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Archive for June, 2010

HIGH TIMES: Go West, Young Man

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010


NEW YORK TIMES: One of the odder experiments in the recent history of American capitalism is unfolding here in the Rockies: the country’s first attempt at fully regulating, licensing and taxing a for-profit marijuana trade. In California, medical marijuana dispensary owners work in nonprofit collectives, but the cannabis pioneers of Colorado are free to pocket as much as they can — as long as they stay within the rules. The catch is that there are a ton of rules, and more are coming in the next few months. The authorities here were initially caught off guard when dispensary mania began last year, after President Obama announced that federal law enforcement officials wouldn’t trouble users and suppliers as long as they complied with state law. In Colorado, where a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana was passed in 2000, hundreds of dispensaries popped up and a startling number of residents turned out to be in “severe pain,” the most popular of eight conditions that can be treated legally with the once-demonized weed.

More than 80,000 people here now have medical marijuana certificates, which are essentially prescriptions, and for months new enrollees have signedmedical-marijuana1.thumbnail.jpg up at a rate of roughly 1,000 a day. As supply met demand, politicians decided that a body of regulations was overdue. The state’s Department of Revenue has spent months conceiving rules for this new industry, ending the reefer-madness phase here in favor of buzz-killing specifics about cultivation, distribution, storage and every other part of the business.

Whether and how this works will be carefully watched far beyond Colorado. The rules here could be a blueprint for the 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have medical marijuana laws. That is particularly the case in Rhode Island, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Maine, which are poised to roll out programs of their own. Americans spend roughly $25 billion a year on marijuana, according to the Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which gives some idea of the popularity of this drug. Eventually, we might be talking about a sizable sum of tax revenue from its sales as medicine, not to mention private investment and employment. A spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says hedge fund investors and an assortment of financial service firms are starting to call around to sniff out opportunities. MORE

njweedfarmers1.jpgRELATED: The state Senate Monday voted 27 to 5 in favor of legislation that gives the Christie administration an additional 90 days — until Oct. 1 — to implement New Jersey medical marijuana bill, or as it is officially known, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Proponents had hoped to see the law go into effect Thursday, the beginning of the state government’s 2010-11 fiscal year, but Christie asked for the delay in order to prepare health and law enforcement officials for the new service. MORE

RELATED: The State Senate has passed a bill that would extend the deadline to roll out New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to early January. The bill gives Gov. Chris Christie’s administration 90 more days for the program to begin. When former Gov. Jon Corzine first signed the law in January, the deadline was October 1. The Star-Ledger reported earlier this month that the Christie administration also wants to amend the law to grow and distribute all medical marijuana from Rutgers University’s agricultural center, which would eliminate the possibility of entrepreneurial growers and dispensaries getting some of the state’s business. It would further tightening what is already one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country. MORE

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ABOUT LAST NIGHT: Passion Pit At The Mann

Monday, June 28th, 2010


u2_boy.thumbnail.jpgBY JAMIE MANN I went to a Passion Pit show last night at The Mann.  Now, let me tell you, Passion Pit fucking blow.  Lets be honest.  They’re basically a bunch of Berklee School of Music grads, who found out how to sound like the eighties and sing like an android who regularly shoots up helium.  Now, perhaps I’m going too far, say you, people of the world.  “Sleepyhead is a top tune,” you might say.  “That wobbly synth riff after the chorus is sweet,” you might say.  You could say all these things, and you would be half right.  It is catchy and danceable, yes, you can sing along and bob your head, yes, but that  riff has all the panache of someone falling down the stairs, and making white people dance probably isn’t a great reason to exist either.  (Case in point, frat kid in front of me doing the double fist bump, alternating hands, which gradually climbed upward until he was passionately humping the air, at which point he noticed what a dickhead he looked like and stopped.)

