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Archive for May, 2010

TONITE: We Travel The Spaceways

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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Tonight! Tuesday, May 25, 8pm
SUN RA ARKESTRA
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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BIG BLACK: It’s BP’s Oil, We Just Live In It

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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[photo via THE BIG PICTURE]

MOTHER JONES: The blockade to Elmer’s is now four cop cars strong. As we pull up, deputies start bawling us out; all media need to go to the Grand Isle community center, where a “BP Information Center” sign now hangs out front. Grand Isle residents are not amused by the beach closing.Inside, a couple of Times-Picayune reporters circle BP representative Barbara Martin, who tells them that if they want passage to Elmer they have to get it from bp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpganother BP flack, Irvin Lipp; Grand Isle beach is closed too, she adds. When we inform the Times-Pic reporters otherwise, she asks Dr. Hazlett if he’s a reporter; he says,  ”No.” She says, “Good.” She doesn’t ask me. We tell her that deputies were just yelling at us, and she seems truly upset. For one, she’s married to a Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputy. For another, “We don’t need more of a black eye than we already have.”"But it wasn’t BP that was yelling at us, it was the sheriff’s office,” we say.

“Yeah, I know, but we have…a very strong relationship.”

“What do you mean? You have a lot of sway over the sheriff’s office?”

“Oh yeah.”bp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpg

“How much?”

“A lot.”

When I tell Barbara I am a reporter, she stalks off and says she’s not talking to me, then comes back and hugs me and says she was just playing. I tell her I don’t understand why I can’t see Elmer’s Island unless I’m escorted by BP. She tells me BP’s in charge because “it’s BP’s oil.” MORE

RELATED: At least 6 million gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf, though some scientists have said they believe the spill already surpasses the 11 million-gallon 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska as the worst in U.S. history. Obama administration officials continued defending their response while criticizing that of BP PLC, which leased the rig and is responsible for the cleanup. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he is “not completely” confident bp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpgthat BP knows what it’s doing. MORE

RELATED:  The administration says it is losing patience with BP PLC’s efforts. “If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters outside BP’s headquarters in Houston on Sunday.Just what did Salazar mean by “push them out of the way”? Officials have struggled since in explaining. “That’s more of a metaphor,” the Coast Guard’s Allen said Monday. “‘Push BP out of the way’ would raise the question — replace them with what?” MORE

RELATED: Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week. The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals bp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpgManagement Service from 2005 to 2007, also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry. MORE

RELATED: History isn’t encouraging when it comes to underwater ruptures. The last major spill in the Gulf was in June 1979, when an offshore drilling rig in Mexican waters — the Ixtoc I — blew up, releasing 140 million gallons of oil. The well was owned by Mexico’s state oil company, known as Pemex. It took Pemex and a series of U.S. contractors nearly nine months to cap the well, and a great deal of the oil contaminated Mexican and U.S. waters. MORE

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VBS TV: Diplo Takes Over Bob Marley’s Studio

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Why Philly? A lot of people in your situation would have chosen New York.
I couldn’t afford to move to New York. Besides, Philadelphia is really a good city and a pretty creative place. I guess it’s tougher than New York in terms of the competition because everybody hates each other. If you can make it out of Philly, you have pretty tough skin. I also got a scholarship to go to university there, so school was another reason. MORE

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ORANGE CRUSH: Next Stop, Blackhawk Downs

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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[photo by RYAN DEVERA]

NHL.COM: It’s been 35 years since the Flyers last hoisted the Stanley Cup. [Flyers owner Ed] Snider was 42 at the time. He celebrated his 77th birthday in January. You could understand if his patience has worn thin. “When (the Bruins) scored those three goals, I said, ‘Well, it’s been a great run … we gave it a great shot,’” Snider told NHL.com Monday night. “I have to be honest, I thought it was over. These guys never know what over is. They never quit.” stanley-cup.thumbnail.jpgMORE

RELATED: A limited number of Stanley Cup Final tickets will be made available for individual game purchase, however they will be offered in a lottery to assure Flyers fans have the best opportunity to experience the Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia. Interested applicants should complete and submit a registration form for the opportunity to purchase two tickets to Games 3, 4 or 6 (if necessary). Applicants must be at least 18-years-old or older at the time of entry. Registration ends on Tuesday, May 25th at 11:59pm. MORE

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REEFER MADNESS: Fed-Funded Drug Unit Seizes Citizen Petitions Calling For Legalization

