Archive for the ‘Delaware Tattoo’

The greatest thing about every single South Jersey town – NJ.com08.23.21

New Jersey is composed of 565 municipalities and scores more sections and hamlets. I, Pete Genovese, have spent a lifetime wandering around and writing about this incredible state. Now, I have compiled the ultimate list: The greatest thing about every single town. Yes, all 565.

Landmarks, attractions, parks, historical tidbits, museums, restaurants unique features that give each borough, city or township (every type of municipality is a town, for this project) its special character or personality.

My mission: to show the richness, charm and wonder of New Jersey; no state is more mocked, maligned and misunderstood.

In this, the fourth part of our series, well look at Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties. On Monday and Tuesday, we visited North Jersey (read those stories here and here). Wednesday was all about Central Jersey (read that story here). Friday well finish at the Jersey Shore.

No one does fried fish better than Allens Clam Bar, in Bass Rivers New Gretna section. It started as a bait-and-tackle shop before Win Allen opened the restaurant side in the mid-1960s. When he won the state oyster-shucking contest in 1981, business really took off. Cant make up your mind? Order the Fried Combo, with flounder, shrimp, clam strips and deviled clam. Not in a fishy mood? The fried chicken is surprisingly good. Minutes away is my favorite Piney bar, the Lower Bank Tavern.

Riverfront Park, BeverlyPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Riverfront Park doesnt come up in a Google search, or show up on Google Maps, but trust me, its there, along the Delaware River between Broad and Cooper Streets. Its a great place to eat lunch or sit a spell, one of many quiet little parks along the river.

A dizzying, delightful hodgepodge of collectible records, DVDs, t-shirts, posters, toys not to mention 140 kinds of soda Randy Nows, run by Randy Ellis, is a trip. In a recent Facebook post, he put 300-400 records on the sidewalk and begged someone to take them for free. Dont make a mess, he wrote. Hoping one person takes them all. No sorting/looking. Ellis booked musical acts at the legendary City Gardens nightclub in Trenton, where Sinead OConnor and A Flock of Seagulls made their American debuts and the Ramones played 25 times.

Mastoris Diner, Bordentown Alex Remnick I NJ Advance Media for

One of the states best-known and biggest diners, Mastoris began when Nick and Mary Mastoris bought the liquor license of the Bordentown Grill, a popular roadside attraction at the junction of Routes 25 and 39 (now 130 and 206). The Grill was torn down for a road construction project, rebuilt, then burned down in 1969. Mastoris opened on the spot a year and a half later. The menu is expansive, the parking lot bigger than most small towns, and everyone loves the cinnamon bread.

Chartered by His Majesty King George III in 1758, reads the regal description of the Library Company of Burlington. It is the oldest library in continuous operation in New Jersey, and the seventh-oldest in the country. The institutions first circulated book: The Invisible Spy. The library moved several times, renting rooms in local houses, before acquiring its own building. Theres now a childrens room, Internet workstations, and historical volumes dating all the way back to 1521.

Blue Claw Seafood & Crab Eatery, Burlington TownshipPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Theres no better place to get crabby in Jersey than the Blue Claw. The legendary crab house looks strip mall bland from the outside, but the roll of paper towels at each table is a clue youre about to get good and messy cracking open those crabs. Theyre flown in fresh every day from Florida and Mexico. Crabs can be served cleaned or dirty, cold or steamed, plain or seasoned with J&O crab seasoning, Norms seasoning, or the famous house garlic sauce.

Youve got to love a town that holds an annual Witches Ball. The Whimsical Witches of Crosswicks Annual Witches Ball is just one of dozens of events held in the Crosswicks Community House, on Main Street. Crosswicks claims to be the birthplace of Taylor ham; John Taylor, a descendant of Crosswicks settlers, made his soon-to-be-famous ham for a local market. Harvest festivals, chili cook-offs, Halloween and Christmas parades, the annual Croquet Classic (one rule: No Cussing), outdoor movie nights, storytelling events in the Friends Meeting House Crosswicks, settled in 1677, is a small town that knows how to have fun.

Trinity AME Church, Cinnaminson Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

The church and the adjacent small cemetery are the most prominent remains of the Black community known as Wrightsville, established just after the Civil War. The church, originally known as the Free Gospel Church, was founded in 1873 and became known as Trinity AME in 1905. Some of the graves in the cemetery date to the 1860s.

New Jersey and New York have argued for years over the location of the Statue of Liberty (its in Jersey waters, but whatever). The other Statue of Liberty, about 20 feet tall, stands on the seawall at the estate here named Shangri-La. Unfortunately, its impossible to see except from a boat on the river or a muddy slog on the beach at low tide," according to the informative Delanco Historic Waterfront Tour.

Its Carli Lloyds favorite bakery, what more do you need to know? The Olympic soccer star grew up on L&Ms doughnuts and pastries; she even made a bet that shed eat a doughnut for every goal she scored in the Womens World Cup in 2015 (she scored six goals and was named outstanding player). L&M opened in 1964 in a space once occupied by a gas station and Ford dealership. Their buttercream is legendary. Lloyd announced her retirement from soccer this week.

Visitor Center, Smithville Park Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

What a gorgeous park. Smithville Park is the centerpiece of the Burlington County park system. Smithville (not to be confused with the Smithville in Atlantic County) was a major industrial center from the 1860s to 1920s; the Smithville-Mount Holly Bicycle Railway transported Smith Company employees via a monorail-type track. The parks features include a floating walkway, butterfly garden, picnic areas, The Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County, Smithville Mansion and the Workers House Museum.

The casket containing the body of Army Staff Sgt. Terry Hemingway, who was killed in Baghdad, is carried to its gravesite at Beverly National Cemetery. Michael Mancuso I Times of Trenton

Beverly National Cemetery is the final resting place for 50,000 veterans. The original cemetery, founded in 1863, was just one acre, and devoted to Union soldiers who died at nearby hospitals. Today, the cemetery encompasses nearly 65 acres. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

What should you order at Joes Peking Duck House? How about the Fish Maw Soup? Okay, just kidding. The Peking Duck you can order it al carte by the half or whole, or as a combo meal for two or four is tender, juicy, with eminently tasty skin it hits all the roast duck notes. Also recommended: the wonton noodle soup. Add wontons and noodles, in separate containers, to the broth and you have a sumptuous soupy delight. Evesham Marlton, where Joes is located, is one of its sections is Burlington Countys most populous municipality.

White Hill Manson, FieldsboroPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Blink twice, and youre in and out of Fieldsboro, population 752. Its most noteworthy sight is the White Hill Mansion, situated on a bluff overlooking the Delaware River. The site was at first a Lenape winter settlement, later a hotbed of Revolutionary War activity. There are daytime history tours and nighttime haunted house events. You are not locked in and can leave anytime, the website helpfully says.

What do the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge have in common? John A. Roeblings Sons Co. The company designed the Brooklyn Bridge and supplied the steel cable for all three legendary spans. In its heyday, Roebling was the worlds largest producer of wire rope and employed 8,000 workers. The museum opened on Saturdays as of June 5.

One of the states least-known state parks, Rancocas State Park encompasses 1,200 acres in Hainesport and Westampton. There are 14 trails wandering through upland and lowland hardwood forest, and the Rancocas Nature Center hosts wildlife and outdoor programs.

Air Victory Museum, Lumberton Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Best place to find a nuclear bomb in New Jersey? The Air Victory Museum, which counts a B-61 Nuclear Bomb (dont worry, its been disarmed) among its many fascinating artifacts. Jet fighters, experimental aircraft, engines, rockets, torpedoes are on display. Theres even a replica of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer built by students from a local school. Its one of my favorite museums in New Jersey, and admission is free.

I combed through scores of town websites for background info on the 565 entries; some were informative, others gave new meaning to the word worthless. None were as heartwarmingly rosy as Mansfields. This is from its About section: The level of the land is flat with just enough rolling terrain to make the countryside beautiful. The climate is mild. Winter brings snow to delight. Summer has a comfortable warmth. In the flat, deadening world of municipal website language, this qualifies as poetry.

Maple Shade Custard Stand, Maple Shade Alex Remnick I NJ Advance Media for

The red-and-white-trimmed Maple Shade Custard Stand, which dates to the 50s, is a scoop of vanishing Americana, with its walk-up counter and DRIVE IN sign atop the roof. Custard or soft-serve is more a South Jersey than North Jersey thing, and this stand is one of the absolute best in the state. It made my list of the states best soft-serve spots.

Medfords Main Street is one of the states most charming, with antiques shops, restaurants, cafes and the Medford Arts Center. Landmarks include Braddocks Tavern, which dates to 1844. Youll love the retro atmosphere and milk shakes at The Pop Shop, and some of the states best craft beer at Lower Forge Brewery,

Log cabins, Medford Lakes Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Thats what officials in this tiny (1.2 square miles) town say, anyway. Of the 1,500 homes in Medford Lakes, 150 are log cabins. Ask any visitor to the Lakes and youll hear comments like You must think youre at camp all the time, " the website cheerfully announces. We dont have streets or roads, we have trails. Thats true, pretty much all the roads in town are named trails, although they are paved. There are no less than 22 lakes in Medford Lakes, which may be the states quirkiest community.

The Cruiser in the Cornfield, Moorestown Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

If youre driving down I-295 and suddenly spot what looks like a battleship in the middle of a cornfield, dont panic. Its merely the U.S. Navys AEGIS Combat System Engineering Development Site, which develops and tests shipborne radar and missiles. When the ship was built in 1959 to house an Air Force Ballistic early-warning system model, it resembled a stadium-sized golf ball. AEGIS is not an acronym, its the Greek word for the shield worn by Zeus. I got a rare tour of the facility years ago. I dont want to say too much about what we do here, the commanding officer said back then.

Burlington County Prison Museum, Mount Holly

The county prison opened in 1811 and when it finally shut down in 1965, it had been the nations oldest prison. The interior vaulted ceilings and brick and stone construction made the building near-fireproof. Today, you can wander through the empty corridors and peek into the cells. Online, you can watch a video on prison graffiti. One of the most memorable on the prisons walls shows a giant eye with the words. Were watching you; you cant get out. The prison museum is open Thursday through Sunday.

Hotels, Mount Laurel Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

If you cant find a hotel room in Mount Laurel, youre not looking very hard. Courtyard by Marriott, The Westin, Red Roof Inn, The Hotel ML, Aloft, Wyndham, Econolodge, Super 8, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Towne Place Suites, Knights Inn, Staybridge Suites, LaQuinta, Rodeway Inn and Clarion Hotel & Suites I may have missed a few are located within walking distance of each other. Theyre all located near the terminus of the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 73.

Fort Dix is the Army section of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, which spreads over several towns, 32,000 acres and includes the 305th Air Mobility Wing, the 87th Civil Engineer Group, the Atlantic Strike Team, and other commands. The military installation opened in 1917 and was named Fort Dix in 1939. It is a major training center for reserve soldiers and includes the Army Reserve and National Guard.

One of several mobile home communities in North HanoverPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

There are more trailer parks sorry, mobile home communities in New Jersey than you might think. About 100,000 New Jerseyans live in the states 170 more or so mobile home communities. North Hanover is home to Spartan Village, California Village and Souths Mobile Home Court, among others. And yes, North Hanover, adjacent to Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base, has a mobile home administrator.

Palmyra Cove Nature Park, PalmyraPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

There are many scenic spots along the Delaware River, but Palmyra Nature Cove just may top the list. Its a 250-acre oasis with a little bit of everything wetlands, woodlands, meadows, wild creek, river shoreline and a tidal cove from which the park derives its name. The visitor center is open Monday through Friday. The park is a bit tricky to find follow Temple Road almost to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge tolls, bearing right where a sign says last turn before tolls. Follow that road to the park.

The Grist Mill features the states most entertaining store Facebook page, jammed with photos of merchandise and quirky historical tidbits. Did you know that the first 15 U.S. presidents were beardless until 1861, when a little girl told Abe Lincoln to grow a beard and for the next 52 years, every President had a beard? The antiques center started in 1994 on one floor, and now the Grist Mill spreads over two floors and includes 60 booths and 10,000 feet of antiques and vintage merchandise.

A hospital that has never issued a bill to a patient in its nearly 100-year history? Thats Deborah, which accepts insurance, but there is no co-pay, deductible, balance bill or out-of-pocket expenses for care at New Jerseys premier provider of high-quality heart, lung and vascular care. It was founded in 1922 as a tuberculosis sanatorium. The Deborah Hospital Foundation is the hospitals fundraising arm.

