November 19, 2014

Sweet Christ, Gerry Lenfest Just Told USA Today He Wants To Put Behind A Paywall

Oh yes he did:

He’d like to put behind a paywall, but he’s not ready to do so yet. He says the website, which he believes featured far too much “trash” when it was dominated by the Norcross faction, has improved dramatically and will continue to do so.

Seriously what the fuck is it with these rich old white dudes and paywalls. Meanwhile, here’s a look, as of five minutes ago, at the top stories on the newly “trash-free”



Read An Excerpt From Nic Esposito’s Kensington Homestead

nicprofile2The name Nic Esposito may already be familiar to you: After all, (to the best of our knowledge) he is Philly’s only combination urban farmer/publishing maven/author/writer’s workshop leader. Esposito is one of the driving forces behind The Head & The Hand Press, a community publishing and writing resource that is equally quite unlike anything else in the city. Over the last few years, The Head & The Hand has brought out an increasingly vast array of homegrown fiction and non-fiction, all while being a sort of idea factory that stands at the intersection of creativity and community. (Which, as it happens, would appear to be somewhere around Susquehanna & Sepviva in Fishtown.)

This week, though, Esposito finally gets some “me” time: His new collection of essays, Kensington Homestead, is out today; the book (Esposito’s second) chronicles the day to day of running a working urban farm out of his backyard in Kensington, and that is every bit of the adventure you would think it is. After the jump, we’re happy to share a short chapter from the book. Tonight, Esposito and the whole Head & The Hand gang celebrate the release of Kensington Homestead with a reading, musical performance and party at Johnny Brenda’s. (more…)

Our Long Cosby Nightmare Continues As The Cos Faces Perhaps The Worst 24 Hours Thus Far


There will be no NBC show. There will be no Netflix special. And sweet Christ, Janice Dickinson? This thing is turning into, like, the last ten Philip Roth books all at once.


If You Still Need A Reason To Stop Watching CNN, Take A Good Look At #DonLemonReporting

In the middle of his interview with Joan Tarshis, the woman who came forward Sunday with allegations that she was sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby, CNN’s Don Lemon attempted to educate Tarshis about rape prevention by suggesting that she bite the penis of a man forcing her to perform oral sex. Twitter immediately responded with the hashtag #DonLemonReporting to point out the glaring idiocy of Lemon’s remarks:

For reference, here’s the video, to which, according to our measurements, no tweet or article has yet come close to overreacting:



Noontime Nuggetz: Hiss Golden Messenger Leave David Letterman Totally Dumbstruck

The 215 Festival alumni did pretty much everything right for their Late Show appearance, and, yeah, Dave definitely noticed.


BillyPenn Has You Covered If You’re Looking For Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

The good people at BillyPenn have rounded up a list of homeless shelters, food pantries, churches and other community centers where you can donate and volunteer this Thanksgiving. Some organizations, including Philabundance, are already staffed up for the holiday, but many others are still accepting help putting together care packages, serving meals, and packaging and delivering food. Also provided is this handy link to help you find the shelter nearest you if you want to help out locally, which is also duly encouraged. Thanksgiving is, you know, a lot of things, for a lot of people. But it’s always good to remember that “giving” ought to be pretty high on that list.

Go To The Love Park Public Meeting If You Want To #SaveTheSaucer


The LOVE Park redesign we wrote about last week will be the subject of a public discussion on Wednesday, December 10th at 5:30 PM at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch. The demolition of The Fairmount Park Welcome Center will be just one of the topics treated at what will probably be a pretty heated debate, so if you’ve got a dog in the #savethesaucer fight, you’ll want to be there.

Thank You Salon For Saying Something About The Jaden And Willow Smith Interview Besides “OMG CRAZY!”

The New York Times’ T Magazine released an interview with Jaden and Willow Smith yesterday, full of elusive quotes appealing to the abstract and verging on the cosmic, and the internet did, you know, what it does: exploded with responses ranging from accusation to worship. Because Jaden Smith said “I’m going to imprint myself on everything in this world,” readers assume that he must be some kind of genius or shaman. Because Willow Smith said “I went to school for one year. It was the best experience but the worst experience. The best experience because I was, like, ‘Oh, now I know why kids are so depressed.’ But it was the worst experience because I was depressed,” commenters insist that her parents are failing her. Luckily, Salon’s Erin Keane took the time to think about the interview rather than banging out an article as thoughtless as this one. Here’s a representative excerpt:

If Willow and Jaden seemed brittle and sad, the profile, however unfiltered, would be tragic. But they seem like they have everything normalcy is supposed to instill: healthy self-esteem, a sense of humor, a curiosity about the world. It just so happens that they’re also totally indulged in a way that inspires a mixture of envy and awe. They’re so not just like us, and that’s the point — they have access and resources at their disposal to do anything they want to do in life. How refreshing that we don’t have to pretend they might choose to be anyone other than who they were born to be. Now they’re not just born-famous kids with access. They’re stars in their own rights. You couldn’t make these two characters up.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that teenagers with uncommon advantages and freedoms would spout observations ranging from the profound (WILLOW: That’s what art is, shocking people. Sometimes shocking yourself) to the troubling (JADEN: I still haven’t been to driver’s ed because if everybody I know has been in an accident, I can’t see how driver’s ed is really helping them out). All teenagers do that. If the Smiths have to, or get to, wade through enormities of confusion and insight while they mature and make art, great for them. If we didn’t have to do anything else with our time, we wouldn’t.

