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The Pope is in the house. As the Smart Set closes its doors for his visit to our fair city, we leave you with beers, dogs, and traffic schedules all influenced by the Holy Father’s visit, along with a history of the less pope-ular Vicars of Jesus Christ.

Fellow priests put one of the first popes, Sixtus III (432-40), on trial for seducing a nun. He was acquitted after quoting from Christ in his defense: “Let you who are without sin cast the first stone.” In the centuries to follow, political skullduggery and a corrupt election process thrust one improbable candidate after another into the position as god-fearing believers looked on in impotent horror. In fact, so many Vicars of Christ have been denounced as the “Worst Pope Ever” that we have to settle for a Top Ten list. •

Read It: Vatican Hall of Shame by Tony Perrottet

Get in touch with The Smart Set at editor@thesmartset.com.

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Just as the controversy over PEN America’s award to Charlie Hebdo recedes into the distance a new issue has erupted over at AWP concerning the placement of Vanessa Place on a subcommittee. A petition at Change.org opens:

“We find it inappropriate that Vanessa Place is among those who will decide which panels will take place at AWP Los Angeles. We acknowledge Place’s right to exercise her creativity, but we find her work to be, at best, startlingly racially insensitive, and, at worst, racist.”

It did not take long for AWP to agree to the demand:

More… “Vanessa Place Vs. AWP, Woody Allen, and more”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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Loose cannon Pete Townshend of The Who gives a fascinating interview to Rolling Stone. Supporting his group’s latest last tour, a marketing fiction the guitarist himself has a hard time taking seriously, Townshend talks about his Sixties contemporaries Robert Plant and Bob Dylan as well as offering this moving death bed fantasy:

More… “Pete Townshend’s last wish, The Bloom (Harold), and more”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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Today brings nothing but sad news from the music world. Legendary songwriter Joni Mitchell has been in the hospital since March. Now TMZ is reporting that she is in a non-responsive coma. Her website denies this and claims she is doing well and heading for a full recovery.

“Louie Louie” singer Jack Ely has died. “Louie Louie” is a song so simple and righteous that for decades it was the go-to track for young rock bands who could barley play their instruments. The FBI famously investigated the song for obscenity concluding  the slurred version The Kingsmen released in 1963 was lyrically incoherent. Eventually Iggy Pop with the Stooges recorded a version that was unquestionably obscene. More… “Sad News from the World of Music”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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So the royal wedding has come and gone and I saw enough to give me fodder for a few musings. Yes, I am a sucker for the spectacle and back story, but even I was surfeited. At some point, as Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters blathered on with help from Tina Brown (who was taking a break from saving Newsweek), I became a bit weary of it all — though, no doubt, I will return soon enough to drink from what promises to be a very deep well.

What struck me in watching this event was less the event than its coverage — a swaddling of commentary so dense as to practically smother the spectacle we all tuned in to see.  This was owing in large part to the plethora of close-ups. I do not recall as many close-ups of dresses, hats, and, most importantly, faces in any previous royal… More…

“Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God’s infinite love for all people will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!”

These could have been the words of Johannes Gutenberg or Billy Graham. In fact, they belong to the current pope, Benedict XVI. He spoke them last month in anticipation of World Social Communication Day, an annual event intended to spread the Good News of God’s infinite love using mass media outlets. The message this year was mostly for the kids: “Young people in particular, I appeal to you: Bear witness to your faith through the digital world!”

Catholics aren’t the only Christians connecting on the Web. When it was created in 2007, GodTube — an alternative to YouTube created for Christians and since renamed tangle — was the fastest-growing website in the U.S. Two years later, it’s… More…

 

According to her blog, Kathy Anderson — a mom who just happens to live in a city near you — started thinking about how to improve her smile, yellowed from years of smoking and eating sugary foods, after watching a segment on CNN about teeth-whitening products. Cathy Anderson — a mom who just happens to live in a city near you — started thinking about how to improve her smile, yellowed from years of smoking and drinking coffee and red wine, after seeing a segment on CNN about teeth-whitening products.

If you think it’s a little improbable that two women with such similar names would both feel moved to blog about their adventures in oral beautification, wait, it gets even more amazing. Tanya Melton — a mom who also just happens to… More…

 

When it comes to Sunday morning media, most people concern themselves that day of the week with the hefty Times or one of the number of political discussion shows you can find on any network or cable news channel. Fewer people concern themselves with CBS Sunday Morning. That’s the tame general interest magazine that opens with a trumpet fanfare and the image of a rising sun. For an hour and a half, CBS reporters (those not assigned, say, the White House or the Pentagon) deliver inoffensive features on topics such as railroad-inspired art, the history of the doughnut, and actress Estelle Parsons of Bonnie and Clyde fame. This week, it celebrated its 30th anniversary on the air.

The show ends each week with a short montage of scenes from the natural world. These tend to relate… More…