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Archive for January, 2011

CINEMA: Local Punk’s Doc Explores The Enigma Of Toynbee Tiles, Takes Sundance By Storm Strange

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

INQUIRER: You’ve seen them, even if you don’t remember it. You’re crossing the street and something catches your eye, a flash of color amid the rush of feet. You wait for the light to change and the traffic to thin, and there it is: a rectangular shape embedded in the asphalt, with a message etched in silhouette:








Philadelphia is not the only city where the cryptic messages have appeared. They’ve turned up in New York, Boston, and Kansas City, Mo., and as far afield as Buenos Aires. But the Toynbee tiles, as they’ve become known by those who have spent years trying to unravel their mystery, are most numerous in the city, and secondary messages carved into the borders of some tiles make specific references to Philadelphia locations and public figures. Jon Foy, 31, who grew up in Willow Grove, came to the Toynbee tiles mystery relatively late. But in 2005, he was intrigued enough to drop out of film school in Texas and move to Philadelphia to make a documentary about the search for the person behind the tiles, which first began to attract notice in the early 1980s. It took five and a half years, during which Foy cleaned houses and was a subject in in medical studies to finance the film. MORE

REUETERS: Attempting to decipher the text, they assume that Toynbee refers to the 20th Century British comparative historian Arnold J. Toynbee and presumed references in his writings to the reanimation of the deceased. “Kubrick’s 2001″ is taken as a reference to the 1968 science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written with novelist Arthur C. Clark. The film posits the next step in human evolution as an encounter with extraterrestrial life in the vicinity of Jupiter — perhaps an oblique reference to resurrecting the dead. The amateur sleuths begin their quest to unravel the conundrum with several tentative leads, beginning with a Philadelphia street address revealed on a tile installed in Santiago, Chile. They also find an exchange referencing Toynbee and Jupiter in a one-act David Mamet play, 4 A.M., about a radio host and his late-night mystery caller. A brief local newspaper article from the early 1980s mentions a Philadelphia organization dedicated to colonizing Jupiter, known as the “Minority Association,” which the investigators connect with the anonymous tiler. Plunging into this thicket of interlocking clues, Duerr and his cohorts unravel connections between the artist and the obscure Jupiter society, strange shortwave broadcasts and the conspiracy theory rantings in the “side texts” accompanying many of the tiles. MORE

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PAPERBOY: Slow-Jamming The Alt-Weeklies

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

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: This week, a sad, disturbing and vital story from Isaiah Thompson on police shootings and the mentally ill. It centers on Harry Bennett, an Air Force vet killed by officers last summer, and while Thompson brings out facts from eyewitnesses that contradict police reports, he also takes a broader approach to address system-wide problems.

Bennett’s death came at the end of a particularly bad two years for altercations between the police and the mentally ill.

In January 2009, police shot Lawrence Kelly, 40, after finding him naked, in an agitated state. Police say Kelly attacked the officers and wielded CP_2011_01_27.jpga knife.

That March, police received a report of a suicidal man and found Juan Delgado, 42, atop a roof, where his brother was consoling him. When an officer approached, police say Delgado pulled a 9mm handgun, prompting the officer to fire.

In April, an officer encountered 28-year-old Anthony Temple, described as schizophrenic by his mother, who allegedly grabbed for an officer’s gun. The gun “went off,” according to police, hitting Temple, who fled, only to encounter another officer. Temple lunged for that officer’s weapon, as well, police said — and was shot dead.

In July 2009, two police officers fatally shot a mentally ill homeless man, later identified as Morgan Mumford, outside a SEPTA concourse when he allegedly brandished a box cutter.

This incident, more than the others before it, prompted Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to meet with mental-health advocates and pledge to expand CIT training (he also bought 1,000 new Tasers for the department).

The reporting is first-rate, and the collision of mental illness and its associated stigma with a police culture of haste, violence and secrecy is a haunting idea. A must-read.