However, this power to make white people dance is the source, methinks, of all their world-conquering villainy.  The last time I was in a venue the size of the Mann Center I was watching The motherfucking Police, not four afro-ed hipsters looking like Disney Channel refugees aping Flock of Seagulls.  And, the last time they played Philadelphia they were in the basement of The First Unitarian.  This band has grown to such gargantuan proportions so quickly we can only assume that they must suck; which reminds me of another thing that pisses me off, which is how all these indie hipster little shits run around in their superiority, trashing bands like Jonas Brothers or Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, all the while jizzing their pants over whatever shitty, badly record indie synth-pop is being made this month.  It’s like the minute a band is catchy, but don’t sound like they used a cardboard box as a studio, they become trash.

Now this also leads me into the openers of this evening of fun, Brahms and Tokyo Police Club.  Brahms took the whole eighties schtick much too far.  They performed as a trio, no drummer, in front of bright orange clear plastic triangles, dressed all in black, and then they would bang out some chord changes on the synth and switch between singing, blasting out some shit beat, or playing some shit guitar part over it.  Now, I thought this was funny, until Passion Pit came on and did the exact same thing for their first song.  Tokyo Police Club then, were left as the only band on the bill who actually managed to behave like rock stars, with the proper haircuts, guitar moves, killer breakdowns, stuff like that.  So props to them for not sucking. Now don’t get the wrong impression, Passion Pit were energetic live, some guy tried to tip the singer a twenty, that was hilarious, and Sleepyhead got every fucker in the place going, including me.  It was a fun night. Now if you’re a passionate Passion Pit person, (Aha!) you’re probably a bit annoyed with me. But be warned universe, one day, not long from now, people will look back and say, “Remember Passion Pit, and how they played The Mann, while The Arctic Monkeys could only fill the Electric Factory?  That was fucked up man, Passion Pit blew.”  And I shall be vindicated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jamie Davis just graduated from Kimberton Waldorf High School.  He enjoys Blink-182 more than any Thom Yorke fan should.

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Disgraced Health Care Exec Spends $16 Million To Hide History Of Fraud & Now Leads Florida Gov. Race

Monday, June 28th, 2010


MIAMI HERALD: As he meets Republicans around Florida, Rick Scott, the new front-runner in the Florida governor’s race, has been greeted with applause — and with blunt questions about his past. At a recent GOP breakfast in Tampa, Scott was confronted — not for the first time — about his role in the scandals at Columbia/HCA, the massive healthcare company that Scott ran for 10 years. Scott resigned in 1997 amid an FBI probe that ultimately led to the company paying a record $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines for Medicare fraud. It’s the paradox of Scott’s upstart campaign: The novice candidate has touted his stature and experience as the get-things-done CEO of what was once the nation’s largest for-profit healthcare company, while also trying to distance himself from Columbia/HCA’s notorious legacy of fraud. The strategy has worked so far. Thanks largely to a $16 million advertising blitz he financed himself, Scott — who moved to Florida seven years ago — now leads in the polls over fellow Republican Bill McCollum, the state attorney general and former congressman. MORE

SALON: For months now multimillionaire healthcare entrepreneur Rick Scott has been at the center of the aggressive campaign to derail healthcare reform in Washington, D.C. Reprising the role he played nearly 20 years ago, when as the head of a national hospital chain he helped kill Clintoncare, the former hospital-chain executive dickscott-fraud.thumbnail.jpgfounded the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, raising $20 million to fight Obamacare, including $5 million of his own money. The tall, lean Scott, whose shiny bald head swivels in exasperation at the idea of government involvement in healthcare, even stars in its nationwide ad campaign comparing Democratic proposals to socialized medicine. Through this group, he has fomented the conservative strategy to disrupt town hall-style healthcare meetings around the country by shouting down elected officials. (CPR sent schedules of the meetings to so-called Tea Party activists.) He can justifiably claim some of the credit for the Senate Finance Committee’s two votes Tuesday against a public option. But in Rick Scott the right has found a frontman whose baggage threatens to overwhelm his message.

