Street Justice – My initial thought on this Bill Conlin madness.

Firstly, here’s the link to the Philadelphia Inquirer story. A veteran sports journalist has been accused of committing horrifying acts of child molestation during the 1970′s. He himself is now well into his 70′s.

I have no feeling about Bill Conlin the man. I’ve never met him and only know him from his columns and tv/radio appearances.

What you see in the article is that the Sandusky/Penn State media frenzy has caused the alleged Conlin victims to want to come forward and tell their story. They say they can no longer keep silent.

And there is no question that the story they tell is nauseating and describes a man who is every bit the monster that Sandusky is made out to be. The key similarity is the sickening detail of descriptions. We all know a child molester is evil, but we are rarely taken into a moment by moment narration of the attacks. That narration was absent, as I recall, from stories about abuses committed by Catholic priests.

The most important distinction between the Sandusky accusations and those being made public about Conlin is that the latter cannot be prosecuted. The events described are too remote in time. Thus, even if every sickening story in today’s article is true, Conlin does not face any legal problems as a result.

And yet, he has retained attorney George Bochetto to represent him. Perhaps he intends to pursue a defamation claim against his accusers. The only problem with that is he has the burden of proof and can’t prevail on such a claim if what is being said is true. The newspaper, by the way, is immune from any suit because of its journalism privilege. Interestingly, that newspaper is owned by the same parent company that employed Conlin. Until he resigned this morning.

So what’s going on here? The answer, I believe, is punishment, retribution. These accusers believe that this man ruined their lives and now they are going to ruin his. He is a widower in his late 70′s and his life has just been ruined. He may deserve that punishment, I don’t know. But I am struck how this justice drama is so public and completely outside the rule of law. The courts and our system of government, so dear in our hearts, play no role whatsoever.

Want to be a Judge in Philadelphia Courts? Get in line to buy some votes!

There are those who are jaded who will say that, “Of course, this thing happens all the time.”  And there are those who will say that Philadelphia and corruption go together like a bagel and cream cheese, but the practiced described herein is not illegal.  And now that I see some of my peers (Emily’s peers, actually) running for Judge, well, I just don’t know.  But, in the meantime, here’s some facts for you from today’s Inquirer:

“It’s ‘the process,’ ” said Ladov, among 45 candidates for 10 spots on Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court. The 10-year term comes with a $164,602 salary.

Eleven candidates are vying for one slot on Municipal Court, a job that lasts six years and pays $160,793.

“Either you fold your arms across your chest and say you don’t like the process and, therefore, ‘I am not going to be involved and not going to serve the people,’ ” Ladov said, “or you say, ‘This is the process. If I get elected, I can do good, and I can make a meaningful contribution.’ “

She chose the latter, and she is paying thousands of dollars to hire two “consultants,” including still-influential former U.S. Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers, jailed in 1981 in the Abscam scandal, and a 30-year ward leader, John Sabatina, who works to persuade other ward leaders to back his judicial candidates.

“I’m working 24 hours a day trying to make sure these people get covered all over, from wards to churches to wherever there can be an asset to their candidacy,” said Sabatina, who also is helping three other would-be judges this year. For his work, they pay him $20,000 to $35,000 apiece.

We ran the bridge!

wpid-bilde-2-2010-11-8-21-09.jpeg
This picture comes from the amazing gallery over at the Courier Post online – check it out! This was a 10K to benefit the Larc School. It took us over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philly and back, then through the streets of Camden, past Salvatore J. Avena’s law office, over by the Battleship New Jersey, and finished in the left field at Campbell’s Field. Em and I worked a nice time (for us, anyway), and it was a beautiful day and a great workout.

Fearless Freaks show fear; don’t want Mpomy to be electrocuted, die

the_flaming_lips

And I appreciate it, but Cousin Steve and I got totally fuckt over by the weather last night.  About eight songs into their headlining set of what was described as an ‘all-weather event’, the Flaming lips were forced into a rain delay that eventually became a cancellation.  I have never been so wet.