Sign for Boost! in ShamongPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Boost! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name) is New Jerseys greatest and most peculiar cult drink. Its a lemony cola that some liken to a flat cola, others to liquid crack. If you dont live in Burlington, Camden or Gloucester counties, chances are youve never heard of it, much less tried it. Boost! is not to be confused with Boost, the nutritional drink from Nestle. You buy the syrup and make your own, or buy it in slushie or soda form. For the stores that stock Boost!, visit

Founded in 1865, Riverton Yacht Club is the oldest yacht club on the Delaware River and one of the oldest in the country. Were not talking luxe, lavish ocean-going yachts, but sailboats. There are Learn to Sail lessons for kids, plus frequent races, including the prestigious Governors Cup Regatta every June. The yacht club is located a mile north of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.

Shamong one of my favorite Jersey town names is home to The Pic. The Pine Barrens restaurant and bars history dates to 1927, when Thomas Snyder opened Snyders Luncheonette on State Highway 39, a dirt road that would later become Route 206. His daughter, Lillian, and her husband, Pickett Russell, came up from Arkansas to join him in the business. The bar, named after the two, opened in 1933. When Russell passed away in 1953, his funeral was held, per his wishes, inside the bar. Besides the Piney hospitality, you go to the Pic-a-Lilli for one thing: the unforgettable wings.

Vincentown Grange, Vincentown Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

The National Grange was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1867 to advance the economic and political interests of the nations farmers. The Vincentown Grange was one of the few left in New Jersey until it was put up for sale. The Grange Hall is on Main Street in Vincentown.

Flea markets are often scorned, but never by the people who find great bargains amidst the junk and jetsam. The Columbus Farmers Market started as a cattle and horse auction in 1919 in the town of Columbus, moving to its present location in 1929. Youll find everything from jewelry, clothes, computers and furniture to military attire, produce, toys and pets. And great pizza. Kate and Als Pizza and Petes Pizza, both serving eminently saucy pies, are highly recommended. And Richards Chicken Coop makes first-rate fried chicken.

Carranza memorial, Tabernacle Tony Kurdzuk I The Star-Ledger

Mexican aviator Emilio Carranza was known as The Lindbergh of Mexico." He had been a hero since he was 18, when he helped put down a rebellion. On a 1928 goodwill flight that was a response to one made by Lindbergh the previous December, Carranzas Ryan monoplane crashed in the Pine Barrens during a thunderstorm. A 10-foot limestone block decorated with an Aztec eagle marks the spot. To visit, look for the sign on Route 206 in Red Lion; thatll put you on Carranza Road, which youll follow for about ten miles to the monument.

Sawmill, Batsto Village Samir Id-Deen I The Star-Ledger

Batsto Village, like the Great Falls in Paterson, is one of those New Jersey treasures that everyone seems to know about, but all too few visit. The site consists of 33 historic buildings and structures, including the Batsto Mansion, gristmill, sawmill, general store, workers homes, cottages and post office. You can take a free guided tour by smart phone, and there are guided tours of Batsto Mansion from Wednesdays through Sundays. The annual Country Living Fair, held in October, is a good day to visit. Batsto is located on Route 542, one of the states most scenic roads.

Historical marker for Timbuctoo, Westampton Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Timbuctoo was founded in 1826 when four African-American men, likely escaped slaves from Maryland, bought land from a Quaker businessman. At its peak, according to, Timbuctoo had 125 residents, a school, and Zion Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal African Church. Timbuctoo was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

This is one-stop shopping and then some. Willingboro Town Center includes an Acme, CVS, Dollar Tree, several restaurants, and such tenants as Strayer University, Rowan College at Burlington County, and Penn Medicine. The town library is also located here.

Pakim Pond, Woodland Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Picking the most peaceful spot in the Pine Barrens is an impossible task. I could give you a place deep in the woods accessible only by a snake-infested trail, but Ill go with one easy to reach by car: Pakim Pond. Pull up a picnic table in the secluded, shaded grove here; you might have the place to yourself. Pakim Pond is minutes from a major highway (Route 72), but in a world of its own. Head down Buzzard Hill Road off 72 and enjoy.

Military and law enforcement badges on the wall at Afghan Kabob, WrightstownPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Some of Jerseys best dining can be found in strip malls. Afghan Kabob is the end unit in a strip mall that includes a Chinese/Japanese restaurant and tattoo parlor. Theres no website or Facebook page, so dont go looking for one. This might be N.J.s most compact restaurant menu, with just five items (chicken kabob, lamb kabob, chicken & lamb kabob, gyro, chicken kabob salad). The chicken kabob boasts 13 pieces (I counted every one) of tender, seriously seasoned meat. Theyre not advertised on the menu, but the spicy fries are a must. Its a popular spot for soldiers from nearby Joint Base MDL (McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst). I was the only civilian on a recent visit.

Field of flags, AudubonPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Thats what the town website says, and theres proof everywhere. The 4th of July parade is a big deal; they even hand-deliver the parade program to nearly 4,000 homes. The Audubon Celebration Committee oversees the parade and Audubon Day. Look for the awesome display of American flags on the Audubon/Haddon border.

There are no schools, stores or churches in town, and all the houses are painted white. Whats going on here? Audubon Park is one of about 30 mutual housing communities in the country. All the property is collectively-owned and prospective residents buy a share in the corporation that owns and manages the 500 units. Tenants pay a monthly fee that covers property taxes, utilities and other costs. The town was built in 1941 to house defense workers preparing for World War II.

The festival, held in October, is a celebration of small town Americana, with craft and food vendors, entertainment, classic car show, pony rides, petting zoo and more. The 2020 festival was canceled and a decision has not be made on the 2021 event.

Carmen's Deli, Bellmawr Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Carmens Deli is the kind of place where specials were written on construction paper, and the smudged and tattered sandwich menu, taped to a wall, looks like it went through the sub wars. I say were' because the deli is undergoing a major renovation. One thing hasnt changed the Roses Special sub, with capicola, prosciutto, regular and sharp provolone, soppressata and roasted red peppers, named after a former owner. I call it South Jerseys best sub. Or hoagie.

Historical marker, Berlin Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

A kids summer camp with a cool name, Camp Long-A-Coming is a four or six-week program that runs from early July to mid-August (the camp was not held in 2021). Races, bowling, Wild West Wednesdays (dress like a cowboy), Marvel Mondays (dress like your favorite superhero), field trips and more fill the busy calendar. Berlins first settlers arrived in 1774 and called the village Long-A-Coming as it was along the Lonaconing Indian trail.

A year-round waterpark? Sahara Sams, open even in the dead of winter, is 60,000 feet of watery fun under a retractable roof. Theres also an arcade and cafe. Due to reduced capacity, online reservations are required.

Craft vendors, live music, wine tasting, beer garden, food trucks, kids activities Brooklawns annual Fall Festival is the towns social highlight, and its held on the waterfront, too. This years festival will be held noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Battleship New Jersey Camden Michael Mancuso I Times of Trenton

The nations most decorated battleship, the USS New Jersey saw action in World World II and the Korean War, then was re-commissioned in 1968 for duty in Vietnam. She later provided a show of strength off El Salvador, lent fire support to Marines in embattled Beirut, and stood guard offshore during the 1988 Summer Olympics in South Korea. Decommissioned for the last time in 1991, she made her way to the Camden waterfront to become a floating museum. You can tour the ship, inspect the 16-inch gun turrets, visit the combat engagement center, and more. Its open for tours every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The future of malls may be up in the air due to the pandemics economic toll, but the Cherry Hill Mall will always hold a place in mall history. It was the first enclosed mall on the East Coast when it opened in 1961 on former farm property. Strawbridge & Clothier department store opened its first Jersey store here; other tenants included Lofts Candy, Florsheim Shoes, Lane Bryant and Paris Hats. In the middle of one wing was a cage of tropical birds.

A catchy slogan for this town along the White Horse Pike (Route 30). It was incorporated in 1887 from parts of Waterford and Winslow. One of my favorite barbecue joints, Brother Bears, was located here until several years ago; it was replaced by Grilly Cheese, a grilled cheese joint.

Clementon Park and Splash World Bill Duhart

Call Clementon Park the Palisades Park of South Jersey amusement parks. It opened in 1907 as the trolley line from Camden had been extended to Clementon Park, resulting in thousands of visitors from Camden and Philadelphia. The rides, games, attractions and food stands were familiar to generations of visitors. It closed suddenly in September 2019 after its owner defaulted on the mortgage, but a new owner stepped in and readied the park for its 2021 opening.

Scottish Rite Auditorium, Collingswood Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

There are better known concert halls in New Jersey NJPAC, Count Basie Theatre but for intimacy, atmosphere and acoustics theres nothing quite like the Scottish Rite Auditorium. In the early 1900s it was known as the White Mansion. I saw Patty Griffin here several years ago; practically front row seats, amazing concert. This is the coolest place I ever played, David Crosby once said. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Suzanne Vega and Emmylou Harris will appear there this fall.

The Town Crier sounds like one of those broadsheets popular in colonial times, but its actually the best way to keep up on whats going on in this town, founded in 1714. Gibbsboro was part of Voorhees Township from 1899 to 1924, when it was incorporated as a separate municipality. The Town Crier, in business for 33 years, is a monthly online town newspaper; a recent one outlined a road resurfacing project, a Superfund site update, and where to report a deer carcass.

North Wind Schooner, Gloucester City Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

This 57-foot North Wind Schooner is billed as The Gloucester City sailboat. The core mission is to let local kids work on the boat and learn about the waterfront while sailing on the river. Public cruises are temporarily suspended.

Cookie House, Glendora Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Apparently the only cookie jar-shaped house in America, the Cookie Jar House is three floors of wraparound whimsy, with storage room and bathroom on the ground floor, living room and kitchen on the second floor, two bedrooms on the third floor. And yes, people live there. According to one local historian, it was built in 1949 and was advertised as a house for the atomic age, purportedly able to withstand an atomic bomb blast. Strangely enough, the Cookie Jar House was to be the first of an entire community of cookie jar houses (!!). But, for reasons unknown, it was the only one built.

Katherine Cohen makes sandwiches out of pickles. You read that right. No bread is involved. She hollows out Kirby pickles with an ice cream scooper, filling the halves with ingredients. The result is weird, wacky and wonderful all at once. The only store of its kind in the country, Elsies Pickles opened in 2019. Cohen first started making the sandwiches for her diabetic mother at a Linwood general store. Elsies sells 750 to 800 sandwiches and 60 to 70 quarts of pickles each week. The sandwiches are available Thursday-Saturday only. You can even buy Pickle Guts, the hollowed-out portion of the pickle.

Indian King Tavern Museum, HaddonfieldPeter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

The ultimate New Jersey trivia question: Where did New Jersey become a state? At the Indian King Tavern, where the great seal of the state was adopted. There are free tours Wednesday through Sunday (donations accepted), and a skirmish between Colonial and British troops is re-enacted every June. Haddonfield ranked No. 2 on my list of the states greatest small towns. Dont miss the dinosaur statue in town Hadrosaurus foulkii, which was the most complete dinosaur skeleton unearthed anywhere in the world when it was discovered in 1858.

New Jersey is stocked with community theaters and The Village Playbox has been staging comedies, mysteries and light drama for 80-plus years. Nearly 50 performances were canceled after the state lockdown last March. The theater launched a GoFundMe campaign to stay afloat, and hopes to resume performances this year.

Jerseyans love outdoing each other with their holiday lights displays and none are more wondrous than Lights on Hiawatha. Its a walk-through light show display animated to music that is the holiday highlight in this small town. The displays creator is Erick Schules.

Whitman-Stafford House, Laurel Springs Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for

Domicild at the farm-house of my friends, the Staffords, near by, I lived half the time along this creek and its adjacent fields and lanes. And it is to my life here that I, perhaps, owe partial recovery (a sort of second wind, or semi-renewal of the lease of life) from the prostration of 1874-75. Translation: Walt Whitman loved the place, as he wrote Leaves of Grass at the Whitman-Stafford House. Nearby is Crystal Springs, portrayed in Leaves of Grass. Currently, the house is open by appointment only. Email: Laurel Springs calls itself the undiscovered gem of Camden County.

The Peter Mott House, Lawnside Annie McCormick

In 1926, Lawnside became the first all-Black community in New Jersey to become incorporated as a municipality. The town was an important Underground Railroad stop. Peter Mott was an African-American preacher and a railroad agent. The Lawnside Historical Society fought to acquire and preserve the house, and now operates a museum there. Its open noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays, weekdays by appointment only.

This is a free breakfast and lunch program for children held every Friday from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. at the Commitment Community Church in town. Just drive up, and volunteers will hand over packs of food. Its open to families in the Lindenwold, Voorhees, Stratford and Gibbsboro area.

