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S.A.D. Thought Of The Day

Friday, January 26th, 2007


“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents… some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” — H.P. Lovecraft, 1926

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Way Back When, Before There Was A Native Rodent Population, Rats Had To Be Shipped In Fresh Every Day

Friday, January 26th, 2007


[Photo Courtesy of]
The City of Philadelphia’s photo archive contains over 2 million images that date back as far as the late 1800s, i.e. the last time a Republican won in this town. In all seriousness, this is an INCREDIBLE visual record of the city’s evolution and a relatively new web site,, is making it available for online consumption and purchase. To date, some 22,000 images have been digitally scanned, at a rate of roughly 2,000 images a month. So, if you’ve been wondering why the line at Kinko’s is so godamnned SLOW, well, now you know. Phawker will be showcasing images from the PhillyHistory archive and their respective backstories on a regular basis. And to just to make local history fun, let’s have a WRITE YOUR OWN CAPTION contest right fuckin’ NOW! So lend us your wit, send in your idea of a makes-milk-shoot-out-yer-nose caption for the above image to First prize is a pair of tix to see Yo La Tengo At The Troc On February 10th. Second prize, a set of steak knives. Third prize, YOU’RE FIRED!

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Thursday, January 25th, 2007


evacartoon.jpgBY EVA LIAO This Christmas, my friend Emma got the new MacBook Pro, Adam scored a new skateboard, Nicole took a ski trip to Colorado and I got an enema. It’s not what you think, you perv. You see, this year I decided to forego the holidays, which was the easy part, and join my mom in holistic rehab, which was the difficult part. You see, my severely bi-polar mother has suffered from ever-worsening alcoholism for about 10 years now and so, oddly enough, rehabs hold a special place in my heart. For years they served as the backdrop for some of our key mother-daughter bonding moments. Plus, you meet the most interesting people in rehabs.

Then again, everybody seems interesting when you’re 12.

Anyway, when my mother asked me if I would attend this family rehab program with her over the holidays, I wasn’t exactly thrilled — what 22 year old wants to NOT party around the holidays? — but I knew she needed me. And so I jumped on the next plane back home to California, San Diego to be exact, land of high colonics and raw foodists. My mother was checking in for a few months, but I was only signing on for the first three weeks. Truth be told, even though I wasn’t the patient, I was afraid what detoxing would do for my poor, overworked liver and hard-won tolerance. I mean, it wasn’t exactly like I was the poster child for sobriety considering that most mornings I woke up on three pills of Ibuprofen and a cigarette. Not to mention I never, ever left my house without my flask.

All told, as anyone who has ever been to rehab will tell you, it was the very best of times, it was the absolute shittiest of times. But in the end, it was time worthwhile.


1. Rehab romance! During my stay, I secretly rendezvoused with a very distinguished-looking older man. This charming gentleman is an ex-New York model turned small-time L.A. actor who, at heart, was born and raised a Santa Monica surf bum. Despite the age gap, he rendered me smitten with his shameless confidence, sharp blue-eyed stare and mysteriously calm machismo. He shared with me delicious stories of his five-year stint of homelessness in Europe while drawing a portrait of me in black and red. He showed me an old photo of himself in an issue of National Geographic catching waves at Venice beach and reminisced about working with Will Ferrell on Talladega Nights. I can’t deny that I fell half in love with him during the time we spent together — until I came home and made the mistake of looking him up on IMDB. Turns out, dude was 56, a number so high I had to retract my invitation for him to visit me in Philadelphia. But in my defense, I’ll be damned if any 56-year-old man ever looked so good.

2. Romance aside, I befriended the most fascinating group of too-smart-and-addicted for-their own-good whack jobs: A well-known Canadian pianist; an eccentric 40-year-old genius (who behaved more like a 12-year-old prodigy on crack), a Rastafarian Peace Corps dropout and a college professor who dazzled me with stories about growing up in Harlem and jazz in the ’70s.

