November 30, 2006
Pawnshop Roses On Parade
The Pawnshop Roses weren't quite sure what to expect, winning an award from a company that not too long ago was operating out of a garage.
But seeing as how that company is YouTube, they had hopes.
The ride, waiting outside Pennsylvania Station, was a nice touch. "It can't be the limo," guitarist/songwriter Paul Keen recalls thinking. They'd been looking for a van. The Philadelphia roots rockers had arrived.
This was Tuesday morning - hours before they were to meet with the YouTube people, who were flying in from L.A. Awaiting them was a night on the town, new equipment from Gibson, and - too bright and early on Wednesday - a date with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. She was to present them with a Golden Mouse award for having the best live performance video on the user-generated Web site.
The Pawnshop Roses did what any self-respecting guys who play real rock and roll with a country twang would do. They bought a case of beer - Coronas - and started working on them in their hotel room. The contest people had put them up in the W Hotel on Times Square.
"A great lobby with a bar downstairs," said Keen. The only thing: the room was smallish, and had only two double beds. There are four of them.
"We sort of have gotten used to it," he sighed.
Bassist Justin "Blaze" Monteleone: "The whole thing's been awesome."
The band had won its 15 minutes of fame off a song about coming up poor called "Gets So Hard." Each member holds down a 9-to-5 in addition to playing in the band. Only Keen's is playing music. Four days a week he performs around Philadelphia, acoustic sets of the Rolling Stones, the Allmans and Tom Petty, never his own stuff.
A couple times a month the two get together with guitarist Kevin Bentley and drummer Rich "Figgs" Fogg to play at the Grape Street Pub or some other club. It was at Grape Street that filmmaker and friend Scooter Lammey shot their show this summer. They put a couple videos up on YouTube.
Lammey entered them in the contest, then encouraged people he knew to vote, Kean says. A friend made a poster promoting the video and the contest and put it on their MySpace page. YouTube people emailed them, appreciating the effort. They heard last week that they were going to New York.
A release from YouTube and co-sponsor Cingular Wireless states the band made the finals from hundreds of thousands of voters from viewers. A couple thousand other bands had entered. Then Alexandra Patsavas of Chop Shop Music Supervision selected them with three other winners. She's supervised music on "The O.C," Grey's Anatomy" and "Without a Trace." And by winning, there's a chance they could land a song in a film or television episode, the release promises.
The Badminton Stamps music blog wasn't buying the numbers yesterday. Philabuster wrote:
Philly southern-y roots rockers Pawnshop Roses performed bright and early today on ABC's Good Morning America. Apparently, their videotaped set at Grape Street Pub in August won them "Best Live Performance" in some zany let's-get-middle-america-hip-to-YouTube cross-promotional contest nonsense. The band also won a whole new set of equipment for Philly band thieves to relieve them of. Meanwhile, a press release on the subject is spouting some line about "millions of votes", but the 'Tube don't lie, holmes. It currenty lists total views at 3,375. By this metric, our Garden State Tip Drill deserves to have been featured on national television about, oh, 18 times.
But back to the kings for a day.
There were a couple surreal elements - trouping along to a comedy club with the other winners and some YouTube folks who put the whole evening on their credit card. Then waking up at an hour when they're used to going to bed, and waiting in the green room at Good Morning America with some famous Nascar drivers in suits - but they don't watch Nascar, so wouldn't know them in decals. Then being called.
Kean: "You see it on TV,and you think it's going to be bigger and you're going to be more nervous. You sort of just walk in the room and talk to Diane Sawyer. It didn't seem like 'Good Morning America.' "
They spent the rest of the day at Gibson's Hit Factory, picking guitars and meeting with industry types as a chef catered to their hungers.
Which is a far cry from their origins. They picked their name a couple years ago during a late night at the All-Star Pizzeria in Manayunk at a table with plastic flowers. "Pawnshop?" someone suggested. No, taken already. "Pawnshop flowers?" No, a little prissy. Then, Pawnshop Roses. You can hear this story on a podcast conducted by Earvolution's Jeff Davidson.
Davidson wrote by e-mail how he has long been a fan of the band, and hopes to sign them as his first act as he builds a record label from his blog.
"We definitely are going to sign something," Keen said. After they come down.
