Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Suddenly, Mitt Romney realized that his strategy of taking all possible positions might backfire.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Spirit of Music: Nietzsche's Irresolvable Conflict

"We have art to save us from ourselves from the truth."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Abstract: Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy through the Spirit of Music outlines the relationship between the “image-maker or sculptor” art of Apollo and “imageless art of music” of Dionysus, both gods of music. Nietzsche argues that both of these gods represent forces in nature that are in open conflict in Greek Tragedy both energizing the art form and leading to its destruction. Nietzsche explains how this irresolvable conflict creates a void that gives way to Socratic aestheticism.

In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche criticizes classicist nostalgia for Greek culture, stating, "Greek tragedy perished differently from all the other, older sister-arts: it died by suicide, as a result of the irresolvable conflict, which is to say tragically."1 He argues that Greek tragedy is not simply in perfect harmony with the "unity of man with nature" as described by Schiller as "naive."2 Nietzsche states that the Greeks' view of the "image-maker or sculptor and the imageless art of music" is reflected by their respective deities of art, Apollo and Dionysus.3 He contends that the duality of these drives works in open conflict to produce Greek tragedy and the spirit of music. Nietzsche argues the conflict causes Greek tragedy to destroy itself, giving way to the reflection and reason for which the Enlightenment reveres the Greeks as "noble, simple, elegant and grandiose!”4

Reality and Illusion: Conflict of the Will

Nietzsche argues the view of Greek art as "naive" exemplifies the prevalence of the Apollonian's dominance before tragedy. The Apollonian dream gave meaning and significance to the lives of the Greeks with illusion. Tragedy gives them the ability to imagine themselves as "restored natural geniuses."5 Nietzsche theorizes that the chorus in tragedy was originally always satyrs, or goat-men. Through this dream, "the illusion of culture was wiped away by the primordial image of man," linking the Apollonian dream with Dionysian instincts.6The Apollonian dream is an illusion of individualism, capable of "greatness, always of significance." The Dionysian is an intoxication and a re-immersion into a common organic whole. The Dionysian impulse leads to the collapse of the Apollonian principium individuationis, joining the group's affirmation of the meaning of their existence.7

Martha Nussbaum argues that "the energies that Nietzsche associates with Dionysus reveal to the spectator" cause individuals to forget themselves "through a process of sympathetic identification with the hero - the 'horror or absurdity of existence.' For the hero embodies in his person the inexorable clash between human aspirations and their natural/divine limits: his demand for justice in an unjust universe entails terrible suffering.8 Greek tragedy energized the Dionysian celebration of the reality of pleasure and pain in human existence and the Apollonian illusion provided a protective spirit. Together, the forces of the two gods form the spirit of music, which is "a direct copy of the Will itself."9A balance between the two artistic drives of nature create "artistic jubilee" and "the destruction of the principle of individuation" becomes an "artistic phenomenon."10 However, Nietzsche argues that the Greeks' human condition is anything but simple optimism. Becoming entirely absorbed in either force leads to the destruction of the other, bringing about tragedy's death.

Schopenhauer's Pessimism: The Struggle Between Will and Representation

Martha Nussbaum argues that Schopenhauer's concept of the will is not "intelligent" because it "exercises neither perception nor thought." The will is not "artistic: because it neither "makes things up nor transforms itself." The will is not "aware of itself as being at all or other beings as the distinct beings they are."11Schopenhauer denounces willing as suffering and considers art a way to "lose ourselves" in the object.12 Nussbaum argues that "Tragedy, in Schopenhauer's view, is an especially valuable art form because, in addition to nourishing the aesthetic attitude, as do all forms of art, it reminds us, by its content, of the many motives we have for turning toward art, and away from the will."13 Nussbaum argues that "Schopenhauerian pessimism" concludes that "nature as a whole" is "infected" with "guilt" and "delusions" and that the "experience of spectatorship" exemplifies detachment from will that gives us "new motives to reject and blame life as both evil and false."14

Nietzsche on the other hand sees music's Dionysian embodiment of the will to be essential to tragedy's energy because the suffering of nature and the will are inescapable. Nietzsche's criticism of Schopenhauer's arguments apply to the problem that "The magic of these struggles is such, that he who sees them must also take part in them!"15 Nussbaum says "Nietzsche's view is, then, not the simple inversion of Schopenhauer's" because he agrees with Schopenhauer's belief that an "honest gaze" discovers the world's "arbitrariness and absence of any intrinsic meaning" but he disagrees about the "consequences of this discovery for humanity's view of itself."16 Schopenhauer's human being "becomes nauseated with life, and with himself for having lived a delusion." While Nietzsche's human being, noticing the same things, "is filled with Dionysian joy and pride in his own artistry." Without intrinsic order, Nietzsche argues how wonderful it must be that man could invent "stories," "schemes," and "dances" through "the artistic possibilities of man" without "a designing god."17

