Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Rise and Fall of Pat O'Brien

The sleeze of Hollywood seems like the perfect follow-up to the sleeze of Philly politics. Therefore, I direct you to check out the saga of Pat O'Brien, host of The Insider and kiss-ass extraordinaire. Much like Ziggy Stardust or Icarus, O'Brien got too high for his own good, seduced by the bright lights. It appears that the vacuous reporting took its toll on the man, as he has now checked himself into rehab. You're thinking, so what? Another person in Hollywood going to rehab? Are you going to tell us about an athlete using steroids or a politician lying? Oh, but, wait, that's not the end of the story.

No, thankfully, Pat decided to leave some evidence of the the man behind the make-up and annoying on-screen demeanor on a woman's voice mail. Unfortunately, the off-screen personality is alot worse, and now we can all squeam and retch at the real man. Defamer and Gawker have been all over this story, and will fill you on everything you need to know. Go here and here for the stories about O'Brien, rehab and phone calls. Go here to hear the voice mails, which are as cringe-worthy as anything since the last time Courtney Love was in public.

A few thoughts on the whole sordid affair. There is a lesson to be learned, as the dangers of coke-dialing and drunk-dialing could not be more crystal clear. Please, people, don't pick the cell phone up at the end of the night. [For those holding onto Pound for Pound's late-night calls, please delete ASAP. This blog is about to blow-up, and I do not need that coming out. Thanks.] It's nice to know that even overpaid shitheads have cell phones problems (5 min. mark of the phone call), as clearly T-Mobile doesn't just have it out for me. Finally, I also cannot help but notice that this man is getting women, and I am sitting here writing a blog.

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

That is the question facing Philadelphia now, as City Council tabled a bill by Michael Nutter a few weeks back (at the same time that they killed ethics reform) that would ban smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars.

So, what do my readers think? I would like for people to put their thoughts on this issue in the comments below, mainly as a way to get readers to call themselves out. I will hold my opinion until later, as I do hope people will respond with their thoughts.

What about my Philly people? Do you want a ban? Does it keep you from going out more? What were your thoughts about the recent tabling of the bill, since it lacked enough yes votes? Is this issue a major or minor one for you? For those not in Philly, do you want a smoking ban where you live? Do you already have one in your city? How is it working? What would your view of Philly be if this bill were passed? If it was scrapped again? Let's hear what you think, as I know that there are strong opinions on both sides, and I still feel in the middle. If you live in the suburbs somewhere, I don't give a shit what you think.

The Shame of City Council: Part 2

A few Philly posts today, with some music reviews dropping tonight or tomorrow. What better place to start than the embarrassment that is Philadelphia City Council. Oh, Philly City Council, so corrupt, so content, so cute. You are such easy targets, filled with idiots who attempt to gain as much personal benefits from their jobs, while doing nothing to improve the city, the actual job part of the job. Ethics? Tax reform? Developing the waterfront? Not their problem. Preventing companies with ties to slavery from doing business with the city? Now that is an issue they can act on. Surreal, really, but it is fitting that this Council would deal with issues from more than 150 years ago while the city loses residents and job in the present and struggles to define itself for the future. While Rome burned....

Following up on City Council's busy week of inaction and the status quo, the Inquirer put together a nice piece on City Council's staffs and perks. It's not hard to imagine why the status quo is so desirable when you can spend $600K on staff, technology and cars. Of course, the money for these luxuries come out of our pockets, but that is no concern to them.

What is most embarrassing, and should be most upsetting to my readers, the city has just completed a round of layoffs to city workers, in an attempt to close the budget deficit that the Street administration and this City Council have created. I mention shame alot, but it is worthless with this bunch. They have none.

Read the article, as it should enfuriate anyone living in this city and concerned with its future. I want to take special note of two members of this esteemed body: David Cohen and Jannie Blackwell. These two spent the most money (besides City Council President Anna Verna, whose budget is larger), with both shilling out huge raises for staff members. Raises!?! Note that Ms. Blackwell has hired two new hires this year, while pink slips are being handed to city employees, the police force is being reduced and library hours are being cut. Best of all, she says that she would spend more if she could. I would laugh, if I wasn't afraid of choking on my own tears.

Of course, we elect these people, and so ultimately this embarrassment falls at our doorsteps. Until we demand more from these people, and choose ones that represent the city's interests and not their own, we get what we deserve. Go here if you wish to express your disgust.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble

Following up on that last post, I did one to add one more memory that came from Ted Silary's All-City best high school players. Two of the names on the Third Team are Eric "Hank" Gathers and Greg "Bo" Kimble, who both grew up in North Philly, starring at Dobbins Tech in the mid 80s. I was immediately reminded of the sight of Kimble, star guard for Loyola Marymount University, shooting his foul shots left-handed during the tourney as a tribute to Gathers, his recently-deceased teamate. I thought of Gathers collapsing during a game, taken from the world too soon. Thinking back on that wonderful gesture, the unlikely run to the Elite Eight by this small school, and the loss of a brilliant athlete and wonderful person in the prime of his life brings tears to my eyes.

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Go here for a wonderful look at Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble and that amazing Loyola Marymount team of 1990-1. It gives you a sense of how much of an impact Hank had on the school and his teamates, and why is death was devastating. Their improbable run to within one game of the Final Four was a fitting tribute to the larger-than-life Gathers, a man who overcame great obstacles to be one of the best basketball players in all of the world.

This article is my favorite, as I love the notion of Hank's ghost haunting his old court. I especially love the fact that the Athletic Director leaves the lights on a little longer so Hank can shoot extra. Ghosts have always fascinated me, the notion that the living world is haunted by the events and people of the past. History as present, I guess. They are clearly the creation of the living, but is that so bad? Hank left too soon, and for many, they were not ready to let him go. Why are we so afraid of memory? Why are we so afraid to acknowledge that memory surrounds us? I know that this sounds like crazy talk, as I am not being very clear now. Maybe I'll come back to it later, in the context of the city, or some works of art/literature that deal with this, or something.

All I am trying to say now is that everyone misses Hank. Read this tribute by the Los Angeles Loyolan, remember Hank and remember that team. As Dan Levitar writes, "They couldn't bring him back, so they played with his spirit, and that carried them a little higher, above their despair. It was moving, watching that, mourning death and celebrating life all at once." I guess that sums it up, mourning death and celebrating at the same time. That sums up the story of 1990 Loyola Marymount team, and so much more.

For you, Hank.

30-Year All-City Basketball Team

Check out this great piece by Ted Silary, the Daily News' high school sports writer. He takes a look at the best high school basketball players in Philadelphia over the last 30 years, the time that he has covered the sport in the city. Click here to see his list, including his choice for best player, West Philly's Gene Banks.

I will let you look through the three teams, but I have to ask if there is any doubt that this is the greatest city for basketball in the world? The talent that has come out of this city is unparalleled; keep in mind that this list does not cover the 50s and 60s, when legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Tom Gola and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, just to name a few, starred in the city's leagues and playgrounds. It is a staggering list, filled with names that are familiar to any college or pro basketball fan. That's without taking into account the great coaches (Jack Ramsey, John Chaney, Harry Litwack, Chuck Daly, et al), the Big Five, the 76ers and Warriors, the Philadelphia SPHAs, the Palestra, the Sonny Hill leagues, the Baker League. The game and this city are intertwined, as each is essential to the other's story.