First the news: The New York Times this morning reports that the Iraq Study Group is recommending a pullback of combat troops. This is the James. A. Baker and Lee Hamilton-led, 10 person, bipartisan panel. It's not setting a timetable, but calling for a gradual pullback of the 15 brigades over there.
Now the commentary:
Atrios says it's not going to happen.
The lefty from Philly writes:
Barring tremendous political leadership by, well, our political leaders we aren't leaving. Leaving is losing. Bush has made this clear.
Texas Hold 'Em writes:
Let me get this straight: many of the same people who screwed up the Gulf War in the early 1990s by leaving before the job was finished, encouraging the Iraqi people to finish it and then bailing on them now want us to do the exact same thing again.
And from the middle, the Moderate Voice writes:
You can already tell that some on the right will dismiss the report as not allowing enough latitude to win. And some on the left will say it doesn't set deadlines. But it's clear that the members of the commission aren't endorsing a policy status quo: if next year is not marked by troop withdrawals, the administration is likely to face a "pile on" of bad news cycles where it's under fire from some former commission members and Democrats, who want a speedier timetable. Plus, the already marked differences between members of Bush 41 Administration and Bush 43 Administration become even more marked and, most likely, public.
Not sure whether to file this under sports or education, but Freddie Mitchell apparently went from 4th and 26 to Saved by the Bell. The spotlight-if-not-football grabbing former Eagle receiver wound up in a Deadspin reader exclusive regarding his previously unheralded role teaching Indiana teens this summer. The report alleges Fred-Ex spent a bit of time trying to get the 411 of young lady fans before being dismissed.
This goes under sports: Swing & a Miss writes how this is the magic moment for the Phillies; they're poised to win the hearts of long-suffering Philadelphia sports fans. It's sunny for Philadelphia: "The Eagles, Flyers and Sixers are all down and out, a cheerless mixture of aging veterans, disappointing rookies, front office upheavals and questionable coaching. The Phillies, on the other hand, have a nucleus of bright young stars who seem poised for greatness. All that’s missing are a few pieces to propel them into the playoffs. Well, maybe there are several missing pieces, but the core of young stars is in place."
Speaking of it always being sunny in Philadelphia, anyone watch Danny DeVito's never-ending night? Only problem: it was the next morning. On "The View."
Now for a pair of lifestyle blog entries. Help this man find his true love; he thinks he met his match in line at Macy's in Center City last Saturday. He was with his kids, waiting to see Dickens' Village. She was with her kids. Forget classifieds - he's turned to blogs to find her. He writes:
While in line, the most beautiful women I have ever seen began to talk to me. When I turned to look at her and into her beautiful eyes my mind immediately went blank. I thought I was frozen in time and I suppose I was. I couldn’t think of anything to say, not even anything stupid or meaningless. I just stood there, smiled and stared at her. I’m in my mid forty’s now and I felt like a teenager again. For the first time in quite a while I smiled at someone from the bottom of my broken heart. The same heart I thought I had lost. Today, I knew it was still there because it was beating fast, really fast.
And as a counterpoint, help this nice young woman slip this Facebook stalker.
"Hey, Pal. Do you like steak?" Philly detective "Wyatt Earp" goes to the Lowe's to buy some topseed. Runs into a scruffy character selling meat out of truck. Which is my cheesy transition into the Cops Writing Cops blog, a national place to let off a little steam. Which we're all for. We recommend the Dicks of the Month feature.
Finally, for now, what took them so long?
November 29, 2006
Barbarians At The Gates
Don Groff, the travel columnist, writes by e-mail that he was curious how the news of the Bush twins' excellent adventure was playing in Buenos Aires. He ran the Spanish-language article in La Nacion through Google translator.
The embassy of the United States in Buenos Aires denied yesterday a journalistic version that indicated that it had recommended the daughters of president George W. Bush to finish his vacations in Argentina by security reasons.
The visit from the Bush sisters to Buenos Aires spent to the public knowledge the last week when a thief stole the purse of Barbarian to the care of American intelligence agents.
The article on the supposed suggestion of the diplomatic delegation to Barbarian and her Jenna sister so that they leave the country was published by the ABC chain in its site of Internet.
“We have taken knowledge from an originating report of journalistic sources according to which civil employees of the embassy would have recommended firmly that the daughters of President Bush shortened their visit to Argentina (...) Is false”, the embassy in the official notice said.
The Bush sisters attended last Sunday a soccer match in the stage of Juniors Mouth, where they were filmed repeatedly by the television while they shone a t-shirt of the most popular club of the country.