The Loss of Myth in Music

Schopenhauer argues we understand music, the language of the Will, directly, and feel our fantasy stimulated to create an analogous example that will give shape and body to this spirit-world which speaks to us and which, although invisible, is so full of movement and life. Nietzsche argues that the Dionysian impulse is best realized in music, which has no clear boundaries, unstable and is non-representation. It is immersion in wholeness of nature, intoxication, non-rationality, and inhumanity. Its frenzied participation in life itself copies the will. As lyrics imitate music Nietzsche asks, "'As what does music appear in the mirror of imagery and concepts?' It appears as Will, understood in Schopenhauer's sense, which is to say, in opposition to the aesthetic, purely contemplative, will-less mood." Nietzsche says however that "music, by its essence cannot possibly be Will, because as such it would have to be banished entirely from the realm of art - for Will is that which is inherently un-aesthetic - but it appears as Will."18

Nietzsche's interpretation of the Apollonian is directly influenced by Schopenhauer's principium individuationis (principle of individuation). Man separates himself from undifferentiated immediacy of nature. The detached, rational representation of Apollo creates the myth of order in the world. Like sculpture has clear and definite boundaries and seeks to represent a reality that is perfectly stable, which is a myth. The eternal appearance of the Apollonian artistic potential emerges as music "stimulates us to contemplate symbolically Dionysiac universality, and it causes the symbolic image to emerge with the highest degree of significance."

The lyric provides the illusion of Apollo's refinement, sobriety and emphasis on superficial appearance that gives birth to myth.19 Nietzsche says that "only the spirit of music allows us to understand why we feel joy at the destruction of the individual." He uses this argument to illustrate the eternal phenomenon of Dionysiac art, which expresses the omnipotent Will behind the principal individuationis, as it were, life going on eternally beyond all appearance and despite all destruction.
However, an imbalance between the Apollonian and the Dionysian causes mystic participation in art and myth to be lost.20 When the Apollonian dream represses Dionysian realities, the harmony between the two wills is lost. The Apollonian illusion of a perfectible self leads spectators to become detached from the experience of the tragedy, causing it to become art instead of ritual. Greek tragedy reduced the prevalence of the chorus and the reflective nature of Euripides' human drama emerged.

Socrates' emphasis on rationality eliminated the value of myth, suffering, and instincts to human knowledge. Unmediated imitation of nature no longer is possible when the deities represent two art-worlds that "differ in their deepest essence and highest goals."21The emptiness left behind in the absence of tragedy causes a turn to "tragic resignation and a need for art."22

An Honest Gaze at Aesthetics and the Need for Art
Nussbaum says that Nietzsche argues "it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified."23 Nietzsche argues that Dionysian music can exist on its own while it tolerates the Apollonian images and myths. Nietzsche says "lyric poetry is dependent on the spirit of music… music itself in its absolute sovereignty does not need the image and the concept, but merely endures them as accompaniments."24 However, these images and myths are important in satisfying the "need for art" because "without myth every culture loses the healthy natural power of its creativity" because "Myth alone saves all the powers of the imagination and of the Apollonian dream from their aimless wanderings…"25

"The myth protects us from the music, just as, on the hand, it provides music with its highest freedom."26 Nietzsche argues that the function of the tragic myth is to distract us from the music, so that the music can express its metaphysical essence with a freedom that would otherwise overpower us, not affect us.27 The role of music, in Birth of Tragedy, is uniquely endowed with the capacity to frustrate both those who argue that Nietzsche values art for providing illusions and those who view Nietzsche as praising art for its capacity to disclose profound truths.28

Music emerges, in the eyes of Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Nietzsche, as the one direct way in which we can possess authentic experience of these universal realities; in a sense, music comes directly to us out of the fundamental realities of the universe. Tejera goes as far to argue that "it is only in the Dionysan mysteries, in the psychology of the Dionysan state, that the basic fact of the Hellenic instinct finds expression, its will to 'life.'"29
The Rise of Reason: Socratic Aestheticism
Classicism's nostalgia for "Greek serenity," Nietzsche argues, may exaggerate "the cheerfulness of the theoretical man."30 He asserts that tragedy exhibits the Greeks' struggle with pessimism. Dionysian forces give the Greek spectator a healthy, direct experience of human suffering and reality while the Apollonian provides the audience with the protective spirit-of-tragedy dream. Nietzsche says these natural forces which manifest in "music and tragic myth are equally an expression of a people that are inseparable from each other." Nietzsche argues this shows how Greek tragedy addressed the human needs of Greek society and was not simply "naive" expression.31 Nietzsche reminds readers that the shared world of the two gods required a struggle between two wills even when they were balanced symbolically. While tragedy is an art that is completive of existence, "immersion in the sheer beauty of appearance" challenged by "pain and contradiction in life."32

