The 2014 Philadelphia Auto Show returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center with 650,000 square feet (or nearly15 acres) of display floor, the event’s largest in its 113-year history. Among the many highlights of this year’s show are nine ride-and-drive opportunities, including two indoor offerings from Jeep and Toyota. “Interactive ride experiences are typically the second phase of the vehicle research process,” said Donald Franks of J.L. Freed Honda and this year’s show chairman.
“For us to be able to offer these opportunities to our attendees directly on-site is really a testament to the strength of this event. Think about it: we have 700 vehicles for guests to look at, all under one roof. Now we also have multiple opportunities for attendees to actually test-drive or ride along in those vehicles. Where else can you do that? Simply put, nowhere. Our show has always been a strong influence on the consumer decision-making process, and additions such as these interactive displays take the event to a whole new level.”
As one of the biggest auto shows in the nation, the Philadelphia Auto Show annually welcomes approximately 250,000 attendees over its nine-day run. The event traditionally influences over $2 billion in vehicle sales every year, which is just under a third of the total Philadelphia market.
“Momentum continues to build across the auto industry,” said Kevin Mazzucola, executive director of the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia. “Last year, alone, 15.6 million vehicles were sold, and that number is expected to climb to over 16 million in 2014. If it does as anticipated, it’ll be the first time since 1930 that the auto industry has seen five straight years of gains. Further, let’s not forget the most exciting part: we are seeing some of the best product portfolios to date from vehicle manufacturers, many of which you can see on-site at this year’s event.”
This years marks the release of the official Philly Auto Show app. The 2014 Auto Show app is free and is available for immediate download in the iPhone and Android device’s app store. “In 2013, 44 percent of our website traffic was conducted from a mobile device. We all know technology makes everyday tasks that much easier, and we’re adding to that. This app will help individuals get out and see the show more quickly by avoiding the box office lines or searching around for a specific exhibit,” said Mazzucola. “By downloading the app, guests can purchase e-tickets while they are en route to the show and download the floor plan before they arrive. And the best part, after they’ve ‘found their next’ they can use our friendly dealer locator to take the research process to the next phase.”
In addition, the Auto Show will host a special Face-Off competition between two brands of American muscle cars. Ford and Mopar will battle it out and enthusiasts will have the option to vote using the new app for their favorite brand to determine a winner. Among other features on the app are links to featured cars with photos and details, and links to manufacturer sites for more information.
The 2014 Philadelphia Auto Show, produced and owned by the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia, is at the Convention Center, 1101 Arch St, Feb. 8-16. This year’s event will have hundreds of vehicles from a variety of worldwide manufacturers. Highlights include an array of concept, classic, luxury, pre-production and exotic models. Ticket prices range from $6-$12. For more information, visit www.phillyautoshow.com.
Can you be sure your partner, friend or coworker really is the person you think he or she is? You are bound to think again when you read “The Ultimate Book of Impostors: Over 100 True Stories of the Greatest Phonies and Frauds” (SourceBooks). History is littered with people pretending to be someone else. Some go undetected for years, cultivating their false identities so skillfully, even their spouses don’t know. Other frauds go up in flames after one misstep. “The Ultimate Book of Impostors” presents the astonishing true stories behind over 100 of the craziest and funniest phonies in history.
“When I was a youngster, I was a sucker for horror stories,” explained author Ian Grahm. “One that stayed with me is ‘The Ohio Love Sculpture’ by Adobe James. In just seven pages it tells the story of an art collector who stumbles across the most magnificent sculpture he has ever seen — three reclining nudes. He has to have it. He offers more and more money, but the stubborn sculptor won’t sell. Eventually the collector manages to trick the sculptor into giving up his stunning creation. But before he can pick it up, the sculptor is involved in an incident that brings the police to his home, where they make a chilling discovery: The artist isn’t a sculptor, he’s a taxidermist. This story sowed the seed in my mind at a young age that people are not always what they seem. Decades later, this same idea led me to write this book. The idea of mistaken or deliberately falsified identity is common in fiction, but you don’t have to go to the trouble of dreaming up fictitious impostors. As you’ll see in this book, there is no shortage of the real thing. History is littered with examples of people who pretended to be someone else. You may wonder why on earth so many people would risk so much — their lives, families, careers, freedom — simply to put on a different face. In most cases, their various motivations can be boiled down to just four things, the four E’s: envy, ego, escape, espionage.”
Graham exposes the truth behind the world’s wildest fraud — and why they did it — and reveals that even those we think we know best may not be exactly who they seem.
“Of course, all of the impostors featured in this book are failures, because we know about them,” notes Graham. “For every impostor who has been discovered and exposed, no one knows how many others have been successful. … It may seem unlikely, but it is perfectly possible to be branded an impostor when you’re nothing of the sort. If your partner suddenly looks at you as if you’re a total stranger, he or she could be suffering from a condition called Capgras syndrome. A sufferer is convinced that a friend or relative has been replaced by an identical impostor. It sounds like the plot of a film like ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ but it’s real. It can be triggered by neurological disorders or brain injuries.”
