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Archive for March, 2011

KOCH SUCKER: Q&A With The Man Who Punked The Governor Of Wisconsin & The Koch Brothers

Thursday, March 31st, 2011


meAVATAR2.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA When Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy called up the governor of Wisconsin late last month pretending to be David Koch — AKA one half of the infamous Koch Brothers — he not only humiliated a sitting governor and revealed him to be nothing more than a stooge for the corporate oligarchy, he also put a chink of transparency in the armor of a rapacious billionaire who has heretofore proven untouchable. Sure, it was juvenile, irresponsible and barely legal but I would argue that it was also the greatest feat of gonzo journalism since Hunter S. Thompson published Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail. George McGovern’s campaign manager famously said that Thompson’s book was “the least accurate and yet most truthful account of the campaign.” Arguably, Ian Murphy’s prank phone call was the least accurate but most truthful piece of reportage (yes reportage, it was fly on-the-wall immersion journalism taken to it’s logical extreme) on The Battle Of Wisconsin because it pulled back the curtain to reveal, in a way that everyone could easily grasp, the depressing reality that corporate puppetmasters now control the strings of politicians. Let’s face it, most Americans didn’t read Jane Mayer’s exhaustive and indispensable Koch Brothers expose in the New Yorkerbut in the wake of the blanket news coverage Murphy’s prank phone call garnered just about everyone understands the gist of her piece: elected officials serve at the pleasure of the corporate overlords that funded their ascendance to public office. And is not making the scales fall from the eyes of the general public — wherein they once were blind but now can see, to paraphrase an old hymn — the ultimate act of journalism? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. With this in mind, we got Murphy on the horn to discuss all the above as well as his plans to run for Congress as the Green Party candidate.

PHAWKER: What were you hoping to accomplish when you called up Gov. Walker posing as David Koch?

IAN MURPHY: To prove one simple point: That at a time when Walker couldn’t be bothered to talk to the voters of Wisconsin, or even the Ian_Murphy.pngDemocratic Senators in exile, he had plenty of time to talk about crushing unions with an archconservative billionaire donor.

PHAWKER: Looking back, what do you think you accomplished? What do you make of how the situation in Wisconsin played out?

IAN MURPHY:I’d normally be too bashful to say this, but after spending a week in Madison, I’d say I changed the narrative. Before the call, everyone—most bought into the false premise that Wisconsin was broke and poor Scott Walker was only doing what he could to make things right. After the call, people realized that Walker was carrying out, as he saw it, the first attack on working families and unions in a nationwide assault—one partially engineered by the Kochs. A lot of people never heard of the Kochs. They know them now. And they see this attack on the middle class sweeping the nation.

The situation in Wisconsin isn’t over. They crammed that anti-collective bargaining legislation through, and it’s since been temporarily stayed by a judge. It’s not over. Many of the State Senate Republicans face serious recall efforts, and once he’s been in office for a full year, as is the law, Walker himself will face a recall. And after the week I spent in Wisconsin, I have to say, he should be worried. He lied about what he’d do as Governor, he overreached on ideological grounds, and the good people of Wisconsin are going to fire his dumb ass. It’s not over.

PHAWKER: What was the fallout/blowback? Death threats, job offers, free drugs? Have you heard from the Koch people? Is there any legal action pending?

Koch_Walker_2.jpgIAN MURPHY: No, no, nothing but shwag. Nothing from the Kochs. The last thing they’d want to do is draw attention to this again while litigating a case that they have absolutely no chance of winning.

PHAWKER: How do you respond to people saying you are the liberal equivalent of James O’Keefe? Do you see yourself as a counterweight to O’Keefe striking a blow for the good guys?

IAN MURPHY: I respond by fighting back the urge to punch things. You can make comparisons about the way we obtain information, but it ends there. He edits raw data to fit his conservative narrative, regardless of the truth, and I’d never do that. If you mean I’m a truthful counterbalance to his lies, then I have no problem with that.

PHAWKER: Can we expect more hijinks like this from you?

IAN MURPHY: Perhaps. It’s really not wise to say, especially now…

PHAWKER: Why are you running for Congress and what do you think your chances are?

IAN MURPHY: For all the corny reasons. I love my country and I want to make it a better place. I want to fight for the righteous, not the rich and LEGALIZE-MURPHY-white_1.jpgdepraved. I want middle class America to thrive again. I want to give people the opportunity to lead decent lives and have decent jobs that pay a decent wage. I also want people to go to my website ( After getting into the hard data, I’d say my chances are a lot better than people presume would be the case, for a third-party candidate in a typically republican district. Perfect storm: the Republican, the Democrat and the Tea Partier split the vote, and we excite half of the eligible voters who normally don’t see the point in choosing between Schmuck A and Schmuck B. We’re going to get people off the couch and surprise a lot of cynics.