A few years ago, I spent a week in Clearwater following the Phils around during spring training. I recommend the trip to anyone who has even marginal interest in sports. Spring training is a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the players. In a very real sense, attending a game at Pittsburgh's spring training home in Bradenton Florida gives fans a chance to step into the world of the players. ... We spent the majority of the afternoon hanging out by the Phils bullpen collecting autographs and chatting with the players. For whatever reason, Wolf was among the most chatty.
I have no idea what the hell we talked about but that's not the point of the story. A couple months later in early may, I and my same two friends were standing in the rightfield bleachers at the Vet trying our best to shag the occasional BP long ball. Wolf and the other pitchers were doing their pregame calisthenics below us. To our complete surprise, Wolf yelled at us.
Usually the yelling goes the other way around, you know, me yelling at the player. So, this turn of events definitely got my attention.
Once he got our attention, Wolf yelled something along the lines "Hey, you guys were at Bradenton!"
I've been idolizing the Phils for literally as long as I can remember. If I had to name my first memory, it would probably involve something to do with the 600-level behind home plate in late September. So, even though it is embarassing for me as a grown man to admit, to have Wolf recognize me was awesome.
Premiere Magazine picks the 20 Most Over-rated films. How could have they have missed 2001? a Throwing Things reader asks.
Atlantic Magazine picks the 100 most influential Americans. Lots of people you find on bills and coins. But ... "Lists are for groceries," write David & Barbara on the Atlantic's Web site, wondering about the value of any list in which Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Martha Stewart, Chuck Berry and Hef got votes.
Time Magazine picks the 100 best albums. No "Blood on the Tracks." No "Dark Side of the Moon." And, notes a Suburban Guerrilla commenter, no entry from any band with the name Dave in the title. (But there are two essentials from a dude named David.)
Much to chew on.
Premiere doesn't shy from controversy, picking the "over-rated" Jules and Jim, The Wizard of Oz, Fantasia and American Beauty in addition to easy marks like Forrest Gump, which my mother walked out of for its depiction of Vietnam war protesters.
About Moonstruck, Premiere's executive editor Kathy Heintzelman wrote: The speed with which Nicolas Cage's Ronny (whom a character calls "the most tormented man," as if that were a good thing) proclaims his love for Cher's Loretta would startle even Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Throwing Things credits the magazine for grilling a few sacred cows, and then adds its own offering of "Dances With Wolves," "The Aviator" and a "Fish Called Wanda."
Time's CD lists came out earlier in the month, and Suburban Guerrilla fussed at it for not including any Laura Nyro. No argument here.
Commenter davminnj found some essentials missing:
where’s john wesley harding?
face to face?
two steps from the blues?
tonight’s the night?
another green world?
the circle game?
i absolutely cherish otis blue-but how could they then have left off the immortal otis redding?
Suburban Guerrilla commenter Izquierdo piled on:
And the ignorance/arrogance of them to define
“music” in such a jaw-droppingly limited way
— a grand total of two jazz albums, no classical,
no world music, nothing electronic, no musical
theater, no folk, no music of social protest,
no film music, nothing from the
first six decades
of recording history, et cetera, et cetera,
et cetera, as the King of Siam liked to say.
and if they can pick london calling, then why not x- wild gift?
(Collage by Nick Rubin)
He'd asked earlier, Who cares what current Time staffers think? One of those picking, however, has some taste. Alan Light was editor of Tracks and Spin before that - and a Rolling Stone writer before that. I'm guessing the Eminem comes from Light.
Another unhappy listener, Kevin Hayden, laid waste to the list noting a few critical absense:
Consider who’s been left off:
CSN or CSN&Y
Mamas & Papas
Eric Burdon & The Animals
Ike & Tina (or Tina)
Peter, Paul & Mary
The Righteous Brothers
the better albums of Stevie Wonder than the two weak ones they chose
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Jan & Dean
The Four Tops
Mothers of Invention
Men At Work
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Los Lonely Boys
Earth, Wind & Fire
Boyz in the Hood
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Oh, baby. Did he say Billy Joel?
The city tourism board's gay-and-lesbian-friendly marketing campaign has reeled in a whopper: Rosie O'Donnell's travel company has picked Philadelphia for its first weekend getaway in a U.S. metropolis.
