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Archive for May, 2010

Dennis Hopper, Rebel Without A Pause, Dead At 74

Saturday, May 29th, 2010


NEW YORK TIMES: Dennis Hopper, whose portrayals of drug-addled, often deranged misfits in the landmark films “Easy Rider,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Blue Velvet” drew on his early out-of-control experiences as part of a new generation of Hollywood rebel, died Saturday at his home in Venice, Calif. He was 74. MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: What went down behind those corrugated steel walls of Dennis Hopper’s Venice fortress as he lay dying at age 74? He was divorcing his fifth wife after 18 years together, obtaining an “emergency restraining order” to keep her at a 10-foot distance. They battled over his valuable artworks. She also filed complaints about him keeping marijuana joints throughout his compound, ready to provide quick relief from pain, and loaded guns in strategic locations, ready to provide quick resolutions. If a person’s manner of dying is a distillation of their life, then Hopper’s death seemed a revisit of the same stories about a man once called the “patron saint of the deranged.” Never an easy rider. But the private Dennis I spent a decade alongside, working on his biography, had a different persona. The artist I came to know was a serious careerist calculating his return from illegality and literal madness, tenaciously managing his sobriety. I wonder if Hopper saw his exit as a last movie? Or a final chance to play the lead in a Shakespeare tragedy? MORE

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MY TUNES: Our Favorite Albums Of Right Now

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

lcd_soundsystem_this_is_happening.jpgLCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (2010 DFA/Virgin)

Now that the decade of the 00’s is a closed set let me eulogize the collapse of the pop music industry. Reports at the decade’s start were that the music business would collapse and with 2010, seeing profits halved, tells us that’s what we’re hearing.  It is the uncomfortable sound of history coming to a close, a decade without a new genre being born.  Oh, there’s still some artful grab-baggery and musical slicing and dicing but the production of a number one hit pop hit from 2000 sounds depressingly similar to a hit from today.  I feel like the younger generation has let me down by not creating a new genre that makes me put my fingers in my ears and yell, “This isn’t music!” Still the new LCD Soundsystem was something that triggered an old-fashioned last century urge in me: the desire not to download, not to borrow-and-burn, but to actually head down to the still-thriving record store in my neighborhood to buy a shining new cardboard and plastic CD to bring home.  Does This Is Happening fly in the face of this dead history?  Heck no, its as derivative as the rest of the decade, mixing bits and pieces of New Order, Bowie, The Cars and a million other eighties one-shot bands.  But James Murphy makes me love it, and I hate him for it.  I want to say he’s running a bit low of gas on his third foray into the synth-pop junkpile but paging through the tracks I can’t find a weak tune to focus my gun-sight on and I’m forced into the conclusion that he’s a pupil who has bested his masters.  And geez, that “I Can Change” tune has me hitting “repeat” like a pre-teen girl playing Justin Bieber.  The future is dead and LCD Soundsystem is one of the few things I like about it. — DAN BUSKIRK

townes-van-zandt_quarte.jpgTOWNES VAN ZANDT- Live At The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas

I’ve given the requisite attention to Townes Van Zandt’s best buds — Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and so on — but I’ve been lax about the man himself, probably because of the pervasive opinion that his studio-recorded wares are uneven and sometimes unrepresentative. I’ve only got the patience for so many safaris. But I turned 39 this week, and as that milestone approached I found myself doing what Balding White Dudes do: Digging around for a classic singer-songwriter album, something subtle and complicated, a thing I would’ve avoided when my testosterone levels were a slightly higher. Van Zandt seemed like the obvious choice, and all signs pointed to “Live At The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas,” a 27-song album recorded in 1973, released first in 1977 and reissued several times, most recently by Fat Possum. And now I’m afraid to listen to any other Van Zandt record, for fear of spoiling the pure image that this one leaves: a man with a guitar in a small and hushed room, singing to people who already revere his sure-handed picking and not-too-twangy voice. You can hear his intelligence, his sense of craft, his ability to be weird and poetic without being far-out. The standards (“To Live Is To Fly,” “If I Needed You,” etc.) are here, crisp and rich. And all of it  — I’m partial to the raggedly cinematic “Two Girls” and the singularly great take on “Cocaine Blues” — sounds as if Van Zandt was never destined to crumble into depression over the next two decades, dying in 1997 as a hero only to some. But yeah, nothing so whole ever lasts forever. – JOE WARMINSKY

behemoth_-_evangelion_artwork.jpgBEHEMOTH — Evangelion (Nuclear Blast)

