Archive: April, 2010
North Philly native Anthony Morrison, 26, is one of the best 145-pound Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters in the world. He fights for World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), a 10-year-old company that, in the past 18 months, has surged in front of a sea of competing MMA promotions. This Saturday is WEC 48, the brand's inaugural Pay-Per-View event the first (and possibly only) chance to galvanize its emergence. Morrison is on the undercard, meaning he will only be televised if 1) he fights his ass off and 2) some quick knockouts on the main card free up time in the broadcast.
So I why is Morrison important?
This event should succeed, as WEC is pulling out everything in its arsenal. The real question is if the company can maintain its momentum. That is where Morrison comes in. He's one of many young contenders trying to distinguish himself of course, they need to win, to do that but they also need to become a draw. Basically, a fighter needs to have aggression and style that makes the fans call for more. Those who draw attention keep fighting and keep the promotion going.
Morrison still lives and trains in North Philly, save for excursions out of state to work with other camps. We caught up to Cheesesteak while wrapping up a training session in Georgia earlier this week.
Charles Cieri: Before we go through your rise to prominence, can you talk about "dojo crashing" back in the day?
Anthony Morrison: Funds was low. I used to go to a gym and see the free week pass [promotional trial offer]. I knew if I beat people up straight of the gate, they would be like "sign the contact" and I knew I didnt have anything to pay them with. After a while, people seen my passion and some gyms would let me train and say, "pay us when you can."
CC: Now that everyone knows not to get lippy with that new white belt at their gym. How did you get started on the path?
AM: Because of my stature I was a real small kid I was automatically a target for bullies and I used to tear them apart. After awhile, I started proclaiming myself the bully of bulliers. I had a little mean streak in me. Maybe its my Napoleon complex. If you came up picking for me, I didnt turn down no fights.
CC: When did the fighting start getting structured?
AM: I was 14, 15 ... I saw boxing and thought I could do it. I wrestled in high school and that was a good passion for me. I had three older brothers and, not thinking we were training by roughing each other up, [but] it was being bred into me. I started putting it all together in 2002. One day I was watching UFC 39, and I thought, "I can do that it's wrestling and boxing." I started training at my friend's house. We would move everything out of the living room and me and him would just go over what I already knew and put together what I saw on TV. Within two months of [competing], I beat two guys in one night that had way more MMA training. I was [training] out my friends living room and ran up my record to 5-0 until I ran up against a guy with more experience. As far as wrestling and boxing, no one could take me, but it was a guy with the jiu-jitsu. Thats when I realized jiu-jitsu is a big factor.
CC: Let's skip ahead a bit. Did things keep rolling, or were there bumps?
AM: Hell yeah, man. I messed up my back real bad and got pressured into a fight where I ended up losing because of the injury. I said, Im sick of this. If I had a job with benefits, they wouldve fixed me up with time off and I would have went back to work. It sucked. I stopped fighting for a while and worked two full-time jobs in Plymouth Meeting, 16 hours a day. I would go to Target and work 8 hours, and cross the street and work overnight at Lowe's. I wasnt training at all, but every lunch break I would go over to the Barnes and Nobles and look at fight magazines and see friends I used to train with, and it was motivation. One day, I got tired of it. I ran 6 miles and my lungs were burning. There was a burning desire telling me it was time to compete again to put all my chips in, And that's what I did.
CC: How do you end up on WEC's radar?
AM: I knew they where eyeing me because I was fighting prospects that were looking to get in there. I fought Jeff Lentz, and he is a tough guy out of New Jersey who trains with [UFC 155-pound contender] Kurt Pellegrino. I knew [Lentz] was on the tear, undefeated with wins in a variety of different ways. Then a month before, he knocked someone out in 16 seconds. I was like, "Damn, this guys a fucking beast! Then I went in and demolished him. Then, two weeks latter, for me to go out to Colorado, unacclimated and destroy a guy out there ... I was like, two prospects back to back, plus a lot of people I defeated in a long run they got to have me in their eyes.
CC: Your first fight in the WEC was a tough assignment: Mike Brown, in his first fight after losing his belt. How did you change your game after your debut loss?