The feature also brought to mind stories that my father has been telling me since I was a kid, ones that featured Wilt or Gene Banks or so many of the great players that have played here for high school, college and the pros. Stories about the legendary games at the Boathouse Row courts. It brought me back to those days as a kid going to the Palestra, the basketball mecca on UPenn's campus, watching tripleheaders all day with my Dad. Days playing on the street with a milkcrate nailed to a telephone pole as a net. Days at the courts at Lemon Hill. Having Wilt sign his autobiography for me at the old Borders on 18th and Walnut, his hand engulfing mine. Cheering for the Sixers with my Grandmother, who loved Moe Cheeks, one of the game's greatest point guards, as much as any man in her life (except me). My own history is just as intertwined, I guess.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cowboyz 'n' Poodles

I caught this post from Julianne Shepherd at her so-necessary blog, Cowboyz 'n Poodles, and it seemed like the perfect post to highlight what she has going on. NY Electric captures that urban energy and beauty that so few seem to acknowledge and influences everything that I am trying to do with Pound for Pound. I hope to spend more time in the future dealing with the day-to-day city, the beauty of the urban life on the ground, that electricity. Imma get all de Certeau on your asses.

I have added her blog to the links on the right, as everyone should make it a regular stop. Girl is doing real big things-writing, choreographing, hanging out with Disco D (!!!!)- and now is the time to axe like you know. Any writer who can write a line like this one, from another recent post that made me very happy, "I'm eyeballs-first into my obsession with being IN NEW YORK--really becoming a breathing cell of the city-organism. To be a part of its present, I'm reading to know its past" is aces in my book. I mean, damn! Is this my first blog crush? It might be, although I'm not sure if the guy who plays Clark Kent on Smallville has a blog. Either way, she is one of the best, and an inspiration for this blog.

Sorry for the delays, but Blogger has been crazy today. Lots of stuff to come in the next few days, especially music, as we are going to the next level.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Science Jumps the Shark

I just caught this article and had to spread the word to my readers. It seems that the size of a man's index finger in relation to the size of his ring finger helps determine. The smaller the index finger, the more aggressive the man is.

It is nice to know the doctors and medical researchers have cured all of the diseases that threaten us, as that is the only reasonable explanation for this experiment to have ever happened. Does anyone else find this part of the article a tad surreal:

Hurd said he is continuing his research on physical aggression, however, by comparing hockey players' finger lengths to the number of penalty minutes they rack up in a given season.

What the fuck? This is the best use of research money? AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's? No, we must measure Donald Brashear's index finger. Must!

One should know that this is a follow-up to the study by Dr. Johnson in the late 70s, which determined that a man's penis size can be determined by measuring from the tip of the thumb to the index finger. That was later challenged by the findings of another study, done by Dr. Rosenpenis. That study said that penis size can only be determined by a measurement from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger. The debate has raged on since then.

All I can say that it is a tough time for men, as one cannot fathom the horror of living a life where the size of one's hands inform every woman around that we have a small weiner and are a potential psychopath. Damn you, genetics! Damn you! C'mon, researchers, ladies, G-d, can't you give a brother a break! Don't force us to live our lives with our hands in our pockets. That's no way to live a life.

Finally, I want to present the author of this article with the first annual 'Most Inappropriate Opening Sentence'. It's always nice to see the word 'finger' used as a verb, as that does not happen enough outside of the locker room. Congragulations to this writer, as it takes real talent to leave the reader speechless and uncomfortable in so few words.

MOMA Gets Punk'd

I wanted to give y'all a chance to catch your breath, as I know last week was a sort of wonkish one here at Pound for Pound. Taxes and ethics don't get ya laid, I know. That's what you might think, fellas, but remember that this is the year of the intellectual thug. Start talking Derrida and Benjamin, and watch them panties drop. (Any woman nodding her head to this, please get at me ASAP)

Anyway, I have not been happy reading the news in a long time, which only made this story that much better. On Friday a London graf artist who goes by the name of Banksy pulled one of the great pranks of all-time on March 13. He went to the four of the most prestigious museums in New York City-the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History- and hung his own works on their walls. That's right, he walked in with his own canvases and hung them on the wall. Best of all, it took museum personnel days to realize that they didn't belong.

The Wooster Collective has all of the behind-the-scenes info, interviews with the man, and some great pictures of the act being committed. Go here to check out their site, which we will come back to in the near future. Go here to learn more about the mysterio behind this daring stunt. Dudes bringing fake beards and trench coats back into style (Inspector Clouseau, holla!)

I'll leave you with this quote from Banksy in the the NY Times article about the whole affair:

You just have to glue on a fake beard and move with the times.

Words to live by, kids. Words to live by.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Speaking of Philly music that deserves a greater audience, there is a great post over at We Eat So Many Shrimp, the best hip-hop blog in the game, dealing with this very topic. This one comes from emynd, author of his own blog called Schizophrenic Tenant Number One. He takes a look at one of the hottest mixtapes here in the 215, which I hope to grab soon.

Oschino is the lesser-known member of the State Property crew, probably for a reason. As emynd says, "Dude's not really spectacular in anyway and he doesn't have a real marketable sound (probably why his album with Amilio Sparks hasn't really come to fruition on the Roc) but dude is just ridiculous with his heart-felt ghetto shit." Anyway, emynd takes a closer looker at Oschino, who is getting lots of attention here in Philly off of his mixtape, Oschino Best of Part 2. He does a better job than I can describing the joy of listening to this State Property stuff, and he has some mp3s to hear for yourself. "I ain't want clothes I just wanted some Boston Market." Dun, that's real.

I agree completely, and would recommend heading here, grabbing some mp3s and checking it our for yourself. I cannot recommend highly enough So Many Shrimp, as it is the best blog writing about hip-hop. Their writers write with love and anger at this music, calling out the good ish that no one has heard yet and the frauds that everyone has heard of. More to come on the bols over there.

Anyway, we will be talking lots of music in the near-future, trying to highlight Philly artists that don't get enough due and the new and old sounds that have been making this long winter a little more tolerable.

Why Can't Philly Do a South by Southwest?

I caught this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday, detailing the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. South by Southwest is a gigantic, week-long music festival and conference in Austin, started in 1987 as a showcase for the city and its music scene. Numerous Philly performers participated this year, from Diplo and DJ Lt. Dan to Man Man and Dr. Dog. It sounds like an amazing week of non-stop music, drinking and parties, and I hope to make it down there in the future. Check out the pictures at Catchdubs (and here), The Fader (and here)and Houston So Real (more to come on this great blog) for visual evidence of the music and debauchery.

I immediately thought how cool it would be to have something similar in Philadelphia. SXSW has been both a result and a product of the emergence of Austin, Texas. It started off as a showcase for the city and its music scene, as they wanted the rest of the country and world to know what a great place they had for music. However, it was also a chance for Austin to meet the world. This helped create a inter/national music festival for performers, writers and industry people that has turned Austin into a music center.

Seeing all of these Philly bands and DJs participating, it seems like this event could be done here in our city. Our city has one of the greatest musical legacies, but it has really done so without More importantly, I like the notion of bringing the city to world, and vice versa, as it is time.

I do not know anything about setting up a festival, or promoting, or what it would take to do even one concert. I know that this would not be easy, but feel like it is an idea that is worth the time and effort. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience with this type of thing, as you would know best if this could happen, and what Philly lacks or needs to make it happen. The infratructure would seem to be there, as the city is incredibly walkable, has decent public transportation, and lots of bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants, etc. Our proximity and relative cheapness to NYC, D.C. and Boston helps. Best of all, the music here is amazing, running the gamut from hip-hop, Baltimore Club, dancehall to rock, jazz, and classical. You can see Philadelphians running music of all genres, and it would seem that they could put their weight behind this idea. Plus, we are already a major stop on tours, which means that bringing the rest of the world is doable. Finally, sponsorship from local companies could make the initial costs manageable.

What would it take? What kind of money? Are there already festivals or groups that I have not acknowledged in Philadelphia, already trying to do this very idea? What does everyone think?

