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Archive for October, 2011

HOW DID WE MISS THIS: Sly Stone Is Homeless

Friday, October 28th, 2011

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NEW YORK POST: In his heyday, he lived at 783 Bel Air Road, a four-bedroom, 5,432-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion that once belonged to John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas. The Tudor-style house was tricked out in his signature funky black, white and red color scheme. Shag carpet. Tiffany lamps in every room. A round water bed in the master bedroom. There were parties where Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Miles Davis would drop by, where Etta James would break into “At Last” by the bar. Just four years ago, he resided in a Napa Valley house so large it could only be described as a “compound,” with a vineyard out back and multiple cars in the driveway. But those days are gone. Today, Sly Stone — one of the greatest figures in soul-music history — is homeless, his fortune stolen by a lethal combination of excess, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. He lays his head inside a white camper van ironically stamped with the words “Pleasure Way” on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver. Inside the van, the former mastermind of Sly & the Family Stone, now 68, continues to record music with the help of a laptop computer. “I like my small camper,” he says, his voice raspy with age and years of hard living. “I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving.” MORE

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JAZZER: Medeski, Martin & Wood Turn 20

Friday, October 28th, 2011

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zivit.jpgBY ZIVIT SHLANK Medeski, Martin & Wood have been labeled everything from a jam band to an acid jazz trio to bunch of play-that-funky-music white boys. However, ask the boys of Medeski Martin & Wood how they’d characterize their sonic experiments and they’d say their wide open. Together now for two decades, the innovative sonic laboratory known as MMW continues to circumvent genre boundaries and invent a few new ones in the process. Infamous for their charismatic virtuosity and their infectiously evolving sound, several albums and countless tours, however you want to define them this much is certain: They play it loud and proud. The improvised grooves created by John Medeski’s lyrical-but-manic keys, Chris Wood’s pulsating bass, and Billy Martin’s dance-ready beats are at their most organic in live performance. In advance of tonight’s MMW’s concert at the Electric Factory with Antibalas Orchestra, Phawker chatted up bassist Chris Wood.

PHAWKER: I know you first studied piano and clarinet, what or who ultimately got you on the bass? Was there a particular style or artist that grabbed your attention?

CHRIS WOOD: My brother, Oliver, even though he wanted to play guitar early on, he, for some reason, got an electric bass for Christmas one year. He played it for a while, but eventually got the guitar he wanted. He showed me what he learned on the bass. The first things we were checking out and listening to, was the Delta blues. We were both into a lot of styles of music like 60s Rock & Roll ala Hendrix, The Beatles, The Doors, The Who, The Rolling Stones. But we wanted to find out who inspired these guys. It was a natural thing to ask questions like “Well, who did they listen to? Where did they get these ideas from?” It was Muddy Waters, Lightening Hopkins, Jimmy Reed and people like that. I think those earlier recordings had a magical sound about them that kinda mystified me and made me wanna do it.

PHAWKER: So from doing your own musical explorations at home in Colorado, to moving east to study at the New England Conservatory of New_England_Conserv.pngMusic, you had some really awesome mentors including the legendary bassist, composer, bandleader Dave Holland. As a young guy trying to earn his stripes, what was it like studying and playing with a master like Dave Holland?

CHRIS WOOD: It was great being around Dave, it was like osmosis, you know? He would come back from these tours with Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, and all these incredible musicians. In the beginning, it was a traditional student/teacher relationship, but as time went on, we basically just played together, traded solos. I really got the most out of that, just witnessing what he did from 2 feet away, trying it myself and, unconsciously, also learning how to find my own voice. I realized that while I loved what he did, I had to find my own way. And that was a hugely important lesson. In addition to Dave, I had some incredible teachers who weren’t bass players including pianist Geri Allen and drummer Bob Moses.

PHAWKER: From what I understand, it was through Bob Moses that you first hooked up with John Medeski, correct?

CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, Bob was the guy that told each of us about the other guy. I met John through Bob, John met Billy though Bob and eventually, all of three of us got together.

PHAWKER: You all coalesced in NYC and from there, how did the music making journey begin?  Was it like a jam session you all participated in that by the end of it, you all looked at each other, awe-struck, and knew you had something special?

CHRIS WOOD: Well, kinda, yeah. John and I were doing all these gigs together at the Village Gate. We did weeklong gigs with various drummers. We wanted to do something different, and so we brought in Billy Martin. At that point, I hadn’t met Billy, but John had. Billy wasn’t a jazz drummer, but he was a great improviser. His grooves were as such that you could swing over the way he played. We knew it would work Medeski_Martin_and_Wood_Artwork_b.jpgand booked it, but it was definitely an experiment. We went to Billy’s place to rehearse, and yeah we just sat down our instruments, didn’t even discuss what we were going to do, and Billy just started playing. Then one by one we each joined in, and we ended up improvising one of the songs that would end up on our first record, Notes From The Underground, called Uncle Chubb. The horn parts on that tune, were transcribed from the first thing we ever played together as a group. Fortunately, we recorded that first meeting so we could go back and see what happened. But yeah, it was pretty instantaneous. We knew immediately that there was this chemistry between us.

PHAWKER: Jazz Drummer/Bandleader Art Blakey was famously quoted as saying “A name doesn’t make the music. It’s just called that to differentiate it from other types of music. “ Duke Ellington abhorred the term jazz, believed it encompassed a wide range. For those classicists who say that your music isn’t “jazz”, what do you have to say?

CHRIS WOOD: Honestly, I don’t care. Jazz or whatever you want to call it is a mysterious word. It’s not a very poetic way to describe a genre of music. In our experience it doesn’t define a genre so much as an audience, a certain kind of scene. We never considered ourselves part of that scene, it was just kind of written that way, calling us a “jam band “ “acid jazz” or whatever. All these words come and go and meanwhile, we’re just doing what we do. The labels are just weird and clumsy. Some people think Duke Ellington is “jazz”, while others think Kenny G is “jazz”. The terms are there to sell music, so people know what they’re buying. We call our stuff “homeless music” because it doesn’t fit into any one category.

PHAWKER: So the show at the Electric Factory with the Antibalis Afrobeat Orchestra…I know that you’ll each have a separate set, but, are there intentions of combining forces?

CHRIS WOOD: Yes, we’ll be doing something in the last set. MMW and Antibalis go way back, the horn section recorded with us on the album medeski_martin_and_wood.jpgUninvisible. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

PHAWKER: So for the uninitiated, what can a potential audience member expect? And will there be something special going on to commemorate MMW’s 20th anniversary?

CHRIS WOOD: I’d usually say expect the unexpected because most of the time, we don’t even know what’s going to happen. However this being our 20th anniversary, we’re taking requests from Facebook. We’ve got these lists of requests for each night of the tour. So for a change, we do know some of the songs we’re going to play, which is rare for us.

MEDESKI, MARTIN & WOOD PLAY THE ELECTRIC FACTORY TONIGHT WITH ANTIBALAS ORCHESTRA

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EARLY WORD: Naked Cities

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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NEW YORK TIMES: Urbanized,” the latest design documentary by Gary Hustwit, is the final in an accidental trilogy that includes “Helvetica” (about the ubiquitous typeface) and “Objectified” (about the impact of industrial and product design on commerce and the environment). “Urbanized,” as its title suggests, is about the design of cities. Although other films have surveyed the topic through a longer lens, Hustwit’s is about immediate problems — and some viable solutions. It is a beautifully photographed film, which has the unintended consequence of making the slums of India and the favelas of Brazil appear picturesque. Although we learn that basic services do not exist in places like these, and we are introduced to alternative low-cost housing that alleviates the problem for some inhabitants, the cinematic patchwork of irregularly constructed slums, when compared to the conformist blocks of public housing projects, sends a dubious aesthetic message. […] In “Urbanized,” the shock of how we live in planned and unplanned environs is central to the film and makes it hard not to think of urban development as an evil. But this is not a Michael Moore film. “I think the film has actually made me more optimistic about cities,” Hustwit insisted. He accepts the challenges of accommodating more people in a small space — “whether it’s housing or social equity or dealing with traffic and mobility issues, or sustainability” — but argues that “these issues can only be addressed through the kind of mashup of interests and creativity that cities enable.” MORE