A linchpin of Scott’s 2009 campaign has been the use of anecdotes from abroad — horror stories from Britain and dickscott-fraud.thumbnail.jpgCanada meant to illustrate how government-controlled healthcare systems “clearly kill people” by controlling their access to care, as he told Fox’s Sean Hannity in June. He even funded a documentary titled “Faces of Government Healthcare” cataloging the horror stories of British and Canadian patients who were purportedly denied medical attention for life-threatening illnesses until it was too late.

Yet even as Scott makes the rounds of Congress and talk-show green rooms, a wrongful death lawsuit has been working its way through the Florida courts against a doctor employed by the chain of walk-in clinics Scott founded. Scott has repeatedly bragged that the 27-clinic, Florida-based company, Solantic, is an example of the free-market ingenuity needed to fix our ailing medical infrastructure. The lawsuit, however, alleges a Solantic dickscott-fraud.thumbnail.jpgdoctor misdiagnosed a patient’s deep-vein thrombosis as a sprained ankle, leading to a pulmonary embolism and death. That same doctor was reprimanded by the state for misdiagnosing deep-vein thrombosis in a patient who died two years earlier. It’s the kind of anecdote you’d expect to hear in Scott’s documentary — except that it condemns a free-market system where profit and patient volume may take precedence over care. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS: Meet Dick Scott, Health Care Reform’s Public Enemy Number One

RELATED: Health Care Enemy #1

RELATED: Dick Scott Is The Bernie Madoff Of Health Care

MEET DICK SCOTT: Health Care Reform’s Public Enemy Number One

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BLONDEGATE: Ed Has No One To Blame But Ed

Monday, June 28th, 2010

rendell-shoots-foot.jpgDAILY NEWS: He said he brings Snow to fundraisers to add “pizzazz” – in EdWorld, a compliment; in the real world, an insult to professional women and akin to calling Snow eye candy. He said that rumors about him are unfair to attractive women, inexplicably adding, “I should go out and find an unattractive woman to have an affair with.” What’s that supposed to mean? New hope for unattractive women? His comment that he gets “hit on by women all the time” I’ll let stand, except to note that the last time I heard talk like that was in a locker room in high school. This is not Bill Clinton with a 21-year-old intern, or Eliot Spitzer with a high-priced call girl, or Mark Sanford using state resources to “hike the Appalachian Trail.” No one I’m aware of questions Snow’s job performance. No one alleges misuse of state funds. But no one who knows Rendell is the least bit surprised by this latest “friendship” or rumors attending it. And, Ed, you know why. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Turns Out Philadelphia Magazine Story Both Promotes And Dispels Rendell Mistress Rumors

PREVIOUSLY: Soon-To-Publish Philly Mag Story Rumored To Dispel Talk Of Rendell Hanky Panky, Not Confirm It


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SPORTO: Father And Son Go To Union Game In Chester And Despite All Odds Have An Awesome Time

Monday, June 28th, 2010

sportsguycropped.thumbnail.jpgBY MIKE WOLVERTON  SPORTS GUY I’m pretty sure I’d never been to Chester before. But all good things must come to an end, so I went to see the Union open their new home park on Sunday. I took my son Torin, who’s almost five but not particularly into sports. He usually likes to root for the white team, which would prove impossible in this green-vs-blue matchup. We were running late due to the three-headed monster of:

  1. Stayed too long at the pool
  2. Dealing with young children
  3. Wife never fills the gas tank

So we pulled into Chester about twenty minutes prior to the 5pm kickoff. With the lateness problem, I was predisposed to be annoyed by the parking situation, and with the traffic as it was I had little choice but to chance it with Lot G and its “shuttle” to the stadium. The Union handled this suboptimal scenario well, as there were plenty of buses, but Lot G really is a hike from the park, and the shuttle ride took a good 15 minutes with traffic. We heard the national anthem on the way off the bus and hustled to our seats just as the teams kicked off.

The Union had the better of the running in the first half, without creating many clear-cut opportunities. Our seats were behind the goal, on the side away from the river, so most of the action was coming our way in the first half. Just when it seemed the two sides would go into the locker room without a goal, Seattle slipped Pat Noonan in behind the Union defense and he opened the scoring at PPL Park with a 45th minute score.

