Friday, November 21, 2014

Renowned Museum Showcases African-American Art

This winter (from January 10 through April 5) the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present an exhibition highlighting its exceptional holdings of work by African American artists. Reflecting a broad range of stories, subjects, styles, mediums, and traditions, Represent: 200 Years of African American Art will include works by Horace Pippin, Jacob Lawrence, Alma Thomas, Martin Puryear, and Carrie Mae Weems, and many others. The presentation of this exhibition also marks the publication of a new catalogue highlighting the Museum’s collection of African American art.
Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director and CEO, stated: “In telling a story that spans two centuries, we recognize not only a great many important artists and their work, but also the dramatic shifts that have occurred in African American life during this period. Presenting these works together now, we are mindful of the many anniversaries of the civil rights movement that have recently passed or are soon to come, and are thinking equally about the way race remains a key topic of conversation in the United States today—in politics, society, popular culture, and, of course, the arts. This is an important moment in which to explore the historic development and continuing growth of the Museum’s collections of African American art.”
Represent: 200 Years of African American Art will include approximately 75 works by more than 50 artists. It will begin with rare examples of fine and decorative arts made by free and enslaved artists prior to the Civil War, including silhouettes made after 1802 by Moses Williams, who worked in Philadelphia at the museum of Charles Willson Peale, and a massive storage jar with a Bible verse finely inscribed across the lip by the South Carolina potter David Drake. Also included will be Henry Ossawa Tanner’s landmark painting The Annunciation, which entered the Museum’s collection in 1899, the first work by an African American artist to be acquired by an American museum.
The exhibition places a strong emphasis on the modern era, when African Americans began to have greater access to artistic training and professional opportunities in this field. Artists such as William Henry Johnson, James VanDerZee, and Elizabeth Catlett embraced modernism in the early twentieth century while sustaining a focus on aspects of African American life. Represent also includes a number of important works by self-taught artists such as William Edmondson and Bill Traylor.
Among the most significant works in the exhibition are a group of abstract paintings and sculptures from the 1960s through the 1980s, most notably Barbara Chase-Riboud’s monumental Malcolm X #3. Many of these works represent the engagement of African American artists with broader stylistic movements. Numerous works from the past several decades directly confront issues pertaining to race and representation. This tendency is reflected in Glenn Ligon’s text painting Untitled (I’m Turning Into a Specter before Your Very Eyes and I’m Going to Haunt You) and Lorna Simpson’s C-Ration.
Represent: 200 Years of African American Art also ventures outside of the historical narrative to present an array of portraits, historical as well as contemporary. Images of family, friends, and historical icons made by several generations of artists will be shown, from works by Philadelphia-based printmaker Dox Thrash and Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr., to Barkley L. Hendricks’s Miss T.
The exhibition will feature an audio component comprising excerpts from recently recorded interviews with several of the livings artists represented in the exhibition.
Consulting Curator Dr. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Associate Professor of American Art, University of Pennsylvania; Organizing Curator John Vick, Project Curatorial Assistant, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This exhibition accompanies a major catalogue, co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press.
The exhibition is generously supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, and PECO. The publication is supported by the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dr. Constance E. Clayton, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, Marion Stroud Swingle, and other generous individuals. The educational resources for students and teachers are supported by Iroko Pharmaceuticals, LLC.
A broad range of programs will be presented, including gallery talks, school tours, family programs, and collaborative programming with local community groups, and a Friday evening dance party. Special related events include an evening of spoken word and music with Nina “Lyrispect” Ball on Wednesday, January 28; an artists’ roundtable on Sunday, February 1, with contemporary artists in the exhibition, moderated by noted scholar Dr. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Associate Professor of American Art, University of Pennsylvania, who served as consulting curator for the exhibition and editor of the exhibition catalogue; a performance by poet, vocalist, and scholar Tracie Morris on Wednesday, March 25; and tours about slavery and freedom at the Museum’s Fairmount Park Historic Houses.
Additionally, Represent will be a featured component of the Museum’s extended celebration of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. On Friday, January 16, musician Darryl Yokley will perform a new composition inspired by works in the exhibition, followed by a late night dance party with DJ Rob Base. On Sunday, January 18, the Museum will offer family mini-tours, art making, and a performance by St. Thomas Gospel Choir. On Monday, January 19, a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is planned, with performances by Danco2 and activities for visitors of all ages. For more information, visit
The full weekend of celebratory events and programs leading to the Day of Service is presented by PECO.
The Art After 5 Dance Party celebrating Represent is supported by SugarHouse Casino and the Samuel and Deidre Patterson Foundation.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is generously supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
Exhibition Hours
Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays until 8:45 p.m.