Urbanized will be screened on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 6:30pm and 9pm. at Drexel’s Mitchell Auditorium, Bossone Research Center (3140 Market St.). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased HERE.

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

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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David Carr joins Terry Gross on Fresh Air to discuss his Twitter usage, the future of newspapers, error correction, his own media consumption, religion and the accountability of social media. He says that he thinks of Twitter as a personalized “human-enabled RSS [feed]” that allows him to follow what his friends are reading and thinking about at any given moment. “It serves to edit what’s going on in the world, and it puts a human curation on this huge fire hose of data that’s washing over us all,” he says. “The question becomes where to look, and it’s nice to have some other people pointing the way.” Initially, Carr says, he wasn’t a Twitter fan. But now he tweets on average 8-10 times a day, and often re-tweets things of interest from the 600 or so accounts he regularly follows. “As a reporter, it was an important listening tool, and that’s how I first used it — less as a megaphone and more [as a listener],” he says. “But then I realized that back when I was an editor of a newspaper, I was a decent headline writer — and that links would carry a lot more information, and annotating those links would have significant value to the people who follow me.” MORE

PREVIOUSLY: He brings that same joie de travailler to the grimmer task of covering his own life. Back in the 1980s, when he  was a reporter for an alternative weekly in Minneapolis and later for a local business monthly, Carr had a cocaine problem that spiraled downward from snorting to smoking to injecting. He also drank too much, did some low-level dealing and was arrested innumerable times. He did worse things, too, like beating up girlfriends and fathering twin girls whom he and the David_Carr_Night_Of_The_Gun.jpgmother were in no way prepared to take care of. But as you’d guess from the fact that he’s still alive and making money legally, things got better: after a few false starts he finally stuck with rehab, got his life together, raised his girls as a single dad, saw his career take off, found a good woman to marry and have another daughter with, started drinking again, committed anew to sobriety and wrote this book.

In broad strokes this isn’t a new or unique story, as readers of James Frey, Augusten Burroughs, Caroline Knapp and the tabloids know, and as Carr does himself: “Beyond the grime that is bound to accrue from a trip through the gutters of one’s past, what is the value in one more addiction memoir to me or anyone else?” For Carr, what justified its writing is that, as the title implies, he has taken on the truth of his own story the way he would any other: buttressing his memories — or countering them, as the case may be — with police reports, legal documents, medical records and, most important, interviews he taped with 60 friends, family members, fellow cokeheads and dealers. “It would prove to be an enlightening and sickening enterprise,” Carr writes, “a new frontier in the annals of self-involvement. I would show up at the doorsteps of people I had not seen in two decades and ask them to explain myself to me.” As a writer and thus a fellow narcissist, I can only say: “Why didn’t I think of that?” MORE

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RAWK TAWK: Getting Down & Dirty With Low Cut Connie

