterey without a fight and officially raised the American flag over California. Since the ultimate goal of the Bear Flaggers was to make California part of the U.S., they now saw little reason to preserve their “government.” Three weeks after it had been proclaimed, the California Republic quietly faded away. Ironically, the Bear Flag itself proved far more enduring than the republic it represented: it became the official state flag when California joined the union in 1850.

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8 Movies That Take Place In L.A.

8 Movies That Take Place In L.A.

When people refer to Los Angeles, most of the time they refer to downtown L.A., a central urban area populated by skyscrapers. Los Angeles County, on the other hand, is the 4,083 square mile region in Southern California which incorporates 88 official cities and 76 unincorporated communities, making it one of the most diverse areas in the world.

Areas such as the San Fernando Valley, South Central, Hollywood, Malibu, and Pasadena all fall under the blanket of Los Angeles County. As disparate as all these communities may be, Angelinos share many commonalities: the complex and often overcrowded freeway system, smog, constant construction, dry desert weather, and a thriving car culture, to name a few.

Los Angeles is also home to Hollywood, one of the biggest filmmaking capitals in the world. People from all over the world flock to L.A. with the hopes of “making it” in the movie industry. However, not all films shot in L.A. truly depict what it’s like to live in L.A.

The following films not only take place in the city of dreams, but offer some sort of commentary or history about life within this expansive, crime filled, smog-ridden, movie making desert city by the beach.

1. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Billy Wilder’s classic film dramatically depicts the tragic lives of the artists Hollywood has rejected. Set in Hollywood, where the movie industry is of central concern for the characters, the film highlights the characters’ desire to work within a business that doesn’t have room for them.

A struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis (William Holden), labors away at screenplays that aren’t selling. With rent on his studio apartment behind by three months and his car threatened of getting repossessed, he is desperately in need of a job. He stumbles into the driveway of an enormous dilapidated mansion on Sunset Boulevard, home to aging glamor queen of the 1920s, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), and her live-in servant Max (Erich von Stroheim).

Upon discovering Gillis is a writer, Norma takes him on as a ghost writer to her epic “come-back” film story idea. Gillis becomes prisoner to the lonely and delusional Norma, who cannot come to terms with her faded celebrity.

Both characters have been cast out of the Hollywood industry: Norma because of her age and her inability to keep up with the changes of modern Hollywood; Gillis because his story ideas don’t seem to adhere to the unstable demands of Hollywood’s production companies.

This film’s focus is Hollywood and ways in which artists are affected by the superficial and changeable nature of the movie business. Artists like Norma or Joe Gillis crumble in this place that values novelty and youth.

2. Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

This innovative film is recognized as one of the first mainstream movies to depict teenage angst. Set in the Los Angeles suburbs, Ray’s sensitive story depicts three middle-class teenagers and their chaotic emotional turmoil.

A teenage misfit, Jim Stark (James Dean), is new to a suburban L.A. town. He is brought into the local police station for being drunk and disorderly while his parents are out at a party. Upset at his parents’ constant arguing as well as the feeling that his father is being emasculated by his mother, Jim has no one to connect with. He meets Judy (Natalie Wood) and Plato (Sal Mineo); both also frustrated and upset at their unaffectionate and absent parents.

The three become confidants after a teenage punk is killed racing Jim to the edge of a bluff in a game of “chicken.” On the run from a group of punks who believe Jim snitched to the police, the three friends hide out in an abandoned mansion in the Hollywood hills.

Unlike many films made during the 50s, this film ventures out of the studio. We see authentic locations in Los Angeles. L.A.’s Griffith Observatory, overlooking the L.A. grid, is featured twice in the film as an important spot for the three friends.

The exteriors of the high school that Jim, Judy, and Plato attend is Santa Monica High School, the real life alumni of which include: Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, and Robert Downey, Jr. Interestingly, the abandoned mansion where the friends hide out is the Getty Mansion, a property once owned by oil-tycoon and art collector J. Paul Getty, and where Sunset Boulevard was also shot.

As well as featuring recognizable sites around L.A., the film also shows the suburban neighborhoods with white picket fences to illustrate the sunny veneer beneath which these teenagers are facing their emotional anguish.

