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Archive for July, 2007

SPORTO: The Tour De Farce

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

blooddoping.thumbnail.jpgBY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY I’m pretty bummed about the Tour de France. I watch every year and I love it — partly because of the complicated strategies that play out in what is really more a team event than an individual one, and partly because of the pure machismo on display during the crucial mountain climbs. And more than anything, I enjoy watching because no event takes place on such a glorious playing field . . . day after day, the views of sweeping vistas, majestic mountains and ancient castles are breathtaking. On some days, the scenery is even better than the race.

It’s too bad something so beautiful can turn so ugly.

The sport of cycling was already awash with drug and doping scandals. Then this week, “Vino” (Alexandre Vinokurov), the world’s 2nd most famous Kazak and a pre-race favorite, got busted with someone else’s blood in his veins. This is a little strange, as “blood doping” involves drawing your own blood, centrifuging out the plasmatourdefrance.jpg to leave a concentration of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, then re-injecting said blood at a later date. For Vino to have someone else’s blood in him sounds like 25-years-behind-the-times Kazakhstani cheating. And no, it wasn’t Borat’s blood. Vino was a hero to many and was always described as having “heart” and “guts,” both of which are still assumes, at this point, to be his own. Still, this whole episode reminds me of the time Spinal Tap’s drummer choked to death on vomit — somebody else‘s vomit.
Wednesday’s stage, the last in the mountains, was won by Michael Rasmussen, as he virtually assured himself of the overall Tour de France victory. But by Wednesday night, Rasmussen was off the Tour, pulled from competition by his own team for lying about his whereabouts before the race, when he missed two random drug tests (he said he was in Mexico but was spotted in Italy). What’s messed up is that all this was known before the Tour began, but his team waited until he had virtually won it before pulling the plug. I guess they were hoping he’d do poorly so they wouldn’t have to bother? Certainly the team sponsor gets more publicity this way.

After Vino was busted, I told my wife that I think they are all doing it . . . all the contenders, anyway. If putting potentially damaging substances in your body is worth it because of the competitive advantage it delivers, how is anybody keeping up with the cheaters unless they are doing it, too? I just figure some teams are better at it than others. With Rasmussen out, two of the top three riders are from the only American team, Team Discovery Channel. It doesn’t strain credulity to believe that the Americans are just better at cheating than the other teams. After all, Lance Armstrong has never failed a drug test and yet won — dominated — seven straight Tours against a field that was full of cheaters. Guilty or not, I hope Armstrong is never caught — if only because it would damage all the tremendous work done through his “LIVESTRONG” Foundation. Anyway, the race ends on Sunday and I’m gonna watch it until the proverbial fat lady sings, even if I have to do a little doping myself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Wolverton spent two seasons as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Atlantic City Surf and has also had stints as an official scorer, public address announcer and two years as a hockey broadcaster. This year he is play-by-play announcer and official scorer of his newborn son. In between, he will be writing about sports for Phawker.

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WORD GIRL: Today’s Word Is ‘Cumbersome’

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

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PBS’ first venture into cartoon edutainment for kids, but smart enough for grown-ups and stoned college students. Premiers this fall. Tell the children.

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KILLADELPHIA: 1 More Dead Since U Went To Bed

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

skeleton-running.gifPolice had no initial suspects and no immediate motive in a Wednesday night shooting in North Philadelphia that left a 17-year-old dead, and a 49-year-old man wounded in stable condition. The incident happened around 9:45pm near 24th Street and Lehigh Avenue. The 17-year- old male was dead on arrival at Temple University Hospital. The 49-year-old man was admitted to the same hospital with a leg wound. [via KYW]

RELATED: This just in from Jeff Deeney in the comments section. “We moved a client off this block (Judson Street) last year, she said they had to keep all their beds as close to the center of the house as possible because bullets used to come through the walls at night. Nasty, nasty neighborhood, that one. The one blessing is that corner kids tend to not be so good at hitting targets. So the homicide map isn’t necessarily the best indicator of how warlike a neighborhood is. This is the first homicide on Judson this year but you’ll notice 8 shootings so far in a block radius from this intersection on the shooting map. The shooting map, of course, only documents when someone got hit, so even that isn’t a very good indicator of how many random gun firings or gun battles go down where no one got hurt. If you’re living on a block like this, it doesn’t matter if nobody got hurt in a gun battle if the bullets came through your front window. The woman I know who lived on this street reported never being able to go out after dark and rarely being able to let her children go out at all. I guess I’m saying it’s worse than the numbers would lead you to believe. There’s a lot of metal flying around out there and it terrorizes the people living on the block whether it hits someone or not.”


