Archive: September, 2009
This would be funny if it weren't the saddest, most frustrating, most infuriating thing I've ever seen. A reporter wanders the grounds of the 9/12 Tea Party protests in Washington D.C. and mostly lets these outraged citizens hang on their own words.
Under normal circumstances, the announcement that Marjane Satrapi's acclaimed Iranian coming-of-age story Persepolis will be 2010's One Book, One Philadelphia would be nothing but good news. After all, it's the first time OBOP has featured a graphic novel, and the second time in its eight-year history that a female writer's taken center stage to discuss politics, family and other issues central to OBOP's mission.
From the press release, embargoed till this morning:
Originally published in France in two volumes, The Complete Persepolis is Satrapiâs poignant, humorous, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during a time of political revolution and repression. An outspoken and imaginative child, Satrapi grappled with understanding the ruling power in her country as she witnessed the overthrow of the Shahâs regime, the Islamic Revolutionâs triumph, and the chilling impact of war with Iraq. Detailed in black-and-white graphic images and accompanied by brief text, Satrapiâs story continues through her years as a young adult, as she finds her way as an expatriate student in Austria. Her first-person point of view presents readers with a unique glimpse into Iranâs political repression, the inner-workings of a family, and one womanâs experience as an outsider both at home and abroad.
But as we should all know by now, the Philadelphia library system is in great danger of shuttering -- and we hate to think what might happen to OBOP if, on October 2 (that's only a few weeks away, far before the January 2010 OBOP), no action is taken on the city's budget. We'll have to say goodbye to holds, loans, after-school programs for thousands of young Philadelphians and the amazing programming the Free Library books annually.
Some details from freelibrary.org:
Even as we remain hopeful that the State Legislature will act and pass the enabling funding legislation, we wanted to notify all of our customers of this very possible outcome. If you have any questions about impacts to Free Library services, call 215-686-5322, or visit the Free Library of Philadelphia website at www.freelibrary.org. If you have questions about changes to City services, or if you want to be kept informed about this situation, we encourage you to contact Philly 311 by calling 3-1-1 between the hours of 8am and 8 pm Monday-Friday, and 9am-5pm Saturdays, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the City of Philadelphia website at http://www.phila.gov.
In the meantime, pick up a City Paper on Thursday to read an interview with Satrapi, who will be at the Central Branch of the Free Library on Wednesday, September 23, to read from Persepolis. Go there it might be the last chance you get for a while.
Persepolis reading/signing, Wed., Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m., free, Free Library, Central Branch, 1901 Vine St., 215-567-4341, freelibrary.org.
It's rare that we get comments on music previews â why would we? They're noncontroversial service pieces that are usually less than a hundred words. So, when we saw a comment on the Fruit Bats preview, it was much to our chagrin that it came from Phrequency.com, Philly.com's music/arts coverage site/bid at relevancy:
C'mon, dudes, you're gonna link your review on our site? We know you're ailing and all, but this is like the big dog stealing from the little dog's food bowl because he's a bit peckish. And as BH pointed out, at least try to add something relevant to the conversation before you whore yourself on our bandwidth. You stay on your site, we'll stay on ours.
|Illustration | Evan Lopez|
Yesterday's double-header sweep of the Mutts which officially, if anticlimactically, eliminated New York's junior team from playoff contention putting an end to a season which for all intents and purposes ended two months ago was a perfect microcosm of all that is right and wrong in the Phillies universe.
Game one saw the return to starterdom of one Kyle Kendrick, 2007 sensation, 2008 afterthought, 2009 headcase. Kendrick pitched into the 8th, allowed just two runs and left with a two run lead. Tyler Walker by some metrics the Phils most effective reliever this season was given a rare chance to pitch in a high-leverage situation and finished off the Mets' half of the 8th. The Phils tacked on an insurance run in their half of the 8th and then turned the ball over to Brad Lidge, who needed every bit of his three-run cushion to close out the win, "earning" his 29th save with a 1-inning, 2-earned run, 3-hit, 2-strikeout performance during which the beleaguered reliever threw 28 pitches and saw his ERA and WHIP rise to 7.18 and 1.82 respectively.
