The Orlando Nightclub Shooter and the Agonizing Need to Know “Why”

Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

We’d like it to be like Law & Order, or Criminal Minds, or CSI. On those shows, there’s always a clear motive. The boss killed his secretary so she wouldn’t tell his wife about their affair. The husband killed his wife to collect on the insurance money before the divorce went through. Even a serial killer does what he does because of that one uncle who molested him in the basement when he was 9.

The emphasis on a single, easily digestible motive is an obvious must for TV police procedurals: There’s only so much time in each episode to unspool the crime-and-punishment plot. It’s also the way the criminal justice system works. Jurors are TV watchers, after all. They need a story that holds together, is persuasive, makes sense.

A motive feels even more urgent after an inherently inexplicable event like the massacre in Orlando. Until we know why it happened, we’re stuck in the devastation. Once we have a motive, we can stop thinking about the terrified people who waited for their deaths, crouched in toilet stalls, and about the torn-apart hearts of the parents who lost their children. We can step away from the dislocating horror, the incomprehensibility, and return instead to the familiar:  Read more »

15 Years Ago Today, Sixers Fans Booed Beyoncé

Destiny's Child at the 2001 NBA Finals

Destiny’s Child performs during halftime of Game 4 of the 2001 NBA Finals 15 years ago today. Michelle Williams’ Lakers jersey started a chorus of boos that nearly drowned out the performance by the end. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)

What began as a promising NBA Finals was looking pretty bleak by halftime of Game 4.

The Sixers — bruised and battered, led by NBA MVP Allen Iverson in his finest season — had clawed out of deficits in their first three series to win the Eastern Conference. They rallied to beat the Lakers, previously unbeaten in the playoffs, in Game 1. But the Sixers dropped a winnable Game 2 when they missed some late free throws, then lost Game 3 back in Philadelphia as well. Now they were down 14 at halftime of Game 4. Sixers fans could forget about any chance at a comeback if the Lakers went up 3 games to 1. The incredible playoff run of 2001 looked like it was coming to an end.

And out on the court at the then-First Union Center stepped Beyoncé, the biggest pop star in the world. Her performance was widely booed throughout. Really.

She wasn’t the biggest pop star in the world at the time. She was still Beyoncé Knowles, lead singer of Houston girl-group Destiny’s Child. Two years before, it had a breakthrough with its second album. The Writing’s on the Wall went eight-times platinum, there were major lineup shakeups. By June 2001, Destiny’s Child was a trio. Read more »

Orlando Nightclub Shooting Was a Hate Crime

A message of the screen during a prayer vigil at the Joy Metropolitan Community Church after a fatal shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

A message of the screen during a prayer vigil at the Joy Metropolitan Community Church after a fatal shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

“We find community and sanctuary on the dance floor. As Latino gay men, we teach ourselves to break tradition so that we can take the hand of another man and dance. We do this to keep traditional. This alone continues to provide us space, even if the spaces are borrowed, for us to be and feel safe. This massacre was another reminder that we can be robbed of these spaces, robbed of our humanity and our lives.”

— Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca, founder of The Gran Varones, a storytelling project that shines a light on the stories of Latino & Afro-Latino Gay, Queer and Trans men.

I’m writing this column Sunday night. I’ve spent all day online, tracking what is happening in Orlando, Fla., where in the early hours of the day, a gunman shot and killed at least 53 people at a popular gay dance club where folks had gathered for a night of reggaeton, bachata and salsa.

You don’t need me to tell you the details of the Orlando nightclub shooting — every news story out there has them — and after a while they serve more as distraction than revelation. That last is what we crave, not only an answer to an unfathomable “why” but also what it means for us (and about us) as a nation. Read more »

Muhammad Ali Is Dead; His Biggest Fight Continues

Muhammad Ali speaks at an anti-war rally at the University of Chicago on May 11, 1967.

Muhammad Ali speaks at an anti-war rally at the University of Chicago on May 11, 1967.

On June 7th, four days after Muhammad Ali passed, I was on Facebook when I saw it: a meme posing as a promotional ad for a fictional fight in heaven (“Holy Fighting Championship”) between recently deceased MMA fighter Kimbo Slice and American icon Muhammad Ali atop a set of heavenly clouds. Billed as “Rumble at the Pearly Gates,” it was your typical (knee-)jerk internet hot-take for a laugh; the two prized fighters preparing to duke it out in the type of “What if?” motif usually reserved for dead hours on sports talk radio and Marvel Comics.

