‘Barrel of a Gun’ Mumia Abu Jamal documentary premiere thoughts

The middle of the center section on the lower level of the Merriam Theater Tuesday night seemed well-acquainted.

Across rows, middle aged men with ruddy cheeks talked about seeing each other last on trips to Key West, sneaking a six-pack into the historic theater and shared the kind of general chatter of people who knew each other well a long time ago.

The lights came down around 7:15 p.m., too early to know exactly how well or from when they knew each other. It would only be a guess that they all came from the same neighborhood, but that was how the audience felt last night at the world premiere of the ‘Barrel of a Gun,’ the feature-length documentary from Tigre Hill meant to finalize the 30-year-old controversy around Mumia Abu-Jamal’s convicted killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981.

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The Wire: yeah, the HBO Baltimore drama is mad decent

I take something of pride in sometimes indulging in great cultural luxuries long after their novelty has waned.

With that knowledge, I’ll share my thoughts on finishing the complete five-season DVD set of celebrated HBO drama ‘the Wire‘ to encourage readers to watch it again, assuming you’ve seen the show at some point since it first aired in 2002.

It’s not difficult at all to piggyback that suggestion onto the concept of the state of media and the future of news.

David Simon, the creator and primary writer of the serial drama based on the inner-workings of drugs, policing and politicking in gritty post-industrial Baltimore, was himself, quite famously, a newspaper reporter for the Baltimore Sun, giving him a career of insight.

Notably, each of the five seasons take on a different focus of the Baltimore city structure — from the drug trade, to unions to policing to, yes, reporting. So in the past few weeks after finishing the final season, I’ve delved into writing, stories, concepts and conversations. Even if you know the show well, it might be worth seeing what’s out there and, yes, connect it to media.

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uwishunu blogging

Uwishunu.com (January 2009 to present): I blog on upcoming events and review concerts, culture, arts and entertainment in Philadelphia for the staple blog on what to do in one of the largest cities in the country. See my posts here, and my profile here.

August 2010 Invoice

  1. Mauckingbird Theatre’s take on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

July 2010 Invoice

  1. Hot Air Ballooning with the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team

June 2010 Invoice

  1. Leaving @ the Wilma Theatre: Madeline Albright Sure Seemed to Enjoy It

April 2010 Invoice

  1. Contemporary Czech classic ‘Leaving’ @ Wilma Theater

March 2010 Invoice

  1. Rooms: A Rock Romance @ the Prince Music Theater

February 2010 Invoice

  1. Romeo and Juliet @ Arden Theater
  2. Review: Romeo and Juliet @ Arden Theater

January 2010 Invoice

  1. Philadelphia and Baltimore Baroque stylings

November 2009 Invoice

  1. A Christmas Carol @ the Walnut Street Theatre
  2. Review: A Christmas Carol @ the Walnut Street Theatre

October 2009 Invoice

  1. Review: Mister, Mister @ Walnut Street Theatre (At $15 rate, as previously assigned)
  2. Waiting for Godot @ Amaryllis Theatre Company

September 2009 Invoice

  1. Little Shop of Horrors @ the Devon Theater
  2. 24-hour bakery and eats @ The Dining Car
  3. Italian brick oven @ the Ashburner Inn
  4. Preview: Mister, Mister @ Walnut Street Theatre
  5. ShareUrMeal Release Party @ the Academic Bistro
  6. Lyric Fest debuts @ Haverford College and First Presbyterian Church
  7. CITYSPACE Artist Installations @ Parkview Condos
  8. Home cooking @ Kenny’s Soul and Seafood Restaurant
  9. Crab Fries @ the original Chickie’s and Pete’s

August 2009 Invoice

  1. First Friday Vegetable Party and Architects @ National Constitution Center
  2. Bowling for Rhinos @ Wynnewood Lanes in Ardmore
  3. RedBull Block to Block race ending @ the Piazza
  4. JL Schnabel and “I am Writing to you with My Eyes” @ Mew Gallery
  5. Adam Holden Rosenberg and Scratch & Paint @ Suite 79
  6. Cruise for the Kids @ Moshulu on Penn’s Landing
  7. Two Together @ Mount Airy Contemporary Artists Space
  8. From Washington to Waterloo @ National Constitution Center
  9. Big changes, opening reception @ James Oliver Gallery