Imagine how great it would be to have a major yearly music festival in our city, bringing in thousands of artists, writers, industry people. Imagine thousands of festival goers roaming the city, checking out different clubs and bands and neighborhoods that we have always taken for granted. Imagine all of the great shows that would happen, dream bills (check out the shows Matt of Houston So Real put on, for example) that could come together. Imagine Philly being the center of all of this press coverage, showing off for the world what we have here. Imagine.

Philly City Council: Our City's Embarrasment

This seems like the perfect follow-up to my post about the failure of the Street administration and City Council to enact meaningful tax reform. Another day, another failure for John Street and his supporters on City Council, as they defeated Michael Nutter's ethics bill. It fell one vote short, as 5 council members voted against it.

Of course, this bill did not just appear out of nowhere. Rather, it emerged in the aftermath of an FBI probe of the city and the awarding of contracts in return for campaign donations and gifts. The federal case is unfolding now, and everyone needs to go here for a great overview of this whole seedy affair. It will make crystal clear the need for ethics legislation, and increased scrutiny on our pols and their actions.

In the face of this trial and massive evidence of corruption at the highest levels of city government, 5 members of City Council and the Mayor decided to kill legislation aimed at cleaning up Philly government. It is an embarrasment for these people, and should be a real wake-up call for those concerned about the future of the city.

Most stunning is the excuses given by these 5 cowards, excuses so weak and idiotic that they should be embarrassed to utter them aloud. Tom Ferrick does a great job ridiculing these 5, calling them out for what they are: idiots. Jill Porter wonders what these dissenters were doing over the last 5 months as this legislation was written and debated. It's a great question in lieu of their complaints over the effects of specific parts of the bill, which were written months ago. Why didn't they speak up then, for the love of G-d!

While their excuses and thoughts are idiotic, it is clear that they know exactly what they are doing. They don't want ethics reform, plain and simple. They don't want to clean up government, because they are the ones profiting off the sleaze. They see their offices as personal fiefs, a chance to profit on their power. They're not embarrassed by any of this, because they don't care what we, the citizens, think.

Their lame excuses make clear that they think we are idiots, that we can't see their lies for what they are. This bill was a gutted version of the original, as Michael Nutter watered down the original. Council fought against a nepotism sanction, because they feel that their position should allow them to benefit their families at taxpayers' cost. They didn't want an outside ethics commission, since an independent oversight would be outside of their control. Nor did they want any prohibition on outside employment, despite salaries of $100,000. But, of course, we all know why their excuses sound hollow. They were never really going to support reform, because the status quo benefits them.

I completely agree with this editorial, as these 5 men and women- Jannie Blackwell, Rick Mariano, Donna Reed Miller, Marian Tasco, and Darrell Clarke- should forever be enshrined in a Hall of Shame, tainted with this vote for life. They voted for their own interests, wishing to protect their cash cow and their insider benefits that have hurt the city for decades. They voted against the interests of the people of this city, those of us who do not have any connections, who can't grease the wheels, and who believe deeply in this city and its greatness.

I am angry and embarrassed to live in this city after this vote, ashamed to see our so-called leaders sabotage the hard work and progress of recent. These 5 and our Mayor have shown what side they are on, the side of the status quo, cronyism and corruption. They stand on the side of their own interests, not the side of Philadelphia, its citizens and its future. I will take a look at what those of us on the other side can do, shortly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Philly Fighter

Lots of posts coming tonight, but I wanted to get this nice story out from yesterday's Daily News. John Smallwood looks at Temple senior Khadija Bowens, who was dismissed from school as a sophmore for academic reasons. However, she went to Philadelphia Community College, hit the books hard, and was able to get readmitted. She played last night, in Temple's loss to Rutgers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and is a wonderful story about the power of team, sports and hard work.

I wanted to highlight this quote from the story, which is just so perfect and familiar:

" 'Dij' is a fighter," said senior co-captain Ari Moore, who came into the program with Bowens. "She's a Philly girl who's a fighter, just like coach Staley.

"She was able to get herself together. She decided this was the place she wanted to be, no other place. I'm glad she's here. She's a person who I admire because when the going got tough, she kept fighting. That's really the type of attitude you want on a team."

Philly fighter, a phrase that just fits, y'know? It is the essence of this blog, the belief that the fight oftentimes is the ultimate act. (If only I could take this lesson to heart with my own life.) Anyway, read the story, and hold this idea close to your heart as we look at the challenges that face us as a city and a nation.

Death and Taxes

I wanted to direct my readers to this necessary piece by Brett Mandel, executive director of Philadelphia Forward, in yesterday's Daily News. Philadelphia Forward has taken the lead in this city on tax reform, pushing for tax cuts and an adoption of the proposals/plan put forth by the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission.

Everyone who has studied the city and its problems agrees that this issue of taxation is of vital importance to the city's future, and yet nothing has happened. Mandel details the recent history of this issue, including the numerous studies that have been done, which have all reached the same conclusions. He mentions the economic forum that Street convened in the Fall of 2004, which was simply a joke and waste of money. Closed to the public and the press (another Street hallmark), its participants were not allowed to deviate far from the administration line that tax cuts are impossible.

It is an embarrassment that the 28 recommendations of the Philly Tax Reform Commission, which worked for an entire year studying the situation, have not been adopted. Street has stalled and stalled, looking for more studying. As Mandel says, "The time for study is over. The time for action is now." This was a commission created at the behest of voters, composed of members from all parts of society, from academics to labor to community groups. These rec is a product of hard work, deliberate thinking and the citizen's desires for a fairer tax system. There has been no effective argument against the implementation of this plan, just scare tactics aimed at those who rely on the city for various services.

The entire issue sums up this city's politcal culture, which seems content to spend its time telling us why things can't be, struggling to maintain the status quo. It makes sense for them, as they have viewed this city as a trough to benefit themselves, their families and their supporters. But, as the 21st Century Forum wrote, "The city should move quickly to adopt the major recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission... Some will question whether the city... can afford significant tax reform at this time, but that is the wrong question. Rather, we should ask how we can afford not to reform taxes now." This is the essence of the struggle that is going on here, as Philly's leaders and citizens have thought about what we are not and what we cannot be. Those who do are living in the past, and should be left back there. Hopefully, this issue can come to the forefront, another plank in the fight to take this city into the 21st Century, along with ethics reform.

I must confess that I know that nothing good will happen during our current Mayor's term, as he is more concerned with presiding over a dying city than facing hard decisions and standing up to his supporters. I challenge this Mayor to make the same committment that the Tax Commission made to attract or retain 47,000 jobs by 2010 and 175,000 jobs by 2017. Will he do this? Since he does not believe in reducing the tax burden, how will he add jobs to the city? If tax cuts were legitimate for the Cira Center, Comcast's proposed tower and new homes, why is a comprehensive plan not legitimate? For those who have argued against tax reform, like the city's unions, please explain your plan to grow our economy. How do you envision the city growing in jobs and people? Or are you only concerned with your members' lives and futures? Since service cuts are your greatest fear, do you acknowledge that any contuining decline in population and jobs will inevitably lead to a smaller tax base and less money to pay for services?

These are obviously loaded questions, but that is because I think that the time for debate is over. This issue has been debated and studied to death, and we cannot wait longer. Read Brett Mandel's editorial, go to Philadelphia Forward and get involved. The time is now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

University City Stand Up

I have mentioned the changes that have been happening in West Philly over the last decade, a result of the University of Pennsylvania's committment to the neighborhood. The University City District put together a study that has confirmed the enormous progress in the neighborhood. The Philadelphia Inquirer finally took time to notice, and did a nice piece on the resurgence of University City over the past decade. It is a wonderful story amid all of the negative developments of the past few weeks in Philly. I won't even mention specifics, as everything is worth noting.

Future projects that have started include the Cira Center office tower, the expansion of Children's Hospital and the eventual development of a life-sciences center in the former 30th Street Station mail annex. I cannot wait to see what comes next, and what new developments are spurred on by the developments above.