3. A rediscovery of health and THE WILL TO LIVE! You really never know how great health is until you lose it and miraculously get it back. Not only was I fully enjoying the benefits of being sober (the added energy, the vivid thoughts, the hand-eye coordination), but I was in California, which meant substituting breakfast cart bacon breakfast sandwiches smothered in cheese with fresh, plump fruits and vivid green vegetables every day. And like I said, this joint was holistic, which meant yoga in the mornings and meditation in the evenings. If it weren’t for all the people suffering from withdrawal and dealing with neurotic emotional issues, you’d think it was Canyon Ranch.

4. I wasn’t allowed to smoke, so I quit. And now — guess what? — I don’t smoke. No matter what I tell you later at the bar, always remember and never forget: I DO NOT SMOKE.

5. And of course, spending time with the mother proved to be good for the both of us. This Christmas, instead of wanting to throw her out the window or simply feeling helpless and anxiety-ridden around a mom pumped full of meds and her daily intake of 30 cans of beer — I sympathized with her. And I was pleasantly reminded that when sober, my mother was a rather enchanting person. In fact, during the three weeks we spent together, not once did we pull each others’ hair or throw glassware at each other, as we tend to do when together for more than 48 hours. And who knew? Without all the screaming and airborne objects, it was a lot easier to actually have a conversation.

But alas, while those things were great and all, I can’t go on pretending like it was all sunshine and lollipops. It was rehab for God’s sake, which in many ways means it sucked. Which brings us to…


1. Wheat grass juice — twice a day. And I’m not talking about the sissy, overpriced stuff you get at Jamba Juice. It was the real deal: The grass grown in its own greenhouse, we had to cut it, then take it to the ‘juicing room’ in which we mushed out 2 oz of pungent, nauseating green goop. This thick, pasty liquid tasted worse than the cheapest rotgut I’ve ever had, and yet they say the health benefits are unlimited. Helping the cleansing process along, I forced myself to drink up twice a day, as recommended, because I figured my liver needed the help. And my headaches, itchy skin and chronic fatigue were all sure signs that my own personal detoxing was coming along just fine.

2. Wheat Grass Enemas. Some people (read: coke heads) were advised to snort the wheat grass goop up their nose to clear and heal the nasal passages (burns like hell I hear). I, on the other hand, had it rectally administered during a regularly scheduled colonic. I’ve already made the mistake of explaining this awkwardrehab2.jpg process to friends who will now crudely make fun of me for months, so I’ll just leave the details to your imagination.

3. The Talent Show. Like I said, rehabs like this are basically summer camp for the problem kids. So of course we had to have a talent show, a concept that baffles me to this day because I can’t imagine why anyone would want to see middle-aged, burned-out addicts perform Rod Stewart covers on a 5’x 10′ stage. The images of the 60-year-old contortionist and the goofy Russian kid doing victory jumps on stage still prove painful to remember. But nothing hurt more than watching the skinny, bouncy blond girl sing an off-key version of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.” At one point, my “movie star” boyfriend looked at me, flabbergasted, and whispered, “This must be where Christopher Guest gets his material.”

4. Assholes. To state the obvious, living with the sick isn’t easy. It’s an experience that readily tests anybody’s nerves, stomach, compassion and resolve. Watching my mother wither and moan, and then dry heave into a toilet for two hours a day was by far more difficult than weathering my own withdrawal symptoms. Needless to say, detox makes for a lot of unhappy campers, all those raw nerves no longer protected by the numbing balm of Chivas and Xanax, and many of them were straight up dicks. Understandably so, but capital-D Dicks nonetheless.

5. Circle Time. I saved the worst for last: “circle time,” “testimonial time” or any other one of those cheesy group times really, really made me want to shoot myself in the head. Sure, the 12-step classroom time made me cringe as well (classes with titles like “You Validation” and “Discovering Communication”) but nothing was worse than the sessions where people revealed the most personally unflattering, self-pitying stories about drunken sharts (yes, a shart is exactly what you think it is) and the like. It was like passing around your dirty underwear for everyone to laugh at privately while they gave that I understand look. And at the end, we all had to hold hands or even more embarrassingly, hug ourselves — I remember thinking: I’d rather have the enema.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eva Liao is 23 years old and from Los Angeles. Her favorite band is the Velvet Underground. That’s why we hired her. Eva goes to Temple. Some would call her an intern, but we call her Assistant Editor because we believe the media should empower young people, not belittle and exploit them. But that’s just us.

