June 29, 2006
Something you may have missed on your calendar is an appearance by legendary albino bluesman Johnny Winter. The guitar great headlines a Saturday mid-day festival at Buck County Custom Cycles, which features not just classic blues and rad wheels, but a tattoo contest, bikini contest, and DJ Michael Tierson, who will fit right in. Any of you kids too young to remember collecting records might have missed the adventure of turning over side three of the double-lp Second Winter and finding ... absolutely nothing. A complete blank. What a groove. Found something on Mars to listen to from a later album, but same period. Hint: It's a gas, gas, gas.
I'll recommend a local band playing the Khyber on Friday, based on a song I downloaded from some Mp3 site months ago, the sort of tune that makes you stop walking, and ask the dog to stay as you check our your iPod so you remember who's playing. For the record, it was "October Song" by Audible. When the perfectly sweet harmonies led to a rollicking synth solo, I took notice, and synth rarely swings me. They got some songs from their EP Weekend up for downloading on their web site.
Everyone else I know seems to be recommending The Boredoms at the Starlight Lounge Friday, because how often do you get to hear a straight-outta-Osaka envoy from the Japanoise scene? A Wiki entry calls them part Sun Ra, part Butthole Surfers. Any band that inspired this temple of worship is worth catching.
Saturday is Argentina Day at the World Cafe Live with Juana Molina and Jose Gonzalez, who is actually Swedish, but of Argentinian roots. They will need their own day after
facing losing to Germany in the World Cup. I spent a long time listening to Molina's Tres Cosas CD of a couple years back, which reminded me of those languorous Beth Orton records with electronic bleeps mixed in from time to time. Gonzalez is dreamy, a Nick Drakey thing, who sings and strums and writes emotive songs in English, which must be his third language. His song, Stay In The Shade give you a hint of why his music has been used on The OC. Molina, a former TV comedienne, has a lovely web site with music and strange flowers for all. NPR will stream the show. XPN will carry it live.
Staying south of the border Saturday, Seu Jorge comes to the Troc. He's the Brazilian dude who played Bowie covers in Portuguese in The Life Aquatic. What would that sound like? Hear "Starman" for yourself. Hunt down "Rebel, Rebel," too.
Finally, Concert Under the Stars brings Steve Forbert and The Roches to Upper Merion on Sunday night, which gives me an opportunity to share "Mr Selleck" again from a Tonight Show performance from the sisters Roche in 1985. "Whimsical," observes Johnny. Right as usual.
Way Back Blog
Philly History Blog is the work of the Philadelphia Records Department, which digs into its archives every few days to unearth some rich layer of this old city to share. It covers beer, shopping and ancient newsboys - what's not to like? Think of the site as having the late Sam Bushman's brain for all to share.
The most recent piece is captioned, "See and Hear the World's Greatest Entertainer!
It's about how in 1921 the Stanley Company opened the Aldine Theatre at 19th and Chestnut, then for the next 70 years it played movies, as the Viking, the Cinema 19, and finally as Sam's Place Twin. It's a drug store now.
But the photo on the site is from October, 1928, when Al Jolson was starring, in black face, in The Singing Fool. They bloggers give a little social history of the practice:
White working-class entertainers popularized this convention during the mid-1800s. They applied burnt cork to their faces in order to portray dimwitted "darky" or "coon" characters. Blackface remained popular during the vaudeville era. We rightfully find such overtly racist imagery repellent, but, at the time, many white theatergoers accepted and enjoyed these performances, as evidenced by the prominent displays of a "blacked up" Jolson on the theatre posters. Blackface's popularity highlights the complicated nature of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century race relations. One recent historian argues that white society's feelings toward blacks and their culture combined resentment, sympathy, and cooptation, or both "love and theft." In the post-vaudeville era, more enlightened racial sensibilities emerged, leading to a decline in public tolerance for blackface. The practice serves as a painful reminder of America's struggles with bigotry.
That's from Main Street in Manayunk, photographed yesterday afternoon by Matt at the Tattered Coat, in a post he calls Down in the Flood - one of a torrent of citizen journalist takes on the damage done by days of pounding rains.
He dashed in to file this before heading back out:
Listen closely, and you can almost hear ticks of the teletype machine in the background, and a furnace-faced city editor screaming "Make it sing, kid!"
Just pics here, in a flickr set titled River Junk, which embeds bits of copy when you roll you mouse over the flotsam and jetsam, which may or may not include a bowling ball and a dwarf lighthouse. The shooter, NoOneOther, has a nice array of shots here as well.
