Pulse: 60-Second Critic April 2006


I’m Not Dead
(Sony BMG)

Bucks County native Pink must have had a particularly sturdy soapbox when she headed into the recording studio, because 14 tracks and two years later, she’s still stomping on it. But who better than a hometown heroine to stick it to Hollywood’s under-eating starlets with a lyrical “up yours”? The single “Stupid Girls” calls out “porno paparazzi girls,” and the accompanying music video leaves little doubt as to the targets, with not-so-subtle parodies of Lohan, Hilton and Jessica Simpson. Other pointed endeavors include an anti-war song written by and performed with Pink’s dad, a Vietnam vet, and the politically fueled “Dear Mr. President,” with the always-opinionated Indigo Girls. Slower and more easily forgettable acoustic tracks highlight Pink’s vocal talents. Think less hot pink, and more an older and wiser shade of rouge. Grade: B-—Jessica Remo

The Philly Rollergirls


Roller derby vanished from public sight around the same time as the Hustle, and as with fondue, we weren’t sure about the virtues of its reemergence. But then we caught the Philly Rollergirls’ exhibition bout at Millennium Skate World in Camden, where these bustiered bruisers have taken up residence. Hundreds of men, women and worldly children paid $10 apiece to witness the takedown antics of Darth Hater, Bettie Machete, Peppermint Splatty, and their foul-mouthed, well-pierced teammates. To a throbbing soundtrack of punk and metal, the Rollergirls, whose season begins this month, elbowed, tripped, kicked and body-checked their way through one of the most entertaining spectacles we’ve seen in a long time. Considering our so-called sports teams of late, this city is in need of a new dream to hold onto, even if that dream is a little scary. Grade: A—Victor Fiorillo

Crusader Nation: The United States in Peace and the Great War, 1898-1920

By David Traxel
(Alfred A. Knopf; $27.50)

There’s a reason to distrust a book with a title as long as this one. Usually, a colon and a date on the cover are tip-offs that soul-killing boredom awaits inside. Traxel, a Philly resident and University of the Sciences professor, puts the lie to that rule with elegant writing and a deft ability to weave myriad threads of narrative together. He pulls off a remarkable feat, delivering a textured, engaging portrait of an important — if neglected — slice of American history, from the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt to the ideological evolution of Commie scribe John Reed. Traxel takes the reader on a journey back to an era of crusaders who tested the limits of American idealism. Grade: A-—Andrew Putz

Sex among the Rabble

By Clare A. Lyons
(University of North Carolina Press; $22.50)

The title’s a tease, but the subtitle — “An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830”—goes to the heart of this study of how our Colonial compeers were getting it on. Lyons’s research into the colonists’ sexual mores will stun you: Philly was rife with runaway wives, self-declared divorce, prostitution, miscegenation, illegitimate birth and infanticide. Combine Irish Celtic intransigence regarding British law with Quaker free-spiritedness, ignite via a flourishing almanac and newspaper business (can you say Ben Franklin?), and you’ve got the bawdy capital of the New World, right up until an emerging middle class — who else? — squelched the party, on the basis that all this permissiveness threatened the new nation’s survival. An unusual mix of serious scholarship and People mag-style voyeurism. Grade: B—Sandy Hingston