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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Tony_Abraham_Avatar.jpgBY TONY ABRAHAM While the band name (don’t say it too fast!) and the title of their self-released debut LP (the faptastic Get Out The Lotion) aims lowbrow and hits the target every time (the cover art features a middle age Jersey diner waitress whose off-duty activities shall remain a mystery best left unsolved), Low Cut Connie is more than the raunchy sum of their downmarket puns — much more. They are, in fact, hella fun and you can’t put a price on that — although they invariably will. Thanks to killa-dilla debut and well-earned hyping in the pages of Rolling Stone and the airwaves Fresh Air, LCC is blowing up even as we speak. In fact, when we talked with the boys a little while back they were on their way to a meeting with the suits at Sony to discuss signing on the dotted line. The band boasts a classic American rock n roll sound — one part Jerry Lee hellfire piano, one part gargle-with-gasoline vocals, and two parts big boppin’/rockin’ pneumonia/boogie woogie flu. Light match, run away. Comprised of songwriters Adam Weiner of New Jersey and Dan Finnermore of Birmingham, England, Low Cut Connie talked with Phawker about the band, the record, and masturbation in advance of their show at Little Bar on Friday.


PHAWKER: So, Rolling Stone hails you guys as what “indie rock might sound like were it invented in Alabama in the late Fifties.”

ADAM WEINER: Yeah, I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

PHAWKER: But the album art fits that description pretty well, though. Who came up with the album art and how?

ADAM WEINER: I drew it. That’s Connie. Who came up with it? Yeah, it was me. I drew a picture of my fantasy of a New Jersey diner LOW_CUT_CONNIE.jpgwaitress, you know, like a South Jersey diner waitress.

PHAWKER: I gotcha.

ADAM WEINER: That’s her, that’s Connie. She’s certainly not beautiful, but she’s got a heart of gold. She sorta captures the essence of our band right now.

PHAWKER: Get Out the Lotion is the name of the album. Is that implying what we’re all thinking it’s implying?

ADAM WEINER: I don’t know, what do you think it’s implying?

PHAWKER: You talkin’ about jerkin’ it?

ADAM WEINER: If that’s what you want it to be. I would think it’s, you know, more of a public service announcement for skin cancer. But if you want it to be what is obviously on your mind a lot, that’s your business.

(more…)

ARTSY: Smile, You’re On Philly Photo Day

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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Philly Photo Day is coming up on Friday, October 28th! Everyone in Philadelphia is invited to take a picture of anything you like as long as it’s taken on the 28th within the city limits. You’ll have until October 31st to select your favorite picture and upload it onto our website.  (form/instructions available after Oct 28) Then on November 10th, from 6-9pm, join PPAC at the Philly Photo Day Opening Reception. Every single picture we receive will be printed and hung for exhibition in our space at 1400 N American St. Reprints of all the images will be available for $25. MORE

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: The Heirs Of Entitlement

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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BY WILLIAM C. HENRY With all the controversy surrounding “entitlements” reverberating throughout the body politic lately, perhaps the time has come for a battle-hardened, been-there-done-that, professional bullshit detector like myself to weigh in on the subject and hopefully help explode the meritocracy myths the American Right has been relying on to protect the legacies of the wealthy and bolster the anti-social welfare, pro-greed and self-interest free will belief system they have cleaved to for over a century.

SMUS.jpgFirst things first: 1) My comments are intended to correlate with the 2nd Merriam-Webster definition of “entitlement,” namely: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also: funds supporting or distributed to such a group; and,  2) I’ll be using the Right’s very own most universally advantaged entitlement to counter said myths and prove the point that there’s bound to be at least one hypocritical needle hidden in every Right Wing haystack.

Inasmuch as the Right side of the political spectrum believes so vehemently that the term “entitlement” is such an anathema it should be expurgated from the lexicon, they are left with an almost insuperable dilemma: how to explain away their near fanatical fight-to-the-death efforts to preserve and strengthen that most anti-meritocratic of all “entitlement” programs, INHERITANCE!

The Right can’t have it both ways. They can’t on the one hand advocate the abolishment of all entitlement programs, while on the other be willing to fall on their swords to protect their favorite. They can’t say out of one side of their mouths that need doesn’t entitle the have-nots to a portion of that which has accrued to the haves, while out of the other that a mere accident of birth by all means should or does. So, let’s take a look at how this granddaddy of all “entitlement” programs entails far more than just “last will and testament” and why some of it’s most unavoidable bequests are the least “deserved” of all.