In tragedy's death, "what is tested, then, is the very Apollionian clarity that obstructs access to the Dionysian vision of the world and to the joy of beautiful appearances."33 Benjamin Bennett argues that "tragedy is art intensified to the point where it must display and affirm precisely that truth which it is the nature of art, from primitive myth on, to conceal.34 As the chorus gives way to dialogue, myth eventually gives way to Socratic aestheticism, recognizing the conflict between Apollonian and Dionysian. Martinus Nijhoff outlines the problem of the connection between the two forces:
Out of this synthesis, Nietzsche was quick to see, of the epic with the lyric, of the visual with the musical, of the chorus with the protagonist, was born the dramatic dithyramb which we call Greek Tragedy. And tragedy, Nietzsche has massively implied, is the art-form in which our painful consciousness of existential insignificance-- the ground of pessimism-- is overcome, reflectively and satisfactorily. In this art-form, man is projected as fusible with the primal, self-reflective artist-begetter of the world as a whole. Nietzsche is saying that it is of the essence of art both to get at what is primordial and be self-reflective while, also, reaffirming the significance of the human.35
Socratic aestheticism finishes the imbalance between the Apollonian and Dionysian forces and collapses under pessimism because it can no longer affirmed by "metaphysical consolation." Nietzsche argues that the "metaphysical illusion is an instinct which belongs inseparably to science, and leads it to its limits time after time, at which point it mud transform itself into art; which is actually, given this mechanism, what it has been aiming at all along."36

Conclusion: The Tragedy of Synthesis
"For where art is concerned, that despotic logician now and then had the feeling of a gap, of an emptiness, of a partial reproach, of a duty he had perhaps neglected. As he explains to his friends in prison, one and the same dream apparition often came to him, always with the same words, “Socrates, practice music!” 

-Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

The struggle between Apollo and Dionysus symbolically represents the needs that art fulfills for an audience, a connection to myth and a connection to truth. In the naïve spirit of Greek Tragedy, philosophers purport that this struggle was once a synthesis of the two ideals that energized a collective chorus. Nietzsche’s analysis of the Schopenhauer’s Will and its place in art, however, provokes the question of whether the Greeks were dealing with their own pessimism about truth, art, and the society that surrounded them.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Germantown celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month year-round

Originally published on and WHYY Newsworks

As the city honors its history of jazz music this month, Germantown’s jazz schedule looks no different than usual. Jazz Appreciation Month highlights what Germantown appreciates every month and even every week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Super Schlegel Bros and Shakespeare: Artistic Unity, Uniqueness and Universality

Frederich Schlegel
Friederich Schlegel develops an aesthetic standard that claims "criticism is not to judge works by a general ideal, but is to search out the individual ideal of every work" ("Friedrich Shlegel," Literary Notebooks, 1733). He borrows from Herder's notions of historical/cultural uniqueness of individuals and Kant's assertion in Critique of Judgment of the impossibility of judging beauty according to an external rule.

Schlegel uses fragments, a characteristic figure of the Romantic movement, to reflect the "unity" that gives his philosophy "chaotic universality." He says "a fragment, like a small work of art, has to be entirely isolated from the surrounding world and be complete in itself like a hedgehog." (Athenaeums Fragment 206)

He looks like hedghog.

Schlegel's fragments ask, "The simplest and most immediate questions, like Should we criticize Shakespeare's works as art or as nature?" (Athenaeums Fragment 121) While Friedrich Schlegel's fragments do not form a systematic philosophy, his brother A.W. Schlegel answers some of these questions. He addresses Aristotle's claim that arts are mimetic and the classicist view that "art should imitate nature." Since art has to take from nature, Schlegel argues "art should form nature." (Behler 85) He argues that 'the clarity, the emphasis, the abundance, and manifoldness" in which the human mind mirrors itself in a world within a world makes it that "in art the human being is the norm of nature" (Behler 86) 

AW Schlegel

Friedrich Schlegel agrees with his brother's interpretation of imitation but argues that "Freedom of the poet" faces a challenge from "the pre-existent world of nature, society, and tradition (myth and history)" and thus "the poet is 'not entirely free', or free only in a particular way relative to his individual work of poetry." (87) Schlegel states that the "The privilege of nature is fullness and life; the privilege of art is unity." He says that in order for art to form to nature it must have unity that imitates the fullness of nature. 'Whoever denies the latter, whoever conceives of art only as a remembrance of the most beautiful nature, denies it all autonomous existence' (89)

While Schlegel regards Greek tragedy and epic poetry as "the peak in the natural culture of beautiful art," he considers it a "high prototype of artistic progression." Behler argues that Schlegel makes a "sharp distinction between a natural and an artificial, artistic period in the development of European art," attributing the natural to the classical period and the artificial to the modern which has become an infinite progression of self-reflection.