Video: Street-Pounding 'Jesus' A Philly Sensation

The REAL Reasons For The President's Actions

Let's talk about what's really behind the sweeping, unilateral immigration-related actions that President Obama took last night:

1) Attention: You must understand that this is a man who cannot stand not being the center of attention. The November 4 election rebuke hit him hard. Very hard. The thought that he might be irrelevant drives him crazy. He simply has to be (as Oprah Winfrey dubbed him) The One. He must be in the spotlight, center-stage, all the time. So, the announcement comes now because he desperately needs to be The Star right now. He can't stand all the attention that the congressional GOP leaders (and all those GOP Governors) have been getting of late.

2) Distraction. Obama knows he needs to change the subject. He needs to distract America (and, to whatever extent he can - The Congress) away from other issues (such as Obamacare and the keystone Pipeline) and define his own issues going forward. He wants the conversation to be about what he wants it to be about and he wants to define the debate. He can't have it any other way.

3) Division. By making this move, Obama is out to rattle the GOP. He wants to unsettle them at their moment of triumph and prevent them from setting the agenda going forward. In the process, he hopes to divide them. He wants them to begin arguing about what they must do in reaction to his moves. He's following Alinsky's Rules: Deceive, distract, divide.

4) The Endless Campaign. President Obama doesn't want to govern. He hates it. He doesn't want to have to interact with others at or near his own level, or negotiate with them, or find middle ground or do the hard, tough, day-to-day work of governing. He wants to campaign. At heart, he's nothing more than a propagandist. He wants to stir people up. He knows he desperately needs to re-energize what's left of his base -- if he can. Campaigning keeps him out of Washington (a place he hates), prevents him from having to interact with other public officials (most of who he detests) and puts him in front of carefully-chosen, demographically-correct, attentive, agreeable audiences. That's what he wants and needs in order to survive in a world of his own creation.

5) Chaos. For Obama and his minions crisis and chaos are the route to control. In fact, it's impossible to make the sort of sweeping, revolutionary changes that Obama wants to make unless the nation is in a state of chaos and/or crisis. This, too is Alinskyesque. So, if it's chaos that Obama needs to survive, then it's chaos he will create.

What should the Republicans do in the face of all this?
Well, first of all they should not be rattled. They should not be goaded. After all, they have nothing to prove. They've already proved their point. They've shown the Emperor is wearing no clothes. They've given him a good thumping. And now, the crown adorns a hollow shell of a leader.
Yes, it's fine to launch constitutional challenges to these actions. And strategic budgetary actions or other creative approaches may be in order.
But following the road of impeachment or attempting other such drastic measures (like shutting down the government) would turn the president into a martyr and he'd like nothing more than that. In fact, he'd welcome that as the final chapter of his reign.
The GOP leadership should be calm, firm and knowingly in command. And they need to stand united as well. When the nation's leader is acting like a petulant child it falls upon the adults in the room to quietly and firmly act in unison, charting their course and assuming the upper hand.
What Americans want and needs now is reasoned, responsible leadership. That's what the GOP should deliver.