November 18, 2014

This Evening: Fifty Years Of North Philly

Kids playing at the Richard Allen Homes, photo undated. Courtesy Temple Urban Archives.

>>> Urban studies nerds, take note: This evening’s “Unedited North Philadelphia: Girard to Lehigh,” 6PM at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, promises a motherlode of seldom-to-never-seen archival footage of North Philly. Drawing on Temple University’s Urban Archives’ extensive collection of unedited news footage from 1947 on, the program is slated to feature “the people, events, and places that have shaped North Philadelphia’s dynamic history – including Progress Plaza, Yorktown, Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Temple University, and the Columbia Avenue Riots, which took place 50 years ago in August 1964.” Bound to be some pretty amazing stuff on display here.

>>> And in this week’s installment of Philly Sings Philly, Avi Wisnia, Aaron Parnell Brown, Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf, Ladybird, Sean Hoots, Davis Howley of Commonwealth Choir, and The Rivals, all get together at The Fire.

Update: Citizen Journos Reveal That #cityhallparkinglot Is Indeed Everything That Is Wrong With This City

Last week, we hipped you to a new Tumblr called that infuriatingly illustrates one of the more tacky pieces of cognitive dissonance in Philly local government: While so many of us — even, yes, a select few within City Hall — are pushing towards Philly’s virtues of walkability, ease of public transit and bike-friendliness, whole swaths of City Hall’s plot are still given over daily to an unsightly dump of SUVs and the like; this, even as the City celebrates what should be a proud moment in the recent unveiling of Dilworth Park. We know, we know: It’s agitating, and if you took a look at last week and felt like it was indicative of a whole bunch of other things but didn’t have the time or wherewithal to unpack it, you’re in luck: Somebody else just did it for you.

In this must-read post on This Old City, Geoff Kees Thompson digs around and finds that, yep, City Hall’s obsession with decking itself out with cars to park on its pavement is indeed kind of shameful. At issue is not just 56 cars the City pays for and parks on its grounds — mostly driven by CouncilPersons (who really ought to know better) and employee’s of the very, very broken Sheriff’s Office…


… but also the mindset they reveal. Would, say, Bill Greenlee have killed off that bike line in his district if he didn’t have a sweet parking spot in the shadow of Billy Penn? Would Darrell Clarke perhaps be less driven by ego if he didn’t have the City paying for him to volley around town in the manner Kimye are accustomed to? Could Dilworth Park have been, still be, bigger and better if the City didn’t have to (more than) tithe its footprint to what amounts to nothing more than a big, dumb, space-sucking ego stroke? The answer to all of these, with the present ways and leadership we have, is most likely “No.” So maybe the present ways and leadership are not actually good enough for the resources we have.

[Image via This Old City]

The New Stadium Casino Will Look Just Like The Nice New Part Of The Cherry Hill Mall


To the surprise of no one, it was made official today that the second casino license in Philly that shouldn’t exist for a casino no one wants will be going to Stadium Casino, LLC Live! Hotel and Casino, to be built down by the stadiums at 9th & Packer. Live!, annoying exclamation point and all, is brought to you in part by the same group that runs Parx Casino, Northeast Philly’s finest destination for leaving your child in a car while you bottom out. As you can see in the rendering above, Live! will appear to the naked eye less like a traditional casino but more like windowless mall where the only items on sale are sadness and desperation. I wonder if they’ll have a Maggiano’s there as well.

Related: Watch Johnny Doc Attempt To Emotionally Manipulate A South Philly Crowd, Fail, And Get Booed Offstage

That Sad Thing Your Sad Uncle Does That’s Illegal In Philly Is Now The Oxford Dictionary’s Word Of The Year

That’s right, it’s “vape.” Vape, as in, “When I see a person on the street hitting on a vape, my mind immediately flashes to a catalog of a lifetime’s worth of disappointment in that person’s life and with it, a matching catalog of other shit they’ve lied to themselves about because if you believe you’re ‘getting over’ by vaping, well…” Vape, as in the “vape shops” that have now replaced cell phone stores as Biggest Waste Of Real Estate On South Street. Vape, as in, “vape culture,” so wonderfully personified by this guy. Vape, as in “I did a Google image search for ‘vape memes’ and fell down an Internet wormhole of nerdy dudes making ‘vape gear’ jokes that all feel like exhibit A thru A-586 of American Masculinity In Crisis.”

In any case, good on ya, Philly: You knew “vape” was a dirty word even before some goofball thought it’d be a good idea to put it in the dictionary.

