Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Art Appreciation 101: many of Philadelphia's treasures don't reside in museums

You’ve heard by now that Philadelphia stepped up and saved The Gross Clinic. (And how.) Well, the most poignant commentary we’ve seen about the whole ordeal comes from the Inquirer’s Art Critic, Edward Solanski, who reminds us that there’s a lot more art around than simply what you’ll find in a museum.
Museums are refuges of last resort. Art isn't made for museums, it's made to live in the world - in schools like Jefferson, churches, private homes, public buildings, even in corporate boardrooms.

Museums are like zoos that collect rare and valuable specimens that have been dislodged from the quotidian world. Works of art in museums have lost their context, an intrinsic part of their meaning and their appeal.

This is one reason why the Gross Clinic sale was so disturbing. The painting is perhaps the most illustrious exhibit in Philadelphia's museum-at-large - a collection of art, some private but much of it public, scattered about the city indoors and out. Philadelphia isn't a premier art destination simply because of its world-class museums and the nearby Barnes Foundation, but because to a remarkable degree art has become insinuated into its urban fabric.
Well played, Ed.

Make no mistake — we’re glad that The Gross Clinic will now have a much higher profile, being on view at the PMA and PAFA.

It’s just nice to be reminded that there is art all around us, everyday, that deserves appreciation as well.

Related:
The city's museum-at-large — is anyone taking notice [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Saving the Gross Clinic — a winning effort [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Fairmount Park Art Association [Official Site]

[ Photo via Flickr user Hunter Boyle ]

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Philadelphia

Merry Christmas from South PhiladelphiaYou bet we love you back — you look hot.

Related:
You couldn't hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant

[ Photo via Flickr user podolux ]

Friday, December 22, 2006

Name a bar, help infuse G-Ho with more awesome

yellow barFoobooz brings word that the long rumored contest to name the bar coming to Gray’s Ferry Avenue at Catherine Street is actually happening.

You can now enter said contest online. It’s your chance to add to G-Ho’s ever-expanding allure.

A little background: the aspiring bar [above] is adjacent to the old Naval Asylum (which is now being converted to a gated condo community, Naval Square, by Toll Brothers) and just off St. Alban’s Street, where “Cole” lived in M. Night’s The Sixth Sense.

sixth senseSo go ahead, get creative. The Halley Joel Bar. The Mischa Barton Bar. Or, simply, Mischa Bar. Dead People. The Devil’s Booty. The Devil’s Ho. Carpetbagger’s. Sickbay. Asylum. Shit... hopefully, you can do much better.

Do us a favor: enter online but also leave your ideas in the comments — we'll help you campaign.

And, sure, naming the bar is fun and all but what we’re really looking forward to is that there is going to be a new spot to keep Grace and Sidecar company.

Because if those two bars are any indication, look for the yet-to-be-named Yellow Bar to make G-Ho proud.

Related:
Name the Yellow Bar [Official Site via Foobooz]
G-Ho in the house [Philly Skyline]

[ Photo via Flickr user lb_philly ]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Philadelphia notches much needed victory over CSX and their trains full of shit

CSX no masNot sure why, but we couldn’t help but feel a little blue recently. Probably a combination of things the holidays bearing down, the impending invasion of the crapsinos, Murderdelphia closing in on 400, Allen Iverson leaving for Denver — basically, times were tough. We were desperate for some good news.

Luckily our dejection was short lived.

After three long years, it appears that the fine folks over at Free Schuylkill River Park have finally won some frickin' hard fought freedom. CSX, a freight rail company that had vowed to cut Center City residents off from their own park if it was the last thing they ever did, finally succumbed to reason and agreed to allow pedestrian, grade-level crossings into the park at both Locust and Race Streets.

L'Chaim.
Finally, there is a tentative agreement about the crossings. While it has not yet been completely finalized, CSX has agreed to permit the installation of at-grade crossings at both Race and Locust Streets and to facilitate funding a pedestrian bridge connecting the two Schuylkill River Parks below Locust Street. CSX has also agreed to reroute its garbage-only trains. The tentative agreement is currently is in the final stages of the City's approval process.
It wasn't easy, however.
Citing safety concerns, CSX had vowed never to allow pedestrians to cross its tracks, which run parallel to Schuylkill River Park, a recreational path that runs parallel to the river on Center City's western edge.

Its trains are often parked next to the path, and pedestrians attempt to climb over or under them - a very dangerous shortcut. So CSX wanted to fence off the tracks entirely.


But that would restrict access to the park. And that was a very bad thing, given how the park had become a beloved, much-used riverfront jewel.


For nearly three years, both sides fought. A lawsuit, staged protests and testy City Council hearings ensued. And it looked like neither side would budge in a fight pitting the city against a corporate behemoth whose Florida executives didn't seem to care how their operations were impeding civic life in Philly.


A break finally came when CSX figured out that if they added a short stretch of track - just 1,000 feet - about a mile north of the park, the railroad could divert some traffic to another set of tracks, relieving congestion that caused so many cars to idle along the park.
Seriously, this is kind of a big deal. Along with public education and public transportation, green space access and similar consistently environmentally-friendly policies are going to be some of the most important infrastructure investments/enhancements that successful 21st-century cities can make.

Green Plan PhiladelphiaTha'’s why we're thrilled with City Hall for going ahead with a bold new initiative to create a blueprint for sustainable open space in Philadelphia for the decades to come.

Green Plan Philadelphia is exactly the kind of governing Philadelphia (leaders and voters) has to embrace if it ever is going to overcome its singular image as a post-industrial stopover between New York and DC.