AM: The biggest thing I wanted to work on was my life outside the cage. [A] lot of things werent right. Any fighter will tell you if things arent right outside the ring, they wont go right inside. You got to be 100 percent. I focused and dedicated a lot of time to my family and catching up. I got all that together.
CC: I have talked to fighters in the past, specifically BJ Penn and Kurt Pellegrino, who both like you have young kids. They described a need to separate themselves from their kids for a period of time before they fight, because the kids make them too happy and take away their anger. Do you find that to be the case?
AM: I isolate from the distractions, but my family isnt one of them. I train in Philly, and the two fights that got me here, I trained for them in Philly. I just isolate myself from my friends, playing around and the streets.
CC: Lastly, in the Brown fight you were introduced as fighting out of Virginia. You were yelling North Philly into the camera, but still, youre going to sort that announcer out for this fight, right?
AM: When I go back home, it's Philadelphia, and I got a lot of shit from my friends for that. I take pride in where Im from and this time he will most definitely be saying "from Philadelphia." [Morrison gives love to his coaches, Fred Jenkins at ABC Gym in North Philly and Brad Daddis at Daddis Fight Camps in South Philly.]
WEC 48 will be broadcast live on Pay-Per-View this Saturday, April 24, at 10 p.m. ($45 charge). Spike TV will be showing two undercards at 9 p.m.: Alex Karalexis v. Anthony Pettis in the 155-pound division and Leonard Garcia v. Chan Sung Jung in the 145-pound division. The Par-Per-View will also be shown at The Fox and Hound at 15th and Spruce. As of press time, they were not sure if they would charge a $5 cover or show the fights for free.
|Credit: Media Mobilizing Project|
|After two years of facing charges, Blount's name is cleared.|
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
How many seas must a white dove sail?
How many times must the leader of Philadelphia's taxi drivers union clear himself of the same charges before the PPA will deign to even meet with him?
Who knows although you'd think we'd have an answer to the last question, after Taxi Workers Alliance president Ron Blount was acquitted in PPA court yesterday on two-year-old charges of assaulting a passenger.
In September, 2008, the newly elected Blount was hit with a felony charge - one that had been thrown out and then re-instated of allegedly attacking and choking passenger Megan Saunders after she tried to pay with a credit card.
Last October, after a year of facing that charge, Blount was acquitted by a jury in Common Pleas court.
At the time, the Phialdelphia Parking Authority, which oversees the taxi industry and which has had an acrimonious relationship with Blount from the time he was elected to lead the TWA didn't hesitate to use the charges as a talking point against him. As I reported in my profile of Blount and the TWA in September '08:
The morning after Blount was elected during the time when he faced only misdemeanor charges the Metro quoted PPA taxi division chief James Ney, saying he was "quite concerned with the president they've elected, who has outstanding charges against him ... We're wondering why the drivers would elect someone like that."
When Blount was fully acquitted by a Common Pleas court in October, the PPA pursued its own case against him in yes, it exists PPA's own administrative court, where PPA judges (whose salaries are paid by the PPA) have the power to impose fines, revoke cab licenses, etc.
In the two years since his original criminal charges, the PPA has declined to meet with Blount citing, since last October, the administrative case against him.
Yesterday, Blount appeared before a PPA judge to defend himself, again, against charges filed by Saunders who, she revealed on the stand, had been driven to court yetserday by the PPA.
The judge found Blount innocent of everything except failing to take a credit card a violation for which he may have to pay a $250 fine.
So: is the PPA, after Blount's two acquittals, ready at last to meet with him?
Absolutely kind of. The PPA will meet with him, Jim Ney, director of the taxi and limo divsion of the PPA, told the Metro today . . . "but thats not going to happen until we see the actual opinion."
Investigative reporter Ralph Cipriano, author of this week's probing cover story on the city's Deferred Retirement Option Program (or DROP), "The Billion Dollar Boondoggle: DROP is Bleeding us Dry " was on Fox 29 this morning discussing the story and the program.
