Can!!Can LIVE!

July 24, 2010

You have to see it to believe it! Check out Georgia’s Jewish garage punk sensation, Can!!Can putting on one of their iconoclastic live performances last week at The Earl in Atlanta during their Monsters & Healers CD Release Party!

 

“Can!!Can is a spastic and soulful garage rock band that invokes almost primal reactions with its tribal-like rhythms.”

Metromix Atlanta


Click Here to See the Video of Can!!Can LIVE at The Earl!

 

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Residents of Fairhill are fully aware that their neighborhood has picked up a distinctive nickname in recent years. “This isn’t Fairhill,” says a little boy as he rides his bicycle down Cambria Street, “this is The Badlands.”

Unfortunately for Fairhill residents, living in a neighborhood with such a repellant nickname comes with certain challenges. One challenge in particular is in transportation, which is often sparse in poor, urban communities–especially ones like Fairhill that are known for high levels of crime.

The Three-Wheeled Gang

The large Philadelphia taxi companies, for instance, almost never travel through Fairhill.

“Some people weigh the risk of delivering that service and being safe,” explains Captain Daniel Castro of Philadelphia’s 24th Police District, which is the district adjacent to Fairhill’s 25th Police District. Captain Castro says that he frequently gets calls from various service providers, such as pizza deliverers and taxi companies, asking for his opinion as to whether or not they should deliver in the area.

While some companies have ceased operating all-together in certain areas, other companies have implemented strategies that allow them to partly service these neglected communities. “What they will do, for instance, a taxi will take a fare to a designated safe location in the area in lieu of taking them to their destination,” says Castro. But these measures do little to replace the door-to-door service that is offered to other Philadelphia residents. Castro recognizes this inequality, saying, “It’s unfortunate that certain pockets in the community don’t enjoy the same services as other parts of the city such as delivery services.”

Residents, however, have in turn created their own taxi companies which service only the neighborhoods that have been neglected by the traditional cab companies. When asked about taxi services in his neighborhood, 34-year-old Fairhill resident Lou Crespo automatically skips any discussion of well-known Philadelphia companies and instead describes a small neighborhood company known only as the “Dominican cab service”. “They only go to the hood”, explains Crespo.

The service as Crespo describes it is much like what one would expect a cab service to be like, with a variety of low and high-end cars available to its customers. And while this “Dominican cab service” may or may not have a legitimate title, it certainly knows how to service its customers, as most residents on Crespo’s block knew of the service and could even spot the cabs on the street.

But while these taxi services can be reliable, they fail to answer Fairhill’s day-to-day travel needs, meaning that residents like Crespo have to come up with other creative methods to get from one place to another. Like many of his neighbors, Crespo has turned to bicycles, which are both cost efficient and relatively easy to maintain. This method of transportation is one of the most popular in Fairhill, as the neighborhood streets and sidewalks are almost always packed with young and adult bike riders alike as they peddle to their next destination.

Damian Rivero, a 14-year-old student at Julia De Burgos Middle School, finds that he rides his bicycle often, using it to get to school and then riding it around the neighborhood with his friends after school. These bikes are a source of pride for Rivero and his neighborhood friends as they are quick to show off their “rides” to anyone willing to listen. The frequency in which the kids use their bikes makes the up-front price of the bicycles well worth the investment.

Of course, there is always the option of public transportation, and South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has both a bus and an El system that stops in or near the Fairhill vicinity. But for residents like Rivero, who uses his bike to reach closer areas within Fairhill, or Crespo, who uses his bicycle as a way to cut back on wasting gasoline, the simplicity of the bicycle and its popularity in Fairhill makes it the obvious choice for traveling. And if Crespo or Rivero are ever in need of a taxi cab, they know that they can count on the “hood taxies” to get them to their destination.

So in reality, the neighborhood of Fairhill might not get the same amount of services as its neighborhood counterparts, but they still manage to get around just fine.

“Finding a Ride in Fairhill” Video

“There are three stages in the work of God: impossible, difficult, done.” ~ James Hudson Taylor

Commonly referred to as “the badlands,” the Fairhill section of Philadelphia often times gets a bad rap. When people hear mention of the neighborhood, more often than not, their minds paint a picture of drug addled, litter strewn streets where you can’t even make it a half of a block without a gun pointing in your face or at least some sort of lewd proposition being thrown your way.