PW: The only Philadelphia medical experts I could name would be my next-door neighbor, who’s a geriatrician at Jefferson, and that vaccine guy from CHOP. Wellington Christian, though, appears to be among the city’s top medical minds, even if he’s just a maintenance guy at the Public Ledger Building and the Curtis Center, and it took a weird but well-reported story in PW to bring him into the public eye.

Christian leaves the building through a back door and walks into a side entrance of the stately Curtis Center. He wanders through the cavernous lobby past a giant Christmas tree and finds his way to a table outside the Cooperage Cafe, where one by one people stop by to say hi and share their stories. Almost immediately, the manager of the coffee shop, Corey Newman, spots him and comes out to sit for a minute. Five years ago, when Newman, then 28, was working security at the Curtis, he’d heard rumors of Christian’s talent. Newman’s girlfriend was suffering from a bad case of asthma, requiring a breathing mask to sleep, so he was ready to try anything to help her.

PW_COver1_27_11.jpg“I started asking around, is this guy legit?” Newman says. He questioned Christian and was impressed with his breadth of knowledge and willingness to draw a diagram or give an anatomy lesson on the fly. “Not one question I asked him, he didn’t know anything about,” he says.

So Newman bought an asthma tonic, describing it as “a wheat germ kind of thing.” “It worked great,” he says, adding that his girlfriend no longer has to use the breathing mask. What’s more, Christian made him a diabetes potion for his girlfriend’s father, which cut back his sugar considerably.

After Newman goes back to work, Christian takes a pen and sketches a rough diagram of a set of lungs to explain the theory behind his asthma medicine. He takes on a pedagogical air as he labels the alveoli, bronchioles and other parts.

“Primarily with asthmatics, you can’t get the air in cause you can’t get the air out,” he explains, as if teaching a class. “With asthmatics you see over-inflation of the bronchus. At the same time you see narrowing of the bronchioles.”

“One part is swollen up, the other part is closing down. So what you gotta do is go in there and reverse the polarities of this. Which is what I do.”

He contrasts asthma to emphysema. “What happens is in the case of emphysema, cigarette smoke provokes the enzyme in the alveoli so instead of dissolving what would hurt it, it starts tearing holes all throughout itself,” he says. “Now a person can’t effectively expel the air.”

How ’bout that? Anecdotes about the homeopathic roots of Hahneman Medical College and on alternative medicine from a Drexel prof help set the scene for Christian’s science, and the article closes by hinting at a treatment for AIDS. It all beggars belief, but it makes for a compelling story.


CP: A Gang of Four review with no mention of their former bassist. Railing against alleged transparency. African cuisine achieves world domination. Conservation station: Who will speak for the trees?

PW: Schoolly D, in peak, “dead-ass funny” form. Can Camden be saved? PAC attack: Police Advisory Council takes decisive action. Suds and duds in South Philly.

WINNER: CP’s cover is too wide-reaching and too well-researched to be denied. Chance is due with the city police and the DA’s office, and it’s nice to see someone in the media taking charge.

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OBAMAJUANA: Pot Legalization Overwhelmingly Dominates Questions At Obama YouTube Town Hall

Thursday, January 27th, 2011


HUFFINGTON POST: President Barack Obama plans to take questions from YouTube viewers Thursday afternoon, and for the third time in as many years, the overwhelmingly most popular query involves the legalization of marijuana. Of the top 100 most popular questions as rated by YouTube users, 99 are about the drug war or pot. Of the next one hundred, 99 are again about drug policy. Somehow, two questions about clean energy made their way into the top 200. The pot questions don’t stop there, but HuffPost stopped counting deep into the 200s, as the president is unlikely to answer all of them. If past history is any guide, he may not answer any of them. MORE

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Will Farrell To Replace Carrell For Office Wind Down

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Ferrell will play a visiting branch manager over an arc of several episodes. NBC announced the casting Wednesday with the promise that Ferrell’s character will be “just as inappropriate” as Steve Carell’s Michael Scott. Carell’s farewell is expected four episodes before the season finale of “The Office.” In preparation of his exit, NBC is bringing in high-profile guests, including “The Office” creator Ricky Gervais, reprising his role as David Brent.Gervais will make a cameo on tonight’s episode. MORE