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PAPERBOY: Special Kill, Kill, Kill Edition

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

paperboyart.thumbnail.jpgBY AMY Z. QUINN Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right — these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. Hey, we know how it is — so many words to read, so little time to surf for free porn. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you, freeing up valuable nanoseconds that can now be better spent roughing up the suspect over at Suicide Girls or what have you. Every week we pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey caramel center each edition. Why? Because we like you.


PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: File this under Great Pickup Lines In History: “You guys ever have sex in an alley? It’shead.jpg awesome.” This comes from St. John Barned-Smith’s story on the beating death of a 215 crusty punk and the arrest of two crusty clowns for the crime, a piece that is impressive in its reporting, rife with chilling detail, telling quotes and — best of all — straight-ahead writing, save for a gorgeous closing section. It also reveals just how not “lost” is this generation of 21st Century neo-hobos:

One posting on a MySpace page where several members of the online crusty community discussed the murder said he was “a world-class hockey player” who once participated in the United States Olympic Elite Athlete program. According to their records, Bradly played on the U.S. Roller Hockey team when he was 15.

Seriously, this guy’s an intern? Do yourselves a favor and hire him with the quickness, because that story was definitely one for the resume clip file.

cp_2007-07-26.jpgCITY PAPER: Look, we’ve all heard the police commissioner make his favorite comment, about how when kids are shot in the street, nobody sees anything, but let the cops shoot someone — in this case, a guy standing in the middle of a South Philadelphia intersection, probably stoned out of his gourd and definitely waving a gun around — and suddenly everybody’s a witness. Of course, there is a kind of logic in that statement, but as a community relations strategy, it doesn’t hold water. Not the drinkable kind, anyway. Steven “Butter” Miller died in a blizzard of hot cop lead, 85 shots in all, in the intersection of Taney and Tasker, a seemingly inexplicable end to a seemingly normal day revealed in detailed reporting by Tom Namako and Doron Taussig. It’s a complicated story about a complicated set of challenges facing the city, and reveals some uncomfortable details about the state of policing in the city of Philadelphia.

“Even someone who thinks Butter deserved what he got has to be worried when police miss their target 65 times, and let their bullets sail off into what residents say was a bustling neighborhood.”


PW: Over in Pop Rocks, the menfolk are acting up — tough-guy wallets, cheapass rum, Zombie Tag, and an almost incomprehensible ode to the dork superhero of a graphic novel! Will someone get these guys laid, please? Liz Spikol on Walking Broad, that new book about walking down Broad Street (of course, it’s much more than that). Trying to read PW online using the city’s EarthLink wireless? How’s that workin’ for ya?

CP: Bruce Shimmel bitchslaps Reading Terminal with some way-crisp salad greens he just bought at the Headhouse Farmer’s Market. The hard truth? That Reading Terminal is not in danger of turning “just a food court and tourist trap” — it’s already been that way for a while now. A CD review of some recently-discovered old-timey smut recordings — aww, and just a bit too late for my birthday. OK, sneaking into someone’s house to paw at their stuff is weird, but to steal the ashes of a beloved doggie now gone to his reward? That’s deep.

WINNER: CP, With 84 Shots Left Over

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NPR 4 THE SIMPSONS: We Hear It Even When U D’oh!

