December 25, 2006
James Brown, 1933-2006
December 20, 2006
See You Next Year
Lose yourself in the links, forage among the favorites, comandeer the conversation. I'm off duty.
Enrico Campitelli Jr. has bought only one sports jersey in his adult years. It's red, white and blue, with Philly on the front and Allen Iverson's No. 3 on the back. He never wears it outside; it hangs in his closet. But he writes that he's a better Philadelphian for having it there:
I never thought trading Allen Iverson would make me feel so emotional. When I think about my love for Philadelphia sports, there are two guys that immediately come to the front of my mind: Allen Iverson and Donovan McNabb. Sure I have memories of my dad taking me to watch Sir Charles and The Doctor, but it was Allen Iverson whose entire career as a Sixer I followed from start to finish.
I was 15 in 1996 as I watched Pat Croce go nuts at the NBA Draft Lottery show when the Sixers found out they'd get the rights to draft the scrappy guard out of Georgetown. The Sixers drafted Allen Iverson with the first pick, and my hope in a championship coming to Philly was fueled by the lightning quick skills of the barely six footer. Basketball was my first love back then, and The Answer was wearing a Philadelphia uniform. A.I. gave me hope.
It doesn't matter right now what the Sixers got in return, although Bill King did alright. Allen Iverson no longer wears a Sixers uniform. It's a sad day for Philadelphia.
Adam Bonin, at a List of Things Thrown Five Minutes ago, remembers the man who loved the game, if not practice:
It's over. As one of Bill Simmons' readers put it last week, "If he plays 42 minutes in a game, he complains about the six minutes on the bench. He simply loves the game of basketball more than any other player in the league."
Forget the Eagles SB run and other playoff attempts; forget '76-'78, '83, '93 and even 1980 for the Phillies. I never had as much sustained fun as a sports fan as the Sixers' playoff run in 2001, attending six of the home playoff games (including the Toronto and Milwaukee Game Sevens, and the unbelievable Reggie-AI battle in Indiana Game 2), and I've never seen an entire city as in love with a sports team, and its leader, as that one.
I may have told this story before: I actually missed most of game one of the Lakers series because I was traveling with Jen in Portland on her first-ever book tour. (We did catch the fourth quarter and overtime.) The next day, we flew to LA for her next event, and we happened to be staying at the same hotel as the victorious Sixers. I spent about an hour that afternoon just sitting in a small lobby of the RegBevWil, reading the paper, surrounded by about six of the players and their kids. I just wanted to absorb it all, and didn't want to ruin my ability to be there by declaring my fandom and interjecting myself in the scene. (And then, back in Philadelphia, I went to the game where we booed Destiny's Child.)
I keep circling around Iverson, so let me get to the point: the key to understanding Philadelphia fans is that what we appreciate, more than anything else, is stuff that looks like effort. It explains why Scott Rolen was never loved like Lenny Dykstra, and Brian Westbrook gets far more dap than Ricky Watters ever did. And no one gave more effort, and made it show here, than Allen Iverson. No one played hurt more, threw his body around more, willed his teams to win more. I lived in Chicago during the second Jordan run -- but, I'm telling you, Iverson was more gripping to watch.
I'm not sad today, because he's finally free of Billy King's nonsense and this team's mediocrity, and I hope he wins the ring he deserves in Denver. No matter what, we've got great memories -- here's one set of Top 10 Plays, a montage of crossover moves, and, sure, watch him talk about practice.
Anya at Metroblogging Philadelphia goes short and sour:
I feel a emptiness inside because I love Iverson, but I too think its time for him to move on. He won't get a ring with the team here in Philly and I do think he deserves at least one. He is the T.O. of basketball so I can't wait to see the trouble he gets into over there.
Ryan Reads The News recognizes much of a city - and of himself - in the under-sized All Star:
Allen Iverson, despite hailing from the Hampton/Newport News area of Virginia, and coming to Philly via Georgetown, is Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love is an afterthought, a red-headed stepchild, always lurking in the giant shadow cast down by its neighbor to the Northeast- New York City. Philadelphia is smack dab in the middle between Washington D.C. and New York City, the capital of the United States and (for all intents and purposes) unofficial capital of the world. It's easy to be overlooked. We're always trying to assert our independence. Once the cultural, political and actual capital of the country, Philadelphia lapsed into relative obscurity in the 20th century. The situation became even worse in the new millennium. What are we known for? Cheesesteaks. That's right- the concept of shredded beef and melted cheese on a roll is the symbol of Philadelphia. A place that houses the Liberty Bell, boasts one of the world's greatest art museums, and has influenced not only America's culture but can actually make the claim that it created America itself, is best known for a soggy roll filled with cheese whiz. New York has the Statue of Liberty, D.C. has the White House, and we have meat and cheese. We have Pat's Steaks.