PHAWKER: Could you please clarify Matt Taibbi’s connection to/involvement with The Beast?

IAN MURPHY: Matt founded The BEAST in 2002 and then quickly left town. I don’t know the guy and he’s never acknowledged my existence. So I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge him to a no holds barred game of cribbage. May the best man win.

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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Thursday, March 31st, 2011




This week, All Songs Considered hands the reins to acclaimed experimental musician Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear. Lennox made the trip down to NPR’s Washington, D.C. headquarters while on a visit to his hometown of Baltimore. He sat down with host Bob Boilen to talk about his upcoming album Tomboy (out April 12). Lennox began by naming some of the albums that grabbed his attention in his youth, Nirvana‘s Nevermind being a particular touchstone. But he quickly moved on to contemporary picks by musicians from his extended artistic circle, including Mississippi songwriter Dent May, reclusive electronic maestro Zomby and his own Animal Collective bandmate Avey Tare. He also chose a few cuts from Tomboy, as well as one by Spectrum, a sunny project helmed by the album’s mix engineer Peter Kember. MORE



Before the Fukushima disaster, nuclear power was being rebranded as a green form of energy. But in the wake of the devastating nuclear nuclear_0_1.jpgaccident that is still unfolding in Japan, many Americans are now re-evaluating the potential costs and benefits of nuclear power. On today’s Fresh Air, New York Times energy reporter Matthew Wald joins Terry Gross for a wide-ranging conversation about the history — and future — of nuclear energy in the United States. Though storage and safety mechanisms are in place, he says, many unknown variables exist that are nearly impossible for regulators to forecast. “Essentially, when you reach the Fukushima Dai-ichi stage, the question is, ‘Are you prepared for things you haven’t predicted?’ And the answer is, ‘How can you tell?’ ” he says. “We’re certainly prepared for some things we haven’t predicted, but [we’re not sure] what it is we’re preparing for.” MORE

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TWIT STORM: DN And Philadelphia School District Going Mano-A-Mano On Twitter Over Today’s Cover

Thursday, March 31st, 2011


@Phillyeducation is worried the cover will inspire copycat chainsaw massacres in the schools. @PhillyDailyNews is all like ‘wha?’ And it just goes downhill from there. Read all about HERE

RELATED: OP-ED: Time For Queen Arlene To Vacate The Throne

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ARTSY: Our First Friday Picks

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Helmet_Show.png CAROLINE SCHMIDT Friday April first we can celebrate the birthday of Milan Kundera, Otto von Bismarck, Method Man and Edgar Wallace. We can shed a tear for Marvin Gaye, who died, a day before his birthday. Here are our top five places to do this, in no particular order. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be romantically involved with Charles M. Shulz (okay, I hadn’t, until I heard about this show) look no farther. Space 1026‘s April event This is a Love Letter is a collection of nearly one hundred letters written by Shulz over the course of two years to native Philadelphian and at-the-time-partner Tracey Claudius. Opening Reception: Friday April 1st, 7-10PM. Space1026 is located at 1026 Arch St, 2nd floor.

This month the Locks Gallery presents Standing on the Edge: 20th Century Sculpture. The show “explores the sensation of vertigo and the fragile balance of an individual when facing war, the forces of Nature, or nostalgia,” and includes works by Louise Bourgeois, Isamu Noguchi, Bryan Hunt, Alexander Calder, Roberto Matta, and Auguste Rodin, among others. I subtitle this show Sculpture vs. the 20th century. Opening Reception: Friday April 1st, 5:30-7:30PM. Locks Gallery is located at 600 Washington Square South. schulz_show_img_600.gif

Use Your Head!, the bike helmet art show featuring twenty uniquely adorned Bern bicycle helmets designed by Philadelphian artists, opens tonight with a silent auction at the Vox Populi building on the second floor.

Kick in the Eye is a group show of recent painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and video that engages with fractured ways of looking and being seen, and the processes and politics of identification. It opens this Friday at Vox Populi.  The show is being run in conjunction with two evenings of film screenings at the International House. Curated by Andrew Suggs. Opening Reception: Friday April 1st, 6-11PM. Live performance by Lovett/Codagnone at 9PM.  Vox Populi is located at 319 N 11th street, third floor.

Soft Smoke Rises in Gay Rings Above the Roof, a group installation that uses Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space as a jumping off point, is opening this Friday at Bodega. Comprising handmade sculptures and household items, the show proposes to explore the casual intersection of art and life. Opening Reception: Friday April 1st, 6-10PM. Bodega is located at 253 N. 3rd St.

