Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at Flickr at Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court:

23 February 2006

And finally all caught up

Feb. 9, 2006
By Brian Hickey

It's gonna be a busy weekend around the Hickey household. Here's the to-do list: Up-armor the Toyota. Buy a Tec-9 or five. Train the dog to attack faces indiscriminately. Install a panic room in the basement, fill it with canned goods and hole up till things even out.
Yep, I got survival on my mind. The way people are getting mowed down in these killing fields, it's irresponsible even just to walk along a city street without figuring you're about to get mortally shot. Disagree? Guess you haven't seen the news lately. It's all murder. All the time.
I wouldn't exactly say all the attention being thrown at last year's homicide-rate increase constitutes murder coverage most foul. Each and every one of our 380 citymates who lost their lives to violence in 2005 represents the tragedy of a shattered family. But the fact that everybody's fixated on a simple statistic, one that loses a bit of its magnanimity when put in its proper context is, well, foul murder coverage.
That context? While 2005 brought the most city homicides in the past eight years, it's nowhere near 1990, when 503 were recorded. Nor does it touch the subsequent seven years, in which Murdadelphia had a 435-homicide average. And if we're on such a slow march toward civic implosion why, then, can Commissioner Sylvester Johnson accurately state that just in 2002, the city recorded its lowest homicide rate since the pre-crack era?
That's simple: Statistics can be used to make any case. Which is why we need to forget about the number of homicides, and start talking about the deep-seated cultural explanations for why people kill. After all, it's easier to produce a two-minute Dead-Dead-Everywhere! news segment than to jam up the gun lobby or force absentee birth fathers to man up and raise their children.

For more ...

A couple missing columns here

February 16, 2006
Five-Ring Circus
By Brian Hickey
As best I can tell, the latest Philadelphia-marketing mega-ploy comes complete with two talking points. The first: Our fair city has the goods to host the Summer Olympics in 2016. The second: If you disagree, you're a dime-a-dozen, no-"can-do-spirit"-havin', row-house naysayer whose only purpose in life is to keep Philadelphia from reaching its full potential.
Well stamp my forehead "Liberty" and tattoo "E Pluribus Unum" on my back because as much as Philadelphia probably could pull it off, it shouldn't. In fact, it tops the list of things Philadelphia should never do. Not in 2016. Not in 2312. Not ever.

Read on to find out why, as if it's not obvious ...

January 26, 2006
Foul Play
By Brian Hickey

Duane Lucas has a very important message for Philadelphia's pro athletes and fans: Your sports-talk radio station is racist.
He doesn't trot out the old standards about Richie Allen, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson to make his case. Lucas was inside the belly of his bigoted beast for eight years and says he can prove 610-WIP isn't the voice of the Philadelphia sports fan.
It's the voice of the white Philadelphia sports fan.
Come Feb. 3, as the station packs the Wachovia Center for—and rakes in mad advertising revenue from—its annual Wing Bowl glutton-and-stripper-fest, Lucas will march into the federal courthouse at Fifth and Market. There, he'll be "putting Philadelphia's sports teams on notice that the station that's purportedly their voice is secretly depriving its employees of equal opportunity."

Read more ...

February 2- 8, 2006
Stop Snatchin'
By Brian Hickey

I've been thinking about Pete Kent a lot lately. It's not just because three years ago this week, somebody kidnapped the beloved Mayor of Seventh Street, slashed his throat, cut open his chest, ripped out his heart, liver, kidney and part of his esophagus and dumped his eviscerated corpse under a pile of trash in an abandoned North Philly row house.
Nor is it entirely because the cops—despite doggedly pursuing never-in-Philly angles like heart-eating rituals—don't seem to be any closer to bringing one of the city's most savage murderers to justice.
The gruesome details are hard to repress this time of year, because it's when I check in on Pete's ex-wife, daughter and four grandchildren. But what's really got Petey Pete popping up in my head like a restless ghost on Cold Case is less what happened to him, and more what's happened to us, as a people, since February 2003.
I'm just not sure Kent's death would raise a hair on our collective neck today, for the sanctity of the corpse no longer exists. What else can be said after the term "human chop shop" surfaces not in a Stephen King novel, but in an investigation about which a Food and Drug Administration spokesman named Stephen King is issuing comments.

There's more ....

A sad-story column

February 23-March 1, 2006

Down the Drain
By Brian Hickey

On Monday morning, Joe O'Malley will leave the North Wildwood cottage he's called home since his wife left him a year ago. He'll drive about 50 miles to a small South Jersey town called Fairton, where, at around 2 p.m., he'll surrender his freedom. A convicted racketeer, O'Malley will call a federal correctional facility home until Feb. 27, 2008.
"There's no justice," says the 60-year-old father of three with a trio of grandkids, "to any of this."
That's the mantra of any convict, from the Joey Merlinos right on down to the nickel-and-dime smack salesmen of the world. None of them is guilty. Each of them was railroaded.

Thing is, O'Malley was outright screwed. He knows it. And so should you, since the federal government sent him off to prison to protect you...

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