Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia -- Large protests are expected tonight during a reading by controversial poet Doctor Ross "Rosalin" Bender. Bender, who received a Ph.D. in UFOlogy and Sasquach studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977 has long been a polarizing figure in the poetry world. Called at times "careless" by some critics and "dangerous" by others. Dr. Bender was attacked by a mob of fundamentalist Christians in 2005 during a reading of his epic poem "It's My Hood, Gangsta". Police are expecting an attempted repeat tonight when Bender reads from his new work "Tales From the University City Village".
"Dr. Bender is purposely having his reading in an establishment which serves liquor in an effort to stir these people up," said an anonymous source close to the Philadelphia Police Department, "this stuff he's reading is all about booze and lewd women. He would have to be some sort of nutcase to think that the local temperance union and anti-gentrification squad wouldn't come out after him. Where there's poetry, there's wine, and where there's wine, there's money, and where there's money, there's gentrification."
Bender's poetry, which has been called "heavily influenced by illegal drugs and paranoia" deals with issues of gentrification, class struggle, and attempts by the Mennonite church to buy up Philadelphia properties and oppress local residents.
Dr. Bender's office refused to comment specifically for this article but referred inquires to a prepared statement which reads in part "If these people want to rumble, I'm ready."
Security will be especially tight at the Abbraccio Restaurant, sponsors of the event. Roger Harman, one of the restaurant's three co-owners said: "We had no idea that Ross was this famous or this controversial. We see him occasionally, we just thought he was some local nut. When the press started calling and the picketers showed up, it was just too late to cancel and now we're going to just ride it out."
photo by Kyle CassidyThose attending the reading are asked to arrive early and not interact with protesters. "We don't anticipate parking problems," said Joel Beavis, head of the Roofers Local 234 which has been hired to provide security, "me and the boys got the parking lot nailed down pretty good. We'll keep the protesters back, people should just walk through quick and don't mind what people is yellin."
Abbraccio will be serving a drink special during and after the reading. The "Bender", which Abbraccio bartenders worked feverishly to make after being inspired by some of the poet's work, contains an unknown mix of various liquors was, according to sources, designed to "get you as freaky as that freak" will sell for $3 during the reading and $7 afterwards. "Tests on local winos were very positive, they reacted strongly to this drink," says Harman, "we've put down plastic."
Ross Bender's reading will be at the Abbraccio Restaurant, 820 South 47th St, Philadelphia PA 19143 (215) 727-8247 at 8:00 p.m.
photo by Dr. Jacobson
photo by kyle cassidy
photos by Dr. Jacobson