The R Family Philly Weekend is set for March 10th-11th. The package includes lodging at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, lunch at the National Constitutional Center, a 50's-themed bowling party and Broadway-style brunch.
Special guests are to include George Washington, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross, according to the release. The city appears to be pulling out all the stops.
R Family Vacations has made a name for its gay-and-lesbian family sea cruises. Co-founder Kelli O'Donnell (pictured with Rosie) said in the release, "A trip to Philadelphia is a great way to inspire your family to affect the future by learning the historical significant of our Constitution."
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation began advertising for gay and lesbian travelers in 2003, when it launched its "Philadelphia - Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay" campaign.
Who knows, maybe Rosie will bring Brittney,
November 28, 2006
A Cold One
And who knew the National Lampoon was still funny? Michael Richards' stand-up meltdown was horrible to watch. But mash it with a few must-see TV moments, as some clever fellows did, and you have Seinfeld: "The Lost Episode."
Headphones required for work.
A Moment With A.J. Daulerio
One of our guilty pleasures has become even more pleasurable knowing there's a Philly connection. Each Friday we like to turn to A.J. Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker column in Deadspin, the sports blog that is to ESPN what The Man Show is to The Mike Douglas Show.
In that space, he riffs about the important events of our day, often making the connections to the more anodyne moments of his own life. For instance, a critical alliance of sports and the performing arts, (the heavy metal band Motorhead is sponsoring a British youth soccer team) stirred this memory:
Growing up, my Little League team was sponsored by either a local dry cleaning service, a pizzeria or a plump, mustached realtor. The best of that lot, obviously, was the pizzeria, Giuseppes, which would be very generous come playoff time and let us drain their soda fountain in trying to concoct the perfect Suicide -- Sunkist, A&W and Welch's Grape ... Crazy!
It's heartening to learn that the New York-based writer - with serious alt-journalism credentials that involve the late Black Table and Ironminds - was writing about our own northern suburbs. (I would have figured this out earlier had I been watching the till. His "Christmas in Philly" post, which ran October 6, showered enough hate on Phillies-rejecter J.D. Drew that it could only have come from someone whose emotions were formed as a boy at the Vet. The post is worth it if only for the classification of Eagles fans who still wear Mike Zordich jerseys.)
His roots were further exposed over the weekend in his latest post, written on holiday, back at his parents' Horsham townhouse-by-the-country-club:
Leftover turkey sandwiches are like crack. At 11 a.m. this morning, I'd already had three. I'm wearing sweatpants. I'm on my parents' couch. I'm flipping between Jerry Springer and that local township station playing Christmas music and announcing School Board meetings and the Hatboro Horsham junior high basketball schedule. After a few turkey sandwiches, that channel becomes as riveting as Memento. Time for the Leyland Smoke in about two minutes.
After pausing to figure out what a Leyland Smoke is - turns out the Tigers' skipper once described the post-Thanksgiving dinner cigarette as the finest moment of the year - I came upon the thesis of his latest piece. It was a speculative column on which pro athlete was most likely to star in the next celebrity sex tape to surface. He posits a few likely winners. (My money's on Smarty Jones.)
School: Council Rock H.S. LaSalle U. Class of 1996. Major: communications.
Current abode: Astoria, Queens.
Worst job: Kentucky Fried Chicken counter boy. "You don't want to be anywhere near that place on Super Bowl Sunday."
Best job: freelance writer, in particular, the Maxim Magazine Top 100 list. Great pay, cushy work. "All I had to do was look at pictures and write 450 words about, say, the hot chick from "Lost."
On his turntable: Nothing. He doesn't have an iPod either. "I own four Cds, three of which are Pearl Jam. Maybe one Raconteurs."
Under his bed: "Five socks, three books. I know that because I was looking for my watch. One of the wooden planks from the bed itself - it's an Ikea bed - and lots of stray pony-tail holders."
On his nightstand: "Three glasses, an ashtray and I think a Playboy."
In his fridge: "Pony tail holders, and Pearl Jam Cds."
What A.J. stands for: Antawn Jamison. "Mom's a Tar Heel."
Next: "I have been in discussions with a very popular Philadelphia blogger to do stuff with him." Hmm.
(Top Photo from this Knot Magazine journey through time.)