I ignored Poland’s Behemoth for a long time because their high gloss hybrid of black and death metal stunk to me of Hott Topic falseness. So I was surprised to find metal purists on message boards praising the band’s most recent album, Evangelion, as a must-hear contender for 2009 album of the year.  With this album the band seems to have finally hit on a formula that works not just with the kids at the mall.  The songs are epic yet maintain their ripping intensity from start to finish.  The riffs and guitar tone are reminiscent of Nile, the death metal band that has now written no less than six albums entirely about ancient Egypt, a shtick that wore thin for me by 1999, but there is a diversity of style here that in my opinion makes Behemoth the far more interesting band.  Still problematic for me is the band’s image, as you’ll see in the band’s video for the track “Ov Fire and the Void,” linked below.  They are not only still rocking some pretty ridiculous corpse paint but also have inadvisably incorporated rave-era JNCO fat pants into their look, which brings them a step too close to Juggalo for comfort.  If you can make it to the end of the video you’ll be treated to a cameo by a local celebrity, as the Hot Dead Chick gives birth to and then offers up in sacrifice to the band the soulless, black eyed baby from the Spring Garden bridge mural. — JEFF DEENEY

Tupac_Best_Of.jpgTUPAC SHAKUR – Personal Mixtape

There are two things I must always do before I feel like I’m officially back in Los Angles: Eat a carne asada taco from a taco truck and go cruisin’, LA style. You know how cruisin’ in LA goes- you saw Ice Cube do it in Boyz in the Hood (before he was diaper changing).  You roll your windows down and turn the stereo bass up. You hang your elbow out the window, and slouch low in your seat. Real low.  It’s customary to play something very Californian- like Sublime, X, or maybe even The Beach Boys (depending on your tastes). But to me, nothing says LA like 2Pac.  And nothing makes me feel more like a native Los Angelino  than pumping my speakers to classics like “To Live and Die in LA,” “I Wonder Why They Call You Bitch,” and “I Get Around” while cruising down Venice Blvd during sunset.  It’s not just because 2Pac wore a bandana with nothing over his greased up, shirtless six pack (can’t get more east LA than that) but because in LA, 2Pac was the voice of, no-  the messiah of- gangster rap just when gangster rap was making its way into the crevices of our culture.  Back then, lyrics meant something, and 2pac was one of the first (and the second to last) commercial gangster rapper to have something poignant to say. Coming back home after being away for 2 years, it’s only natural that I’d get sentimental for the music of my hometown. Recently, 2Pac’s best of album has been a requisite of sorts for me. It’s how I can tell I’m finally home. – EVA LIAO

highonfirecover.jpgHIGH ON FIRE – Snakes For The Divine

High on Fire’s newest album, Snakes for the Divine (check the sweet Frazetta-style cover art — yeeeeah, snakes and naked chicks mother fuckers!!!)  is what metal aught to sound like in 2010.  It has all the right classic metal references — Motorhead, Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Venom, Slayer — layered with the drug friendly thickness of tone that stoners love and the punk rawness that will let you love them even if you thought metal was lame back in the day.  Frost Hammer (you can’t reference metal gods Celtic Frost and their predecessor incarnation Hell Hammer any more directly than that) is a nasty, nasty chunk of war metal that comes riding in  on a red eyed steed and splits your skull with a +4 battle axe.  It’s the must hear track on this metal album of the year front-runner. – JEFF DEENEY

Dead_Weather_sea_of_cowards.jpgDEAD WEATHER – Sea of Cowards (Third Man)

Yup, Jack White’s gone and made another album that doesn’t involve Meg.  Damn him to hell.  Fortunately, his bros Dean, Jack and The Kills’ Allison Mosshart make pretty good musical companions themselves.  Favoring deadly distorted rhythms over melody, it’s a wild, raw-sounding journey.  Sometimes the songs run together into a big thudding black-leather mess, but still, what do want, Noah and The Whale?  It’s back breakingly riffy, and exactly the type of thing you’re going to want to mosh to this summer, that is, if any of Mr. White’s ever came to Philly.  And, on the subject of Mr. White, listening to this album really makes you wonder exactly how much control he has over the group, in particular guitarist Dean Fertita.  Every single solo has that signature Jack White squeal and crisp guitar fuzz.  It sounds absolutely brilliant, but makes you wonder what kind of effects Dean might be wanting to use instead.  Also think about this: if Jack White just turned out three years’ worth of aggressive Dead Weather bludgeonings, think of all the genius melodies he’s thought of in that time, destined for the next Stripes record. Well, at least we can hope.  In the meantime, this gestation process sounds pretty darned good itself. – JAMIE DAVIS

soundsoflib-1024x1024.pngSounds of Liberation – Sounds of Liberation (Dogtown 1972/Porter 2010)