Watch the video here:
In this weeks' Editor's Letter, I introduced you to Jay Parekh and Aakash Mathur, two recent Penn grads with a product called Hydros Bottle that's an on-the-go water filtration system, a water bottle with the filter right in the cap.
Parekh wrote in the comments section that they're running an Earth Day special for the Hydros Bottle: "If you'd like to go green for Earth Day and cut out bottled water from your diet, use the coupon code 'EARTHDAY2010' to get free shipping on your Hydros Bottle! Enter code at www.hydrosbottle.com."
So get on that.
|Courtesy of Philly.com|
Apparently, victim blaming isn't just for victims of sexism or racism, anymore. It works for victims of privacy invasion, too! Lower Merion information systems coordinator Carol Cafiero's attorney said as much in a court filing yesterday, in reference to Blake Robbins, the student who was photographed unwittingly via his school-issued laptop Webcam:
Cafiero who is on paid leave while the district investigates the laptop controversy claimed Robbins lost any legal protection from the Web-camera security system when he took a school laptop home without permission.
"When you're in the home, you should have a legitimate expectation of privacy," [Cafiero's attorney Charles] Mandracchia said in an interview. "But if you're taking something without permission, how can you cry foul when you shouldn't have it anyway?"
I guess someone's momma didn't teach them that two wrongs don't make a right. This argument seems especially dubious now, after news came out that the district used the Webcam feature to take nearly 56,000 images of students (as in, not just Robbins). And while the feature was usually used on laptops that had went missing, in at least five cases officials let the Webcam continue taking photos for days and even weeks after they were found.
PREVIOUSLY>> Webcam-gate, now with pictures!
|Does he dream of BRT data sheep?|
A new and likely-doomed blog series, in which I fuss about the city budget. Oh yeah.
What, exactly does Budget Director Stephen Agostini do? The budget, of course as evidenced by the hours and hours he spends sitting in on Council's budget hearings, ever-ready with reams of numbers and answers to obscure fiscal questions.
But what else does he do, eh?
The answer, apparently, is: a lot.
A recent visit to Mr. Agostini's office confirms that the man is not only in charge of the budget, but also of overseeing stimulus spending and, the great glorious crown of municipal drudgery: fixing the lousy Board of Revision of Taxes data.
Quietly, and even amid the budget hearings, Agostini is leading a small group of people who meet every week, for "about 4 or 5 hours" to discuss the latest in efforts to repair what appears to be a city-wide data crisis.
According to Agostini, the problem has grown far beyond the BRT, since various city departments among them Water Revenue, Streets, Revenue, Records, L&I, and the Water Department have been relying on (bad) BRT figures, thereby creating even more sets of useless data. (As one source deep in the bureaucracy put it, "It's so bad.")
He estimates it'll take a year to 18 months to get it all fixed.
Why has such a task fallen on a man ostensibly busy with the budget?
"Why this fell to me is because I started working on it a year ago," he told me, shrugging.
Last year, you may recall, state Rep. Babette Josephs went on a privacy-rights campaign writing a bill (which unanimously passed the House) that would ban anyone from injecting microchips into anyone else. Said the researcher who helped her draft the language:
Despite the technologys potential usefulness, Sultzbaugh said, some Christian groups liken the identification devices to the mark of the beast, a Satanic mark described in the Book of Revelation and represented by the number 666.
Yes. The Mark of the Beast, etc. (Of course, the bill exempted any Gitmo detainees who might end up in Pennsylvania someday, because, clearly, they're already on the devil's team.)
Well, the fine folks of the Georgia House Judiciary Committee took up this same heady issue this week. Hilarity ensues.
Three states have instituted bans, and others have considered the legislation. In Virginia, a bill supporter declared microchips to be the 666? mark of the beast referred to in the Book of Revelation.
Pearson has said his motivation isnt biblical or religious that he is simply working in advance of technologys next assault on personal privacy. Not unlike limiting the uses of DNA testing by health insurance companies, he argues.
At the House hearing, state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Kennesaw), who is shouldering the legislation in the House, spoke earnestly for better than a half hour on microchips as a literal invasion of privacy.
