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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Dear Mr. President #3

February 28th, 2019

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Illustration by MARK BRYAN

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Okay, quick joke to shake off the chill. Take all five of these names: Donald J. Trump, Mitch McConnell, Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy, Devin Nunes. What do they all have in common? SMUSAnswer: In addition to being the five most dangerous people in America, every time the latter four have been observed departing the Oval Office, each was seen holding a hankie to his nose, and you were said to have immediately demanded that Pence find you some Preparation H! Like I said, just a little levity to kick this missive off. Please do take it personally. Just between you and me, Fox News put me up to it.

Actually, there is something altogether puzzling I’d like to talk to you about. Doncha think it’s absolutely astronomically coincidental that every time something filthy, stinking or rotten turns up in the news that somehow, somewhere, at some time, there is or was a personal connection to you?! I mean, what are the odds? Take that now-known-to-be scumbag, Paul Manafort, for example. Remember? He was one of your best buds–still is, as far as I can tell, given all the flattering things you continue to say about him. Hell, he’s the guy you hand picked to be one of your TOP ADVISORS and your CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN! And what about that TOP FINANCIAL MAN of yours, Allen Weisselberg? For Christ’s sake, he’s become a “cooperating witness” in a full-fledged criminal investigation of EVERYTHING Trump, past and present, by your own Justice Department!

And then, of course, there’s that former ten-year mouthpiece/personal “fixer”/ratter outer of yours, Michael Cohen. He got himself three years in prison for lying about actions taken on YOUR behalf that, mystery of all mysteries, you either have no recollection of, or you admit to being as dumb as a fucking rock about, or that whenever any such kind of legal matters were broached you didn’t know any better than to Alfred E. Neumanly let him do as he damn well pleased, or you just flat out deny anything of the kind ever having taken place. Huh?! And you still have supporters?! Really?! Beam me up, Scotty!
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BEYOND THE BARS: Q&A W/ Comedian Ali Siddiq

February 28th, 2019

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BY SEAN HECK Ali Siddiq is not your traditional stand-up comic. This Houston-bred funny man, writer, actor, and activist spent six years of a fifteen-year sentence for drug trafficking behind bars in the Texas state penitentiary system. For his 2018 Comedy Central special Ali Siddiq: It’s Bigger Than These Bars, Siddiq returned to prison to perform stand-up and interview inmates and prison personnel at Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas. In addition to being a well-received comedian with stand-up appearances at Just For Laughs, The Tom Joyner Foundation Cruise, BET’s One Mic Stand, Bill Bellamy’s Ladies Night Out Tour on HBO, and the season finale of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, the New York Comedy Festival’s “Up Next” champion has also appeared on Showtime and AXS, as well as Ari Shaffir’s (and, later, Roy Wood Jr.’s) widely-lauded storytime show This is Not Happening.

Ali Siddiq is not just an entertainer, however. He is an accredited critic of United States culture as it relates to the school-to-prison pipeline, and has many honest and passionate opinions about how the glamorization of violence and the absence of a culture of personal accountability are to blame for the massive incarceration rates in the U.S. There is a seriousness to Siddiq, and I respect his lack of reservations when it comes to challenging his interlocutor. At first, as a 22-year-old white male with a suburban upbringing and no history of crime, Siddiq’s challenges to my assumptions about his time in prison were somewhat intimidating to me. As you will see, the mood was rather tense during first few minutes of the interview. Obviously, incarceration is a life with which I am totally unfamiliar, but it was a welcome culture clash that culminated with Siddiq’s common sense observation that you can’t keep the peace without the establishment of common ground with others, no matter how different they may be from you. You can catch his act at Punch Line Philly tonight through Saturday.

PHAWKER: So you found your calling as a comedian behind bars. If you don’t mind me asking, what was the series of events that resulted in your six-year prison term? What can you tell me about your life before prison?

ALI SIDDIQ: What resulted in my six-year prison sentence was…the Feds busted me and my partner for five kilos of cocaine at a hotel. Before that, I was just a regular kid in school…hanging out with my friends and all that.

PHAWKER: Presumably, comedy was a survival tactic for you in prison. Can you recall—

ALI SIDDIQ: Presumed by who?