There may be no better place for a historical society headquarters than a historic train station. The Magnolia station dates to the early 1900s. The local historical society operates a train station museum there, and holds monthly hoagie sales as fundraisers. The museum is currently closed to visitors, but is open by appointment. Check the Facebook page for updates.

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The greatest thing about every single South Jersey town -

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Click It or Ticket starting with May 24 kickoff event – Coastal Point05.31.21

Gov. John Carney takes a 'Seat Belt Selfie' to promote seatbelt use as part of a seatbelt safety-awareness campaign earlier this year.

During this years national Click It or Ticket seatbelt campaign, which will take place May 24 through June 6, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (DOHS) will be teaming up with law enforcement nationwide for a Border to Border (B2B) kickoff event taking place on Monday, May 24 from 3 to 7 p.m. across all three Delaware counties.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking all states to participate in B2B, a one-day, four-hour national seatbelt awareness event on May 24, coordinated by participating state highway safety offices. The B2B initiative aims to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seatbelt enforcement for drivers throughout each state across the country.

Delaware Gov. John Carney has supported DOHSs ongoing occupant protection efforts by clicking into one of the recent safety-awareness Seat Belt Selfie campaigns. Carney demonstrated the proper way to buckle up in a motor vehicle.

Seatbelts save lives, and this program serves to educate and encourage Delawareans to buckle up not only for themselves but also for their families, said Carney. Studies have shown that children whose parents buckle up are much more likely to buckle up themselves. Make it a positive habit, and click that seatbelt every time before you drive.

Delawares Click It or Ticket (CIOT) campaign will correspond with the annual national enforcement being implemented by state and local law enforcement agencies from May 24 through June 6. In addition to the enforcement mobilization, DOHS will run simultaneous education campaign initiatives throughout the state via traditional media tactics, such as billboards, statewide cable television, and broadcast terrestrial radio; digital media outlets including Spotify, Vevo, Facebook, Instagram, and connected television streaming apps; and will partner with local businesses to amplify the buckle-up messaging, such as tattoo parlors, hardware stores and outdoor boot camps, as well as extreme sports organizations, and venues.

Face the facts

The statewide seatbelt use rate in 2019 was 92.5 percent, which is good but we can do better, officials said. The other 7.5 percent still need to be reminded that seatbelts save lives.

Last year saw a 53 percent increase from 2019 in unrestrained fatal and severe injury crashes in Delaware.

Over the past five years (2016-2020), younger adults were the most likely to be involved in unrestrained crashes, with the highest number of unrestrained occupants involved being younger than 30 (53 percent), and within that group, occupants ages 20-24 being involved in the most crashes.

Bust the myths

Officials aimed to bust some myths that persist about seatbelt safety:

Seatbelts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many drivers and their passengers are still not buckling up, especially at night when the risk of being in a crash is even greater, said Kimberly Chesser, director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. With more people expected to travel on Delaware roadways this summer than last year, we ask that you help us to spread this lifesaving message. Seatbelts save lives, and everyone front seat and back, child and adult must remember to buckle up.

In addition to public education and outreach efforts, DOHS will be hosting a first-of-its-kind seatbelt riff video-making contest on TikTok called Click-Tok. The Click-Tok contest, which runs until midnight on June 2, encourages Delawareans to create videos using seatbelt sounds, music, video and an underlying Buckle Up message. Contest participants will be encouraged to join in on the opportunity through recruitment via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

The Click-Tok contest is proudly sponsored in part by traffic-safety partner AAA Mid-Atlantic. Three contest winners will receive a prize in the form of a gift card.

For more information on the campaign, statistics, and education, visit From there, users can discover the Arrive Alive DE Visualizer Unrestrained Crash Tool, which helps drivers visualize the impact unrestrained crashes have had on the state of Delaware over the past five years and test their knowledge about what crashing at various speeds feels like at 20, 30 or even 40 mph.

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Startup Helps Those Affected By Gangs And Gun Violence Find A Way Out – Delaware First Media05.31.21

Bretto Jackson hated many things about federal prison, but not everything. It gave him access to people he never would have encountered otherwise.

"The thing about prison is, you're all wearing the same thing," he says. "Everyone has the same $40 New Balances on." Even, for example, the Wall Street criminals at Rikers Island. "These dudes were just sitting across from me, drinking their coffee, reading their Wall Street Journals."

Jackson's fellow inmates opened his eyes to the concepts of investing and the tools of finance, a universe away from the robbery related charge that landed him in prison for 61 months. He became a Wall Street Journal reader too.

After leaving prison, Jackson wanted to use his new financial acumen to empower others like himself to find legal paths to making money.

Today, he and a partner run a small startup in Portland, Ore., called Leaders Become Legends. They mentor people involved with gun violence and connect them with companies who are hiring for green jobs, like solar panel installation companies and recycling facilities.

Unlike minimum wage or fast food gigs, this work pays well. Starting wages can be close to $20 an hour. A living wage, says Jackson, is critical to finding a way out of gun violence.

Damien Rouse is in the program. He went to jail time for the first time at the age of 14 and spent much of his late adolescence and early adulthood incarcerated. Last year, Rouse's brother was shot and killed. The two were close, just a year apart, the middle kids in a family of six.

"When he died a part of me died too," Rouse says.

He'd like to leave Portland, he says. He never feels safe here.

Through Leaders Become Legends, Rouse has been working with a local energy company to assemble and install solar panels. He says the most important skill he's gained in this program is not technical; it's how to compartmentalize. The work can be scary at times, installing panels 45- or 60-feet in the air. He can't be distracted.

"When I go to work," he says, "it's like, OK, I'm gonna just focus on work and get this done." This wisdom is something he passes on to other participants in the program.

As a kid, Rouse watched his uncles, cousins and father go to jail. He's determined to give his own 6-year-old son a different life.

In the last year, Portland, Ore., like much of the country has seen a devastating rise in gun violence. Homicide rates here are higher than they've been in two decades.

City leaders are scrambling to address the problem with law enforcement strategies including increased police presence and working with the FBI. The Leaders Become Legends program, by contrast, is funded through the city's economic development arm, far upstream from law enforcement.

This kind of mentoring, Jackson says, takes time and patience. Six months ago, he and his partner received their first $10,000 grant from the city as part of a small pilot project. Before that, they were doing this work on their own and through other non-profits they've worked for.

Over the last year, Jackson estimates they've found work for 10 people. They're angling to scale up with some much bigger money next year through a city program subsidizing clean energy jobs.

Tax incentives and legal requirements for green energy are driving a healthy demand for this trade. For the most part, says Jackson, bosses in this industry are supportive and colleagues friendly. But not always. Part of the training, says Jackson, is managing expectations.

"You might see a swastika tattoo on one of these guys, you might see a Trump sign, a Make America Great Again sticker on one of these bumpers of these trucks," Jackson says. He cautions participants against letting it distract them. "Think about your children," he tells them.

"Our total mission is to not let them go back to prison, or be dead," Jackson says. "As well as dealing with our trauma from just being so called Black in America."

This trauma is sometimes less dramatic than arrests or shooting. On a recent day at the solar panel site, another program participant, Tay'Andre Churn, arrives late to the work site after being pulled over on his way into this affluent suburb.

"I think he saw a black dude, and it went down from there," Churn says. Getting pulled over, he says, is "an almost every day type thing."

Despite their frequency, the police stops never get easier. Between these encounters and the violence in his community, Churn acknowledges that he lives with a lot of fear and deep sense of injustice.

But with two kids to feed, he says, he doesn't have time to dwell on it. Instead he straps on his safety harness and gets to work.

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Dozens accused a detective of fabrication and abuse. Many cases he built remain intact. – The Philadelphia Inquirer05.19.21

This is Part 2 of Losing Conviction, a series about homicide investigations in Philadelphia.

As Morkea Spellman waited impatiently in the lobby of Philadelphias Police Administration Building, two homicide detectives came downstairs to usher her out the door. They told her she may as well leave. Her 17-year-old daughter, India a high school student who had never been in trouble before had confessed to murder.

In the parking lot, Spellman crumpled to the pavement and wailed, calling the detectives liars. I was crying hysterically, not even knowing where to begin, because these people done took my child.

According to Spellman and three other people who witnessed the conversation, that exchange occurred at 5 p.m. on Aug. 20, 2010. The police record shows that Indias interview with Detectives Henry Glenn and James Pitts began at 6:10 p.m. about an hour after her mother said she refused to sign a form giving consent for her child to be interrogated, and left.

As India recounts it, once Pitts entered the interview room, thats when it got violent. The record indicates she willingly waived her Miranda rights and promptly confessed to two gunpoint robberies, one of which ended in the fatal shooting of George Bud Greaves, an 87-year-old Navy veteran and revered member of his Cedarbrook community.

India and her family say the confession was a fabrication by Pitts a detective who has faced an avalanche of similar accusations, all of which he called outrageous lies.

Seven murder cases Pitts helped build have fallen apart either before, during, or after trial a pattern The Inquirer first began covering in 2013. At least six people who have named Pitts in lawsuits against the city have settled for a total of $1 million. According to court records, he has also been the subject of at least 11 citizen complaints and five internal investigations, and was twice accused of intimate-partner violence, once involving a woman who was a murder witness. During a 2011 trial, a witness also alleged that Pitts hit her inside the Stout Center for Criminal Justice after shed finished testifying the night before; court proceedings on that allegation were conducted under seal. Pitts denied all of these allegations.

Just this month, a man was exonerated of murder a decade after he first claimed Pitts and his partner, Ohmarr Jenkins, coerced his confession during a long and violent interrogation.

Yet, dozens of convictions fraught with similar allegations about Pitts remain intact. An Internal Affairs probe thats at least two years old has not yielded any public action. The Philadelphia District Attorneys Office has noted concerns, but has not committed to a full review of Pitts cases. As of 2019, Pitts was reassigned to the Delaware Valley Information Center, a counterterrorism hub, but he remains employed by the Philadelphia Police Department. A department spokesperson declined to comment.

In an interview, Pitts attributed the allegations to personal vendettas, the anti-police agenda of the DAs Office, and the respective desperate desires of defendants to evade justice and of witnesses to avoid snitching. He added that hes never had a finding against him by the Police Board of Inquiry, which makes disciplinary findings on sustained Internal Affairs complaints.

He also suggested racist assumptions. Since I hit Homicide, thats the narrative. A Black man cant conduct a conversation with somebody without being physically abusive?

Pitts said any claim he struck or put hands on anyone is a lie, and noted hes never seen a medical record proving otherwise. I must be a damn ninja to beat people up all the time, and they bruise on the inside. Thats crazy.

Yet, a small group of lawyers have been arguing, with mixed success, that he had a long-standing pattern and practice of coercive tactics that was improperly concealed from the defense. One, Teri Himebaugh, who created a site called the Police Transparency Project based in part on that research, said she first began tracking him after a client of hers alleged that Pitts and two other detectives chased him down and pinned him against a wall with an unmarked police car. (That claim was raised in a civil lawsuit that settled for $20,000.)

In 2017, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina agreed to overturn a murder conviction based on that pattern. After 10 people testified to such allegations, Sarmina wrote in her opinion: Pitts continuously and systematically makes use of a distinct group of abusive tactics designed to overcome an interrogation subjects resistance and coerce him or her into signing a statement.

Since then, Patricia Cummings, chief of the DAs Conviction Integrity Unit, said she has advised her colleagues in other units to at minimum stipulate that Pitts entered into a pattern and practice and then leave it up to the defense to prove the link to a given case. The office has not uniformly pursued that path.

As a result of her guidance, the office did enter such a stipulation in the case of a man who was 15 when he signed a murder confession after three days in the Homicide Unit, including an interrogation by Pitts.

But at a hearing in that case, two homicide detectives testified they had never seen Pitts hit or threaten anyone. Pitts supervisor also testified hed received no complaints. Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott concluded that there was no credible evidence of a single instance of misconduct, let alone a pattern.

Richard Sax, a former homicide prosecutor who worked with Pitts, agreed: I never saw anything like that. He was always a very soft-spoken, laid-back guy.

He did remember one such claim. That man stood accused of executing a witness who had gone to the store to buy his mother a bag of sugar. But he said Pitts choked, hit, and threatened him until he signed a confession, saying he shot the man out of fear.

It was absurd because [the victim] was shot in the back of the head and the bag of sugar was still there, Sax said. Jimmy Pitts didnt have to make anything up in that case. Not that I believe he would make anything up in any case.

What India Spellman remembers about the day police came to take her in handcuffs from her grandparents house was the confusion. That they could be surrounding the house with their guns drawn to arrest her, of all people, seemed impossible.