A few years back the Eremite label released a disc from the Philadelphia vibraphonist Khan Jamal’s Creative Arts Ensemble titled Drum Dance To the Motherland. Pressed in a small run in 1972 on Dogtown label, the record, recorded live in West Philly’s Catacombs Club, sounded like nothing else. Psychedelic, dub-like electric Miles influenced music that throbbed and exploded in unpredictable ways, Jamal’s weirdo masterpiece was truly one of the great audiological unearthings of the decade. Turns out that Dogtown was legendary Philly saxophonist Byard Lancaster’s label, and among the handful of releases they pressed was Sounds of Liberation, a band that features the majority of the Creative Ensemble’s line-up joined by the soulful horn of Lancaster himself. The Sounds of Liberation has a front-line featuring Jamal’s vibraphone, Byard’s fluid sax and the guitar of Monette Sudler joined by a bassist (Billy Mils) and three percussionists (Omar Hill, Rashid Salim and Dwight James). The music they make includes afro-centric grooves, free jazz freak-outs and super-charged R&B work-outs, which can stretch out to side-long length or be delivered in two and a half minute bursts.  Most of this band can still be found making music in Philly and this formerly impossible-to-find disc lets you know why old-timers have always spoken their names in hushed reverence. — DAN BUSKIRK


sleep_-holy-mountain.jpgSLEEP – Holy Mountain

Back in 1993 I read a review of Sleep’s album Holy Mountain written by White Zombie’s guitar player, Jay Yuenger, in Guitar World magazine. Jay panned the album, complaining that it was a total Black Sabbath rip off. Right then I knew Sleep would rule for two reasons:

1) Black Sabbath is the greatest band of all time and

2) White Zombie fucking sucks

Guess what? I was right, and Jay Yuenger was wrong. Sleep went on to be the foundational slab an entire generation of highed-up, Sabbath worshipping drug metallers built on and the band’s guitar player Matt Pike continues his quest to conquer the universe with an arsenal of cranked amps today in High on Fire. Jay Yuenger probably pumps gas for a living on Long Island or some shit. – JEFF DEENEY

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CINEMA: Bring Out Your Dead

Friday, May 28th, 2010

survivalofthedead-poster_003.jpgSURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (2009, directed by George A Romero, 90 minutes, Canada )


It starts to become difficult to find employment when you’re a film director in your seventies and George Romero, the zombie Godfather of the Living Dead series knows it. He spent the lion’s share of the nineties spinning his wheels in Hollywood, going seven years without getting a film made so he’s making up for lost time, with this his third Dead film in five years. Although he made a string of fascinating non-zombie films over his career it seems that the money men are only going to gamble on a Romero film if he makes the Dead walk in it. Which leads us to Survival of the Dead, Romero’s first Western, complete with feuding clans and cowboys on horseback who settle scores in a lawless land. Oh yeah, and zombies are lurking around as well, as almost an afterthought.

It’s Romero’s sixth Dead film and although the last one, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, received the most lukewarm reaction of any in the series, its low budget made it profitable enough to warrant a quickly-mounted sequel. The military unit seen briefly in Diary is back, led by Sarge (Alan Van Sprang) and they end up getting pulled into a Hatfield and McCoys-type feud between the ornery O’Flynn family and those straight-laced tyrants, the Muldoons. This all takes place on a island in the Delaware river, where people speak in thick Irish brogues, star-crossed lovers tempt family loyalties and things are settled in Old West style shoot-outs. A beautiful zombie also rides horseback, in one of the stranger developments in the series.

Its a left-turn for Romero that seems bound to leave even his most loyal fans unfulfilled, not least of all because the scenario is so cliche-ridden and straight-faced and the zombies, although sliced and diced in a oddly Looney Tunes manner, are fairly peripheral to the plot. After Land of the Dead’s “State of the Bush Nation” satire, Romero seems uninterested in making any big statements with those metaphoric zombies, although occasionally he makes a glancing aside at societies in crisis. Still, I enjoyed the idea that the Muldoons don’t kill the Dead due to Christian religious dogma, with the hypocritical Sheriff Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) privately making mince-meat of his ranch’s zombies while imploring his followers to tie up their Dead outside. “We’re gonna keep the Dead with us” he preaches, for religious reasons. It’s not religion, just sentimental attachment to Romero’s zombie series that is responsible for my hanging on till the end of this potential franchise killer. Even as hare-brained as this film is, Romero’s pulse still beats within it, in his own idiosyncratic way. For that alone, I’ll be brainlessly back if Romero decides to make the Dead walk yet again.

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GUILTY: Fake Pimp From ACORN Scam Gets Slap On The Dick For Tampering With Senator’s Phones

Thursday, May 27th, 2010


ASSOCIATED PRESS: Four conservative activists accused of trying to tamper with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) office pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses. James O’Keefe, 25, an activist already famous for his videotaped conversations with ACORN officials in several cities, was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine. The FBI has said O’Keefe used his cellphone to try to capture video of two others who posed as telephone repairmen and asked to see the phones at Landrieu’s office in New Orleans. O’Keefe has said they were trying to investigate complaints that constituents couldn’t get through to Landrieu’s office to criticize her support of a health-care reform bill. MOREresized_okeefe_mugshot_sm.thumbnail.jpg

RELATED: Alluding to the deceptive tactics the activist used to produce the videotapes shaming ACORN, Judge Knowles explained his decision to be stricter with O’Keefe by saying, “Your record concerns me.” MORE

