NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, during happier times.
I once met and interviewed Adrian Peterson.
He greeted me, as he does everyone, with a vice-grip handshake that stuns you to your core, a handshake that I found extremely peculiar. A firm handshake is what most men do. But this was ridiculous. It was as if Peterson was out to exert and display his power for no particular reason at all other than to exert and display that he was stronger than you. And it was like he didn’t want you to forget it.
With that story, I make a rather lengthy, but pertinent leap to his case of child abuse. Adrian Peterson whupped up on his 4-year-old boy, perhaps as a form of backwater punishment, but certainly as an exertion of power. After reading about this case and seeing the photos of a bruised 4-year-old, I come to the conclusion that Peterson is a loathsome and contemptible man.
But this is not just a story about a bad human being. It’s a story of how the National Football League has turned into a joke when it comes to governing their employees. Their punishment of Adrian Peterson for the rest of the NFL’s regular season may pass a moral test, but it’s another ass-backward attempt to gain public trust by manipulating rules and regulations solely upon the whims of an empty suit named Roger Goodell.
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It was one of the most bizarre interviews ever on TV news. CNN’s Don Lemon, who used to work in Philadelphia at NBC10, asked one of the women who is accusing Bill Cosby of rape, why she didn’t do more to prevent it. He went so far as to basically ask Joan Tarshis why she didn’t just bite Cosby’s penis.
That bizarre exchange gave birth to #DonLemonReporting, #DonLemonRapePreventionTips and #DonLemonQuestions, with tweets applying Lemon’s warped logic to other situations. It is the top trending hashtag on Twitter:
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As an attorney accuses the Philadelphia Police of “crucifying” the man known as Philly Jesus, further infuriating those who find the character’s whole act sacrilegious, there just might be some method to the madness behind arresting a guy dressed as the Son of God.
For a lesson in madness there is no better place to go than New York City, Times Square to be precise.
Have you been recently? It is a children’s fantasy nightmare straight out of a Fellini Film. People dressed like Elmo, Mickey and Minnie, Batman, Hello Kitty, Buzz and Woody stalk you and your children to take pictures. Sometimes there are as many as 80 of them and the costumes are just off enough, just dingy enough to make them a tad frightening. Imagine your childhood favorites recreated by Edvard Munch. And if you don’t tip them a few bucks, things can get out of hand fast.
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Bill Cosby at a recent Philadelphia appearance (left); Janice Dickinson | Shutterstock.com (right)
Last week, when I asked Bill Cosby if he had anything to say about the persistent and multiple sexual assault allegations against him, he smiled at me and whispered “no” in my ear. Then on Saturday, NPR’s Weekend Edition ran a new interview with Cosby, during which he refused to talk about the allegations, giving interviewer Scott Simon the silent treatment. But a lot has changed since then.
First, 66-year-old Woodstock resident Joan Tarshis came forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her two times in 1969, when she was a 19-year-old aspiring actress and he had just launched the immensely popular Bill Cosby Show on television.
Then, on Tuesday, former supermodel Janice Dicksinon — by far the most prominent of Cosby’s accusers — told Entertainment Tonight point blank: “I’m certain now that he drugged and raped me.”
Dickinson’s statement was quickly followed by Netflix’s announcement that Cosby’s comedy special, which was scheduled for release the day after Thanksgiving, would be postponed indefinitely, this coming not long after scheduled appearances on David Letterman and Queen Latifah’s television shows didn’t happen. And it sounds like Cosby’s long-planned return to prime time, courtesy of NBC, may be in jeopardy.
All of which makes me wonder: Why doesn’t Cosby just come out and say he didn’t do it?
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Did you hear? An economic boom is quietly and slowly happening in Philadelphia.
“With little fanfare,” this report from last weekend says, “Philadelphia is undergoing a revolution powered by the U.S. energy renaissance. Renewed investment and activity in the region’s sprawling railway network and aging infrastructure is turning the City of Brotherly Love into a potential energy hub that some believe can rival Houston.”
Just this past month daily crude oil output in the U.S. topped 9 million barrels for the first time since March of 1986, and as Patrick Kerkstra wrote in this must-read Philly Mag piece: “The spoils of the Marcellus Shale gas fields will gush into the core of the city and its suburbs through broad new pipelines. Gargantuan processing facilities, built with billions of dollars of global capital, will rise like steel stalagmites along the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. New factories — lured by the abundant low-cost energy the pipelines provide — will hire thousands of working-class residents to make plastic, steel, cement and countless consumer goods. Air pollution will increase, but so will the local GDP, as energy traders and executives fill up downtown office buildings.”