PHAWKER: I’m just presuming that that would help you.

ALI SIDDIQ: Why would you presume that would help?

PHAWKER: ….

ALI SIDDIQ: I ask that question because…that whole thing came from a movie called “House Party.” At no time was Richard Pryor incarcerated to use that as a tactic to keep people off him. That wouldn’t work. I was probably a very formidable opponent with anybody before then. I don’t know why people presume that I would need to be funny to protect myself.

PHAWKER: So you didn’t use your potential to be funny as a tool in prison at all?

ALI SIDDIQ: Nah. Me being funny and me being sarcastic and humorous…that wasn’t a survival tactic. My survival tactic was that, if anybody were gonna try me, I would probably beat their head in or attempt to kill them. That was the survival tactic that I used.

PHAWKER: So I read that you have a really good prison riot story. Would you mind just telling an abbreviated version of that for our readers?

ALI SIDDIQ: It’s on YouTube [see below], so most people can watch it in its entirety but…it’s about me being in this prison called Torres. There was a riot between the blacks and the Hispanics. And they used their boots to kick you in shin before they stabbed you. That’s the abbreviated version.
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DEACTIVISIM: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Delete My Facebook Account (And I Feel Fine)

February 27th, 2019

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Hangley_BylinerBY BILL HANGLEY JR. So Facebook turns fifteen this month. Big deal. I’m turning fifty, and here’s my gift to myself:  Beat it, Facebook. As in, get lost, you creepy leeches. Make tracks. Go bark up somebody else’s tree. You’re not “social.” You’re chemical – a meticulously engineered subconscious compulsion. Ever see the opening credits to that Cartoon Network show, “Robot Chicken?” Where the mad scientist forces the helpless bird to watch a hundred blaring TV screens at once? That’s you, Facebook – only us chickens aren’t tied down. We just sit there, staring at your endless scroll, waiting for that dopamine jolt of somebody saying something nice about us.

I know, I know – nobody made me sign up. Nobody made me stay.  But there I was, for twelve years, me and my 2.32 billion friends, sharing, chatting, squabbling. Now I’m gone. And it feels …. Great. “But Bill!” you cry. “Think of the kittens! Think of the puppies! Think of your friends and your family and your cousin’s terribly misinformed high school buddies and ….” Well, Bill thanks you for your concern, Facebook. But let Bill share a little story about the only brain he has.

_______

IT WAS A blustery, gray day, and I was doing one of my favorite things: rambling around Philadelphia on my bike. I was taking a break in Strawberry Mansion when I spotted the wasp’s nest. It was big. And dead. Its outer shell was gone, reduced to papery shreds. But three tiers of its once-hidden inner comb remained, delicate and doomed, bobbing and swaying in the cold wind like a ragged Chinese lantern. For a moment I was captivated: the naked nest; the iron-black branches; the glowering sky …. then suddenly, that familiar tug.

“SHAAAAAARE!”

I felt my hand drawn to my camera. I pictured the picture on the screen, the little red numbers ticking up “likes” and “shares.” I felt the jets of chemical joy, the dopamine rush of rising social status … me being praised, me being affirmed; me being reminded of me, me, MEEEE ….

In other words: I looked at a wasp’s nest, but I saw Facebook. I’ve felt that tug a thousand times, and if you use social media, so have you. It’s the subconscious chemical response that drives them all: Twitter, Facebook, Reddit. We don’t even need to be logged on. All we have to do is see something we think our network will respond to — a wasp’s nest, a sunset, some outrageously offensive clickbait – and the dope taps fly open.

As the New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova put it:  “The mere thought of successful sharing activates our reward-processing centers.” That “mere thought” turns quickly into action, steering us away from whatever we’re seeing and back to our screens for more chemical treats. Locate stimuli, get reward, share stimuli, get more reward.

Good dog.

