May 31, 2006
Vince Fumo: Down with bloggers. (Down in the good way.)
Two Fumo aides down at processing.
Ein Kaesesteak Mit
Lots of talk around town about the article topping Tuesday's Inquirer - the one where Joseph Ventro, the second-generation American who owns Geno's, crows about not letting anyone who doesn't speak English order a cheesesteak.
"Steak Nazi" is the headline that Occam's Razor chooses. But he's with Ventro:
He's even gone so far as to drive around the neighborhood using the PA system on his car denouncing the local business who hire illegal immigrants. I gotta say, I'm impressed, the area Geno's is in, while known as "little italy" is home to thousands of hispanics and Joey here is running the risk of ticking off a lot of customers. However, he's making a stand on what he thinks is right, and I for one support him. Think I will show my support by running down there real soon to grab a "cheesteak with".
Michele Malkin's on-board, too.
But now this ...
From a Q & A forum with Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan:
Q How to order a cheesesteak in Flemish: Goeiedag, een kaassteak alsjeblief. - Huh?- Met ajuin gestoofd in Leffe. - Huh? Which cheese? - Chimay natuurlijk, wat anders! En friet met mayonnaise alsjeblief. Staat er chokolade op het dessertmenu? Translation: Hi, a cheesesteak please. With onions fried in Leffe. Chimay of course, what else? And fries with mayonnaise, please. Is there chocolate o the dessert menu?
Who Is The Phila Lawyer?
The term Philadelphia Lawyer has been around since at least 1735, when a clever barrister named Andrew Hamilton traveled to New York and won an early victory for freedom of the press.
The term Phila Lawyer brings to mind more modern liberties.
"Katherine pressed me up against the wall outside the parking lot elevator and shoved her tongue down my throat," begins the latest post from the anonymous local lawyer whose blog has returned after a year's leave.
Phila Lawyer began in December 2004 with beer-soaked, skirt-chasing tales from a big-city practice. And with confessional posts like this, called The Ten Percenter:
You probably wake up like I do every day, amazed that they haven't caught on to the fraud. When will the other shoe fall? It's only a matter of time. I don't deserve these checks. I'm not a team player. I'm not even playing the same sport.
Last week he put up the first of three new posts, and promises to update twice a week after moving his blog archives over to the new site. The new posts are sure to continue the legal parlor game that surrounds the barrister blogger's identity.
Some message board began the rumor that he had died in a car crash. Another posited that his wife had pulled the plug. Or his managing partner.
It's not clear where he's been. But he's hooked up with Tucker Max, who has been making a name in lout lit, and is part of Max's burgeoning empire of bad-boy (and bad-girl) blogs.
Phila Lawyer's latest work begins with his having to attend continuing legal education class, which he likens to watching cement harden:
I always bring a sack of newspapers, magazines, timesheets and the Blackberry to busy myself, but no matter how many Weekly World News, Inquirers, FHMs, SIs, SPINs, Times, Newsweeks, Maxims, and Economists I read, and no matter how many time sheets I fill out, and no matter how many emails I send, I will be compelled to pay attention to the seminar for at least about one of the eight hours I'm there. I chalk this up to fear. As a child and young adult, I was constantly serving detentions for talking during assembly or doodling in class. I know they can't send me to the principal's office anymore, but I still have this lingering sense that someone is looking over my shoulder. I think some prefect is going to grab the Blackberry from my fingers and yank me out of my seat by the ear. "You'll be getting a big fat zero for today's assignment, mister, and you can plead for your license to the Supreme Court."
Anyway, over three longish posts, he makes a case for bookmarking quoting from "Oh La La" by the Faces, name-checking Otter from Animal House, Dan Marino and David E. Kelly, and dissing annoying types from law school. He recalls in clinical detail a particularly robust date with a woman he describes as a polar bear:
Not because she was huge and alabaster white, but because she, and those like her, hunt men the way polar bears hunt meat. Polar bears rarely see prey on the tundra, so when they see anything alive they can get their paws on, they kill it.
So, who is this clever barrister?
Free Work Blamed For Flip Flops
About all those unpaid internships.... A New York Times op-ed piece asks is the trend of volunteering for the corporate world bad for the labor market and the individual worker? What if they deepen debt and encourage the poor work habits that the Millennial Generation is accused of having? Does it make them identify too much with bosses, or, as Anya Kamenetz, a guest columnist from the Village Voice asks, "How are twentysomethings ever going to win back health benefits and pension plans when they learn to be grateful to work for nothing?" An eloquent defense of crappy summer jobs.
