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Archive for January, 2011

MEDIA: Rendell, Bissinger To Be DN Columnists

Monday, January 31st, 2011

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LARRY PLATT: Speaking of loud voices, I also want to welcome our new sports columnist, none other than Ed Rendell. Some fifteen years ago, I sat with Rendell in the mayor’s box at Veterans Stadium while the Eagles waged a furious on-field comeback. He stood up, hoagie innards spewing from his mouth, while he pounded the plexiglas separating his box from that of new owner Jeffrey Lurie, trying to get Lurie and his nonplussed guests to join him in full-throated cheer. Lurie placidly kept his eyes glued to the field. Finally, waving in disgust, Rendell returned to his seat, saying, “This is the football box; that’s the quiche-eaters’ box.” As we know, none of that passion has waned in the intervening years. I look forward to our Fan-In-Chief surprising and amusing us in print every week, starting this Wednesday. MORE

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HEAR NO EVIL: With Your Life Coach A.P. Ticker

Monday, January 31st, 2011

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A.P. Ticker is many things to many people, a real man for all seasons, both an eternal optimist and a man of constant sorrow. But for most he’s the man who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-wop. A man with his finger on the pulse of popular culture, a veritable bellwether of what’s hip with the kids. This week A.P. runs down the top five albums in the nation (though admittedly it’s not entirely clear which nation): hot new releases from The Spinach Diplomats, Thundercake, the Sudge-Wumps, The Safe Words and the Long Black Veils. Plus he’s sneaks in a plug from his new solo album, The Distinctive Tinkles of A.P. Ticker (pictured above, some assembly required).

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The Man Who Would Save Newspapering In The 215

Monday, January 31st, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE: The task facing Greg Osberg was mandatory: Address a room full of union leaders suspicious of his intentions, and win them over. Never mind that such a goal seemed unattainable.For the past 18 months, ownership of Philadelphia’s most prominent newspapers had been the subject of a legal hair-pulling match. The Teamsters seemed to present the greatest challenge, because the side they favored, the Brian Tierney-led local ownership group, lost. So from their perspective, Osberg had arrived in 2010 as an empty suit, the living embodiment of  the faceless banks that won control of the papers following bankruptcy proceedings. He was here, most likely, to pillage their benefits and prune their staffs.

Just the same, Osberg made his best pitch. A lifelong media executive with stints at U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and the tech site CNET, Osberg speaks in a language that’s jargon-heavy. He talks airily about his “vision of the future,” peppering his sentences with new-media corporate-ese like “content delivery platforms,” “digital media solutions” and “building in value for the consumer.” The Teamsters were just one of 11 unions with which he needed to negotiate new contracts. And when Osberg finished his initial address to the Council of Unions at the Teamsters Hall, Teamsters Local 628 president John Laigaie responded with a far more concise message.

“Fuck you,” said Laigaie, “and your vision of the future.”

Osberg’s response circulated among the denizens of the Inquirer building in various forms, some no doubt apocryphal: “I think in time you’ll come to see my vision will work for the newspapers, and for you,” goes one version. In another, likely closer to the truth, Osberg didn’t react at all. He just sat there, smiling beatifically, as long-time Philadelphia newspaper executive Bob Hall leaned over and whispered: “Welcome to Philadelphia.” MORE

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SIDEWALKING: Pigs In The Blanket

Monday, January 31st, 2011

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Chinatown, 10:15 AM by JEFF FUSCO