RELATED: “I plan to release a video soon of another organization we all know very well,” the 25-year-old boasted. MORE

RELATED: O’Keefe — who already had a well-established, if entirely unreported, record of lying to the media and the public about his phony, highly-doctored and illegally-recorded ACORN videos — then went on to offer a preposterous public statement to explain his New Orleans scheme.But now that O’Keefe’s superstar GOP attorney was successful in pleading his client’s felony charges down to a misdemeanor — to which he and his conspirators pled guilty yesterday before a federal magistrate — lo and behold, the FBI has released their own account of the arrest and plea deal. MORE


Department of Justice Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 26, 2010 United States Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Contact: (504) 680-3000

Four Men Plead Guilty to Entering Federal Property Under False Pretenses
Entered Senator Mary Landrieu’s Office to Secretly Record Office Staff Conversations

NEW ORLEANS—Joseph Basel, 24; Stan Dai, 25; Robert Flanagan, 24; and James O’Keefe, 25, pleaded guilty today in front of U. S. resized_okeefe_mugshot_sm.thumbnail.jpgMagistrate Judge Daniel E. Knowles, III, to one-count of entering federal property under false pretenses, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. As a result of their conviction, Basel, Dai and Flanagan were each ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, placed on two years probation and serve 75 hours of community service within the first year of probation; O’Keefe was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, placed on three years probation and serve 100 hours of community service within the first year of probation.

According to court documents, the four men met in New Orleans on Jan. 20, 2010, to discuss various topics, including possible scenarios to engage the staff of Senator Mary Landrieu in her office inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans and to record the interactions. On Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, O’Keefe called Flanagan and invited him to participate in the plan, which Flanagan accepted. The next day, Basel, Dai, Flanagan and O’Keefe met, discussed the disguises they would wear, and practiced how they would interact with Senator Landrieu’s staff and record the interactions.

Also according to court documents, at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, Basel, Flanagan and O’Keefe met in an office near the Hale Boggs Federal Building to finalize their plan, check the recording devices and mount a camera in one of the disguises. During this meeting, O’Keefe explained how the recording devices worked and instructed Basel and Flanagan how to position themselves once inside the Senator’s office.

At approximately 11:00 a.m., Basel, Flanagan and O’Keefe entered the federal building and passed through the security screening. Their resized_okeefe_mugshot_sm.thumbnail.jpgpurpose was to orchestrate a conversation about phone calls to the Senator’s staff and capture the resulting conversation on video. Dai remained outside to provide support. Basel and Flanagan were each dressed like telephone repairmen, wearing blue denim pants, a blue work shirt, a fluorescent green vest, a tool belt and a white hard hat. One of the hats contained a video recording device installed on the brim.

O’Keefe entered Senator Landrieu’s office first and positioned a digital video recorder made to look like a cellular telephone in his hand to record the interaction. He told the staff that he was waiting for a friend. He recorded the subsequent interaction.

Basel and Flanagan entered the office soon thereafter and told the Senator’s staff that they were telephone repairmen who were following up on reports of problems with the telephone system. A staff member said that there were no problems with the phone system, and Basel then asked the staff member for permission to test the phone. Basel then walked behind a staff member’s desk, lifted the handset from the cradle, questioned whether there was a dial tone and handled the receiver. Basel and Flanagan each pretended to call the office phone with their own cellular phones, and they said the calls would not go through. O’Keefe also interjected and said he had previously placed a call to the office that would not go through.

Basel then told a staff member that he and Flanagan needed to perform repair work on the main phone system, and he asked that they be resized_okeefe_mugshot_sm.thumbnail.jpgtaken to the “central box.” The staff member directed them to the office of the General Services Administration (GSA), and Basel and Flanagan followed the staff member to GSA’s office inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Upon meeting a GSA employee, Basel and Flanagan again said they were telephone repairmen, and Basel again asked to be taken to the phone system’s “central box.”

The GSA employee asked Basel and Flanagan if they had a work order or credentials, and they responded that they had left both their work order and credentials in their vehicle, parked just outside of the building. The GSA employee then informed Basel and Flanagan that he would escort them to their truck so that they could provide him with the work order and their credentials.

O’Keefe left Senator Landrieu’s office several minutes after Basel and Flanagan went to the GSA office, after pretending to take a call from “Sam.”

All four men were apprehended shortly thereafter

The investigation of this matter was conducted by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Deputy Marshals with the U.S. Marshal’s Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.

PREVIOUSLY: The End Of ACORN Philadelphia


PW: Tuesday night the board of ACORN Pennsylvania voted to dissolve the Keystone state chapter of the embattled community-service organization and re-invent itself as Pennsylvania Communities Organizing For Change, according to Craig Robbins, the former Head Organizer for ACORN PA, who will now serve as executive director of the newly formed PCOC. The board’s decision came in the wake of an announcement Monday from ACORN’s national leadership that it was ceasing operations and that state chapters would be given the option of closing up shop or re-branding themselves as standalone statewide community-service organizations. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Why The Right Hates ACORN, How They Took Them Down, And Why Philly Didn’t Take The Bait

PREVIOUSLY: The Nutcracker Strikes Back!

