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 www.twitter.com/brianhickey Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/people/brianhickey/. Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court: divorcecourting.blogspot.com.

30 May 2008

Cubs Baseball!!!


On this, the eve of Philadelphia's 25th last-championship anniversary, jinxes is on me mind. And the biggest jinx on me mind is the fact that, on the eve of June, when the boys of summer start earning that nickname, the mighty Chicago Cubs did something that reinforces the importance and potential devastating side of this season. They have the best record in baseball.
I'd like to think that the fact that I wore thee old Cubs lid to the home of 26 World Series championships last week brought some victory karma. But I know, deep down inside, it's all gonna come crumbling down. Hard. Such is the expectation of a Cubs fan. Hopefully, D Lee knows something I don't. (Watched a couple games this week and there certainly is some good mojo out at Wrigley).
Cubs baseball!!!

CHICAGO (AP) -- For one night at least, the Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball. It's a title they might not give up without a fight.

Alfonso Soriano's two-run single capped a late charge for the streaking Cubs, who won their fourth straight by beating the Colorado Rockies 8-4 Thursday night.

At 33-21, the Cubs have the best record in the majors and one more win than Boston, Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis.

"We have a good team," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. "We expect to win. We're just living up to our own expectations."

28 May 2008

Paul Clymer needs a lapdance -- STAT


I'm keeping myself out of this one, but suffice it to say, I can't get behind this here idea:

Strip club patrons in Pennsylvania will have to fork over $5 to the government every time they enter one of the establishments under legislation a Bucks County state representative plans to introduce in the coming weeks.

Republican Paul Clymer had aimed to bring forward the so-called “pole tax” in March. He was forced to rework it after the Texas law the proposal is based on was declared unconstitutional.

“I'm in full confidence we've made the proper refinements for this to pass constitutional muster,” said Clymer, whose 145th district covers 11 municipalities in Upper Bucks.


Pole tax. Really, POLE tax? How much worse is this than a POLL tax? Ok, a lot, but it's still pretty friggin wrong. And the Pole Tax Riots will likely surpass the Poll ones. Better knock it off, Clymer, or I'm'a call Pacman.

Getting back in the swing



Thanks to uber-Sulz, I got to check out my second and final game at Yankees Stadium the night before taking off for Montreal (a place I'll be writing about later in the week). Pretty good seats, huh? Even if you hate the Yanks, like I do, the place is worth checking out before it meets the wrecking ball. Apparently those second-rowers will go for $2500 a seat in the new jawn.
Anyway, here are a couple of cool pieces I've read upon my return.

Haven't caught the new Indy yet (I will, swear), but a cool piece about the greatest bartender in the history of film, Marion Ravenwood. (Also, the Inky has a worthwhile one about archaelogists getting some props on account of Dr. Jones, lady.)

"On Wednesday, as oil passed $133 a barrel, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee vented their wrath on oil industry executives. The day before, it was the turn of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to get into the act. Of course, Big Oil has drawn populist ire ever since the days of John D. Rockefeller and the muckrakers. And in an election year, with gas prices passing $4 a gallon, attacking the energy industry is a can’t-lose proposition."

According to the Inquirer's Michael Klein, my friends down at the Irish Pub in A.C. settled their lawsuit with my friend Larry Platt's Philly Mag. If I were still a working journalist, I'd do a little digging to get the terms. But I'm not, so I won't.

And finally, probably the most interesting story I've ever read about womens' sports, digging into the odd angle that the lady playas are much less likely to forgive a man playa's anti-team transgressions. It's all based on U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo's not-open-arm-greeted return to the squad.

It was difficult returning to the national team last fall, Solo said. She nearly quit the sport, having lost her desire to play. She holed up in her home in Seattle, felt depressed and lost 10 pounds because of the stress. She felt tension in the hallways at the team hotel and during meals.

Previously, one of her closest friends was defender Cat Whitehill. No longer. According to Solo, Whitehill’s response to her explanation was, “I think you’re trying to get sympathy because of your dad’s death.”

Whitehill was not made available for this article by a team spokesman.


27 May 2008

Travel Blog



Coming later this week, a recap of a trip to Montreal complete with tales of countless French Canadians trying to start static with those who don't speak French.
*Note: I don't speak French.
Pictured: Some tower in the old part of Montreal and a crowd gathering around an artist's stand as he did some fine work on Mr. Skittles.