Philly Future has already covered this, rightfully noting that it is about time this success is noted. Philadelphia: America's Hometown continues to lead the field, laying all of this out. He also mentions another new development, this one a $100 million construction at the northwest corner of 34th and Chestnut. It will add high-end apartments and stores, bringing more people and money to the neighborhood, and possibly connecting UPenn and Drexel more.

Some questions: what should city government do for University City? What lessons can other neighborhoods take from this rebirth? What has been the keys to this success, and what is necessary to continue this progress? What can North Philly or Southwest Philly take from the University City District and Center City District, which are models for non-governmental neighborhood investment? What will University City look like in another decade? Will it become our Cambridge? Will it extend its reach further into West Philly? So much more to come on all these issues, as it is exciting to think of the possibilites.

Random Thoughts

-I am going to introduce a bill that would require Billy Rafferty, the only good CBS NCAA Tournament announcer, to narrate my every move each day. I truly believe that his excitement and energy would make the mundane aspects of my week exponentially better. When I wake in the morning, he would have me completely psyched up for the rest of the day. After some girl doesn't call, he could tell some random anecdote about his playing days in the 50s and all would be better. Of course, I would demand that he do his signature phrases, "Da KISS off the glass" and "They come out in MANTOMAN!", although it will be decided in the future how this can be worked into my life. Regardless, Billy would bring excitement and energy to my life, and I would be able to sleep the sleep of the contented.

[This bill would be an add-on to another piece of legislation that I wrote nearly 5 years ago that required the music played during the football sequences in Varsity Blues be played anywhere that I am. On the streets, in stores, at bars, etc. Nothing bad ever happens in movies when hard rock plays, and so I hope to translate that to my own life. No one breaks up or gets dumped, no one gets their feelings hurt or questions their life, no one worri in movies to this soundtrack. Unfortunately, I believe that this man is following me around, singing about rain, heartbreak and lost love. Stop following me, Adam! Go put out a fucking album, and think about what you are trying to do with your life. Anyway, this is my present theory on what is holding me back, and I will keep everyone informed of the next excuse I come up with shortly.]

[An amendment was tacked on that would require me to speak in a horrible Southern accent, and once a day emphatically telling an older man, "I don't want your life!" I have agreed to this, but refuse to accept language put in by Rick Santorum that would have me wearing a whipped cream bikini and propositioning him. ]

-Should I cut my hair? It is longish now, and I am wondering if I should continue into the hipster/hippie aesthetic, or clean up? I leave it up to my cherished readers.

-Being single is for the birds. I am done with it, for real. The focus has shifted again, because if you ain't grindin', you ain't shinin'. Love don't make Bentleys and pink diamonds, yamean? I am a rock/I am an island. My bols Simon and Art knew what was up 40 years ago.

-It was nice to see Diplo and M.I.A. together last night, as they are such a cute couple. Sadly, I am unsure who I was more jealous of, a la Jerry when Elaine and Keith Hernandez dated. (No homo?) I look forward to a day in the future when Mrs. Pound for Pound and I sit next to each other, faces staring into our Mac screens, linking not only to important stories, but also to each other's hearts.

-I will be participating in a hip-hop dance class at my gym tonight.

-Coffee is the new beer, and I shall be rocking out at my coffee spots even more now.

-Lots of stuff coming to Pound for Pound in the next few days, so check back frequently. It's about to get real ugly in here. If you scared, get the f*ck out.


I wanted to give another update to the blogroll, as I have added Attytood to my links list on the right. Attytood is the work of William Bunch, writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. I have been reading it for the past week or two, and have been amazed at the quality and depth of writing over there. Bol is covering Philly, national politics, sports, pop culture, everything under the sun, all with intelligence, humor and, yes, attitude.

Go over and check for yourself, as I think that it will become a daily read for everyone. If you have doubts, let me just me quote from this recent post:

We at Attytood Sports have a tried-and-true technique that helps us formulate opinions on the hot topic of the day: Read whatever Stephen A. Smith writes in the morning Inquirer and -- just like "Seinfeld"'s George Costanza -- think and do "the opposite."

Perfect is all I can say. Anyone who has seen or read the Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen A. Smith, loudmouth extraordinaire, should be nodding their head right now. The whole post is spot on, calling out all sports journalists for their fawning coverage of baseball during the heart of the steroids era.

Anyway, go over and read for yourself one of the best blogs going. This shit is the blueprint for Pound for Pound, and I hope one day to get to this level.

Monday, March 21, 2005

M.I.A. Concert Last Night

Just a quick update on the M.I.A. show in North Philly last night, as it was a great night. Clearly, few people slept on this show, as evidenced by the huge line outside the U.A.C.A. before the doors opened at 9. I imagine that it was a sell-out, and Pound for Pound will take undeserved credit for this because of my previous post.

It was a strange evening, as being at the Ukie Club with Hollertronix calls for a crazy Saturday night with everyone wildin' out. However, this was a concert, and I suspect that at least half of the crowd had never been to a Tronix party. Not a bad thing; it just led to a reserved evening with more of a show feeling than I anticipated.

Spankrock got things started at 10:30, doing his completely unique act. I have heard of his music for a minute now, and look forward to checking out more. Sound was not the greatest for his set, as his vocals were a little low. The beats, however, killed, with a hip-hop, Baltimore club sound. Check here for more info, as you can get in on the ground floor.

M.I.A. got started around 11:30, and totally exceeded my expectations. I knew that Maya had not played alot of live shows, and expected that things would be inconsistent at best. I was wrong, as the songs sounded great, her vocals and rhymes were clear, and she commanded the room. The energy was incredible, as the place was loud and peeps were there to hear her music. Hype might have sold the show out, but hype did not get people dancing and singing last night, so all of you Internet geeks hating need to get out from behind your computers.

After M.I.A. ended, the place cleared out. Diplo and Low Budget ended the night with a short DJ set. So you wanna be hardcore? Well, then you should have been there at 12:45 last night. dancing to Phil Collins and UGK's "Ridin' Spinners", or you don't know hardcore. There was 50 people at most, and it was the highlight of the night.

On a personal note, this night helped me get through a horrible weekend, one that had me lost in self-loathing. Thanks to TK and his crew, all the cute jawns, and really all the people who came out and made it such a great atmosphere. Props to R5 Productions for putting on another great show, as they are doing real big things. As always, thanks to Low Budget and Diplo for being the best in the game. Finally, thanks to TA, one of the best people alive. I can think of no one else that I would rather have hung out with last night, as her kindness and thoughtfulness help put the weekend behind me.

Guns, Violence and Philadelphia

Over the last few months, gun violence in Philadelphia has dominated the news. While I support gun control legislation, it has never been an issue at the forefront of my thinking. I am not sure why, as it is clearly a fundamental problem for anyone confronting life in American cities. There are no excuses any more for people to ignore this issue, after some of the most deadly weeks in the city's history. There are too many guns on the streets, too many grieving families and too many lives cut short to ignore this problem anymore.

Read this Tom Ferrick piece from yesterday's Inquirer, as it is a good starting point. I agree wholeheartedly with the piece, as his outrage at our state legislature is the right target. They have shown that their loyalty is to the gun lobby, rural Pennsylvanians and an ideology. A poor reading of the Second Amendment trumps the concerns and lives of Philadelphians. As Ferricks writes:

I'll be more direct. Gun violence is viewed in Harrisburg as a "Philadelphia problem," which is to say a black problem. The majority of homicide victims and perps in the city are African American males under the age of 30.

So, the reasoning goes, why spend political capital and incur the wrath of the National Rifle Association over a bunch of lowlife blacks in Philly?