She was going into 11th grade at Martin Luther King High School, though she struggled with reading, and was a point guard with college basketball ambitions. She worked at Dunkin Donuts in the summers. Otherwise, she was a homebody, spending hours on Facebook or giggling on the phone usually both at once.

According to Spellman, thats exactly what she was doing when the crime spree occurred. Her father and her grandfather, a retired police officer, said they were with her the whole time. A friend also confirmed that she was on a 25-minute phone call with Spellman at the time of the shooting. And her cell-phone records, filed in court, align with those claims.

But at the Police Administration Building, she said, Glenn called her a liar.

I was only 17 years old at that time, so I started crying and repeatedly asking for my father, she said. He told her hed gone home.

Then, she said, he left and Pitts stepped in, shouted at her, and demanded that she confess. He punched me in my mouth, she said. He showed her a statement taken from a 14-year-old boy, Von Combs, who accused her of masterminding the slaying. He wanted her to corroborate it.

Spellman doesnt recall how long the interrogation lasted. It ended when Pitts put some papers in front of her. He told me if you sign this paper you can go home, she said. She complied, and asked Pitts to read her what was on the paper. She said he refused. Then, he sent her to booking. Her mug shot, which ran in the newspaper, shows a tear sliding down her cheek and, according to her family, her mouth swollen from the blow.

Pitts, in a recent interview, said he never touched her, never fabricated a statement, and never threatened, verbally abused, or mistreated anyone.

He has shouted, been in peoples faces, hes testified. But mostly, he said, his approach was to listen for lies and inconsistencies, weak points in the story that could lead to fissures.

In depositions and trials, though, he at times displayed a temper accusing lawyers of yelling, making things up, or swinging an arm near him too aggressively. In one tense deposition, he refused to reveal even his basic biographical facts, like where he attended high school.

Your client is a killer, and Im not giving him anything that can backtrack, Pitts told the civil-rights lawyer for Nafis Pinkney, who had been acquitted of a double murder and was suing the city. (A different man had already confessed to the killings and is awaiting trial. Pinkney settled for $750,000.)

Pitts testified he attended a year and a half at Widener, studying hotel management, then accounting. He served in the Army Reserves, worked for the Free Library, and joined the department in 1996. In 1999, he made detective. And in 2006, he was assigned to Homicide.

Along the way, there was no formal training on how to investigate crimes or interrogate suspects, he said. Mostly, he learned on the job.

Like other detectives, he testified, he would conduct sometimes lengthy informal, unrecorded interviews that could last hours or days. Only at the end, he said, would it be memorialized in a final written statement.

Thats happened quite often that Ive interviewed people and theyve said things and just in the end will not give a written interview, he said. Theres [other] times people do sign what they say and come in the courtroom and make a million allegations, and the case doesnt even become about what they said. It becomes about what they alleged happened to them.

Despite all that, Pitts told The Inquirer, he misses the Homicide Unit, and wants to return.

I enjoyed the sense of getting it right, he said. I enjoyed dealing with the victims when there were successful conclusions and even when there werent successful conclusions, just being able to have the conversations about life in general. I even enjoyed some of the conversations with defendants.

Some on the other end of those interviews had a different perspective.

Donyea Phillips, who was 16 when he was arrested along with his cousin for shooting at police during a raid on a drug house, said Pitts used a range of intimidation tactics over 24 hours without sleep or food, except a cheesesteak that officers told him they had spit in.

He would put his knee to my knee and put his hand to the back of my neck, and he would growl, Phillips said. He was handcuffed to a chair for hours, he said, while Pitts hit him with a leather binder and shouted into his ear. I was like, Oh man, theyre going to kill me in there. Im going to die in this room.

Phillips maintains that he is innocent, but he ended up signing a confession. His cousin signed a statement implicating Phillips that he, too, has recanted. At the time, though, Phillips said, he felt he had to plead guilty, and was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison.

Witnesses including the girlfriends and elderly relatives of suspects, as well as bystanders have described similar encounters with Pitts.

One man, Andre Cunningham, described being held for 18 hours in a Homicide interview room because police thought hed witnessed the 2011 murder of Dwayne Isaacs, 48, in a public housing complex.

At one point, he said, he put his head on the table and fell asleep but was awakened when Pitts slammed a pile of phone books down next to his head. He grabbed me and choked me and said Im going to give him the information he needs to close his case, he said.

In the end, he alleged, detectives fabricated a statement accusing Christopher Goodwin a man Cunningham says he knew to be innocent, because he saw Goodwin sitting nearby when the gunshots were fired.

When I left out of there the next day, my T-shirt was ripped down the middle, Cunningham said. Being a Black male, any time you go down there you have to know and expect for them to put their hands on you.

Cunningham and another witness who signed a statement both recanted at trial, testifying they were coerced. Goodwin was convicted anyway.

Pitts name does not appear on Cunninghams interview record. Thats typical, according to witnesses and defendants who describe multiple detectives passing through during lengthy unrecorded interviews.

Many were able to identify Pitts by his distinctive appearance, including a large scar on his neck.

In court filings, affidavits, Internal Affairs records, and interviews, at least 31 people have accused Pitts of physical abuse. At least 25 said he or a partner pressured them to sign fabricated statements. Dozens have alleged threats, isolation or verbal abuse in the course of investigations.

According to Pitts, the first person to implicate India Spellman and Von Combs in the murders was Shawn Combs, Vons mother. Police were called to her house after she was heard screaming hysterically that the streets got him.

Mother and son were taken in separate police cars to the Homicide Unit. Once there, Von signed a confession.

Afterward, he became the star witness against Spellman, smiling and laughing as he testified, according to newspaper accounts.

Through his mother, Von declined an interview request. At trial, he described Spellman as the mastermind and shooter. She said, I want to rob this lady, he testified. I looked at her like she was crazy.

READ MORE: Lying now, or lying then? Under Pa. rules, many are convicted on recanted statements.

After Spellman was tried as an adult and found guilty, Assistant DA Thomas Lipscomb asked for a sentence of 40 years to life.

I think the word senseless is overused, the prosecutor said of Greaves murder. I would call it nihilistic: betraying a belief in nothing, that nothing is sacred. Not old age, not property, not life itself.

As for Von Combs, his case was resolved in juvenile court. The sentence: two years in a secure detention facility.

Like Spellman, Combs appealed, saying the detectives had improperly extracted his confession. He argued that he was not given a chance to consult privately with his mother and that, in any case, she was hysterical, incompetent to consent on his behalf and a pawn of the police, pressuring him to confess. The Pennsylvania Superior Court credited detectives accounts that the statement was voluntary and proper.

The problems with evaluating allegations of misconduct in such cases are numerous.

For one thing, its the word of the detective against people whom judges and jurors may not believe for any number of reasons: They have criminal records. Theyre teenagers. Theyre heavy drug users. Theyre illiterate. They have mental health diagnoses or intellectual disabilities.

Also, many have compelling reasons to lie. Some, like Combs, received favorable sentences. Others, Pitts and many others have suggested, accused detectives of fabricating their statements because they feared being labeled a snitch.

One man, Cornell Drummond, was incarcerated on federal drug and gun charges, when he gave what he later said were false statements about two murders. He also identified then-teenagers Tyrik Perez and Khaleef Mumin in a shooting that left Drummond paralyzed. Four men were convicted of the various crimes.

Starting in 2018, Drummond tried to recant, accusing Pitts of collusion in one case. Drummond said he lied at the time in return for a lenient sentence in an unrelated case as well as to get revenge over old beefs.

Det. Pitts filled me in on what details I should talk about, he said in an affidavit for one of the men, Donte Tae Hill, like what kind of gun, the time of day and the color car Tae was supposed to be driving. Detective Pitts said he already had Tae charged, we just need more evidence, like words from him. Detective Pitts told me to say that Tae told me that he emptied the whole clip.

Pitts said in an interview that he had never interacted with Drummond.

So far, judges have declined to overturn any convictions based on Drummonds new testimony. In a brief phone call, he expressed both a fear of retaliation and a total loss of faith in the system.

The police are the police. The streets are the streets, he said. I tried to make that s right and, once I tried to do that, the police were on me, the DA, it was getting real freaky.

Perez was a teenager when he was arrested. He still has years left before hes eligible for parole. His mother, Derrell Hawkins, frets for his safety in prison, where she said he was recently stabbed.

There were times I couldnt eat. I had to pay these lawyers. I gave my car back. I had to take the bus. I went through so much. I felt like I was in jail with him, she said. I keep telling Tyrik, Be patient. But Ive been saying that for 11 years.

Spellman is 27 now, an inmate at State Correctional Institution Cambridge Springs, about as far from Philadelphia as you can get and still be in Pennsylvania. Before the pandemic canceled visits, her family would line up at 1 a.m. for the Pennsylvania Prison Society bus, a journey that takes 24 hours round-trip.

She learned to read and write in prison, got her high school diploma, and began taking college courses. She gets up early each morning to wheel elderly prisoners to their medical appointments.

Her family hired Todd Mosser, one of a handful of lawyers who has developed a subspecialty in challenging cases Pitts worked on.

The working belief among a number of us is that Pitts isnt the only one. The real problem is that there are these Internal Affairs complaints against him, and nothings done about it, he said.

In court filings, Mosser argued the pattern of alleged misconduct in Spellmans case should be enough to raise serious questions about a case built on two shaky witness identifications, and the conflicting statements taken from the two minors.

In addition to Spellmans two alibi witnesses and her exculpatory cell-phone records, her lawyers filings include the original, conflicting statements from eyewitnesses.

The first gunpoint-robbery victim, Shirley Phillips, had described the perpetrators as a Black teenage boy with a teardrop tattoo under his right eye, and a dark-skinned woman, aged 25 to 30, 5-foot-6, and weighing about 180 pounds, heavyset and dressed in all black Muslim clothes. Another witness, Greaves neighbor Kathy Mathis, similarly told police the woman was dark skinned and thick, around a size 14, and wearing Muslim head garb that left only her eyes exposed.

Spellman was a thin, light-complexioned 17-year-old girl, who weighed about 115 pounds. Even so, both Phillips and Mathis identified her in court. Ill never forget those eyes, Phillips said.

Phillips, who worked as a home health aide, died in 2017. Her daughter, Nyshema, said Phillips was profoundly traumatized by the attack.

She was confident in the conviction, but they were young so she still was [conflicted] about it. But they knocked her down and they took her belongings and then they shot the man right afterward. That put my mom down in a big depression and she was hurting, she said. She loved kids and they were young, and she couldnt understand.

The other witness, Kathy Mathis, had called the DAs Office and left a message someone transcribed as: Never saw faces. Didnt see the face. That document was not disclosed to Spellmans lawyer before her trial, according to Mossers filing. Lipscomb, the prosecutor, did not respond to an interview request.

Recently, Mathis confirmed to a defense investigator that India did not resemble the shooter, that she looked younger, thinner and lighter-skinned. Mathis said she was only able to identify Spellman in court because the prosecutor told me where she would be sitting.

At the same time, Mathis told The Inquirer, shes confident in the verdict. I feel like they have the right person, she said. My story remains the same. Its done. Its over.

But after Spellmans December 2020 filing, the DAs Office did not oppose her request for a hearing. Its given her some hope that she might get a new trial.

If shes released, she said, shed like to advocate for the women shes met in prison, many of whom were victims of abuse before they ended up killing their abusers and were sentenced to life terms.

Im praying that one day Ill be able to be home, she said. I just pray that everybody just tells the truth about everything.

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Dozens accused a detective of fabrication and abuse. Many cases he built remain intact. - The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Philadelphia 76ers: Tony Bradley is thriving in OKC – Section 21505.06.21

Has any bench player captured the hearts, minds, and imaginations of Philadelphia 76ers fans the world over as quickly as Tony Bradley?

BBall Paul Reed maybe. And Marco Belinelli. Really, there are a ton of players who fit that bill, as our fair city has kind of made it a low-key pastime to stan fringe players beyond their abilities and overinflate their abilities to sometimes detrimental degrees, but still, the love affair between Bradley and the Sixers fans was at near Mike Scott-levels in the month of March, without so much as an ounce of realization that maybe, just maybe he wouldnt still be on the team by seasons end.

There was just no way, right? At 23, Bradley was the type of player who could remain on the Sixers for years to come and potentially develop into a long-term backup for their MVP-caliber big man Joel Embiid, long after Dwight Howard finally decides to hang up his shorts and enjoy all the frostys his $242,500,792 in career earnings can buy.