(more…)

EARLY WORD: Be Here Now

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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Occupy Philadelphia will be staging an “End the Silence” march on Saturday, October 29th, to protest corporate control of American politics. The march will spotlight the suppression of the 99% in politics, as well as politicians’ silence on issues that are important to the people. The silent march will depart City Hall at 12:30pm and proceed to Temple University, where former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at a political rally. From Cantor to Clinton, Occupy Philadelphia objects to the domination of American politics by corporate interests. The current system places the power of campaign contributions over the power of people, this leaves people of color, women, LGBTAQ individuals, workers, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and countless others in the 99% who are disenfranchised.

When: Saturday October 29th 2011 –  

Where: From Philadelphia City Hall, Dilworth Plaza to Temple University

Who: The 99%

Why: Occupy Philadelphia will march in silence on Saturday to protest this system that mutes the vast majority and ignores important political, economic, and social issues while acceding to corporate interests. The Occupy Philly movement, which followed Occupy Wall Street and dozens of similar occupations around the country, continues to gain momentum. RSVP HERE

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The Ballad Of Citizens United Vs. The Federal Election Commission

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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WORTH REPEATING: #Robin Hood Tax

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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ADBUSTERS: For the moment, #OCCUPY has the magic and the ear of the world, and anything seems possible. We could see a soft regime change in America and a resurgence of the political left worldwide. As winter approaches, many occupiers will dig in for the long haul. Others will decamp until spring and channel their energy into myriad projects. Many of the big ideas for rejuvenating and reenchanting the world that have been swirling around the left for the last 20 years will pick up steam. From revoking corporate personhood to de-commercializing the cultural commons, to separating money from politics, to the birth of a True Cost Party of America … we are entering a sustained period of boots-on-the-ground transformation. And every now and again we will have a worldwide blast reminiscent of the global march against the Iraq war eight years ago. The next of these blasts could happen as early as this Saturday when #ROBINHOOD strikes the G20. Imagine a few million people rising up and sending a message to the G20 leaders meeting November 3/4 in France: “This austerity vs. stimulus debate you’ve foisted on us doesn’t mean a damn thing… It’s obvious you have no idea how to get us out of this economic mess you put us in. So now we are telling you what we want: a radical transformation of casino capitalism… we want you to slow down fast money with a 1% #ROBINHOOD tax on all financial transactions and currency trades.” MORE

RELATED: The Robin Hood Tax

MUST SEE TV: Why Occupy

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#OCCUPY OAKLAND: Ten Soldiers And Nixon Coming

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

UPDATE: Mercurcy News Is Liveblogging The Latest Developments at Ogawa Plaza

CBS NEWS: The scene was calm but tense early Wednesday as a crowd of hundreds of protesters dwindled to just a few dozen at the site of several clashes between authorities and supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement a night earlier. Police in riot gear stood watch only a few yards away from a group of stalwart demonstrators in the aftermath of skirmishes in front of City Hall that resulted in five volleys of tear gas from police, in blasts that seemed to intensify with each round, over a roughly three-hour stretch of evening scuffles. The conflict began much earlier in the day when police dismantled an encampment of Occupy Wall Street protesters that had dominated a plaza across the street from the government building for more than two weeks. Police fired tear gas and beanbag rounds, clearing out the makeshift city in less than an hour. Hours after nightfall Tuesday evening, protesters had gathered at a downtown library and began marching toward City Hall in an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of the disbanded camp. They were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas. The scene repeated itself several times just a few blocks away in front of the plaza, where police set up behind metal barricades, preventing protesters from gaining access to the site. Tensions would build as protesters edged ever closer to the police line and reach a breaking point with a demonstrator hurling a bottle or rock, prompting police to respond with another round of gas. The chemical haze hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate. The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear Oakland_Iraq_Vet_Victim.jpggas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march, at least one of whom was injured when what appeared to be a tear gas canister hit his head, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. MORE