The late goal really sapped the energy of the crowd on what was a brutally hot day, and it showed at the outset of the 2nd half. The crowd was dead for the first ten minutes of the half, even the boisterous Sons of Ben who filled the River End at the new stadium. Meanwhile, I was having my own problems. My child-maintenance strategy called for a food/water/bathroom run at the 35 minute mark of the first half, to beat the concession lines. Then I figured we’d walk around the park at halftime and check it out. But my judgment was faulty on the park tour…there wasn’t an easy way to check out other sections, and we ended up wandering the concourse as the halftime crowds hit. That hot, crowded, sweaty experience had a deleterious effect on my 4-year-old. Before we could even get back to our section, I heard my first, “I want to go home now.” Having none of it, we went to our seats for the 2nd half, but the heat, lifeless crowd and 1-0 deficit were doing nothing to help my cause. I heard, “It’s OK if we never come back here”, followed by, “I want to go home right now”. This was more a plea than a command, and I was forced to resort to, “I have to write an article on this”, which sort of worked.

KITCHEN BITCH: Eggplant Without The ‘Yuck Face’

Monday, June 28th, 2010


kitchen-bitch2.thumbnail.jpgBY MAVIS LINNEMANN One of my new favorite magazines is Cooking Light, because it offers foodies like me ways to cut calories and fat in all my favorite dishes. There’s even a way to make donuts more healthful! (Keep that oil at 375˚F to keep your donuts from getting greasy.) I spied a Parmesan and Eggplant Souffle recipe in CL’s June 2010 issue, but it seemed a little off. I’ve spent a lot of time with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, if you know anything about French cooking, you know that the French really know how to make soufflés, and pretty much anything else with eggs. Julia Child gives precise direction on how to make soufflé in her book, and the soufflé from Cooking Light just didn’t seem to have that soufflé magic I was looking for. So, in my quest to count calories but eat the yummiest possible meal, I combined the two recipes. I kept the vegetables and low-fat milk from Cooking Light, and added a few extra eggs and some butter from Julia Child’s recipe. More than the ingredients it’s my method that most resembles Julia’s. Cooking Light’s recipe calls for simply whipping the egg whites with a whisk, but I think of a soufflé as a dramatic, elegant, over-the-top egg puff. To get that dramatic height, the egg whites have to be whipped into beautiful stiff peaks and gently folded into the béchamel sauce and vegetables as Julia called for. MORE

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STUDY: ‘Bacterial Monsters’ Spawning Inside Sharks

Monday, June 28th, 2010


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Our leftover medicines are spawning drug-resistant “bacterial monsters” that thrive inside sharks, scientists say.The finding suggests antibiotics such as penicillin may be leaching into the environment and spurring drug-resistant bacteria to evolve and multiply in the oceans. “Bacteria have sex, basically. They can transfer genetic material,” said study leader Mark Mitchell, professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mitchell and colleagues found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in seven species of shark—such as bull sharks, lemon sharks, and nurse sharks—as well as the redfish Sciaenops ocellata. The fish live in coastal waters off Belize, Florida, Louisiana, and Massachusetts. Though random mutations can account for the drug-resistant bacteria, there’s ample evidence for human origin, he noted. “What do people do with antibiotics when they don’t finish them? They flush them down the toilet [or] put them in the garbage,” Mitchell said. MORE

ALSO: Astonishing Photos Of The Deep Horizon Oil Rig On Fire And Sinking Into The Gulf

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FACT CHECK: Who’s Afraid Of Elena Kagan?