RELATED: Ferrell called the producers, offering his services because he’s a fan and wanted to commemorate Carell’s swan song by taking part in The Office star’s seventh and final season on the show. Ferrell and Carell are close friends who co-starred in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The stint brings Ferrell back to NBC, where he launched his career on Saturday Night Live. Additionally, he has done arcs on such series as NBC’s 30 Rock and HBO’s Eastbound & Down, which he also produces. “We found Steve Carell when he was nothing but a movie star and we turned him into a television star,” said The Office exec producer Paul Lieberstein (who doubles as the annoying Dunder Mifflin HR executive Toby Flenderson, Michael Scott’s arch-nemesis. “We are proud to continue The Office’s tradition of discovering famous talent, and we hope that once America gets a good look at Will, they’ll see what we see, tremendous raw sexuality.” MORE

RELATED: On Thursday, from Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center, home of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” the NBC anchor Brian Williams will nbc_comcast.jpgofficially introduce the network’s newest boss, Stephen B. Burke, in a closed-circuit presentation to the entire company. Every one of the company’s 27,000 employees will also be given a coffee table book, “NBCUniversal and Comcast: A Century in the Making,” that interweaves the companies’ histories. Yet Mr. Burke’s real “welcome to NBC” moment came six days ago with the ouster of the MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, a classic NBC episode of infighting, secret negotiations and the splashing of internal gossip across the press.

For years, NBC’s own internal dramas were often more compelling than anything it offered viewers — from the Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien fiasco to Mr. Olbermann’s famous temper to the hard-partying antics of the former entertainment boss, Ben Silverman, to the prime-time travails of Mr. Burke’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker. It now falls to Mr. Burke, who for 12 years has been far from the media glare as the No. 2 executive at Comcast in Philadelphia, to revitalize the ailing network as the new chief executive of NBC Universal.

His experience and personality are the antithesis of what NBC represents: he is not a programmer, has no experience in news and avoids playing corporate feuds in the press. A slightly patrician Republican with a Harvard M.B.A., he is so averse to playing internal politics that he recently held meetings with executives at a Midtown Manhattan coffee shop rather than his temporary office in Rockefeller Center to avoid prompting office gossip.[…] In the wake of the resignation of Mr. Olbermann, the left-leaning face of MSNBC, some critics have speculated in the press that the move was a politically motivated decision by Comcast. While most of Mr. Burke’s political donations have been to Republicans, Mr. Burke describes himself to associates as a “soft Republican,” and he voted for Barack Obama for president, even though he contributed to John McCain’s campaign, in 2008. MORE

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011*450/PHI+stuck+SEPTA+buses+snow.jpg

[Photo by Wenda Guzman-Freeman]

NEWSWORKS: “We had 150 buses get stuck last night into this morning,” said Heather Redfern, a spokesperson for SEPTA. Redfern said passengers were let off the buses if they had alternate means of transportation or if they lived very close by. Otherwise, “We did have some passengers on the buses overnight,” she said. Redfern wasn’t sure how many passengers participated in the SEPTA bus sleepover, or what neighborhoods were hardest hit. As of 10 a.m., about 45 buses were still stuck across the city, according to Redfern. MORE

NBC PHILADELPHIA: Three of the buses got stuck in front of Wenda Guzman-Freeman‘s house. She took a picture and posted it on our weather Facebook page, explaining that the buses had been there since 9:30 p.m.It is now 2:44 a.m. and these buses are still here… The bus upfront has about 10 passengers…two of them kids under the age of five…” Thursday morning there were still about 45 buses waiting for assistance. By noon six buses were still stuck. MORE

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KITCHEN BITCH: Mushroom Risotto

