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:

19 August 2008

Reading Roundup

Money is the upside of having multiple projects to complete at once. An inability to blogtend is the downside. That said, here's a bunch of quick-hit links for noteworthy stories I've recently encountered. Read till your heart's content, yo.

In a new book, “Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life” (St. Martin’s Press), James Hawes, a British lecturer and satirical novelist, considers the man behind the literary myth. According to Mr. Hawes, the myth is all penniless failure and tubercular despair, struggle and saintliness. The man is more dashing. He held a high-paying job, visited brothels and enjoyed some popularity, romantic liaisons and literary admirers in his lifetime. [NYT]

That is the side that Bustos rarely displays in public. Not the one who colors velvet posters. (“I bring them to life. It’s what I do. I like it.”) Not the one who stops and makes sure her teammates watch their step when it is slippery. Not the one who may be the most popular player because of who she is, not what she is. She is the rugged bomber with the long, braided ponytail in back and a scowl in front, generally scaring those who do not know her — opposing pitchers, mostly. That is the outsider’s portrayal, and Bustos does not seem to mind hiding behind it. Never mind that it is Bustos who is scared of the dark, of flying, of the ocean.[NYT]

Former Rutgers University star Darrin Winston, who pitched in two seasons with the Phillies, died Friday at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township, just two days after being diagnosed with leukemia. His death was announced by the Somerset Patriots, the Atlantic League team he played with for four years before his career ended in 2002. [Inquirer]

The jewel, and most expensive makeover, is Cherry Hill. That 47-year-old mall is going upscale by adding a Nordstrom department store, the region's second; adding high-end catches such as Apple, BCBG and Armani Exchange; building new restaurants; and replacing its food court with ritzier tenants.[Inquirer]

Federal and state court decisions three years ago left Pennsylvania's restrictive wine laws a shambles. A federal judge ruled in 2005 that Pennsylvania's prohibitions against out-of-state wine shipments were unconstitutional. He ordered the state not to enforce its bans on direct-to-consumer shipments. Ever since, Pennsylvania residents have been able to order wine to be shipped directly to their homes or offices. But many out-of-state wineries remain leery of the legal limbo and won't ship to Pennsylvania consumers.[Inquirer]

And when voids loomed, whirl was king: He'd put the pedal to the metal, stopping only to get arrested while driving naked in his Porsche (1996); or to pass out in a stranger's house, in a child's bed, and wake up with medics staring at him (1996); or to spend some heel-cooling time in jail (various). About five years ago, though, he decided to clean himself up, and so far, so good. Since then, he's continued to make movies, most of them great but small (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; Good Night, and Good Luck; Zodiac) until Iron Man hit theaters earlier this year. And Iron Man has killed. Critics loved it, audiences loved it, ticket sales have shot past the half-billion-dollar mark, and suddenly Downey is sitting pretty once again. [Rolling Stone]

Since Rock has long refused to sell his music as digital downloads, fans who want to get "All Summer Long" — legally, at least — have to buy the album. (Other prominent digital holdouts include AC/DC, who have an album coming out this fall, and the Beatles.) "I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here," says Rock. "Good music just doesn't go out of style, and if you hear a great song that moves you, you'll obtain it — by any means necessary." [Rolling Stone]

Immediately after the shooting, the media descended on the woodsy suburb of Omaha known as Bellevue (population 50,000), where Hawkins had been living, and began some hit-and-run reporting. But that soon sputtered out. After it was discovered that the shooter had a history of mental illness, the national media left town, and then when it came out that he'd recently been fired from a job at McDonald's, even the local guys dropped the story and went back to reporting on the weather. That was pretty much the extent of the digging, as if losing the opportunity to flip burgers was what drove the teen to murder. [Rolling Stone]

The truth is that the campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain are being inundated with cash from more or less exactly the same gorgons of the corporate scene. From Wall Street to the Big Oil powerhouses to the military-industrial complex, America's fat-cat business leaders know that the Animal House-style party of the last eight years that made almost all of them rich with bonuses, government contracts and bubble profits is about to come to an end, and someone is going to have to pay to clean up the mess. They want that someone to be you, not them, and they've spared no expense to make sure both presidential candidates will be there to bail them out next year.
They're succeeding. Both would-be presidents have already sold us out. [Rolling Stone]


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