Finally, someone has the balls to tell the truth. Does anyone doubt that this is the thought process going on in Harrisburg? Can anyone defend this, without reading from the NRA talking points? I can't help but wonder what it would take to get them to act in our interest, since clearly headlines, dead bodies and crying parents don't do it. I mean, the Representative in Ferrick's column who will kill the one-gun-a-month bill is from Philly! Rep. Dennis O'Brien has to answer what he is doing about the violence in the city, come to our neighborhoods and tell us what his plan is to make our city safer. If he can't, he must be defeated. Here is his contact info, so write, call, email and see what he says.

I like the piece of legislation brought by Rep. John Myers in Ferrick's piece, which would allow a person to buy only one gun per month. It strikes at the street salesmen, who purchase as many guns as they want and resell them to those whose criminal records prevent them from making legal purchases. What are the objections to this law? What do you think? What are other proposals to stem the violence?

Will Bunch at Attytood has done a good job looking at this issue, as these recent posts here and here show. The 60 Minutes piece alone should bring action, and should solidify our place as a national disgrace and laughing-stock. I mean, for all the conservatives and NRA supporters who rail about terrorists and liberal appeasement, I am curious to hear their thoughts on the possibility that Islamic extremists might be purchasing large stocks of guns.

Karl at Philly Future has a nice overview of this issue, with more links, all under the ominous title, "Philly less safe than Iraq?" How sad is it that one could utter that phrase?

Finally, go here and see the current homocide tally for the city. It alone should spur everyone to work together to change things for the better, so that there are no .

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Philadelphia: America's Hometown

No, this is not about a new drama that I am proposing for CBS's Tuesday night line-up. It is actually the name of one of the best blogs around, and the next addition to the Pound for Pound list on the right-hand side.

Much like Philly Future, Philadelphia: America's Hometown is looking at recent news and events in the city and attempting to bring people together to deal with the issues facing us. Best of all, the attitude is upbeat, focusing on the good developments in the city and how we can build on those successes. Whether its the condo market or the changes that Paul Vallas has introduced to the school system, Friedman has it covered. I have already linked to his site in previous posts, and will continue to do so quite often as we go along. Bol is doing really big things, and I recommend that everyone make America's Hometown a daily stop.

I am honored that he has put Pound for Pound on his links lists, as it is nice to be among so many people dedicated to Philly. This is a movement, people, and y'all better get on board.

Fuck the Grammar Police

You just know I had to say more about the article by Clyde Haberman, which got Pound for Pound quite upset. It saddens me to read in the year 2005 a piece criticizing hip-hop and urban youth for bad grammar, an article that has little purpose other than to show how poorly black people speak and denigrate hip-hop as a joke. Is this what passes for good opinion writing today? The New York Times cannot find a fucking writer who can write eloquently about the most important cultural movement of the last 25 years. The only thing worth mentioning in hip-hop is the Lil' Kim trial and 50 Cent-Game beef? Pathetic.

It's amusing to read a writer writing about New York City upset over bad grammar. Haberman clearly has his ear to the streets, as everyone in the five boroughs speaks like an Oxford professor. Hell, the North American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Jesse Sheidlower, says that rap grammar "is grammatically interesting," and that "it's not random, and it's not sloppy." NYC, perhaps more than anywhere in the world, is a laboratory for language, a home to a multitude of languages and dialects, all of which add and mutate the English spoken. There is no language Eden, and this upsets the elitists and regressives that make up the conservative movement.

It puts me in mind of the furor over ebonics from a few years ago, when every conservative and idiot at the National Review suddenly became a linguist. It amazes me how they care so much for the speech patterns of minorities and poor people, but the lives and neighborhoods of these same people are none of their concern. It also amazes me how deaf these critics are to the actual findings of linguists, who have been arguing for years that there is no perfect English. Does anyone still believe in the linguistic purists like who have been so thoroughly discredited? [See here and here for the views of those who studied this issue, as opposed to those looking to make cheap points on the backs of the minorities and the poor]

For those preparing their witty "Pound for Pound is too sensitive" or "I hate you P.C. police pussies", explain to me the point of the final lines in the article:

For his part, Mr. Cent had trouble reading a prepared statement. Maybe it was because the words were spelled right.

I imagine that some will try to come up with a rationale, but let's not kid ourselves. Haberman is postulating that 50 Cent is an idiot, borderline illiterate. This piece is just another attack on young, black males, following up on those of accused sexual predator Bill Cosby, on the poor, on youth culture and on the cities. It's sad that this is the best writing that the NY Times, paper of record, can find about one of the greatest cities on earth.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In the spirit of a holiday that I do not celebrate, I figured that I would post a few mp3s of that greatest of Irish rock bands, The Pogues. You thought I was going to name another band with a letter and number, didn't you? Sorry, the Pogues fit this holiday of excess, booze and religion far more than the one fronted by the future World Bank leader. Their music blended the sounds and instruments of traditional Irish music, with the attitude. The best description I have heard is that they played "Irish soul music". Their songs were for the beaten-down, the forgotten, the losers, the broken-hearted, the ugly. It is a defiant music, one steeped in both loss and redemption, and it has struck me as much as anything I have heard in rock music.

The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn

The Old Main Drag

A Pair of Brown Eyes

Above are some mp3s to download, a few of my favorites off of their most acclaimed album, Rum, Lash and Sodomy (the three things given to all Irish boys when they reach the age of 16, right?). This is the best place to begin with the band, so if you like what you hear, buy the album. Or start with a retrospective. Here and here are good places to start for more info about the band and their music. Hope you enjoy, and have a great St. Patty's Day.

Philly Future

I just checked in at Philly Future, and had a flush of excitement as I saw that our blog, Pound for Pound, was listed in their links list. It was a great moment, sort of like losing my viriginity, but without the crying and apologies. We are trying to bring in lots of new readers, and this is a great start. I am not sure if the world is ready for us, but the world definitely needs us. Can't stop, won't stop!

Philly Future should be a daily stop, as it is a great site for those interested in our city. The writers there have put together an amazing resource, one that showcases all of the great things coming out the Illadelph blog-wise. Perhaps most importantly, the site has taken on the role of town square and organizer for those on the streets and in cyberspace trying to make Philly a better, more dynamic city. The link is on the right, so go check it out often and get involved. I hope that those who are coming over from that site will add their voices here, and come back often to see what's up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Streets of Philadelphia

While I work on the M.I.A. post, I wanted to link to this great article by Bruce Schimmel in the most recent issue of the Philadelphia City Paper. He takes a look at the genius of the grid designed by William Penn in the 17th Century for the City of Philadelphia, and the health benefits that result from a walkable city. It is a nice look at a topic in urban design, walkability, a concept that makes this city, and cities in general, so special.

This article does a nice job of highlighting the joys and benefits of urban living. The fact that we can live, work and play without the use of a car leads to a healthier life for ourselves and our environment. It doesn't just mean losing a few pounds however (though, G-d knows, I would take those benefits). Walking forces us to encounter the world daily, as one encounters different people, places, sounds, smells. The world is there, in all of its glory and ugliness, and this is a wonderful thing. It is the antithesis of suburbia, which was created to put up barriers and allow people to cut themselves off from their fellow citizens and the uncontrollable. I will deal with these issues in the context of democracy at some point, and maybe even mention Manuel de Certeau's writings, but this is a start.

At the same time, we must respect this grid when design issues come up. Any deviance from it cuts the city off from itself. As someone who walks from Fairmount to Center City quite often, I am intimately familiar with the nightmare that is crossing the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This is a street with tons of traffic, many lanes and difficult to figure out patterns of traffic. You often see people running to beat traffic, or paralyzed by all of the different stoplights one must take into account. This driver's paradise has cut off the city center from one of its most vibrant neighborhoods. The Vine Street Expressway was a similar gash in the city body, and one that has never been healed. It divides the city, which in turn takes away from the walkability, lessens the benefits of city living and limits any sense of living in a city (as opposed to a neighborhood).