Live Blogging Amidst Distinctive Swiss Design

We are live-blogging from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (one of our very favorite places on earth) amidst a marvelous exhibition of distinctive Swiss design.
Vitra - Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project With American Roots opens tomorrow at the Museum's Perelman Building and it continues through April 26, 2015.
This show explores the story of Vitra, the family-owned Swiss furniture company, from its American roots and distinguished design collaborations to its commissions and educational outreach. The exhibition of some 120 works includes furniture, design objects, publications, models and videos divided into four broad sections. 
In conjunction with the exhibition, Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra's Chairman Emeritus, will be honored by Collab, the group of modern and contemporary design at the Museum.  He receives Collab's Design Excellence award tonight. Fehlbaum founded the Vitra Design Museum with his collection of modern and contemporary furniture and then expanded its activities to include traveling exhibitions, publications and workshops.
It's interesting that while we are blogging right now we are sitting in chairs designed by Vitra as part of the furnishings of the Perelman Building's sleek, airy cafe. Vitra's creations range from everyday objects to whimsical pieces to major edifices. It has had a vast impact on modern design throughout the world.
Designers, artists and architects who have worked with Vitra have included Rod Arad, Philippe Starck, Alexander Girard, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Frank Gehry.
Vitra continues to manufacture classics as well as new products by leading international designers including Verner Panton, Antonio Citterio, Jasper Morrison and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.
The exhibition has been assembled by Kathryn Bloom Hiesinger, The J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European decorative Arts after 1700.
This show will remind you that art and design are all around you, making your life not only simpler, more comfortable and more functional but also more delightful and even more awe-inspiring. For that reason alone, it's worth your attention!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Join The Campaign: NO Thanksgiving Day Shopping!

Copy this notice and post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest - everywhere!
Spread the word!
Let's get everyone to resolve not to shop on Thanksgiving Day so that we can end this madness.
Let Thanksgiving be the great American holiday it was meant to be - a joyful day of gratitude with families, neighbors and friends.
Say NO to the degradation of Thanksgiving.

Must-Watch Video: A Plea To President Obama!

Sheriff Scott Jones of Sacramento has recorded a video message to President Obama asking for immediate immigration reform. 
In the aftermath of the recent murders of Sacramento Sheriff Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff Detective Michael Davis Jr., by a suspect found to have been in our Country illegally and removed four different times, Sheriff Jones initiates a national conversation for the need of immediate action by the federal Government.
“In the scope of today’s society, the inaction of our nationally elected officials has real consequences for the populace as a whole. Now is the time to take this conversation out of coffee houses and talk shows to an audience who has the ability to affect real change.” 

What Is A Hero And Who Is Heroic?

I'm always attracted to people whose whole life has been a testament to one single set of principles, one idea, one ongoing endeavor, one craft.
These are the kinds of people who usually become heroes of mine.
They don't have to do Big, Great Things.
They simply have to be dedicated to their principles, their work, their ideals, their craft. These people know themselves. They know where their energies and talents come from. They are secure in their place in the world and they take joy in the talents that God has given them. They also see work as essential to life and as an extension of themselves.
These people get up each day and hone their craft. That's what they do. That's who they are.
Accordingly, their lives speak as one, single statement. Their body of work speaks for itself.
Naturally, people who do this and who happen to be in the arts or other professions that can grant great fame become well-known and take on a "bigger than life" quality.
I am reminded of this because I've written on this blog about Clint Eastwood.
Roger Ebert noted that Clint Eastwood has been an actor for more than 50 years and a director for more than 40 years. He has won two Oscars for direction and two Oscars for Best Picture. The filmmaker-actor is over 80 years old. It is unlikely that any artist anywhere in the world can match these numbers.
Still, it's not merely a matter of mere volume. And many others in many other fields could be cited.
Mike Nichols (who just passed away) amassed a body of work that spanned seven decades. He won the Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy awards.
Here's the important thing: Understand who you are and what your talent is and where that talent came from. Fuse that talent to a set of principles. Then focus on what you do. Focus on it like a laser. Pursue it. Refine it. Take joy in it. Don't ever give up. Don't be intimidated by others or derailed or distracted by petty things. Keep doing what you do. And don't be afraid to share it with others.
That kind of quiet courage - day in and day out - is truly heroic.