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EARLY WORD: Godard Is Great

Monday, January 31st, 2011

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Tonight at International House, the Secret Cinema will be presenting an extremely rare dye-transfer Technicolor print of the1967 omnibus feature The Oldest Profession. Popularized during the foreign film boom of the 60s, an omnibus feature is a collection of shorts made by different directors exploring a single theme. The Oldest Profession is a blithe and often comedic examination of prostitution throughout the ages told in six parts. Despite the fact that it includes a segment from legendary French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard — which was made during what was arguably his richest period — and one from Philippe de Broca, The Oldest Profession has been cast aside, forgotten, and is unknown by most contemporary audiences. Godard’s contribution, Anticipation ou l’amour en l’an 2000 — which was made around the same time as his dystopic Weekend — is the closing segment and without doubt the pièce de résistance of the feature. Running just around 20 minutes, it was the director’s eighth and final collaboration with his then wife, the unworldly nouvelle vague ingenue Anna Karina, best known for leading roles A Woman is a Woman, Vivre se Vie and Band of Outsiders. Anticipation chronicles a visitor from another galaxy’s patronage of government-run brothel here on Earth. The first prostitute he gets is programmed only for sex and does not speak and as such he is unsatisfied and sends her back. The next prostitute —Anna Karina in a frilled Victorian wedding-dress, that presumably represents sentimental love — does nothing but talk. She plays a large metal comb like an instrument and they take turns squirting water into each other’s mouths with an aerosol can — don’t ask. Then she recites poetry, “Your eyes…/Are like two doves,/And my breasts…/Like baby gazelles.” The camera then jumps to him rubbing his forehead and suddenly there is an ethereal screeching in the background. She says, “Welcome noble stranger into the garden of your sister and fiancé…” but he bluntly cuts her off: “This doesn’t excite me.” But, noble stranger—it’s Anna Karina! Then they discover the kiss and, as the narrator says, make “love, progress and conversation all at the same time.” The screening is a must-see for Godard fans and connoisseurs of prismatic, late 60’s Technicolor. – CAROLINE SCHMIDT

Due to last week’s snopocalypse, The Oldest Profession will screen Thursday  at 7 PM at International House along with a few surprise shorts from the Secret Cinema. General Admission is $8, $6 for Students/Seniors and $5 for members.

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RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Julian Assange, Wikileaks And The New York Times But Were Afraid To Ask

Monday, January 31st, 2011

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NEW YORK TIMES: On the fourth day of the London meeting, Assange slouched into The Guardian office, a day late. Schmitt took his first measure of the man who would be a large presence in our lives. “He’s tall — probably 6-foot-2 or 6-3 — and lanky, with pale skin, gray eyes and a shock of white hair that seizes your attention,” Schmitt wrote to me later. “He was alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-colored sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in days.” Assange shrugged a huge backpack off his shoulders and pulled out a stockpile of laptops, cords, cellphones, thumb drives and memory sticks that held the WikiLeaks secrets. The reporters had begun preliminary work on the Afghanistan field reports, using a large Excel spreadsheet to organize the material, then plugging in search terms and combing the documents for newsworthy content. They had run into a puzzling incongruity: Assange said the data included dispatches from the beginning of 2004 through the end of 2009, but the material on the spreadsheet ended abruptly in April 2009. A considerable amount of material was missing. Assange, slipping naturally into the role of office geek, explained that they had hit the limits of Excel. Open a second spreadsheet, he instructed. They did, and the rest of the data materialized — a total of 92,000 reports from the battlefields of Afghanistan. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: Bill Murray Busted My Stones

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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URBAN DICTIONARY: A Bill Murray story is when you create an outlandish (yet plausable) story that involves you witnessing Bill Murray doing something totally unusual; often followed by him walking up you and whispering, “No one will ever believe you” and walking away. MORE

BLACK BOOK: My friend Matt Katrosar flew to Chicago last weekend to hang out with some of his Windy City pals and attend the Bears/Packers NFL playoff game. He was wearing a Green Bay jersey (in support of old-school Packers legend Ray Nitschke) amid a sea of Chicago blue. During the 2nd quarter, Matt celebrated a considerably good play on the part of Green Bay with the usual hootin’ and hollerin’ reserved for such moments. That’s when he was blatantly shoved from behind. Turning to catch a glimpse of his assailant, he discovered his pusher was none other than Bill Murray, a huge Chicago Bears fan, who was unapologetically enjoying the moment. MORE

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EGYPT: Mubarak’s Rule Hanging On By A Thread

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

[Illustration by khalid Albaih]

AL JAZEERA: Protesters have returned to the streets of Cairo, following violent overnight protests across the country staged in defiance of a curfew. Demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital on Saturday morning, shouting “Go away, go away!”, the Reuters news agency said. The latest protests reflected popular discontent with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s midnight address, where he announced that he was dismissing his government but remaining in power. The several hundred protesters demonstrated in full view of the army, which had been deployed in the city to quell the popular unrest sweeping the Middle East’s most populous Muslim country since January 25. They also repeatedly shouted that their intentions were peaceful. Reuters reported that the police “fired shots” on the protesters. An independent confirmation of that report is awaited. Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton, reporting from Cairo, said the normally bustling city looked more like a warzone early on Saturday morning. Tanks have been patrolling the streets of the capital since early in the morning. The ruling National Democratic Party’s headquarters in the capital is still ablaze, more than 12 hours after it was set alight by protesters. The Egyptian army says that it has been able to secure the neighbouring museum of antiquities from the threat of fire and looting, averting the possible loss of thousands of priceless artefacts. Armoured personnel carriers remain stationed around the British and US embassies, as well as at the state television station. Some mobile phone networks resumed service in the capital on Saturday, after being shut down by authorities on Friday. Internet services remain cut, and landline usage limited. MORE

