Pink and white cherry blossoms explode every spring, bringing breathtaking beauty to the Schuylkill riverbanks and Philadelphia’s public parkland. This canopy of delicate flowers, first planted in 1926 as a gift to nation from the people of Japan, is an annual inspiration to photographers and a “must-see” natural wonder calling everyone outdoors. For the 16th year, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia presents the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia from April 1-26, celebrating the season when thousands of cherry trees burst into bloom in historic Fairmount Park. The events of the Festival celebrate Philadelphia’s rich cultural connections with the art, music, food, natural beauty and industry of Japan.
Festival events officially began on April 1, announced by Mayor Michael Nutter, surrounded by adults and children in traditional Japanese clothing, who taught him a few Japanese greetings and sang him a traditional song about “sakura,” the Japanese word for the ornamental cherry trees which herald the start of spring celebrations in Japan.
The local festival began in 1998 and initially focused on echoing a sesquicentennial gift of 1,600 flowering trees presented by the Japanese government as a gesture of friendship in 1926. To date,the Japan America Society has planted more than 1,000 cherry trees in community parks throughout the region. Since 2008, cherry trees have been planted in Clark Park, Franklin Square and Morris Park.
Additional events throughout April include art exhibitions and film, Japanese food tastings, an amateur sushi-making class and competition, and Japanese storytelling at area libraries.
Festival event information is available by calling (215) 790-3810 or online at www.subarucherryblossom.org
In 1979, cable was still an emerging technology, but one that brothers Clinton and Carl Galloway knew was worth pursuing. The Galloway brothers, both young, African-American professionals living in Los Angeles, had a dream of making sure that this technological bridge to the future was equally accessible to the most impoverished area of the city — South Central L.A. They had hoped to use cable to help raise the poorest citizens of Los Angeles out of their dire straits.
In a surprising turn of events, the brothers’ struggle to bring this technology to 180,000 households reached the national level: starting at local district courts and leading all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This journey is documented in a new book, “Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central L.A. (Phoenix Publishing Corp., $15.95),” and includes shady politics, greed and a lot of sweat.
Fearing that a monopoly would put cable TV out of reach for this Black community and stunt economic progress in the area, the Galloway brothers gathered other well-meaning partners and entered the fray. Despite their having the most knowledge and the best financial backing, their application was rejected in favor of a group of well-connected, political contributors and wealthy businessmen. They soon realized that political favoritism was at the heart of the battle.
The brothers sued the city and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They won, proving their First Amendment rights had been violated in the city’s process of awarding cable franchises. The court remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for Los Angeles for awarding of damages, where a City Hall-connected federal judge awarded the brothers one dollar – the apparent value of civil rights in Los Angeles.
“We were fundamentally forced into seeking federal judicial protection and relief when the city of Los Angeles refused to allow us to exercise our constitutional rights,” explained Clinton Galloway. “Black Americans have long sought the protection of the federal courts from Mississippi to Los Angeles, when local governments refuse to allow the constitutional protections provided to each citizen. Before we started litigation we had already been in involved with the city of Los Angeles for almost three years pursuing a cable television license. We knew that the opportunity that existed before us had a limited time frame, and to fail to take advantage of it would severely limit the ability of South Central and numerous minority communities across the country to participate in the technology that was being provided throughout the United States.”
This story continues today as a larger story about the unholy alliance that has developed between the media and the government, and the corruption of politicians at the local and federal levels. The Galloway brothers realized that they should try to make a difference for the area’s residents and – with the right programming – could create better futures for its challenged residents.
“The portrayal by media is a substantial factor in the determination of the self-image in minority areas where there are fewer alternative methods for the community to use to determine its own image,” said Galloway. “Lower self-esteem leads to lower performance in all aspects of life, including education and financial expectations. The financial implications of reduced employment opportunities and government-restricted economic development maintain the status quo of impoverished urban minority communities. Media determines the actions that are deemed acceptable and thereby the values of urban minority communities. When the values of a community are determined by outside forces, then it is hard to have control of your neighborhood. Just look at South LA today and everything bad has an excess. The NAACP and other civil rights organizations complain about the quality and quantity of minorities on television, but are powerless to change it now that the ship of media control has sailed. Rhetoric will not solve this issue.”