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Monday, January 22nd, 2007

gaybo.thumbnail.JPGBY TOMMY ZANE There are a lot of things that can put a queen in a mood. The right to not marry, Red Cross’ homophobic ban on blood-donating by ALL gay men, still in effect since the eighties, and dumbasses that ask you about the “Iggles game” in the elevator at work, assuming you give a damn. Just to name a few. This week, I experienced three of my favorites:
Gaybo’s Pet Peeve #1: Let’s start with pets — dogs to be exact. Dear Straight Friend Colette and her hunky husband Cliff live down in Old City. (They bought a condo five years ago when you could still get a bargain for under $500,000.) Ramon and I love to walk down to their neighborhood and hit one of those primo restaurants for a meal. The thing I’ve noticed lately? Dogs everywhere! Now, I love the creatures and had a loyal German Shepherd when I was a kid, but pet owners are another matter. I especially like the bitches dragging their dog (literally) down the street while chatting on their cell phones, not paying any mind to their animal trying to relieve itself. Precious. Of course once they finally do poop, many of the owners don’t pick it up. The fucking nerve! I saw one shifty guy perpetrate this crime and walked right up to him and said, “Hey! Your dog just shit on the sidewalk. Aren’t you going to pick it up so someone doesn’t step in it? panlab.jpgHUH?!?!?” He looked at me like I just punched his mother. Wish I had. She didn’t raise him very well.
Gaybo’s Pet Peeve #2: Talking at the movies. Have we really raised a generation of folks who can’t keep their mouths shut? Do you really think you’re so important that we really need to hear you talk throughout a film? The only speaking I want to hear during a film is what comes from the movie speakers or, “Get out! There’s a fire!” Save that incredibly funny joke for your myspace profile. Someone should open a theatre chain where tape is placed on the mouths of all incessant gabbers. I’d gladly quit my day job for the chance to duct tape the cake hole on these assholes.
Gaybo Pet Peeve #3 – Harassing gay folks in the street. I had the misfortune of nearly getting my skull crushed this week. My Lovely and I were walking up 8th Street from South when three vehicles full of drunken Jersey frat boys stopped their cars to mess with us. They were obviously drunk driving and itching for a fight. Ramon doesn’t back down very easily, so I was prepared for the worst. Fortunately, one of Philly’s finest pulled up just as the jerks were getting physical. I was relieved to see the police, but I couldn’t help thinking how lucky we were. There are people gay bashed, harassed and jeered at every day in this city. So fuck you very much, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman.
Spain currently has two fine films to offer U.S. moviegoers, “Volver” and “Pan’s Labyrinth“. “Volver” is Pedro Almodovar’s latest creation and stars Penelope Cruz as a self-determined Mother trying to raise her daughter with little resources. Carmen Maura plays opposite Cruz as her ghost-like and long- estranged Mother. Both ladies are excellent in this noir-ish Almodovar instant classic. Guillermo del Toro has directed “Pan’s Labyrinth”, set in postwar Franco’s Spain. Ivana Baquero is an Anne Frank-like young girl escaping the misery of war into a fairytale existence. The film is a great statement against the ravages of war and sad testament to its awful psychic costs. Both films are in Spanish with English subtitles. Lucky for me, I already speak some Spanish. Donde esta en la cocina? That means “where is the kitchen?” So now you know.
YouTube Clip of The Week: Espana’s Swingin’ Salome wins Eurovision, 1969
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Sandra “still workin’ it” Bernhard filling the Prince Theatre with laughter this past weekend, Jennifer “Got the Golden Globe now here comes The Oscar” Hudson, and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary “Big surprise, I’m running” Clinton. Let the bearded clambake begin!