22 May 2008

The Agony of Defeat



No, I'm not referring to the feeling I had this morning when I woke up and read that Larry Farnese basically hocked his toes in order to win the First District Democratic nod (Beholden, anyone?). Rather, it's the agony that Chelsea's John Terry must've been feeling after missing a penalty kick that would've locked up a UEFA Championship over Manchester United.
Admittedly, if Real Madrid isn't in the mix (been partial to them since I went to a game while a summer exchange student my sophomore year at Haddon Township), I lean toward the Reds, who I got to see up close and personal when they opened the Linc a few years back.
So, it was a 1-1 at the end of a regulation time that saw Chelsea nail two shots off the post. As the rain started teeming, they played through two scoreless 15-minute overtime periods, near the end of which Chelsea star Didier Drogba got a red card for bitchslapping an opponent. So into penalty kicks they went.
Manchester hits one. Chelsea hits one.
Manchester hits two. Chelsea hits two.
Manchester's Christiano Ronaldo pulls an illegal stop and missed three. Chelsea hits three.
Manchester hits three. Chelsea hits four.
Manchester hits four. And then, just after 1 a.m. local time in Moscow, where the game was played...

LONDON -- In extravagant tension from Moscow, as the Chelsea stalwart John Terry strode to take the clinching penalty kick on giant TV screens, you could sense the pubs along the winding Fulham Road poising to erupt.

The steel-gutted Terry would make the kick, of course. Chelsea of London would defeat fellow kingpin Manchester United, 1-1 and 5-4 on penalties, to win the first all-English final in the biggest soccer-club competition in the world, the European Champions League. And when this European night's drama had settled, this road that runs past Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium would become maybe the place-to-be on the planet.

Horns would blare. Strangers might hug. It all became almost visible and audible as pub windows revealed Chelsea fans in blue, inhaling just before joy.

Just then, though, an inconceivable twist happened some 1,559 miles to the east. In Russian rain, Terry missed. He guessed correctly, aiming for the gaping half of the goal while Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar lunged rightward, but Terry slipped and shanked it stunningly wide of the goal.

Moments later, when Manchester United won 6-5 on penalties, once Van der Sar stopped Nicolas Anelka's try, the city of Manchester 163 miles to the northwest became the place-to-be, revealing again that sports is terribly capricious and that the European Champions League can be among the most thrillingly precarious competitions on Earth.


Pardon me for saying so, but this game had more drama than Elway beating the Packers or the Giants knocking off the Pats. Edge-of-the-couch drama. And how horrible must it have felt to watch that ball sail wide of the goal and cost your squad the European club championship. And how much worse was it for fans to realize that hadn't Drogba been tossed out, Terry wouldn't even have taken the shot.
Soccer haters, try to catch a replay of this one. It very well may change your mind.

16 May 2008

Dear West Virginia

Please secede from the union. Or the confederacy you think you're part of.



I mean, is this real?
One woman saying she's scared of "the other race."
Another has had enough of "the Hussein."

You ain't come a long way, babies.

Miss Morgan gets another pound of flesh



I thought it was bad when Alfredo "Freddie" Morgan emptied his wallet at Glitter Gulch. Seems it can get much, much worse. Say, $399,900 worse:

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Charles Barkley acknowledged he owes a $400,000 gambling debt to a Las Vegas Strip casino and promised Thursday to repay it after a prosecutor said the retired NBA star faced criminal charges.

"My mistake," Barkley said in an interview at a pro-am golf tournament in Hoover, Ala. "I'm not broke, and I'm going to take care of it."


Thought #1: What happened to the days when a hotel "security" would drag you out in the desert, make you dig your own grave and leave you in it?

Thought #2: I need to take a lot more money with me to Vegas next year. American Hero Pacman Jones making it rain with 81K? The Round Mound of Rebound dropping 400 large? And The O.J. stops slouching down long enough to bust into a hotel room all Reservoir Dogs like to (almost) do a Marvin Nash on some dude? Brian's a little fish in a big, big pond, it seems.

We'll do it LIVE! He'll write it. And we'll do it LIVE!

Perhaps you caught this little snippet on The Colbert Report the other night as I did. And if so, you're still laughing inside to the thought of Papa Bear Bill O'Reilly flipping out because his teleprompter wasn't telepromptin' the words teleproperly. As Sir Steven pointed out, the Sting music he wanted to "play us out" with was the Soul Cages album. (The smart money's on Saint Agnes & The Burning Train, but sadly, we never get to find out for ourselves). Beneath the embedded video, the Soul Cages' rocking death-metal playlist.



01 Island Of Souls
02 All This Time
03 Mad About You
04 Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
05 Why Should I Cry For You?
06 Saint Agnes & The Burning Train
07 The Wild Wild Sea
08 The Soul Cages
09 When The Angels Fall

14 May 2008

Psst, psst, psst, hey sugarmama, you lookin' fiiiiiine


Sure, people are dying by the tens of thousands across the globe as we type/read, but today's finest story comes to you courtesy of the fine people at cnn.com. And I quote:

As the weather warms each spring, women -- especially in cities with active sidewalk traffic -- once again face catcalls from men. It's a situation some find unnerving and an invasion of their space, while others ignore or are even flattered by.