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 MAVIS LINNEMANN My little black truffle: You knew I had to come back to it. It’s like a little black dress—it just keeps giving time and time again. I can’t receive a black truffle for Christmas from my good friend Ian Adams and only give KB readers one simple but insanely delicious recipe for baked eggs with black truffles, now can I? Nope, the black truffle brings a flavorful punch to other foods besides eggs. Because of its fragrant, pungent aroma and delicate nature, it’s best used raw or mixed into a cooked dish at the last second. It didn’t take me long to decide what dish I wanted to use the truffle for next—the Italian classic, mushroom risotto. A tuber that grows underground near the roots of a certain species of oak, black truffles are closely related to mushrooms, their fungal cousin. As such, their earthy flavors work and play well together, and risotto is their perfect meeting place.Risotto refers to the cooking method, not to the rice itself. The rice used in risotto is most often Arborio, which you can find in pretty much any grocery store these days in the ‘ethnic’ or Italian aisle. Canaroli is the more expensive and often preferred grain of rice in Italy, although I don’t think I’ve seen it here. These rice varieties are short or medium grain and have the ability to absorb large amounts of liquid and to release starch, which is what make risotto so much creamier than other rice dishes.  MORE

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Snowpocalypse Punishes City For Crying Wolf

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

[Photo by avocadoh]

ACCUWEATHER:  Two parts of a snowstorm have come together in the Northeast and are making for several hours of wild weather tonight. The result of the merging parts is bursts of heavy snow in some areas and rain changing to heavy snow in others in the eastern mid-Atlantic. What happens in this situation is road surface temperatures typically cool during the late afternoon and evening hours, while heavy, wet snow (and sleet) takes additional heat out of the roads. The result is a rapid covering of slippery snow. meteorologists are expecting a total snowfall of 8 to 16 inches in a swath from just north of Washington, D.C. through New York City, all the way to Boston. MORE

INQUIRER: The region was well braced for an attack from nature, but what happened Wednesday qualified was an all-out ambush. Snow started spreading across the region before daybreak, accumulating up to a half foot by lunchtime, surprising highway crews and meteorologists. And that was the appetizer before the main event that got under way after dark. Several inches of fresh, wind-driven snow, incited by “thundersnow” downpours, fell upon parts of the region. On Thursday, some areas are going to be shoveling their way out of a foot of snow. The night attack was expected. The morning was something else. “Thundersnow,” is literally a snow thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are caused by violently rising air that condenses into precipitation and sets off lightning. They are more common in spring and summer when more heating is available, but they can occur during winter storms and can deposit 2 to 5 inches in just an hour. MORE

RELATED: In anticipation of the snow emergency, the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has announced a two-day parking discount beginning after Wednesday, January 26 at 4:00 p.m. and ending on Friday, January 28 at 7:00 a.m. Individuals can park at PPA owned and operated center city garages and will be charged a $5.00 flat rate per day. Parking garages are located at:

  • Auto-Park at JFK (16th & JFK)
  • Auto-Park at Independence Mall (5th & Market)
  • Auto-Park at Jefferson (10th & Ludlow)
  • Auto-Park at Gallery Mall (10th & Filbert)
  • Auto-Park at 8th & Filbert
  • Auto-Park at Old City at 2nd and Sansom MORE
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THE ENGLISH PATIENCE: How A Phawker Intern Learned To Stop Worrying And Love North Philly

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 REBECCA GOODACRE When I told people I was spending a year abroad studying in America, more specifically at Temple University in North Philadelphia, more than a few looked at me with slightly raised eyebrows and asked “Are you going to be safe?”  I just brushed it off and made a few lame jokes about joining the Crips and getting myself a Smith and Wesson loyalty card.  However, being a 5’5 white middle class girl from rural England, neither of these suggestions had any real viability, and so my friends and family just shook their heads and began worried aloud. I come from Norwich, a small British town with a population of just 135,000 people, or one tenth the size of Philadelphia.  The worst I had to fear there was the over-population of rabbits. Still, I was determined that although I was a small town girl on the outside, on the inside I was in fact destined for the fast paced excitement of a metropolitan lifestyle. So five months ago I boarded a plane in London with great expectations and a pretty naïve feeling of invincibility.

Since that moment something quite unexpected occurred.  I came down with a pretty bad case of culture shock.  Culture shock was something I’d figured only happened to African tribesmen when you put them in New York.  But no, here I was living in a country that I’d spent most of life watching on TV and was entirely convinced I understood, and I was completely freaked out.