Monday, June 28th, 2010


[illustration by KERRY WAGHORN]

Myth: Kagan banned military recruiters from Harvard

Myth: Kagan is “anti-military”

Myth: Kagan is “radical”

Myth: Kagan’s praise for an Israeli Supreme Court justice shows she’s a radical (NEW)

Myth: Kagan’s thesis shows she’s a socialist

Myth: Conservatives can credibly argue that Kagan’s personal and political views are relevant to confirmation process

Myth: “Kagan Standard” means Kagan must answer questions about issues that will come before the Supreme Court

Myth: Kagan’s Goldman Sachs role taints her nomination

Myth: Conservative opposition is based on the substance of Kagan’s nomination

Myth: Obama used “empathy” standard rather than fealty to law in choosing Kagan

Myth: Kagan is unqualified because she hasn’t been a judge (UPDATED)sean_hannity_fox_news_pancakes.jpg

Myth: Kagan has said judicial experience is an “apparent necessity”

Myth: Republicans would be justified in opposing Kagan because she lacks a judicial paper trail

Myth: Kagan is “Obama’s Harriet Miers”

Myth: Kagan’s record shows that she will rubber-stamp war-on-terror policies

Myth: Kagan’s 23-year-old statements about the Establishment Clause suggest she’s hostile to religion

Myth: Kagan’s recusal obligations would be “extraordinary”

Myth: Kagan “can become” too “emotionally involved on issues she deeply cares about”

Myth: Kagan not “fair-minded, impartial” and doesn’t have “proper temperament to be a judge”

Myth: Kagan is anti-free speech

Myth: Kagan supports banning books…MORE

[courtesy of MEDIA MATTERS]

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REVIEW: The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang

Sunday, June 27th, 2010


Back in the day, the only bad thing I could think of to say about The Gaslight Anthem was that they might have too much of a Bruce Springsteen fascination going on.  This was okay, because A) I never listened to that much Springsteen anyway and B) because the songs were just so brilliant.  They were poetic in an old timey greaser sort of way (like The Killers tried, less successfully on Sam’s Town), which made for some seriously sad, beautiful songs; and all of this combined with a Strummer-inspired punk aesthetic, made me feel like I was listening to something like the band Jesus might put together if he decided to come down from heaven and show us a few tricks he picked up in the last 2000 years.  So, when singer Brian Fallon came to The First Unitarian earlier this year to play an acoustic set and tell us how the new Gaslight album was going to be their London Calling, that is, the album where they find the sound they’ve always secretly wanted to be, and get remembered for the rest of history as being as good as The Beatles, we were all pretty excited, needless to say.  However, this new album, American Slang, is just…well… average. I mean, as always, the band weaves their eau-de-Americana lyrics with a sparkling lead guitar and passionate singing from Brian Fallon.  This is a man whose voice is so good he covered “I Do Not Hook Up” by a certain Kelly Clarkson, and actually made it sound good.  And they are the real deal, lest we forget.  Unlike Mr. Strummer, these guys really did pull themselves out of the working class, making it out of working dead end jobs in some shithole in New Jersey to conquer the world.  But even so, the songs just aren’t quite as sad, and the choruses aren’t quite as triumphant as before, it’s like listening to a slightly faded carbon copy of the previous, genius album The ’59 Sound.  All the same bits are there, in similar placement and order, just not quite as good.  However, I don’t want you all to get the wrong idea here.  If this was their debut album, and we had nothing to compare it to, I would undoubtedly be sitting here with nothing to say besides the highest praise.  This is a good album, by a very good band, it’s just not as good as we have seen them be.  In fact, if you’ve never heard the band before, I would encourage you to get this album first so that you can love it for what it is, and then move on to having your skull shattered by ’59 Sound.  Either way, enjoy the band, see them live, enjoy the album, but if you want to hear this band at their best, this is not the first place you should look. – JAMIE DAVIS

PREVIOUSLY: Brian Fallon At First Unitarian

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JEFF TWEEDY: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Just wanted take this opportunity to remind you that Mr. Tweedy will be performing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival this year, and you can secure tickets by clicking HERE. That is all.