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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FIREDOGLAKE: A federally funded drug task force seized as evidence up to 200 petition signatures for marijuana legalization in Washington State in a series of early-morning raids this week.  Seizing the petition signatures is bad enough. What’s worse is what the task force did on its raids of a legal marijuana dispensary and its owner’s home. Drug agents handcuffed a 14-year-old boy and pointed a gun at his head. Then they took $80 from a 9-year-old girl’s Minnie Mouse wallet that she earned for straight A’s on her report card. Now the drug agents – funded by the US Department of Justice – say they can only find two pages of the petition. But they had time to make photocopies of the petition, keeping the names and addresses of residents who mickey-mouse-wallet.thumbnail.jpgsigned. We started our own petition demanding the release of the seized signatures that we’ll deliver to the task force headquarters next week. MORE

SEATTLE WEEKLY: Christine Casey, patient coordinator of North End Club 420, tells the Weekly that detectives from the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNet) who came to her house in Olalla (west of Vashon Island) handcuffed her 14-year-old son for two hours and put a gun to his head. They also told the kid to say goodbye to his dad, Guy Casey, because the dispensary owner was going to prison. And as the detectives looked for cash to prove that the dispensary was illegally profiting from pot sales, Casey says, they confiscated $80 that her 9-year-old daughter had received from her family for a straight-A report card. Where did they find it? In the girl’s Mickey Mouse wallet, according to Casey. She also claims that the cops dumped out all her silverware, busted a hole in the wall, and broke appliances. She alleges, too, that the cops finger-wrote “I sell pot” in the dust covering the family’s Hummer (which the cops then seized). MORE

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EARLY WORD: Talking Heads

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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When: Thursday, May 27 at 7 PM

Where: Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street

Tickets: $12, available HERE

Slate’s Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz bring their acclaimed weekly political podcast to the Friends Center in downtown Philadelphia, PA for a live performance. They’ll discuss President Obama, the Supreme Court, and the hot political stories of the week, and then wrap it all up with Cocktail Chatter. Afterwards, you will be invited to participate in the dialogue during audience Q&A.

(more…)

Is It Time To Time To Rename The Fencl Award?

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

DAILY NEWS: IT WAS a joke. It had to be a joke. That was the only thought that entered Officer Richard “Butch” Riddick’s mind last week when he was told by the Daily News that he was the winner of the 25th annual George Fencl Award. MORE

DAILY NEWS: George Fencl died in January, 1985. At the time he was chief of security for the Philadelphia School District, having retired from the Police Department with the rank of chief inspector in 1983, after 33 years on the force. Soon after his death, Chuck Stone, then senior editor of the Daily News, suggested that the newspaper create an annual award for a police officer who exemplifies the qualities of compassion, fairness and civic commitment that marked Fencl’s career. The first award was presented in 1986. It was during the turbulent ‘60s that Fencl, then head of the Police Department’s Civil Affairs Unit, earned his reputation for fairness regardless of the race or creed or cause of the protesters with whom he came in contact. When the award was created, Chuck Stone had this to say about Fencl: “George Fencl was the incarnation of moral integrity and professional excellence. He was able to transcend all races and nationalities. If we had several thousand George Fencls, we would have absolutely the best police force in the world.” MORE

CHUCK STONE: Ironically, George Fencl ‘s death reminded us just how good a cop could be. At a time when the Philadelphia police force has been shaken by corruption in its highest echelons and widespread police brutality is further shattering public confidence, George Fencl ‘s name brightens a dark sky like a full moon. He avoided physical abuse. He refused to violate constitutional rights. MORE

PW:  The leader of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Civil Disobedience Unit was Lt. George Fencl, a thick-necked man with slicked-back salt-and-liberty-bell-cover.jpgpepper hair. Fencl was a regular fixture at protests and demonstrations in the ’60s and ’70s. It was his job to monitor, identify, photograph and track dissident groups and their sympathizers. Fencl, dressed in his trademark black overcoat with a white armband emblazoned with the word POLICE, and his CDU boys would show up at demonstrations and photograph everyone in the crowd, taking down names and license-plate numbers of those participating. Sometimes Fencl’s men would brandish cameras that had no film, snapping away nonexistent pictures to intimidate and disperse protesters. 
 On a 1970 episode of NBC news program First Tuesday, Fencl bragged that the police had a list of over 18,000 names. He also enlisted an army of informers, some of which were criminals cooperating in exchange for charges being dropped and others the wives of police officers encouraged to join activist groups and report back to the CDU in exchange for “pin money.” [...] Lieutenant Fencl was eventually promoted to inspector and led the first raid on MOVE. The much-coveted Fencl Award—“bestowed on a police officer who brings a unique blend of courage, integrity and determination to the job,” according to the Daily News , which co-sponsors the award—was named in his honor after his death 24 years ago.
 Fraser rolls his eyes when told of the Fencl Award. “He was a guy of bottomless unscrupulousness, and constantly involved in the harassment and intimidation of groups fighting for social justice,” says Fraser. “I think Fencl was very cynical about all this. Although he was not the smartest guy in the world, I am sure he knew, because everybody knew … that the SDS Labor Committee was avowedly anti-violent and in some corners of the SDS we were criticized, severely, for condemning Weatherman-like behavior, because it was destined to isolate the organization, it was immoral and it was politically suicidal. We said all these things publicly and he knew that.” MORE

