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Me at First Person Arts

May 19 2010 | Comments 7

Hey, check it out!

liz | 12:35 PM | media, philadelphia, random

Liveblogging Primetime Outsiders

Aug 25 2009 | Comments 18

All the below is about this show.

Madigan: They didn’t flatter you with that lighting.

David Oaks: You’re looking so handsome! I had no idea. Your eyebrows are very sexy. (I’m completely sincere.)

“But critics worry …” That’s journalism-speak for “We don’t have any specific sources who say this, but we’ll generalize it so we have reason to focus on …”

… violence. That’s what they’re focusing on. Why am I not surprised?

So of all the things they could talk about related to Mad Pride — and related to mental health — this is what they’ve come up with: criminals and violent crime. Ugh. TV is so predictable and depressing.

Okay, so now we’re telling the story of a kid with hallucinations and delusions (the CIA, yadda yadda) who KILLS HIS MOTHER? Does the average American viewer understand how fucking rare this kind of thing is? That it’s not the necessary result of deciding not to take meds?

On to the withdrawal story: Clearly, the program wasn’t looking for a success story. This poor woman who decided to do the show so they could feed off her misery — I knew that’s what they wanted. Is she doing the withdrawal in conjunction with a doctor? Who the hell knows? The show doesn’t tell you. It hardly tells you her name. And …

Oh! There it is again: “Critics worry … ” (that she’s going to be “a time bomb” without her meds). Who are these critics worrying about this girl? Frank Rich? David Denby? I’d love to know.

“Violence is unpredictable with or without drugs.” Brilliant script.

Blurry homeless images. Madigan cello-ing. … This show is so bad, it’s like a joke. I guess it all goes back to what producer Ia Robinson told me, when we discussed my being on the show: She doesn’t have any friends or family who have mental problems, so the whole topic was like “walking on the moon.” Yes, that’s the phrase she used. The show should’ve been blasted out to Mars.

Except Joey P. He’s delightful and a voice of reason.

liz | 9:34 PM | SCHIZOPHRENIA, alternative treatments, bipolar disorder, celebrities, criminal justice system, depression, hospitals / hospitalization, meds, philadelphia, side effects, stigma, suicide, violence

Philadelphia Could Shut Down: Psych!

Aug 4 2009 | Comments 0

Mayor Nutter has invoked the dreaded Plan C to scare the shit out of Philadelphians for absolutely no reason. That’s my take, anyway. What are the chances that the following will actually happen:

Shrinking municipal workforce by 13 percent, or 3,000 jobs, including:

* 1,000 positions in the Police Department, which has 6,600 officers, and 200 positions in the Fire Department, which has 2,200 firefighters.


* The closing of all city recreation centers and two city health centers.
* A shutdown of all branch and regional libraries.
* The deactivation of six fire engine companies, three ladder companies, and five medic units.
* A reduction in citywide trash pickup from weekly to twice a month.
* An end to operations at Fairmount Park and the elimination of the City Planning Commission and Commerce Department.

I’m calling bullshit on Plan C. I think this is Nutter’s way of riling people up so Harrisburg will have to do something to break the budget impasse. I really hope I’m right.

Nutter’s Plan C could cost Phila. 3,000 jobs

liz | 11:57 AM | philadelphia

R.I.P. Mumford Morgan/Further Explanation of Mental Health Court

Jul 13 2009 | Comments 5

The Philadelphia Daily News had a good editorial on Friday about “sequential interception,” which is the approach taken both by the new mental health court and by the Crisis Intervention Teams that work within the police department. From that editorial:

Unfortunately for Mumford Morgan, this unit was not called when police shot and killed him last Friday in Dilworth Plaza. Morgan, 59, who was homeless and apparently mentally ill, made 40 calls in just over two hours from an emergency call box in the concourse under the Municipal Services Building. When two police officers arrived, he raised a utility knife and was shot to death.