3. The Exiles (Kent Mackenzie, 1961)

Kent Mackenzie’s film offers a rare glimpse into the lives of Native Americans living in the historic Bunker Hill district during the early 1960s. Shot with documentary-style realism, the film examines the everyday lives of Native American friends within the bustling city of downtown L.A.

The film follows a group of Native American friends, playing themselves, as they wander the streets of downtown Los Angeles one night, drinking and socializing. Mackenzie mixes unscripted voice-over interviews with improvised scenes of the friends hanging out at bars and dancing on “Hill X,” overlooking the city.

The Bunker Hill district in downtown L.A. was originally designed with Victorian style houses in the mid-19th century as a neighborhood for the well-to-do.

In the face of urban growth, wealthier residents began leaving, in lieu of the suburbs of Pasadena or the Westside. In post-war years, Bunker Hill became a slum area, housing people in poverty- like L.A.’s Native American and Latino population. Today the neighborhood is home to high-rises and cultural spaces, such as the MOCA, the Broad Art Museum, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

This film expertly mixes pseud-documentary social commentary with modern realist filmmaking, discussing the displacement of Native Americans from their indigenous lands, as well as addressing the ambitions of the poverty-stricken youth hoping for better lives for themselves in Los Angeles.

4. The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

Altman’s version of the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel sets Philip Marlowe in 1970s Los Angeles. Although the story deviates from the book, the film provides a fantastic, somewhat comic re-interpretation of the hardboiled detective genre. Altman establishes the classic private investigator character in Los Angeles’ scenic, modern setting, updating and satirizing the genre at the same time.

Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) is feeding his fussy cat when his old friend Terry Lennox (played by baseball player Jim Bouton) asks for a ride to Tijuana. Marlowe agrees. Upon his return, Marlowe is confronted by two police detectives asking about the whereabouts of Lennox, accused of murdering his wife, Sylvia Lennox.

Refusing to provide any information, Marlowe is jailed by the police for three days. He learns soon thereafter that Lennox apparently committed suicide in Mexico, which provides the police with a satisfactory completion of their case. They quickly free Marlowe. However, Marlowe is suspicious of this news and starts investigating, soon becoming entangled in a larger scheme.

This “neo-noir” crime film places a suited, chain-smoking 1950s-eque private investigator within the relaxed, hippie-filled L.A. of the 1970s.

Elements of the city’s modernity are everywhere: Marlowe’s apartment in the Hollywood hills is full of stoner, hippie neighbors; Marlowe is asked to search for Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden), alcoholic writer, whom he discovers at a private detox clinic (Detox clinic? Did someone say L.A.?); Marlowe’s catch phrase, “It’s okay with me,” typifying his relaxed yet sardonic attitude.

The classic detective genre is satirized by Altman’s film, which immerses the loyal Philip Marlowe in Los Angeles’ decadence of the 1970s.

5. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

Polanski’s classic film, consistently ranked as one of the best films ever made, tells the story of private investigator, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), who becomes caught in a whirlwind mystery of corruption and murder as he investigates the actions and then death of Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for L.A.’s Department of Water and Power.

Gittes is approached by a woman who identifies herself as Mrs. Mulwray, who hires him to investigate her husband. A scandal breaks out when he takes photos of Mr. Mulwray in the arms of another woman.

The real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) confronts Gittes, explaining that he was tricked. Soon thereafter, Mr. Mulwray ends up dead by drowning in an apparent murder. Gittes quickly begins to uncover the sordid facts of Los Angeles’ stolen water supply, as well as the dirty details of Mrs. Mulwray’s personal life.

The film is based on true Los Angeles history in regards to the misconduct of Southern California’s water supply, led by civil engineer William Mulholland. In the early 1910-1920s, large amounts of water were diverted from the Owens Valley into Los Angeles in an effort to expand L.A.’s population. This caused a major drought and agricultural problem in the Owen’s Valley, resulting in a violent conflict between local famers and L.A. water officials.

A neo-noir, this film portrays Los Angeles as a dark place filled with shady dealings. It is a place where corruption thrives and informed people are virtually powerless to stop it.

6. The Decline of Western Civilization (Penelope Spheeris, 1981)

Penelope Spheeris’ rockumentary documents the L.A. punk scene during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The film mixes concert footage from a variety of punk bands (such as X, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Fear) with interviews with the bands, club owners, record owners, and locals analyzing the punk scene.