The 76ers Are The Worst Team In NBA History, But, Hey, At Least They’re Making History

At this point, if anyone is still watching the 76ers, it’s either as part of a really far-out BDSM scenario, or it’s because they’re somehow into the fact that, albeit in the worst way possible, the 76ers are actually making history. All the time, it turns out. If you watch the video above detailing the Sixers’ (seriously) historic loss last week to the Dallas Mavericks or read this writeup at For The Win, you will hear the word history a lot. In fact, with almost every move the Sixers make these days, they’re breaking a record or creating a new statistic. Third largest loss in Sixers history. Second-largest trail at halftime in NBA history. Most games lost by at least 50 points in NBA history. Worst Team in NBA history. Philadelphia has always been a city known for its rich history. Maybe we should all be proud to see that tradition honored.

Penn Course On “Wasting Time On The Internet” Might Be Groundbreaking, Probably Will Be Like Any Other Class

Kenneth Goldsmith, the University of Pennsylvania professor and UbuWeb founder who has made waves as a curricular innovator already with his course on “Uncreative Writing,” got some attention when he announced his new course on “Wasting Time On The Internet,” and it looks he’s running with it. Now up at The New Yorker website is this defense of the course, which cites a new mental makeup dominated by distraction rather than attention as a justification for the course’s approach. Some will find Goldsmith’s insights powerfully transgressive, given their open embrace of our information- and media-inundated culture’s hangups. Others will find them offensive, given that Penn is an expensive and prestigious school and, presumably, shouldn’t be allowing anyone to waste any time at all.

The kids the class is for, though — kids who already “take notes” on their laptops in class and spend most of their class time watching Last Week Tonight with the sound off and the closed captioning on — will probably not be moved either way. Whether you agree with Goldsmith that “Every click is indicative of who we are: indicative of our likes, our dislikes, our emotions, our politics, our world view,” (we do) or that “Joyce’s use of compound words in “Finnegans Wake” predicted lengthy run-on hashtags,” (we don’t), if you’re young enough to have grown up with the internet, you don’t need to be told that your divided attention and your thoughtless culling and collaging are in the service of something larger. If young people didn’t think it was okay to live their lives this way, they — we — wouldn’t do it.

Noontime Nuggetz: Nothing, “Chloroform”

Nothing‘s Guilty of Everything was one of the best debuts out of Philly this year, and now the boys are back with a 12-inch split with Whirr. If the song above is any indication, this release’ll see Nothing doing what they do best better: simultaneously going pop and going hard.

Patti Smith And David Lynch Make Such A Cute Pair They Should Be A New Little Baby’s Ice Cream Flavor

For those of you who won’t be able to make it back home for Thanksgiving this year, here’s ten beautiful minutes with your real parents.

Bill Cosby Responds To NPR’s Questions About Allegations With Silence, Only Garners More Attention

It gives us no more pleasure to comment on this one-way exchange than it gave NPR’s Scott Simon to initiate it in the first place, but if you listen to the interview above, most of which sounds like a courteous preamble to the question broached at the end, you’ll hear that Bill Cosby responded to Simon’s questions about his resurfaced allegations of sexual assault with total silence. Since the interview, this statement from Cosby’s lawyer has appeared on Cosby’s website:

“Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.”

Whether Cosby’s silence on NPR was a product of legal counsel or complete discomfort, it’s not doing anything to keep anyone else quiet. New allegations of assault continue to emerge. As this story grows, it only becomes more troubling. Luckily, for those of you who don’t know how to feel or what to think, Roxane Gay is ready as always with some powerful perspective.

Dept. Of Good? News: Philly Is Not As Poor As It Used To Be, Which Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Very Poor

In fact, according to this CBS report, it’s still the poorest of the ten biggest cities in the country. The “not as poor” qualifier owes to its growth from a twenty-eight percent poverty rate in 2011 to a twenty-six percent poverty rate in 2013, which, in this 2013 press release, Mayor Nutter seems not to have noticed. The fact that there is a discrepancy in the quoted numbers reinforces the basic point here, which is that Philly’s poverty rate is still over twenty-five percent. The news that really is good is the news that due to this rate the city has been selected to receive a number of federal grants to provide better health options for young pregnant women, better early education for at-risk children, and employment services for juvenile offenders. We’re assuming (/hoping) that the fact that the acronym for the name of the office that manages these grants, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, is “CEO”, is a coincidence.

November 17, 2014

This Evening: Oh Say Can You Oh See

>>> Two big rock shows of note in town tonight, which probably should sell out, but with the rain, probably won’t: Garage rock saviors and apparent inpire-rs of super-fandom Thee Oh Sees play Underground Arts. This feels like one of those you-should-have-seen-them-when moments, where in three years time, people will brag about having seen this show. Over at Union Transfer, TV On The Radio plays. If you saw their first tour, surprise! You are now old. Let’s hang.

>>> But really, there has probably never been a better day in Philadelphia history to go see Hiroshima Mon Amour at Ritz at the Bourse.

PSA: If You Can Afford To Kickstart A Tiki Bar In Fishtown, You Can IndieGogo For Some Blankets In Kenzo

It’s gonna be a nasty winter. Especially in the Kenz. This nice lady wants to help. Will you join her? There is nothing in it for you except humanity. Click above to find out more.