Mental-health advocates are rightly asking why the CIT was not called to the scene and why police did not use Tasers instead of guns to subdue Mumford. We urge the Police Department to review the case and renew its commitment to CIT.

The editorial goes on to endorse the new court by explaining its roots and purpose. Please, naysayers, read this carefully:

The court and the CIT are responses to a complex problem that began decades ago when the closing of state hospitals released mentally ill people into the community without adequate support or services.

Decades later, the high numbers of mentally ill people occupying prisons – some reports put the number at 30 percent of the inmate population – suggests that in too many cases, prisons have replaced state hospitals.

This has huge impacts on both management and budgets. Consider: The Philadelphia prison system is the largest provider of mental-health services in the state of Pennsylvania, according to a report from former city prisons chief Leon King.

The mental health court is a small step, but the right one. The new court will begin with 15 carefully screened inmates who are about to be released, who will get supervision and treatment. Funded by a state grant, the court will handle only non-violent offenders. If that works, presumably more ex-inmates will be added to the court’s supervision.

There’s no shortage of prisoners who could benefit. It’s a component of many arrests for public disturbances, theft, drugs, aggressive panhandling and – in less common instances – violent crimes. Add in addiction, homelessness, and an insufficient health-care system and it’s no surprise that more mentally ill people are receiving more treatment in jail than in hospitals.

But hospital stays are short compared to prison sentences, and mentally ill prisoners tend to be incarcerated longer than average due in part to their conditions: In jail, they might be taken off medications abruptly, which can lead to acute episodes, behavioral infractions, and more time tacked on. A similar cycle traps recently-released prisoners as they return to the community, leading to high rates of recidivism.

Full article here.

liz | 9:18 AM | criminal justice system, philadelphia

Remembering Steven Wells, 1960-2009

Jul 1 2009 | Comments 18

Today is PW’s tribute issue, and also the memorial service for our colleague. I won’t be blogging today, but go here for some incredible memories and tributes.

liz | 10:17 AM | celebrities, philadelphia

Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Steven Wells

Jun 26 2009 | Comments 8

It’s funny — sometimes celebrity deaths hit me really hard. It seems they’re often celebs who were important to me in my youth, so for instance when Lauren Bacall dies, I might have to take a few days off from work. But despite Hollywood’s two losses of yesterday, I feel almost nothing. This isn’t because I’m a callous person but because having a friend and colleague die the day before really puts a fine point on how absurd it is to be crushed by celebrity deaths. Or not absurd, exactly, but how different it is — how remote. Who were those people to me? As No Minister says, “Fuck Michael Jackson … Steven Wells is dead.” And oddly, on, in the off-topic forum section, one poster says they’re more unhappy about Wells than MJ/FF. Another writes:

I’ve had near enough double the number of texts and phone calls about Steven Wells than I have Michael Jackson. One from a school friend I haven’t spoken to in almost 10 years. She remembered me going on and on about how bloody sexy his writing was and that despite my general dislike of NME I’d buy it regardless and read no only read his stuff.

Always controversial, always passionate and incredibly funny.

The world will be a duller place without him.

Isn’t that the truth. Not only that, but I’d love to hear what Steven would have to say about the Michael Jackson stuff — and especially about the BBC comparing his death to Princess Di’s. The fact that I have no idea what he’d say — except that it would be incredibly funny — is exactly what made him so special.

liz | 10:18 AM | celebrities, philadelphia

Goodbye, Anti-Sacred and Profane Writing Machine

Jun 25 2009 | Comments 2

After a long battle with cancer, PW staff writer, Guardian columnist, punk-rock novelist, NME gadfly, gender-twisting rebel comedian and poet Steven Wells has gone on to other things. Well, not really. According to Steven, there’s no such thing as the afterlife, and if there is, I guarantee he’s really, really pissed off right now. I can just picture him at St. Peter’s Gates, saying, “Fuck me! This shit actually exists?”