I relish being overlooked. I champion the cause of the underdog. I love being the one counted out, not believed in. I like when people tell me I can't do something. I like when they tell me I'm not smart enough or don't have the results, or that something is beyond my reach. I love when someone doubts me. It fuels me. It gives me fire. It's made me who I am.
The Phanatic devotes a few inches to the basketball aspect - what Denver gets, what Philly gets, or is promised. But most of Jared Trexler's post has to do with What Allen Iverson, the icon, meant to this place:
Iverson didn't convey his thoughts with alliteration and run-on metaphors. His points were simple, blunt, POWERFUL. He defined a race in a city with every tattoo, some with generational ties and others with messages of struggle and success.
Unlike those with the same roots, the street wasn't his family. His FAMILY was his FAMILY.
Iverson is older than most of his friends. Mostly because many succumbed to the dangers associated with poverty, crime, and life spent around coke instead of on the couch.
A.I. -- the one bouncing his daughter off his knee? Or A.I. -- the mugshot following arrests for marijuana and gun possessions?
Truth be told, he's both. A hoop artist with a sweet 401(k) plan on the court, a confetti artist with a tough edge and short fuse off it.
"I worry about him all the time," former Sixers president Pat Croce once said. "All the time, when he's not in our sanctum or where I can see him."
A.I., still a little kid wearing big shoes.
December 18, 2006
Maybe you saw this brief over the weekend:
A man who escaped police custody Saturday night was soon at Einstein Hospital in critical condition after being hit by a car. The accident happened around 7 p.m. at Broad and Champlost streets in Philadelphia’s Fern Rock section. Police said the 20-year-old man jumped from a second-story window at the 35th police district. Then, he ran into the street and a car hit him.
The back-story is right out of "Hill Street Blues."
This is what Wyatt Earp, a Philly detective, wrote at Support Your Local Gunfighter:
Last night we had our squad Christmas party. Since we had to work the night shift, we had the party in the division squad room. Everyone brought some good food, and during dinner we gave our supervisors gifts. The after dinner entertainment was a "Head Shaving." One of the detectives in my squad was coming to terms with his male pattern baldness, and wondered aloud if he should shave it all off. Being despicable human beings, we all goaded him into it, but only if he would do it in front of us (and a room full of cops) at the party. he agreed.
The shaving went off without a hitch, and J.C. didn't look too bad with the chrome dome - rare for a white guy. We took pictures for his wife and laughed at his expense during the event, but immediately after, duty called. One of the officers who was witnessing the head shaving heard an "Assist Officer" call come over the radio. Another officer was yelling that a prisoner escaped custody . . . just outside our building. The officer was chasing the juvenile. Instantly, we grabbed our weapons and radios, and the room cleared.
The 17-year old punk asked to go to the bathroom, and when the officer took him, the kid punched the female officer and pushed her out of the way. The punk then jumped through an open window to freedom; or so he thought. What happened next was unbelievable.
Go to his blog to read the unflinching play-by-play.
Hollywood Today contends that the whole unknown-who-convinces-a-studio-to-let-him-star-in-his-own-screenplay story was just that - a story, cooked up by spinners and served by Stallone, himself.
Accounts of the day had Stallone walking into United Artists with his hand-written script and not giving up until they agreed to let him play Rocky. Studio heads told that tale. Stallone, himself, told it while doing press for the 1976 Oscar winner.
But according to the piece by Alex Ben Block - published as the sixth and final Rocky movie is about to open - no one at United Artists objected to Stallone playing Rocky. They never even met him before filming. It was such a low-budget project for the producers that UA paid it little attention. Some execs assumed that Perry King was gong to play the title role. (At one point the studio head asked why a blond, blue-eyed actor would be playing an Italian-American club fighter from Philly. The answer - his people were northern Italians - worked, and the matter was dropped.)
Block, a former associate editor at Forbes, writes in the new online magazine that he started working on his little expose five years ago. Parts had been made public before. (It looks like here's one such piece, a 2002 Entertainment Weekly feature.) Block talked to several former studio execs, and quoted them by name:
We came up with a tremendous publicity campaign,” recalled Gabe Sumner, then head of marketing at UA. “It was about how this unknown guy named Sylvester Stallone walked into our office with a script and the company was prepared to buy the script, but Stallone said, ‘I’m not going to sell it to you unless I star in the film.’ And we (supposedly) said, ‘No way.’ And he said, ‘Well, you can’t have the script.’ And we said, ‘We will give you $18,000.’ And that was the figure we used. And a deal was made and Stallone could star in this film which he wrote. And he got all of $18,000. Now is this true? It was horsesh*t! But it worked. It promoted the whole underdog concept and kept on going.”