When we left the house, Em asked, “are you going to take a umbrella?”  It had rained earlier, but wasn’t raining when we left.  “Nah,” I replied, “we’ll just get wet.”  And Steven added, “As Peter Gabriel said, ‘It’s only water.’”  Oh, what fools we were.

OK – so what did we see?  Of course, there was not a speck of rain for either of the two opening acts.  A word about such beasts – they generally irritate the shit out of me.  There are several reasons for this reaction.  It could be one or all of the following:

  1. At a standing-room-only show with two opening acts, it is a long time for an alter cocker like me to be on my feet;
  2. Even if it is a seated show, when I take my seat, I want to see the show I paid to see;
  3. Opening bands get less prep time and shorter sound-check which means their sets don’t sound very good;
  4. An opening band is not allowed to upstage the headliner;
  5. As a result, a lot of opening acts suck.

Stardeath came out first.  They had a retro-hipster look that went nicely with their alt guitars, a Jazzmaster at stage left and a crazy looking SG knockoff, possibly a late 70′s Yamaha, with tremolo, decals and a pointy protrusion on the headstock, perfect for popping balloons.  That came in handy, because this outfit is fronted by Dennis Coyne, whose Uncle Wayne appeared to be encouraging the crew to shoot various projectiles at his nephew Dennis.  Despite their earnest attempt to bring the psychedelic noise, it ended up sounding more like a Muppet Babies version of The Flaming Lips.

We were next treated, however, to a wonderful pallet cleanser in the form of Explosions in the Sky.  This Texas quartet is a no frills (no light show, no costumes) instrumental space rock jam.  Thirty minutes of drones and delay pedals, beginning with two guitars, bass and drums, and then switching to a three guitar attack with no bass.  The attitude reminded me of The Battles but achingly simple, instead of mathematically intense.  They clearly had a set and the songs and progressions varied in dynamics with great agility.  They moved as one.  I don’t know that I need to hear all their studio albums (there  are six), but I was very impressed by the satisfying sonic meditation.

And then we have The FLips.  I had tickets to one of their shows a few years back and it was simply canceled a few days before.  I think there was a refund, but we never got an explanation.  I love the progtatsic tendencies of this band and I know from video clips that they are a sight to behold in person.  But the charismatic Mr. Coyne knew that we might be in for some measure of disappointment and told us, so gently and lovingly, that we might get screwed.  Rain was coming.  The hope was that they would be able to stop and the storm would blow through and then they’d start back up.  The amount of lights and video and equipment make it obviously impossible to manage the performance in heavy rain.  Even though the stage has an awning, the rain was expected to be blowing all over.  They were apparently also concerned for the safety of the crowd.

And so they began.  They entered by coming through a vagina and just started rocking like their lives depended on it.  Wayne got in the Hamster ball and headed out into the crowd.  Confetti and balloons were everywhere.  Dancers on either side of the stage were dressed in either white mini-skirts, bustiers and capes, or as giant fuzzy white bunnies.  And, despite my expectation to the contrary, there was very little ‘piped-in music’, due in part, I think, to the presence of an additional guitarist in stage.

After about 8 songs the rain started.  As the first big drops fell, it was simply a drizzle.  It was cooling and refreshing.  Then, just as the band got into ‘Vein of Stars’, the onslaught began.  I was soaked to the skin instantaneously, and even though I knew what was going to happen, it was a total shock to be that wet that quickly.

We tried to stick it out, hoping it would pass, but it did not.  The rain would slow for a moment and a bandmember would appear on stage, and then it would come down twice as hard.  The crowd stayed remarkably composed, but it was a mess, to say the least.