PREVIOUSLY: WHAT HE SAID: Cracking The Nutcracker resized_okeefe_mugshot_sm.thumbnail.jpg

PREVIOUSLY: Q&A: With ACORN Founder Wade Rathke


PREVIOUSLY: Harshbarger Report Clears ACORN Of Illegality In ‘Pimp & Hooker’ Gotcha Videos

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Pimp’ From ACORN Sting Videos Arrested By FBI For Wiretapping Senator’s Phone


PREVIOUSLY: JUDGE: Defunding Of ACORN Is Unconstitutional


SCRAPPLE NEWS: Piggie Of The Week

Thursday, May 27th, 2010
YouTube Preview Image

AP wrote a poem about BP’s cruel defilement of the Gulf of Mexico. With apologies to Dr. Seuss.

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THE CONTRARIAN: Less Would’ve Been More

Thursday, May 27th, 2010


ED_KING_1.jpgBY ED KING ROCK EXPERT They had to go and make it longer, didn’t they? The Rolling Stones couldn’t leave the legacy of the sprawling Exile on Main Street alone. In this newly remastered, expanded edition rock’s most notorious tax exiles add 10 previously unreleased/unfinished tracks. Shotgun-worthy Don Was helped shepherd these outtakes into the 21st century, with Mick Jagger writing new lyrics and adding new vocal parts, in some cases. Considering that the Stones have been reviving leftover jams as new material for more than half their career (e.g., “Start Me Up” had been sitting around for 6 years before being revised and released as the band’s modern-day theme song), why didn’t they just release these tracks as a new Stones album and do the necessary work of trimming Exile on Main Street down from a flabby double album to killer EP it essentially is? Lord knows this collection of 10 never-before-released tracks, kicking off with the funky “Pass the Wine (Sophia Loren)” and the pleading “Plundered My Soul,” would have been the band’s “best album since Exile.”

OK, the newest “best Stones album since Exile” wouldn’t have been that easy to concoct – some of these outtakes are early versions of eventual songs fromTaxile.jpg the album. I especially dig “Good Time Woman,” an early sketch of what would become the sublime “Tumbling Dice,” a song I could bring to my lab and never cease to find fascinating in the way each part contains the DNA code for the whole of the song. Surely there would be dozens of sketches left on the floor of Compass Point Studios for them to fill out side two. Then the Stones could have really shaken up the rock world by taking a washcloth to the abundance of blackface greasepaint smeared across the two LPs of the original release.

Considering how much slack I’ve cut lesser bands over the years, it may be unfair to find fault the Stones for dragging down what could have been the greatest EP in the history of rock with a bunch of overblown gospel-blues jams and fun rave-ups, but do we really need to spend any more time stoned and nodding along to Bobby Keys’ sax solo on “Casino Boogie?” Does making it through “Sweet Virginia” earn us a hole-punch on our Educated, White, Middle-Class Dude Who Really Digs American Traditional Music card? How many times does that card need to be punched before we’re awarded an actual album of American traditional music?



Thursday, May 27th, 2010


kitchen-bitch2.thumbnail.jpgBY MAVIS LINNEMANN For those of you who would rather sit on the couch and watch someone else cook on TV than venture into the kitchen, this post is for you. After many hours of intense sedentary research, I’ve compiled a list of the best and worst of the food TV world. I’ve done all the work, so now you don’t have to waste precious DVR space with crappy culinary programs. Only the best for the KB and her readers!

Most Fabulously Entertaining Award: Brian Boitano in What Would Brian Boitano Make? Gay or straight, no one’s knows, but this flamboyant former Olympic ice skater has an incredibly entertaining and dorky food show—and the theme music is pulled straight from the South Park episode making fun of him. At least the man can laugh at himself, right? In fact, that’s pretty much what he does the whole time. It’s a great show for unique and fun recipes for a crowd.

Love to Hate/Hate to Love Award: Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. Sandra Lee is crazy, but at least she knows it. She embraces her love for all brian-boitano-1-6.jpgthings kitschy and homemade by taking that extra step and creating lovingly tacky “tablescapes” for each of her shows. She even re-decorates the kitchen based on the day’s theme. Now that’s dedication. While her recipes are usually nothing to write home about, she does have a knack for time-saving shortcuts and dessert decorating. Her other show, Sandra’s Money-Saving Meals, shows viewers a much more relaxed—and a lot less ridiculous—side of Sandra Lee.

Most Obnoxious Host Award: Rachael Ray. No one’s surprised here, I’m sure. Just because she’s annoying, doesn’t mean her recipes aren’t any good. There’s just nothing too complex going on here, but how could there be when it all has to be made in 30 minutes or less?

