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Archive for October, 2007

BAD MOON RISING: Calling All Monsters

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


skeleton-running1.gifKILLADELPHIA: Cop Shot In Face, Given Last Rites, Schools On Lockdown, Shooter Still On The Loose
UPDATE: Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy has died from the wounds he suffered in a shooting during a robbery Wednesday at a Dunkin’ Donuts in West Oak Lane. Cassidy was pronounced dead at 9:40 a.m. this morning at Albert Einstein Medical Center.
RELATED: Police believe the body pulled from the Schuylkill River Wednesday morning is the man wanted in a shooting Tuesday night that left four people — including a Philadelphia cop — wounded. The body was identified as 29-year-old Jerome Whitaker of the 1900 block of Carpenter Street in South Philadelphia, according to Officer Raul Malviero of the police public affairs division. Police say they believe Whitaker jumped into the river after fleeing the Center City shooting scene. [via KYW]

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BILL MAHER: On MoronismMormonism

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007
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MAILBAG: A House Is Not A Hotel

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

fumohouse.jpgDEAR PHAWKER,

Anne Dicker couldn’t qualify for a mortgage to buy fumo’s house because she’s never held a job. That’s why she’s running for state senate. She finally want sto work after being in Philadlephia for 4 years.

And why is she making a stink about Fumo’s property taxes? How much does Anne pay in property taxes?

Wait, do you mean to tell me she has never paid the city wage tax and bnever paid the property tax here and STILL she thinks she is qualified to be a state senator? She actually thinks she knows what people who WORK for a living are going through?

Fumo ain’t perfect but at least he’s qualified for the job.


UPDATE: We just got off the phone with the REAL Brian Abernathy — legislative aide to Frank DiCicco, so read into this what you will — and he categorically denies sending the above letter. We believe him, we had to spell out P-H-A-W-K-E-R several times while directing him to our URL. We apologize to Mr. Abernathy for inadvertently allowing an impostor put words into his mouth.

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CINEMA: She’s Lost Control Again

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


CONTROL (2007, directed by Anton Corbijn, 121 minutes, U.K.)


An ultimate music geek movie Control allows Joy Division über fan, their one-time photographer Anton Corbijn, to reconstruct the dreary world of mid-seventies Manchester for this new biopic of band singer/lyricist Ian Curtis. It’s a dazzling resurrection, in overblown black & whiteCorbijn gets every detail right in his obsession to summon the stark landscape that gave birth to Joy Division desolate vision. Once we get used to Control‘s austere beauty, we find a film hung up by the same problems that have always afflicted star bios: the rise to stardom is infinitely more engaging than the sad and steady slide down.

For the first hour though, the film moves along entertainingly, like a good Mojo profile. We see Curtis as a lanky and fey high school student, wearing his little sister’s tiny fake fur jacket and dancing in the mirror to Hunky Dory. We see him steal his friend’s girl and we see him occasionally stopping to scribble words in his notebook. Post-industrial Manchester is an uneventful little place and Corbijn directs the action like one of those sixties British working class dramas, the silvery sheen of cinematographer Martin Ruhe’s black & white giving the gloom a subtly romantic air.

iancurtis.jpgThe actors are right in tune with Control‘s underplayed dramatics, Sam Riley (who briefly played The Fall’s Mark E. Smith in 24-Hour Party People) creates an utterly human portrait of Curtis. Much of his performance is near stone-faced – an dilemma of an actors playing the depressed – but Riley’s lean frame gives him the chance to communicate with an infinite and articulate display of slumps. It’s a slump-tastic performance, which occasionally catches fire as he’s brought on stage to recreate Curtis’ peculiar marching frontman stance.