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Study Finds Pennsylvania Has The Highest Percentage Of Structurally Deficient Bridges In The Nation

Thursday, March 31st, 2011


A just-released study by Transportation for America says 26.5% percent of Pennsylvania’s bridges – or roughly 6,000 – have critical structural problems, earning the Keystone State the distinction of being The Most Dangerous State In The Union To Drive Across A Bridge. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.  “Are we trying to…find the funds for it? Yes. But I will go back, and you’ve heard me say it repeatedly: we inherited a $4.3 billion deficit that we have to resolve,” Governor Tom Corbett told Newswork’s Scott Detrow. In the mean time, we might want to start equipping bridges with life boats. Zing! In conjunction with the study, Transportation for America created this awesome interactive map: enter your address and it will show you all the troubled bridges within a 10-mile radius. Below is a screen grab of the results for Philadelphia, we started counting but gave up after 70. Welcome to life after Empire. Well, it was fun while it lasted.


[Click map to activate Internets]

PREVIOUSLY: The state Department of Transportation last year found 6,000 structurally deficient bridges statewide. Of those, 60 heavily traveled bridges were in the Philadelphia region and rated as bad as, or worse than, the condition of the Minnesota bridge that collapsed last August. MORE

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TONITE: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011


Impersonating The Band hasn’t been a decently-paying gig since Scorsese filmed The Last Waltz in 1976, but judging by the full-up crowd at the Trocadero last time they came through town back in 2009 The Felice Brothers seem to be on their way. Actually, ‘impersonating’ sounds a little too dismissive and I like these guys, so let’s go with ‘evoking’ or ‘carrying on the old, weird Americana tradition’ of the Band instead. Besides, they have the pedigree (hail from upstate New York, sons of a carpenter) they’ve paid their dues (busked in the subways of New York; went acoustic at the Newport Folk Festival; woodshedd-ed at Levon Helm’s Barn Burner) and, more importantly, they are naturals. There are five Felice Brothers these days, but only two are actual blood brothers named Felice: waifish singer/guitarist Ian Felice, who looks like Dylan ‘63 and sings like Dylan ‘68; and bear-like keyboard/accordionist James Felice, who looks like a young Hank Williams Jr. in his beard and Zorro hat. A large part of the charm of the Felice Brothers live show is you get the distinct impression they would be having this much fun even if nobody showed up. There is something about the way they all smile when they play, like they share some wonderful private joke you want in on — kinda like The Basement Tapes. But if the electro-meets-The-Bad-Seeds hybrid of “Ponzi” –  the first track off Celebration, Florida due out May 5th on Fat Possum — is any indication, the Brothers have grown weary of The Band comparisons and want to make it clear they don’t live there anymore. – JONATHAN VALANIA

R5 Productions Presents: The Felice Brothers + Diamond Doves at The First Unitarian Church 8:00 PM tonight. Tickets: $20.00

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MEGADITTOES: Enough With The Panthers Already!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Black_Panther.jpgDAVE DAVIES: I wish I knew how many hundreds of thousands of federal tax dollars have been spent investigating the New Black Panther Philadelphia voter intimidation case. We can add a few more, now that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has completed its review of the department’s handling of the matter. On election day in 2008, a pair of African-American guys wearing berets stationed themselves in front of a North Philadelphia polling place, calling themselves “security.” One of them had a nightstick. Though the beret boys didn’t interfere with ingress or egress from the polling place and not a single voter can be identified who was intimidated by their idiotic behavior, conservatives have been flogging the issue ever since. MORE

PHAWKER: Before Fox News started using this non-incident to scare white viewers — and the Justice Department spent a King’s Ransom worth of allegedly scarce tax dollars investigating this non-incident, and then investigating their investigation of this non-incident, all at the behest of faux-outraged Faux_News.pngconservative talking heads — The New Black Panther Party commanded a following that numbered in the tens. Please stop feeding the trolls.

RELATED:  In the final stretch of the 2008 campaign, a Fox News executive repeatedly questioned on the air whether Barack Obama believed in socialism. Now it turns out he didn’t really believe what he was saying. Bill Sammon, now the network’s vice president and Washington managing editor, acknowledged the following year that he was just engaging in “mischievous speculation” in raising the charge. In fact, Sammon said he “privately” believed that the socialism allegation was “rather far-fetched.” MORE

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ABOMINATION: Two More Priests Put On Shit List

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

ScreamingPope.jpgINQUIRER: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that two retired priests have been placed on administrative leave while it reviews allegations that they have engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors. The two men join 24 other priests suspended by Cardinal Justin Rigali since the Februrary 10 release of a grand jury report on predatory priests in the archdiocese. MORE

RELATED: A Philadelphia grand jury report released in February alleges that the man, identified as “Ben,” had approached church investigators in 2007 with claims of repeated fondling and abuse by a priest at St. Mark during the 1970s. “Ben” had been an altar server at the church at the time. In 2008, church investigators notified “Ben” that his allegations could not be proven. Less than a year later, “Ben,” at age 36, committed suicide, according to the grand jury report. The priest, who was named in the grand jury report, has since retired. He has never been charged with a crime. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Archdiocese Suspends 21 Priests Pending An Investigation Into Widespread Child Abuse Allegations

RELATED: Inquirer Names The Names

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Wednesday, March 30th, 2011


Times Square, 3:15 PM Tuesday by JEFF FUSCO

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FLEET FOXES: Grown Ocean

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

From Helplessness Blues, out May 3rd.