Pluses: Kendrick seems to have found his old ground-ball mojo, and having that kind of starting pitching depth like that helps a lot. The offense put up some runs, and two didn't even come via the long ball (a Ryan Howard double and an Andy Tracy single). Charlie Manuel finally saw fit to use Walker, a pitcher who has been a (middle of the road) closer in his career, in a higher-leverage situation (12 of Walker's last 14 appearances, and 18 of his total 23 in 2009, have been in losses).
Minuses: Brad "That Boy Ain't Right" Lidge is fumbling around in the ninth like a teenager making out for the first time.
Game two saw the Phils (albeit momentarily) solve the riddle of Tim Redding, putting a quick run on the board in a first inning that would be the site of all of the game's scoring and two thirds of the Phils hits for the contest. Pedro Martinez, likely rejoicing in the fact that if he could shut down the players wearing the same uniform he did last year (to call this rag-tag bunch of minor leaguers his former teammates would be stretching things), they would be officially eliminated from post-season play. And did Pedro ever shut the Mets down, throwing 8 innings of no-run baseball during which he allowed just 6 hits and 2 walks and struck out 7. He threw 130 pitches, which has to a concern going forward as the last time Pedro threw more than 130 pitches was May 1 in wait for it the year TWO THOUSAND AND ONE. Good thing they've got all that starting pitching depth. Ryan Madson finished the game off with his eighth save, inspiring confidence only in that he was less shaky than Lidge earlier in the day. Madson gave up a single in a ninth in which he was bailed out by an acrobatic play by Ryan Howard (and his own nice cover of first) and a lineout to Pedro Feliz.
Pluses: Pedro cowboyed up. Madson got it done. The Phils played some great defense, especially Carlos Ruiz, whose handling of a ball in the dirt and subsequent nailing of boneheaded Daniel Murphy trying to advance to third ended an eighth inning threat.
Minuses: The Phils scored just one run, and off a guy who remains a major league pitcher ONLY because of his bizarre ability to shut down the Phils. Manuel's sudden and warranted lack of confidence in his bullpen would be comical if it didn't result in him pushing an historically frail pitcher farther than he's been pushed since before the war on terror. Also, it's unfortunate that Manuel's lack of confidence in Lidge and Madson seems to have manifest itself in his ONLY using them, overlooking the likes of Chan Ho Park and the aforementioned Walker, both guys who could actually help fix this mess.
So what the hell do you make of this team, one with so many cylinders, none of which seem to be firing at the right time? Are they getting all the kinks out now? Or are they limping into the post-season where they'll be be completely exposed to a team with a hot hand or, y'know, a closer?
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
Slo-Mo. How to describe these local favorites? Mike Brenner in his trademark pristine white suite lays down crunched out lap steel mastery with his long time rhythm section holding the flow.
Mic Wrecka belts out poignant and imaginative raps about weed, Philly, weed and life in general.
Backed with percussion, female vocals (on lead and backup) as well as rhythm guitars you get a lush sound that ranges from gentle ballad to blistering rock.
Friday morning, signs went up on every entrance to every library in the city's system, from Central on down, reading thusly: All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries will be Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009.
Upon seeing such, I rang Andy Kahan, the Director of Author Events at Vine St.'s Free Library of Philadelphia and asked what this meant at first glance.
First is that all libraries are now in a diminishing borrowing period and that all materials will be due on October 1. As for events and readings, Kahan says, though signals are mixed, he and his staff are preparing for the worst.
"Author events would be the only program that continues and I'm in the process of negotiating with other nearby venues just in case," says Kahan. "Parkway institutions such as Friends Select School and Moore College of Art have stepped forward and offered their auditoria to meet our need. I'm trying to figure out which authors to place where based on the size of the audience and the institutions interest and projection capacity. I'm looking to nearby institutions because, in the event we can't reach all attendees with news of the venue changes, people who just show up will know from our illuminated signs which parkway venue is hosting our event and they won't be late to the party."