No July 2009 posts

June 2009 invoice

  1. Haunted Poe preview workshop and cabaret @ the Latvian Society
  2. Haunted Poe by Brat Productions in South Philadelphia
  3. La Fête du Savon reception @ Lisa M. Reisman et Cie
  4. Cheese pizza @ Montessini’s in Mayfair
  5. FootPrints Of Life @ Philadelphia Art Museum steps
  6. Fatebook preview show @ Arts Bank

May 2009

  1. SoleFood Restaurant has seafood stimulus @ Loews Hotel
  2. Review of SoleFood Stimulus @ Loews Restaurant
  3. Drexel Fashion Show @ Urban Outfitters in the Naval Yard

April 2009

  1. Story Slam @ Bubble House in University City
  2. New Faces by Philadanco @ the Perelman Theater
  3. Philly-native author Charles D. Ellison signs @ Liberty Place
  4. Introduction to color theory @ the Mew Gallery
  5. Gouache and watercolor painting workshop @ the Mew Gallery
  6. Greeting card painting workshop @ the Mew Gallery
  7. FREE national BarCamp for NewsInnovation @ Temple University
  8. Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali meet in Hysteria @ the Wilma Theater
  9. Annual alumni reunion @ Eastern State Penitentiary
  10. Rebecca Rothfus @ Pentimenti Gallery in Old City
  11. The 113th annual Devon Horse Show on the Main Line

March 2009 Invoice

  1. The new Pennsylvania Ballet Youtube channel
  2. The Three Monkeys Cafe in Torresdale, Northeast Philadelphia
  3. Ladies in Retirement @ The Stagecrafters Theater in Chestnut Hill
  4. Gino’s Pizza Cafe in Mayfair, Northeast Philadelphia
  5. Fresh Fish 2.0 Ten Minute Play Festival @ Walking Fish Theatre
  6. Art Auction and Raffle @ The South Philly Tap Room
  7. Wow! Superhero Day @ the Penn Museum
  8. Moore College and Wilma Theatre join for Scorched premiere
  9. Mayfair Diner in Mayfair, Northeast Philadelphia
  10. Guinness @ The Bards in Rittenhouse
  11. Yo, Philly, Play Ball @ Saint Malchy Church
  12. Nunsense @ Devon Theater in Mayfair, Northeast Philadelphia
  13. Buy organic T-shirts to support Future Weather film
  14. Smak Parlour in Old City turns four this First Friday
  15. April First Person Arts salon series @ Philadelphia Arts Bank
  16. May First Person Arts salon series @ Philadelphia Arts Bank
  17. Trash and Treasures indoor yard sale @ TONY boutique in Old City

February 2009 Invoice

  1. West Philly Tool Library lends tools to Philadelphia
  2. First Annual Fishtown Shadfest @ Penn Treaty Park
  3. Frank McCourt and the Irish @ the Kimmel Center
  4. The Village @ the Painted Bride
  5. Pennsylvania Ballet Offers Discounted Valentine’s Day Tickets
  6. GW Carver Science Fair. Feb. 24-26
  7. Battleship New Jersey Re-Opens for Guided and Self-Guided Tours on Friday
  8. Hilary Hahn Kimmel Center
  9. Krystian Zimerman Kimmel Center

January 2009 Invoice

  1. Paleopalooza @ The Academy of Natural Sciences
  2. Philly Punk Band Mischief Brew Joins Amebix @ The Troc
  3. TONY ON THIRD shop preview
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Philadelphia’s ‘blogger tax’ controversy speaks to state of blogging, future of media

I am not going to write about the brief media blitz that surrounded the controversy of the City of Philadelphia enforcing its business privilege license requirement for bloggers.

My good friend and Technically Philly co-founder Sean Blanda already handled well my perspective.

(Quickly, Philadelphia, like many municipal governments, requires a license to do business in its environs. An unnamed amount of bloggers who declared on federal tax documents some form of revenue from their publications were compelled to pay for a $50 yearly or $300 lifetime license, the latter of which both Technically Philly and NEast Philly acquired as we brought on revenue. Philadelphia CityPaper reported that the city had begun reaching directly out to bloggers demanding they pay up, a reality first noted on web forum Philly Speaks and, admittedly, ignored by us at TP, and the whole concept exploded. Soon, far flung media outlets were implying that the city’s license — which is required of anyone doing any kind of business in the 135 square miles of Philadelphia — was for bloggers only. It isn’t. And anyone solicited by the city had advertising or had otherwise declared related income federally. So, considering much of the revenue was limited to tens of dollars, it may have been a foolish chase, but certainly not illegal or unfair.)