Control takes unusual care in making sure all the fetish-y little details of Curtis’ life are correct. The source they’re being so faithful to is Deborah Curtis’ Touching From A Distance, the autobiography of Ian Curtis’ widow. Left behind in the whirlwind of Joy Division’s fame, Samantha Morton frets and broods as Deborah and adds another to her many portraits of naive martyrs. Closed out of Ian’s musical life, she stayed behind to take care of the household and raise their daughter and unfortunately, much of the film seems from her perspective. Like Deborah, we spend too much time left behind; while Ian leaves abruptly to tour, we get to watch her moping as it builds into confrontation with the uncommunicative Ian. Then a montage and a classic Joy Division song on the soundtrack.

Sure, it’s Ian Curtis’ domestic squabble but after a while all domestic spats start to sound alike. Much has been made of the actors learning to play their instruments and in the few scenes that show them playing Control conjures the excitement of real people performing music. These scenes remind us that it was his musical relationships that were the root of Ian Curtis’ fame but too often the music is short-changed (their legendary producer Martin Hannett is only seen fleetingly) in order to chart the causes of his depression, which in the end are depressingly routine.

A large part of what had made Joy Division’s legacy so lasting is the brevity of their career, which lasted only three years. It was a first flowering of talent and it was over before its ideas were exhausted. Control so perfectly captures the whole aesthetic appeal of this morose little band, then hangs around repeating itself in a manner in which the real Ian Curtis never had the time.


JESUS WEPT: Cover of Joy Division’s Closer

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THE SHAGGS: It’s Halloween!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


“Why even Dracula will be there!” — The Shaggs, “It’s Halloween”

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LIVE & DIRECT: The Democratic Presidential Debate

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

MONSTER M*A*S*H: Demonstrators act up at 34th & Chestnut, 7:55 PM
metweakedcropped.thumbnail.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA
PHILADELPHIA — We are live and direct from the press filing room of the Democratic Presidential Debate at Drexel. All media poohbahs great and small are here: CNN, Philly Gay News, Newsweek, Phawker. I just saw the Daily News’ Dan Gross being led away by security yelling something about “Don’t Tase me, bro” — whatever that means. Maybe I should help. Fuck it. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Besides, I don’t wanna lose my spot in line for the snack table. They have pretzels. I like pretzels. Sitting to my left is Katherine Kiely of USA Today (she is VERY busy, on deadline and whatnot, so DO NOT bother her, trust me. Also, if you are ever sitting next to the guy from Gannett DO NOT ask him ‘Is everybody from Gannett a dick or just you?’ He HATES when you say that). Sitting right in front of me is Newsweek’s Howard Fineman — yes that’s his butt in the photo — I ran into him at the airport the day after the Howard Dean Scream at the Iowa Caucuses. He’s acting like he doesn’t remember me. That’s funny, so is Howard Dean. Man, it’s really true what they say: If you want a friend in Washington, get a high-priced call girl dog.


OBAMA: Me against Hillary is the most hyped fight since Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, except I’m Rocky.

CLINTON: No it’s more like the A-Team. I call Mr. T! I pity the fool…

EDWARDS: Who can you trust? Seriously.

DODD: Why does Senator Clinton keep voting for bills that essentially give George Bush a blank check forhillaryclintondrexel.JPG war-mongering?

BIDEN: All of this plays into the perception that American is in a war against Islam.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, when would you attack Iran? I need a date and a time.

OBAMA: Why are we talking about when instead of if?

(NOTE: Howard Fineman has yet to take a single note. What a pro!)

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, when would you attack Iran? Again, I need a date and a time.

CLINTON: I am not going to speculate on when or if. We will have to see how it polls.

KUCINICH: I speak the God’s honest truth but nobody takes me seriously because I am short and my name is funny. But that’s OK, my wife is smokin’ hot and I will get to bang her tonight as I do every night. And yes, it is true what they say about those tongue studs.

RUSSERT: Does anyone here — secretly, deep down — want Iran to get a nuclear bomb?

[All candidates shake their heads vigorously ‘no’, settling the issue once and for all]

RUSSERT: Representative Kucinich, you are smiling, why is that?

KUCINICH: Have you seen my wife?