ABOUT THIS COLUMN: Are you gay and read Phawker? Or just thinking about it? Becoming gay that is. Because, you know, you ‘heard good things.’ Are you straight but curious how the other team plays? Congressman, we have heard your call and answered your prayers. Our Gaydar Editor Tommy Zane is gay all day and queer for a year, and like all gays he is wickedly funny, stylish, tidy and knows from window treatments. He could also probably kick your ass into next week. But don’t worry, Tommy’s a lover not a fighter. He may be going to hell, but then most of our straight friends are, too. Every MONDAY look for GAYBO. We’ll have a gay old time!

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JUNK SCIENCE: Attack Of The Clones

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

junksciencecartooncarrot.jpgBY ELIZABETH FIEND In 1952, a special tadpole was born. It was the first animal ever cloned. After that breakthrough, scientists spent many years and many millions of dollars on unsuccessful cloning attempts. Then, in 1997, it was ‘Hello, Dolly,’ when the test-tube sheep became the first successfully cloned mammal. Since Dolly’s celebrated birth, scientists have cloned many different animals including goats, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits and mice. A guar (an exotic ox native to India) named Noah was the first endangered animal to be cloned, but unfortunately he lived only 48 hours.

There’s also been a big push to clone our beloved pets, for love and/or profit. The cat came first, then a dog. But it wasn’t easy and as it turns out, the cloning of household pets wasn’t as profitable a business as some had hoped. Now the biotechnology industry has turned much of its attention to cloning farm animals for future human consumption.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration released an 800-page report which concluded that the milk and meat from cloned cattle, pigs and goats and their offspring is as safe to eat as the food we currently consume. They also added that they won’t recommend special labels for food from a cloned source, because the food from cloned animals is “virtually indistinguishable” from conventional food.dolly1.jpg

The motivation behind cloning farm animals is that they’ll have superior milk production and carcass traits. It’s even possible that technology will develop enough to clone out negative gene traits that lead to creepy things like mad cow disease.

The current cloning procedure is called somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT. The process involves taking a living cell from an adult animal and inserting the nucleus from the cell into an unfertilized egg that has had its own nucleus removed. Presto, you have a baby that was grown inside the womb of a surrogate mother and, unlike all the rest of the animals on this planet (except other clones, of course), has only one genetic parent.

Right now, cloning to produce food is only going to be done at the very top strata of the breeding pyramid, with DNA from animals that are worth millions. The animals to be cloned are the ones that fetch the top prices for their meat, milk and bacon. Right now it costs upwards of $16,000 to produce a clone. Financial reality tells us we won’t actually be eating a clone, rather, it’s the future progeny of a cloned animal that will make their way onto our dinner plates and and into pet food bowls. With this FDA nod, we could begin seeing food from cloned sources in less than five years. (more…)


Friday, January 19th, 2007


Phawker headquarters itself in a secure undisclosed location on the mean cobblestoned streets of the O.C. and not a day goes by on the nearby stretch of North Third when we don’t find ourselves accosted, albeit pleasantly so, by a pack of suburban Jersey coeds, dressed to the nines in their best approximation of season four Sex In The City. Usually, they are being skippered by a hip mom in a furry bucket hat and she’s the one that usually asks, “excuse me can you tell me where…” and we always finish their sentences for them: “Let me guess, Third Street Habit. You’re actually standing right in front of it.” Then they apologize for the duh-ness of the question, thank you profusely and hurry on their merry way. We don’t mind, it’s better than having telling to tell rabid, brace-faced packs of babysitters where the Real World House is (“Your standing right in front of it”). Besides, we’re happy to help the cause of superior boutique retailing. It’s one of our many pet causes, along with saving the republic, re-inventing the media wheel and figuring out which alt-weekly has the sharpest cover this week. And many of the best-dressed ladies in Philadelphia tell us that Third Street Habit is their very favorite clothing store in the whole wide world. And then they tell us to leave them alone or they are gonna call the police. (more…)

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING: Angry Torch Wielding Villagers Demand End Of Smoking Ban, Bar & Restaurant Owners Claim Biz Down Nearly 50%

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

CHICAGO — Orland Park’s restaurants and pubs claim sales have plunged by half because of asmoker.jpg two-week-old smoking ban. Now the mayor is considering changes.