In 1993, the U.S. Congress passed a law stating that regardless of the civil rights violations that had occurred during the cable television franchising period — yes, there were many — there would be no damages allowed against any city in the United States. This new law virtually terminated the Galloways’ case and ended their cable TV journey. Corporations had shown their immense power over our government. It was then that Clinton first considered writing a book chronicling their journey, but years of health issues in the family followed. The book was put on the back burner. Eventually, in Carl’s final days (he died from leukemia in 2008), he convinced Clinton to move ahead with the book. The surviving brother is now the president of Galloway & Associates in Los Angeles.
The fallout from Philadelphia magazine’s controversial cover story “Being White In Philly” continued this week as Philadelphia NAACP President J. Wyatt Mondesire requested that the Philadelphia Hotel Association impose a year-long ban on the magazine in area hotels.
“It is our firm opinion that the hotel association should immediately suspend all distribution of Philadelphia magazine to our area hotels for at least one year,” read Mondesire’s statement. “For many years, Philadelphia Magazine has emphatically showcased its racial bias both in its editorial pages and in its hiring practices. This publication has never made a serious effort to recruit non-white staffers to its full or part-time staff and it’s paltry use of African-American or Latino writers can only be described as woefully inadequate. For these reasons, this publication does not deserve to be utilized as the public face of our region; the face we readily show our visitors.”
Philadelphia Magazine published two covers for its March issue. Area residents and subscribers were confronted with the incendiary “Being White in Philly”
cover. The other featured M. Night Shyamalan’s wife, Bhavna Vaswani, and was distributed in hotels and aimed at tourists. The magazine covers were so starkly different that many Philadelphia tourism professionals learned of the controversy from the media.
Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, responded:
“Philadelphia hotels are fundamentally inclusive and we value the diversity of our workforce and the customers who we serve. As a trade association we can only inform our members of the negative social and economic impact the story could have on our industry. I have reached out to several hotels and found that the majority of our members do not distribute the magazine, but nonetheless, we have sent a message to our members cautioning them about including it in their rooms in the future due to its ongoing negative reporting of Philadelphia. As a result of the negative impact of the story, I have been told that some hotels have already pulled the magazine. We do take this matter very seriously, as we are in the business of shining positive lights on our City and encouraging our guests to return. Our members believe that any negative focus on the Philadelphia brand can have a negative economic impact on our business and the City’s image.”
Over the course of the five-week controversy, Mayor Michael Nutter has demanded a public rebuke, the African-American Chamber of Commerce has threatened boycott and dozens of citizens bitterly complained at public forums where the magazine’s editor and the article’s writer answered questions. In addition to raising the ire of the NAACP, the Urban League of Philadelphia lambasted the publication of the lack of diversify of the editorial staff and likewise called for cessation of distribution.
“The recent Philadelphia Magazine cover story, ‘Being White in Philly, flies in the face of the work The Urban League of Philadelphia has been doing for several years on diversity and inclusion in the region’s top companies,” said President/CEO Patricia A. Coulter in a statement. “Instead of proposing a solution to the city’s ills, the story promoted racial polarization from a source that is itself segregated from the diversity of our rich urban environment. Philly Mag is a publication without any reporters or executives of color. We think Philadelphia Magazine should look to its own social failings before taking on the city’s. We are interested in seeing a Diversity and Inclusion Plan for Philadelphia Magazine that reflects how they intend to progress in five key areas: the board, top management, employee base, supplier procurement and community philanthropy…The Philadelphia Magazine publishers chose to use a different cover for the magazines distributed in hotels. The Urban League of Philadelphia is not impressed with this camouflage tactic. We do not want Philadelphia Magazine in its present guise in the hotel rooms of our guests. And I imagine that hotel and restaurant owners throughout the city feel the same way.”
There has recently been a good deal of discussion about the diversity in the cable news world. Last week, Black journalist and pundit Roland Martin was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists — mere days before he departs CNN on April 6.
His departure coincides with that of fellow CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, who also left the cable news channel's "Starting Point" last week after being with the show for more than a year.
Martin said that he was "thankful and humbled'' by the award from the NABJ.
"I hope this honor serves as a lesson to any young or veteran journalist that Black media platforms are just as essential and important to us today as they have always been," he said.
In a video that aired on the Huffington Post, Martin acknowledged his impending departure from CNN, saying, "Before CNN, TV One offered me a TV platform for my commentaries, as well my own show.
After CNN, TV One and Tom Joyner, are still there. It pleases me greatly to be at a place where our voices and images are the norm, and not the exception." Martin hosts TV One's "Washington Watch," and is an analyst for "The Tom Joyner Morning Show."