Pesky'Apostrophe introduced the news and the mood in a musically titled, mid-day post that noted the city (except Manayunk) tends to avoid the worst of local flooding:
The Schuylkill could get to the highest level in 125 years by tomorrow. The Broad Street subway line must be flooded, because shuttle buses are carrying passengers in spots. The R2 train is down and R5 has limited service. Coincidentally, Governor Ed Rendell declared a state of emergency in 46 Pennsylvania counties on account of flooding, Philadelphia included. Go figure. For all this, you’d think we’d all be in a panic ‘round these parts. Not so much, though. It’s sunny outside. People are going about their business. Eh.
This thread of photos on PhillyBlog suggest anyone heading for the Hot Rocks concert scheduled for Pennypack Park in the Northeast Tuesday night might be seeing soggy stones instead.
How high was the Schuylkill River? Rolland in Fairmount dug up this statistical look on Phillyblog: For those of you who like numbers...USGS Real TIme water data shows the S. River reached nearly 70000 cubic feet per second today, compared to a daily median of 1070 cfs!
The flood got Stephanie's Blog grokking the stuff that washes up on her South Philly steps and then wondering about all those neighbors who wash their sidewalks:
I was just outside, sweeping up in front of our house. It has been raining here so much that I haven't done it in a while and it really needed it. There was alot of big pieces of bark from an old, huge tree across the street, half a popscicle wrapper, lots of leaves, someones old piece of tin foil and a silk flower from the pathetic arrangement of cheap, fake flowers stuck in a pot from the old couple next door. (another weird South Philly thing) I always feel like the neighbors are watching me every time I sweep out there, like I'm crazy for taking the time to do it, crazy for sweeping the street in front of our sidewalks and even crazier for actually picking up what I sweep and putting it in a bag and throwing it away. Something that I will never understand for as long as I live here is how people spray their sidewalks with their hose, instead of just getting a broom and doing it. Then they'll spray the street in front of their sidewalks and flood the stuff so it ends up streaming down the street, into a big pile of junk at the end of the street, where it definitely isn't going to get cleaned up. If there is a rare occasion of someone actually sweeping, they never pick the debris up. They sweep it into the street. Don't they know it's just going to blow right back on their sidewalks if they don't bag it and throw it away? Mostly though, my neighbors don't clean up anything and alot of them cause the garbage blowing through the street, that always seems to end up right on our sidewalks. There is one old lady that always has a scarf on her head, who always sweeps. One day I was sweeping and she walked by and told me that more people should do it. Yeah, they should do alot of things, sweeping up and not throwing papers on the ground are two of them, but they don't. Oh well, it just makes our house look nicer. I really do hate sweeping though.
As Suzanne at Metroblogging prepared to haul her kayak out of the basement so she could pick up a restorative donut at the Wawa, she was moved to share some lyrics:
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
As we join the round, let's end it with Philadelphia Weather, where Tom Thunstrom lives for these sorts of events:
Just when we get a break in the rain, here comes another round of severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center has us in a Slight Risk for severe weather for Thursday in the Delaware Valley. A frontal boundary will be moving into the region and this boundary will act as a focal point to fire off scattered lines of strong to possibly severe thunderstorms in the Delaware Valley after 1 PM.
Anyone want to help build an ark?
PhillyFuture is collecting words and photos from the storm here, including this shot (right) of a citizen journo of sorts taken by Fen Branklin.
Call The Doctor
With "America's greatest rock band" calling it quits (that's the laurel of critic Amy Phillips in Pitchfork), went picking through the MP3 blogs for the sorriest love sonnet to the Olympia, Wa., alt-rock grrrls known as Sleater-Kinney.
Is it RBally?: Amy is dead on about Sleater-Kinney being America's greatest rock band . . . on so many levels they were arguably the most interesting and consistent band of the past decade. And on a personal level, I never tire of the band . . . I literally listen to S-K almost every day of the year as at least one of the band's tracks works its way onto each day's gym/cycling mix.
Dreams of Horses?: Sleater-Kinney have announced that they are going on "indefinite hiatus." This saddens me to no end...or hopefully, it will end when they come together again. What a sad day for the music world.
Still better is TimeDoor, in a post titled Chaka wants to be your Carrie Brownstein:
Heavy, heavy bummer about Sleater-Kinney’s decision to place their final call to the doctor. Their breakup has seemed an inevitability for a few years now, and has been discussed quite openly by Carrie as she struggled with her identity as a member of a band that originally offered her limitless potential but came to offer only artistic confinement. But the news still sucks the bag.
But the prize goes to Tiny Suns Infused With Sour, an entire blog written in London and devoted to Sleater-Kinney. It begins:
In the autumn of 1997 I was 28 years old and living alone in a rented bedsit in the north London suburbs. Life was weighing quite heavily on my shoulders and I was, in all honesty, pretty depressed. Some little faith in music as a positive force remained, and at that time I still religiously read the NME every week. It was there, or perhaps in Melody Maker, that I read a short piece on this band I'd never heard of that somehow piqued my interest. I filed the name away in my 'bands to look out' for mental filing cabinet and carried on moping....