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MEDIA: Philly Mag Editor Larry Platt Ousted Over Testicular Cyst; Dave Weigel Out At WaPo Over Emails

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

larry-platt.jpgDAN GROSS: Philadelphia magazine on Thursday parted ways with editor Larry Platt, who was at its helm for nearly eight years. Platt’s contract with the magazine is up in August, but after returning to work Thursday following shoulder surgery, he was informed that he would not stay on, we’re told. Sources tell us the decision was largely due to Platt’s history of inappropriate and unprofessional remarks and jokes to his employees that closely resembled the behavior of fictional “The Office” boss Michael Scott. Platt’s recent gift of a framed photo of a cyst removed from his testicle to a departing female staffer was one of the examples that led to the decision of Herbert and David Lipson – chairman and president of Metrocorp, which owns the magazine – to relieve him of his duties. The magazine announced yesterday that Platt had resigned. MORE

VILLAGE VOICE: Yesterday afternoon, The Washington Post‘s conservative blogger, Dave Weigel, resigned. This was following Dave_Weigel.jpgthe leak of some emails detailing his personal political views to a DC hack-gossip named Betsy Rothstein and bowtied blowhard Tucker Carlson’s website, The Daily Caller. The emails were pulled from a private listserv run by fellow Washington Post blogger wunderkind Ezra Klein, the notorious Journolist. Now it’s time to ask: Who smeared Dave Weigel? MORE

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CINEMA: The End Is Near

Friday, June 25th, 2010


COLLAPSE (2009, directed by Chris Smith, 82 minutes, U.S.)


Have you ever heard the 1970 LP Criswell Predicts? The narrator of Plan Nine From Outer Space and one-time Johnny Carson regular, Criswell predicts that the future will bring marijuana that can change your sex, nude funerals and a woman at the head of every nation. It’s a real hoot! Collapse, director Chris Smith’s latest film,  just out on DVD, features one-time LAPD investigator and independent reporter Michael Ruppert making lots of predictions as well.  It is not a hoot.  Ruppert makes his case that darn near everything in modern life depends on access to cheap petroleum, a finite substance that is in sharp decline. Over the film’s 82 minutes Ruppert is warning against more than long lines at the pumps, he’s predicting the end of plastics, electricity and especially our oil-intensive food system.  Shot in what looks like a lonely basement bunker, Smith  gives the chain-smoking Ruppert, mustachioed and looking like the slightly rattled ex-cop he is, a forum to spin his spooky tale of what the U.S. and the industrialized world would look like once the pumps go dry.

The tale he relates does not involve zombie lurching across the landscape but his scenario, built heavily on fact not conjecture, feels much akin to the sort of apocalyptic dramas appearing regularly in multiplexes: it’s loaded with death, starvation and chaos in the streets. “I’m just bringing the dots close enough together so that they can be connected,” he says, and although you might not buy every assumption he makes  the concept of a world without oil is a fascinating and not easily dismissed idea.

Chris Smith has been quietly compiling one of the most compelling and political filmographies of any U.S. indie filmmaker over the last fifteen years, including fictional films like his debut masterpiece American Job (one of the most insightful films about work ever made) and his Indian-shot The Pool, to documentaries like his breakthrough American Movie (chronicling sad sack filmmaker Mark “Coven” Borchardt) and his profile of anti-corporate pranksters The Yes Men..  Collapse is heavily indebted to the work of Errol Morris, with its intimate focus on a single talking head, its minimal score and the occasional stock footage to visually flesh out  its concepts. But any lack of originality is out-balanced by the fact that Smith has captured a live one, an intensely engaged subject delivering a sermon so paradigm-shaking that the gravity of his pronouncements seems to be weighing on his back like a rock. Ruppert is a natural storyteller, full of rich allusions and metaphors, delivering his story with just a touch of smug self-knowledge, like a student who is the first to solve the teacher’s puzzle.

Smith builds this material to an emotional climax as well.  As he reaches the heart of his message, Ruppert nearly loses his composure, the weight of his belief seeming almost crippling (a final scroll mentions that Ruppert is nearly broke and is late on his rent.)  As bleak as is Ruppert’s prognosis, I’ll admit I was pleased that his prescription is not to stock up on guns but to take responsibility for raising one’s own produce, not depending on food that is grown, harvested and shipped courtesy of fossil fuels. Could Ruppert be right, is industrial civilization standing at the edge of an oil-less precipice? Only Criswell knows for sure, but take or leave Ruppert’s argument, Collapse still feels valuable as an exercise in re-imagining the petroleum-fueled world we take for granted.