Video: Learn Italian Hand Gestures, Easy!

And yes, those are Dolce & Gabbana models doing the gesturing!

Video: Cosby Asks That References Be 'Scuttled'

With sexual assault allegations gaining increasing attention, The Associated Press reviewed a recent on camera interview with Bill Cosby earlier this month and made the decision to publish his full reaction to questions about the claims.

Remembering Mike Nichols, Broadway To Dim Lights

The Broadway community mourns the loss of acclaimed director, producer, writer, and performer Mike Nichols, who passed away on Wednesday evening at age 83. 

The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his memory on Friday, November 21st, at exactly 7:45pm for one minute.

Mike Nichols was among the most celebrated people in the history of show business, one of only a handful of people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award®. Mike Nichols has won more Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play than any other individual. 

His six nods were for Barefoot in the Park (1964), Luv and The Odd Couple (1965), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1972), The Real Thing (1984), and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (2012). He has also won in other categories for directing the musical Monty Python's Spamalot (2005), and for producing Annie (1977) and The Real Thing (1984) under the company he founded, Icarus Productions, making it a total of nine Tony Award wins. He also received eight additional nominations.

Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League, said, "Legendary director Mike Nichols shared his distinct genius for storytelling through the worlds of stage and film. Throughout his celebrated career in many mediums that spanned decades, he was always in awe of the thrill and the miracle that is theatre. In addition to his numerous honors, including nine Tony Awards, he won over audiences with his passion for art. His notable presence in our industry will be deeply missed. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans."

Nichols started out on Broadway as a performer in An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May, which he co-wrote with May. The show premiered in 1960 and ran for 306 performances. His full Broadway biography can be found on The Internet Broadway Database ( here.

He made his cinematic directorial debut directing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and later won the Academy Award for his direction of "The Graduate."

Among his upcoming projects, Nichols was slated to helm a screen adaptation of Terrence McNally's Master Class starring Meryl Streep as Maria Callas.

Nichols was born in Germany in 1931. He is survived by his wife, Diane Sawyer; his three children Daisy, Max and Jenny; and four grandchildren.

If You Think We'll Let Him Be King . . .

 . . .You've got another thought coming!

Synod Of Bishops Meeting At Vatican

The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops will meet on 18 and 19 November to reflect on the results of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held during October, and to prepare for the 14 th General Ordinary Assembly on the theme “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”, to be held from 4 to 25 October 2015.

The Holy Father will chair the Council on Tuesday 18 and his presence will underline the importance he accords to the Synod as an expression of episcopal collegiality and to the family, the theme of the two Assemblies: the extraordinary Assembly held this year and the Ordinary one, in the preparatory stages.

Alongside the secretary general, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, and the under-secretary, Archbishop Fabio Fabene, the meeting was attended by Cardinals Christoph Schonborn, Wilfried F. Napier, Peter K.A. Turkson, George Pell, Donald W. Wuerl, and Luis A. Tagle, and by Archbishops Bruno Forte and Salvatore Fisichella. Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, also participated by invitation.

In his introduction to the work of the Synod, the secretary general emphasised the climate of freedom and sincerity and the spirit of fraternal communion that characterised the Assembly, in which everyone was encouraged to contribute. Also, the final document, the Relatio Synodi, faithfully reflects the multi-faceted results of the Synod and offers a good summary of the process that took place during the Assembly.

In the meeting, it was agreed that the current period between the two Assemblies, which is unprecedented in the history of the Synod as an institution, is of great importance. It is necessary to take the path followed so far as a starting point and to make the most of this special opportunity to deepen knowledge of the themes and to promote discussion at the level of the episcopal conferences, finding the means and the tools necessary to further involve various ecclesial bodies in the synodal reflection on the family. Various ideas on communication were also considered, which may be useful in view of the preparation for the upcoming Ordinary Assembly.