The Almost as Annoying as Rachel Ray Award: Kris Capra in Easyway Gourmet. She uses ridiculous phrases like “groovy maximus” and “super de doper easy.” MORE

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PAPERBOY: Slow-Jamming The Alt-Weeklies

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

paperboyartthumbnail.jpgBY DAVE ALLEN 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. That’s why every week PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. 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 center. Why? Because we love you!


CP: According to CP, summer isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. So they’ve got an event a day lined up from now (literally today, with the Mr. America cp_2010-05-27.jpgpageant) til September 6. June is looking particularly bonkers, and even outside of listings for Beer Week (PW’s turf, dontcha know), CP keeps things hopping, even including a shout-out to my hero, Ken Jennings, and the start of his Jeopardy win streak. There are some down days: peep this for July 5.

Get a bunch of friends together and choreograph a dance, a la Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” Throw a party and perform it for everyone you know. Wear matching costumes, of course.

Guess there’s nothing else going on that day. I’m still down for expressing myself through the choreographic arts, though; just make sure it’s before August, because the temperatures will be roasting and I’ll be too worn out from all these madcap events CP is throwing my way. In the words of Bill Watterson, the days are just packed. Don’t waste a single one.

PW: Ready, aim, phire? PW spotlights gun ownership and the city’s most unsuspecting concealed-carry practitioners. It’s way more than just gun-nuts and Second-Amendment-thumpers who speak up for self-defense. Jon Campisi initially centers on Dan Pehrson and the intersection of hipster paradise and gritty urban environment in NoLibs.

Pehrson didn’t always pack a pistol. Back in 2004, he was looking for a hobby, and his quest led him to the Philadelphia Archery and Gun Club on Ellsworth Street in South Philly. There, he met friendly and knowledgeable staffers who taught him how to properly shoot. He was hooked. “If everybody is more educated, less people are going to get hurt due to accidents,” he says.

052610pwcover.jpgSoon, Pehrson was making regular visits to the gun club, carrying his weapon strictly to and from the range. But without a carry license, gun owners who transport their guns must adhere to a host of laws: keeping ammunition separate from the gun while in the vehicle, no stops between home and the range. Pehrson figured it was just easier to get a carry license. As time went on, carrying a gun became a part of his daily life. He even carries his gun to work, and says it’s not an issue for the Center City company that employs him.

Pehrson says that carrying a gun makes him feel safe, and points to one incident in particular that reinforces his decision. It was late June 2008 about 10 p.m., and Pehrson found himself walking from North Bowl on Second Street in Northern Liberties to his then-girlfriend’s house near Front Street and Girard Avenue. He was followed, he says, and subsequently surrounded by three teens wielding a stun gun—he later found out the boys had been zapping people and robbing them. Pehrson says he drew his firearm, never pointing it at anyone and keeping it angled toward the ground the entire time, and the youths dispersed.

I didn’t know quite how easy it was to get a concealed-carry permit in this state, and I didn’t know how much the police department bristles at people who elect to arm themselves. I’m still on the fence as to how broadly the Second Amendment ought to be interpreted, but I’m happy to see sane, educated views on gun ownership put forth. Those who marched out to buy firearms at the outset of the Obama era clearly have nothing to worry about, though.


CP: Malaise strikes again. Or maybe something less active than ‘strikes.’ Malaise slumps again? Leading the cheer: W-E-S-U-C-K WE SUCK!!!! Playing the defame game. Philly’s wiener scene: You never sausage a place (lame pun courtesy of South of the Border billboards in South Carolina).

PW: Made ya look: Something good where Week’s Worst usually is. November isn’t the only time for Turkey. I’ll start a band with BMac, but only if we write a rock opera based on Lost. Cramping the style of the city’s top party spots.

WINNER: PW is all over the critical stories of the day, especially this anti-promoter bill, which promises to leave us joyless and sexless by summer’s end. I’ll tip my hat to them this week and say, regarding infringement on our collective good times: hey hey, my my, rock and roll will never die.

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BIG BLACK: Top 5 Questions POTUS Needs To Answer

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010


[illustration by DONKEYHOTEY]

WASHINGTON POST:  As his administration comes under increasing criticism for its handling of the spreading environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama will hold a White House news conference Thursday, his first since February, in an attempt to retake command of the message. He’ll do so as the crisis reaches yet another moment of high risk, both in the Gulf and in Washington. At the scene of the oil spill, the oil firm BP — attempting the latest of inventive but thus far ineffective maneuvers to stop the gusher that has been spewing from the gulf floor for five weeks — has begun to pour 50,000 barrels of dense mud into the well. The exercise, known as a “top kill,” has effectively stopped other spills in the past but has never been tried at the mile-down depth of this one. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is scheduled to deliver the results of a review demanded by Obama that gives an accounting of the federal government’s policies with regard to energy exploration on the outer continental shelf, including whether there are adequate safeguards with respect to regulations and inspections. Obama is expected to announce a series of new policies in response. The news conference will also come on the day before the president travels to the gulf to inspect the scene and also to send a message of engagement. With reporters having their first opportunity to put a full range of questions to Obama about the spill and his administration’s handling of it, here are five that should be asked: MORE