Anyway, more to come on all of these issues, as they are of the utmost importance to our daily lives and this blog. Read the article, and if you see someone running across the Parkway, please don't swerve to hit him. Thanks.

The New York Times Does Hip-Hop

Following up on my earlier post, I wanted to kiss Mr. Frere-Jones' ass a little more. Read his post here on the New York Times' Back to the Future adventure. He beat me to the punch on some articles that appeared in the Friday Times, the paper of record. It was shocking to see two articles dealing with that genre of music, hip-hop, that so frightens and confuses their readers, writers and editors on the same day. Of course, as Sasha notes, these were op-eds that would have fit in nicely in the paper decades ago.

Thankfully, Kelefa Sanneh saves the day, writing about the new song by Jennifer Lopez, "Get Right". You know the one, with the crazy, looped saxophone for an intro, and the video featuring J.Lo playing various female characters. Yeah, that one. A great song, and a great reminder of the quality writing Sanneh brings on a consistent basis.

Finally, check out an alternate take on the 2005 Mixtape Awards, written by Julianne Shephard. Bringing this post full circle, she went with Mr. Frere-Jones, and got to enjoy the company of Chamillionaire, Pitbull and DJ Vlad! I cannot begin to put into words how jealous I am of these two, hobnobbing with the glitterati and mixtape legends. Of course, did they get to watch drunk people falling down outside of Dirty Frank's Saturday night? Did they get to watch two drunk guys fight at Fado right in front of them, while contemplating what had become of their life? Jealous much?

Check out Ms. Shephard's blog, Cowboyz 'n' Poodles, as it is another essential stop in the blogosphere. Yes, I did just write that word. And what?

M.I.A. Live Sunday Night

I wanted to let everyone know about the M.I.A. show this Sunday in Philly at the Ukie Club (U.A.C.A.) on 8th and Poplar. Tickets are $12, it's 21+, and things jump-off at 9 PM. I am giving advance warning, as the show is going to sell out. I just got my tickets (TA, holla!), and wanted to make sure that people do the same. Go here and buy them online, or head to Spaceboy Music on South Street and buy them in person.

Do not sleep on this show. I repeat, do not sleep. This is an amazing chance to see M.I.A., a.k.a. Maya Arulpragasam, in a fun setting, playing to a packed house. Her album, Arular, is one of the most anticipated albums for 2005, as a result of the Diplo-produced mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1, that gave everyone a sneak peek of what was to come. Believe the hype! Piracy was one of the best things I heard last year, something I keep coming back to. This is going to be a crazy night, as I have not even mentioned that there will be a Hollertronix set!!!!!! Too good.

More to come on M.I.A., as I will give y'all some links and mp3s to get down with and see what all the hype is about (and the obligatory backlash). Check back tomorrow for this and more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tourney Pools

Quick follow-up to that last post. Is anyone involved in an office pool that I could get in on? Is anyone got one going with friends? Does anyone want to get something going here (in Philly, not at this site)? Holla.

I have studied the bracket, watched my game tapes, and would like to get a piece of the action. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes, and for those who know my sneaker fetish, they know how sadly true this statement is. Specifically, I need a pair of these or these or these (the other Stussy colorway is dope, too). Beware of these kicks, as they will break necks. Size 11.5-13, get at me. I will definitely accept these as a gift for all of the joy and debate that I bring to the world with Pound for Pound, or I can just buy them. Open to either option. More to come on the sneaker game.

[Disclaimer: Pound for Pound does not condone gambling, and does not endorse betting on amateur sports. My sole reason for participating in these NCAA pools is to show how smart I am, allowing me to be even more arrogant and insufferable than I am already. Seriously. I would do a pool even without a monetary award for the winner.]

[If anyone believed the above disclaimer, please contact me as I have some real estate to sell you.]

March Madness

It's March, and I am mad. Mad for basketball, that is. Well, actually, the madness results from a combination of self-loathing, single life, and too much drinking, but let's just fit all those under the heading 'basketball'.

Seriously, it is the greatest time on the sports calendar, when for three weeks college basketball captures the attention of the nation with the NCAA Tournament. Is there anything better than cheering for some tiny red-state school to upset a North Carolina, Duke or Kansas? Is there anything better than staying home from school or work and catching the afternoon game? Filling out the brackets as the three weeks unfold? Watching hours and hours of artistic, passionate basketball to erase the ugly memories of football season?

I need to give a shout-out to my team, the Penn Quakers, who got the 13 seed in the Chicago regional. They will be playing against Boston College, the 4 seed and Big East power, in Cleveland. While it is nice that the team got back to the Big Dance, I think that Penn has a real chance to pull off the upset. BC has struggled down the stretch, including a bad loss in the quarterfinals of the Big East tourney this past. It will take a perfect game, but I am excited to see what happens Thursday afternoon.

Oh, I need to highlight this story, which only makes everything that much sweeter. It could not happen to a better school or group of 'fans'.

Congragulations are also in order for the Temple women's basketball team, which had its best season ever. The committee screwed them with only a 6 seed, despite the team being ranked in the top 15 and going undefeated in the Atlantic 10. Good luck to the team, as they are a wonderful story. Make sure to read this article on Dawn Staley, who grew up in North Philly. She is an inspiration for all, and one of the truly good people in this city.

Go check out Yoni's site, as that should give you all the info about the tourney you could ever need. Actually, that you should need, as don't forget that these are just kids playing. Lighten up, enjoy the games and let everyone know who you think is going to win.

Monday, March 14, 2005

BIO 2005

The annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), BIO 2005, comes to Philadelphia this summer, June 19-22 2005. This means 18,000 conventioneers will descend on our city, pumping $35 million in our economy, filling the Convention Center, and reserving 23,657 hotel rooms around town.

More importantly, this convention is a real opportunity to show off the city as a potential center for the bio-tech industry, its companies and research. As the article says, "BIO 2005 is coming to Philadelphia because organizers say the region has all the ingredients for growth as a biotech hub: a large concentration of major pharmaceutical companies, vibrant academic institutions, and a workforce skilled in the life sciences."

This is exciting news, a hopeful sign for those considering the future of the city. The "death" of the cities in the 60s and 70s coincided with the end of the industrial economy in this country, which led to crippling unemployment, the loss of the middle class and a greater instability in neighborhoods. [I put "death" in quotes for obvious reasons, as not all of us ran from the cities during these decades. In fact, cities were still quite alive, as something called hip-hop started here and in NYC, graffiti started showing up on the walls and trains, and political rebellion found its home in places like Paris, Prague, SF and London. So much more to say, but you get the point.] Here is a new industry, one reliant on people, higher education, wealth, and other companies working in similar fields, giving urban centers the edge.

Philly has been slow to adapt to the post-industrial/digital economy, a major factor in the resurgence of places like San Francisco and Boston. Things are slowly changing, but the leaders of this city have been resistant to making the city more business-friendly. These businesses are essential in keeping our college graduates in the city, bringing people from other cities and countries to Philly, and increasing our tax base. More to come on the changes the city needs to make, the people trying to make them happen and what we can do at the grassroots/citizen level.

Interestingly, what has been the problem in capitalizing on these advantages? According to Jim Greenwood, former Representative and new President of BIO, "The only catalyst that's really needed to have Philadelphia explode as a national biotechnology center is for the investment community, both national and international, to recognize what we have here". BIO 2005 brings these very investors to the city, which should make crystal clear what an amazing opportunity this is for the city and region.

Read the article, as it is a nice dose of optimism for Philadelphians. Hopefully, we will look back on this event as the start of an economic boom in the area, a watershed moment when Philly was able to take a major step on the way to becoming a bio-tech hub, a center of commerce, and a world city.

