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In The Garden Of Eden, Baby

I’m positively speechless. The reckless, irresponsible, disrespectful, illegal, immoral and downright idiotic behavior of Harrisburg City Council President Wanda Williams has taken the reputation of the City of Harrisburg to an all new low.

About a week ago, Council President Wanda Williams ordered the bulldozing of a community garden located in a blighted neighborhood and maintained and managed by a local organization called Green Urban Initiative.(GUI)

GUI leases vacant lots owned by the city for the purpose of providing space for public gardens to be cultivated. Anyone so inclined may rent a box stocked with fresh soil for ten dollars from GUI and plant and garden to their hearts content.

One resident – Sylvia Regal – opposed the garden. She somehow believes that this community garden – plots of dirt growing carrots and cucumbers and tomatoes and radishes – added to the culture of crime, drugs and violence which exists heartily in many sections of Harrisburg.

So she bent the ear of Williams who, in turn and with zero authority to do so, ordered the demolition of the community garden. Poof. Overnight, she made a call and rallied a bulldozer and crew of city employees to get out there and tear that garden down.

The public was OUTRAGED. And rightfully so. Not only did The City of Harrisburg blatantly violate the terms of it’s own lease (the plots required the city to give tenants thirty days notice prior to any changes being made to the property), a member of city council DOES NOT have the singular authority to order ANY work to be done in the city without due process.

Obviously, there are many layers to this rotten onion. Not the least of which is the blatant racial tension that’s reared it’s ugly head in the way of comments from some neighborhood residents and Sylvia Regal herself regarding the nerve of these people coming into a neighborhood that isn’t theirs and planting a garden.

But what is most dumbfounding, frustrating and shocking is Council President Wanda Williams absolutely psychopathic indifference to the public’s outcry. In a statement delivered at Council tonight, Williams alleged that GUI wasn’t properly maintaining the lots and allowing weeds to overgrow to a point of being an eyesore.

In some crazy, fucked up, twisted logical twist and turn, Williams also somehow tied this garden to drug use, drug sales, prostitution, sex acts, rodent infestation and a decrease in public safety.

Didja read that? Let me type it again – and bold, italic it so you can get it loud and clear:

Williams also somehow tied this garden to drug use, drug sales, prostitution, sex acts, rodent infestation and a decrease in public safety.

At the end of the day, this isn’t about a community garden being torn down. Rather, it’s about a glaring example of just how incredibly unqualified some of our elected officials are and react to situations from a state of emotion, instead of logic and reasoning.

Will Wanda Williams face any repercussions from her egregious actions?

Probably not. Which isn’t surprising. The people who make the laws are the ones who break them so viciously and without punishment.

The best way the public can punish Wanda Williams is by simply voting her out of office next term. She clearly doesn’t care about her entire constituency.

Drive Like You’re From Jersey

Last week, I had the unfortunate luck of finding myself driving in Camp Hill on a Friday around lunchtime. People who live in Harrisburg or on the “east shore” generally categorize those who live on the “west shore” or Camp Hill as a bit more affluent, well-to-do and certainly more employed and employable than their Harrisburg counterparts.

Now this, of course, isn’t true for ALL west shore dwellers. There are scores of residents that used to live within the city limits but after their children approach school age, they take that trip across the Harvey Taylor Bridge one last time and settle in with a yard and a driveway; escaping the faltering Harrisburg School District, higher crime and lower quality of life in the Capitol City.

Considering more people are more employed and probably have more urgency of places to go and things to do, I’d think that those on that side of the river would drive a bit more efficiently. But believe me…they don’t.

And Harrisburg drivers – don’t think you’re getting out of this rant either. You can be just as sluggish on the road as the rest of the midstate. I just happen to be hot on the topic of Camp Hill drivers at the moment.

Here are a few tips from a Jersey native on how to get places quicker and navigate more congested roads at 2PM on a Sunday than this area will likely ever see at 4:30 on a Friday.

The gas is on the right!

Step on the gas, grandma! Speed limits are merely guidelines for traveling.

Bob and weave…safely

My bud Jersey Dan and I were driving back to Harrisburg from Hershey the other night and he commended me on my cutting-in-and-out skills. There’s a fine line here, though. Sometimes, you can appear to be a real dick if you too aggressively bob-and-weave. But a steady, gentle cutting in and out of lanes is perfectly fine.