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REAL ESTATE: So You Want To Buy A Home Pt. 2

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010


AaronAvatar_1.jpgBY AARON STELLA Never buy your first home for love; buy it for money. Embracing this maxim will maximize the considerable benefits of first-time home ownership. As I mentioned in our last edition, people don’t typically buy a home until they’re ready to settle down, and it’s this mindset that prevents many people from home owning and securing wealth until later in life. Your dream home doesn’t have to be your first; make it your fourth, and by that point you should be able to buy it in cash.

After I got serious about buying my first home, I had to assess whether or not I was eligible for a mortgage. To do this, I went to a mortgage broker who ran me through a mortgage pre-approval, which determines two things: one, how expensive a home I can purchase, and two, whether or not I meet the minimum requirements to acquire a mortgage. The type of loan I sought was an FHA loan (Federal Housing Administration). Due to recent market conditions, most first time home buyers opt for FHA loans since it requires the least money down (3.5% of the total purchase price, compared to the 5%, 10% or 20% down required by other types of loans). In addition to the 3.5% down, you must also have a credit score of at least 620 and two consecutive years work experience in the same field. If you meet those requirements, the mortgage broker will assess your debt-to-income ratios. Da-Da-Dum! Now now, don’t get caught up in all the numbers. Like I said in our last edition, getting mortgages are just like trying to get juiced up student loans. So let’s take this step-by-step.

Credit: Luckily enough, by time you get done with college, you’re credit score is usually healthy and untarnished, so long that you didn’t (ahem) spend yourself into oblivion on Chinese take-out and Red Bull. I did, however, apply for two credit cards and bought pizza on them once a week, and paid them off monthly, which gave my score a little more beef than the average grad by graduation time.

Work Experience: I received a BA in English at Temple, and now perform writing-based tasks for CITYSPACE. According to a lender, I have four years of first_time_homebuyer.thumbnail.jpgwork experience under my belt in the English/writing field by merit of my college education. If I’d changed jobs from, say, magician to UFC cage fighter to underwater basket weaver to Storm Trooper in the past two years, no matter how qualified a Storm Trooper I might have been or how much money the Galactic Empire paid me, if I don’t have two consecutive years of documented experience as a Storm Trooper that lux-condo on the Death Star will just have to wait. Still, good mortgage brokers have been known to work a bit of magic (especially for the Galactic Empire) so don’t lose hope altogether if you’ve only been a highly paid Storm Trooper for a year or so.

Debt-to-Income Ratio:
Unfortunately, my student loans did not help my debt-to-income ratios. Now don’t go screaming into the hills because of the numbers. Trust me, it’s not as bad as it seems. So, the prerequisites for an FHA loan dictate that a borrower can spend no more than 43.5% of their gross monthly income — after subtracting monthly debts — on their mortgage. This fixture is used to lower the risk of the borrowers defaulting and to help them maintain their quality of life (I’m looking at you, big spender). So, let’s say you make $2,500/month gross, and your total debt is $300/month (student loans, car loans, credit cards, etc.). Energy bills, cell phone bills, and your membership to the polar bear club do not factor in. After subtracting the $300/month, you’re left with $2,200/month to play with. Now, take 43.5% of $2,200/month, which works out to you being able spend up to $957/month max on your mortgage.

Still awake? Now to see how much of a mortgage you’re eligible for, using this savvy equation here: for every $100,000 you borrow, expect to pay around $600/month for the mortgage, which means, if FHA guidelines allows you to spend a maximum of $957/month on a mortgage, then you can afford to borrow a little under $160,000. Now, just because 160K defines your max doesn’t mean you should go running to purchase a 160K home. Believe it or not, you can get a finished home for much less than 160K in a good part of town, when you’re making, what, $32,500 a year? The house will probably have a couple of bedrooms you could rent out, allowing you to potentially live for free and still collect on all the tax breaks. Not a bad deal. Not bad at all.

Well, that about covers the process for mortgage pre-approval process. We’ll get deeper into the mortgage process in later editions. Keep in mind everyone’s situation is different: there are a plethora of variables that determine how much your mortgage payment will be, and what type of mortgage is best for you; however, now you have a base of knowledge from which you can approach acquiring a mortgage, and, more importantly, house hunting, which we’ll be covering in our next edition. So stay tuned, folks. We’ll be back with more.


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CINEMA: Land Of The Lost

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010


VALLEY OF GWANGI (1968, directed by Jim O’Connelly, 96 minutes, U.S.)