Tapped, at the American Prospect blog, replies:
It's all well and good for her to condemn her classmates for seeking out jobs they love, but those who won't end up in such enterprises will have plenty of time to experience the character-building benefits of waiting tables. For now, their attempts to gain some experience in fields that don't, or can't, hire summering young 'uns should be supported. Indeed, my response to the only point of hers I found compelling -- that internships favor rich kids -- is that we subsidize, or at least make tax deductible, such summers, not that we tear down the whole institution.
May 30, 2006
The Reading Table
Hot enough for you? Wednesday should be about 10 degrees cooler, says Philadelphia Weather.
Jen Miller at Phillyist finds the meaning in Craigslist each week so you don't have to.
Another blog heard from: Philadelphia Weekly's the Out-Of-Towner - just asks famous visitors "What do you think about Philly." (Old 97s heart throb Rhett Miller wonders what T.O. will do to the Cowboys.)
Why Sal Fasano is better than Alex Rodriguez. (hat tip, Enrico)
Dan Rottenberg - or Gene Roberts, really - on the trick of turning a Philadelphian into a newspaperman.
David Byrne debunks the glory of record album art.
The man with the expense-account-to-die-for: NY Timesman and gourmand R. A. Apple on an amusing Bulgarian and other table-top adventures
Liberal bloggers to descend on Las Vegas.
Here's something you don't see every day -- a hopeful piece in the New York Times about the future of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
The beauty part? In it, owner-to-be Brian Tierney tells former Inky scribe Kit Seelye that he isn't sure what newspaper people are supposed to wear:
While there is some fear of what one reporter calls "creeping Annenbergism," Mr. Tierney is looking for his own role models, studying everything from whether he should still contribute to the Republican Party (no, he has concluded, having examined the Grahams of The Washington Post) to whether to wear a tie. ("Is there a uniform for people in this business?" he asked.)
Tierney, you'll remember from this space, is the former PR exec who called on a homeless man last week at the news conference announcing the sale of the paper, prompting colleague Tanya Barrientos to comment that this was really a statement about how badly we dress around here.
My post on that prompted a phone call from a woman who retired from PNI in 2001. "It's nice to know that nothing's changed," she said. "That all our editorial people are still arrayed in their sartorial splendor." She recalled joining the papers in 1967, when there was a reporter - she thinks his name was Al Klempke - who "actually had a raincoat he wore from World War One."
But sometime yesterday one of you became Blinq's millionth visitor.
I'd give you a toaster with Blinq's logo on it, if I could.
May 29, 2006
A federal judge has tossed the case against Max, whose popular Web site celebrates his boozy carousing. On Friday, U.S. District Court Stewart Dalzell dismissed the claim by local publicist and event planner Anthony DiMeo III, who had contended his reputation suffered from comments made on TuckerMax.com after his New Year Eve party went awry. (For more background, see The Blueberry Heir v The Web's Bad Boy.)
DiMeo said Monday he is likely to appeal and pursue those who commented on Max's site.
The judge's decision reaffirms that a Web site proprietor is protected from libel actions based on comments visitors make, either by name or anonymously. And it provides for more lively reading than one will encounter in a year of reading such things.
The decision begins, "Tucker Max describes himself as an aspiring celebrity 'drunk' and 'asshole' who uses his Web site, tuckermax.com, to 'share (his) adventures with the world.' Anthony DiMeo III, who says he is an heir and co-owner of a large New Jersey blueberry farm, threw a New Year's Eve party this past December that, apparently, ended in a shambles."
The event, organized by DiMeo's publicity firm, Renamity, turned out to be the "party from hell," the judge wrote. The four-hour event with food and open bar at Le Jardin, located in the Philadelphia Art Alliance gallery, ended early -- and after more than twice the 325 invitees showed, the liquor ran out, and revelers turned unruly, stealing two artworks, tearing sconces, trying to make off with a donations box.
Commenters on Max's site were relentless. DiMeo sued Max for six posts that commenters made on his site's message board. The posters wrote things like "I hope you die soon" and wished he met the end of a Magnum. They mocked DiMeo's manhood and disparaged him professionally, the suit contended. In addition to defamation, DiMeo sued under a criminal statue that bars people from anonymously using a telecommunications device to harass someone. The judge ruled that a Web site's message board was not covered by latter, which was a recent amendment to the Communications Decency Act of 1934.
DiMeo conceded that Max did not write the offensive comments, but contended that by having the ability to edit or censor them, he is legally responsible for any libels they express. Dalzell rejected that argument, saying by punishing a Web proprietor for monitoring comments would "deter the very behavior that Congress sought to encourage."