Facebook likes to talk about how it creates “connections” and “community.” But it’s more accurate to think of it as a drug dealer who gets you high on your own supply, in exchange for sales leads. All you have to do is bring it shiny objects that other people will like – or hate – enough to share. It’s all dope-driven, and the company doesn’t even need to make the dope. No wonder it’s rich.
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DAWG DAZE: Q&A W/ Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog

February 26th, 2019

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BY SEAN HECK Consistently making waves as a member of the South Gate, California hip hop group Cypress Hill since the early 1990s, Cuban-American rhymesayer Sen Dog has been praised as a founding father of West Coast rap. However, he is far from a one-trick doggy. In addition to making history as a member of the first Latino-American recording group to reach platinum and multi-platinum status, Sen Dog has made his presence known across genres as the lead singer for rap metal outfits Powerflo (who are soon to begin promoting their upcoming album) and SX-10. He has brought memories of his early life in Cuba, past gang activity as a former member of a Bloods gang known as “Neighborhood Family”, and his well-known partiality towards marijuana together into a captivating and sonically disparate career. In advance of Cypress Hill’s show at the Fillmore Philly on Sunday, in support of the new Elephants On Acid, an unprecedentedly experimental and psychedelic take on the quartet’s long-established, weed-loving, hardcore gangsta rap aesthetic, we caught up with Sen Dog and chatted about some things. DISCUSSED: Elephants On Acid, the evolution of the rap game, 6ix9ine, gang life, The Base, being born in Cuba, legalization, leaf vs edibles.

PHAWKER: Let’s start with the elephant in the room: why is the new album called Elephants On Acid?

SEN DOG: Elephants On Acid was a dream that Muggs had that he was being chased down by a bunch of elephants, and he was running from them. He told me about that dream and I was like, “Whoa…that’s pretty crazy. What the fuck were you on when you went to bed?” And he started laughing. I Cypress-Hill-Black-Sunday-640x640like the name. I gave it my own meaning. To me, Elephants On Acid means the band…the group…we are the elephants in the room. And acid is, ya know, the psychedelic hip hop that we trip out on.

PHAWKER: How has the rap game changed since you guys started out nearly 30 years ago?

SEN DOG: The rap game has changed in a lot of ways. There are many ways to discuss that but artistically, it went from, ya know…in the beginning of rap it was “The hip to the hop, rap to the beat, shuffle my feet”, and all that stuff. Then it went into conscious rap, where guys were actually helping other humans find answers and solutions to the everyday problems that life brings on. And then it went right back to rap that don’t mean nothing! It went back to lyrics meaning nothing.

PHAWKER: So who are you listening to these days for pleasure? Who is on your playlist?

SEN DOG: Well I like Kendrick and Schoolboy Q. As far as the hip hop guys go, there was a guy…I’m sure you know who he is…Tekashi. He always presented himself in a clownish kinda way, and it always turned me off of him because I always thought this dude was just clowning. But one day some of his music was on and I just closed my eyes and listened thoroughly and I was like “Wow, this guy’s kinda alright! He has some good skills!” But the way it was presented was just this outta control clown-era type shit. So I kinda stay away from the newer things coming out. There’s not a lot of it coming out that attracts a guy my age. My favorite era for rap was, of course, when people had a conscience. They were trying to elevate not only hip hop but the community around it. The guys were going from coast to coast and getting together and collaborating, and I thought that was rap at its most powerful point.

PHAWKER: So with these newer guys, if they did a bit less of this posturing and this dress-up stuff, do you think they’d be better? Do you think there is more than meets the eye?

SEN DOG: Yeah, I do. Underneath that colorful hair and the tattooed face, you could 81sauXryu3L._SL1500_actually like their sound. There’s a thing called longevity in hip hop that some artists have been able to get to but…I can’t see one of those guys—let’s take Tekashi for example—I can’t see one of those guys 25 years from now still looking like that at age 50. You know what I mean?

PHAWKER: Yeah. These people are racking up attention in all of the wrong ways.

SEN DOG: Exactly. And that just goes to show how much respect or disrespect they have for the artform. Guys like us nurtured our record deals. That was something sacred to us, and it wasn’t something to be taken lightly. We have to take what we do in a serious way, because we are international artists. I feel bad for some of these young guys getting shot and killed and busted and all that. Hip hop was supposed to save you from all that. It was supposed to take you outta that world, and into a different world, ya know? When guys bring their same B.S. from the streets into the entertainment field, it doesn’t play out well.