THE GUARDIAN: An Iraq war veteran has a fractured skull and brain swelling after allegedly being hit by a police projectile. Scott Olsen is in a “critical condition” in Highland hospital in Oakland, a hospital spokesman confirmed. Olsen, 24, suffered the head injury during protests in Oakland on Tuesday evening. More than 15 people were arrested after a crowd gathered to demonstrate against the police operation to clear two Occupy Oakland camps in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Jay Finneburgh, a photographer who was covering the protest, published pictures of Olsen lying on the ground. “This poor guy was right behind me when he was hit in the head with a police projectile. He went down hard and did not get up,” Finneburgh wrote. MORE

RELATED: “Late last night, Scott Olsen, a former Marine, two-time Iraq war veteran, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head with a police projectile while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland march. The march began at a downtown library and headed towards City Hall in an effort to reclaim a site—recently cleared by police—that had previously served as an encampment for members of the 99% movement. Scott joined the Marines in 2006, served two-tours in Iraq, and was discharged in 2010. Scott moved to California from Wisconsin and currently works as a systems network administrator in Daly, California. Scott is one of an increasing number of war veterans who are participating in America’s growing Occupy movement. Said Keith Shannon, who deployed with Scott to Iraq, “Scott was marching with the 99% because he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government, and that they weren’t being held accountable for their role in the economic downturn, which caused so many people to lose their jobs and their homes.” Scott is currently sedated at a local hospital awaiting examination by a neurosurgeon. Iraq Veterans Against the Wars sends their deepest condolences to Scott, his family, and his friends. IVAW also sends their thanks to the brave folks who risked bodily harm to provide care to Scott immediately following the incident.” - Graham Clumpner of Iraq veterans Against the War

 FIRST: Cop shoots Iraq vet in the face with tear gas cannister

THEN: Cop throws flash grenade at people attempting to help wounded Iraq vet…

RELATED: Still photos of fallen Iraq vet and flash grenade exploding as people go to his aid

PREVIOUSLY: Kent State

RELATED: Ludicrously tone-deaf response from the Oakland mayor on Facebook

RELATED: The American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers’ Guild jointly sent a public records request to the Oakland Police Department seeing an immediate release about their use of force during demonstrations Tuesday. The ACLU and NLG are calling for an end to excessive police force and want a full investigation. MORE

RELATED: During the Tuesday afternoon rally, as about 500 people gathered outside the city’s main library at 14th and Madison streets, organizers announced that police “called the library in anticipation of our gathering and asked them to shut it down. They said no because they know what side they are on.'” The crowd exploded into cheers. MORE

RELATED: The deputy NYPD inspector seen in two different videos appearing to release pepper spray on Wall Street protesters has been transferred to Staten Island, sources told NBC New York. Anthony Bologna, who was previously assigned to Manhattan South, is now a special projects coordinator for the borough’s command. The transfer puts him closer to his home, which is also in Staten Island. He had already been docked 10 vacation days after an internal NYPD review found he violated department standards on pepper spray use during the protest. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: The Ballad Of Tony Baloney

WASHINGTON POST: MTV said it will follow three young people on the front lines of Occupy Wall Street in New York City for an episode of its “True Life” documentary series. The cable network embedded its cameras over a two-week period to capture protesters’ activities and explore what motivates them. The episode is scheduled to air Nov. 5. MORE

RELATED: OccupyHollywood

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[via ButYou’reLikeReallyPretty.com]