Before my arrival I’d imagined a big city life, with dramatic skyscrapers and intellectual conversations, wandering around a leafy campus. And then I’d spend nights at raucous house parties, drinking from red plastic cups surrounded by people who’d just stepped out of Playboy and/or Abercrombie. But as is probably quite apparent, in all my day-dreamings I seemed to have forgotten I wasn’t attending Harvard or starring in The Social Network, but actually going to a state funded, inner-city college for a year. It turned out it wasn’t just the Atlantic Ocean that separated Britain and America.  And it wasn’t just Americans’ habit of dropping the ‘u’s from the end of words and swapping ‘s’s for’z’s — everything felt different.


RIP: The Last Living Louvin Brother Dead At 83

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

NEW YORK TIMES: Resolutely traditional in approach, Charlie Louvin and his brother, who died in an automobile accident in 1965, were proponents of the high, lonesome sound of the southern Appalachian Mountains, where they grew up. Some of their best-known recordings were updates of foreboding antediluvian ballads like “In the Pines” and “Knoxville Girl.” Other material centered on the wholesome likes of family and religion, including “The Christian Life,” an original that later appeared on “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” the landmark Byrds album featuring the singer Gram Parsons. Alternative rock acts like Elvis Costello and the band Uncle Tupelo (which recorded a version of their cold war plaint “Great Atomic Power” in 1992) also fell under the duo’s sway. MORE

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MUST SEE TV: James Franco On The Daily Show

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Intro – James Franco Is Stuck Under the Mini-Fridge
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

Freshly-nominated for an Oscar for his role as a hiker who gets his hand stuck under a rock and has to cut it off to survive, James Franco gets his hand stuck in the mini-fridge in the Green Room of the Daily Show while reaching for a Snickers and is about to cut it off before, mercifully, Jon Stewart intervenes with some common sense.

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UNSTOPPABLE: Duck Boats To Re-Take Delaware

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 Just hours after the city rejected a plan Tuesday to move the duck boats to the Schuylkill, the company that operates them said it plans to return to the Delaware River, the site of a July 7 accident that killed two Hungarian tourists. There appear to be few hurdles in the way – at least for now. The Coast Guard has cleared Ride the Ducks, the Georgia company that runs the business, to resume operations on the Delaware. Joseph Forkin, vice president of the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. (DRWC), which holds the lease for the ramp the ducks use, said his organization’s agreement with Ride the Ducks was current. He said it was too early to comment further.  Chris Herschend, head of the company that operates Ride the Ducks in Philadelphia and four other locations, said he hoped to have the duck boats on the Delaware this year. MORE

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New Line Of Marijuana Soda To Debut In Colorado

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

TIME: A company based in Soquel, Calif., has created a new line of soda pot — or, marijuana soda — that it plans to launch in Colorado in February. Canna Cola isn’t the first marijuana soda on the market, but its designer Clay Butler, who said he has never used marijuana or smoked a cigarette but is a “firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose,” told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that his beverage collection will be distinguished by marketing. “You look at all the marijuana products out there, and they are so mom-and-pop, hippie-dippy and rinky-dink,” he said. According to the Sentinel, Butler’s soda pot line will include the “flagship cola drink Canna Cola, the Dr Pepper–like Doc Weed, the lemon-lime Sour Diesel, the grape-flavored Grape Ape and the orange-flavored Orange Kush.” The labels promise “12 mind blowing ounces,” and each bottle will retail for roughly $10 to $15. Containing 35 to 65 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, Canna Cola is substantially less potent than many of the other drinks currently on the market, the Sentinel reports. MORE

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SCRAPPLE TV NEWS: With Your Host AP Ticker

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
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This week, AP discusses explains how West Philly High School student Brandon Ford got invited to sit with the First Lady for the State of The Union address, the Gosnell abortion horror show, and the Onion coming to town. Also, he explains why the U.S. will not be able to indict or extradite Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and pays tribute to his old pal Don Kirshner of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert fame.

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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