This film is the first part of a trilogy of documentaries examining the emergence of various rock music coming from Los Angeles in the 1980s through the 1990s. It acts as a time capsule of the budding hardcore punk scene in Los Angeles as it records the wild performers and audience members. During the time, hardcore punk did not receive much coverage in magazines or on the radio, perhaps due to its controversial, rebellious content.

This makes the film all the more valuable, since it captures the raw moments on stage and in the mosh pit, which were not widely seen in film before this time. It attempts to understand the nature of punk music and the punk lifestyle that manifested during this period in Southern California.

7. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

This neo-noir, set in 2019, captures a gritty, dystopian side of L.A. With this futuristic action thriller, Ridley Scott envisions what Los Angeles may become in the no-so-distant future.

The story occurs during a time when bioidentical artificial intelligence, called “replicants,” are being put to use on off-planet colonies. Replicants are banned from coming to Earth, but a handful have escaped and are hiding out in L.A.– possibly to contact their powerful manufacturer, the Tyrell Corporation, and attempt to extend their four year lifespan. Ex-police agent and “Blade Runner” Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is given the job to track down and “retire” the replicants.

The production design, lighting, and cinematography is highly stylized in this film, and all come together nicely to give Los Angeles a sleek, yet decaying feel. The L.A. skyline is crowded with neon signs, smoke stacks, and giant skyscrapers, making it feel as though the characters are living within an industrial wasteland.

There are remnants of the old fashioned, Art Deco-esque architecture authentic to Los Angeles, which in the film seems to be crumbling beneath the high tech expansion in this futuristic city. Smoke and shadows mysteriously engulf the characters in this world where human and robot are indistinguishable.

8. Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984)

This bizarre cult film uses the landscape of downtown Los Angeles as the framework of the film’s unusual story. One part sci-fi, one part action, one part dark comedy, Repo Man utilizes downtown L.A.’s concrete jungle as the backdrop to the film’s rough, delinquent characters.

Emilo Estevez plays Otto, a young punk feeling his way through the world, looking for sex, work, and purpose. He becomes involved with a kooky group of Repo men, led by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), who take Otto under their collective wing. Meanwhile, government agents seek a mysterious Chevy Malibu, apparently carrying radioactive alien material. The film erupts into chaotic absurdity when the repo agency confronts the government, a rival repo group, and the radioactive Malibu worth $20,000.

Robby Müller’s fantastic cinematography frequently makes use of long shots, placing the characters within the landscape of L.A. Barren concrete streets, telephone poles, highway bridges, and neon lights surround the characters at all times.

Müller shoots half of the film with the characters inside their stolen or repossessed cars, creating the appropriate atmosphere of L.A.’s vagabond car culture. Although the film’s story is eccentric and sometimes uneven, the depiction of Los Angeles’ raw 1980s punk scene feels no less authentic.

When people refer to Los Angeles, most of the time they refer to downtown L.A., a central urban area populated by skyscrapers. Los Angeles County, on the other hand, is the 4,083 square mile region in Southern California which incorporates 88 official cities and 76 unincorporated communities, making it one of the most diverse areas in the world.

Areas such as the San Fernando Valley, South Central, Hollywood, Malibu, and Pasadena all fall under the blanket of Los Angeles County. As disparate as all these communities may be, Angelinos share many commonalities: the complex and often overcrowded freeway system, smog, constant construction, dry desert weather, and a thriving car culture, to name a few.

Los Angeles is also home to Hollywood, one of the biggest filmmaking capitals in the world. People from all over the world flock to L.A. with the hopes of “making it” in the movie industry. However, not all films shot in L.A. truly depict what it’s like to live in L.A.

The following films not only take place in the city of dreams, but offer some sort of commentary or history about life within this expansive, crime filled, smog-ridden, movie making desert city by the beach.