So, as you read these amazing, hilarious and bizarre stories, remember to reflect on who you know, and if who they are is real — or not.
Michael Awkward’s “Philadelphia Freedoms: Black American Trauma, Memory, and Culture after King” (Temple University Press) captures the disputes over the meanings of racial politics and Black identity during the post-King era in Philly. Looking closely at four cultural moments, he shows how racial trauma and his native city’s history have been entwined.
“The City of Brotherly Love serves as a rich, but often inhospitable dreamscape for Philadelphia freedoms,” explains Awkward. “This study investigates for moments, drawn from the 20th century’s last decades, that demonstrate the continuing costs of the United States’ denial to Blacks of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms that were composed in, and are consummate with, the founding ethos of its First City. While reflecting major sociopolitical, cultural and economic changes that were brought about in a large part as a consequence of the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr., these moments indicate that, at times, Black Americans’ psychic investments in the rituals, ideologies and institutions that bolster feelings of national citizenship are limited at best.”
Awkward introduces each of these moments with poignant personal memories of the decade in focus, chronicling the representation of African-American freedom and oppression from the 1960s to the 1990s.
“And each of these instances, ontological challenges associated with Black American collective memory — the impulse to repress or keep alive it’s harshest aspects, the inability to disentangle personal misfortunes and racial traumas — arise at point of acute awareness of both the seductive promises of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and anguish that informs our experiences as a result of their lengthy denial,” noted Awkward. “King, a major or implicit presence in the text and events I have chosen to represent post-civil rights era dilemmas associated with Philadelphia, used deeply American forms of social agitation to draw attention to the end separability of national rhetoric and racial agony. Fully committed to and enthralled by the nation’s sustaining ideals, King exposed the depth and breadth of Black suffering in hopes of pressuring elected and unelected officials alike to put an end to racial regional and national laws, policies and practices, positioning himself in the process as the 20th-century preeminent U.S. intimate stranger. Indeed, his forms of exacting patriotism and civil disobedience were both widely embraced by factions within the Black community, including in Philadelphia, and frequently challenged by figures from across ideological and racial divides who were skeptical about the effectiveness of his nonviolent tactics.”
Awkward, the Gayl A. Jones professor of Afro-American literature and culture at the University of Michigan, is the author of “Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat” and “Soul Covers: Rhythm and Blues Remakes and the Struggle for Artistic Identity.” Awkward closes his examination of racial trauma and Black identity with a discussion of candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, pointing to the conflict between the nation’s ideals and the racial animus that persists even into the second term of America’s first Black president.
Additionally, “Philadelphia Freedoms” explores NBA players’ psychic pain during a playoff game the day after King’s assassination; themes of fatherhood and Black masculinity in the soul music produced by Philadelphia International Records; class conflict in Andrea Lee’s novel “Sarah Phillips” and the theme of racial healing in Oprah Winfrey’s 1997 film, “Beloved.”
Temple University history professor Bettye Collier-Thomas’ groundbreaking book, “Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion” (Temple Press, $29.95), provides a remarkable account of the religious faith, social and political activism and extraordinary resilience of Black women during the centuries of American growth and change.
Black church women created national organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women, the National League of Colored Republican Women and the National Council of Negro Women. They worked in the interracial movement, in white-led Christian groups such as the YWCA and Church Women United, and in male-dominated organizations such as the NAACP and National Urban League to demand civil rights, equal employment, and educational opportunities, and to protest lynching, segregation and discrimination.
“Now, one of the things that I do in ‘Jesus, Jobs, and Justice’ is that we all appreciate the NAACP, but the NAACP alone, with just a legal approach, could not break down those walls,” explained Collier-Thomas. “But, what was important about the NAACP is that the organization systematically worked throughout the 20th century up to 1950 to restore those parts of the 14th Amendment that had been abridged in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision. In 1954, the Brown decision reversed the separate but equal doctrine established by the Plessy Supreme Court ruling in 1896. Anticipating the decision in November 1953, church women united and went on record favoring the desegregation of public schools, and working at the local level throughout the South and through their religious groups to get the population ready to deal with it, Church Women United responded to the Brown decision in June 1954 by developing strategies for implementing it. I found that over in the AME Church General Conference, as well Women Missionary Society minutes, the ways in which they were engaging their people and getting them ready, particularly the women.”
“The Negroes must have Jesus, Jobs, and Justice,” declared Nannie Helen Burroughs, a nationally known figure among Black and white leaders and an architect of the Woman’s Convention of the National Baptist Convention. Burroughs made this statement about the Black women’s agenda in 1958, as she anticipated the collapse of Jim Crow segregation and pondered the fate of African Americans. Following more than half a century of organizing and struggling against racism in American society, sexism in the National Baptist Convention and the racism and paternalism of white women and the Southern Baptist Convention, Burroughs knew that Black Americans would need more than religion to survive and to advance socially, economically and politically. The author makes clear that while religion has been a guiding force in the lives of most African Americans, for Black women it has been essential. As co-creators of churches, women were a central factor in their development.