The majority of the work was devoted to the preparation of the Lineamenta for the next Ordinary Assembly. The guidelines will be made up, as previously indicated, of the Relatio Synodi, accompanied by a series of points to help in its reception and elaboration.

The Lineamenta are expected to be sent to the Episcopal Conferences at the beginning of December, so that the answers can be received in good time to allow them to be developed in the Instrumentum Laboris before the summer of 2015.

Tommy Tune Returns To B'way In 'Lady Be Good!'


City Center Encores is delighted to announce that Colin Donnell, Danny Gardner, Jeff Hiller, Erin Mackey, Patti Murin, Richard Poe, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Kirsten Wyatt, and special guest Tommy Tune will star in the Encores! production of Lady, Be Good.
The 1924 musical embodies the fizzy, madcap spirit of the Roaring Twenties, when speakeasies and the Charleston were all the rage, and George and Ira Gershwin’s first hit collaboration ushered in the Golden Age of American musical comedy.

'Take It With You' Logs 100 B'way Performances

Producers of the You Can’t Take It With You Pulitzer Prize-winning revival by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, are pleased to announce the show will reach its 100th performance on Thursday, November 20th 2014 at the 7:00 p.m. performance at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street)

You Can’t Take It With You began previews on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014, opened on Sunday, September 28th, 2014 and extended its initial limited run to Sunday, February 22nd 2015. Tickets are sold on or by calling 212-239-6200.

Here’s what some of the critics have said about the production:

-Ben Brantley, The New York Times

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
— Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News

-David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

— David Finkle, The Huffington Post

— David Cote, Time Out NY

-Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

-Mark Snetiker, Entertainment Weekly

-Roma Torre, NY1

The production is directed by six-time Tony Award nominee Scott Ellis (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Curtains, 1776), and stars Tony Award and Outer Critics’ Circle winner James Earl Jones (Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Fences, The Great White Hope) as Martin Vanderhof, two-time Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Rose Byrne* (“Damages,” Bridesmaids, Neighbors) as Alice Sycamore, Tony Award winner Elizabeth Ashley (Take Her, She’s Mine, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man) as The Grand Duchess Olga, Tony Award nominee Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots, Wicked, “Masters of Sex”) as Essie Carmichael, Tony Award nominee Johanna Day (Proof, August: Osage County) as Mrs. Kirby, three-time Drama Desk nominee Julie Halston (Anything Goes, The Divine Sister) as Gay Wellington, Byron Jennings (The Merchant of Venice, Inherit the Wind) as Mr. Kirby, Patrick Kerr (Stage Kiss, The Ritz) as Mr. De Pinna, Fran Kranz (Death of a Salesman) as Tony Kirby, Mark Linn-Baker (A Funny Thing…Forum, “Perfect Strangers,” My Favorite Year) as Paul Sycamore, Tony Award nominee Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) as Penelope Sycamore, Tony Award nominee Reg Rogers (Holiday, The Royal Family) as Boris Kolenkhov, Will Brill (Act One) as Ed Carmichael, Nick Corley (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as a G-Man, Austin Durant (War Horse) as a G-Man, Theatre World Award winner Crystal A. Dickinson (Clybourne Park) as Rheba, Marc Damon Johnson (Lucky Guy) as Donald, Karl Kenzler (Mary Poppins) as Henderson, and Joe Tapper (Witnessed By The World) as a G-Man.

The design team includes: scenic design by Tony Award nominee David Rockwell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray), costume design by 2014 special Tony Award recipient Jane Greenwood (Act One, Waiting for Godot), lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Donald Holder (South Pacific, The Lion King), sound design by Jon Weston (The Bridges of Madison County), and hair and wig design by Tom Watson (Act One, Waiting for Godot). Three-time Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County, The Last Five Years, Parade) composed original music for the production.

You Can’t Take It With You is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Dominion Pictures, Gutterman & Winkler, Daryl Roth, Terry Schnuck, Jane Bergère, Caiola Productions, Rebecca Gold, LaRuffa & Hinderliter, Larry Magid, Gabrielle Palitz, Spisto & Kierstead, SunnySpot Productions, VenuWorks Theatricals, Jessica Genick and Will Trice.