PHAWKER: Yeah, and speaking of what you were saying about hip hop bringing you off of a bad path, I wanted to hear you speak to that life. I was reading prior that you were affiliated with a Bloods gang called “Neighborhood Family.” I was wondering what you could tell me about that time in your life.

SEN DOG: That time in my life, I was looking for direction and something that I could identify with. I kinda fell into it by mistake. A high school friend that I played football with who lived in South Central invited me to trip out on the hood and all that. And back then the whole “Family” thing was in full effect. These guys actually loved each other. They were family forreal. I bonded with that. I wanted that, ya know? And that’s how that started. Then, eventually, B-Real wanted me to take him over there and hang out, so I did. And I took him down there and we just went off gangbanging, ya know? Like hardcore gangbanging. That was the beginning of that and I think, without he and I experiencing that life, I don’t know what we would rap about when it comes down to our “reality rap”. We saw a lotta things and did a lotta things and…even B-Real himself took one in the lung.

PHAWKER: Could you talk about how B-Real got shot in the lung back in ‘88? Did that make you guys what you are today?CS462830-01A-BIG

SEN DOG: Yeah. When B-Real got shot, it really hit home with me, because I’m the one who introduced him to that life. Some of our guys were already makin’ moves in the music field back then in ‘88, ya know? DJ Muggs was producing, and Mellow Man Ace was making moves and was signed to Capitol, ya know? Julio G was already on KDAY. So when I saw B-Real on that hospital bed, I was like “We gotta do something here. I can’t be 25 and 30 and still be about this.” So I went about seperating myself from the hood and more into the studio.
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PORCUPINE: Lifetime

February 26th, 2019

Minneapolis fuzz-popsters Porcupine (featuring Husker Du’s Greg Norton) play Johnny Brenda’s on Friday March 15th with death-rock progenitors The Flesh Eaters (featuring John Doe and DJ Bonebrake from X, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman from The Blasters, and Steve Berlin from Los Lobos).

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

February 25th, 2019

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FRESH AIR: Filmmaker Yoruba Richen’s documentary, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, tells the story of the manual that helped African-Americans find safe places to stay, eat, shop and do business on the road. MORE

JEZEBEL: Once again, the Oscars have awarded a movie about race told from the perspective of a white protagonist, directed and written by white guys. But you don’t have to settle for Green Book. Tonight the Smithsonian Channel will air a documentary about the actual Green Book, which guided black motorists to safe businesses and lodging all over the country in annual installments from 1936 to 1966. The Green Book: Guide to Freedom was directed by Yoruba Richen (who also directed the 2013 marriage-equality documentary The New Black), who is a black woman, and the vast difference between Hollywood’s Green Book and her film is not lost on her. MORE

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BEING THERE: Anderson .Paak @ The Fillmore

February 25th, 2019

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Photo by DYLAN LONG

When I found out that Anderson .Paak (pronounced pak) used to go by the name Breezy Lovejoy, I couldn’t help but smile. After seeing his live show at the Fillmore last night alongside a couple thousand fans who crammed themselves as far up front as they could, I learned firsthand that the name suits him all too well. The acclaimed funkster’s stop at the Fillmore was part of his Andy’s Beach Club world tour, aptly named given that his entire discography takes wing on a perpetual summer breeze. Surrounded by his partners in crime, the R&B ensemble Free Nationals, Paak completed several full 360 rotations around the stage throughout the night, transitioning from frontman, to ripping it up behind the drum kit, then back on the mic. He was all smiles all night.

“If only there was more room to dance,” everyone in the crowd surely must have thought at some point or another. Paak and the Free Nationals pumped out groovy breakdowns galore, clearly enjoying themselves as much as the crowd. The setlist included several tracks from his newly released Oxnard LP, a titular homage to his California hometown, which we can now pinpoint as the likely breeding ground for Paak’s endless summer state of mind. Paak laid down major hits like “Bubblin,” which recently netted him an Oscar for Best Rap Performance, alongside one Kendrick Lamar whom he teamed up with for Oxnard’s “Tints.”