One Book, One Philadelphia programming doesn't begin until January 2010 so it's still a bit early for the Free Library's event heads to look elsewhere but they are prepared to take events elsewhere if necessary. Kahan is, like a lot of us, hopeful that Pennsylvania representatives will heed Mayor Nutter's warnings. "On one hand the House seems willing to pass the 1% tax and pension deferments, which would allow the city to continue functioning; the Senate is not," claims Kahan. "We're optimistic they'll work through their differences before the October 1 deadline."
Kiss a librarian today. It may be one of your last chances for a while.
I couldn't help but notice a comment, posted by a reader online and published in this week's print edition of the City Paper, disparaging last weekend's Philly Naked Bike Ride â which I attended.
I'm all for liberation, body acceptance and the like. but stunts like this and Critical Mass do more harm than good for bicycle advocacy. While attempting to make the point that bicycles and bicycle commuting are normal (nt fringe) activities and should be integrated into the mainstream (which I fully agree with â there's no better way to get around a city), acting just the opposite is an inane way to get the idea across. All you're doing is self-perpetuating your own marginalization while also pissing off motorists who have somewhere to go.
Nate, I hear you â as a bike-commuter (and bicycle grocery-shopper, bar-goer, and laundry-hauler) who wants to see better acceptance and accomodation (and ridership) for bikes in the city, I hear you. I care about bikers' image, I practice a perpetual two-wheel diplomacy campaign out there on the streets, I sometimes want to pull bad bikers aside and revoke their handlebars.
But Nate, this was different, man.
Despite various half-hearted attempts by organizers, riders, and the press to try and make the naked bike ride about an issue - whether bike accomodation, body image, whatever â the truth was that the ride was really just about having a lot of fun, a fact that was obvious to anyone who took part.
The motorists you mention? They were honking for us. The people of Philadelphia whose ideas of bikers you worry about so much? They cheered us on.
Talk to anyone who took part, on the other hand, and the fact that it was a fantastic, wonderful success is self-evident.
It was a few things: it was the uncertain and unexpected popularity of the thing, hundreds of people â older and younger, men and women and not just white (if mostly so) â just showing up out of the blue to do this crazy thing together.
It was the simple joy of riding in a large group. It was the strange and pleasant mixture of anonymity (we were mostly strangers) and companionship â because we had done something together that most of us would never, ever, ever do alone.
It was the sheer thrill of riding past city hall wearing, oh, for example, my left sock.
Nate, I hear you, but sometimes life is for living.
On that note, one bit that the papers didn't really pick up on (because their reporters, with the apparent exception of a Philly.com video person, did not actually ride along), was the fact that many of us (myself included), finished the ride with less clothes than we started with.
The spirit moved us â as we rode, you'd see people just pulling off to the side and depantsing themselves. Some (guys, mostly â the women were more courageous from the start) just kind of pulled their shorts to their knees and kept riding.
It speaks to something that wasn't, perhaps, obvious from just reading about the ride or having seen it from afar: the experience of the thing itself, the spirit of it.
It was fun, Nate â that's why we did it. The real message wasn't "Bikes should be recognized" or "All bodies are beautiful" or anything nearly so droll.
It was more along the lines of, "Well hello, neighbor!"
|Click to enlarge
Friday: Ah Fringe, it ain't over to the fat lady sings a tuneless aria about the oppressive nature of YouTube, the Bush Doctrine and Lolcats. That hasn't happened yet so you've still got a lot to choose from. Here are some best fest choices from our panel of experts and, as always, a litany of picks to choose from like 4Play. But before you hit all things Fringe, make sure to fill your belly at the White Dog's Dance of the Ripe Tomatoes. Roast pig sandwich, lamb Bolognese stations and tomato gazpacho shooters?! Oh my!
Saturday: Timewarp back to the '80s and give love to the pong-playin' technology of you're at the Vintage Computer Festival. Then it's off to Johnny Brenda's for the antifolky sounds of Jeffrey Lewis, opening for Akron/Family, who prefer their folk with a side of freak.