The members of New Kingdom Baptist Church on Mascher St, right in the heart of Fairhill, beg to differ, however. The church’s minister, Curtis Saxton, and his wife, Christina, see a lot of promise in the neighborhood and are working incredibly hard in any way that they are able to make sure that promise flourishes. The young couple has spearheaded the complete renovation of two of the church’s neighboring vacant homes and have enlisted the help of local youths with ambitious aspirations as to not only what the finished product will finitely provide for the community, but also the more profound goal of how the actual process as a whole may benefit the maturing young laborers.

Fairhill Youth Assist Church Housing Project

Christina, a former teacher at the Julia de Burgos Bilingual Elementary School, first became ensconced with the neighborhood while in college. An old factory located on the current site of her school burned to the ground and in its place formed a homeless encampment. The encampment eventually relocated to a nearby church, but Christina, raised by American missionary parents in Honduras, felt drawn to the obvious need of her fellow denizen and continuously returned to the neighborhood, bringing in food and supporting the group as a whole. That was over ten years ago and while things have changed remotely for the better in Fairhill, Christina, now a resident, feels the drive to continue her early efforts in a more formal and expansive manner.

Christina’s husband, a minister of the New Kingdom Baptist Church became exposed to the neighborhood only slightly after his wife, but in a more organized fashion. While attending Princeton University, Curtis became involved in an organization serving as a ministry to troubled youths by the name of Teen Haven. The focus of this coalition brought him consistently to Fairhill where he ended up relocating upon graduation and working in career placement and development.

The young couple’s theological mindset aided in their realization that a larger picture needed to be further sought out if any real change was going to occur. “You can have good jobs, you can have good schools, but if you don’t have any real reason for living – there’s no purpose to your life – there’s no meaning – you don’t understand why you’ve been created and what you’re purpose in life is, then life is hopeless and without that there is nothing.” Curtis explains that this is where his personal beliefs and faith come into play; serving as the key motivator to both he and his wife becoming involved with the New Kingdom Baptist Church and organizing a grassroots redevelopment project to help spread the hope that they have been so fortunate to experience in both tangible and intangible ways.

New Kingdom Baptist Church

According to the US Census, Fairhill hosts an overwhelming 598,401 vacant homes and contains a majority of the city’s displaced or homeless citizens. The neighborhood’s poverty rate, which ranks at five times the national average, causes community outreach to seem insurmountable.

“There’s so many dreams yet so much time and resources,” Curtis points out. Furthermore he says that “looking around we see a lot of [sometimes] good motivations that don’t work out practically because they’re not grounded in reality.” He refers to a housing development recently erected a few blocks away that has remained vacant for a significant period of time. Affirming that the intention to provide more homes for the community is laudatory, he emphasizes that the failure stemmed from the fact that the residences are ” too expensive for people who live here to buy, for the most part, and anybody that could afford to buy them wouldn’t want to live here.”

Through the acquisition of two neighboring buildings of the church, the Saxton’s have rallied their fellow church members as well as groups of young, able-bodied students and other church groups from near and far to provide the proximate community with not only a place to live but also a community center to conduct a variety of programs designed to benefit the area’s residents.

Curtis elaborates, “we’re small right now but growing. So, all the dreams we have right now, we don’t have [quite] the people to make them all happen right now, but we’re looking long term – into the future. I mean, obviously this project has been taking us a little while and its going to be going for a little while but as we look into the future, we have a lot of hope.”

View of the Stairwell in One of the Properties Being Renovated

Christina lays out more specific reasonings for the decision to make one of the buildings a rental home and the other a community center: “our church sometimes struggles with having all of the money we need to do the type of projects we want to do so it would provide some income and it would also hopefully provide a nice place for somebody to live.” She goes on to further explain that “there are some people who have the idea that we’ll just fix it up and rent it and just have a business relationship with whoever lives here but then i think, in my heart and in some other peoples hearts too, would be to have this as a connection to the church. we could build some relationships with the family that would live here. we could help serve them with whatever needs they would have, help connect them to wherever they would need to be connected.”