Both men were framed in a heavenly glow: Ali with his gloved fists raised and at the ready, and Slice with his long, languid limbs hanging like loose wires at his side; heaven’s pearly gates cast open wide behind them.  Read more »

Meet the Philly Student Magazine That Just Got Credentialed to Cover the DNC

The Motivos teams at Taller Puertorriqueño's Meet the Author series. Courtesy of Jenée Chizick-Agüero

The Motivos teams at Taller Puertorriqueño’s Meet the Author series. Courtesy of Jenée Chizick-Agüero

If this freaky electoral season has given us anything to be certain about, it is that diversity and inclusion are still quite an issue in our country.

From Donald Trump’s exclusion of Mexicans and Muslims from the “we” that is supposed to describe America, to Hillary Clinton’s inability to convince young Bernie voters that the mainstream Democratic Party is inclusive enough to welcome them and their core issues — the United States is going through what amounts to an identity crisis.

And, for better or worse, that identity crisis — at least the Democratic side of it — will be in evidence at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

But it won’t manifest in the media coverage. Or at least not in all of the media coverage. Motivos — a bilingual magazine staffed and produced by college and graduating high school-age journalists and headquartered West Poplar Community Center in Fairmount — just received notice of preliminary credentialing to cover the Democratic National Convention.

Unexpected. And unexpectedly inclusive.  Read more »

Of Course Someone Threw a Beer Bottle at Ryan Howard

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I was sitting on the banks of the Schuylkill River with my boyfriend, Brad, and our friend Conor last year, outside of the Art Museum, when Conor said: “What was the best day of your life?” Conor and Brad were smoking cigars, which seemed to incline them both toward philosophical reflection. Brad said, “The day the Phillies won the World Series.” I said, “Me too!” Only we were talking about two different days.

I was referring to the 1980 victory, which I watched on a small TV with my dad and other customers at Towne Pizza at 19th and Pine. Everyone went absolutely bonkers, including my dad, who never cared at all about sports. Of course, the victory wasn’t about baseball, per se. It was about Philadelphia. It was also pure joy unfettered by knowledge (I was 12), and it suffused my entire body.  Read more »

Pondering Those Sixers Trade Rumors

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose sits on the bench during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center in April 2016.

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose sits on the bench during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center in April 2016. Mike DiNovo | USA Today Sports

Until the NBA Draft actually happens, we are left only with trade rumors that would supposedly make the 76ers better-rounded and a little better.

The one thing we know is that the Sixers have too many big men. On the roster right now are five players of 6-10 or more, with one more coming if the team does select 6-10 Ben Simmons from LSU. (Thursday on my radio show, Sixers head coach Brett Brown talked about Simmons, and if Brown was a poker play, he gave off a “tell” as obvious as a flashing neon sign that the team is going to take Simmons). That means they must trade at least one of those bigs in order to supplement their perimeter.  Read more »

Lemonade Stand: What Beyoncé Will Be Bringing to the Linc

beyonce-lemonade-940x540

When Beyoncé lands at Lincoln Financial Field tomorrow night, she’ll bring with her hits, legions of fans — and about a dozen reasons for them to give each other the side-eye.

For the last three years Beyoncé has mastered the side eye — that sidelong look that says “oh, really?” Her last album, the amazing self-titled Beyoncé, was the most sexually alive album from an artist you increasingly got the notion worked so hard at her presence and her music that she may not even be familiar with a bed. With it, though, came the notion that despite a nigh-undisputed attractiveness, she was still viewed as virtually asexual. Not even giving birth to Blue Ivy could dislodge the idea that Beyoncé was not a sexual being; to the most deranged detractors (and some fans) Ivy seemed more likely an immaculate conception — or at least a surrogate pregnancy — likely part of the reason why “Beyoncé fake pregnancy” is such a popular Google search. Even after birthing Ivy, her music (largely) hasn’t wavered, and both Beyoncé and Lemonade have felt like organic, important entries into her impressive catalogue. It has been business as usual for Queen B.  Read more »

Is Philly Really the Angriest City in America?

iStockphoto.com | f11photo

iStockphoto.com | f11photo

Listicles are, as a general rule, nothing to get too riled up about. Ever since Buzzfeed proved you could build an empire on the back of “17 Things You Won’t Believe Happened When A Porcupine Kitten Met Donald Trump,” the medium has proven to be clickbait gold, irresistible to writers in need of attention and pitches.

And so when Travel + Leisure declared Philly the fifth least attractive city, it was nothing personal — just another day on the Internet. Similarly, when Lonely Planet deemed us the No. 1 city to visit in the United States — followed by Natchez, Mississippi, which is apparently a real place — New York didn’t sweat it.

But Philly’s latest honor deserves a second look. Thrillist seems to think we have an anger problem, awarding Philly the top spot on its “11 Angriest Cities in America, Ranked by Irrationality” list.  Read more »

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