Sasha Frere-Jones

Okay, Pound for Pound is back, people, with a vengeance. I spent the weekend in a shack in Siberia, running through the snow with KGB cars tailing me, chopping wood, doing crazy situps over the edge of the second floor, pulling on ropes, lifting bags of stones and pulling a wagon around on my back. You will break me? Me? Fuck naw, ya hear. We've been in training, we are ripped and dedicated, we are shaven and the forces of evil will not win out.

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What better way to come back then to link to the best blog around, S/FJ, the pound for pound champ, written by the one and only Sasha Frere-Jones. He is the music writer for the New Yorker (check his recent article on grime music here), an urbanist, a musician, an intellectual, a father/husband and the person I want to be when I grow up.

This recent post
on the 2005 Justo Mixtape Awards seems like the best intro to his brilliant writing style, his interests and his blog, although I am not sure that I can encapsulate the joy of reading his blog/writing in one measly post. I have put him up on the links list to the right, so go there and thank me later. I mean, the man is discussing tags, Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, grime music and OG Ron C, for chrissakes. Runnin' the game, kids, runnin' the game.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Run the Road TONIGHT

Philly Stand Up! This is the event of the month, loyal readers, so get out to this one or be square. Tonight at La Tazza, the first grime stars will be hitting the Illadelph, and Pound for Pound could not be more excited. This tour is in support of the release of the first grime compilation, Run the Road, which is being released here in the United States by the good folks at Vice Records. Jammer, D Double E and Ears are some of the younger stars of the scene, who should give a great sense of where the music has been and is headed. Check out reviews of the compilation here and here and see how amazing an reception it has gotten thus far. Get in now, before everyone and their moms is talking about this shit. Or at least, get into now so that it just Internet geeks like me enjoying something this great.

So, I've mentioned grime a few times here, but I have not really given a thorough take on it. In some future posts, I will attempt to talk more about it, and give a better take on what is happening in London, what is the best stuff hitting the streets, how you can get a hold of this music stateside, and why I love it so much. For now, you will have to trust me, though, and know that this music has hit me harder than anything I have heard in many years. It began and has blossomed solely on the pirate radio stations of London, a near-literal underground music that has taken from American hip-hop, jungle, UK garage, even world musics and created something wonderful and unique. Click here to download a pirate radio show featuring D Double E, the Roll Deep Crew, Footsie and JME doing a set on Rinse FM January 9, 2005. You should get a sense of the music, the creativity and the necessity of making this show tonight. [Thanks to Ghetto Postage for this one, as he posted it up weeks ago. Check out his blog, as it is one of the best resources for grime.]

If all of this wasn't enough, Team Shadetek will also be playing at this show, bringing their blend of jungle, noise, hip-hop, dancehall, IDM and whatever else to the basement at La Tazza. Finally, local boys dev79 and Starkey, who put together this night, will spin. More to come on these guys, as they deserve their own post for all the good stuff and hard work they bring to Philly.

Again, come out, as you will not be disappointed, I promise. Let's show these guys a warm welcome in our city, and prove that this is one of the best music scenes in the world. Holla at your bol if you want to come along, or if you see a kid in a green/black North Face jacket and Ewing Adidas kicks.

Date: Tonight, Thursday, March 10
Time: 10 P.M.
Place: La Tazza, 108 Chestnut St. Downstairs

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

R.I.P. Christopher Wallace

It was on this day 8 years ago that Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, and Big Poppa, was gunned down on the streets of Las Vegas. I can remember getting the news from MTV late on Saturday night, returning home from a night out. I was speechless at the time, and still feel at a loss for words all these years later. It was all so pointless and terrible, as we lost one of the unique, exceptional voices of the time.

Biggie is the greatest MC of all-time, in my opinion. He is the voice of my teenage years, which should help explain why he stands above Rakim, 2-Pac, Jay-Z, Nas, whoever. His mix of intelligence, humor, gangsta and self-hatred speaks to me in a way that no one else does.

Unfortunately, when one thinks of the man, the question of "what if?" dominates. What if he hadn't been killed? How much more great music would we have? How different would hip-hop look now? Much like Jeff Buckley, another magnificent voice who was taken too soon, sometimes the man and his music are overwhelmed by the tragic end.

Today, I don't want to get lost in these questions, and would rather focus on what we have. Ready to Die is one of the greatest musical statements of the last century, a magnificent work that stands up 11 years later. I listened to it tonight as a memorial, and was shocked at how bangin' it still sounds. This shit could be on Power 99 or Hot 97 and you would not blink an eye. I hope that we can remember on this day the great work that he left behind, instead of focusing only on the tragedy that was his ending. I hope that songs that he left behind can remind us of how great he was, how much he did for the music we love and why there could never be another Biggie Smalls.

This tribute is not enough, but it is the best that I am going to do. Check another brief tribute at So Many Shrimp here, and buy Ready to Die if for some unknown reason you do not already own it. None of it's enough, really, as Biggie was taken too soon from us. We miss you, Christopher. We always will.

R.I.P. B.I.G.

Colleges and Neighborhoods

One of the great success stories in Philly has been the work of the University of Pennsylvania in revitalizing its West Philly neighborhood. I was fortunate enough to have been there to see the changes firsthand, as Penn began to engage its surroundings and to utilize its wealth and power. It's not just restaurants and stores that have come, but also a Penn-funded elementary school and a committment to help employees buy houses in the neighborhood. Crime has gone down, tensions between the school and the neighborhood have lessened, and West Philly has become an even greater, more diverse, more energized place to live and hang out.

Along those lines, it is great to see the creation of the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Redevelopment (PHENND), a name only academics would think up. All of the major universities and colleges of the area have come together to develop plans to better the communities that they reside in. It is a long overdue idea, one that will help tear down the ivory tower image of schools. I, for one, cannot wait to see what sorts of projects and ideas come about from this consortium, and look for this to be an impetus and source for all of us thinking about Philly. Oh, and consortium is a dope word, for the record.

Temple University seems to be taking the lessons of Penn, as they have begun major investments into their North Philly neighborhood. Construction has begun all over campus, $400 million worth in the next five years. Likewise, news that the Tenple University Hospital headquarters would be moving into a two abandoned former factories in the Hunting Park section of North Philly should excite everyone. This is a major committment, and best of all, it will bring new life to two amazing old buildings that have been dark for too long.

Thanks to Philadelphia: America's Hometown for these items, as his blog is one of the best going. He has every issue and important news story about our city on lock. Check him out, but please don't forget about my inferior blog.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

[On the two week (plus a few days) anniversary, I finally got my Hollertronix Ukie Club recap finished. It took awhile to get the pictures, but the writing took place in the immediate aftermath. I know that y'all have been waiting, so enjoy!]

Admission: $10
Cabs: $20
Beer: $4 per bottle (unknown quantity consumed)
Another sweaty, drunken Hollertronix at the Ukie: Priceless

I have finally recovered from Saturday night, so I will try to write about the fun that was had by all. For those that don't know, Saturday was the latest installment of the greatest party anywhere, Hollertronix at the Ukranian American Citizen Association (U.A.C.A.) on 8th and Poplar in North Philly. The Hollertronix DJs, a.k.a. Diplo and Low Budget, have taken over the country and airwaves, but this is where it all began. It is unlike any other event I have been to anywhere, a time for all sorts of different people and scenes to come together for dancing, great music and debauchery.

I won't bore you with the details of my night, as they are quite inconsequential. I basically spent the beginning of the night drinking and chatting, and spent the second half of the night on the dancefloor, moshing, grinding, head-nodding and doing my own unclassifiable dance moves to the finest the Durrrty South, Baltimore, Jamaica, Manchester, wherever the hell Soft Cell came from, and Philly have to offer. Most of these activities are fueled by a Ukranian beer, Obolon, that is both delicious and potent.