Debra Jones, a New Kingdom Baptist Church Trustee, also further clarifies the fact that these buildings have an even deeper connection to the church. “The first property, that we’re looking to use as a community center, was purchased from an elderly lady that was living in the neighborhood when we purchased the church. The other property – one of our members owned the property, and when he had passed away, he had left the house to us.” She believes that it might be best to keep the occupancy in the same tradition but agrees that the decision should definitely be based on need, stating, “well, if it would help, we would look toward a senior citizen who might need housing and then if not, maybe a small family because the house is not that large. It’s a two-bedroom with the second bedroom [being] not that large, so it would have to be a small family just starting out.”

Either way, it appears that whoever ends up occupying the building will find themselves nestled into quite a secure and tight-knit community for some time to come.

An Interactive Experience of Fairhill’s New Kingdom Baptist Church Housing Project

A cherubic face of innocence wept inconsolably while he looked on as his handcuffed father was placed in the back of a squad car. The echoing of the blaring sirens concealed his own wails while the sirens’ red and blue lights reflected off of his tear strewn face creating an image similar to a festive Halloween mask. Large brown doe-eyes poured tears down the front of his romper while this tiny barefoot boy listened to his father yell “I love you, son” through a drug-induced haze from the sweltering backseat of the squad car.

Kids Sitting on Steps of Dilapidated Building

Kids Sitting on Steps of Dilapidated Building

At around 9:45pm Saturday night, Oct. 3rd, 2009, police of the 25th District responded to a report of a burglary in process. The police cruisers sped through the streets of Fairhill with sirens screaming but as they approached the corner where the residence in peril was located, the lights and sirens shut off to provide a more stealth approach. A woman came running out onto the front steps and directed the officers down the street to where the as-of-yet unidentified man had fled, furiously describing his appearance. The squad cars instantaneously reversed direction and sped down the street where they quickly spotted the man described, exited their vehicle, and took the fleeing suspect down with one swift expert maneuver.

“Why were you running?” They repeatedly asked him to no avail as they frisked him up against an adjacent wall and placed him in handcuffs. While questioning him about if and why he had been trying to break into the residence only blocks away, the man claimed that it was his wife’s house and that he was only trying to see his kids.

The officers then drove the suspect back to the residence in question and pulled him out of the back seat in order for the owner of the house, who was perched on her front steps, to identify him. When she did, the officers returned the man to the back seat and proceeded to question the trembling woman surrounded by her five small weeping children whom were all under the age of 8-years-old.

When asked about the man’s claim to be the father of these children as well as her husband, the young woman explained that the man, who was indeed who he said he was, attempting to enter the house was in violation of a court sanctioned protection order. After presenting the proper documentation to the officers, it was ascertained that the PFA (Protection from Abuse) had expired on the 30th of Sept., 2009, only three days prior, after the suspect had failed to appear in court. The officers, under the supervision of Sargent Rosemary Petro-Ryder who had also responded to the scene, phoned in the PFA to headquarters, whom confirmed that it had indeed expired and that police could not hold the man on violation of the protection order. However, after the woman showed the police the location in the rear of the house where the suspect had attempted to enter, it was clear that the suspect had exerted force and that therefore the forced entry qualified as attempted burglary – a charge that certainly was grounds for arrest.

Police Cruiser of the 25th District

Police Cruiser of the 25th District

While the officers along with Sargent Petro-Ryder phoned in questions about the PFA, filled out the appropriate paperwork, further investigated the scene, and questioned the victim, the scene in front of the house became one of utter despair. A few of the children had followed the mother inside the house with two of the officers and Sargent Petro-Ryder had retreated into the comfort of her own squad car to take care of the applicable administrative measures involved in such a situation while keeping one eye trained on the police cruiser in front of her holding the handcuffed suspect. This left two of the smallest children alone on the front steps of the residence hugging each other and wailing. Their father, who had just asked one of the officers for “some air” before they had headed indoors, was in constant motion. His bloodshot droopy eyes rolling around his narcotic-infested brain and sweat gushing down his face and through his coarse facial hair, Dad moved furtively between the two windows trying to gasp some air from the partially cracked window on the drivers side to pressing his face up against the glass on the passenger side that was facing the house, shouting “I love you!” to his distraught children.

The youngest boy, outfitted in a powder-blue one-piece romper stood and started to descend the stairs. Rubbing his teary eyes with both fists, the boy moved his bare feet across the litter-strewn sidewalk towards the glass window his fathers face was pressed up against. Fighting back the tears and trying to show his 28-year-old father the man he thought he should be, the boy reached out and pressed his hand up against the steamy glass of the squad car’s window and gazed into his fathers delirious eyes with the intensity and despair that should never have to be seen in the eyes of a child so young; an intensity that embodied the most desperate knowledge of utter abandonment and acceptance of needing to take on the role his father was leaving behind.