With artistic unity as a starting point, Schlegel argues a piece of art can begin to form rules internally. He may not entirely agree with the rules of Aristotle's Poetics but he can affirm the value to something like Shakespeare's rhyme, "the symmetrical repetition of similarity." (Critical Fragment 124) Striving for an aesthetic yet historical judgment like Herder, Schlegel argues that the objectives of ancient, classical and modern art should be assessed separately. Ancient art serves an objective; classical art exhibits character; modern art expresses the individual. All relate to universal values if given context. The "opposition, antithesis antinomy between classical and the modern worlds" should not be a failure of modernity. (Behler 102) Modern poetry's "lack of character" should be understood as "confusion the common feature of its mass, anarchy the essence of its history, and skepticism the result of its theory" at the time. (Behler 103)

Schlegel's Critical Fragment 200 says:
"Nay I'll ne'er believe a madman," says a very clever madman in Shakespeare "till I see his brains."
Schlegel continues "One might expect certain self-styled philosophers to fulfill this precondition of belief; and I would wager that one would find they had made papier-mâché out of Kant's writings." 
What Schlegel objects to is the mad repetition of past endeavors instead of embracing the "'ingenious originality', the 'interesting individuality', and the 'isolated egoism' of the modern artist." Instead of returning to a "past historical time, however perfect such an age may have been," moderns should seek unity in "new mythology" in artistically unified and "timely effort." (Behler 105) Schlegel argues this unity is key as "Philosophers still admire only Spinoza's consistency, just as the English only praise Shakespeare's truth." (Critical Fragment 306)

Tech-No-Logical: Why I Wish I Were A Cowboy

I want to die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail, not on a floppy disc but in the real world. At least in the old days I could pass away in peace with no fear of pictures of my disinterred body getting spread all over Facebook.

No email, no blogs, no 24-hour-hyperventilating-mass-media dissecting how I died and whose fault it is, just immortalization by the good ol’ Gutenberg Press. By the time the Pony Express would get back to Pennsyltucky, they’ll think I’d died saving babies from being eaten by bears or hipsters out in Portland.

Ever since Edison invented the light bulb, we've been staring into screens. The invention that was supposed to help us see is making us go blind. That’s why we ain’t got no heroes today; we do nothing and when someone does do something we document every mistake they make.

Shoot, Johnny Cash could make a song about killing a man in Reno and ain’t no police chased him for nothin’ but pills. Bank robbing and train thieving could be quite the thrill. Thanks a lot, security cameras.
Instead, all kids do is steal music online and complain about delayed der train is on Twitter. These twits don’t understand how great a cowboy I’d be. Sure, all I’d do is herd cattle all day but that’d be better than this mess of modern technology. Hulu? YouTube? The only words I’d need to know are “moo, moo.” Besides, the book’s always better than the movie.
Suck it, Spielberg!
We’re overloaded with so much information that we need to spoon-feed even the shortest of stories. If we need Lance Armstrong’s wristbands to symbolize our disgust for cancer, I suggest we get the training wheels for these technological tools.
BibleWheel apparently likes my metaphor too, though I'm not sure I follow theirs.
Modern men always ruin good things. The bicycle was a perfect fix for the horse’s fuel and pollution problem but we mucked it up with cars. While we’re talking about transportation, I’d like to see the guy who invented the tricycle kick the guy who invented the Segway’s ass.

We’ve wasted so much time making things that were supposed to save us time. Instead, we’re slaves to the snooze button on our alarm clock, punching in time clocks when we should be punching Texas cattle. Now I ain't saying we need to go back to using morse code or nothing, but I bet Alexander Graham Bell woulda thought twice about the telephone if he knew his momma was gonna talk to him on it for hours.
Excuse me, Mom. I have to go. 
My followers are waiting for me to tweet about this. 
Was the telegram as annoying as these radioactive text messages? Did Honest Abe send annoying invitations to his generals about his latest poetry reading?