You can guess who rocked her out of her misery.
Before they go, the trio plays the Starlight Lounge in Philly, July 31.
Turn Off That Room!
I knew a guy in school who wallpapered his room with Screaming Yellow Zonkers boxes. We thought it a little odd, but he went on to win an Oscar at Pixar for some technical innovation that I still cannot understand.
So let's not be too hard on Casa Mario, a room done up to resemble a scene from the Super Mario video game by Nintendo.
The strangest part? Read the comments on Digg, and you realize this is someone's front room after two months of painstaking taping and stenciling.
Pick And B-Roll
And an audio scouting report from David Thorpe at the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla.: "A tremendous athlete, maybe one of the better perimeter player athletes in the draft. I have some concerns about his overall feel for the game, his basketball IQ. He does shoot it very well, he's definitely very quick, very fast, he jumps out of the gym, and I think can knock down open shots, and I think that looks very enticing on draft day. But when the actual game starts.... you just have to be able to react make the right read and go, and I don't know that Carney has that."
Some love for the Memphis U. swingman from Complete Sports, written by a Sixers-following fan from ... North Dakota?:
If you had told me before the draft that the Sixers would get Carney, I wouldn't really have been disappointed. Carney is potentially a lockdown defender, a "world-class athlete" (thanks Jay Bilas), and a pretty good shooter. Sure, he has shortcomings - he doesn't have much of a midrange game and he's not all that great at creating his own shot off the dribble, but paired up with Andre Iguodala, and you're looking at one of the most athletic wing combos in the NBA. Keep AI around, and now this is a real fun team to watch.
Want something from the horse's mouth? How about the Rodney Carney draft blog, from NBA.com:
I don’t know what will be going through my head when my name is called – a lot of emotions for sure. A lot of the other guys feel the same way. I talked to Rudy Gay last night, and he is real anxious to see where he is going to go. I’m just looking forward to getting called up there, especially with my family there and all. I’ve got a pretty big group going – my mother, my father, my little brother, my big brother, my uncle, my aunt and my girlfriend. My mother is definitely in awe of the whole thing.
Everyone is wondering what I am going to do once I get drafted in terms of making that first big purchase, but I don’t have anything in mind just yet. I’m gonna wait until I am officially on that NBA roster before I do something like that. Then who knows, maybe a car, a house…Anyone have any ideas?
The day before he described his visit to Philadelphia:
Monday I was in Philly to work out for the 76ers at the Wachovia Center. I’ve been nursing a sore ankle the past few days so the first thing I did when I got to the gym this morning was to ice it and then tape it up before I hit the court. I ran through some light workouts and took a tour of the arena with my mom and the coaches.
Then I met with a psychologist who confirmed – thankfully – that I wasn’t crazy. Just kidding. The questions were a little strange, but every player who works out for the Sixers goes through it, which eased my mind. When that was all over, I rushed to the airport to catch my flight to NYC and prepare for the big day.
A Fox Sports blog, Hoop Futures, scouted the prospect this way in December: He runs the floor like a Greyhound, and soars above the rim for sportscenter-worthy dunks. When his outside shot is falling, it is hard to not see Carney starring in the league someday. When he is throwing up bricks, he tends to look more like a track athlete than a basketball player.
Their summation: You won't find a more electrifying player than Rodney Carney at the college level.
June 28, 2006
Fit To Be Tied
Love, of course.
Not just for the new Chevy Aveo he could win, but for Rocky.
Rocky’s the three or four-year-old pug that Brandon Richardson owns. Richardson never thought much about the issue of leaving dogs chained up until he found a flier slapped onto his car a couple weeks ago while visiting a friend in Cherry Hill.
This is the backstory to why Richardson, 21, is taking a couple weeks off from his job - with his boss’s ok - and heading to a park in Mundys Corner, Pa., about an hour east of Pittsburgh, where Saturday begins his Survivor-style stunt for a cause.
He’ll deposit his son with his in-laws and with his wife’s blessings join 13 other animal lovers who are trying to do without books, TV, radio, showers or cigarettes.
They must wear collars. They get a half hour a day to call home or receive visitors. They share four tiny port-a-johns. They get food in drink - but don't have to consume them in bowls. "I'm not cruel," said organizer Tammy Grimes.
Some contestants have said they'd donate the car to an animal charity. Aija Nicole Gillman, 18, of Pinckneyville, Ill., explained in her application why she's competing: She feels, “as Ghandi did, that you can tell a lot about a country by the way it treats its animals.”
Says Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better: “One of them will walk away with a new car, but more importantly, none of them will walk away unchanged. The knowledge they now bear may make it virtually impossible to look at a chained dog without an understanding of what it is like to be that dog.”