BuskirkByline_REV.jpgBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Secret Cinema will be offering a free screening of their print of the 1969 Technicolor fantasy film Valley of Gwangi tonight at 7:00pm at the American Philosophical Society. The film was directed by Jim O’Connolly but is defined by its gorgeous special effects by legendary animator Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen found his calling at the age of thirteen when he saw the original 1933 King Kong at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where he was mesmerized the the model animation work of Willis O’Brien.  He contacted O’Brien on the MGM set while still in his teens and ultimately apprenticed for the animator on 1949’s giant gorilla adventure Mighty Joe Young.  It’s hard to believe that in the 1950’s he pretty much had the field of figure animation to himself, specializing in films where the animated figures interact with live action settings.  In 1955 he began his string of films with a giant octopus in It Came From Beneath the Sea, and went on to compile fourteen features including Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, Twenty Million Miles To Earth and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

Harryhausen’s movies are now considered fantasy film classics, wildly influential to the blockbuster cinema that Lucas and Spielberg popularized in the 1970’s but by the mid-sixties he was in a cold streak, not finding much financial success with version of the Jason & The Argonauts myth or his Jules Verne adaptations, First Man the Moon and Mysterious Island. Struggling to get his own projects funded he hired himself out to Britain’s Hammer Studios to create the dinosaurs for the Racquel Welch fur-bikini epic One Million Years B.C. The film was one of 1966’s top grossers and led to Warner Brothers/Seven Arts giving the greenlight to another animated dinosaur film.

Harryhausen ended up pulling a script from his garage of an unrealized Willis O’Brien project (O’Brien passed away in ’62) that became Valley of raquel-welch-posters.jpgGwangi.  Perhaps it is the spirit of O’Brien that makes Gwangi the liveliest of Harryhausen’s films. Gone is the faux antiquated language of his historical epics and rather than a square-jawed hero, at the center of Gwangi is the under-rated James Franciscus.  He plays Tuck, a carnival con man who ran out on the circus’ lovely cowgirl T.J. (Gila Golan). Set in turn of the 20th century Mexico (but shot in Spain) their circus finds a miniature per-historic horse that leads them to a secret valley where dinosaurs still run free.  Harryhausen’s effects for the roping of the Allosaurus used six cowboys and two dinosaurs, took over five months to shoot and is one of the most masterful scenes in his career.   And it’s just one of the show-stopping special effect moments in the film, which beautifully climaxes with God and nature meeting in an ancient church for the finale.

Harryhausen delivered more effects shots than any of his film prior to Gwangi but the film still took a bath at the box-office.  Maybe it was because it got buried under a inappropriate co-feature in a double-bill (Marianne Faithfull’s mod vehicle Girl On A Motorcycle), maybe its cowboy and dinosaurs template seemed too old-fashioned for the counter-culture revolution happening at the moment.  Today what survives is Harryhausen’s obsessive love at bringing his impossible creatures to life and over forty years later it is a love that conquers all the CGI Hollywood can muster.

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KOOL KEITH & TOM WAITS: Spacious Thoughts

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

“Spacious Thoughts” NASA feat. Kool Keith & Tom Waits from Fluorescent Hill on Vimeo.

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TONITE: We Travel The Spaceways

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010


Tonight! Tuesday, May 25, 8pm
Maestro Marshall Allen’s Annual Birthday Celebration

Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Avenue
$12 General Admission

Ars Nova Workshop presents a very special performance of the Sun Ra Arkestra in celebration of the 86th birthday of Marshall Allen and the 96th anniversary of Sun Ra’s arrival on Earth. The Arkestra, under the direction of Allen, will perform two sets; DJ hi-res will spinning classic jazz, breaks and more; archival films will be projected behind the stage; and we’ll be giving away complimentary Moon Pies to the first 100 through the
door. You won’t want to miss this!

RELATED: One of the most colorful characters in the history of jazz, Sun Ra couched his compositions in arcane spiritual beliefs that combined sunra_marshallallen.jpgEgyptology, numerology, Afrocentric myth, the Book of Revelations and interstellar travel to create a personal religion. Arkestra members were not just musicians; they were disciples committed to a monastic regimen of musical and philosophical study. After Ra left Earth, saxophonist John Gilmore took over leadership of the Arkestra, and when he died in 1995, the baton was passed to Allen. A noted alto saxophonist, Allen joined the Arkestra in 1958 after returning from studying at the National Conservatory in Paris. In typical Sun Ra fashion, Allen’s audition was less than conventional. “[Ra] had me come down to the practice room every day for three days and all he did was talk, talk, talk,” says Allen. “He talked about outer space and going to the moon and Egypt and the Bible. It was like going to school. And then he finally tells me to come around to practice; I was in the band. I never even played my horn.” In 1968 Sun Ra brought the Arkestra to Philadelphia after residencies in New York and Chicago. “To save the planet, I had to go to the worst spot on Earth,” he once told an interviewer, “and that was Philadelphia, which was death’s headquarters.” MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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