No, when Abraham Lincoln had something cool to say he showed up like a boss on a horse or steam engine or steam-engine horse with a cannon on its back to tell soldiers to shoot somebody for their country or God or some other abstract moral principle like not being a jerk or slaveholder. Ain’t no simpler lesson than a Smith and Wesson.
Now let's turn these Confederates into confetti! Seriously, no one likes my poetic puns? 
Simple, straightforward communication -- is that so tough today? The typewriter may be arduous but at least it made morons think before they told us about their breakfast or how much homework they have. Give me a home where the buffalo roam, not cell phones out of their network. None of this high-fangled Lil Wayne synthesizer nonsense mucking up all my air, just the sound of my own voice singing folk songs louder than anyone else. So as you stare into the screen pretending to forage through the faux-frontier, wondering how many hours of your life you've wasted. You should ask yourself, "Do you feel lucky? Well, computer junk?"

Monday, April 23, 2012

Artistic Cooperation and Collaboration on Girard Avenue

Music Issue: Artistic cooperation and collaboration on Girard Avenue
Photo Credit: Indira Jimenez
Girard Hall provides space to perform, present and create art, music and films.

A warehouse sits at 527 W. Girard Ave., at the corner of 6th Street and Girard Avenue.

The building constitutes a creative workshop for a core group of artists and musicians who work in the space daily, fosters a collaborative outlet for the community and serves as another work-in-progress for the group, the Girard Hall Collective.…

by Andrew Small 23 April 2012

INDIRA JIMENEZ TTN Girard Hall, a warehouse-like space at 6th Street and Girard Avenue, houses several Temple students and provides a space for artistic and musical undertakings.

Girard Hall provides space to perform, present and create art, music and films.

A warehouse sits at 527 W. Girard Ave., at the corner of 6th Street and Girard Avenue.

The building constitutes a creative workshop for a core group of artists and musicians who work in the space daily, fosters a collaborative outlet for the community and serves as another work-in-progress for the group, the Girard Hall Collective.

Senior film majors Craig Scheihing, Zack Auron, Kyle Maack and Jake Kindlon formed the collective last fall. Scheihing and Auron decided to rent the space to form an avenue of artistic expression for their friends. Working in mediums ranging from painting and photography to film and music, the group of Temple students and other Philadelphia artists united around the idea that imaginative endeavors thrive on interplay.

“It’s great having creative minds in one creative space,” Auron said. “What’s good about having so many people working is when one person isn’t here, there’s always other people who could help.”

Though the workspace is an all-in-house production studio, Girard Hall also houses film screenings, concerts, art exhibitions, record/magazine release parties and other collaborations with local artists.

Margaret McLaughlin, a senior linguistics major who has earned the unofficial title of “house mom,” said that the mix of artists in the house leads to a mix of music types.

“[Often], the day goes from Craig [Scheihing]’s punk to universal jazz to [evening] rap practice with hip-hop instrumentals,” McLaughlin said.

Outside the apartment, a newsstand provides a portal for a photography and creative writing magazine, called “Unframed,” produced by Scheihing. The first issue featured writing solely from collaborating artist Malcolm Bates, a senior English and Italian major. Bates’ abusive “Letters to Craig” series is a Facebook favorite.

Scheihing said the newsstand started as “an outlet to distribute what was happening inside” but it became a link to outside collaboration. The “Unframed” box itself was painted by collaborating artist, Jeremy Jams, a painting major and Temple alumnus.

Bandname, Jams’ punk band, performed a New Year’s Eve show at Girard Hall, and Scheihing is working on their animated music video. Resident artist Kerri McGuckin, an undeclared junior, helped shoot photos at the show. Her pit bull, Pokey, is Girard Hall’s mascot.

Initially, no one was sure how the group would work, but the warehouse had potential despite its decrepit walls and dysfunctional toilet.

“It was trashed – people just left everything,” Maack, a co-founding member of Girard Hall, said. “There was rotting meat in the freezer. We tore down walls and painted, [but] it’s still coming together.”

Defining the collective’s direction was almost as daunting as cleaning the mess.

“When we read our mission statement we didn’t know exactly what to do because it sounded like we took ourselves too seriously, so we just changed it to ‘come hang out with us,’” Maack said, as he animated a fellatio-giving cat for a project called “Rebel,” which will feature voiceovers by James Franco and Devendra Banhart.

However, Kindlon said the ambience of the apartment gives guidance to their art.

“The lady who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” said ‘genius is a thing that lives in the walls,’” Kindlon said, half-jokingly. “When you live with a bunch of artists, it’s easy to tell when the genius is coming out because everyone is either happy and creating or sad and masturbating.”

One rule for sharing the space was that group decisions must be made unanimously.