THE GOOD NEWS FLOWER HOUR: The Phantom Plot To Blow Up The Liberty Bell

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THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE: Man Drops Off Family At Casino, Sets Car On Fire, Disappears

Monday, May 24th, 2010

man_who_wasnt_there.jpgINQUIRER: On Friday night, Martin Caballero, 47, of North Bergen, drove to the seaside resort Friday night with his wife and two adult daughters. He pulled his 2009 white Lincoln MKS up to the Porte cochere of the Trump Taj Mahal and let his family out, police said. Police said the women entered the casino. Ten minutes later they returned to where they last saw Caballero but could not find him. They assumed he had gone into the casino, said Sgt. Monica McMenamin, a spokeswoman for the Atlantic City police. Four hours later, one of the daughters received a call from their brother. The brother said that police had found Caballero’s burned-out car in Blackwood, Gloucester Township – 46 miles from Atlantic City, McMenamin said.  The Lincoln was discovered engulfed in flames in the parking lot of the Gloucester Township Democrat Club about 2:30 a.m. on the 100 block of Coles Road, said Capt. David Harkins of Gloucester Township. The burned-out luxury sedan did not hold Caballero’s remains, McMenamin said. MORE

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BOOKS: Mark Twain Will Have His Revenge

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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THE INDEPENDENT: Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain’s dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published. The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century. That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist. A section of the memoir will detail his little-known but scandalous relationship with Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who became his secretary after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Twain was so close to Lyon that she once bought him an electric vibrating sex toy. But she was abruptly sacked in 1909, after the author claimed she had “hypnotised” him into giving her power of attorney over his estate. Their ill-fated relationship will be recounted in full in a 400-page addendum, which Twain wrote during the last year of his life. It provides a remarkable account of how the dying novelist’s final months were overshadowed by personal upheavals. “Most people think Mark Twain was a sort of genteel Victorian. Well, in this document he calls her a slut and says she tried to seduce him. It’s completely at odds with the impression most people have of him,” says the historian Laura Trombley, who this year published a book about Lyon called Mark Twain’s Other Woman. “There is a perception that Twain spent his final years basking in the adoration of fans. The autobiography will perhaps show that it wasn’t such a happy time. He spent six months of the last year of his life writing a manuscript full of vitriol, saying things that he’d never said about anyone in print before. It really is 400 pages of bile.” MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: What Did Jesus Do?

Monday, May 24th, 2010

jesus-dj0.jpgNEW YORKER: Belief remains a bounce, faith a leap. Still, the appetite for historical study of the New Testament remains a publishing constant and a popular craze. Book after book—this year, ten in one month alone—appears, seeking the Truth. Paul Johnson has a sound believer’s life, “Jesus: A Biography from a Believer,” while Paul Verhoeven, the director of “Basic Instinct,” has a new skeptical-scholar’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth” (Seven Stories; $23.95). Verhoeven turns out to be a member of the Jesus Seminar, a collection mostly of scholars devoted to reconstructing the historical Jesus, and much of what he has to say is shrewd and learned. (An odd pull persists between box-office and Biblical study. A few years ago, another big action-film director and producer, James Cameron, put himself at the center of a documentary called “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.”) What the amateur reader wants, given the thickets of uncertainty that surround the garden, is not what the passionate polemicists want—not so much a verdict on whether Jesus was nasty or nice as a sense of what, if anything, was new in his preaching. Was the cult that changed the world a product of Paul’s evangelism and imperial circumstance and the military embrace of one miracle-mystery cult among many such around? Or was there really something new, something unheard of, that can help explain the scale of what happened later? Did the rise of Christendom take place because historical plates were moving, with a poor martyred prophet caught between, or did one small pebble of parable and preaching start the avalanche that ended the antique world? MORE

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ZEITGEIST: The New Paleolithic Age