November 27, 2006
Let Us Count The Ways
The Birds were trailing 21-0 in the second quarter when the offense finally put something that resembled a drive together. Jeff Garcia hit a wide open LJ Smith in the endzone for a nice touchdown. At first it appears that LJ realizes that the birds have a lot of ground to make up and he'll just walk back to the huddle. Then he gets a tremendous urge to pull off one of the most unentertaining touchdown celebrations in all of football. Smith jogged over to the field goal post and laid the ball over it. Awesome
Come on LJ, act like you've been there before. When you're up a couple scores, I'm all for a little fun in the endzone. But when you're season is going down the tubes, you've dropped countless passes in recent games, and you score a meaningless TD in a game in which you're getting spanked, it's a slap in the face to the fans to pull some lame endzone celebration.
Bleed Green is measuring the entire D:
The defensive line and the linebackers were just pathetic. This defense needs a complete overhaul up front. I also have to wonder whether or not it may be time to look beyond Jim Johnson.
So is Iggles Blog, but with English-major panache:
The defense could qualify for federal disaster relief at this point. Colts' rookie Joseph Addai not only had the first 100-yard game of his career, but actually went for 171 yards and four touchdowns against an Eagles defense that got pushed around all night by the Colts, a finesse team not known for having much of an edge.
That's a little bit like getting bullied in high school by the drama dorks. Pretty embarrassing.
Sean Portnoy picks three:
Matt McCoy plays like a blonde Mark Simoneau, big free agent signing Darren Howard is ineffective, and first-round pick Brodrick Bunkley apparently can’t even make the team’s flight on time.
Mic's Rants and Raves says it's wrong to be putting that rack on Jim Johnson's crown:
I think I can hear the calls for Jim Johnson's head already...but to be honest, he's not the one overpursuing the stretch runs...he's not missing tackle at the line of scrimmage...he's not the one that looked velcro'd to the offensive lineman he's supposed to beat....THIS WAS a mano-a-mano blocking scheme that gobbled up the lineman and linebackers...Addai could've busted some break dancing moves on some of those runs...Hell, Addai could've done the "robot" on his way into the endzone on a couple of those plays....
He must have pretty good hearing, catching the games from Japan. But he's right. Karl Martino at Philly Future is making that sort of noise:
I'd say that the conventional wisdom about the Eagles, that our defense is what keeps us competitive, is no longer anywhere near current reality.
That other teams have Jim Johnson's number.
And in sports, that means it's time for a change.
Get ready for Cyber Monday - you know, that bald attempt to part you with more of your money by dangling Internet-only deals that are slightly different than those deals you just read about as Black Friday approached.
With shoppers doing increasing amounts of day-after-Thanksgiving shopping online, do we really need a separate day devoted to sales on the Web?
(How Webby was Black Friday? Wal-Mart's site was down most of the day, disrupted by more traffic than anticipated. The Walt Disney site also buckled under unexpected business.)
The Boston Globe reports that nearly half of consumers plan to buy something online this holiday season, up from 36 percent three years ago, according to a report last month by the National Retail Federation, a Washington, D.C., trade group. The Globe writes:
Moreover, customers who shop both online and at bricks-and-mortar stores are more valuable to merchants, spending about 50 percent more than customers who shop only in stores, said Erika Serow, a retail analyst at Bain & Co.
If any opportunity to shop is as welcome as a holiday, here are some places to celebrate. They come courtesy of Top Ten Sources:
CyberMonday.com is where nearly 400 retailers post holiday promotions.
Stylefeed is where you can go to keep track of all your online shopping needs - deals, wish lists, gift lists.
Families.com suggests a couple sites that will do the cyber-shopping for you.
Finally, Penn's Language Log hunts and gathers the history of Cyber Monday - they credit Shop.org for the "brazenly cynical coinage." They have determined what I only suspected:
The idea was to make "Cyber Monday" a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, boosting online sales on a day that had previously ranked as only the twelfth busiest on the shopping calendar.
They sift through conflicting reports of just how successful Cyber Monday was last year. The conclusion suggests Penn's Benjamin Zimmer is reading my mail:
Perhaps writing about Cyber Monday helps fill the post-Thanksgiving lull in the news cycle, and it's an easy followup to the boilerplate "Black Friday" shopping stories. I would also expect online retailers to continue transforming Cyber Monday into a legitimate shopping event by offering all sorts of sales and promotions for the Monday after Thanksgiving. It could take another year or two, but the self-fulfilling marketing prophecy of Cyber Monday might still come to pass.