I have been going to these since around when they started 2+ years ago, and in all that time, I have never ended up in anyone's photos that were posted on the 'net, not even in the background. All I wanted was to make it into a shot in one of the Hollertronix photo albums on Oxy Cottontail's site (essential for my New Yorkers), or on some random blog. Something, anything. But, no matter how fucked up I got, or how much I dropped it like it was hot on the dance floor, nothing.

So, much to my surprise, I followed a link to Them Finest's recap of his weekend in Philly for Hollertronix. And lo and behold, who is this handsome young man who has some sort of sweating disorder? That's right, your hero, Pound for Pound.




A few thoughts on these pictures:

1) Anyone who has ever been out with me to hear a DJ spin has seen me point incessantly at the DJ booth when a particularly great song comes on. Unfortunately, for Diplo and Low Budget, they play alot of these. There I am in the first one, doing exactly this, and that put a smile on my face. [In the second one, I appear to be rubbing my hands together on some Lady Macbeth shit. Whatever.]

2) For those that doubt I dance or can dance, now you know.

3) For those that doubt girls like me or will dance with me, now you know.

4) For those that think I don't like girls, now you know. (Disregard the fact that I went back with a gay friend, and bought him a soft pretzel at WaWa in some sort of sugar daddy moment.)

5) The gentleman in the Escobar jersey in front of me is none other than the world-famous blogger Nick "Catchdubs". Check out his site and see what a good one looks like.

6. For all the single ladies out there, I want you to notice the attention that I am giving my dance partner. My eyes are only on her, my hands are at a respectful level, and my pelvis is not trying any funny business. R-E-S-P-E-C-T? I have found out what it means, and employ those lessons on the dancefloor and in life. Holla. A resume and transcript will be provided upon request.

7. I am going to ask that everyone pretend that the look of ecstasy on the girl's face is a result of her dancing with me, and not caused by Low B and Diplo. Please allow this misconception to stand, as I need something to hold onto in the still of the night. I thank you for your understanding and "ignorance".

8. Fellas, get out and dance. No more standin' on the wall like you was Poindexter. Fun shit is going on down there, and you need to get in the game to know what exactly. Don't be scurred.

9. Yes, I do sweat alot, but only because it is hard g-ddamn work looking this good. So deal with it, mang.

Thanks again to those old friends and new friends who came out. Thanks to those who have done a better job of chronicling the night. Most of all, thanks to Low Budget, Diplo and Lix for making the night what it is.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Walnut Street development

Here's a few articles about future developments on Walnut Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the city, linking east to west.

The former Border's Book site
, near 18th and Walnut Street, has been bought again. The new developer, Midwood Properties, has scrapped plans for residential units, choosing to focus on commercial only. The idea is to break up the properties, which includes the former Talbot's site as well, and develop multiple upscale retail properties.

I love this new course, as it will make this area even more of a destination spot for shoppers and other retailers, bringing people and money to the city. There has been a tremendous focus on residential development in Center City, which is understandable considering the demand and profits available. Unfortunately, the notion of shopping and commerce gets lost in the shuffle, despite the fact that this is one of the reasons so many people want to live in this area. Rittenhouse has become so desired because of its quintessential urban feel, with its high rises, restaurants, cafes and shops all within a few blocks, and lots of people living, working, shopping and just being. Walnut Street has done a great job of turning itself into a place to walk and window-shop, a continuous stretch of destinations (both culinary and retail), synonymous with luxury and elegance. This development will only further this, while showing the immense benefits of mixed uses for a neighborhood.

Further west, around 24th and Walnut Sts., the former Rosenbluth Travel building will be converted to condos, which makes sense, as well. It has been sitting vacant for a few years, so anything is better than nothing. Philly's real estate market is crazy good, and the demand for high-end units is through the roof. But, from the developer's words in the story, this does not sound like just 'anything', a development to take advantage of a good market and unused space. In fact, this sounds like an incredible high-end condo project, with huge individual units (6000 square feet per unit!), a "sky garden" with trees and vines and a restaurant on the roof of the old Rosenbluth building, and every amenity imaginable. It sounds like a great project to me, one that will add to the neighborhood, the city and its skyline.

More to come on this area of the city, a key point that connects Center City to UPenn and West Philly. Lots of good stuff happening,

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Things I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again Pt 1

From yesterday's ESPN interview with Barry Bonds came this gem of a quote reminding us why baseball is our nation's pastime:

"They say it makes your testicles shrink,'' he said. "I can tell you my testicles are the same size. They haven't shrunk. They're the same and work just the same as they always have."

Sadly, Stephen A. Smith, Tony Kornheiser, Skip Bayless, all the panelists on Around the Horn and every other ESPN douchebag offered to confirm this story, as long as they were guaranteed more than their allotted 15 minutes.

Congragulations, Barry, as I can only imagine the pride that you and your family feel after this story. I mean, they're the same size and they work? Awesome, man! What son wouldn't be proud to know that pop's sack is the same as it was when he was a younger man? But, don't stop there, Barry, let's hear about your penis and prostate and any bowel issues. Inquiring minds want to know. I look forward to the "Outside the Lines" one-hour special on Bond's genitalia, and will let everyone know when it airs.

Friday, March 04, 2005

My Heart Is In Philly

Well, I have still not ventured out on this Friday night, but that does not mean that I am unpopular or a loser. I mean, is it uncool to be sitting in on a Friday night, writing a blog that has two readers, looking at the Internet and watching the Mavs-Lakers game for glimpses of Halle Berry and Shawn Bradley? I don't think so either.

Anyway, a necessary follow-up to the Jeremiah Trotter signing. ESPN is running a story perfectly titled, "All Heart: Trotter Chooses Eagles Over Money". Pound for Pound has been his most vocal supporter, showing love for the Texas boy from the start. This signing has elevated him to iconic status here, one of the people whose influence and actions inspire each and every post.

I will leave you with my bol's own words, and if they don't sound perfect and bring a tear to your eye, I am not sure this blog is for you.

"I love it here. This city loves me," Trotter said. "This is where I'm supposed to be. I didn't want to go through a situation like two years ago. Philly is home. This is where I wanted to retire. My heart is in Philly."

Weekend Update

Just wanted to mention a few events around Philly this weekend. Tonight is First Friday, so everyone can head down to Old City and peruse the many galleries and cafes down there. They are all open until 10 and everything is free (except the art), so go and get your art on. Check here for some recommendations on specific galleries.

On the DJ front, there are some great choices, particularly for those looking to work off that thinking in the galleries tonight. DJ Icey is headlining at Transit, bringing his Miami bass electro sounds to get everyone sweaty and warm in these frigid times. Silk City has the lastest installment of [Click], as Dave P brings in the Scottish duo, Optimo, who were behind the How to Kill the DJ Party 2 mix. Expect lots of people, mash-ups and cheap beer. Finally, back in Old City tonight, DJ Major Taylor is back in Philly, teaming up with Gregg Foreman for Straight Outta Rehab at La Tazza. Saturday is a good chance to check out some of the great offerings from local DJs, such as Kenny Meez at Filo's, the Ill Vibe Collective's Bodyrock at Aqualounge, or Subcode's drum&bass showcase at the Blue Horseshoe. Check to DJ shows in Philly for more info.

Finally, for those of you crying about the loss of Y100 radio station, get out of your suburban houses and check out a few shows this weekend. Lou Barlow, of Sebadoh and Folk Implosion fame (ok, fame is a strong word) is playing the Khyber. The North Star has two big indie concerts, as Philly's own Capitol Years will be celebrating the release of their new album. Sunday night, VHS or Beta and Ambulance Ltd. should help remind you of the type of music that would have kept Y100 on the air.

Go out, have a good time, and check back here next week for more knowledge.