More goodness came in the form of “Beauty & Essex” single that dropped in the fall with cameos from Canadian heartthrob Daniel Caesar and New Zealand psychedelic weirdos Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Intricate and soulful melodies reverberated throughout the room, backed by tight and succinct drum breaks and Paak’s scruffy, high pitched vocals. The Paak and co. continued jamming for well over an hour, at times slowing things down in the name of lengthy groove sessions in which Paak would shout out to all the “weirdos, people who smoke too much fuckin’ weed,” and “people who be losin’ their phone all the time,” emitting charismatic laughter throughout. What I’d long-suspected was proven true beyond a reasonable doubt last night at the Fillmore: the music of Anderson .Paak is the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. — DYLAN LONG

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GEORGE HARRISON: Here Comes The Sun

February 25th, 2019

Performing with Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live circa 1976. George Harrison would have turned 76 today.

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WORTH REPEATING: In Bob We Trust

February 23rd, 2019

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Bob Mould @ Union Transfer 2/15/19 by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

ROLLING STONE: Mould’s problem has always been that he’s understood so much and felt so much. That was most evident on the songs he chose from the middle of his career. Tunes like Sugar’s secretly lugubrious “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” (with its downright upbeat chorus) and the ponderous “Hoover Dam” found him making sense of all the conflicts within him. But those, along with two selections from his first solo album, 1989’s Workbook, also show off a sort of tenderness he’s outgrown. Against a backdrop of Roger McGuinn–influenced 12-string, he’d sung, “How can you qualify difference between a sin and a lie?” on “Sinners and Their Repentances,” which he made heavier last night. But in more recent years, he’s written songs like “Black Confetti,” which almost became a metal song in Brooklyn, on which he sings, “In my dreams you fade away from me/Through time, through space and emotion.” It’s a new perspective.

To complete the collage, he dedicated nearly a third of his set to songs by Hüsker Dü, the trend-setting post-hardcore band he cofounded four decades ago next month. In some ways, those songs were the most interesting to hear him sing now, since he grew so much in just eight years as a songwriter. That iteration of Bob Mould was contemplative like the Moulds of later years but a bit more like a raw nerve. Has there ever been a less sincere “I’m Sorry” than “I Apologize”? He was a Reagan protester on “In a Free Land,” a defeatist on “Makes No Sense at All,” a nostalgist on “Celebrated Summer” and an ironist when covering The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s theme song “Love Is All Around.” He was finding his footing then and when hearing these songs interspersed with his recent high-water marks, it shows how these songs predicted this. MORE

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MONKEE BIZNESS: Q&A w/ Peter Tork

February 21st, 2019


BY JONATHAN VALANIA There are two kinds of people in this world: people who love The Monkees and sanctimonious assholes who fancy themselves the arbiters of authenticity. Whatever that is. Never trust anyone who tells you they don’t like the Monkees has always been my motto and it’s served me well. As just about everyone of a certain age knows, from 1967 to 1970 The Monkees were Hollywood’s answer to The Beatles circa Hard Days Night.  These fab four pop primates — Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork — were chosen more for their looks and personalities than their musical chops by show producers and put in front of TV cameras where they portrayed a band called The Monkees who lived together in a groovy pad, drove around town in their badass Monkeemobile, slapsticking their way from one campy California-in-the-high-Sixties adventure to another, always too busy singing to put anybody down. Faintly trippy hilarity invariably ensued.

In between all the stoner hijinks they would have weird-beard friends like Frank Zappa and Tim Buckley over to the house to perform for a national television audience. On their first national tour they took Jimi Hendrix along as their opening act, simultaneously blowing the minds and ruining the undergarments of an entire generation of babysitters. All their early and most enduring songs were written by Brill Building pop adepts like Boyce & HartCarole King, Gerry Goffin and Neil Diamond and performed by The Wrecking Crew, which explains why those glorious specimens of guitar pop still sound deathless.

To mark the sad passing of Mr. Tork yesterday at the age of 77, we are re-running our award-winning, life-saving, game-changing, prayer-answering Phawker Q&A with Peter Tork. DISCUSSED: Dropping acid; jamming with Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison;  seeing The Who at Monterey Pop; why Stephen Stills was too ugly to be a Monkee; WTF they were thinking when they made Head, their psychedelic box office bomb; WTF Jack Nicholson was thinking when he  wrote Head; getting busted for three grams of hash in El Paso and doing Federal time; his last words to Davy Jones; and why Mike Nesmith is such a goddamn stick in the mud. Enjoy.