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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NEW YORK TIMES: Paul is a libertarian, certainly, but more importantly he’s a particular kind of a libertarian. He’s culturally conservative (opposing both abortion and illegal immigration), radically noninterventionist (he’s against the Iraq war and the United Nations), and so stringently constitutionalist that he views nearly everything today’s federal government does as a violation of the founding fathers’ vision. This worldview goes by many names, including “paleoconservatism,” “the old right” and “paleolibertarianism.” But its adherents — Paul and his father, Ron, included — view themselves as America’s only true conservatives, arguing that the modern conservative movement has sold out to both big government and the military-industrial complex. Instead of celebrating the usual Republican pantheon, paleoconservatives identify with the “beautiful losers” of American history, to borrow a phrase from the paleocon journalist Sam Francis — the anti-imperialists who opposed the Spanish-American War, the libertarians who stood athwart the New Deal yelling “stop,” the Midwestern Republicans who objected to the growth of the national security state after World War II. And they offer an ideological synthesis that’s well outside either political party’s mainstream — antiwar and antiabortion, against the Patriot Act but in favor of a border fence, and skeptical of the drug war and the welfare state alike. MORE

RELATED: The Tea Party is not merely an inchoate expression of a political mood, or an amorphous ragtag band of diverse elements, or a bipartisan cry tea-party-gadsdenmodernvertical.pngof dissatisfaction with the supposed “government takeover” of health care. The Tea Party is a right-wing populist movement with a specific ideology. It resides in the aging white base of the Republican Party and wants to purge that party of leaders who veer from its dogma. But divisive as the Tea Party may be within the G.O.P., it’s hardly good news for President Obama and the Democrats either. Paul is articulate and hard-line. When he says he is antigovernment, he means it. Unlike McConnell, he wants to end all earmarks, including agricultural subsidies for a state that thrives on them. (He does vow to preserve Medicare payments, however; they contribute to his income as an ophthalmologist.) He wants to shut down the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve. Though a social conservative who would outlaw all abortions, he believes the federal government should leave drug enforcement to the states. It’s also in keeping with this ideology that Paul wants the federal government to stop shoveling taxpayers’ money into wars. He was against the war in Iraq and finds the justification for our commitment in Afghanistan “murky.” He believes that America’s national security is “not threatened by Iran having one nuclear weapon.” No wonder he didn’t get Cheney’s endorsement; Paul also opposes the enhanced government surveillance mandated by the Patriot Act. The Tea Party is a rolling rebuke to the neocons’ quarter-century dominance of the G.O.P. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: ATLAS MUGGED: Rand Paul’s Foot-In-Mouth Disease

RELATED: Last Night I Sneaked Into The Tea Party

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Beloved Broadcaster Wee Willie Webber Dead At 80

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

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PHAWKER: Wee Willie Webber turned us onto Ultraman when we were, like, seven — and we remain eternally grateful. Goodnight Mr. Webber, wherever you are.

bill_weber_breakfast-time.jpgINQUIRER: William W. Webber, 80, a fixture on Philadelphia radio and TV for more than 50 years, died Sunday of a heart attack at Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia while awaiting heart surgery there later this week, his son, William W. Jr., said. He lived on Rittenhouse Square. Known as Wee Willie at 6 feet, 5 inches, Mr. Webber was a workhorse, a host of children’s TV shows and a radio disc jockey, often on the same days. In 1956, he became host of a two-hour morning children’s cartoon show on Channel 6 that ran into the ’60s. From 1965 to 1976, he hosted an after-school cartoon show on Channel 17. And for three more years, his afternoon cartoon show was on Channel 48. Mr. Webber was especially proud, his son said, of “his longevity in Philadelphia.” On local radio and TV stations, “people don’t last very long. They tend to be in a market and then move on to another market.” Mr. Webber “wore well.” More than that, his son said, “I think he was proud of helping to raise a couple generations of kids with the kids’ shows on Channels 6, 17, and 48.” MORE


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FBI: Walter Cronkite Aided Vietnam War Protesters

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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YAHOO NEWS: Legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite allegedly collaborated with anti-Vietnam War activists in the 1960s, going so far as to offer advice on how to raise the public profile of protests and even pledging CBS News resources to help pull off events, according to FBI documents obtained by Yahoo! News. The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that in November 1969, Cronkite encouraged students at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., to invite Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie to address a protest they were planning near Cape Kennedy (now known as Cape Canaveral). Cronkite told the group’s leader that Muskie would be nearby for a fundraiser on the day of the protest, and said that “CBS would rent [a] helicopter to take Muskie to and from site of rally,” according to the documents. MORE

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