Instead, I wanted to share two thoughts on the future of blogging that came out of this controversy.

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Stories that never ran: the Philadelphia workplace in five years

More than a year ago, I handled a half dozen interviews and a couple rewrites on a story for the Inquirer that covered what Philadelphia workplaces will look like in the future. As is sometimes the case, it never found its home in print.

The story’s primary timeliness has been lost, but I think it still has merit. So, with permission from my editor, I share it below, in addition to a slew of extras from the heavy lifting of reporting.

It was meant to be a localized version of a Time magazine cover story that caught my attention.

Below, read the story, see portions of my interviews that didn’t make it into the piece and watch some related video news pieces

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‘Closing Time:’ Joe Queenan’s on growing up poor in East Falls

My reading of choice tends to be contemporary Philadelphia non-fiction — its true stories, histories and cultural anthropology.

Across nearly all of this writing from the 20th and early 21st century is a very unexpected theme: someone growing up angry and put-on in some forgotten neighborhood and developing a very hateful relationship with their city.

Joe Queenan, the Irish Catholic, self-styled Horatio Alger character of northwest neighborhood East Falls, writes the king of these stories, from what I’ve read, in his 2009 childhood biography called Closing Time. The son of an abusive drunk and a withdrawn mother. Queenan writes of chasing dreams that he felt he could never find in Philadelphia.

Find ‘Closing Time’ on Google Books. Buy the book at Amazon.

He was mostly angry. A lot of contemporary Philadelphia writing is. But Queenan has a quick pen — the likes of which has won him the praise of all the big writing critics we’re supposed to respect. Some of those passages kept me reading, in addition to his perspective (however bitter, though, I suppose, he softens in the closing chapters).

I wanted to share some that have the most relevance to those interested in urban development — and strong writing.

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Story Shuffle on Authority audio live

In June, I introduced Story Shuffle, the themed, first-person storytelling event.

Two months later, we hosted a second, as per our every other month schedule for the friendly story sharing night. We’re shooting to host the third in September. It’s ready to grow, so now is when we invite big shots like Eric Smith.

The theme was AUTHORITY.

Listen to mine here or the others here.

In addition to our RSS feed, you can follow Story Shuffle on Twitter and Facebook.

Number of Views:3355

What is the ‘middle class’ and should the phrase be used in journalism?

I have noticed what I think is a change  in style from the New York Times — or at least it seems new to me –in its use of the phrase “middle class.”

Notice this use of it in this story on the battle brewing on extended so-called “Bush’s tax cuts.”

“But they have pledged to continue the lower tax rates for individuals earning less than $200,000 and families earning less than $250,000 — what Democrats call the middle class.

That’s a great use of attribution to afford some kind of better description than we have in most other news articles I see. In other stories, I still see the simpler use of the phrase “middle class.” But what the hell does that mean?

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Volunteering with Back on My Feet presentation at Refresh Philly

View from the 45th floor of the Comcast Center, before the start of Refresh Philly

I rounded up the rear with a presentation on volunteering with Back on My Feet as part of a four-part event on ‘Fitness for Geeks’ on Monday.

It was another installment of Refresh Philly, the monthly speaker series for the region’s technologists and creative community members. I graced the podium after Randy Schmidt, co-creator of Lose It or Lose It, Robert Jolly, a triathlete and creative director at web development firm Happy Cog and Kristen Faughnan, Philly’s Dailymile ambassador.

More than a year ago, I was on hand for Philadelphia CTO Allan Frank’s unveiling of a ‘Digital Philadelphia’ plan at Refresh and last November, I led a panel there on the future of local politics and the web.

My third visit to Refresh was as much a treat as the rest.

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Number of Views:2267

Businessweek on Henry Blodget: Passages on the future of news sites

I dug into this Business Week profile of Henry Blodget from the the Business Insider a few weeks ago.

Blodget is the editor of TBI — a business and technology aggregation and content site dubbed the ‘hooters of the internet’ — after being forced out of a financial analyst career for fraud allegations.

I wanted to share two passages from the piece that spoke widely to discussions around the future of news.

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Number of Views:4803