“I don’t have to tell you how the press feeds on the underdog story,” said Sumner. “It filled up space on entertainment pages, and in columns looking for something for the next day. They ate up the idea that this actor loved his work so much, and was willing to sell it for a nickel and a dime in order to make it, blah, blah, blah. It all became part of the underdog fabric that brought people in. Period. They just totally bought into it.”
Former UA president Eric Plescow told Block:
"The story suited him. He eventually started to believe his own story."
Stallone's own Web site bio puts it this way:
With the money earned from (The Lords of Flatbush), Stallone left New York for Hollywood, He again began to make the rounds to studios and casting agents, managing to get a few small roles in television and movies. He also continued to pursue writing. Prizefighter Rocky Balboa was born and given life in a script Stallone wrote in longhand. Several producers offered to buy the screenplay, wanting to cast a name star in the title role, which Stallone insisted on playing himself. Although his bank balance was barely $100, Stallone held fast- and his perseverance finally paid off.
The Defamer blog was properly horrified at the Hollywood Today report:
We'll pause for a moment to let you recover from the existential taint-tasering you've no doubt experienced from the suggestion that publicists might fabricate such a story to sell a movie, as we all know that every word from a flack's lips should be treated as if it were delivered from the heavens by God's most trusted archangel. But now we're forced to consider the implications that this report holds for the current Rocky Balboa campaign, including the possibility that Sylvester Stallone has not, in fact, been prevented from reclaiming his onetime megastardom by callously sexagenarian-shunning Hollywood studios, and has intentionally avoided working for the past decade just to hype this alleged "desperate comeback vehicle."
And at Philadelphia Will Do, D-Mac wrote:
This shocking truth that a PR flack might say something untrue will no doubt cause many Rocky series fans to go into convulsions.
December 17, 2006
"Now that was an absolutely enjoyable football game to watch," writes Enrico at the AOL Fan House.
After five lead changes and one tie, the Eagles punched 14 unanswered points onto the scoreboard to beat the N. Y. Giants at the Meadowlands, grabbing both revenge and command of the Wild Card race.
Which was quite the trick, seeing that with just over 9 minutes left to go, a hot-headed Jeff Garcia threw his first interception since given the starter's job, surrendering the game's momentum and starting me to think of a post that began "One Play! One Play!"
But this was not to be.
Garcia cooled, and picked a porous Giants defense apart for 80 yards in eight plays, ending with a 19-yard floater into Reggie Brown's hands and a touchdown. On the next series, Sheldon Brown blitzed Eli Manning, causing him to throw a fly pop to Trent Cole, who cakewalked the interception in for a 36-22 win.
Enrico handed game balls to the Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins;
They played phenomenal games and showed why the Linc is littered with 20's and 36's every Sunday. The Eagles are in position to make a run at the playoffs and Eagles fans should simply sit back and enjoy this victory. The Eagles come home from New York with a victory. Let's give Terrell Owens and the Dallas Cowboys their own dose of Cole on Christmas.
Regarding Mr. Dawkins -- on the Wingheads board, Vermeilman wrote:
12 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles!
Bleeding Green Nation, too, gushed for No. 20:
He took this team on his back and won this game. For a guy that on the plus side of 30 and to have been a pro bowler most of his career already, Dawk may very well be playing the best football of his career. He's a game changing presence that has now been the catalyst for 2 straight, hard fought division road wins. If this man is not a hall of famer, if he is not recognized one of the best safeties to ever play this game a crime has been committed. I simply can't praise him enough.
The Iggles Blog savored the victory over a rival that summons some pure hatred.
I understand that as an Eagles fan, I am contractually obligated to hate the Cowboys over all others, but there's something about the Giants that I absolutely despise. It's partly because they always use to beat us. It's partly because they have the most arrogant fans in the NFL. And it's partly because they're never as good as they think they are.
But mostly, it's because of their players. Shockey. Burress. That pipsqueak Manning. I can't stand any of them. And you know what? I don't think the Eagles can either.
And that emotion might just be what carried the day today.
In the Schadenfreude Dept., Micc of Micc's Rants & Raves took advantage of his time zone - he's stationed in Japan - to read the New York papers scream about the game. Good recap at his site. A taste:
Following the Giants loss Steve Politi, of the Star-Ledger, suggests the Giants just shut the hell up. "Just stop talking. Has any team yapped so much while accomplishing so little? The Giants seem to make it their weekly mission to remind everyone how good they are, only to come out on Sunday and prove their mediocrity, time and time again.