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

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Al Jean knows Marge, Homer, Bart and the gang better than almost anyone. He’s executive producer and writer for The Simpsons, and he’s been with the show since it began. The new Simpsons movie, he’s beenhomer_brain.jpg heard to say, is about “what happens when a man doesn’t listen to his wife.” Nancy Cartwright‘s work is widely heard and well loved, but not many people know it’s her. She’s the voice of Bart Simpson on TV’s The Simpsons — and in the long-awaited feature film that hits theaters this week.

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Why “The Simpsons” remain so popular. Tomorrow the Simpsons’ first feature film opens in theaters. This follows 18 seasons on the Fox Network, making it the longest-running sitcom on American TV. We’ll talk about how this show has not only changed the television industry, but also has become so ingrained in American pop-culture. Our guest is MATT McALLISTER, who wrote the latest entry on The Simpsons for The Encyclopedia of Television. He is an associate professor of film, video and media at Pennsylvania State University.

daviddyenpr.jpgTHE WORLD CAFE

Tenor sax master, Sonny Rollins, stops by the World Café with David Dye to discuss his legendary career. Rollins took on the jazz world in the 1940s with his remarkable gift for transforming songs of various genres into eclectic jazz arrangements. He continues to influence the jazz world with his latest release, Sonny, Please. In the second hour, the Summer Reading Series continues; author Mitch Myers comes by to talk about his new book, Boy Who Cried Freebird.


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THE EARLY WORD: Your Own Private Idaho

Thursday, July 26th, 2007


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GAYBO: Hairspray Is SO Gay; Tammy Faye, Less So

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

gaybo1.thumbnail.JPGBY TOMMY ZANE GAYDAR EDITOR The Broadway musical Hairspray slammed theatres last weekend with an all-star cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah and a fat-suited, dragged-up John Travolta in the Divine role of Edna Turnblad. I managed to catch the film with two girlfriends — both born and raised in Baltimore — last Tuesday night. Now, these babes are huge fans of the original John Waters 1988 cult fav, so I listened to their review with bated breath. I’m happy to report that we absolutely loved it!

Newcomer Nikki Blonsky, as fat girl-turned-TV dance show star Tracy Turnblad, brought a lot of talent andhairspray_half_face.jpg energy to the screen. We all agreed that the kids, including Elijah Kelley, Taylor Park and High School Musical star Zac Efron, brought just the right amount of truth to the 1962 race relations storyline and propelled the film far beyond its obvious Grease comparisons. The film was chock full of amazing dance sequences, including the opening scene and song, “Good Morning Baltimore” and total over-the-top finale, “You Can’t Stop The Beat.”

Even industry veteran Michelle Pfeiffer dazzled the screen as ultra bitch and racist sore loser, Velma Von Tussle. Her fab rendition of “(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs” commands your attention, and the 50ish actress still sets the screen a-sizzle, even among the much younger performers. My Baltimore girlfriends thought John Travolta was utterly hysterical as overweight Edna Turnblad, but I thought he was awkward and miscast. Travolta’s Edna was dowdy and lacked self-esteem, something Divine never had short supply of in the original film. There are a couple of slow, self-indulgent songs, including a way-too-long Walken/Travolta duet and a Pfeiffer/Walken seduction scene that seems a bit out of place, but as soon as Nikki Blonsky returns to the screen (with strong back-up from Queen Latifah and Zac Efron), the film bounces along again. The utterly adorable James Marsden, as TV show host Corny Collins, is stunning in a gorgeous ’60s-era suit, as are all the costumes and set pieces in this strong production by Chicago’s Oscar-winning producer, Craig Zadan. The film’s openly gay director, Adam Shankman, sets the screen on fire with this flaming romp. This one is going to surprise many who wrote it off as a mediocre hit. Hairspray spotlights ’60s-era race relations and propels the movie musical into the 21st Century. Gaybo gives it ****/5 snaps up!

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On the death of Tammy Faye Bakker, I think Dumpsta’ Player and Philly drag star Nueva Gabor said it best: “Goodbye, sweet Princess, we shall always hold you in our deepest regard. Tammy, you will be remembered not only for your ministry, but your legacy and your dated taste in clothing. You will be admired, mostly, for your undying love of a cruel, senseless world. A world that shunned overly obsessive eyelashes, those that made you feel pretty! You are the only beauty that has ever loved, lost and found salvation in an eyebrow pencil! Your death will shake the very foundation of Cover Girl!”