Pass Right, Cruise Middle, Turn Left

Front Street in Harrisburg is incredibly frustrating at times. Mostly, when entering on a busier morning or afternoon. If you’re traveling on Front Street and don’t plan to turn off anytime in the next several blocks, stay in the middle lane! And if you’re in the middle lane, you better be cruising along at least five or seven miles per hour over the posted limit.

Unless You See Otherwise, Turn Right On Red

Just do it, already! If you don’t see a sign advising otherwise, go right on red! It’s totally legal.

Put The Phone Down

No, no. I realize I’m pretty guilty of this one too, but hey…if you’re going to text at a red light, you damn well better have one eye on the light while you’re waiting. You get a three second grace period when the light turns green before I’m laying on the horn.


When In Doubt, Be Aggressive

I’m not saying be in a constant state of road rage, but grab your balls and get out there! It’s a competitive world we live in and driving isn’t excluded.

How To Begrudgingly Send An Agent A Disputed Hundred Bucks

I have a love/hate relationship with booking agents. Most promoters do. We mutually understand that one does not exist without the other, but both are equally important to an artists’ career. The agent must ensure that the act gets booked into the smartest situations for the most lucrative payments. Conversely, the promoter must ensure he gets the most professional and promising acts at a rate that’s both fair to the act and commensurate to what they are worth in his market.

Most agents and I get along just fine. We’ve been working together long enough that they understand that I know my market and what we can generally expect from ticket sales for an act. They also know that I’m as persistent as I am because, in order to book shows in little old Harrisburg, one must be persistent.

All that said, once in awhile I’ll come across some asshole who has watched one-too-many episodes of Entourage and deserves the little respect he shows when dealing with a venue. However small my market is and no matter how challenging selling tickets in Harrisburg can be, I pride myself on how well we treat the acts that choose to play Harrisburg. Everyone’s got options and no one needs to play Harrisburg like they’d need to play Philadelphia or New York City on a record release tour.

I’ll keep this long story short : a few months ago, an act played one of my rooms. (I’ll leave out names to protect the innocent) The particular show they were playing was sold out a week in advance, they were the opener and we didn’t necessarily need the act on the bill. The show was what I call a “gift” – when a show sells out in advance, the opening act is getting tremendous exposure to a crowd that isn’t there to see them, but will still buy their merch and hopefully come back to see them when they return down the road.

From the start, it was agreed that they needed to load in at a specific time and were to be paid one hundred dollars. The day of the show, the band missed their load in time and wound up arriving over two hours late. Subsequently, we had to push the doors back about thirty minutes. They played their set, loaded out their gear and left sometime after. Normally, the band tracks down the promoter and asks to get paid. This band didn’t. They just left.

A week later, I got an email from the agent asking to send their check. Gladly, I dropped it in the mail. A week after THAT, I got another email asking me to send a different check cut to a different name because the band wasn’t able to cash checks in their band’s name.

Sure. Send the old one back and I’ll send you ANOTHER hundred dollar check.

Another couple weeks pass and I don’t see the check in the mail. From time to time, I’d see their band name pop up in the subject line of an email and I would delete it, assuming they were getting in touch to get a return date. Why would I want to book a return date for a band who showed up two hours late to a sold out show and caused me this much grief? There are literally hundreds of other bands I’d rather develop.

Fast forward a few months and I get a voicemail from the agent that was around three minutes long, chock full of expletives, accusations, threats and a demand for his bands hundred bucks.

Having some built up steam to blow off, I called the guy back and the conversation played out like two dogs barking at eachother through a fence. We hung up on each other and that was that.

About twenty minutes later, I decided to call the guy back, hoping to calm things down. After all, this was two type-a personalities in a pissing match over a hundred bucks. But the expletives and accusations kept flying, so I blew it off. Fuck it. Not worth it.

And sure, I’ll send you your hundred bucks.

Which is, if you’re still with me, where this story gets fun.

At first, I thought “Hmm, I’ll send him a hundred bucks in pennies.” – but decided the shipping would be too expensive.