BIDEN: Look, I am not running against Hillary Clinton, I am running to be the leader of the free world. I am running against Rudy Guiliani, the most unqualified person to run for the presidency since George W. Bush. There are only three things in every sentence that comes out of his mouth: a noun, a verb and 9/11.

[The press room breaks into loud laughter at this line.]

RUSSERT: Representative Kucinich, you once spoke candidly about an encounter with a UFO. I am now going to use this to make you look silly and discredit every perfectly valid point you have made tonight.

KUCINICH: That is SUCH a dick move.

RUSSERT: It’s what I do. Nothing personal.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, do you believe there is life beyond this planet, and if so, how do youobamadrexel.jpg intend to get their votes.

OBAMA: As President, my first priority will be the people of Earth.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Who will you be dressing up as for Halloween?

OBAMA: I am thinking about wearing a Mitt Romney mask. It’s two-sided.

RUSSERT: Congressman Kucinich, I want to move to the issue of hedge funds — hedge funds. Managers of hedge funds. There’s a listing in the paper the other day of 100 top managers of hedge funds. At the top, $1.5 billion. Number 100 makes $50 million. They pay a tax rate of 16 percent, rather than ordinary income of 31, 32 percent. The Democrats took control of Congress in November of ’06. The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, said, we’re not going to change it this year. Your reaction.

KUCINICH: It’s one of the reasons why the American people are so distressed with the current condition of the Democratic Party. They won’t stand up to Wall Street, where there’s over a trillion dollars of unregulated capital with hedge funds.

They won’t end the war, as our party promised to do in the 2006 election. They won’t stand up to the insurance companies, the for- profit insurance companies, by joining me in a not-for-profit system.

So people are asking them, “What’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans?” Tim, my candidacy is a candidacy which will protect the interests of Main Street. No privatization of Social Security, make the hedge funds accountable, protect the small investors who are at risk with these public offerings of these hedge funds. My Domestic Policy Subcommittee has been looking at this. I was one of the first ones on Capitol Hill to look at it.

Right now, it’s all about a redistribution of the wealth upwards, Tim. You know, the tax system is aboutkucinichdrexel.jpg redistributing the wealth upwards. The health care system redistributes the wealth upwards. Our energy policies redistribute the wealth upwards. We have to have a president who is independent enough to be able to stand up to these interest groups and push the Democratic Congress to defend the American people by standing for the end of the war in Iraq, by standing for a universal, not-for-profit health care system, by standing for control of these oil companies, which are out of control, and, finally, by standing for the Constitution.

I will say it one more time. It’s time for the Democratic Party to take a position on impeachment, and for the House of Representatives to move the bill that I’ve introduced.

[I applaud Congressman Kucinich’s courage for speaking such unvarnished truth in the vicinity of power, all by my lonesome. Loudly. This is breaking the cardinal rule of journalism: Never create the perception that you are taking sides. Fuck it. What he says is totally true. Everyone in this room knows what he says is totally true. Is that not the prime directive of journalism? Find the truth and shout it from every mountaintop? I clap louder. Fineman turns around and looks at me like he’s my dad and he just found my porno magazine under the mattress. The McClatchy guy informs me that if I plan to continue sitting next to him, and thereby near the MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS sign, I will NOT be doing that again. In a room of hundreds of journalists with their 401K-fed illusion of objectivity wedged stick-like where the sun don’t shine — hundreds of journalists that all draw a paycheck from the status quo — I am the sound of one hand clapping and the mayor of Asshole City all at once. Somebody’s gotta do it.]

*Some quotes not exactly verbatim, in the interest of truth and humor.