With this attitude, the collective took where a broken trampoline once stood and made Mount Olympus. Kindlon is directing a movie combining Greek mythology and hip-hop culture, titled “Vocabulary of the Mysteries.”

The story stars André Cofield, a senior studying industrial design at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, as the god Hephaestus, who builds a lady-bot to find happiness on earth after losing a dance battle to Zeus.

Cofield began working on the project as its “hip-hop consultant.” Auron, who is the photography director on the film, said Cofield earned the lead from his intimate involvement with the project.

Auron’s longtime friend, Brenan Fay-Martin, a graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design, also contributed artwork to the movie and painted artwork Cofield conceived for his upcoming album, “The Journey.” To edit the film, Maack is delaying post-production of “Yoke,” his documentary about Christian communities in Pennsylvania.

Donnell Powell, a senior broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media major, has a role in the film as Henchman No. 1 but he plays a larger part as the movie’s “media guru,” managing photos and video of the production on its Tumblr.

As production director of Color My Sidewalk, a local arts program, Powell said for art to engage a community is too much for individuals. The interdisciplinary structure collective sets an example for Temple to consider.

Powell described the work as a humbling experience where consensus and constructive criticism craft creations. Before conceiving commercialization, the collaborative climate is what the collective values.

“It’s exactly like the movie,” Kindlon said. “Everyone’s always looking at the footage of it and saying, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see the final product.’ This place brings people together so much that it doesn’t matter what the final product is because we’re doing it now."

This piece original appeared in the Music Issue of The Temple News

Sunday, April 1, 2012

West Oak Lane: Police District Defies City Murder Trend

Originally published on and WHYY Newsworks
Captain Joel Dales discussed crime prevention strategies with local residents.

While homicides across the city have increased this year, Philadelphia’s 14th Police District, which serves North Germantown and West Oak Lane, has seen half as many homicides compared to this time last year.

As of April 1, citywide homicide data indicates 87 homicides this year compared with 83 homicides at this date in 2011. Murders have decreased by almost 21.9 percent since 2007.Capt. Joel Dales revealed the news to residents at a Town Hall meeting last week. Joining Lt. Anthony Buchanico’s regular police service area meeting, Dales said the district has seen three homicides this year compared to the six his district had seen by this time last year.

Philadelphia Police’s most recent homicide analysis was published for 2011.

The 14th District had 28 murders total last year, closely followed by nearby Germantown’s 39th District, which had 27 murders, and the 35th District, which had 22 murders.

Dales said that what makes town hall meetings important to his job is cooperation between neighbors and police for information.

Dales explained the best way the community helps is by paying attention to their neighbors and children. He said two weeks ago at the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Chelten Avenue, a fight was prevented thanks to a tip. Nearly a hundred kids were waiting for a fight after school between gangs called the Cool Kids and Brickyard Mafia. Police were ready to break up the scene because parents had contacted them.

A woman who brought her two sons to the town hall asked for help with crime associated with drug dealing she had witnessed outside her home. Dales assured her that he already knew of issues at the intersection she mentioned and had plans to increase police presence there. Upon Dales’ mention of a homicide this year at a bar, other residents brought up the issue of nuisance bars contributing to the problem. The woman, who requested to remain anonymous because she is a witness in an ongoing case, responded that shutting down a bar is harder than they would think.

“You need to find weapons, drugs or have an aggravated assault or homicide,” she said.

“I need to have you on my team,” Dales replied. “What’s amazing is even with shootings, it is difficult to get a bar shut down. We work with the DA’s office on these problem bars a lot, but they can challenge in court.”

Dales explained meeting with a bar owner who was attracting the “wrong crowd.” He worked with the bar owner to implement security measures and changes.

“I understand these bars want to make money,” he said. “But they can do it the right way.”

Dales mentioned that other preventative measures include community efforts to prevent criminality. In an arrest related to a local bar shooting, Dales said he caught a suspect whom he had arrested personally for narcotics in 1999.

Officer Calvin Johns said that a Nuisance Task Force, previously shut down by the city due to budget cuts, may be formed again to address bar problems faster. Dales added that community efforts are just as important as police presence in preventing violent crime.

“‘Lock them up’ is not always the answer,” Dales said. “Prison can be like college for crime.”

Dales said communities need to invest in their neighbors before they become criminals. He recalled a 28-year-old man he met with no job possibilities after being released from prison. The young man was rejected for training by the Because We Care job training program because he was not an ex-felon, but had a misdemeanor. Dales said the young man had no chance of getting hired and would have to train to be a business owner, which might frustrate him back into a life of crime.