Fun fact: Considering a junior frosty goes for $1.19, $242,500,792 will buy you a lot of frostys (194,000,633) in PA and even more if you buy them in Delaware sans the six percent sales tax (203,782,178).

But then, just like that, it was over. After turning in a perfect game against the Golden State Warriors in the final game before the 2021 NBA trade deadline, Bradley was gone traded to the OKC Thunder in a three-team deal alongside two second-round picks and Doc Rivers son Austin (awkward) for George Hill, and Ignas Brazdeikis (more on that here).

Fortunately, we dont have to feel too bad about Tony Bradleys plight, as hes actually having a pretty darn good run with a well-defined role in a contract year despite going from one of the best teams in the NBA to arguably the worst.

Tony Bradley has officially made 18 appearances and counting for the OKC Thunder, which is only two fewer games than he played with the Philadelphia 76ers in roughly half the time.

While he hasnt earned a start as of yet, exclusively playing behind UCLA-meme-turned-two-way contract convert Moses Brown, Bradley is averaging career-high minutes (18.2), points (8.7), and rebounds (6.3) playing for Mark Daigneaults squad, with very little signs of slowing down anytime soon.

But wait, it actually gets better for the young not-quite-7-footer. Despite not quite playing 50 percent of the Thunders minutes at the five, Bradley is actually outperforming Brown from a statistical standpoint, outpacing the Luigi to his Mario in points and field goal percentage, not that its a competition or anything.

Assuming the duo are retained past their final games of the season versus the Los Angeles Clippers on May 16th, which shouldnt be hard, considering Brown is already locked into a multi-year deal and OKC has both the cap space and Bird Rights to keep Bradley at whatever price point theyd like, the Thunder might actually have a pretty impressive one-two punch at the five spot to pair up with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, and about two dozen first-round picks over the next seven years.

And as for the Philadelphia 76ers? Did they royally whiff on the enigma known colloquially as Tony TB11 Bradley? Eh, not really.

Considering how well George Hill has played since arriving in Philly as a reliable veteran presence coming off the bench and that the team can pick up his option for the 2021-22 season at a very reasonable roughly $10 million cap hit which could technically be valuable both on the court and as a trade chip its hard to argue with the value Morey got back from three players who werent expected to be a part of Doc Rivers playoff rotation, and a quartet of future second-round picks that wont help this team win a chip anytime soon.

Factor in the, well, fact that Dwight Howard could all but surely be retained for the 2021-22 season if need be and the Sixers presumed desire to actually sign/draft/trade for a stretch five to pair up with Ben Simmons when Joel Embiid is off the court and Bradleys development from a Zhaire Smith contract dump throw-in into a legitimate NBA role player is just gravy for all parties involved.

Sidebar: Assuming Brown and Bradley do end up retained for the forthcoming season, theres a better than not chance that Mike Muscala wont be and could thus be a prime candidate to return to South Philly for a second stint as a floor stretching four/five man behind Joel Embiid. Thats a worthy consolation prize just for his Super Mario Brothers 3 tattoo.

And hey, assuming the Philadelphia 76ers actually pull this thing out and bring back a championship to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time since 1983, Tony Bradley will surely receive a nice, (presumably) diamond-clad ring for his 20 games of effort whenever he returns to town, which is a pretty nice reward for having a chance to bolster his stock heading into his first bite at the free agency apple.

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Accused Whitmer kidnap plotter says God gave permission to kill – The Detroit News01.20.21

An accused bombmaker identified as a ringleader of a plot to kidnap and harm Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed he had permission from God to commit murder and was the national leader of a militia group that rioted at the U.S. Capitol last week, an FBI agent said Wednesday.

The new details emerged as the accused ringleader, Barry Croft, 45, of Bear, Delaware, pleaded not guilty and was denied bond during a hearing in federal court in Grand Rapids. The hearing marked Crofts first appearance in a Michigan courtroom since being charged alongside five others in October in a case that has focused national attention on violent extremism in Michigan.

Barry Croft(Photo: Facebook)

Croft is the national leader of the 3 Percenters, a small militia that participated in the Jan. 6 insurgence at the U.S. Capitol, FBI Special Agent Richard Trask saidduring the hearing, which featured undercover audio and video recorded by FBI informants. At one point Wednesday, Croft was asked to stand and display the3 Percenters tattoo on his hand.

Prosecutors used those ties while arguing Croft was dangerous, a flight riskand should remain jailedamid warnings from the FBIaboutpotential armed protests by violent extremists at all 50 state capitols ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has askedWhitmer to activate the National Guard.

Prosecutors say Croft is a violent extremist who served as the bombmaker of a group that plotted to overthrow the government and targeted several other politicians, including President Donald Trump, Virginia Gov. RalphNorthamandSouth Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

This is probably the most committed violent extremist of the entire group, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler told the magistrate judge. There is no question this is a person committed to violent extremism and he is the one who brought the bomb.

Croft's lawyer, Joshua Blanchard, objected to the government mentioning the 3 Percenters role in the Capitol riot and said Croft and others accused in the kidnapping plot were simply "airing grievances" and lacked a plan.

"I don't think that's enough," Blanchard told U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens.

The judge, however, cited Croft's criminal record and violent rhetoric captured on secretly recorded FBI recordings in ordering the Delaware man jailed indefinitely.

Just because one plot was uncovered does not mean there arent other aims that Croft could direct his attention and his explosive tradecraft," Berens said.

Croft, who is being held at the Newaygo County Jail, facedsteep odds of beingreleased from custody while awaiting trial on a charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, a felony punishable by up to life in prison. All five co-defendants charged in federal court are being held without bond thoughsome of the eight accused plotters facing charges in state courthave been released on bond.

His arrival in Michigan hadbeen delayed since October as prison officials minimized inmate transfers in hopes of stemming the spread ofCOVID-19. He was arrested in early October when the FBI saidagents hadthwarted a plotinvolving at least 14 men, including Croft, angered bystate restrictions on travel and business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Croft citedthe pandemic as one reason he should be released, saying he fears contracting the virus while in jail. He also complained about the long delay in being brought to federal court in Michigan.


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Prosecutors, however, labeled Croft a violent extremist and said releasing him would be dangerous and unreasonable.

On Wednesday, they played multiple recordings that included Croft.

Croft was saying he was granted permission from God to commit murder, correct, Kessler asked the FBI agent.

Correct, Trask said.

Prosecutors portray Croft as a ringleader."He was the prime mover behind the groupsconstruction, testing and detonation of weapons of mass destruction," Kessler wrote in a court filing. The prosecutor also citedevidence revealed during bond hearings in October.

"Evidence adduced at those hearings established that Croft conspired with the other defendants to kidnap the governor ... brought materials for an improvised explosive device to a training exercise ... participated in the nighttime surveillance of the governors home ... stopped to inspect a bridge along the way that he planned to bomb ... and detonated a second test bomb with shrapnel for use in the plot," Kessler wrote.

Croft, who FBI agents say posted a hit list on Facebook targeting Muslims and politicians,including former President Barack Obama, complained about the delay in a court filing.

"The unreasonable delay of more than two months in bringing Mr. Croft to this district is frustrating Mr. Crofts ability to defend these charges," Croft's lawyer wrote in another filing.

Defense lawyers have portrayed their clients as toughtalkers who were exercising their FirstAmendment rights who never carried out any kidnapping plot.

Twitter: @robertsnellnews

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Competitiveness and hustle drive Hyland to the basket – The Commonwealth Times01.20.21

Sophomore guard Bones Hyland shoots a 3-pointer against JMU on Dec. 22. Photo by Megan Lee

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

When sophomore guard Nahshon Bones Hyland rose up for a deep 3-pointer at La Salle last season, his high school coach sat in the stands and said layup. It turned the heads of those who sat around him, but Rod Griffin knew the ball was going in.

The shot swished through the basket at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. It was something Griffin had seen from Hyland since his eighth grade season the first time he saw the Wilmington, Delaware native on a basketball court.

I saw him as an eighth grader, this long, lanky kid, Griffin said. He could shoot, and he made great passes. So hes always been that way. Hes always had that ability to shoot from anywhere.

The 6-foot-3-inch guards shooting ability was on full display a year ago, logging the most 3-pointers as a freshman in program history, knocking down 63.

His consistent shooting quickly made him a fan favorite. Some fans made signs with the words Bone Yard, and others held plastic bones in the air. The signs and props are a tribute to Hylands childhood nickname, Bones, attributed to his slender frame.

Bones is like the Pied Piper, Griffin said. He puts cheeks in the seats. People come to see him play.

Competitive Edge

When Hyland steps into the gym, hes locked in, said Mar Mason, his trainer in Delaware. He said the dog in Hyland is what sets him apart from others he wants to be the best.

One of the sayings is dont let anyone outwork you, Mason said. There aint too many people that are going to outwork him in the gym.

Mason has trained Hyland since his eighth grade season, and said Hylands drive and competitive spirit has made the sophomore a better player. Mason said Hyland finds it unacceptable if he misses twice in a row during drills.

No matter what, Ive always been a competitive guy who always wants to win, Hyland said. Ive always had that drive since I was younger.

Griffin, who coached Hyland all four years at St. Georges Tech in Middletown, Delaware, said Hylands biggest strength is being competitive.

He was going to make sure he was going to compete on every single play and be the best player on the court, Griffin said. His competitive nature and toughness has always been a couple of things that hes always done well.

Hylands motivation is on his arm and he looks at it every day a tattoo memorializing his grandmother and baby cousin who passed away in a house fire in 2018.

I just know like its just a voice in the back of my head, were proud of you just keep going, even though I miss them, Hyland said. But every day I look to my arm and say This is who Im doing it for.

Hyland said his mother motivates him each day after he watched her take care of his cousins on her own without any excuses. He said that her no excuse attitude is what he channels each day.

Taking care of numerous cousins and numerous nephews and nieces just on her own, Hyland said. Just seeing her be so strong and wise and not complaining ever since I was a younger age.

Repetition and then some

Hylands ability to knock down 3-pointers on a consistent basis has come from spending hours in the gym, working on his craft.

With the amount of time Hyland has dedicated to the sport, Mason equated basketball to being Hylands job.

Its all repetitions, Mason said. Its about being effective, about efficiency. So when he gets in a game, its like hes already been through it. It comes naturally.

Hylands mid-range shot was something Griffin focused on at St. Georges. He was able to work with Hyland on his jump shot and ball handling, and it surprised college coaches when they saw him play, Griffin said.

Hylands jump shot is on point, but this season hes been able to showcase his ability to get to the rim.

Opposing teams have tried to limit his opportunities to shoot open 3-pointers this season by face guarding, or playing tight on him at the arc.

Just staying aggressive and strong, and just mentally tougher than my opponent because I know hes gonna try to throw me off my game, Hyland said. So just try to stay locked in throughout the game plan.

Mason said Hyland is the type of player that requires a watchful eye from the opposing team.

You cant really leave him alone, and you got to play up on him, Mason said. If you play up on him, hes going right by you. So that definitely makes him a bigger threat than most.

Hyland, who isnt known for being the most physical player on the court, said size doesnt matter, but the drive to succeed does.

Im not the biggest, not the strongest, but I would say Im the most competitive guy who can step out there and compete on the floor, Hyland said. If your mind, your mentality is stronger, I feel as though you can go a long way as far as competing and out winning a guy.


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All the Ways Biden and Harris (and Their Families) Are Making Jewish History on Inauguration Day – Jewish Exponent01.20.21

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at an event to announce nominees for their science team in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 16, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

By Uriel Heilman

(JTA) When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office as U.S. president and vice president on Wednesday, they will be making history in all sorts of ways including Jewish history.

Some of the historical firsts are obvious: Biden will be the oldest person ever to occupy the White House, and Harris will be the first woman or person of color or person of South Asian descent ever to serve as vice president.

Their Jewish bona fides are also notable: Bidens three children who survived into adulthood all married Jews, making him a grandfather to several Jewish grandchildren. (Bidens first wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972.)

Harris husband, Doug Emhoff, is Jewish, and the couple celebrate Jewish holidays together. Their 2014 wedding featured the traditional Jewish breaking of the glass, and Emhoffs two children from his first marriage refer to Harris as Momala a mashup of Kamala and the Yiddishism mamaleh.

This past Hanukkah, Harris and Emhoff posted a video on Twitter of the couple lighting the menorah.

I love Hanukkah because it really is about the light, and bringing light where there has been darkness, Harris said, pronouncing Hanukkah with the guttural chet sound rather than the Americanized hey. And it is a celebration of, always, tikkun olam, which is about fighting for justice and fighting for the dignity of all people, and its about rededication.