This article originally appeared on

15 Things You Don’t Know About California

15 Things You Don’t Know About California

  1. California joined the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, in 1848. The U.S. paid Mexico $15 million for war damages. In turn, Mexico ceded nearly half of its territory, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. California officially became a state (the 31st) in 1850.
  1. California was originally known as the Grizzly Bear State. As California boomed—and the bear population was wiped out—it became the Golden State.
  1. The grizzly bear on California’s current state flag is a tribute to Monarch, a 1,200-lb. wild California grizzly bear captured by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (or, rather, the reporter he hired, Allen Kelley) in 1899. Monarch was sent to San Francisco, where he was a star attraction at Woodward’s Garden and then Golden Gate Park until his death in 1911. The last reported sighting of a wild California grizzly bear was in 1924.
  1. While Monarch is front and center on California’s official state flag, which was adopted in 1911, the bear flag image dates back to 1846, two years before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. A group of Americans who’d settled in California, which was then part of Mexico, feared they’d be expelled. They invaded the Mexican outpost at Sonoma and captured the retired general Mariano Vallejo. A few days later, they raised a flag that featured a red star and crudely drawn grizzly and declared the land the California Republic.
  1. And who designed the original flag? William Todd, nephew of Mary Todd Lincoln. It’s a small historical world.
  1. The one-word state motto, an exclamation-point-less “Eureka,” hearkens back to the exciting days of the Gold Rush. But the exclamation of “Eureka!” is attributed to the Greek scholar Archimedes. According to legend, he had an epiphany as he stepped into a bathtub and watched the water level rise—he realized that the volume of the displaced water was equal to the volume of the foot he’d submerged. And then he ran out of the room to tell others about his discovery… while he was completely naked. (More on whether that ever actually happened here.)
  1. California is the only state that’s hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
  1. California is the most populous state (and the third largest by area). To put California’s population, approximately 38 million people, in perspective, one out of every eight Americans is from California.
  1. The fortune cookie was inspired by the Japanese fortune tradition o-mikuji and invented in California.
  1. I can haz state recognition? In 1973, the sabre-tooth cat, Smilodon californicus, became California’s state fossil. A year earlier, Assemblyman W. Craig Biddle had nominated the cockroach-like trilobite for the honor. Nearly 2,000 museum curators and fossil experts backed him, but the bill never made it to a vote. A year later, the sabre-tooth cat made it to the floor and passed. The one no-vote? Senator W. Craig Biddle.
  1. Despite living in Los Angeles—a city known for its traffic—for 78 years, writer Ray Bradbury never learned to drive.
  1. California’s most famous for its Gold Rush which began in 1848, but it also had a Silver Rush in the Calico Mountains from 1881 to 1896. By 1904, Calico was a ghost town.
  1. The mineral benitoite can be found in California, Japan, and Arkansas, but only San Benito County, California, has it in gemstone-quality deposits. The California State Gem Mine in Coalinga allows the public to dig and take home a quart-sized bag of treasure.
  1. Thousands of U.S. banks failed after the 1929 stock market crash—by 1933, only 11,000 were left. All of San Francisco’s banks, however, survived.
  1. The highest point in the contiguous U.S., 14,494-foot Mt. Whitney, is only 76 miles from the lowest point in the contiguous U.S., Death Valley. They’re both in Calif— well, you know.

This article originally appeared on

Magic Camp Comes To Moorpark

Recently, Disney filmed a feature length movie called “Magic Camp” at the High Street Arts Center. This film stars Adam Devine (“Pitch Perfect,” “Workaholics”), Gillian Jacobs (“Community,” “Girls”) and Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent,” “The Larry Sanders Show”). The film is being directed by Mark Waters (“Bad Santa 2,” and “Mean Girls”). This movie is geared towards family audiences, but is guaranteed to be enjoyable for all age groups. Also, Magic Camp is likely to conjure up some laughs due to the fact that several of the people associated with this movie have been in comedic roles before.

The Walt Disney Company filmed a portion of Magic Camp inside of the High Street Arts Center. During production, they had to temporarily renovate portions of the theater to make it better fit the tone and feel of the movie, as well as modernize portions of it. Filming at the theater took place over the course of three weeks, and it shot at the theater for ten days. It is also worth noting that this was the largest production to ever take place on East High Street, which is saying something because a number of Hollywood productions have been filmed there before including Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise.”

Magic Camp stars Tambor as Roy Preston, the owner of a summer camp for child magicians. Devine plays Andy, a former camper whose magical career has taken a turn for the worse. Because of Andy’s unfortunate circumstance, he decides to become a counselor at the camp. Although a rating for this movie has yet to be announced, it is suspected that the film will either be given a G or a PG rating.