PHAWKER: Let’s jump into The Monkees experience.  Just tell me if this is true. Your friend Stephen Stills was auditioning to be a Monkee but they told him he wasn’t handsome enough and did he know anybody who was and he suggested you, correct?

PETER TORK: I don’t know about that exactly.  He called me up one day and said I met this guy and he’s making a show like Hard Day’s Night and you should try out for it.  I said, ‘what about you?’ and he said ‘they told me my hair and teeth weren’t photogenic, and did I know anybody who had one tenth my talent, and I instantly thought of my friend Peter.’  So I went and tried out and got the gig.  Yeah, it was Stephen who turned me on to it.

PHAWKER: What do you remember about that audition?  Did they have you play some songs or was it just a screen test?

PETER TORK: The first thing that happened was you just walked into the producer’s office and talked to the guy, and if he had a glimmering that there was something there he sent you to the other producer’s office and if he like you, then you took a personality test which was they put you in front of a camera and started asking you questions, and if they still didn’t say no then they gave us a screen test.  There were eight of us left after the screen test and they selected the four from how we did on the screen test.

PHAWKER: And you were cast as the ‘lovable dummy’?  Did you resent that role?

PETER TORK: No, I did not resent that role.  I actually thought it was mine to begin with and I brought that role in to the gig.  We didn’t get explicit with it right away, but the truth is I already kind of had this ‘Gosh I don’t know what happened to me’ kind of a jig.  I developed it in the Greenwich Village stages, kind of as a defense against a joke going bad.  You know, as if to say ‘someone told me this was going to be funny and they must have lied to me’ kind of an attitude.

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CONTEST: Win Tix To See Gang Of Four & More!

February 21st, 2019

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You lucky ducks! We have a pair of Underground Arts weekend passes to see agit-punk legends Gang Of Four on Friday, punky Brit-popsters You Me At Six on Saturday and Aquarium (think Detroit House blasting out of the windows of Tokyo hi-rise) + West Philly’s Maaly Raw on Sunday. To qualify to win, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much (or that you are so cool, you’ve long been on our mailing list), with the words THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT in the subject line, and the correct answer to this ridiculously easy GO4 trivia question: What is the name of the original bass player in Gang Of Four? Include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation (FYI, none of this info will be shared or even stored). Good luck and godspeed!

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STUDY: Curbing Cash Bail Has Had No Significant Negative Impact On The Crime Rate In Philadelphia

February 20th, 2019

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Artwork via THE NATION

BY SEAN HECK One year after the implementation of their cash bail reduction plan for low-level offenses, Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney announced the success of their groundbreaking new policy at a press conference yesterday at City Hall. “We changed our low-level bail policy because it was the right, and fair, thing to do for the poor, for people of color, and everyone in Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. What we had a year ago wasn’t fair, but after a year of use and a supportive third party review, I’m happy that we’ve made real progress for our city,” said District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The independent “third party review” Krasner referred to is a study called Evaluating the Impacts of Eliminating Prosecutorial Requests for Cash Bail conducted by Aurelie Ouss, Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania and Megan Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Law at George Mason University. The study found no “…detectable evidence that the decreased use of monetary bail, unsecured bond, and release on conditions had adverse effects on appearance rates or [rates of] recidivism.” The study’s other findings include:

–The reduction of cash bail did not negatively impact the number of defendants Released On Recognizance (ROR) who showed up for their court dates

–Rates of recidivism were not higher than they were during the previous DA’s policy

–From February to December of 2018, roughly 1,700 fewer defendants were sent to jail before having their first hearing


–The number of eligible defendants who were Released on Recognizance, without any monetary bail, or with other supervisory conditions saw an immediate 23 percent increase

–There was a 41 percent reduction in bail in amounts of $5,000 or less for nonviolent and nonsexual offenses

–There was a five percent decline in the number of defendants who spent at least one night in jail.

According to Ouss and Stevenson, the study is one of the first to examine the effects of the cash bail system on recidivism rates and court appearance no-shows. They found that reducing the use of the cash bail system for nonviolent offenders had no discernible effect on pretrial misconduct and/or court date appearance rates. “It’s about treatment, not incarceration” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, summing up the intention of the city’s new cash bail policy.