The blended Jewish families that will lead the new U.S. administration are not an anomaly they are emblematic of the story of American Jewry.

Most American Jews marry outside the faith 58% according to the most recent national survey, conducted in 2013 by the Pew Research Center. However, rather than abandoning Judaism, these interfaith couples increasingly are raising their children as Jews, or celebrating Jewish traditions alongside those of other faiths. Some 45% of intermarried Jews are raising their children in the Jewish religion, according to Pew, up from 28% in 1990.

While half a century ago Jews who intermarried were looked upon as a loss for the Jewish community, today interfaith families are part and parcel of the American Jewish community. In the Reform movement, the largest U.S. Jewish religious denomination, rabbis officiate at interfaith weddings, many synagogues have non-Jews as members, and certain ritual roles during synagogue services are open to non-Jews.

The Reconstructionist movement, which is the smallest of Americas liberal Jewish denominations with about 100 affiliated synagogues, made history in 2015 when it dropped a ban against accepting intermarried students to the movements rabbinical school.

In the Conservative movement, more than one-quarter of all homes include a non-Jewish family member, according to the Pew survey. Even among many Orthodox Jews, it has become more common to take a welcoming approach toward interfaith couples in the hope that a non-Jewish spouse ultimately converts rather than to ostracize intermarried Jews.

By the same token, the prevailing attitudes of Americans generally toward Jews have warmed over time. In the 1950s and 60s, large swaths of Americans disdained Jews in one way or another: In 1958, only 62% of Americans said theyd be willing to vote for a well-qualified Jewish political candidate, compared to 91% in 2015, and a 1964 survey found that 43% of Americans held Jews responsible for the death of Jesus, compared to 26% in 2004.

While 2019 saw a 40-year high in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, its common for non-Jews with Jews in their families to express pride about their Jewish relatives. Biden, a Catholic, is one example.

Im the only Irish Catholic you know who had his dream met because his daughter married a Jewish surgeon, Biden quipped about his Jewish son-in-law, Howard Krein, at a political event in Ohio in 2016.

Krein, a doctor, married Bidens youngest daughter, Ashley Biden, in an interfaith ceremony in 2012 officiated by a Roman Catholic priest and a Reform rabbi, Joseph M. Forman.

A ketubah was signed. The couple got married under a beautiful huppah, made of natural branches with a cloth covering, Forman, rabbi at a New Jersey congregation, Or Chadash, told the Forward. The wedding ceremony started with the traditional baruch haba and included the priestly blessing and the sheva brachot. The groom stepped on a glass at the end.

At the reception, Biden danced the hora.

Bidens son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015, also married a Jew: Hallie Olivere, whose Jewish mother Biden had known since his own childhood. At a 2015 event in Delaware, Beau Biden joked that he had a crush on Olivere as a kid.

I was the Catholic kid. She was the Jewish girl. I still tried. I didnt get anywhere, Beau Biden said.

Bidens second son, Hunter, recently married for the second time this time to Melissa Cohen, a Jewish documentary filmmaker from South Africa. Within days of their meeting, Hunter Biden got a Shalom tattoo to match one that Cohen had. The couple had their first child, a son born in Los Angeles, last March. That brought the number of Biden grandchildren with a Jewish parent to three, adding to Beau and Hallies two children.

Biden is not the first U.S. president with a children married to a Jew that history belongs to Donald Trump, whose daughter Ivanka underwent conversion by an Orthodox rabbi before marrying her Jewish husband, Jared Kushner, in 2009. The couple are raising their three children as Jews, regularly observe Shabbat, attend Orthodox synagogues and send their kids to Jewish day school.

Chelsea Clinton, the only daughter of former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, married a Jew, Marc Mezvinsky, in 2010, a decade after her father left office. Their interfaith ceremony was co-officiated by a rabbi and a minister and included a huppah and the recitation of the sheva brachot, the seven marriage blessings. The couple has three children.

Chelsea Clinton identifies as a Methodist but has become an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism. Responding two years ago to an online troll who wrote that she isnt even Jewish shes just ugly, Clinton responded: Hi Adam youre right, I am not Jewish. Since you find me ugly, feel free to never look at me. The ugly Jew is a vile centuries old anti-Semitic trope so next time, please just go straight to ugly and leave out the rest. Thank you.

After Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of three Muslims in Congress, claimed in February 2019 that AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group, pays politicians to support Israel, Clinton tweeted: We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.

President Barack Obama does not have any Jewish family ties, but so many of his White House advisers and close associates were Jews that Obama ended up holding a private Seder every Passover during his eight years in the White House.

Then, of course, there were the near-misses: Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, would have been vice president had Al Gore, who won half a million more votes than George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, held onto Florida in a disputed recount that ultimately awarded the presidency to Bush. John Kerry, who lost the presidential election to Bush in 2004, had grandparents on his fathers side who were born Jews but converted to Catholicism. Kerrys brother, Cameron Kerry, is a convert to Judaism.

When Harris is sworn in this week as vice president, it will mark the first time a Jew will live in one of the top two official U.S. residences: the U.S. Naval Observatory, official home of the vice president.

Theres another American Jewish storyline that Harris and Emhoff embody: the interracial couple. A growing number of American Jews are marrying outside their race including both whites and Jews of color, who comprise somewhere between 6% and 15% of American Jews.

Of course, with Harris poised to become Americas first-ever female vice president, most of the attention surrounding Emhoff wont be about his being Jewish, but his being Americas first-ever Second Gentleman the title he settled on as an alternative to the traditional designation, Second Lady.

Lior Zaltzman contributed to this report.

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Caught In The System – Delaware First Media12.12.20

I. Slauson and Crenshaw

Lisa P is from Crenshaw. She knows all its avenues, all its corners. She has it all mapped out in her head, what it means to move from one block to the next. She's 57 years old, and grew up running these streets. She was born Ellisa McKnight but prefers the nickname she's gone by since childhood.

Slauson Avenue runs east-west through Crenshaw. Driving toward the Pacific Ocean down Slauson, Lisa moves one of her box braids away from her face and hits her joint as she passes one of the neighborhood's unofficial landmarks, Slauson swap meet. Looking out her car window at the sign that reads Slauson Supermall, Lisa P says that it was on this very site that she first remembers seeing a boy who would grow up to be one of Crenshaw's most celebrated and most mourned sons.

"He stood right there, by that pole," she recalls. "Skinny, little scrawny kid selling incense."

The young salesman Lisa remembers spotting on this L.A. street corner was named Ermias Asghedom. A couple of decades later, he'd be known not just in Crenshaw but around the world as Nipsey Hussle, his new name glorifying the work ethic that earned him notice as a kid and acclaim and success as an artist and businessman as an adult. Throughout, he remained a fixture in the neighborhood. In fact, if you keep driving a mile and a half down Slauson, past neighborhood restaurants and fast food joints, salons and dollar stores and churches and mosques, you'll arrive at a strip mall on the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard that's the home of The Marathon Clothing Store, where Nipsey would stake his claim, where he'd do everything he could to change Crenshaw for the better and where, on March 31, 2019, in the parking lot of the store he owned, he'd be shot and killed.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nipsey Hussle was the epitome of a hustler. Like Lisa P and many of the other young people who grow up in this neighborhood, he was a member of the Rollin 60s Crips, one of L.A.'s biggest sets, from the time he was a teenager. He never denied being affiliated. Once his music took off, he repped his set in every song. But he was also a community advocate for Crenshaw, and constantly gave back to his hood.

"He never lived up to ... society's expectations of what he should be," says Karen Civil, one of Nipsey's business partners. "Society's expectation is, 'Oh, he's just a quote-unquote gang banger from the Crenshaw district.' Not at all. He's an entrepreneur. He's a Grammy award winner. He's a father. He's everything in between and he exceeded the expectations of what society thought."

The story of Nipsey Hussle's life has been retold into mythology, a hip-hop fairy tale, one that reinforces the illusion of the American dream: a self-made man who came up from the bottom, stayed connected with his community and used his art as a vehicle to change it. But the irony of his untimely death sheds light on the larger backdrop of inequality in his hood the phenomenon of mass supervision in Black communities.

"If you wrote a story like this, it would seem too on the nose," says Jeff Weiss, a writer and cultural critic from L.A. "It would seem too perfectly scripted to create the saddest possible tragedy it's like, Shakespearean."

Before he was Nipsey, Ermias Asghedom grew up the son of an immigrant in a family that couldn't even afford back-to-school clothes. He didn't see many options to support himself or his family, and around the age of 14, he joined the Rollin 60s.

In a 2018 interview with Hot 97, he talked about how being in the gang changed his life. "I adapted to the culture ... Naturally, that's not who I am," he said. "As kids we come from nurturing, but there's a lack of that in the coldness you get from going outside. The world said we was wrong, but the set embraced you for who you was. And that's the allure of gang banging."

Being in the set gave him a brotherhood, afforded him protection. He wore his pride in his colors and his "Slauson Boy" tattoos, which also made him a mark for police surveillance. In the early 2000s, the LAPD was still cracking down hard on gang violence. In an interview with NPR the year before he died, Nipsey described the reality he faced growing up in Crenshaw.

"If you check the stats the murder rates in the years I was a teenager and the incarceration rates in L.A. in my section of the Crenshaw district, of the Rollin 60s when I was 14, 15 none of my peers survived. None of my peers avoided prison. None of 'em," he said.

Then his world broadened. In 2004, after spending his entire life in South Central, Nipsey traveled to his father's homeland, Eritrea, with his dad and his brother. Over a visit that lasted a few months, he saw a whole country of people who looked like him living autonomously, taking pride in their country. It lit a fire under him to build community like that back at home.

"I was 19 when I came back, so I was still knee-deep in what was going on in L.A.," he said on Hot 97. But something in him had changed. "You know, you got those two voices. This one became a lot louder because I couldn't fake like I wasn't exposed to the way things could be. And you know, I think it led to me making decisions that brought me into music."

The music he made showed you the world he knew, with shout-outs to OGs and local stomping grounds. He was honest about experiences in his hood. "I wasn't always banging but I speak about it openly," he rapped in 2013. "No shame in my game. I did my thing on the coldest streets."

His music won fans among peers and critics. "He had kind of the laid-back stoner cool of a Snoop, but had more of the mission and ethos of like, a Tupac," Weiss says.

Aside from the bars, Nipsey followed his own entrepreneurial drive to sell what made him unique in rap. He created a recording label called All Money In and in 2013 got attention from the whole music industry for his creative approach to marketing when he sold 1,000 copies of his mixtape Crenshaw for $100 a pop. Jay Z bought 100 copies himself.

"Like, so many of us are way more than what we look like," says songwriter James Fauntleroy, who worked with Nipsey throughout his career and appears on Crenshaw. "Every now and then you find somebody that, in a good way, is so out of character that they're a more interesting character in the play of life."

"I say there's weather changers and weather reporters," says Larrance Dopson, Fautelroy's collaborator and one of Nipsey's longtime producers. "Nipsey and a few of us, we're weather changers."

In 2018, he finally dropped an official debut album, Victory Lap, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be nominated for a best rap album Grammy.

All the while, he was working on other ventures. In 2017, he and his brother, Blacc Sam, opened an L.A. storefront to sell their merch and spread their ethos. They called it The Marathon Clothing Store, and it wasn't on Fairfax or Melrose, far removed from the streets that gave Nipsey his grind. It was right the heart of the hood that made him. The store was part of his focus on Black ownership, and entrepreneurial strategy to "buy back the block."

At Marathon, Nipsey hired parolees to sweep up or even work the register. He wanted to give people opportunities he never had as a kid, opportunities that have never really existed for people in Crenshaw. He was known to donate clothing to people in the neighborhood who needed it, especially OGs coming home after doing time.


That commitment to his hood led Nipsey to do something unexpected: He wrote a letter to the LAPD. It read, in part:

"Our goal is to work with the department to help improve communication, relationships and work towards changing the culture and dialogue between LAPD and the inner city. We want to hear about your new programs and your goals for the department as well as how we can help stop gang violence and help you help kids."

In Crenshaw, cops were the opposition, and people who talked to cops were even worse: snitches. Being a snitch meant you were a threat in the hood.

At least one person in the LAPD wanted to make a connection. Steve Soboroff was, at that time, the president of the LAPD's Board of Police Commissioners, a group of civilians that lead the department by setting policy and playing liaison between the public and the police (Soboroff is still on the board, but no longer president). When he got Nipsey's email, he was impressed, and went to work setting up a meeting between Nipsey and his management team at Roc Nation and Michel Moore, the chief of police.