Abandonment Inside and Out Audio Slideshow and Video

So, as I said in my introductory blog, I have done a bit of freelance journalizing over the years…. So, in case anyone was interested in actually checking out my published shteeze, here is a link to the clips page of my website (which you may also check out in further detail, if you so wish!)…

My Website Clips Page

These are only clips, however, so to see them actually “in print” on their publication’s respective websites, check out the following links:

“Old City Get’s Steady with Jonny Lives!” SPIN.com – 12/21/06

“My Brightest Diamond SXSW Preview” NYLON.com – 3/12/07

“My Chemical Romance Creates a Flurry in Philly” SPIN.com – 2/26/07

“Most Serene Republic Recruits Inhabitants” SPIN.com – 12/13/07

“Springhouse Reunite in Philadelphia!” SPIN.com – 10/28/08

“Balkan Tunes Attract Locals at Tritone” The Temple News – 3/24/09

I also wrote a couple features for the local ‘zine, Love Thy Neighbor. Although the text of the pieces that I wrote are not online, the photos that accompany my features are so here are the links to those: The 2007 Philadelphia Tattoo Convention and Featured Artist: Justin Weatherholtz

Just to share a bit of my portfolio with ya!

xo

In studying journalism at TU in this day and age, it only comes with the territory that we are not simply required to learn how to put sentences together to create a decent article but we also need to acquire these constantly evolving yet prevalent “multi-media” skills. So, in my last semester here at TU, I am taking this class called Publishing to the Web which is basically a design class. I know I’m not THAT much older than my fellow classmates but the 6-8 year age gap is becoming more and more apparent when it comes to dealing with these “webby” classes… I mean, I consider myself pretty good at computers but these Adobe programs are tough! But, I digress…

My first assignment for Publishing to the Web was to create my very own flash animation – so, check it out! And remember, I’m STILL learning!

My First Flash Assignment

Hello world!

February 2, 2010

Hey there!

I just wanted to start this blog off with a bit of an introduction… Then, we’ll get into the good stuff!

My name is Becca Lane and I am 28-years-old. I just graduated with a B.A. in Journalism in the Magazine Sequence from the Annenberg School of Communications and Theater at Temple University. While pursuing my degree, I also served as a freelance writer for SPIN.com, NYLON.com, The Temple News and the local ‘zine, Love Thy Neighbor and have served as a contributor to the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Blog. Connecting my passion for publicity and music, I have also filled some of my spare time freelancing for musicians and artists.

Before moving back to my hometown of Philadelphia to finish up my Journalism degree at Temple, I attended the American University in Washington, DC and then lived in New York City where I quickly moved up the ranks to become the National Tour Publicist for indy record label, V2 Records.

I completed two and a half years at American University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice. My intent was to build a career in Forensic Psychology and I even had aspirations of one day joining the FBI in the behavioral psychology department (think CSI or Criminal Minds!). This dream was cut short halfway through my junior year when my long term boyfriend was tragically killed by a drunk driver. I reevaluated my long term choices and decided to relocate to New York City and try to rediscover myself while pursuing my passions rather than studying a field that drained my passion.

A few months after moving to New York City, I obtained an internship in the publicity department of V2 Records. Two months later, I was promoted to a part time publicity assistant. After another two months, I was promoted to a full time position as Publicity Coordinator and then a few months later, I was promoted to National Tour Publicist where I was in charge of coordinating all tour press for V2 and Luaka Bop (a subsidiary of V2, owned by the Talking Heads lead singer, David Byrne) bands.

After working in the industry for a few years, I decided the time had come to finish my degree. Temple University offered a stellar Journalism program, ranking 21st in the nation, through the Annenberg School of Communications and Theater. The opportunity to be both back in Philadelphia and to earn a degree in a field I had come to love, was the perfect solution. I have now resumed my career in public relations and marketing, armed with my newly acquired journalism and multimedia design skills in the form of my own company, BeLa Media. My current clients include: Hoopla Marketing & PR, Can!!Can, Transmar Commodity Group, Divided Heaven (Jeff Berman) and many MORE in the works!

So, that catches you up to the present… Stay tuned!