NABJ President Gregory Lee, Jr. praised Martin for his "well-rounded coverage of the African-American community," and continued to question new CNN President Jeff Zucker's commitment to diversity.
When asked why he was leaving, Martin tweeted earlier this month, "New boss wants his own peeps." Zucker, who made the decision to take Martin and O’Brien off the air, reportedly recently met with NABJ to discuss the network's commitment to African American journalists.
Martin said on Thursday that executives who were uncomfortable with hiring Black people as hosts had held back his rise at the network.
"You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, 'I can do this,'" he said on HuffPostLive. "We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there."
O'Brien, who is Black and Latina, told viewers, "Up next for me, I'm going to continue to focus on the 25 girls that we serve — we send girls to college with my foundation.
Continue focus too on good journalism, examining the critical issues that our country faces from jobs to poverty and focusing on the people who have stories to tell in this country and often those stories don't get told."
Upon its launch in 1980, CNN became and the first all-news television channel in the United States with Bernard Shaw, 72, now serving as principal anchor until he retired in 2001.
The opportunity for exploration into the importance of the audio engineer's role in today's do-it-yourself recording climate is rare. Which is why the “Era Of The Engineer” tour with engineer/producer Young Guru will be a true behind-the-scenes experience. Revered as “The Sound of New York,” Young Guru has over a decade of experience in sound engineering, production and A&R for the acclaimed Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. Most recognized for shaping some of the biggest talent in hip-hop, Young Guru has mixed 10 of Jay-Z's 11 albums, and has earned himself a number of shout-outs on Jay-Z’s tracks paying homage to his exceptional skills behind the boards.
“I'm really excited about that because that's more of what I'm into which is actually teaching and spreading information,” explained Young during a break from the “My Music X” conference in Dubai. “It is really about showcasing what the engineer does, which is the whole concept behind the ‘Era Of The Engineer.’ Just from the standpoint of that people may not fully understand the recording and the mixing process, and from a historical level people that have done it before. So, it basically goes from the start of recorded music up until now, but also giving tips and tricks and things like that that I have worked with for years in the studio. We've gone through so many phases that it is good now for us to highlight the difference between all of them as well as showcase what is sort of genre specific to hip hop as well — and when I say record, I mean a historical record of just what's been done, and what we can do in the future.”
Young Guru, 39, acquired his moniker as a teen when he taught African history classes at a community center. Born Gimel Androus Keaton, he also used his stage name when he began working as a DJ while still a teenager. In the early ’90s there were no clubs in Delaware, so Young Guru bought his own amplifiers, lights and microphones which sparked his interest in music technology.
“I'm from Wilmington Delaware, so me being in that environment and not having just some money and just access to just go buy things...case in point is that we use to build a lot of the stuff that we used when I was younger,” recalled Young. “So that was the initial thing to be able to build a sound system so I could DJ in parks or at the University of Delaware or Delaware State. And then I’d run up to Philly and buy a bunch of parts and things of that nature and start building things. So, it was a trial by error, shocking yourself a few times and figuring out what worked and then the experience and folding that into a studio experience.”
He began DJ’ing in Washington DC in 1996, where he met singer/rapper Nonchalant, who had a top 20 single at the time, and became her tour DJ. Young Guru, who had taken piano lessons as a child, used the money he received from the tour to fund a six-month music recording course at Omega Recording Studios in Rockville, Md., which had a great impact on him. In 1999, Young Guru went independent and moved to New York, where he worked with Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie on his Madd Rapper project and with Memphis Bleek. The latter was signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, which led to Young Guru meeting Jay-Z.
“I went to Howard University in 1994, so I was privileged enough to have some great mentors,” noted Young. “In New York, you would get so many calls to come to work on so many different and various sessions. So whether it's Busta Rhymes, or an early 50 Cent record — its just a bevy of people...I pretty much worked with everybody you kind of want to know: from Jay-Z to Snoop to Mary J Blige the list goes on and on and on.”
Over the years Young Guru has been a major part of several artists' careers including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Ludacris, Ghostface Killah, Freeway, Cam'ron, Redman & Method Man, Mariah Carey, Pete Rock, Fabolous,Talib Kweli, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and T.I. He was recently the tour DJ for the “'Watch The Throne” world tour featuring Jay-Z & Kanye West.
Grammy U — a program created to prepare college students interested in pursuing a career in the music industry — launches the “Era Of The Engineer” tour with Grammy-nominated engineer/producer Young Guru — on April 8 at Drexel University.