Dales said cooperation is especially difficult in relation to homicide. ”It’s a culture where some people won’t tell even if they’re the victim,” he said. “Someone will be a victim of a shooting, refuse to break the code of the streets, and I’ll think, ‘Are you crazy? This guy tried to kill you.’”

While he said he understands people are still afraid for their families, Dales said to solve homicide cases “somebody’s got to step forward.”Dales added that the district provides witness protection. Victim assistance police officer Sabra Johnson finished the meeting by outlining some of the other services provided by the Crime Victims Compensation Program.
Add caption
EMIR has changed its logo from the original chalk outline on the left to the phoenix on the right.

Victoria Greene, the founder of Every Murder Is Real, helps community members with the victim’s compensation form and other services. She said she is frustrated by the way media handles reporting homicide.

“We don’t hear the stories behind it,” Greene said. “We see the faces, if we see that. We get the numbers, the statistics but we don’t know the story of that person. We don’t hear what that person was like or about. We don’t hear about their family. It’s treated like a object. You know okay, this is murder 204 this year. That type of tone, ‘Oh, we’ve had another homicide.’ It’s like the humanity is lost.”
RIP T-Shirt Gallery & Varieties is located at 12 W. Chelten Ave.

Peter Miller, who owns RIP T-Shirt Gallery & Varieties at 12 W. Chelten Ave., said he sees lost humanity every day at his business. His business designs memorabilia including T-shirts, lockets and mugs. His store relocated to the commercial corridor six months ago after having been at the Chelten Avenue strip mall for 14 years.

Miller said his store is based on the idea that “when someone is deceased, all their loved ones have left is a picture. They have that memory and we make these products so that they can carry and wear that memory.”

Miller makes custom lockets for loved ones to remember who they have lost.

As Miller told the stories behind his display items, he realized every person on a T-shirt or locket had been a victim of a homicide in the city. The 46-year-old immigrant from West Africa said he plans to graduate this semester from Lincoln University with an undergraduate degree in systems management. He said he wants to move on from his business to help address social problems.

“If a community works with a shared vision, they can succeed,” Miller said. “But we have to be going in the same direction.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Germantown: Victim Service Founder Helps Others After Son's Murder

Every Murder Is Real founder Victoria Greene took time this week to recall the 15th anniversary of the murder of her son, Emir Greene.

Greene and her eldest daughter, Chantay Love, typically take the day off, which was Monday,  to honor the memory of the man for whom their organization gets its acronym, Emir Greene.

Upon arriving at their Victim Assistance Center on the 5200 block of Germantown Avenue for our interview, Love, co-founder and program director of the organization, received a call from a client about a navigating the legal system. Healing a community with a high rate of homicides is a never-ending battle for Greene and Love’s organization.

Emir was 20 when he was murdered on March 26, 1997, on the 5200 Block of Rubicam Street in Germantown.

Greene said she felt suicidal and later homicidal toward her son’s murderer. She credited the now-defunct Grief Assistance Program through the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office with saving her life. She has modeled her non-profit organization’s programs on her experience. (Read Greene’s account on page 33 of Writing On The Healing Walls.)

“Every week that I attended the group, I saw more and more parents come in who had lost their children to homicide,” Greene said. “That’s when I realized that in this city of Philadelphia, almost every day someone is murdered.”
Greene said sharing stories with the group made her realize “the importance of co-victims of having support to get them through one of the worst things that could happen to someone.”

Greene first held a major conference on drug-related homicide in 1999 at Rosemont College. She invited people who assisted her family, including the district attorney and the judge who worked on her son’s case. The panel also included homicide detectives, crime-scene specialists and grief counselors to answer questions about the aftermath of a homicide. Greene held another conference at Temple University in 2001.

A retired drug-and-alcohol counselor for the Philadelphia County prison system, Greene created her non-profit counseling center in 2008 to educate and assist her community in understanding and healing the trauma associated with losing a loved one or community member.

The assistance center provides free services such as grief support groups for all ages and conflict resolution. Greene’s experience has informed education about the criminal justice system, navigation through the legal system and assistance with crime victims’ compensation forms.

To help others coping with grief, Greene said it is important not to judge victims.

“Every Murder Is Real is the name of the organization,” Greene said. “We do not get into what your loved one was — what was his lifestyle when he was murdered or any of that. The fact is, we believe that all life is valuable.”
Victoria Greene looks at a mural of her son, Emir Greene, as a child.

After her son’s murder, Greene learned he was dealing drugs. Love said her brother should be remembered for more than his death.