We’ll all miss Steven so much, and I’ll say more about that later. For now, I’m wishing the best to all family and friends who are hurting. That’s what Steven really cared about in the end, though he was very passionately annoyed by knitting, as well.

Steven was often told he was anti-American. I loved his passion, and he cracked us the fuck up every day. This video was part of a series he did for PW called Steven Wells’ America, in which he took sacred cows and basically grilled them for dinner. Below, he reflects on the religiosity of an America that voted for Bush a second time (Steven was a staunch atheist). Toward the end he smiles a bit, so you know that he knows he’s being ridiculous. And that’s part of what was so cute about Steven — he’d rant, but then laugh at himself.

liz | 10:41 AM | BIG PHARMA, Funny or Offensive?, GLBT, Song of the Day, alternative treatments, anxiety, celebrities, children, cute fix, depression, hospitals / hospitalization, media, meds, military, philadelphia, phobias, politics, random, religion, suicide, violence

OMG — New Twitter Feed You Might Love to Hate

Jun 11 2009 | Comment 1

I say that because one of my favorite pastimes is hating Twitter feeds, so no offense meant to the newest launch: a Twitter feed from Mental Health America. So far, the updates are about their current conference:

1. Check out photos from the Centennial Conference at…!

2. Check in during the Conference (June 10-13) to see what George Stephanopoulos, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and more had to share with us!

3. Mental Health America’s Centennial Conference is 2 Days away!

Pretty scintillating stuff. That’s the problem with Twitter. It brings out the boring in everyone.

Everyone, that is, except for the guy who’s listening the classic rock station WMGK and has a Twitter feed called mgkadnauseum. As ‘MGK is one of my guilty pleasures, I find gems like this — “WMGK is giving away free J. Geils Band tickets. Do you think they will play Centerfold?” — endlessly entertaining. (Thanks to Philebrity for the find.)

liz | 10:42 AM | media, philadelphia

You Don’t Have to Walk Alone

May 28 2009 | Comments 9

Come on, peeps. Don’t forget about the NAMI Walk. If you’re in Philly this weekend, the info is below. To register go to the website here.

Location: Memorial Hall
Date: May 30, 2009
Distance: 5 K
Check-in: 7:30 am
Start Time: 9:00 am

For more information about this event, please contact:

Neen Davis
Phone: 215.886-0350

You may also contact:
Greater Philadelphia NAMIWalk |
Phone: 215.886-0350 | Fax: 215.886-6974

Family Team Chair: Neen Davis
610.584-8464 |

Honorary Chair: Joseph A. Rogers, Chief Advocacy Officer, Mental Health Assn of SEPA
215.751-1800 |

Business Team Chair: Bob Waters

liz | 12:42 PM | Song of the Day, philadelphia, stigma

The Naked Party: Not Naked

May 22 2009 | Comments 3

A few years ago I wrote for PW on the experience of going to a nudist camp. At first, I thought I wouldn’t take off my clothes. But being there made me realize that clothing is actually quite artificial. I turned into Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon in about five minutes, and visited other nudist retreats thereafter. In fact, I would go again—I think it’s especially freeing for women, who aren’t even afforded the possibility of throwing off our tops in the puritanical U.S.

So though I’m not a nudist, or naturist, I sympathize with the cause. That’s why I was intrigued to see a “Naked Party” invitation in my mailbox at work. There were, however, problems that quicklys surfaced. First of all, the event was being held in Old City. If you’re from Philly, you’ll understand why that’s problematic: Nothing creative or culturally unconventional happens in an Old City club. Second, the advertisements for it featured women who looked like Victoria’s Secret models in exquisite lingerie. What, now? That’s not naked. That’s just a level of hotness most Philadelphians could never hope to achieve. And what about men? Do men not get naked?

The photos of the event taken by Irina Zhorov are here. They have confirmed my suspicions. You’ll see that people are not naked, though the women are dressed scantily. The guys? Clearly just there to ogle. Depressing.

liz | 10:39 AM | philadelphia, random

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