"I thought it was an opportunity to let him know what we do, and for him to let us know what his ideas were," Soboroff says. "And so, 'Tell me about the culture and dialogue from the perspective of people that come into your store.' "

But then, a standstill. Though Soboroff tried to get time on the books for a sit down, he says some members of the department wanted to look into Nipsey's background, specifically related to his gang affiliations.

"That's why the meeting didn't happen two months earlier," Soboroff says. "The department was a little bit reluctant. ... It's hard to get off a gang database, and when people can't get off a gang database when they're no longer gang members and they've paid their dues, it can affect their future."

Finally, though, Soboroff and Roc Nation managed to schedule a meeting between Nipsey and Moore for the afternoon of Monday, April 1, 2019.

But that meeting never happened. On Sunday, March 31, 2019, Nipsey was in the parking lot outside Marathon Clothing, as he was most Sundays. He had a small crowd around him, some taking selfies, some chopping it up.

Not all of the conversations he had that day were so casual. Later, two eyewitnesses testified in a grand jury hearing that they heard Nipsey and another man, a Rollin 60s Crip named Eric Holder Jr., talking about the dangers of cooperating with police. Nipsey warned Eric that there were rumors about police having paperwork on him, that the streets might see him as a snitch. Eric tried to brush it off. The conversation was tense, but cordial. The men dapped, and Eric left to get some food.

A few minutes later, another man named Kerry Lathan, who had until recently been in jail, and who had been the recipient of Nipsey and Marathon's generosity, pulled up to say hello, to thank Nipsey for the help he'd given him and to pitch him some designs for a T-shirt he'd sketched.

Then shots broke out. According to videotaped evidence and eyewitness accounts, Eric Holder walked back up to Nipsey with a gun in each hand, and started firing.

Kerry was hit in the spine, and fell to the ground. He couldn't see anything except the feet of people all around him, until he saw Nipsey fall to the ground beside him. Surveillance footage captured the shooter unloading nearly a dozen bullets into Nipsey before running to a nearby car. Nipsey and Kerry were rushed to the hospital, and at 3:55 p.m. on March 31, 2019, Nipsey was pronounced dead.

A few days later, Holder was arrested and later charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty, but his trial has been delayed multiple times.

In January of 2020, Kerry Lathan was sitting in a wheelchair under the shade of a small gazebo in the courtyard of a Long Beach rehabilitation center. He had on a navy sweatsuit and his gray goatee has been freshly shaped up. Kerry had been in the rehab center for a month, recovering from a right brain stroke.

On this day, as with many others, Kerry is here with Lisa P, who he calls his sister, though the two of them aren't related. Lisa, dressed in a maroon sweat suit, glitter lash extension and her red box braids up in a bun, helps Kerry eat and wheels him around they're about the same age, but she treats him protectively, very much like a baby brother.

Kerry and Lisa have been like siblings since they were kids, and they've seen gang life in Crenshaw change over generations. They got down with the Rollin 60s when the set first started in the 1970s, and Lisa says that at the time, it was more like a youth club, a family formed to escape the ones they had at home who were neglecting or sometimes abusing them.

Lisa has great memories of those early days with her friends. She remembers sneaking out at night with a group, gathering up pillows and blankets and hopping the fence into the 59th Street Schoolyard, where they'd push benches together and make one big bed to have a sleepover under the stars. Instead of s'mores, they'd split a chicken dinner between them.

Accounts of the formation of the Crips echo that all-for-one, one-for-all mentality. The gang emerged in the void left behind as Black liberation groups like the Black Panthers were being dismantled. Lisa P even claims that Crip is an acronym for "Community Revolution in Progress."

Soon subsets like the Rollin 60s formed under the Crips' umbrella. Some sets broke off entirely, forming new gangs with new territories, colors and codes. Desperate conditions in their neighborhoods intensified over the years. When crack started flooding in, gangs went into business selling it. Beefs started over sales territory and many of those rivalries got set in stone.

By 1985, South Central L.A. was a hotspot of the crack epidemic in America and violent crime in the city kept rising for almost another decade. As it did, the LAPD's CRASH Units were smashing into homes, yoking up whoever and arresting men en masse. Incarceration rates were skyrocketing, and the hip-hop of the era, by artists like Ice-T and N.W.A., was steeped in the reality that Lisa and Kerry were living through, painting vivid pictures of harassment by police.

"Why are they saying 'F*** the police,' though?" Lisa says. "Because we could be sitting in front of a store minding our own damn business and they're trained to come and antagonize us. That's why we say 'F*** the police.' "

Musicians like NWA spoke to everything Lisa was seeing around her, and gave her pain a new vocabulary. But most people coming up in chaos like that, she says, aren't given the chance to nurture their talent.

"A lot of people aren't able to understand their purpose in my neighborhood because they're trying to survive," Lisa says. " 'I need milk. I need bread. Damn it, I just got a gas bill. Oh my god, my lights is off.... How am I going to even think of anything else? I have no room in my mind to think of nothing else because I'm so busy trying to survive.' "

By the 1980s, Kerry was married and had started his family. He was trying to hold down various jobs, but he was already on the police's radar, having been in and out of jail for robbery and battery. It made it hard to even get interviews. Selling drugs presented fewer hurdles and higher rewards.

"You know, when you would leave broke and come back with 10 or 20 thousand dollars in your hand, that became habit forming," he says. Soon he was dealing full time. But Kerry developed a reputation for giving people who were short money they owed him a break, and that became a liability.

In 1994, Kerry was suspicious that one of his customers had been cheating him: paying him for crack rock, then breaking off a piece of it with her fingernail and then complaining that what he sold her was too small and demanding a refund. Once she even called the cops on him.

Eventually she tried this in front of other dealers and customers, and the two got into an argument that got physical.

"They put their hands on me," Kerry says, "and hit me on the back of the head, and that set the alarm off." While two other dealers held the woman down, Kerry stabbed her in the back, then ran away and left the woman to die alone in the street.

He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison.


In early 2018, while Nipsey Hussle's Victory Lap was topping the charts, Kerry was anxiously awaiting the results of a parole hearing. While in prison, he had become a model for rehabilitation. He underwent anger management, drug treatment programs and most importantly according to transcripts from his hearing victim's awareness training, which gave him insight into the impact of his crime. He also got his education in prison: certificates in mechanical drawing, cabinetry and drywall.

But still, he had reason to be nervous. His appeal for early parole had been denied once before. As he waited in the hallway while the parole board made their deliberations, he tried to comfort some of the other inmates up for parole, to ease his own nerves.

"Looking down the hallway and looking at people who just came out of the room that I was in, crying, and I say, 'Look man, come here, you don't have to cry. All you have to do is understand yourself. Go deep. Find your freedom. Because it's not in here,' " Kerry recalls.

This time the parole judges decided Kerry had earned his freedom, and in September 2018 he was finally released. At that moment, he became one of 4.5 million people on probation or parole in the United States twice the number of people currently incarcerated. About a third of those people on probation or parole are Black.

Life on parole in California comes with a lot of rules: Your residence can be searched at any time. You can't use a knife with a blade longer than two inches unless you're in a kitchen. You can't travel more than 50 miles without first notifying your parole officer. Kerry says he wasn't even allowed to go into corner stores that sell liquor. "Everything ... right is wrong. That's how clearly you could say it."

Kerry also had to agree to be entered into a gang database, so he had to observe "no go zones" places he could and couldn't go at different times of the day and rules about who he was allowed to be with. That meant that technically, Kerry couldn't be around Lisa, or at least two of his children.

"His daughter is in prison," Lisa says. "So when she comes home, she's a parolee. He's a parolee. How are they going to see each other? 'Cause they both of them in violation. ... Nine times out of 10, either you got a criminal record or somebody that you know has a criminal record."

Kerry was out, but with so many rules and such heavy consequences for breaking them, he felt like he was walking on eggshells. One in five people entering prison in the U.S. today is there for a parole violation.

Kerry and Lisa felt that they couldn't rely on the parole system. But Lisa knew of someone they could look to for help. And she says that despite never having met her or Kerry, Nipsey Hussle didn't hesitate to help Kerry when she reached out.

"They gave him hoodies. They gave him shirts, socks, tees, underwear, everything somebody getting out of prison might need," she says.

Here you have two men: Kerry, who had caused harm long ago and spent two decades wrestling with remorse, trying to make good and change his life. And Nipsey, who turned neighborhood-wide trauma into music, and that music into opportunities for his hood. Those paths both led to the parking lot in front of Marathon Clothing on March 31, 2019, where one of them ended.

Before Nipsey was born, before Kerry joined the Rollin 60s, law enforcement was figuring out a way to track people all over California.

Wes McBride is a former sergeant in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He's retired now, but back in the 1970s he patrolled East L.A., home to a large part of the city's Hispanic population and gangs like the Marianna and the Juarez. McBride says that every time they approached someone they thought might be a gang member, officers would fill out something they called a "field interview report."

"You use it any time you stop somebody and he's up to no good, but you can't prove anything," McBride says. So officers would take down suspected gang members' names and descriptions of their vehicles, for potential use in relation to future investigations.

In the late 1970s, McBride helped to create a gang database to standardize about a dozen criteria from these field interview reports, things like location, affiliates, tattoos, even dress. If a person met just two of the criteria, they went in the database, even if they hadn't committed a crime. That database would come to be known as CalGang.

Today, McBride insists the system does not amount to racial profiling, even though police are designating individuals for inclusion in CalGang based on preconceived notions.

"I worked East L.A. Ninety-nine percent of everybody in East L.A. is Hispanic. Uh, we didn't have any other races to pick on, you know, to stop," he says. "And the same you go down to South L.A. it's all Black population. I don't make you a gang member. You make yourself a gang member with your attitude, your dress and your actions. If you want to be a gang member, you're a gang member."

Nipsey had firsthand experience with this kind of profiling. In a 2013 interview he told Combat Jack that police would "come through and get to know you. ... They'd come hop out, ask you questions, take your name, your address, your cell phone number, your social, when you ain't done nothing. Just so they know everybody in the hood."

By 2018, there were more than 100,000 people catalogued in CalGang's database. It's become standardized, used by law enforcement across the state, even federal departments. But in 2016, an audit of the database confirmed a slew of problems. People had been entered into the system without a reason. Babies under the age of one were included because of "admitting to being gang members."

There's a state law that requires anyone who has gone five years without adding anything to their record be removed from CalGang, but the audit also showed that for hundreds of people, that had not happened.

Sean Garcia-Leys, a former senior staff attorney at the Urban Peace Institute, has represented dozens of people who say CalGang infringed upon their civil liberties.

"Almost all of my clients, even the ones who are gang involved, should have been purged but for a traffic stop at some point where they were pulled over for running a stoplight or something like that, and the officer noticed that they had a tattoo even if it's a 20-year-old tattoo and that stop was then used to restart their five-year purge date," he says.

Garcia-Leys says Nipsey satisfied a lot of the criteria that could land somebody in CalGang, from his tattoos to law enforcement's suspicion that Marathon Clothing was a front for gang activity. Hypothetically, every time he went there, he could have his five-year clock restarted. But because until recently CalGang was a confidential database, there was no way to know if his name has been purged or not, or if you were ever in to begin with. All public information requests we made to the LAPD to find out whether Nipsey was in CalGang were denied.


About a week after the shooting, Kerry Lathan was released from the hospital, and he moved into a halfway house for parolees. Still recovering, he was wheelchair bound and in a lot of pain when parole officers showed up not to see how Kerry's doing or to offer support or help, but to arrest him for violating his parole.

"They said 'Gang affiliation,' and I took out the newspaper. It said, 'Nipsey Hussle: A Voice of Peace,' and I said, 'So, y'all [gonna] send me back to prison for talking to a voice of peace? Y'all crazy,' " Kerry says.

Months later, Kerry still didn't understand exactly what happened. So we asked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the agency that oversees his parole, what rule Kerry broke. Via email, a spokesperson declined to answer, citing privacy concerns. But they said they could confirm one thing: The violation was "unrelated to the Nipsey Hussle incident."

We now know that this was a lie.

According to Kerry's parole violation report, which was obtained by NPR, parole officers interviewed Kerry at least two times while he was in the hospital, both by phone and in person. Officers cited several ways Kerry violated his parole, all stemming from the "incident in connection with the shooting death of Rapper Nipsey Hussle."

In making their case that Kerry should be arrested, the officers noted that Kerry had admitted to associating with Nipsey Hussle in those minutes before the shooting. Parole officers cited departmental resources used to confirm "that Nipsey Hussle is a documented Rollin 60s Crip gang member." According to the report the officers searched Kerry's phone and found a photo of Kerry at a strip club with two other men that officers say are "flashing" gang signs.