While Dalzell wrote that "there is no question that tuckermax.com could be a poster child for ... vulgarity," he found the law must protect "the coarse conversation that, it appears, never ends.
Read Myelectionanalysis for the reaction of a blogger who, like Max, went to Duke Law School, and mines the judge's decision for "one of the best smackdowns I’ve ever seen in a judicial order."
That blogger writes: I honestly laughed out loud twice while reading the opinion, which is twice more than I’ve ever laughed while reading a judicial opinion. My favorite line has to be "after viewing the tuckermax.com message boards, which are read by people using screen names like 'Jerkoff,' 'Drunken DJ,' and 'footinmouth,' the intended audience could not mistake the site for the New York Times. In short, it palpably is not serious."
Max, reached by phone in Los Angeles, was characteristically charming in victory:
"It was the legal equivalent of a bitch slap I think it's fair to say. The judge made sure these sorts of cases won't be brought again in his district. DiMeo will think twice before he slaps a frivolous suit on a legitimate expression of free speech."
DiMeo said the case is not over. By email, he wrote:
I respectfully disagree with the judge's decision and feel this matter will be taken to the next level....Tucker Max should not only expect a possible appeal to this one judges decision, but select members of his TuckerMax.com following should expect individual lawsuits to be filed against them for the countless false, inaccurate and misleading statements they have clearly posted on Mr. Max's web site. Without a doubt, these type of legal battles are very, very costly... but, to me, it's most certainly worth it to make people like Tucker Max pay for their wrongful actions. Tucker Max demeans women and promotes character assassinations; and this is something we must not allow in our society.
This is not an issue of free speech, as Mr. Max and his following would characterize it. The material on Tucker Max's website is offensive, non-newsworthy, and disseminated with reckless disregard. It's time for Tucker Max and his following to accept the consequences of their illegal actions. Tucker Max has exploited my good name, character and solid reputation for his own personal gain.
May 28, 2006
I had no idea I had such conservative tastes in music. But since reader Geoffrey Robinson sent me Rockin' On the Right, the National Review's list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs of all time, I've been going through my collection with fresh ears.
The piece begins with a disclaimer - rock music doesn't seem very conservative at first glance. Or second or third. The National Review's John J. Miller writes:
Neil Young has a new song called “Let’s Impeach the President.” Last year, the Rolling Stones made news with “Sweet Neo Con,” another anti-Bush ditty. For conservatives who enjoy rock, it isn’t hard to agree with the opinion Johnny Cash expressed in “The One on the Right Is on the Left”: “Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land / Just work on harmony and diction / Play your banjo well / And if you have political convictions, keep them to yourself.” In other words: Shut up and sing.
But great conservative songs are out there, he continues, their lyrics expressing, say, skepticism of government or support for traditional values.
Which bring us to the No. 1 greatest righty in NR's book, The Who's anthemic "Won't Get Fooled Again."
You buying? Miller, the Review's national political reporter, argues:
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.”
No. 2 is "Taxman" by the Beatles - with its message of over-zealous revenuers. Then "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones, which tells us that the devil was responsible for the cruelties of Bolshevism and he would have us think "every cop is a criminal."
Nice work, guys. You've claimed three of the greatest songs in rock. I'm guessing you learned from the Reagan campaign's misappropriation of "Born In The USA" that there is only so much one can grab from the left, and so you have not argued that Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" is really about Herbert Hoover.
In fact the list is filled with great music, and some of it, the writer agrees, is penned by liberals and libertines. But that doesn't mean they're not the stuff of conservative classics, he writes. Like Bodies, a "searing anti-abortion anthem" by the Sex Pistols. First, I'd quibble with the choice. A better anti-abortion song is Graham Parker's "You Can't Be Too Strong," which they list lower. The Scratching Post blog wonders how they missed Mike Nesmith's "Admiral Mike," written after the suicide of a Navy man facing media scrutiny. On the other side of the aisle, The Rude Pundit calls the list "sad and embarassing, like watching Grandpa do the Macarena now, thinking that he's still hip, that he's been hip for the last 30 years." The Washington Post stacks up 50 liberal rock treasures.
My beef is with the whole premise.
Music is personal to me, the soundtrack to my story, not yours. The best writing about it is personal, too, like the great Stranded book, in which writers lovingly riff on the one record they'd take to a desert island, and invariably they recall where they were in their lives when the music first called to them, like Ariel Swartley's still-vivid recollection of "The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle."