The original production of the play opened at the Booth Theater on December 14, 1936, and played for 837 performances. The play won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dazzling First-Look Video: Peter Pan Live!

From the producers of The Sound of Music Live! comes a family classic like you've never seen it before. 
Peter Pan Live! airs Thursday, Dec 4 at 8/7c on NBC.

Obama: A 'Stranger' In The White House

Here's the way the New York Times describes NBC Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd's new book, entitled The Stranger, Barack Obama In The White House:
The book delivers a stinging indictment of [Obama's] presidency so far…The overall picture that emerges here is that of a highly insular and centralized White House that is reluctant to listen to outside experts, prone to cutting cabinet members out of the loop and unable or unwilling to learn from its mistakes…Mr. Todd…has grounded his arguments in hundreds of interviews with Washington sources and his intimate knowledge of how that city works or (more often, these days) fails to work…The Stranger…provides the lay reader with a brisk, if depressing overview of the Obama White House, while giving Washington insiders plenty of colorful new details.
Unable to learn from mistakes?
And Chuck Todd and NBC and the New York Times are just now discovered this? Just now - after six long years?
Up till now Todd had been one of Obama's biggest cheerleaders. In fact, in appearances promoting the book Chuck still seems to be defending Obama and the liberal elites. And the New York Times still seems joined to the president and his cronies at the hip(s). Indeed, all of big media presented this guy to us as The Second Coming. And, even as others expressed doubts, they kept defending him.
It was left to citizen-journalists such as ourselves to find out what the guy was really like and tell you about it. And for a long, long time our warnings fell on deaf ears.

Here's something that we wrote before Obama was even elected:

I think part of the reason [for Obama's problems] lies in the fact that he is not a joiner, not a "connector" not a people person. He's often been called "cool." But he's beyond cool. He's cold. He generates no warmth. He's a man without passion. He's detached; disconnected.

I go back to something I posted here in August, 2008 when I was commenting on and quoting from a column by David Brooks in the New York Times. Once again, here it is:

Like many pundits Brooks wonders why Obama isn't running away with this thing; why he hasn't pulled way ahead. But Brooks has an answer to the question that few others have offered. He believes America hasn't fully engaged with Obama because Obama himself is not an engager, not a committer, not a person with clear, deep, identifiable values and roots. And Americans sense this. They get it.
Brooks describes Obama as a sojourner: someone who stays for awhile and then moves on; someone who doesn't put down roots or make commitments; a journeyer.
And Brooks gives plenty of examples to back up his claim. The enigmatic Obama is a man who nobody quite knows because he's never been anywhere long enough or been part of anything long enough or been intimately involved enough in any one cause or institution for anyone to get to know him.
This may account for Obama's inability to reach rural and small town voters. America's small-town sensibilities and homespun traditions make us suspicious of drifters. On Main Streets across the country Americans seem to be furrowing their brows and wondering: "Who is this guy? Where did he come from, what does he really believe and where is he planning to take us?"

Brooks says: There is a sense that because of his unique background and temperament, Obama lives apart. He put one foot in the institutions he rose through on his journey but never fully engaged. As a result, voters have trouble placing him in his context, understanding the roots and values in which he is ineluctably embedded.
And when Obama shifts positions on issues or disavows former friends and advisors (as he's done a lot of both recently) he only reinforces suspicions and solidifies voters' reluctance to embrace his campaign.
Placed in context, this is all very understandable.

Brooks again: When we’re judging candidates (or friends), we don’t just judge the individuals but the milieus that produced them. We judge them by the connections that exist beyond choice and the ground where they will go home to be laid to rest. Andrew Jackson was a backwoodsman. John Kennedy had his clan. Ronald Reagan was forever associated with the small-town virtues of Dixon and Jimmy Carter with Plains.
It is hard to plant Obama.

