Archive: May, 2011
There really is no good reason for Bob Dylan to show up for work these days. His reputation is secure. His songs occupy their own wing in the pop-culture archive. He’s the rare legend who doesn’t have to go out and earn any new respect — as evidenced by the gazillion “how Bob changed my life” testimonials flooding the Internet in the wake of his 70th birthday last week.
Yet there he is. On the road. Performing.
Last year, for the fourth year in a row, Dylan logged more than 100 dates. That’s lots of hard mileage for an artist whose voice is famously shot, who on some nights doesn’t even pick up a guitar. Why does he bother? Dylan watchers, a cadre that includes both professionals and amateurs, swap various theories on his moves and motives — a fool’s errand given the artist’s inscrutable nature. Musicians have their own notions; an established songwriter once told me he believes Dylan tours as a way to escape the more mundane aspects of life.
About a year ago, after months of investigation complete with undercover purchases, a posse of federal agents made a predawn move on a Pennsylvania farm and discovered a sizable stash of pure, unadulterated … milk.
The government’s pursuit of Daniel Allgyer, an Amish dairy farmer in Lancaster County, continued last month with a federal complaint seeking to stop his hustling of unpasteurized milk, which has long been popular among the crunchy set but illegal to sell across state lines. A lawyer for some of Allgyer’s eager customers told The Inquirer, “He is being treated as if he were a drug lord.”
It’s an apt analogy. The federal government’s war on so-called raw milk is in many ways a microcosm of its assault on drugs and, once upon a time, alcohol.
For the poor in New Jersey facing civil legal problems, getting a lawyer has become harder and harder. And it will only get worse under the proposed state budget.
Legal experts call the disparity in the ability of the poor to obtain a lawyer for civil cases the “justice gap.”
One in three poor people has a civil legal problem every year, but only one of five are fortunate enough to have access to a lawyer, according to Legal Services of New Jersey.
That’s almost never-used ’net speak for Good job, City Council. In this case it’s for trying to do the right thing on the so-called blogger tax.
Last summer, when word rapidly spread online about a Philadelphia “blogger tax,” there were two reactions: ROFL (rolling on floor laughing), or UGTBK (you’ve got to be kidding), to what seemed to be an attack on new media, the First Amendment, and the entrepreneurial spirit.
One thing Carl Lewis’ race to remain a candidate for state Senate has revealed is that New Jersey needs clearer residency rules for political candidates.
Lewis, a nine-time gold-medal Olympic track-and-field star, is an exceptional athlete. And, as an athlete, he knows there are rules to the game. They create a level playing field where those with great talent rise above the rest, as he did.
But when it comes to politics, Lewis has had some trouble playing by the rules.
The old saying that adversity births opportunity should be applied to the Philadelphia School District’s fiscal crisis, which represents a golden opportunity to rethink not only how the school system spends money, but also how the district should be governed, and how City Hall should allocate tax revenue.
The district is staring at a $629 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1, unless it gets either a very large infusion of new cash or drastically cuts both programming and staff.
The shortage is due to a billion-dollar cut in state funding to all public schools and the loss of federal stimulus money after two years. A proposal passed by the state House restores only $240 million in school funding. Even if Philadelphia got all of that, it wouldn’t solve its problem.
A new report singling out the nation’s most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians reaffirms Mayor Nutter’s directive that City Hall’s policy should be to promote a more walkable Philadelphia.
Indeed, the report issued Tuesday by Transportation for America, an advocacy group, found that roads designed to speed motorists on their way — while shortchanging pavement and crosswalks — create dangerous conditions that led to the preventable deaths of more than 47,700 pedestrians over the last decade.
Among the worst offenders were fast-growing communities across the South and Southwest, including four in Florida that headed the list: Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa.
John Lennon once famously commented that the Beatles in 1966 were “more popular than Jesus.” In today’s era of fleeting fame and what passes for real celebrity, few can claim a similar impact on the public consciousness. Oprah Winfrey is one.
Today, the talk-show host turned media juggernaut will air her last daily talk show after 25 years of family dysfunction, celebrity soul-baring, and the occasional free car. The end of Winfrey’s chat-fest leaves a gaping hole in the daytime television schedule, and will bring to an end a seemingly unending streak of memorable TV moments. Who else but Oprah could have given us that red wagon full of fat (which equaled the 67 pounds she had lost) or the now-infamous Tom Cruise couch-jumping incident?
It’s easy to make fun of Oprah’s ubiquity and the adulation she garners from her target audience of middle-class women. After all, there’s a fine line between the worthy exhortation to “Live your best life” and the hubris it takes to put your own picture on the cover of a magazine every month — for 11 years.