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PAPERBOY: Slow-Jamming The Alt-Weeklies

Friday, June 25th, 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: Hard times and cold, hard cash: Holly Otterbein examines the city’s bail system and how it so often results the poor get the short end. She does the math and shows how the city doesn’t make any money off of people like Nathaniel Hayes, who spent over a hundred days in jail because he couldn’t cough up a little over $1,000. Something, it clears, doesn’t add up.

If cash bail doesn’t make the city money, what’s its purpose?cp_2010-06-24.jpg

Its raison d’être is twofold, and beautifully simple: Guarantee that a defendant shows up for court, and protect the community from dangerous people.

But empirical research, dating back to the 1950s, suggests that it doesn’t work: Studies show that manipulating dollar amounts doesn’t affect the likelihood that a defendant will show up for trial or ensure the community’s safety. In part, this is because professional criminals often write off any bail sum as a cost to the company, and then skip court. Ever since those studies were conducted, scholars have pressed judges to halt, or at least limit, their use of bail and instead release defendants on their own recognizance or lock them up until trial if they’re too parlous — often to no avail.

So if monetary bail doesn’t work, what does?

There’s evidence that the answer lies in alternatives to pretrial detainment. Instead of setting monetary bail and thus holding a large amount of poor people, some judicial systems, including federal courts and Washington, D.C., opt to release defendants and provide them with various services: mental health care for the sick, substance-abuse treatment centers for the addicted and Breathalyzer tests for defendants who’ve been charged with a DUI, among other things.

She explores other local connections, like a professor from Temple who crafted bail guidelines that made sense and actual gained traction in the ‘70s, and makes it clear that the city is behind the curve on this: Washington D.C. and the federal government, among others, have dropped cash bail. I know you’re hurting for cash, Philly, but there’s gotta be another way.

PW: The wounds are still fresh from March’s “flash mob” incident — at least for this proximate-to-South-Street city-dweller — so I wasn’t sure where Aaron Kase was going with the lead to his story on the DollarBoyz. It could have been some incendiary race-baiting stuff — I remember seeing that back in March, too — but he ended up making me a believer in this thousands-strong youth movement based in North Phil, led by a guy known as Top Dollar. They dance, they perform, they’re on the streets not making a nuisance of themselves, and people still try to bring them down!

While the DollarBoyz strive to create opportunities, they find that not everyone is receptive to their presence. Young black males traveling in large groups—the Boyz often move in 062310pwcover.jpga crew of 20 or more—attract the eye of law enforcement, and the group has felt the effects of increased police scrutiny since the rash of flash mobs a few months back. Top says that a crew of six is enough to attract negative attention.

“We walk to the store … as a big, large group, the cops will show up. They come out of their cars with their batons out, saying ‘Get the F out of here,’” he says.

“I tell the cops, ‘Yo, we a positive youth group,’” says Top, adding that the police generally back off until the next time they try to walk down the street.

The stereotypes extend to the party world, too. Although no one ever came out and said it, parties like those thrown by the DollarBoyz fit the description of the real targets of the promoter bill that passed through City Council this spring.

City Council’s trying to bring them down, too? These kids have the making of some anti-establishment heroes. God speed, Dollarboyz, and to Top Dollar: Try a new nickname — the current one kinda sounds like a gentleman’s club.


CP: I am now seeking  corporate sponsors  for my weekly column. Springsteen soundalikes: weak. Restaurant critic not too drunk to taste food at beer bar. National things: League, Lampoon, Debt.

PW: I’m against crappy music anyway, but this calls for a B-101 boycott. Sherriff, your days are numbered. Love the classic Swells quotes. Alma mater alert: Greetings, fellow Bison!

WINNER: In honor of the late Steven Wells and in his spirit of defiance against self-important horseshit the world over, PW gets the nod this week. He’s pissing off angels in heaven now.

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