Richardson’s car was papered by Marion Churchill, an animal rights activist who runs Compassion for Camden, and helped write the New Jersey city's anti-chaining ordinance of 2001.
She was hoping to make people sensitive to what it’s like being chained and left alone.
“They're right,” Richardson said by phone. “It's cruel to keep your dog chained up all the time. They're part of the family. You wouldn't chain your grandmother up.”
No, we wouldn't.
Grimes describes chained dogs as a forgotten cause. “People think they have a home, but is it really a home?” she said Monday. “These are dogs sitting out there living lives of confinement. The biggest problem is that they can kill children quite easily. We do this to the dogs. We leave them unsocialized and chained and they're like ticking time bombs.”
Unable to lure a corporate sponsor or big donor, she raised the money for her contest through about 10,000 contributions of $3 each. Originally a couple dozen animal lovers showed interest in chaining themselves to a doghouse, but enough dropped out that no one was turned down.
“People were a little more intimidated than I'd expected them to be,” she said.
“Hopefully I can go the whole two weeks. The bugs and weather won't bother me. I've gone camping with the family before. I think I can last quite a while.”
One slight hitch: Organizers have the park for only two weeks. Meaning, what happens if no one's dropping out?
After one week, organizers plan daily “Reality TV elimination rounds,” Grimes says. “We've got to have them drop,” she said. “We've got some games planned.”
This Metropolitan Diary entry, courtesy of New York Times reader Cindy Greatrex:
Has anyone else noticed the lunch wagon often parked on or around William Street, offering "Filly Cheese Steaks"? I chant to myself, each time, "Please let it be a misspelling ... please let it be a misspelling ... "
(Hat tip, The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse)
What's Happening Today in Blogville
The word, according to Memeorandum:
Who's blogging about Operation Summer Rains, the Israeli incursion into Gaza following the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit? Conservative blogs, mostly.
Captain's Quarters: "Expect the UN to demand an end to the "aggression" by tomorrow afternoon."
Power Line: "We wish the IDF well in their noble effort to rescue a comrade and to punish the psychopathic terrorists who make life in the region so difficult."
Blogs on the left were more likely to be weighing in about flag-burning.
The Carpetbagger Report: "The Senate came within one vote of actually passing a constitutional amendment on flag burning yesterday afternoon, giving us another two-year reprieve before Orrin Hatch starts this nonsense up again. ... It's worth noting, however, that one got the sense yesterday that even supporters' hearts weren't really in the fight. They went through the motions, but everyone — on both sides — seemed to realize this was cynical, election-year theater that served no real purpose."
Bring It On: "My flag speaks volumes to me. Which of these, precisely, depends upon my mood or the height of the flag on the mast but always it has spoken to me. For this reason I will never support the sort of amendment that very nearly gained a two-thirds support in the Senate yesterday. You see, just as the flag speaks to me, so does anything that anyone does with the flag. If I see a flag respectfully displayed, it says to me that there is an American who is proud to be an American and proud of those brave men and women who have and are fighting on its behalf. When I see it being desecrated and destroyed, it says to me that there is a person who is angry over some grievance, real or imagined, who is lashing out at the symbol of the cause of her or his grievance. Flag desecration is a statement of the desecrator’s hurt, frustration and rage."
(By the way, a Gallup poll video shows Americans say 'Keep your hands off the flag AND the Constitution.')
Can't assign places in the political spectrum as easily for the move in Congress to lash out against the New York Times for its reporting on the secret bank-data surveillance program and executive editor Bill Keller's letter of explanation.
BuzzMachine: "So that is saying that we deserve to know everything, absolutely everything. As a worshiper of speech protected by the First Amendment and of transparency as the new virtue of journalism and of reporting as a pillar of a free society, you’d think I’d be applauding that sentiment. It sounds good. But I don’t think it washes in real life. Newspapers know plenty they choose not to reveal: from troop locations to undercover cops’ identities to corporate moves that affect shareholders (you can be reporters get the same leaks blogs do). If they revealed all they knew at all times on all subjects, that would be a defensible model — ‘If we know it, you know it.’ But they keep secrets so they get secrets and also to act responsibly. So this notion that not telling us about the banking program preempts the roles of lawmakers, judges, and voters is, well, somewhat specious."
The Counter Terrorism blog writes how experts have known of this "secret" monitoring since 2002. "The fact is that there is really very little privacy today when it comes to the international transfer of funds. That is why criminal networks, money launderers and terrorist groups have increasingly turned to Hawalas and cash couriers for such transactions."
Box Elder Down
That's a big old tree in our yard. Literally in our yard. So sad.
UPDATE: Ah, make that a mulberry tree, which would explain the berries.