SLIDE SHOW: Click To Enlarge

[Full color photos by VIC SUEDE/Black & White by JONATHAN VALANIA]



COMING ATTRACTION: Live & Direct From Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate At Drexel

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007


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NEWS CLUES: It’s Like Adderall For Your Eyeballs

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

ZOGBY POLL: Slim Majority Of Americans Say ‘Bomb Iran’

ahmadini-copy72.jpgDespite President Bush’s perpetually abysmal approval ratings, it appears his increasingly hostile rhetoric against Iran has drummed up enough fear of a “nuclear holocaust” or a World War III that a majority of Americans are in favor of a US strike against the country aimed a curtailing its apparent nuclear ambitions, a new poll shows. The Zogby International survey shows 52 percent of Americans would support a strike on Iran, while 53 percent expect President Bush to launch such an attack before the end of his second term. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is voters’ No. 1 choice to deal with Iran, with 21 percent saying they would like to see her take on Tehran from the White House. Republican Rudy Giuliani was voters’ second choice, with 15 percent. [via RAW STORY]


DREXEL HILL INFANTICIDE: Dead Baby Mama Pleads ‘Not Guilty’

baby.thumbnail.jpgMia Sardella pleaded not guilty today to third-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse this morning at her arraignment in Delaware County Court. The Drexel Hill teenager is accused of killing her newborn child and putting the corpse in the trunk of her car. Her appearance came after prosecutors last week dropped the more serious charge of first degree murder. The teen’s mother found the corpse Jan. 22, about three weeks following birth, stuffed inside a duffel bag left in the trunk of Sardella’s Volkswagen Beetle. Sardella, 19, remains free on bail. Judge Patricia Jenkins continued the case to December. The case has generated considerable publicity in part because Sardella is the granddaughter of Albert E. Piscopo, chief executive of the Glenmede Trust Co., an investment firm that manages the assets of the Pew Charitable Trusts. [via the INQUIRER]


QUESTION THE PARKING AUTHORITY: Rendell Calls For Audit Of Bigwig Salaries

meter-maid-1000x1429.jpgThe microscope on the Philadelphia Parking Authority may quickly intensify. Governor Rendell (file photo above) now wants the state agency audited, so workers have to prove they’re worth their hefty salaries. Governor Rendell has already publicly told the Parking Authority to trim its fat, but now he wants more (see related story). He’s asking for what’s called a desk audit of the Authority: “And by desk audit, I mean auditors come in and say, ‘Alright Mr. Jones, you get paid $120,000, show us what you do.’ There obviously hasn’t been a down-and-dirty audit, figuring out who works where and what. And that’s what I’d like to see.” Six years after the state took over the Authority, its staff size has doubled and 20 earn more than $100,000. [via KYW]

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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007


Listen to Tuesday's show...

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld last sat down with Fresh Air in September 1987, before his TV series made him an international celebrity. Now he’s back, and in a big way: Bee Movie, the animated comedy he’s written and produced for DreamWorks, opens this Friday. (Watch clips.) It’s about Barry B. Benson, a bee who learnsseinfeld-wars.jpg about life outside the hive — and eventually sues humanity for stealing honey. Seinfeld begins his conversation with Fresh Air guest host Dave Davies with an observation on the difference between writing a screenplay and doing stand-up comedy. “The trouble with it is, you have this story — which is such a nuisance,” Seinfeld says. “You know, in stand-up you just tell the funny part. But in a movie, the audience demands that you tell them some sort of story that makes sense. And this is a tremendous handicap for me.”


Hour 1
Journalist CARL BERNSTEIN joins Marty to talk about his new book “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Clinton.” Listen to this show via Real Audio
Hour 2
By all estimates, 56 million standardized reading and math tests will be administered this year to our nation’s school children. What do test scores tell us about how a child is learning and how schools and teachers are doing their jobs? We talk with two educators whose work focuses on the issue of testing — DANIEL KORETZ of Harvard and ANDREW PORTER, Dean of Penn’s Graduate School of education. Listen to this show via Real Audio

daviddyenpr.jpgTHE WORLD CAFElisten.gif

Wednesday October 31, 2007 Devendra Banhart
Devendra Banhart joins host David Dye on the World Café upon the release of his new album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. Banhart wields a musical repertoire as eclectic as the assorted places he’s called home, areas as diverse as Venezuela, France and San Francisco. His varied songs showcase gospel arrangements, traditional Brazilian samba music, and ‘70s-style guitar riffs, accompanied by sometimes-poetic, sometimes-nonsensical lyrics. The result is a truly unique “freak-folk” sound that is at once timeless and revolutionary.