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RELATED: Renesys watched as about 93 percent of Egypt’s Internet traffic began to shut down after midnight Friday in Cairo. Cowie said he could track each of the country’s major Internet service providers as they began a shutdown and data suggest government officials made a series of quick phone calls within a few minutes. In a statement on the company’s website, Vodafone Egypt also said that “all mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas. Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it. The Egyptian authorities will be clarifying the situation in due course.” MORE

RELATED: How hard is it, exactly, to kill the Internet? Egypt seems to have been able to do it. But Egypt’s situation isn’t exactly the same as that in the Western world. And even though Egypt only has four big ISPs, the fact that everything went down after midnight local time suggests that it took considerable effort to accomplish the ‘Net shut-off. After all, it seems unlikely that President Hosni Mubarak ordered the Internet to be shut down as he went to bed; such a decision must have been made earlier in the day, and then taken hours to execute. MORE

RELATED: Egyptian military tanks have surrounded Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where hundreds of protesters gathered and the crowd was growing Saturday. The atmosphere was tense as demonstrators continued chants of, “Down with Mubarak,” hours after President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would remain in power but had asked the country’s government to resign. But demonstrators also chanted, “We are all Egyptians,” and people gathered in the square were posing for pictures with tanks and shaking troops’ hands. MORE

An Egyptian anti-government activist kisses a riot police officer following clashes in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters poured into the streets of Egypt Friday, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas in the most violent and chaotic scenes yet in the challenge to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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SNOWTASTROPHE: City’s Snow Removal Tab Was $6 Million Before Latest Storm Pounded The 215

Friday, January 28th, 2011

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PHILLY CLOUT: Those funds went to overtime for city workers as well as paying for contractors and salt. The city — which does not budget money specifically for snow — still has to tally the cost of this week’s storm. And, with many winter weeks left, the costs could continue to climb. Snow removal costs put a dent in the city’s budget last year. The historic storms that blanketed the city last winter ultimately cost about $18 million, according to the mayor’s press office.

RELATED: So far, this winter’s snow total stands about 18 inches higher than last year’s at this time. That’s making the cost of Philadelphia’s snow removal efforts climb and climb. MORE

RELATED: “I have no idea what the different storms have cost they’ve pretty much have been coming on a weekly basis.,” said Nutter.  “We fight these storms the finance department does not determine how much equipment or personnel go out we have an obligation for public safety.” The mayor says the city will deal with the costs of the storms when the season is over and the snow is gone.  MORE

RELATED: You know, there’s an old saying in major cities which get heavy snowfall every year that elected officials can actually lose their jobs based on their response time to snowstorms. This is probably why Mayor Nutter was very careful with his words. MORE
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BREAKING: Charlie Sheen Is Too Damn High, Again

Friday, January 28th, 2011

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EXTRA: Early reports say Sheen was being treated for “abdominal pain.” Our source, Charlie’s friend Steve Brodersen, tells “Extra” the pain is the result of a hernia injury, worsened when Sheen laughed too hard at the TV. Doctors tell Sheen he may need surgery as soon as tomorrow morning to repair the hernia, for which he’s been treated in the past. Sheen’s best friend Tony Todd is by his side in the hospital. Charlie denies drugs were involved. MORE

TMZ: Charlie Sheen had a “briefcase full of cocaine” delivered to his home — and was using large amounts of the drug during the 36-hour bender that landed him in the hospital … this according to a source inside the house. MORE

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Kacey Jordan, a 22-year-old adult-film star (a different blonde than his reported favorite, Bree Olson, AVN-award winner for best anal 2008) stumbled against a wall as she gave TMZ a “blow-by-blow” of last night’s party. “When I first saw him, he was just fucking wasted out of his mind, which I was trying to get to that point too. Trust me.” Oh, we do. As Jordan describes it, it was more of a Gucci messenger bag than a briefcase, from which the “professional”-looking dealer dumped out “five K- balls, huge like the size of my fist; we’re talking twenty grand I swear in coke,” which Sheen proceeded to smoke from a green pipe as he screened selections from his extensive X-rated film collection in the theater room before recruiting Jacobs to be the blonde missing from his entourage. She agreed because, “I want a blue Bentley. The other girl got one, it’s proof.” MORE