Tammy Faye speaks up on Larry King Live about “The Gay People”:
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Bound for jail paparazzi hog/druggie Lindsay Lohan + 64-year-old birthday boy Mick Jagger, and recently deceased televangelist-turned-female drag queen Tammy Faye Bakker.

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All Of This Happened While You Were Sleeping

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


MORE FUN IN THE NEW WORLD: John Doe, World Cafe Live, About An Hour Ago

mecropped.thumbnail.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA Meet John Doe, fiftysomething atypicial American male. Claim to fame: Leader of Los Angeles punk band X, which combined indelible noir-ish poetics with buzzsaw punk and twangy Americana. Actually, you have met John Doe before. Every post-X solo album is a re-introduction to the man with the prototypical American alias, and every time, America’s reaction is the same: commercial indifference underscored by the righteous indignation of critics that a talent like Doe should have to come begging for his due time and time again.

Doe’s performance Wednesday night at World Cafe Live was par for this course: A seated show with a respectable turnout, but just a fraction of the crowd X drew back in the day or, for that matter, even during their intermittent reunion tours. Such is the story of a man whose career has been incontrovertible proof of the essential unfairness of the music business — that the spoils don’t always go to the best and brightest. All the more the pity that A Year In The Wilderness, Doe’s new solo album, is probably his strongest to date.

Dead Rock West, a youngish collective which served double-duty as opening act and backing band, closed out their set with a stellar reading of “Burning House Of Love,” X’s doomed make-or-break commercial bid for major label rock stardom. X’s inability to crack the big time would be the death of the band, leaving it to bands like Dead Rock West to pick up the torch. Though inextricably connected to the punk scene, X’s early records were produced by Doors organist Ray Manzarek, who told anybody who would listen that X were the obvious heirs to the Doors. So it should come as no surprise that the combination of Doe and Dead Rock should sound like LA Woman: a bracing blend of white-hot sunshine and long dark shadows, where the future is uncertain and the end is always near.

Dressed in a natty dark suit, his trademark floppy bangs fringing his deep-brown eyes, Doe was in peak form, and his rich baritone croon remains intact. If anything, the ensuing years have only made him a better singer, and he seems to have found the perfect harmonic foil in the form of Dead Rock’s Cindy Wasserman, who cuts a faintly Exene-esque figure. Doe’s set was bracing blend of the new (“Hotel Ghost,” “Big Moon”) and the old (deathless readings of “The New World” and “Fourth Of July”) and even an eyebrow-raising cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” Before launching into a show-stopping run through X’s “White Girl,” Doe played a few bars of the curiously similar chord pattern to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” It was a sly, subtle gesture, perhaps lost on much of the crowd, but the intent was clear: My name is John Doe, and I been there, done that.

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ROSEY GRIER: It’s All Right To Cry

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
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Penn State grad Rosie Grier was All-Pro linebacker for the New York Giants and later the Los Angeles Rams. He was Robert Kennedy’s body guard the night he was assassinated.

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We Know It’s Only Rock N’ Roll But We Like It

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


WAGON TRAIN: Porter Wagoner, opening for the White Stripes, Madison Square Garden, Last Night

amyzquinn.thumbnail.jpgBY AMY Z. QUINN For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of the dude with the Siegfried & Roy hair playing playing twang-tastic guitar behind Porter Wagoner. I got to my seat just after they came on, as he was singing Wagoner to the stage: “The Wagonmaster’s comin’, the Wagonmaster’s comin’ . . .” and, tragically bereft of an Internet-ready device with which to google, the solution finally came to me. Time to call Mom. She’s a country fan from way back when it was still called Country & Western; I knew who Jim Reeves was before I knew how to read. I’m convinced she only agreed to babysit for me last night because she heard Porter was involved. “Oh my God,” she said. “Be sure to get a good picture of his Nudie suit.”
Finally, as the Wagonmaster kicked up “The Green, Green Grass Of Home,” I rang her up:

ME: Mom, I’m here at Porter Wagoner and I need your help with something.
MOM: Is that ‘The Green, Green Grass Of Home’ I hear in the background?
ME: Yes, but I need your help with something. There’s a guy playing guitar with him and I know who he is but can’t remember his name and it’s driving me crazy.
MOM: Tell me about Porter’s suit. Is it fabulous? What about the shoes?
ME: Yes, it’s gorgeous — royal blue, sparkly of course. Light-colored sparkly boots, the hair is perfect of course. You’d be in heaven.
MOM: You know about him and Dolly, right?
ME: Yes, Mom, I think you told me that story when I was five.
MOM: Well, you know neither of them would ever confirm anything but she did write that song . . .
ME: MOM! The guy playing guitar. Big hair, kinda short, I think he used to be married to Johnny Cash’s daughter? Kinda looks like Ricky Skaggs with a bigger, darker hairdo.
MOM: Oh, Marty Stuart. Is he there too?

Right, Marty Stuart, who produced and co-wrote Wagoner’s new album, The Wagonmaster, and whose band, the Fabulous Superlatives, backed the legend in elegantly rocking style. Didn’t I read that on Phawker ?

At this point it, uh, got really loud and I had to hang up. I did call her again this morning, though, and was happy to report that ol’ Porter, now gray of pompadour but in the most stately-yet-swingin’ way possible, is the living embodiment of that old saw about how there might be snow on the roof, but there’s still a fire in the furnace. Wagoner’s most famous songs are mid-tempo story songs like “I’ve Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand” and “The Cold Hard Facts Of Life,” tales he spun to much younger but respectful ears. His voice hasn’t aged so much as it’s been burnished, and despite his body’s 80-year-old appearance of frailty, Porter Wagoner is still the man who wears the suit — never the other way around.


NPR 4 THE DEF: Giving Public Radio Edge Since 2006

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


Listen to Wednesday's show...

German filmmaker Werner Herzog discusses his new film Rescue Dawn, a Hollywood adaptation of his 1997skeleton-running.gif documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Both the movie and the documentary are based on the true story of Dieter Dengler, the only U.S. pilot to successfully escape from a North Vietnamese-controlled prison.


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Philadelphia’s rising murder rate. This week, CBS News did a three-part series on Philadelphia’s gun violence. Why is the murder rate so high, and what can be done about it? We’ll talk with MEL WELLS, president of One Day At A Time, one of the social services groups featured in the CBS News reports, and KIA GREGORY, a staff writer for The Philadelphia Weekly who has been writing extensively on the city’s gun violence.

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BRUCE BUSCHEL, a native Philadelphian, revisits his hometown, his own life and the city’s complex identity in his new book “Walking Broad: Looking for the Heart of Philadelphia.” The book describes his exploration of Philadelphia through a 13- mile walk down Broad Street.


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One of the most controversial and acclaimed singers of the last 20 years, Sinead O’Connor continues to deny convention and expectations. From her groundbreaking breakthrough albums (1987’s The Lion and the Cobra and 1990’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got) through forays into everything from standards to reggae, O’Connor remains fiercely uncompromising. It was I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got that made O’Connor a major star, due in no small part to its chart-topping cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” But from there, she became an increasingly polarizing figure, as her political statements made her a lightning rod for criticism. Subsequent albums often won over fans, but met with increasingly sparse mainstream attention. Her first record of new original material in seven years, 2007’s Theology offers a touching and powerful examination of an undeniably passionate artist. The first disc, “Dublin Sessions,” features eight new songs and three covers in an acoustic setting; the second, “London Sessions,” features the same songs but with full-band arrangements.


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Everything she said that night turned out to be true, and as such, everything she did was entirely justified. The world should apologize to her. Or at the very least, the Vatican should.

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All Of This Happened While You Were Sleeping

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

WHITE SNAKE MOAN: Nick Cave & Grinderman, Madison Square Garden, Last Night

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EARLY WORD: Capitol Years Is Not A Good Band

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


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Cost of the War in Iraq
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