So, yes - there were a few people who saw all this and who foresaw Obama's problems.
But not Chuck Todd. And Not the New York Times. And not CBS or NBC or MessNBC or CNBC or ABC or NPR or PBS or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times or the Boston Globe or the Philadelphia Inquirer or Time magazine. Not any of them.

And shame on them! Shame on 'em all!

Do You Remember 'Come On Over?' Huh?

Great Podcasts From The Philly Free Library!

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The Innovators
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Worthy Fights
Steven Pinker
A Sense of Style
Ransom Riggs
Hollow City
Anne Rice
Prince Lestat
Marilynne Robinson
Jane Smiley
Some Luck
Cheryl Strayed
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Free Library Author Events
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Manilow In 2015 Philly Farewell - Tickets 11/24

Legendary musician Barry Manilow is set to hit the road and perform during his ONE LAST TIME! Tour with a stop at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, June 13.
Tickets will go on sale on Monday, November 24 at 10 a.m. exclusively through ComcastTIX online at, by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the Wells Fargo Center box office.

After performing more than 400 concerts at the Las Vegas Hilton and Paris Las Vegas from 2005 through 2011, Manilow has limited his concert appearances. The ONE LAST TIME! Tour is a major undertaking and as Manilow said, “is my way of thanking everyone for their years of support…one last time!”

Barry Manilow's unparalleled career encompasses virtually every area of music, including performing, composing, arranging and producing. A Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, Manilow has triumphed in every medium of entertainment. With worldwide record sales exceeding 80 million, Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time with over 50 Top 40 hits.

Manilow released his latest album, MY DREAM DUETS, in October. The album debuted at #4 and is Manilow’s 15th Top 10 album. Modern technology has given Manilow the opportunity to record his “dream” duets with his own musical heroes on his latest album. From cherished idols like Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong to contemporary icons like Whitney Houston and John Denver, they have all joined Barry in his “virtual recording studio.”

Wells Fargo Center social media accounts:
@WellsFargoCtr  Facebook: WellsFargoCenter  Instagram: WellsFargoCenter

To receive advance notice and special offers to future events, join the free Wells Fargo Center CyberClub at

Pope: 'We Are All Called To Be Holy!'

As is usual on Wednesday morning, the Pope toured St. Peter's Square to greet the faithful and pilgrims awaiting him before the beginning of the General Audience. He dedicated today's catechesis to the universal vocation to sanctity, to provide an answer to the question, “In what does this universal vocation consist? And how can we fulfil it?”

“Firstly, we must take into account that sanctity is not something that we procure, that we obtain ourselves through our qualities and capacities. Sanctity is a gift, it is the gift that the Lord Jesus gives to us, when He takes us with Him and clothes us in Himself, making us like Him”, he said. “Sanctity is the most beautiful face of the Church: it is rediscovering oneself in communion with God, in the fullness of His life and His love. … It is not the prerogative of the few: sanctity is a gift that is offered to all, without exclusion, and which therefore constitutes the distinctive characteristic of every Christian”.

“To be holy”, he continued, “it is not necessary to be bishops, priests or religious. … We are all called to be holy! … It is by living with live and offering one's own Christian witness in our everyday occupations that we are called to become holy; and each person in the condition and in the state of life in which he finds himself”: consecrated persons, married couples, unmarried baptised persons, parents, grandparents, catechists, educators and volunteers. “Every state of life leads to sanctity, if lived in communion with the Lord and in the service of one's brethren”.

Pope Francis urged those present to examine their consciences, asking how they could respond to the Lord's call to sanctity. He emphasised that when the Lord calls us to be holy, he does not ask us to do something weighty or sad, but rather offers us an invitation to share in his joy. “If we understand it in this way, everything changes and acquires a new meaning, beautiful, starting from the little things of everyday life. … And each step towards sanctity will make us better people, free of selfishness and self-centredness, and open to our brothers and their needs”. He added, “we do not walk the path of sanctity alone, each for himself, but rather together, in that single body that is the Church, loved and sanctified by the Lord Jesus Christ”, and concluded by encouraging those present to continue on this path.