He was followed by a hefty woman who described herself as a resident of DeKalb County. Im also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip, the woman said. Slowly, she began to lead the assembled lawmakers down a path they didnt want to take.
Microchips, the woman began, infringe on issues that are fundamental to our very existence. Our rights to privacy, our rights to bodily integrity, the right to say no to foreign objects being put in our body.
She spoke of the right to work without being tortured by co-workers who are activating these microchips by using their cell phones and other electronic devices.
She continued. Microchips are like little beepers. Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission, she said.
It was not funny, and no one laughed.
Maam, did you say you have a microchip? asked state Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold).
Yes, I do. This microchip was put in my vaginal-rectum area, she replied. Setzler, the sponsoring lawmaker, sat next to the witness his head bowed.
Youre saying this was involuntary? Weldon continued.
The woman said she had been pushing a court case through the system for the last eight years to have the device removed.
Wendell Willard (R-Atlanta), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, picked up the questioning.
Who implanted this in you? he asked.
Researchers with the federal government, she said.
And who in the federal government implanted it? Willard asked.
The Department of Defense.
Thank you, maam.
The woman was allowed to go about her business, and the House Judiciary Committee approved passage of SB 235.
Take a look at these two new ads from Dems Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak, who are running against each other for U.S. Senate:
First, Specter's, a total attack ad that dubs Sestak "No Show Joe." Yay rhyming!
And then there's Sestak's ad, wherein the Congressman only has time to tell voters who the hell he is.
A new and likely-doomed blog series, in which I fuss about the city budget. Oh yeah.
"The Government," Mayor Nutter told me, very firmly, "is not growing."
Period. That's it. Read. My. Lips.
Well, he didn't say that, but he kind of implied it. I stammered a bit and waved a piece of paper entitled "City Manager's Quarterly Report" at him, but the mayor wouldn't budge. "The government is not growing," he said, and patted me good-naturedly on the back, as if to say, "But nice try."
It's a claim he's made several times, most notably in a recent letter to the Inquirer:
Several opinion pieces may lead readers to believe the city has relied only on revenue measures to solve the multibillion-dollar deficits it has faced since the world economic collapse. That is false. Excluding pensions and debt service, the city's costs this year will be about $160 million lower than in fiscal 2008. A big part of that reduction has been in personnel costs. Since December 2008, the city's general-fund workforce has shrunk by about 800, and when part-time and temporary positions are added, there are 1,250 fewer employees now than at the end of 2008. And for the first half of this fiscal year, overtime was down by a third from where it was last year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the government, this man is saying, is not growing.
But this handy chart I made says differently:
|By Isaiah Thompson, Data: City of Philadelphia|
Here's what the chart tells us:
- While it's true that Nutter cut jobs way down from December 2008, that date represented a high-water mark; in other words, Nutter, at the time, was already presiding over the highest level of staffing in four years.
- Starting this year, we can expect to see the city's staff levels go back up, eventually back to where they were in 2005 which was a full three years before the great financial collapse.
- Between 2008 and 2009, the mayor did eliminate actual positions but he also eliminated plenty of vacant positions.
- The number of actual positions, while shrinking, has stayed in more or less the same relative in proportion to the number of budgeted positions.
Look: I'm not some small-government nut. Putting on my columnist's hat for a minute, I don't really care all that much if we do or don't add 100 jobs. It's a small part of the overall budget, and a relatively small part of the overall tax burden. But in a budget proposal which makes virtually no cuts on the one hand, and raises taxes on the other, it's worth asking whether the administration is making its sacrifices this year, too.
Nutter's response, when I first tried to run these numbers by him, was "Talk to Dubow" referring to Rob Dubow, Director of Finance.
Dubow, initially, told me that the city is not adding staff. Until he admitted that, well, yes, it is adding a few positions but not that many, and, he said, the city expects some of these staff investments (e.g technologyth) to result in "efficiencies," which they have not yet budgeted for.
Which is all well and good, but not not quite what the mayor said, when he said, "The Government is not growing."
|Courtesy of Boston.com|
You want to vote in this year's May 18 primary, don't you? This is the last day to register if you do.
Hit up votesPA for everything you need to know.
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