Dan McLaughlin, responding to a standing-room-only crowd of irate bar owners, wait staff, liquor distributors and residents at this week’s village board meeting, will suggest modifying a ban that has pushed customers to neighboring towns and left local businesses reeling.

The pronouncement came after about 100 ban opponents packed village hall Monday.

“We’re slighted by this ordinance,” said Brian Wojak, owner of Koppermill Bar and Grill in the south suburb. Wojak said his restaurant’s revenue is down 30 to 50 percent.

Tinley Park Trustee David Seaman said he isn’t persuaded by bars that say they’re on the brink of failure.

“If businesses fail, in all probability it’s because it’s a failed business effort — not because the smoking ban has changed anything,” he said.

In Oak Forest, which also banned smoking, leaders are hoping to call a special meeting to lift the ban by Sunday, when the Bears play the Saints.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Can’t Happen Here?

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AMUSE BOUCHE: Means ‘Fun For The Mouth’

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

amyzquinn.thumbnail.jpgBY AMY Z. QUINN This morning, “Good Morning America” featured segments from a sit-down Diane Sawyer did with the U.S. Senate’s so-called “Sweet 16,” or its entire female membership. In case you failed math the way I did, that’s a paltry 16 percent of the Senate’s membership, a fact not even vaguely “sweet.” To make it worse, ABC undercut Sawyer’s entire effort by including the obligatory “Can women senators handle job and work” poll. Still, either I’m getting old, or my sense of what matters is waaay off, because I came away from the piece bothered not so much by the poll, but by an unsettling confession made by one of the Senators.projectrunwayheader.jpg

Though they don’t show the quote in the video, one of the women confessed a fascination with Bravo’s “Project Runway.” This, in turn, fascinates and frankly disappointed me — I prefer to think of my elected sisters as more “Top Chef” kind of people: creative, able to work under pressure, enamored of creating something tangible that fulfills a tangible need. I don’t dislike “Runway,” but to me the show lacks a proper motive, other than starvation and looking good in clothes. (more…)

ARTSY: Nice Cock!

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007


Eric Fausnacht’s chickens and roosters at Muse Gallery are birds of a different feather. In a way, his paintings and prints that seem to be reproductions of his paintings, make the case for chickens as dandies and grandees. Their plumage is spectacular, at least as Fausnacht paints feathers. And the cockscombs are baroque, looking more like the velvety flower of the same name than like my personal image of a cockscomb.

ARTBLOG: Taking Fartsy Out Of Artsy Since At Least 10 Minutes Ago

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Why Do We Have To Go To England To Read Joe Queenan’s Definitive Critique Of the Rocky Franchise?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Throughout the saga, Balboa has been lionized by the cowed American press as the champion of working stiffs everywhere, a lovable lummox with a particularly strong psychicmr-t.jpg connection to blue-collar Philadelphians. Philadelphia, in fact, is a city whose population is roughly 50 per cent African-American, the vast majority of whom are working-class. I cannot recall the last time any film critic went out and asked black residents of the City of Brotherly Love what psychic connection they felt with a fictional thug from a section of a city not widely known for its affection toward minorities.

It’s worth noting that 1976 was the year Frank Rizzo won his second term as mayor of the city. Rizzo, a native of South Philly, was famous for asking the federal government for tanks to combat criminals while he was still serving as police commissioner, and also garnered headlines for raiding Black Panther headquarters in the middle of the night, lining up the naked black men outside the building, and allowing newspaper photographers to take their pictures. He once said that he was so tough he would make Attila the Hun look like a “faggot”. This is the intensely polarised racial environment in which Rocky was filmed, marketed and released.
When I was in my teens, I worked in a clothing store owned by a tough ex-Marine who used to referee fights in North Philadelphia gyms. One day he told me that he had joined an organisation called Cloverlay, which would provide funding to a young man so that he could quit his job in a slaughterhouse and train for a career as a professional boxer. The young man knocked out Buster Mathis and became heavyweight champion of the world. Three years later, he would crown a majestic career by defeating Muhammad Ali in one of the most famous bouts in history.