Sunday: Set off Sunday with the Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con, which features funnies populated by the likes of bong smoking anti-heroes, like fest organizer Pat Aulisio's strip above. So much more relatable than your average orphan billionaire bat! And even though Mama told you it was time to toughen up, remember the dog days of summer with Green Fest. Hey, why not bike there?
What We've Found: Taiwanese graft, Rendell lawsuit, employment report, Chesapeake cleanup, gay marriage in the District and Muslim marriage in South Africa
Julia Harte with your morning fix.
Taiwanese ex-president Chen Shui-Bian and his wife, Wu Shu-Chen, were sentenced to life in prison on mulitple counts of corruption, including embezzling $3.15 million during his 2000-2008 presidency and receiving bribes worth at least $9 million.
Pennsylvania providers of foster care, mental-health treatment and other human services sued Gov. Rendell for axing their paychecks from last fiscal year when the governor vetoed $12.9 billion in items on the "bridge budget" he signed in August.
Economic recovery efforts, including the $787 billion stimulus plan that Obama authorized in February, have so far created or saved 1 million jobs, according to a report issued by White House economists. But the report also indicated that over 3 million jobs have been lost since February, though the rate of job loss is slowing.
On pain of tougher local pollution limits and withheld federal funding, the administration ordered Pennsylvania and five other states to begin cleaning up Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, whose waters are tainted with sewage and fertilizer runoff from large farms and onshore development.
Members of the D.C. Council were ready to introduce a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the district by changing the law to say that "any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements . . . may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender."
A 15-year-old bill that would legally codify Islamic marriages in South Africa, and thus protect Muslim women from being left penniless after a divorce, was gaining momentum among the Muslim community where it has been controversial for many years.
Remember when it was easy to know where you stood?
That's how I feel, anyway. For the last few years, I wouldn't have had much trouble picking out which bumper sticker was for me, and I suspect the same was true for many Americans.
You were for invading Iraq, or you were against it. You were pro-choice or pro-life. You thought the Republicans were criminals for protecting the rich from taxes; or you thought the Democrats were a bunch of pinkos out to take away your God-given right to get rich yourself somehow.
And by election time, at least you were for Obama, or you weren't.
Now, the Big Issue is health care: and it's a lot trickier.
Are you pro "public option?" What does that even mean? Is President Obama even pro-public option, or what? (He named it last night, to much applause, only to quickly say he was open to alternative ideas â including, presumably, no public option.)
Do you insist that any health care plan passed by Congress be deficit-neutral? If so, why? Aren't we getting something for our investment? And what exactly was your fiscally tough stance on the last eight years of military action in Iraq?
By insisting that all Americans carry mandatory minimum insurance, is Obama forcing big government on you? Or is he protecting your wallet from the costs associated with people who who wind up getting their health care at the emergency room?
Personally, I don't know where I stand on plenty of these and other questions, because frankly, I don't know how to weigh various consequences against each other. And I know I'm not alone. But behind these very complicated questions are a few more fundamental ones that are, perhaps, a little easier for most of us to answer.
Should the government make sure that no American is left without any protection if he or she gets sick? Should the government force insurance companies to stop rejecting/dropping consumers with pre-existing conditions? Should we, as Americans, help pay something to make sure fellow Americans have basic protection from physical calamity?
For me, the most important word in this debate isn't cost (which appeared at least 25 times in the president's speech, by my count), but a world that appeared only once, and which had to be delivered by a dead man.
It came when Obama quoted from a posthumous letter by the late Senator Ted Kennedy: "What we face ... is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."
A moral issue.
Before we can start figuring out whether a collection of health care co-ops is preferable to a public option, or whether tort reform (my head spins at the very sound of such phrases) needs to be part of the package, I think we need to ask ourselves whether this is, in fact, a moral issue.
Because if it is if the real question here is whether it is right that Americans might not be able to get care when they need it well, at least that's a start.
I think it is a moral issue. I say so because I have friends who are uninsured, friends who were dealt unfortunate and expensive diseases and because the American dream is one of "liberty and justice for all."
When we profit in America, we profit from each other, and we benefit from the opportunity that our collective society creates. I think justice dictates that we take care of each other, too.
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