So, Dallas and T. O. on Christmas Day. The Eagles might want to pack bibs.
It's All About Us
Time Magazine picks YOU as the Person of the Year -- the podcasting, social-networking, YouTubing masses.
Captain's Quarters calls it a suck-up choice.
Jeff Jarvis asks, What took Time so long?
Nora Ephron writes a thank you speech:
Time might want to know how I manage to Do It All, which I do. They might want my favorite new recipe, for leek bread pudding (although they could copy it out of the December Martha Stewart, where I got it). They might want to know about my favorite new ice cream flavor (Haagen-Dazs caramel cone), although I already mentioned it in a recent blog, God forbid there should be any fact about me that isn't known to just about everyone. I mean, that's how it is here in the new digital democracy, we tell everyone everything.
December 15, 2006
Damien Rice leaned into the mic and mumbled, "This one is about messing it up even more than the previous," and he was into another delicate song about a broken love. Bed hair and all, he arrived on stage at the World Cafe Live a good half hour late - transportation troubles, they announced. He said he was a little disoriented - just awakened at 12:30 p.m. - his bus having traveled all night from his last gig, in New York City. You wonder what route they took.
It didn't matter. The eight songs he picked out to play for the full lunchtime house were spell-binding, whether it was Rice on the Rhodes electric piano, or gently picking his guitar, backed by a cellist, percussionist, bassist and Lisa Hannigan on vocals. This was really lovely stuff, even if he stuck to the "low songs," as he called them. He said he wasn't sure he could hit any of the high notes, given the indelicate hour. When he had to, though, he soared.
"A skinny, young, Gentile, Leonard Cohen," my English-prof pal observed, adding Irish and dreamy.
Before ending with "Volcano" and "The Blower's Daughter" from O, the slight, blue-eyed Rice addressed the adoring crowd once more:
"Thanks for accepting us straight out of bed."
And then they walked off the stage. Presumably to get some sleep.
Ahmet Ertegun, visionary co-founder of Atlantic Records, died yesterday. He was 83. He'd been in a coma since falling backstage at the Beacon Theater in October, when the Rolling Stones were playing Bill Clinton's 60th birthday party.
Son of a Turkish diplomat, Ertegun helped shaped the careers of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin. He added Young to Crosby Stills & Nash. He took a gospel singer and turned her into the Queen of Soul.
From the L.A. Times obit:
In the music-industry book "Hit Men" in 1991, author Fredric Dannen described Ertegun as a winking and worldly player: "He had Great Record Man written all over him. He was jaunty, and bald, and had a goatee…. He could order a bottle of wine from a headwaiter in perfect French, then turn to his jazzman dinner guest and slip into black jive. Ertegun was one of the original characters of the record business, but the one with the most class."
His colleague Jerry Wexler described Ertegun’s life as “a brew of rock stars, diplomats, financiers, movie stars, and avant-garde artists”. In a typical episode Ertegun once found himself sitting on the office sofa at a party to celebrate an anniversary of Atlantic Records, between two guests who had never met. With perfect aplomb he introduced Henry Kissinger and Wilson Pickett, who threw a high five.
Best Lists of the Year
As good for you as transfat, second-hand smoke and watching Sixers games, it's Blinq's first annual, when-does-vacation-start, end-of-year, list of lists!
The 10 Most Dangerous Toys of all Time. From Radar Magazine. Lawn darts!
50 Coldest People In Hollywood. By Film Threat. Yo, Mel!
Best Collection of Music Bloggers' Best-of Lists. By Largehearted Boy. Many with downloadable links.
Best Albums of 2006. By Metacritic. Ali Farka Toure takes it.
The 15 Best Wastes of Time on the Web. From PC Magazine.
Best Book Covers. By Bookslut.
Best Blogs Of 2006 that You (Maybe) Aren't Reading. By Fimoculous. History of the Button Blog? Yup.
Best Inventions of the Year. By Time Magazine.
The World's Best Hotels, Spas, Cruises, Cities. By Travel & Leisure.
The Grooviest Gadgets of 2006. By CrunchGear. Like a $15,000 laser turntable.
Best Cars and Trucks. From Money Magazine.
Words of the Year. By Merriam-Webster. Go "Truthiness."
Five Most-Unintentionally Funny Albums of 2006. By Cracked.
Movies of The Year. By the American Film Institute. Niice.
Books of the Year. By The Guardian.
50 Marketing Break-Thrus. By Ad Age.
Hottest Cookbooks. By Epicurious