The prize fighter in question, like Ali, was young, gifted, and black, not old, talentless and white like Rocky. His name was Joe Frazier. A real-life, flesh-and-blood heavyweight champion, Frazier was long vilified as the white man’s champion by fans of Ali and by Ali himself, and never, ever got the respect he deserved. If you go to Philadelphia today, you can see the statue of Sylvester Stallone at the foot of the Art Museum steps, where it has temporarily been relocated as a fundraising gimmick. But you will not see a statue of Joe Frazier, a working-class hero who fought his way to the top but who is now down on his luck financially, anywhere in the tri-state area. This is not just an insult; this is a disgrace.

THE GUARDIAN: ‘Ello Guv’ner!

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Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

The day after 9/11 we went to the Khyber where an acquaintance assured us over beers that it was an ‘inside job.’ We told him that we were no stranger to conspiracy theories — that the official explanations of assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK are riddled with black holes of impossibility and trapdoors of doubt that lead to the sub-basements of the Dark Side of the American psyche — but to say that our own government had a hand in the wholesale slaughter of thousands of its own citizens is cheap insult to the dead. Now, we’re not so sure. We STRONGLY urge you to set aside 90 minutes to watch this – go here to see it on the ‘big screen’ — and reconsider the generally accepted ‘truth’ of what happened that awful day.

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Monday, January 15th, 2007

gaybo.JPGBY TOMMY ZANE Aging Granddaddy of all hipsters and ambivalent sex-God Morrissey is rumored to have jumped in the race to write and/or perform this year’s U.K. entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, to be held May 12 in Helsinki, Finland. The 52 year-old contest counts ABBA and Olivia Newton-John among its discoveries (the Aussie warbler lost out to the ABBA’s “Waterloo” in the 1974 go-round) but Eurovision is mostly known for its high camp and lousy pop songs with flashy Solid Gold-esque choreography. If Morrissey does indeed sign up to represent the U.K., I can only imagine a domino effect throughout Europe. Berlin will re-unite and perform for Germany, John Travolta and Olivia can represent Greece (OK, that’s a stretch), and Sinead O’Connor will sing for Ireland while ripping up a picture of Tony Blair. Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, not a peep in the press about the rumored American version of Eurovision. Can you imagine the possibilities? Kansas, Alabama, Chicago . . . the list is endless. Check out this classic German Eurovision performance From 1979, and fast-forward to 1:28. Warning: Do not drink milk while watching, unless you like it squirting through your nose!
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ARTSY: Grand Dame Of 60’s Op-Art Still Hip at 90

Monday, January 15th, 2007

BY AMY S. ROSENBERG INQUIRER STAFF WRITER In the ’60s, she was making art that was part of the psychedelic fabric of its day, mind-blowing optical trickery, paintings that vibrated and moved, art that anticipated a digitalednaandradesmall.gif medium few had imagined.

But Edna Andrade was no hippie, no part of the like-wow drug culture that embraced the op art movement of the 1960s.

She was middle-aged, living on her own on Carlisle Street in Center City, her architect husband having left her, isolated from the New York or European art scene, no starving waitress thing for her, no East Village bohemia.

“My cleaning lady was the only person allowed to clean in the studio,” Andrade says. “When she would come in and say, whooah, I knew it was good.”

Now, on the eve of her 90th birthday, it is, frankly, the ladies in the cafeteria of her assisted-living high-rise near 17th and Callowhill that this important but under-recognized artist more often than not eschews, with their join-me-for-dinner dance cards annoyingly booked until eternity.
Up in her penthouse apartment, she’s still reading her New York Review of Books, still organizing her fruit and vegetables in an amusingly geometric mimicry of her art, still game enough to be offering up a vodka martini, even mid-afternoon, to her guests, and still showing a cheerful edginess as sharp as the oil-painted lines she so painstakingly created with a ruling pen.

INQUIRER: Wavy Gravy, Man!

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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