Love said he was an artist who loved to draw and to help people. Senior citizens told her mother after his death that he visited them in their nursing home. Love recalled Emir bringing boys with no father to the barbershop. She said although she feels guilty about doing more to prevent her brother from becoming susceptible to the peer pressure of the streets, she ”was not the one who pulled the trigger.”

Greene said a common misconception about murder is that once the perpetrator is brought to trial and found guilty that the issue is over.

“The person has been murdered. You can’t bring them back.”

“You caught the perpetrator, now they’re in prison, most of the time for the rest of their lives. It’s over,” Greene said. “But it’s not over for the family, it’s not over for the friends and it’s not over for the community. These people are traumatized. They’re grieving and for the most part, they don’t get the assistance that they need to heal.”

Greene said that  “untreated trauma perpetuates violence.” After a homicide, people experience pain, depression, lack of sleep, flashbacks and other symptoms. Greene said educating the community and victims is important because “if they don’t know why and what it is then they can’t handle it.”

She said one of the most difficult aspects of counseling is “there still is a stigma around counseling, that counseling is for crazy people.” Her organization proposes healthy ways to address the symptoms, providing an alternative to the drug and alcohol use she witnessed in the prison system.

Greene said she is fortunate to have the ability to separate her feelings about what happened with her son when she is working with a family. “Otherwise, I couldn’t be effective. I’m just able to do that,” she said. “It’s a God-given talent that I am able to do that.”

Greene said she is conscious of taking care of herself physically and emotionally. “It is painful work. I am sitting with people and their pain and witnessing their pain, being there with them while they’re in pain, but I call it a privilege to be able to do that because it’s healing."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Phantom of the iPhone: Apple presents iPod: The Musical!

After learning non-fiction theater means lying through your teeth, Apple Inc. plans to take a gigabyte out of Broadway with iPod: The Musical!
When Mike Daisey eats, it's always a gigabyte.
Inspired by Mike Daisey's one-man-show, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, the multinational company announced it plans to promote the show's summer premiere at Tiananmen Square.

The late Steve Jobs conceived the story, which outlines the life of assemblyman Mao Tse Sung, during an LSD trip in 2011. Jobs' Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak said, "the musical really shows Steve's spiritual side and highlights how Buddhism influenced his business practices."

Sung, a 25-year-old soul living in a 13-year-old's body, does his dharma--12 hours a day, six days a week--fitting hard-drives into iPods. He dreams to reincarnate as an American owner of the MP3 player.
Like music, mindless repetition is essential to working at Apple's Foxconn factory.
One night, Sung discovers a first-generation iPod with the "sad iPod" error. Sent back after an expired warranty, the device is doomed to destruction. Sung's boss orders to obliterate the piece of planned obsolescence. Having sympathized with the machine, Sung saves the gadget from the garbage. He soliloquizes "iPod or not iPod? That is the question!"

"Alas poor iPod! I knew him..."
Sung gives the sad iPod the only western name he knows, Steve. He resolves to restore his electronic companion but karma can be a glitch. After he fixes his friend, his subtle singing of state-forbidden songs raises supervisors' suspicions of his slowed productivity.

Foxconn nets a large profit.
The playbill includes "I Feel Pretty (Busy Making Macs)," "My Favorite Things to Build," and "If I Were Rich Man, I'd Be Steve Jobs." The songs are so inspired that, in accordance with U.S. copyright law, they're illegal to perform in America. To save on royalties, U2's Bono contributes original songs for the Broadway staging, including "With or With iTunes" and "Where the Streets Have No Apple Stores."
Bono's music makes anyone want to jump off a roof.
Sung's singing slows assembly line speeds so much that his mother, Mao Tse Right-Click, loses her arm in a conveyor belt working on the old Macintosh line that runs to prevent old people revolution. Subsequently, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" makes an appearance as an Apple silhouette dance number on the assembly line.

When Sung plans a strike for workers rights, he begins to get followed by the Phantom of the iPhone, a 3G smartphone with a cracked screen. With a warranty for the Wicked Glitch of the West's arrest, the Phantom brings Sung and Steve to the Wizard of Pods. The iPhone receives his reward, a free upgrade to 4S with a renewal of his AT&T subscription.
 Even the Wizard's best bounty hunter is still a slave to yearly contracts.
Benevolent Apple forgives the bandits for their disobedience. But in an event unrelated to their transgressions against the state, they die two days later in an factory explosion caused by combustible iPad polish dust.

Despite death, the story ends happily. Steve becomes components in Bill Gates's Gateway computer, still fixing Windows 7 bugs. As for Mao Tse Sung, he reincarnates as an apple orchard worker, Gabe Garcia Márquez, listening to "Anything Goes" on his iPod Shuffle.