The National Review compiles a pretty strong list, though I'm not sure liberals would fight over the songs by Rush or "Der Kommissar." But it picks songs with political messages, like "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions over great songs, and reminds again, that while music can be used for political purposes, it's a perversion. (Here's another list of 50, from modest Jon Swift. Serious musical taste.)
Is this a liberal rant? No, it's a Romantic's. I have the sane visceral reaction when a great song winds up in a TV commercial. This stuff is personal, from the player straight to my heart. My moods, my memories. I never much liked Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, " but now I can't flush the image of Bill and Hillary and Tipper and Al dancing to it on stage, and this is not a good thing. I remember watching John Kerry cruise around Boston Harbor with his Swift Boat buds as Springsteen's "No Surrender" blasted. It made me feel better about Kerry for a second, but it left a stain on a track that used to allow me to imagine Springsteen and Little Steven busting out of class, learning more from a three minute record than they ever did in school.
I'd argue less that "Sweet Home Alabama," at No 4. is a conservative song. The National Review writes: A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young’s Canadian arrogance along the way: “A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”
So now they've claimed the South, too. Some modern Southern rockers called the Drive-By Truckers might object to this notion of a conservative Dixie. We leave you with a couple lines from "Putting People On the Moon:"
Mary Alice had a baby and he looked just like I did
We got married on a Monday and I been working ever since
Every week down at the Ford Plant but now they say they're shutting down
Goddamned Reagan in the White House and no one there gives a damn
Double Digit unemployment, TVA be shutting soon
While over there in Huntsville, They puttin' people on the moon
May 25, 2006
Songs For The Long Haul
Want the feel-good story of the holiday weekend? It begins Friday at noon at Penn's Landing - a free concert by World Party. You might remember principal party-member Karl Wallinger from the Waterboys, and then from a series of astonishingly good songs that conjured '60s Dylan, Sly, the Stones on keeper CDs like Private Revolution, Goodbye Jumbo and Egyptology. Six years ago, he released Dumbing Up in the UK. And only now is he touring in support of its U.S. release. In between: he battled a brain aneurism that left him unable to speak. He's back. Root for him. Lots of video downloads on the band's official site - the strongest tunes, too - like the haunting "All Come True," "Ship of Fools," "Way Down Now" "Is It Like Today," "Call Me Up." The list goes on. As the site says, "He's regained control of his voice, his legs, his warped sense of humor and his music catalogue." (With Allison Moorer. Must register for free concert.) UPDATE: Man, did it rain! But stormy weather made it easy to get up close. Steve Earle joined his wife, Allison, for a duet. World Party was semi-acoustic, with mandolin/fiddle and guitarist accompanying. Started off With "Message in a Box." Did "Vanity Fair," "Sweet Soul Dream," "Is It Like Today.")
Also Friday and Saturday, jazz singer Jimmy Scott at Zanzibar Blue. You might have heard of him as Little Jimmy Scott or recall that strangely high and alluring voice from the last episode of "Twin Peaks." Madonna has called him "the only singer who can make me cry." Lou Reed has written, "He has the voice of an angel." A good capsule of his life and music here, from PBS. The site offers a video of him singing "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" in Toyko. A great primer can be found here at The Tofu Hut. Me, I'd go just to hear him do "My Romance."
Denison Witmer is a local singer and guitar picker who got help from Sufjan Stevens on his last album, which means attention must be paid. He's playing at the World Cafe Live on Friday, and Little Flowers shows his clear, winsome style. Go here to Indie Don't Dance, for another treat. On his web site he has written the Are You a Dreamer CD is "about finding peace and remaining hopeful in a situation that feels completely out of control. A lot of people are feeling defeated right now. We're full of anxiety associated with our society's pressure to be something more important than what we feel we currently are." He must be reading my mail.
Saturday night you could tease your hair, and head off to Trump Marina, where Missing Persons, the Fixx, The Knack and Tommy Tutone flash back to the early MTV years. Or you could dust off your Mexican wrestling mask and go to the World Cafe Live. Si, Los Straightjackets are back in town. Last time I saw them was upstairs at the Troc, long after midnight, when we sent over beers to the brothers from Marah and they answered with a delicious Jagermeiser drink - or visa versa - the memory's dim. But who could forget a rock and rock guitar band that crushes "My Heart Will Go On," the love theme from Titanic?
Sunday night grab your sweetie and a blanket and curl up at the Concert Under the Stars in King of Prussia with Teddy Thompson and Susan Werner. The son of Richard and Linda got it going for this lastest cd -- his MySpace page gives a taste. If you want a real gulp, though, try here, for a few live songs. Check out "I Should Get Up."
Councilman Kelly says: No foie gras for you!