DEVENDRA BANHART: Don’t Look Back In Anger

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SERVE THE SERVANTS: Dicker Bids On Hotel Fumo

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

fumohouse.jpgTuesday, October 30, 2007, Philadelphia, PA — Today, Pennsylvania State Senate candidate Anne Dicker put in an offer to buy Senator Vincent Fumo’s 2220 Green Street Mansion. The offer was for $250,001, which is $1 more than the value assessed by Philadelphia’s Board of Revision and Taxes (BRT). If successful, Anne Dicker has pledged to turn around and sell the house for upwards of $1.25 million, and to donate the profits from the sale to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. [via HEARD IN THE HALL]

PREVIOUSLY: Welcome To The Hotel Vincent Fumo, You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave

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Tuesday, October 30th, 2007


deeneythumbnail1.jpgBY JEFF DEENEY

TODAY I SAW a mountain of garbage stacked on the flat landing outside the front doors to Mantua Hall. There were bags filled with rotting garbage and piles of discarded clothes. There were bed mattresses tossed at angles on top of all the bags. There was busted up furniture pushed to the edges of the pile and left to soak in the rain. It was impossible to tell if the trash heap was a sign of progress or regress; these could be things discarded by families moving to new Section 8 housing in advance of the high rise’s demolition or they could be belongings hauled from still full apartments by PHA maintenance staff after a family’s eviction.

I was out at Mantua Hall with the Church Lady today. She belongs to a congregation in Southwest Philly that does ministry work with the homeless and hopeless almost every day of the week. Her church cooks meals that parishioners distribute on the streets and has a network of Jesus-centered recovery homes for addicts and drunks. She wears stern skirts that come to her ankles and usually has her blouse buttoned to the top button. When her cell phone rings she flips the top open and says with the same tone an office secretary might use to greet a client with an appointment,

“Praise the Lord.”

You’d think the Tre Six boys would grant the Church Lady safe passage but Mantua Hall makes no promises. She tells a story about one time she came here and fled in a panic after her car was swarmed by project boys.

“They pressed up all around the car, a big group of young boys. This one started banging on my window and asking me for the time. I told him the time through the window without rolling it down because I was concerned but he kept asking me like he couldn’t hear me. He heard me; he was trying to get me to roll my window down for some reason. They were waiting for me to get out of the car. So I pulled out and left, I didn’thighriseapartment.jpg even make it in the building. I was scared to death, believe me.”

This time the steps leading to the front door had been cleared of any loiterers by a driving rain. Inside things were quiet; a group of PHA staff was talking about taking an inventory of the apartments to see which were empty and which were still occupied. I imagine they want to have as much of the heavy lifting done as possible well in advance of the implosion clearing out old furniture left behind by tenants and making sure all units are vacated.

The Mantua Hall maintenance man’s name is Duane and he’s built like an NFL defensive lineman with a Muslim’s beard, shaved head and Dickies work pants rolled up above the ankles in accordance with Islamic dress codes. After sending off the pack of PHA managers he greeted a Muslim woman who was garbed up to the eyeballs; she drifted in after us and disappeared into the laundry room without saying a word.

There were flyers tacked up all over the lobby, in the elevator and on the walls of the hallways upstairs announcing townhall style meetings in the weeks to come where real estate agents will come to Mantua Hall to talk about available listings for Section 8 houses and apartments. Some families have already begun their housing search and are excited to soon leave the dingy, desperate purgatory of the high rise behind.

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13th Floor Elevators: You’re Gonna Miss Me

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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