Rosenbach Museum Sues Maurice Sendak Estate

A canceled stamp featuring one of the monsters from Where the While Things Are.

A canceled stamp featuring one of the monsters from Where the While Things Are. | Shutterstock.com

Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library is suing Maurice Sendak’s estate, saying the late author intended to bequeath his book collection to the museum, and for his work to continue to be displayed there.
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Feminism Isn’t Dead. It’s Just Confused.

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For as much as I enjoy dropping the F-word proper (and I do — no one has ever accused me of being a lady), I have to admit that the other F-word — feminism — has been giving me trouble.

In an article titled “Is Feminism Dead?” for Philadelphia magazine’s Conversation Issue, Sandy Hingston recently sat down with two Philadelphia millennials to gauge how they felt about the word.

The answer, of course, is no – feminism is not dead. Beyonce does not stand in front of banners bearing dead words, or even sickly words. But is feminism confused? Judging from Hingston’s enlightening conversation — as well as pretty much every smart, reasoned discussion on the topic that invites a diverse group of women — feminism is having something of an identity crisis in 2014.

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On Lena Dunham Sexual Abuse Controversy, Truth Revolt Has a Point

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A discussion about Lena Dunham has a way of sending everyone to their respective, petty corners.

Feminists over here. Those who are offended by imperfect nakedness, over there with Mr. Stern. Jealous writers who didn’t get a sweet advance on the book they haven’t written, right this way please (it’s getting crowded over here — watch the elbows). Casual fans who just want to relax and watch Girls? You’re a little well-adjusted for this group, but sure, there’s one corner left.

In fact, “discussion” is a generous word. Peruse the comments section of any article about the writer, director and Girls creator, and you’re in for a nasty blend of misogyny and body shaming that, frankly, we don’t hurl at Seth Rogen every time he bares his flabby ass in an unnecessary movie about rich white kids.

And so when the (extremely) right-leaning website Truth Revolt published an article last week accusing Dunham of sexual abuse, I have to admit I was all but programmed at this point to take her side. But the thing is, they make a pretty good case — after you get through the pop-up ads reading “How Leftism Violates All 10 Commandments.” Read more »

Just Whom Is Bruce Springsteen Trying to Impress?

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I had the unusual experience this week of feeling sorry for a very chic, very thin Frenchwoman. That would be Fleur Pellerin, France’s minister of culture, who was asked in a television interview to name her favorite book by Patrick Modiano, the Frenchman who just won the Nobel Prize for literature. This put the French minister of culture in a highly awkward position, as she was unable to name any of the works of the highly celebrated M. Modiano, seeing as she’s never read anything he’s written. (She had, however, she noted, much enjoyed a recent luncheon with him.)

Mme. Minister then compounded her sin by admitting that she hadn’t read a book of fiction in years: “I read a lot of notes, a lot of legal texts, the news, A.F.P. stories, but I read very little,” she said in the interview, according to the New York Times.

Whereupon French social media exploded, and writer Claude Askolovitch promptly called Mme. Minister “barbaric” on the French site of the Huffington Post, demanding that she resign.

Poor Fleur. Read more »

Who Says Halloween Is Just for Kids (and People With ’Em)?

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I started to worry about Halloween a couple years ago.

Right around the time when my hallowed hangover started to creep into November 2nd, my friends started staying home because they couldn’t find a sitter. Just as 10 p.m. began to sound a little late to head out to a costume party, my Facebook feed blew up with pictures of tiny humans in tiny pumpkin costumes.

This year, it seems official: I’m in Halloween purgatory — I’m wise enough to know the true cost of an open bar, but still selfish enough to steal Reese’s Cups from your little pumpkins.

But while there are a lot of holidays I’ll surrender to my 20s (it was real, New Year’s), Halloween is not one of them. I grew up in the Northeast, where trick-or-treating was a competitive sport, where tightly packed row houses meant all the candy you could carry — and then a second helping after emptying your pillowcase at home.

So how to celebrate a proper Halloween when you’re not a kid anymore  —  and don’t have one? It’s easy, but there are some rules.

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Introducing #catjawns, Instagram Hashtags for Philly Cats

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The problem: Lots of Philadelphia cats on Instagram, but no way to tell what neighborhood they live in. The solution: #catjawns.