A personal account of the unintended consequences of the old cash bail policy was given by Philadelphia resident Angela Barnes, whose husband was directly affected by the previous administration’s cash bail system. After being arrested for possessing “just two bags” of marijuana, Barnes’ husband was charged with intent to distribute, and did not have the financial means to pay his bail. He subsequently spent ten days in prison and, due to his extended absence, was fired from his job. Due to his desperate circumstances, Barnes said her husband felt compelled to take a plea deal. He suffered three years of probation, court costs, and lost his driving privileges—all because he couldn’t pay the bail for a minor marijuana-related charge. An entirely non-violent crime. Numbers and statistics speak for themselves, but the human suffering behind an cruel and unjust system that favors the rich further proves that there had been a need for change. Barnes praised Krasner and company for giving people like her husband a chance to move beyond minor past mistakes and better themselves.

Additional personal testimony about the importance of cash bail reform was delivered by Joshua Glenn, co-founder of Philadelphia’s Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project, whose purpose is to provide minors in the Philadelphia prison system with a creative outlet, as well as a means of contributing to society upon being released. Glenn himself was locked up and charged as an adult when he was just 16 years old in 2005. He praised the work that the DA and company have done, but stressed the need to take it further. He stressed the importance of raising awareness about the de facto criminalization of poverty, and the vicious school-to-prison pipeline as it relates to the problem of mass incarceration.

Towards the end of the conference, Krasner stressed the fact that only “Cash Bail Reform 1.0” was being presented. “This is not set in stone,” he said. Both DA Krasner and Mayor Kenney expressed that more measures need to be taken to tackle the rates of racial and ethnic disparities within the criminal justice system. “We need to do better,” Kenney said. Still, great leaps are demonstrably being made by the District Attorney’s office to hold criminals accountable based solely on the circumstances of their crimes, rather than on the color of their skin or on the weight of their wallets.

RELATED: America Is Waking Up To The Injustice Of Cash Bail

 

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Dear Mr. President # 2

February 20th, 2019

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Illustration by MARK BRYANT

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Hi there. Me again. Just checking to make sure you’re all right. I mean, have you gotten help after that wacked out, absurd and really quite asinine little tantrum you let loose with on Friday? Wow, that was a doozy. I was concerned that the EMT folks might not get to you in time. Did you make it to Walter Reed before you went into shock? Are you still hospitalized? SMUS-avatarSure hope you get some “experienced” attention. The only reason I say “experienced” is, well, how do I put this delicately? It’s just that I’m thinking that when it comes to treatment it’ll probably take some real mental health “expertise” to be able to differentiate between your normal yet-to-develop pubescence, and Friday’s infantile shit fit. Gimme an up-date, okay?

So, anyhoo, what I want to talk to you about this time around is that flock of racist, praying-for-the-return-of-coal-powered-everything, let’s-not-over-analyze-ANYTHING, dupes who’re still watching Fox News every night hoping for confirmation that you’ve finally “stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot somebody and not lost their vote” and who, by the way, probably aren’t EVER coming back to any real sense of decency or rational political belief because they’ve pretty much always been in it for the bigotry, the sexism, and the xenophobia anyway, and, generally speaking, that’s their bag and you’re their kind of bag man … -child!

But, actually it’s not them I want to get after nearly so much as it is the spineless, self-serving, never-met-a-responsibility-they-couldn’t-dodge-or-relinquish-to-Your-Hineyness, “cowardly Republican ‘Bob Fords’ in the Senate and House of Representatives who’ve shot–and continue to shoot–America in the back!” You know, those sidestepping little shirkers who lack the courage, decency or apparently even the maturity to bear the constitutional burden you’ve so “base-satiatingly” removed from their job description, namely, to MIND THE WHITE HOUSE KINDERGARTEN! What do you think? Is there any chance these guys and gals will EVER put the best interests of the entire COUNTRY ahead of their own paycheck insecurities? Yeah, I get it, it’s a pretty tough call. Especially when you’ve got a childishly incompetent, morally degenerate, racist, power-corrupted, criminally complicit, narcissistic sociopath in the Oval Office “calling the shots” (get it? yuk, yuk)!
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