You might be wondering why the City of Moorpark specifically was chosen to have a portion of this movie filmed there, and the answer has to do with a database system that Hollywood has. Essentially, there is a database system that exists that outlines different places where filming has taken place in the past, and when a movie, music video, television show or web series needs a locale, they refer back to this database/catalog for the kind of location they need. As it can be assumed since Moorpark is so close to Los Angeles and Burbank where most of the studios reside, it makes sense that they would venture out to nearby areas for unique filming opportunities.

Magic Camp is slated for a 2017 release. So when it hits theaters, make sure to buy a ticket and see it; if for no other reason you will be seeing Moorpark represented in a major motion picture.

Top Music Cities That Aren’t New York Or LA

Top Music Cities That Aren’t New York Or LA

If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that music happens in one of two cities: New York or Los Angeles. These are the places you go if you really want to make it big — if you want to pay exorbitant amounts to live in a crumbling apartment and slowly lose all creative energy.

It’s true, you can find music in these cities. But they aren’t the only — or even the best — places for young music lovers in America. The best music in the country typically comes from where you’d least expect it — the tight-knit, weirder scenes outside the mainstream. The following are some of the best cities in the country for young musicians — places with rich histories and bold musical futures:

Palm Desert, California

The Palm Desert scene is exactly what the name might suggest: A distinct brand of sludgy, psychedelic alternative rock churned by heavy groups like Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme, frontman of the latter group, even created the Desert Sessions, a series of recordings with artists from the scene who pay tribute to the idiosyncratic movement. It’s worth noting that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the world’s largest music events, is held right next door in Indio, California, and bands from the Palm Desert Scene are often represented.

Athens, Georgia

Best known as the college rock town responsible for cultural icons like REM and the B-52s, Athens maintained a consistent iconoclastic identity by becoming an indie hotspot. In the past decade, bands like Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel and the rest of the famed Elephant 6 collective gave the town major indie cred. Ever since, Local venues like the 40 Watt Club are a great spot to see these bands and similar less prominent groups on the rise.

East Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville isn’t all country. On the outskirts of the country music capital of the world sits an ideal destination for groups looking to gain footing in the indie world and for fans looking to witness their ascent. The rent is cheap, the venues are diverse and plentiful, and groups like the Kopecky Family Band are almost always playing somewhere close by. The city’s proximity to Nashville doesn’t hurt, either.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Research Triangle, consisting of Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, was named for the universities it houses, but the college-centric region has also become a hotbed for local talent and live shows. Its most notable exports include indie folk superstars The Avett Brothers, power pop trio Ben Folds Five and swing revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers, among an eclectic variety of others. Come here for beautiful college town real estate, stay for basically every kind of music you can imagine.

Berkeley, California

While Boston’s Berklee College of Music educates eager young musicians, the Berkeley on the other side of the country is a bit rougher around the edges. It was at the forefront of punk’s repopularization in the U.S. Bands like Green Day, The Offspring and Sublime emerged from the scene, and the seminal 924 Gilman Street venue where these bands began their journeys remains a hotspot for similar bands today.

Provo, Utah

This small town in Utah has produced two of the most talked about acts of the past year: Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees. When the bands became national chart-topping success stories, the fledging Utah city was revitalized by the increased attention it received. The city began a series of downtown development projects in 2009 and ever since, venues like Velour Live Music Gallery and events like the Summer Rooftop Concert Series have been the highlights of a newly flourishing city that now boasts a thriving music scene.

Olympia, Washington

Any Washington city is going to have a hard time escaping the musical shadow of Seattle, but Olympia’s rich history has helped it carve its own unique identity: it was an important part of the riot grrrl scene in the ‘90s, which produced bands like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill. Indie rock group Modest Mouse recorded their legendary debut album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, in the city. It isn’t just in the past though — to this day the avant-garde music scene brings in more than $88.3 million in revenue annually, Billboard reports.