And then, it was “A hundred bucks in crumpled up ones” -

But I knew I could do better.

So here’s what I decided to do. To settle this pissy hundred dollar dispute.

Remember- this band DID get their check for a hundred bucks but couldn’t cash it and I never got the check returned to me to issue a new one…

First, I went to the bank and got a hundred dollars in one dollar bills -






Then, I visited the party supply store and bought two pounds of glitter and confetti -






After my stop at the party store, I visited the adult shop up the road and looked for the nicest pink dildo I could find.







On my way home, I stopped by the post office and got a shipping box that would fit all of the goodness that I could pack into it -






And here’s the “how to” section of this post -

Take fifty of the one dollar bills and crumple them up as much as possible and layer them at the bottom of the mailing box -

Next, lay the pink dildo in the center of the dollar bills. *This is important because you want the dildo to be at the bottom of the pile*

Now, take one of the pounds of confetti and cover up the fifty ones and the pink dildo – (sort of like a dildo lasagna)

Then, the second layer of crumpled up one dollar bills -

Then, your other pound of confetti -

Finally, seal the box up good and tight ensuring that the confetti stays completely inside the box as to surprise the recipient as much as possible.

Take it down to the post office, mail it off and sit back and wait!

Now I’m not saying sending a pink dildo inside two pounds of confetti and a hundred crumpled up dollar bills is the way to settle EVERY disputed debt, but sometimes, when dealing with a shitty agent, there’s really no other way.

PS- This is perfectly acceptable behavior in the music industry.

Patriot News Does 180, Headline Calls Reed “Scam Artist”

Remember a few years ago when I’d bang my head against the desk for the repeated lauding the Patriot News would bestow on former Mayor Stephen Reed?

It seemed like Reed couldn’t fart without writers like John Luciew calling it something like “a new fragrant aroma to fill the air of the city of Harrisburg”

Back when the Sports Hall of Fame, Capitol View Commerce Center, The Incinerator, Restaurant Row and dozens more projects were announced that never came to fruition were “s’poda” be saviors of Harrisburg’s economic crunch, The Patriot News (and it’s website, PennLive) would write accolade after accolade for the man dubbed “Mayor For Life” during his 28 year reign at City Hall.

Interviews, profiles, editorials, endorsements and features would make one think that Stephen Reed was the Messiah, once here to rescue this riverbank city from it’s own devices, demographic disparity and limited tax base. But today, Heather Long sung a different tune with regard to the former leader.

In a long-overdue editorial in today’s Patriot News, Long said this about Reed: “…it’s hard not to wonder how different Harrisburg might be if the mayor who left the city with a financial mess and a smoke-drenched office to clean up had been in office a lot fewer years.”

Which, if you’ve been reading the Patriot News for the past few years, would likely leave you scratching your head as well.

One may argue that print media and traditional newspapers are in the twilight of their lives, on a life support system powered by the traffic these sites get from the comment sections and local fluff pieces. But after citizen activists like Eric Papenfuse, Bill Cluck, Jim Roxbury, Tara Auchey and this blogger have been beating the “Reed fucked up!” drum for the past several years, it’s about friggin’ time the Patriot got on board.

Maybe they’re taking a cue from the huge web traffic they garnered with the Sandusky scandal and realizing that they’re better off reporting the truth and doing actual investigative journalism than piggy-backing off the AP or placating the local good-ole-boys.

There are probably a hundred angles the Patriot can take when talking about the three decades of fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement this city has suffered from. And probably hundreds of charges that can (and hopefully will) be levied on the people who drove us into this ditch.

But the local newspaper cannot live on the fence. They must take a stand and REPORT on what has actually happened inside Harrisburg city hall over the past thirty years.

And Heather Long took a step in the right direction today.

Some pretty notable shows coming through the region in the next couple of months

My friend Joe Casillo – fine young Irish lad that he is-  used to write a pretty neat blog called Instrumental Analysis (RIP)- geared toward the more fringe, up and coming bands too ripe even for Pitchfork’s cherry pickers. He’s the guy who turned me on to bands like Frightened Rabbit, These United States, J Roddy and The Business (he gave me a free ticket to my first J Roddy show at the Recher), We Were Promised Jetpacks and tons more way too hip to put in this intro.