UPDATE: His rep just released a statement that the embattled sitcom star “has voluntarily entered an undisclosed rehabilitation center today. “He is most grateful to all who have expressed their concern,” the statement said. “Mr. Sheen asks that his privacy be respected at this time and that no additional information will be provided.” MORE

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WORTH REPATING: The Course Of Hempire

Friday, January 28th, 2011

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MOTHER JONES:  Two years ago, Mann says, he had never seen a pot plant. Today, he envisions weGrow becoming the “Wal-Mart of Weed,” a vertically integrated chain of big-box stores perfectly positioned to cash in on California’s booming marijuana industry as it moves from the shadows to the mainstream. In this “green rush” for semi-legal weed, Mann and his partner Derek Peterson, a 36-year-old investment banker, seek to be the modern equivalents of Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan—the Gold Rush entrepreneurs who made a killing not from mining, but from selling pans, pickaxes, and victuals to the forty-niners.

 

From risky business plans to IPO dreams, the marijuana market resembles the internet bubble’s early days. Where the first tech millionaires had Wired, the new “ganjapreneurs” have Rosebud, a glossy with ads for $230,000 Bentleys.

“Derek and I have really thought about how we can capture the entire market segment,” Mann says. Since it opened a year ago in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse near the Oakland International Airport, weGrow has aggressively tried to cover as many angles as possible: It trains aspiring medical marijuana growers at its University of Cannabis (the “Princeton of Pot”); manufactures its own brand of indoor growing gear (GrowOp); dispatches its hydroponics experts on house calls; and keeps a doctor onsite to write medical marijuana recommendations. Mann and Peterson say they’ve signed contracts to open 75 franchise stores in California, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, and Illinois, and they’re talking up an IPO later this year. MORE

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BEST COAST: Crazy For You

Friday, January 28th, 2011


ONION AV CLUB: It’s funny how Best Coast and Wavves—two bands fronted by songwriters whose lyrics focus almost entirely on loneliness, depression, and dejected self-esteem drops—have become the “it” couple of indie rock. MORE

RELATED: Best Coast plays the Starlight Ballroom Tuesday with Wavves

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CONCERT REVIEW: Band Of Joy At The Tower

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

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Which pursuit befits a ‘golden god’ in twilight? A.) Recreating the metaphysical graffiti of his youth, i.e. reuniting Led Zeppelin for a global tour as Jimmy Page wanted, in a faintly desperate attempt to convince yourself and your audience that the last 30 years never happened?  B.) Trade the Hammer of the Gods for the sickle of the common man, paying tribute to the mountain music of yore by channelling the music’s vast, quasi-religious powers and redemptive grace for future generations? If you answered A, you would have been sorely disappointed last night at the Tower, where ex-Led Zep frontman Robert Plant performed with his latest project, Band Of Joy. If you answered B, you would have been, um, overjoyed, as Plant and co. took the sold out crowd back to the turn of the last century, resurrecting the country, blues and negro spirituals of what critic Greil Marcus has authoritatively dubbed the ‘old, weird America.’ Backed by a stellar five-piece — including alt-country femme fatale Patty Griffin, and premier Nashville session men Buddy Miller and Darrell Scott — Plant sounded in fine voice, looking hale and healthy and sporting his trademark mane of golden locks. Standing before a floor-to-ceiling backdrop emblazoned with the harlequin-and-monkey tableau from the album cover, Plant and co proceeded to create selections from Band of Joy’s self-titled 2010 debut (“Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down,” “House Of Cards” and “Monkey”), peppering the set with deep cuts from the old, weird Americana songbook (the gospel traditional “Move Up,” John Wesley and Fredrika Work’s 1901 spiritual “Wade In The Water”and Joe “Red” Hayes’ and Jack Rhodes’ 1926 classic “Satisfied Mind”) the occasional Zep classic retrofitted as misty-mountain music (“Tangerine,” “Ramble On,” “Gallows Pole” and “Rock N’ Roll”) complete with stunning high, lonesome harmonies. And for the next 90 minutes the sold out crowd got a powerful dose of that old time religion that made a believer out of this agnostic. – JONATHAN VALANIA

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