Richmond, Virginia

Virginia’s capital city has long been home to one of the most active punk rock scenes on the East Coast, featuring myriad venues for hardcore and metal bands to gain exposure. Notable exports that include GWAR and Lamb of God, but the city is full of harder sounding bands waiting for their chance to break. Opportunity exists for artists of a gentler persuasion too, though — singer-songwriter Aimee Mann and neo-soul singer D’Angelo have emerged from the area.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Perhaps Minnesota isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of hip-hop, but Minneapolis has a thriving underground rap scene. This is due to the presence of Rhymesayers Entertainment, Minnesota’s largest hip-hop record label that has seen some of its homegrown talent — most notably Eyedea & Abilities and Atmosphere — achieve national success. But if rap isn’t your thing, rock bands Soul Asylum and The Replacements also hail from Minneapolis, and the Twin Cities area hosts a variety of festivals every year.

Denton, Texas

Austin keeps it weird and its annual hosting of the hugely popular South by Southwest festival has cemented it as the musical center of Texas. But a couple 100 miles north, Denton has been emerging as the heart of Texan independent music for some time. In 2008, Paste Magazine named the city’s music scene the best in the country. Denton has also come up with its own answer to SXSW: 35 Denton, a scrappy music festival that has previously featured bands like The Flaming Lips, Solange Knowles, Reggie Watts and many others. Denton is also home to iconic indie rock band, Midlake.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha’s musical identity began as a hub for African-American jazz and blues musicians in the ’20s and ’30s, but today, country-flavored indie rock, known as the “Omaha Sound,” defines the area. Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records was an early proponent of the movement and its roster today includes artists like Cursive, Tokyo Police Club and Conor Oberst (most notably of Bright Eyes), whose brother, Justin, co-founded the label in 1993. The scene remains strong to this day, bolstering the careers of many young folk musicians.

This article originally appeared on

Scott Juceam: Entrepreneur and Advocate

Scott Juceam: Entrepreneur and Advocate

Scott Juceam is a Southern California entrepreneur that started The Tax Defense Group, a tax company that helps people deal with the IRS and back taxes. The Tax Defense Group, as a company, possesses a team that has more than 50 years of combined experience in the tax industry. Everyone is responsible for paying their taxes, but sometimes people make mistakes and end up owing more money to the IRS. This is what Juceam’s company specializes in. The Tax Defense Group helps taxpayers exercise their right to defend their income and settle back taxes instead of facing harsh IRS collection action(s).

Scott Juceam, and the team at The Tax Defense Group, never make false promises about how much money they can save their clients. However, they have had a 100% success rate in easing the tax burdens of all their clients through their negotiations with the IRS.

In addition to running The Tax Defense Group, Scott Juceam advocates for the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). In May 2006, Juceam’s life changed forever when his infant daughter, Hannah Rose Juceam, was pronounced dead after being left in the care of her nanny. The nanny admitted to shaking the child in order to wake her, and spent two years in custody for charges of murder and child abuse. However, despite the evidence and the 10-2 jury ruling in favor of guilty, the case eventually ended in a mistrial. In the 11 years since the tragic event, Juceam has dedicated his life to preventing SBS.

“It feels like yesterday, and it feels like 100 years ago,” said Scott Juceam, when asked about his daughter’s passing. “There’s a learning lesson in a decade… I’ve learned how to take this terrible pain and try to share it in a way that is tempered right, where people will be inspired or motivated to do something.” As of today, Juceam has given more than 500 speeches to first responders, and other people who need to understand the pain that SBS brings.

“Before my daughter took her last breath, that is where I told her, ‘I promise you that I will let the world know who you are, and I will do everything I can to stop Shaken Baby Syndrome from existing.”

The case with Hannah Rose Juceam ended in a mistrial due to the testimony of a false “expert” witness. In recent years, there have been several of these “expert” witnesses taking the stand in cases involving SBS, who question the validity of SBS diagnoses. Because of this, Scott also advocates that there be proper vetting performed on all expert witnesses involved in SBS trials.

Every year in April, the nation observes Child Abuse Prevention Month, and one of the ways that Juceam is currently helping fight Shaken Baby Syndrome is through raising awareness of it. City councils, schools, and universities around the country are spreading awareness of child abuse issues, through planting “pinwheel gardens”. The gardens symbolize solidarity with children who have been abused, and create an opportunity for passerby to learn about how they can also help to prevent child abuse.

Today, Scott Juceam continues to fight against Shaken Baby Syndrome, and against child abuse altogether.

To learn more about Scott, visit his website by clicking here. Or you can visit his blog by clicking here.