In response to demands from the audience, Wayne got back in the hamster ball for a few minutes and went crowd surfing once again.  That was mighty big of him.  After that, I had a feeling we were done, and I started the trek home.  Steven inexplicably tried to tough it out a little longer, but showed up at my door sopping wet soon after I got back.  I actually could hear the show being cancelled as I headed to Columbus Blvd and Spring Garden Street, where there was six inches of standing water in the intersection.

It was a night to remember, and not for all good reasons.  I know I’ll get another chance to hear ‘Do You Realize’, ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ and maybe even ‘Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung’.  But last night I had to have a glass half full of good live music, and overflowing with rainwater.

Are we out of the woods yet?

fundaberg_flag_philadelphia

Harrisburg took a big step to letting the city raise sales tax and restructure (*shudder*) pension plan payments (assigning a portion of pensions for new employees to *ulp* 401k plans).  Plan C is still set to go into effect on September 18, effectively dismantling large portions of city government (including the Court system?).  The unions are not too psyched about the pension plans that will be avvailable for new employees, but its hard to see how we can quibble over details with so much on the line.  The revised bill HB 1828 now goes back to the House for another vote.  they’re still analyzing, but if we can get through that, we’re pretty much there and we can put Plan C back in the drawer.

What is unclear is whether this is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  I know that the sales tax increase has some potential, but I also know there is a lot of fat in city government.  Maybe we don’t need to eliminate 3000 jobs, but we do need to do something.

Philadelphia – you won’t recognize us shortly

rodin-gates-of-hell

Above is Rodin’s Gates of Hell, currently on display at the Rodin Museum here in Philadelphia.  Soon we’re going to find out what’s on the other side.  As a result of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s failure to pass a state budget which would authorize the city to (1) raise sales tax and (2) restructure pension funds, city government is now being dismantled.

Here’s the mayor speaking at today’s press conference:

This is not a game.  This is not an exercise.  This is not about leverage, and no one is crying wolf, pointing fingers, or blaming anybody.  We have no money.

The cuts will eliminate the jobs of approximately 3000 city employees, but this may not be all bad.  there is so much fat that needs to be trimmed from the city’s bloated bureaucracy, that extreem measures will result in a leaner and more efficient government.  And while my heart goes out to those that will lose their jobs, that’s not the major problem with the so-called “Plan C” that is now going into effect.

Of greater concern is the brutal evisceration of city services.  There will be no more libraries.  there will be no more Recreation Department.  1000 police officers – gone.  Fairmount Park Commission – gone.  The Court system, the district attorney and the public defender – all partially shut down.  Office of Arts and Culture – gone.

If Harrisburg comes to our rescue in the next few days with approval for the sales tax increase and pension restructuring, this may not have to happen with such violence.  But, right now, the picture is extremely bleak.

Double murder… at the Piazza!

Schmidt'sPiazza_INJ

I was no fan before yesterday, when a young woman and a man from out of town were gunned down in cold blood in the hallways of these apartments.  The project is little more than a monument to Mr. Blatstein, the developer who thinks that creating a walled community is, somehow, integrating into the neighborhood.

Well, for the residents of these buildings, this is an horrific story.  For Blatstein and his crew, it’s a PR nightmare, especially since The Piazza just opened.  Was it a drug deal?  Was it a serial killer?  Blatstein’s people have apparently conducted a detailed investigation that has revelaed that this is ‘an isolated incident’.  Wow!  Thanks.  I feel so much better now.  I’ll bet the hundreds (thousands?) of tenants feel a lot better too.

You’ll see in the Inquirer article that the whole thing was caught on camera.  That’s great too.  Were those security cameras?  If so, they were intended to help keep the residents safe.  Which means that the landlord undertook certain measures to protect the safety of tenants, which means… (wait for it) CIVIL LIABILITY!!  Pretty soon some smart plaintiff’s lawyer will own that shithole and Blatstein will be living at the old State Office Building, waiting for his next loan to come through.

The other thing about the security cameras and the murder footage is that Blatstein can show it on the massive TV.  Fun for the whole family.