Our city happens to be in the right spot with the right infrastructure. We’re a hop and a larger skip away from the shale oil fields of Western Pennsylvania and North Dakota, respectively, and located smack in the middle of the populous and energy-hungry East Coast. There are thousands of acres of industrial space along both rivers just waiting to be built and re-built. There are huge refineries already in operation near the airport and in Marcus Hook and other refineries and holding facilities in Trainer and Hunting Park. We’ve got the right rail connections and large ports. We’ve even got Patti Labelle, and she’s a national treasure.
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As Philly this week celebrated the long-awaited news that Pope Francis will indeed be visiting us for next year’s World Meeting of Families, this Tweet came across the transom:
Well, goodness. That’s not fun to think about, is it? But that means it’s probably a question worth confronting: How should those of us who are feminist gay-loving liberals react to the forthcoming (temporary) takeover of our city by a church that doesn’t share our values?
My suggestion: Treat the event like it’s family coming for Thanksgiving. Smile! Try to be a good host! Avoid unnecessary arguments! And if you can’t do those things, well, remember: The guests will only be here a few days — and then they’ll leave. This too shall pass.
Having given that advice, though, I can’t bring myself — as a feminist gay-loving liberal — to get too worked up about the the World Meeting of Families and accompanying papal visit. It doesn’t mean my own values don’t matter to me (they do) but because this seems to be a unique moment in the church, and I’m eager to see it up close.
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On Monday, you expressed confusion on The View about Cosby accuser Barbara Bowman‘s actions after her alleged rape at age 17: “Perhaps the police might have believed it. Or the hospital. Don’t you do a kit when you say someone has raped you?”
You weren’t strident, you weren’t defensive, you seemed — oddly enough — sincere. “I’m going to reserve my judgment because I have a lot of questions,” you said. I believe that you’re genuinely confused.
It’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that a person can do both horrible things and worthwhile things and occupy the same body. I remember writing a college admission essay about the fact that Charles Dickens, my favorite author, was a terrible husband. Could I separate art from artist? Should I?
Obviously, this is harder. The investment in believing Bill Cosby to be the genial standup comedian, philanthropist, father figure … it’s profound. For that man to also potentially be a sexual predator? All of us slide in and out of selfishness and generosity, kindness and crank. But this is another level. It’s Roman Polanski. Or Oscar Pistorius. Or Lance Armstrong. We are large, wrote Whitman. We contain multitudes. Not all of the multitudes are pretty.
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It’s not every day that the pope puts Philadelphia on his itinerary.
In what seems like an epic win for a city that treats newscasters as A-listers and almost imploded when Miley Cyrus stumbled around for a couple of weeks, Pope Francis has officially confirmed his September 2015 trip, a three-day visit that coincides with the World Meeting of Families (I’ll assume the Weymouths’ invitation is in the mail).
Mayor Nutter has stated the obvious, calling preparations for the visit a “massive undertaking” that will require a “tremendous amount of coordination.”
Officials are all over the usual: coordinating security, transportation and hotel accommodations for an influx of tourists that could momentarily double the city’s population. Which is great, but I can’t help but wonder who — in the words of my Catholic grandmother — will be responsible for “covering up our sins.”
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Sunday, on our way home from a trip to upstate New York, my husband and I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts. When we came back out with our coffee, there was a car parked a few spaces down from ours. It had one of those little flatbed trailers attached to the back. And lying on the trailer were two dead deer, gutted and trussed for travel. They were having their picture taken by a passing mom and her 14-year-old son, who were carefully framing the shots on their cellphones.
I’m not sure why they bothered. It’s not like there’s a dearth of dead deer around these parts. On our trip to New York and back, I must have seen several hundred dead deer — lying beside the road, lying on the road, lying a hundred yards back from the road, with their little deer limbs twisted and contorted in a gymnast’s baedeker of positioning. There were deer on their backs, on their sides, on their bellies. There were deer who seemed to be sitting up, human-like, by the roadside, watching the passing cars patiently, unblinkingly.
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My fellow journalists: It’s time to stop enabling Bill Cosby.
At least three times in the last week, Cosby has been directly given the chance to respond to resurfaced allegations of sexual assault that have haunted him publicly since Hannibal Buress’s Philadelphia appearance last month. Each time he’s ducked the question.
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