We asked Bruce Western, the co-director of Columbia University's Justice Lab, to read Kerry's violation report. Western studies the sociological impact of life lived on parole, and he pointed out that a group of 50-year-old men displaying gang signs might not currently be involved in criminal activity.

"It's very subjective to make that leap," he says.

In 2017, more than a third of parolees locked up in California were there because of a technical parole violation, not for committing a crime. Western says that can make people feel like they've been set up to fail.

"The person on parole only has limited control over whether or not they are going to come back into contact with the system," Western says. "If they live in a heavily policed community, the likelihood is that they will come back into contact. The system, in many cases, wants to have contact with you."

The officers took Kerry back to jail, but after media attention on his case and a petition with 20,000 signatures, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reversed his parole violation. After spending 12 days locked up, Kerry was released.

But here's what's scary to think about: If Kerry's violation had occurred because he'd been talking to any other alleged gang member besides Nipsey Hussle, he'd likely still be in jail.

Recently, there has been some effort to reform the system. In the last year, multiple LAPD officers have been criminally charged for inputting false information into CalGang, and the LAPD finally conducted an internal investigation that led, this summer, to police chief Michel Moore declaring that the department would quit using the database permanently. None of the data that the LAPD has entered into CalGang can be used by any other law enforcement agency ever again. But other law enforcement agencies in California can still access and update the database themselves.

Both Kerry and Nipsey were trying to work within the system, trying to play by its rules to improve themselves and their hood. Nipsey reached out to the cops, who delayed their meeting because they saw him as a gang member. Kerry reached out to Nipsey for help and it landed him back in jail. The way the system works, it's almost like it wants to make sure people like Nipsey and Kerry aren't working to help each other.


Nipsey Hussle's mantra was "The Marathon Continues," and depending on where you sit, that never-ending pursuit of a dream can be inspiring or exhausting.

December 19 will mark Kerry's one-year anniversary in his Long Beach rehabilitation center. He's got a piece of a bullet lodged in his back. He is coping with the effects of his stroke and still cannot walk. He told us he got COVID-19 earlier this year and is recovering. He says that when he finally gets out, he wants to find residence in public housing where his daughter and grandchildren can visit him. He will live the rest of his life under the strict regulations of a parolee.

Lisa P is a registered paralegal, and is writing a book about the history of the Rollin 60s called Orphans of the Revolution, Story of a Rollin Sixlett. She says she has found a publisher and is working to release it in 2021.

"I just want to see something different before I leave here. I don't have a lot of time ... and I just really want to see a change in my community," she says. "I can make it that."


Caught In The System - Delaware First Media

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Still Bad to the Bone | SPIN – SPIN12.08.20

George Thorogood has made a living performing other musicians songs. Hes performed them so damn well we all think hes the original artist. His self-described journey of starting from the bottom and clawing to the middle began once he got the heck out of Delaware. As he sang in Bottom of the Sea, Thorogood has been all around the world. He traveled cross-country for a shot at being in John Lee Hookers band becoming a street performer along the way. He lived in Boston. Has been performing in New Zealand and Australia and Europe for decades. He currently lives in Southern California.

Covering and mastering such songs as Bo Diddleys Who Do You Love and John Lee Hookers version of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (which was originally written by Rudy Toombs in 1953 and initially performed by Amos Milburn), Thorogood makes no bones about where he stands when asked about why he didnt write his own songs: Im not a songwriter. And why blues songs? My talent is pretty limited. I dont really have the chops of Linda Ronstadt who can sing anything or a guitarist like Jeff Beck who can play anything. But the fans dont care. They just want to hear George masterfully play these blues songs, leaving them, as Chuck Berry first sang in 1957 and then Thorogood in 1986, reelin and rockin.

In 2021, which is the 40th anniversary of his 50/50 Tour, where George Thorogood and the Destroyers performed 51 shows in 50 days, (yes, the numbers dont add up, but hell explain), George and his band return to the stage for a 29-city North American and European tour. (This December, hes also re-releasing the 27-track Live In Boston 1982: The Complete Concert.) Thorogood, 70, says hell be playing the same songs and is aware plans may change amid the pandemic.

We might have to work smaller venues, but once the world is healthy, I think itll be an incredible reaction. Have you ever played in Minnesota or Wisconsin [note: hes actually not this time around] in late May? Its fantastic! Why? Everyones been cooked up in the house all winter. I think once you get out there, the reaction is gonna be extreme in a good way.

Thats George for ya! The fans go crazy even in cities hes not performing in.

What was it like growing up in Delaware?It was like eating Wonder Bread with mayonnaise on it. Its not Greenwich Village. Its not Hollywood. Its not San Francisco. Its kind of a non. It got on Candid Camera. Remember Candid Camera? The show had a hoax where they bribed Pennsylvanians to say, Delaware is closed today. My father went, Delaware is always closed!

You also lived in Boston and currently in Southern California. How do the two cities compare?There is no Boston, just like there is no LA. Boston is about two streets its basically where Fenway Park is and thats about it. LA is full of places, like the Valley. Its really spread out. Living all these years I try to find where is this, and no, youre in Hollywood now. And then youre in West Hollywood. Now youre in Sherman Oaks. Now youre in Westwood. Now youre in Brentwood. See? Where is LA? Thats how it was in Boston. New York City: you know youre in New York City.

2021 is the 40th anniversary of your 50/50 tour. What stands out the most and can it be pulled off today?Its only 50 days, not 250. Lou Gehrig played 2,130 games in a row. The states on the East Coast are not as spread out, unlike going from Montana to Nebraska to Minnesota, so, that wasnt that tough. To make it 51 shows, we did Baltimore in the afternoon and D.C. at night. (See, told you hed explain.) Now if you cant get it up for playing rock and roll every night, then youre in the wrong business.

The one thing that does stick out is the 44th date. We played in Arkansas in this place called The Library. It seated about 100 people, maybe 120, and they called it The Library because it was filled with books. I think it used to be a library and was converted into a nightclub. The next night we played in New Orleans at the Superdome to 15, 20 thousand people and we had to go on after the Neville Brothers, before the Rolling Stones. Plus, I had a temperature of about 110. I had a cold the whole time I was on the 50/50 tour. My head was so clogged up that I couldnt hear anything. I couldnt see anything cause they had airplane lights banging down on the stage. It was tough, I had to get through it. And that was the first night Mick Jagger came out to see us play. I was like, No not now! Im terrible. This isnt working!

What was Micks reaction to your show?I dont know! I didnt ask him. But they said he was dancing as he was watching. He was moving around, getting into it. We played a bunch of dates with them down the road.

What were the Rolling Stones like?They were more than friendly, very accommodating. Its funny: those people, they have an image. I did a lot of shows with them in Europe and in the States. I never once hear any of the Rolling Stones utter a four-letter word. I saw no drugs, no marijuana, no nothing, all of them had great manners and theyre all pulling for us. They really wanted us to do good. Some of the Stones said, lets go out and see what these guys from Delaware are all about. When I was around the Rolling Stones, I felt like I had walked into a Boy Scout camp. I hate to blow it for them, but that was my experience.

How do you keep up with the music industry these days?Well, its hard to keep up with it anymore. Theres billions and billions of people and bands. Its not like 1968 or even 1978 where a new album came out and it was a big buzz. Now, theyre releasing like a thousand albums a week, of all different kinds of artists. It takes me a while to catch up, so everyone who was big five, six, seven years ago, Im just now starting to catch up. Im a classic rock guy. I listen to new stuff and go right back to Steve Miller. Like we all do.

What music do you listen to today?I just started listening to that lady from England with all those tattoos; she passed away recently.

Amy Winehouse?Yeah, unbelievable. I couldnt even put my finger on what it was like. It was like the first time I heard Robert Johnson. Ive never heard anything like this. Now I know what the whole fuss is about with this person. I first heard Amy Winehouses music in an assembly at my daughters high school and I heard this one song come on and I said, What is that sound? What is that music? So, they told me who it was and was like I gotta get into this.

Do you believe in the myth about Robert Johnson selling his soul at the Crossroads?Why not! Over the last 10, 15, 20 years a couple of pictures that they say is Robert Johnson were produced. They say this is him. And Im saying, Well, who verified this? Someone who didnt really know the man. Now, I have spent time with Robert Lockwood Jr. who was supposed to be the adopted son of Robert Johnson he was buddies with Lockwoods mom and taught him how to play the guitar. So, at that time a picture existed. And a police sketch artist went to Lockwood to say lets do it, and Lockwood wouldnt do it. And they said, why? and Lockwood goes, I dont want to.

And now a book is out about him. A very close friend of mine gave me the book and I said I dont want to read it eventually Ill crack it and investigate, maybe Ill pick it up in 10, 15 years. I like the idea that Robert is a mystery. Thats part of the charm. Some people even said that they didnt even prove he really was dead. So, he sold his soul to the devil. Hey, if someone comes up with an offer for me to be able to play like that, Id be tempted to take it.

CREDIT: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Why do you cover other peoples music versus writing original songs?You cant go anywhere unless you write originals. People told me that so much I almost was gonna puke. Well, Linda Ronstadt and Joe Cocker do covers. The Stones are the same way on their first two or three records. Frank Sinatra didnt write any of his material. Neither did Elvis Presley. I said that I could put together a record of no originals at all and I can make that album a hit. And that album was Moving on Over and it went gold. So, as long as the songs are good, people dont care who wrote it. I mean, do you know the person who wrote the covers on Rolling Stones albums? No, you just like the song. So, yeah, we proved that dead in the water. I think what they meant was to really get critical acclaim, you gotta write your own stuff. Well, of course you do! But you gotta write good stuff.

What was it like to be a street performer in San Francisco?It was terrible! Its better to play at MSG with The Stones. It wasnt out of choice, it was out of necessity. I was starving, I had no money, I had no skills or trade. I had a guitar. I did just enough to get something to eat maybe every two days or once a day. I wanted to be like Peter Wolf or John Hammond or Hound Dog Taylor I wanted to get it on like that but no record producers were walking up and down the street listening to me.

It was 1973. I was on my way to California because I wanted to meet John Lee Hooker and see if I could get a job playing in his band. Along the way, I got sidetracked and did a few gigs in Omaha and Denver. When I finally ended up in San Francisco, I visited Hooker. He was very nice to me, but I didnt have it in me to say I want to be in your band and play guitar with you. I just had to take what I could get. That was my start.

Do you regret not asking to be in his band?I was flabbergasted! He is so nice and very coooool. I cant even explain it. He was the guru of the blues, this monster of the blues. I didnt have it in me. We became friends years later and I spent a lot of time with him and did a video together, traveled with him, did benefits with him, but never got around to being in his band.

How did you come up with the name for your band?I got this guy on the phone who ran a topless club and I thought maybe we could get a job and as luck will have it, he said we have a cancelation can you play tomorrow night. I said of course so he said, whats the name of your band? and I remember there was a guy who played with Howlin Wolf who never spoke up, no one knew who he was so they called him The Destroyer. We bounced that name off each other. So, when the guy asked whats the name of your band, I went, uhhhh, The Destroyers. He went, any good? I said, were great! Then the name stuck. We did a gig up in Boston one night and somebody said George Washington and the Delaware River. Its nothing like ZZ Top or The Who. Police is a great name for a band because there are police all over the world. Its great for merchandise. Destroyer looks good as a tattoo on a sailors chest.

CREDIT: Rocky Widner/FilmMagic

Why do you perform so many songs about drinking?Theyre popular. Lets make the record straight here: weve recorded 150 songs, three of them are about drinking, but only two of them I wrote, so when they say all your songs are about drinking, or most of them, no, its the ones played on the radio. The reason we do them is because the fans select it. I mean we play in a bar every night. They were hits before we did them. I heard Sonny Terry and Brian McGee doing it, and John Lee Hooker doing it. I said, this is a popular song and we can make a rock hit out of this. If J. Geils got a hold of it, theyd do the same thing. Popularity is what did it. We made our statement. Were done with it. The world doesnt need another drinking song.

Which version of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer do you like the best?I heard John Lee Hooker doing it live at the Cafe Au Go-Go. He did two sets. Each set he did One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. Back in those days, the heyday of the blues, everybody sat, it was quiet, like in a temple listening to Muddy Waters. When John Lee Hooker played everybody was dancing. I said, dancing to the blues? This is not done! It was so revered. The one they danced to the most was One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer and it was all women. I said, thats it! Im getting a band together and performing that song.

Whats your favorite bourbon, scotch and beer?My slogan is one bourbon, no scotch and one beer.

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Still Bad to the Bone | SPIN - SPIN

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