Joe is thinking about starting up the blog again – but until then, he’s just sending around a PDF of shows he knows about that are coming through the area. And there are a ton. So in the spirit of teamwork and community, here is the list – the Instrumental Analysis List of Killer Rock Shows Coming Through The Region In The Next Few Months.

(PS – I’m too lazy to link each show to the individual band or venue site.)

3/01: Dinosaur Feathers/Grandchildren @ Metro Gallery
3/02: Langhorne Slim @ Ottobar
3/03: Cults @ Ottobar
3/04: Travels @ Golden West
3/05: Titus Andronicus @ Ottobar
3/06: Royal Baths/Slowdance @ Golden West
3/07: Me You Us Them @ Sonar/Talking Head
3/07: Dead Leaf Echo/Fan-Tan @ Metro Gallery
3/08: Secret Mountains @ Ottobar
3/08: Kevin Devine/The Front Bottoms @ Chameleon Club
3/09: The Shrouded Strangers @ Moviate
3/10: The Lemonheads @ Ottobar (what!?)
3/10: The Shrouded Strangers @ Hamilton Arts Collective
3/11: Throwing Up @ Ottobar
3/11: No Age @ Chameleon Club
3/16: Henry Rollins @ Baltimore Soundstage
3/17: Dr Dog @ Rams Head Live
3/17: Girl Talk @ Power Plant Live
3/20: The Head and The Heart @ Rams Head Live
3/21: Kimya Dawson @ 2640 Space
3/22: Kurt Vile @ Rams Head Live
3/23: Psychic TV/Celebration @ Sonar/Talking Head
3/23: Deleted Scenes/El Ten Eleven @ Sonar/Talking Head
3/26: Rachael Yamagata @ Rams Head Tavern
4/01: Cloud Nothings/A Classic Education @ Ottobar
4/03: Nat Baldwin @ Metro Gallery
4/04: Real Estate/Twerps @ Ottobar
4/04: Bellows @ Moviate
4/05: Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ Metro Gallery
4/06: Psychic Ills/Night Beats @ Golden West
4/06: Corey Harris & The Rasta Blue Band @ Snail Pie Lounge
4/07: Alabama Shakes @ Rams Head Live
4/07: Frankie Rose/Dive @ Golden West
4/08: Hunx & His Punx/Natural Child @ The Windup Space
4/10: Kaiser Chiefs @ Rams Head Live
4/10: We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Sonar/Talking Head
4/13: Rasputina @ Ottobar
4/14: The Ting Tings @ Rams Head Live
4/17: !!!/Shabazz Palaces @ Sonar/Talking Head
4/17: Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds @ Baltimore Soundstage
4/18: Andrew Jackson Jihad @ Ottobar
4/19: Portugal. The Man @ Rams Head Live
4/19: Sharon Van Etten/Flock Of Dimes (Jenn from Wye Oak) @ Ottobar
4/20: Commander Cody/Professor Louie & The Crowmatrix @ Snail Pie Lounge
4/24: Lucero/J Roddy Walston & The Business @ ABC
4/25: Colin Hay @ ABC
4/27: The Felice Brothers @ Chameleon Club
4/27: Squeeze/The English Beat @ Rams Head Live
4/30: Death Cab For Cutie/Youth Lagoon @ Strathmore
5/01: Real Estate/Twerps @ ABC
5/03: Acid Mothers Temple/Phantom Family Halo @ Ottobar
5/04: Ane Brun@ Baltimore Soundstage
5/05: Lower Dens @ Ottobar
5/09: Andrew Bird @ Rams Head Live
5/09: Feist @ Strathmore
5/11: Star Slinger/The Hood Internet @ Sonar/Talking Head
5/12: Star Slinger/The Hood Internet @ ABC
5/17: Kurt Vile@ Chameleon Club
5/30: City and Colour/David Bazan @ Rams Head Live
5/31: Dawes @ Capitol Theatre
6/03: Matt Schofield @ Snail Pie Lounge
6/10: Foster The People/The Kooks @ Merriweather
6/12: Two Door Cinema Club/Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Rams Head Live
6/17: Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples @ Pier Six
6/23: Childish Gambino@ Pier Six
7/20: Dick Dale @ ABC