“What we find is that we have these relationships there, and you have this work that has been ongoing,” noted Collier-Thomas. “So that by the time you get to the 1950s, we find that as race in the United States is entering a new phase, we find that at the beginning of the decade, Black and white relationships throughout the United States are defined by legalized and de facto systems of segregation — de facto systems of segregation in Philadelphia, in Pittsburgh, in Chicago, in Detroit, in New York, in Boston. In other words, when we say ‘de facto’ there is no law that says you have got to segregate, but you’ve got all of this segregation going on. There is no law that is backing you for discrimination, but you’ve got it going on in these Northern urban areas. In the South, it is legalized, and it is law. As a result of the legal actions carried out by the NAACP, a number of legal victories were won during the 1930s and ’40s that paved the way for the 1955 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.”
“Jesus, Jobs, and Justice” explores the ways in which women had to cope with sexism in Black churches, as well as racism in mostly white denominations, in their efforts to create missionary societies and form women’s conventions. It also reveals the hidden story of how issues of sex and sexuality have sometimes created tension and divisions within institutions. “Jesus, Jobs, and Justice” demonstrates the threads that weave through 200 years of Black women’s experiences in America — and restores Black women to their rightful place in American and Black history and demonstrates their faith in themselves, their race and their God.
Writer. Cultural anthropologist. Chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions. Daughter of a former slave.The first Black graduate of Barnard. Zora Neale Hurston attained unique success in many areas, but during her lifetime her words and conclusions were often surrounded in contention. A flamboyant and gregarious woman, she was called unpredictable, outrageous, bodacious.
She collaborated with Langston Hughes, was criticized by Richard Wright and ultimately died a pauper’s death in total obscurity. Resurrected by Alice Walker, who journeyed to Hurston’s gravesite as a student after reading a dog-eared copy of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Hurston is now considered a lioness of African-American literature.
Her works “Dust Tracks on a Road” and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” are essential reading in American classrooms today.
Walker, who made history as the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her seminal novel, “The Color Purple (1982),” for which she won the National Book Award, is deeply influenced by Hurston. In the summer of 1973, Walker traveled to Fort Pierce to place a marker on the grave of the author who had so inspired her own work. Walker found the Garden of Heavenly Rest, a segregated cemetery at the dead end of North 17th Street, abandoned and overgrown with yellow-flowered weeds.
Walker entered the snake-infested cemetery where Hurston’s remains had been laid to rest. Wading through waist-high weeds, she soon stumbled upon a sunken rectangular patch of ground that she determined to be Hurston’s grave. Unable to afford the marker she wanted — a tall, majestic black stone called “Ebony Mist” — Walker chose a plain gray headstone instead. Borrowing from a Jean Toomer poem, she dressed the marker up with a fitting epitaph: “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”
“I wanted people to pay attention,” Walker said. “I knew that unless I came out with everything that I had supported her, there was every chance that she would slip back into obscurity. I love the way Zora showed a delight in the beauty and spirit of Black people. She loved her own culture, especially the language.”
“Alice Walker was absolutely instrumental in allowing a much larger audience to even know about Hurston,” according to Jennifer DeVere Brody. “I think at the time, 1979, when she did her first essay on Hurston, all of Hurston’s books were out of print.”
According to zoranealhurston.com, back in 1945, Hurston had foreseen the possibility of dying without money — and she’d wrote to W.E.B. Du Bois, whom she called the “Dean of American Negro Artists,” suggesting “a cemetery for the illustrious Negro dead” on 100 acres of land in Florida. “Let no Negro celebrity, no matter what financial condition they might be in at death, lie in inconspicuous forgetfulness,” she’d urged. “We must assume the responsibility of their graves being known and honored.”
Citing practical complications, Du Bois wrote a curt reply discounting Hurston’s persuasive argument.
“She loved her own culture, including its language,” explained Walker. “But, even more to my joy was her realization that our attachments — our marriages, our affairs, our love things, whatever they are — are actually on the way to helping us develop who we are. They are not an end in themselves. So, the notion that people get married and pretty much that is it is completely debunked in ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God.’”
Much like Hurston, Walker has found herself praised and pilloried, as people have expressed joy as well as anger and ruthless vilification over her art, personal views and global human rights advocacy. The self-confessed renegade turns 70 this month, and continues to credit as a guiding light throughout Walker’s life and career.
“The great wonder about having ancestors in your line of work is that you have people to show you what is possible and what can possibly happen. Her work had a sense of Black people as complete, complex, undiminished human beings and that was crucial to me as a writer,” said Walker.
Filmmaker Pratibha Parmar’s new documentary, “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth” charts Walker’s inspiring journey from her birth into a family of sharecroppers in Eatonton, Ga., to the present, and features new interviews with Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire and the late Howard Zinn in one of his final interviews.
“‘Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth’ is a complex exploration of a pioneering artist and human rights activist that gives audiences a penetrating look at a life lived with passionate commitment,” said Stephen Segaller, vice president of programming for WNET. “Having the American Masters premiere coincide with her 70th birthday is a nice bonus.”
“American Masters — Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth,” premiers nationally Friday at 9 p.m. on PBS (locally on WHYY-TV 12) in honor of Walker’s 70th birthday and Black History Month.