"I call it street abuse," says New York City filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West, 49. "It's unwanted attention and invasion of space."

... [S]ome women appreciate the attention in certain cases, like Jessica, a 31-year-old health-care educator in Los Angeles, who declined to use her last name to protect her privacy. "Yeah, it's objectifying and all, but you know, if I walked down the street and didn't have men looking me up and down and catcalling, I'd think, 'Boy I must really be getting old and dumpy'," she says.


(Photo from NY Post ... of course)

12 May 2008

Philly Blunt: The Only Place Where Human Trafficking Meets The Hills



Wow, lotta people with a lotta spare time out there. Over the weekend, I had a chance to look at the hit counter for this here blog and realized that I was getting roughly 100 hits a day -- all while I was on campaign duty and off the blog train. So, allow me to apologize profusely. Wish I'd have had time to post occassionally. But I didn't. So I couldn't.
In any event, had a chance to catch up, as the title suggests, with some magazines and papers lately. Here's a selection of decent stories I encountered, presented in best-quote format.

On the finest film ever made, True Romance:
I hadn’t read the script, and knew nothing about it. Tony and I had tea at the Four Seasons and he said, “Look, I can’t really explain the plot. But Drexl’s a pimp who’s white but thinks he’s black.” That was all I needed to hear. I said, “I’ll do it.”

On the scourge of human trafficking:
Rotaru sometimes struggles to maintain her professional distance. “You can’t let these stories go through you,” she said. “You have to be practical, and do what you can.” As she was preparing to start this job, a couple of years ago, she read four hundred case reports. “I got so tired, I started laughing at things that aren’t funny. A girl runs away from her pimp, breaks her leg. The pimp makes her work with a broken leg. It’s not funny, but I pictured it and I laughed. That’s when I knew I had read too much.”

On the candidate who should be our next president, Barack Obama:
He’s an impermeable man now. He is smooth and clean, and there’s nothing jagged or dangling or out of place. He seems to have emerged into this campaign, and into this moment in history, fully formed.



On the candidate who should finally realize it's time to throw in the towel for her party's sake, Hillary Clinton:
In the course of the campaign, Clinton has tried out at least a dozen lines of attack against Obama, from ridiculing his message of hope—“The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing”—to questioning his preparedness. “One of us is ready to be Commander-in-Chief,” she told a crowd in New York. “Let’s get real.” The attacks in themselves have not been especially effective and, as is so often the case, they have had a damaging effect on their instigator; according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, the proportion of Americans who view Clinton negatively has risen to a record high of fifty-four per cent.

On a unique approach to stopping urban violence:
The traditional response has been more focused policing and longer prison sentences, but law enforcement does little to disrupt a street code that allows, if not encourages, the settling of squabbles with deadly force. Zale Hoddenbach, who works for an organization called CeaseFire, is part of an unusual effort to apply the principles of public health to the brutality of the streets. CeaseFire tries to deal with these quarrels on the front end. Hoddenbach’s job is to suss out smoldering disputes and to intervene before matters get out of hand. His job title is violence interrupter, a term that while not artful seems bluntly self-explanatory. Newspaper accounts usually refer to the organization as a gang-intervention program, and Hoddenbach and most of his colleagues are indeed former gang leaders. But CeaseFire doesn’t necessarily aim to get people out of gangs — nor interrupt the drug trade. It’s almost blindly focused on one thing: preventing shootings.

On the second-most addicting show this side of (see photo for answer):
"I wish I got to see what you saw today," Spencer says.



And finally:
Mike Tyson as sympathetic hero? 'Bout time.
Arlen Specter, First Amendment champion? 'Bout time.

06 May 2008

We are good da friend, Bob Barr, yes?


I'll tell you what, the way things have been going of late, I'm getting really really worried that Obama's in trouble. Yet the other day, I wake up and get the news that I've been waiting for. The news that reinvigorates my hope that things really are about to change.
The news that not only could someone siphon off enough votes to end the ruling regime, but that said person would bring Borat two degrees from the White House.
Mmmm, Kazakh teet cheese.

05 May 2008

RIP Kenneth



So, I'm going to start easing on back onto the blog now that I have a wee bit more spare time on my hands. Am a bit late on this one, as well, but I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge Kenneth Keith Kallenbach's untimely death. In the years since I first wrote about him, I came to appreciate him as an extended friend. We'd talk every month or so, and he'd never fail to crack me up. (Particularly the night I brought him to Krupa's and then to a City Paper Choice party.) Sadly, Kenneth died a week or so back and there are some sad allegations swirling about his final days.
Regardless of what landed him in jail, he'll be missed.

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