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WORTH REPEATING: LouTallica

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

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CHUCK KLOSTERMAN: The universe is predisposed to hate this new Lou Reed/Metallica album, Lulu, and I totally understand why. It’s not really designed for people who like music. It sounds like what it is: an elderly misanthrope reciting paradoxical aphorisms over a collection of repetitive, adrenalized sludge licks. Anyone who tries to suggest it’s surprising in any way needs to reexamine his or her propensity for being surprised. I’m sure there will be a sector of Metallica’s core audience that feels “betrayed,” mostly because Metallica fans enjoy the sensation of betrayal.1 I suppose a handful of Lou Reed obsessives will consider this record hilarious as long as they don’t have to listen to it, and I’m certain some contrarian rock critic will become Internet Famous for insisting it’s more subversive than Transformer and a musical reaction to both Occupy Wall Street and the subpar drum production on St. Anger. It will be legally purchased by the 13,404 Metallica completists who saw Some Kind of Monster on opening weekend, unless the album is exclusively sold at Walmart, in which case it will enter the Billboard charts at no. 2. Rolling Stone will give it 2½ stars and then pretend it never happened; meanwhile, people who thought The “Priest” They Called Him was a brilliant idea will hold a vague, misplaced grudge against Dave Mustaine while sleepwalking to the methadone clinic. MORE

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EULOGY FOR TRITONE: Goodnight Rick D, Wherever You Are

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

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PETE_MARSHALL_AVATAR.JPGBY PETE MARSHALL “Tritone closing?  Say it ain’t so.  Now where am I gonna play?” By the end of the week, after the word of Tritone closing its doors gets around, countless Philadelphia area bands and musicians will have uttered these words. Take my word for it. Now, I know that Tritone is not the only joint in town. Not by a long shot. In fact there are quite a few good places to play in this old town these days. But with Tritone you can always rely on landing a gig no matter what you’re serving up.

The Tritone web site boasts that they are “the most musically diverse venue in Philly”. I’ll vouch for that. Tritone will give anyone a shot. You can be an old white man, a young black woman, or both (Needles Jones). Tritone loves you and so Philadelphia loves you. You are loved. And whether you’re offering Jazz, Prog-rock, Hip-Hop, Burlesque, Big Band, Emo or some Avant-Cow-Punk you are welcome to hawk your wears on the Tritone stage. Hells-bells; you don’t even have to be good. That’s the beauty of the place. Walk in on any given night and you are just as likely to hear Bob Bell and friends playing some weirdo Jazz-Fusion thing as you are to hear Shakey Lyman, alone with his guitar, singing the blues. You may wander in and be subjected to The Prisoners, Beretta 76, Donuts, Pissed Jeans, Gas Money or Dr. Ketchup shaking the walls of the joint until the cops come knocking. You might peek in and accidentally catch a glimpse of Mick Cancer writhing in a sweaty heap on a filthy floor with a microphone cable around his neck and both hands down his pants. But that’s only if you’re lucky, dear reader.

Rick Dobrowolski [pictured, above] and Dave Rogers acquired the space at 1508 South Street, painted the walls red and opened the Tritone H_B_Shots.jpgin 2001. I love it there. Tritone is my place. It’s where I play. It’s where I go to see others play. It’s where I go for a beer, a plate of perogies and a beautiful wise-crack from Rick Almeida at the bar. I’ve been to weddings at Tritone and I’ve been to wakes. Dave always greets me with a handshake and looks genuinely happy to see me. And hey, I hardly even mind that smell of stale of beer and cigarettes any more. It’s a good place to be. Like CHEERS only kinda gross.

I do miss Rick though. For those that don’t know, Rick D was Dave’s partner at Tritone and a force for local music in Philadelphia. The openness and musical diversity shown at Tritone is a direct vestige of Ricks influence. Rick bounced around town in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s putting together great shows at J.C. Dobbs on South Street and Nicks’ Upstairs in Old City. He also tended bar for a while at Bob & Barbara’s; directly across from Tritone where, as legend has it, he invented what some Philadelphians call the “Citywide Special”, although I happen to have first person knowledge that that “special” was a direct result of Mr. Red Burns [pictured on the left, downing shot with the author, onstage at Tritone] ordering a Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Beam and professing, “I only have three dollars! Make it a special!” So who actually invented the “special” is, in my view, still unclear.

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