Hey, my name’s Robin and I’m a singer in and songwriter for Fleet Foxes, here to write the promotional biography meant to accompany and explain Helplessness Blues. I’m just going to write down some thoughts I have about the album and give you some context. Let’s do this. So, for a bit of background: we’re from Seattle, and the members of the band are me, Skye Skjelset, Josh Tillman, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and now our buddy Morgan Henderson, who helped out on the album and will join the band on tour. The band began as just me and Skye in Junior High, playing songs in his bedroom, until we moved to Seattle, settled on a name, and began meeting other musicians and playing with different people until we met all the guys currently on board. Casey joined in 2005, Christian in 2007, and Josh joined shortly before our first album was released, but after we’d recorded it. So, that’s some background information. Good luck working that into something fleet_foxes2.jpgintriguing. We released our first album in 2008, had a lot of unexpected support from people and the press and we ended up on tour until October of 2009 (we’d expected to do one or two U.S. tours and hoped to start our next album in the Fall of 2008!)

Recording started with demos at a building in Seattle that’s been multiple recording studios since the ‘70s, from Triangle, to Jon & Stu’s, to Reciprocal Recording, to the Hall of Justice. A number of incredible albums have been made in that building over the years, including Bleach by Nirvana. So we were lucky enough to take over the lease when Death Cab for Cutie moved out in October 2009, and I started writing songs more seriously again. A couple months later, Joanna Newsom asked me if I would open some shows for her. As a huge fan of hers, I was completely honored and flattered that she’d want me to open her shows, and I felt like I needed some new songs that I could play alone. So, a number of the songs that ended up on this album came from the writing that preceded those tours. Having to play the songs alone meant I was really focusing on having a clear lyric and a strong melody, which ended up being a great change of focus for me as a writer because I’d spent a lot of 2009 messing around with non-songwriter type music and not always finding it satisfying.

THE DODOS: Black Night

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

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COMING ATTRACTION: Q&A With The Man Who Punked The Governor Of Wisconsin & The Koch Bros.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011


Please standby for a Q&A with Ian Murphy, editor of Buffalo’s The Beast, AKA the man who called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pretending to be David Koch, one half of the infamous Koch Brothers.  Coming soon to a Phawker near you!

PREVIOUSLY: KOCH SUCKER: Wisconsin Governor Punked By Alt-Weekly Editor Pretending To Be Koch Brother

RELATED: The newly elected governor of Maine, Paul LePage, is outspoken. He said that after his election readers could expect to see in their newspapers, “LePage tells Obama to go to hell.” When he refused to attend a Martin Luther King Day event, he said of the NAACP, “Tell them they can kiss my butt.” Not to be outdone by other Republican governors who are attacking unions, over the weekend he ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural celebrating labor from the lobby of the state Labor Department building in Augusta, and is retitling its conference rooms to remove the names of past labor leaders. His reason? They might make businessmen uncomfortable. How many such businessmen visit the Labor Department? And how many faint with panic at the sight of a mural that depicts historical scenes from Maine’s labor movement, like women building ships during World War II, and a 1986 paper strike? MORE

maine labor mural_1.jpg

This is the mural the Republican governor of Maine ordered removed from the walls of the Maine Department of Labor because it might offend the oligarchs business community.

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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

moby_duck.jpgFRESH AIR


In 1992, a cargo ship container tumbled into the North Pacific, dumping 28,000 rubber ducks and other bath toys that were headed from China to the U.S. Currents took them, and news reports said some may have eventually reached Maine and other shores on the Atlantic. Thirteen years later, journalist Donovan Hohn undertook a mission: He wanted to track the movements of the wayward ducks, from the comfort of his own living room. “I figured I’d interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, read up on ocean currents and Arctic geography and then write an account of the incredible journey of the bath toys lost at sea,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “And all this I would do, I hoped, without leaving my desk.” But Hohn’s research led him on an odyssey that took him from Seattle to Alaska to Hawaii — and then onto China and the Arctic. He details the journey — via plane, foot and container ship — in Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them. MORE

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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