A few years ago, a friend of mine who lives in Kensington posted a photo of her cats to Instagram. I tagged it “#kenzokats.” She picked up the idea, and she and another friend of mine use the #kenzokats hashtag. It’s time to expand this project.

Here’s how it works: When posting a photo of your cat to Instagram, please use the corresponding hashtag for your neighborhood (or one near it). Here’s an example: The cat in the header image at the top of this post, Detective John Munch, lives in East Falls. Take a photo of her, and you’d tag the Instagram photo #eastpaws. Get it?

What follows is an exhaustive list of #catjawns hashtags.

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Facebook Trying to Civilize Young People; Young People Resist

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It’s no surprise to anyone who’s ever had one that kids are mean. Really mean. Unspeakably mean. They’re enormously invested in social status, and the way to attain it, as far as they can see (they’re short), is to tear others down. For many eons, young people were only able to do this to those in their immediate vicinity, but now the miracle of technology allows them to stomp all over the feelings of young people around the world and drive them to suicide. (You can read about some particularly egregious examples here, if that’s how you like to spend your spare time.) This is why bullying, and cyberbullying in particular, have become such hot topics. According to Pew Research, 65 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 say they’ve been cyberbullied, and 92 percent have seen it done to somebody else.

Now Facebook is attempting to address the problem, at least on its pages, by teaching its users to empathize with others. A recent story in the New York Times discussed the work of Arturo Bejar, director of engineering for Facebook’s Protect and Care Team, which is exploring ways that Facebook users might let others know when their feelings are hurt by a post. Read more »

Five Real Philly Housewives We Want to See on Bravo

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The strangest thing about “Real Housewives” — after the fact that we watch it, we watch it so hard — is that the franchise never set up shop here since debuting in 2006. For a show that lives and dies by its batshit quotient, you’d think they would have made Philadelphia home years ago.

That, however, might be about to change: As the Daily News’ Jenice Armstrong reports, producer Princess Ann Banton-Lofters — creator of the series’ gold-standard Atlanta version — has been in town scouting, for lack of a better word, talent.

Presumably, Bravo is poking around the Main Line and Rittenhouse for their usual mix of old money, new money and hopefully-results-in-jail-time money.

But that would be a mistake.

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This Halloween, Can We All Just Ghost?

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I committed a grievous etiquette sin last weekend. I pulled a Halloween ghost.

Let me explain, and see if you wouldn’t have been tempted to, too.

We were invited to the wedding of a friend of our daughter Marcy. Marcy was in the wedding party, so I had gone to the wedding shower as well. I’d dutifully bought gifts for both occasions. My husband Doug and I got dressed up on a Saturday and got to the venue on time. We’ve had the happy couple over to our house for a couple of parties. We’re not close, exactly, but we like them and wish them the best.

We enjoyed the ceremony (I cried), and chatted with acquaintances and strangers at the hour-plus cocktail hour. Then we found our seats for dinner, introduced ourselves to our table-mates, and made quite enjoyable conversation with them for a couple of hours while the meal was served. It was lengthy because it was interspersed with speeches and first dances. By the time the floor was opened to general dancing, we’d been there for four-plus hours, and frankly, we were beat.

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Crowdfunding Has Consequences

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Over two weeks this past summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge poured millions of gallons of frigid water over people’s heads and millions of dollars into the ALS Association’s coffers. (“Coffers”: one of those words used only in writing, never in conversation.) The combination gag phenomenon/act of charity caused a social media tsunami and quadrupled the foundation’s usual fund-raising take, drawing 70,000 new donors to the cause.

I thought about the Ice Bucket Challenge when I read in the New York Times about the “Table of Peace,” a nifty little jewel-bedecked item of 18th-century French furniture (see close-ups here) that made a guest appearance in Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. (Fancy!) The table was in the Times because it’s the latest item the august Louvre is attempting to buy through crowdfunding. Turns out the French government has had to downsize financial support for cultural institutions for two years straight, so the museum launched a campaign to raise a million euros of the $12.5 million euro price tag set by the current owners, the family of the Baron de Breteuil, from the people. (Let them eat cake off of that, amirite?)

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