Because, really, it already is… and it can still be so much more.

Related:
Visions of safe, at-grade crossings dance in their heads [Free Schuylkill River Park]
Good call CSX — no flaming bags of poo for you this year [Daily News]
Green Plan Philadelphia: if it's not green, it's crap [Green Plan Philadelphia]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Homebuying for Hipsters comes to Philadelphia

Unlike the Homebuying for Hipsters seminar in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) that made a few headlines back in October, the one we just heard about — which is coming to Philadelphia next month — isn’t actually called "Homebuying for Hipsters."

But it is a homeownership workshop targeting renters and potential first-time homebuyers and it is located in Northern Liberties… so we connected the dots.

Geographical stereotypes aside, it's actually great to see realtors wanting to host events like this in Philly. (And in Northern Liberties, no less.) Despite what you may have heard, Philadelphia’s residential real estate market is still strong and the best way to keep it that way is to facilitate purchases among residents (both new and longtime) — rather than relying on bubble-fueling condo speculators.

So take note: this January 27 and February 10, 2007 at the Rodriguez Branch Library at 6th and Girard — learn how to take the next step at this handy homebuying workshop. (You know it’s time.)

Hell, we might have to get off our asses and see if they have any quick remedies for a credit score that’s rapidly approaching negative six thousand.

Our only regret: the workshop, unlike its alleged inspiration in Brooklyn, is not being held at a bar.

Related:
Seriously, buy a home in Fishtown — it’ll be worth double in, like, two years [Solo Realty]
Homebuying for Hipsters [Curbed]

[ Photo via Philly Skyline ]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CCRA readies to punk the Philadelphia Planning Commission, this time even worse than before

OK, so remember last year when the CCRA did an amazing job of taking a shitily designed condo proposal for 1919 Market Street and turning it into a pretty well functioning addition to the urban grid on Market Street West?

If not, here’s a quick recap via the CCRA:
The original design [of 1919 Market Street, the condominium scheduled for the northeast corner of 20th and Market Streets, at right] called for a 27-story residential tower resting on a nine-story unventilated 500-space parking garage with openings to the outside like many unsightly parking garages.

The 39-story “after” proposal [below right], approved by the Zoning Board (subject to CCRA provisos) contains the following revisions:

•Before, there were 500 parking spaces. Now there are 296 slots, one for each unit.

•Before, all parking was situated in a nine-story podium, which covered the entire site. Now parking is three stories aboveground and three below.

•Before, the nine-story garage was unventilated but with perforated walls to permit airflow. Now the garage is ventilated so that all of its facades are fully enclosed. All of the Market Street and much of the 20th Street garage frontages will be wrapped with actives uses—retail at the ground level and apartments on the second and third levels. Except for the entrances, the garage is not visible.

•Before, residents of the Penn Center House living from the third through ninth floors could expect to look south across Commerce Street to the 1919 garage. Now, the 1919 garage rises no higher than the garage of Penn Center House.
Now that is what we like to call proper “design advocacy” on a new development. That’s all we’re asking for, people. Philadelphia is not a desperate school girl anymore, needing to take whatever trash a bunch of shadeball developers throw at her. She can afford to be selective and require her suitors to wash up before bringing their game. At the same time, she shouldn't only date little people.

It’s the not-so-hard-to-find common ground between NIMBYism and Developmania. NIMBYs are at one end of the spectrum, vehemently opposing any new development within a four-mile radius of their rowhome for no reason whatsoever — and that shit is dumb. Proponents of Developmania are at the other, insisting Philadelphia needs to take whatever new project is offered no matter how terribly conceived it is, e.g. an 11-story parking garage on Rittenhouse Square or a behemoth 700-car garage destined to destroy one of most important blocks for successfully linking Independence Mall with the Gayborhood — moronic.

Meanwhile, there’s all this spectacularly great room here in the "middle" between the two polarizations, in which we can encourage tons of sound urban development and, in so doing, make Philadelphia that much more awesome. (For serious, ask the Design Advocacy Group.) We just need the help of a planning body to start requiring that new developments do not regularly go against every known principle of urban design.

Enter the Center City Residents Association. While Mayor Street was off making the Philadelphia Planning Commission (PPC) borderline irrelevant, the CCRA raised $100,000 privately to fund a Neighborhood Plan because they lost all confidence that the PPC would do anything to ensure developers didn’t destroy the city. (And, sure, we know the CCRA proposal meetings have their fair share of NIMBYs and batshit crazzies making noise; but at least their leaders appear to be pushing mute whenever possible.)

And in only a few short weeks, on January 10, the CCRA will unveil their new plan, two years in the making, which promises to be a significant step in the right direction. Moreover, it will invariably bring further attention to the criminal lack of power the Philadelphia Planning Commission currently has. And hopefully this, in turn, will give more fuel to the PPCs new head, Janice Woodcock, and her efforts to bring back some real planning prerogatives to the once venerable Philadelphia Planning Commission.

After all, Big Urbanism is back. Get into it.

UPDATE:
Oh, snap. Inquirer Editorial Board piles it on too:
Nothing about Philadelphia's Byzantine, bloated zoning code is as simple as making the decision that it's finally time to fix it.

Those repairs - actually, a rewrite - should yield a set of rules that encourage the growth that's inevitable, and enviable. At the same time, they should safeguard the character of the city's neighborhoods.

New rules would replace the jumble of outdated regulations that require near-constant tinkering to make way for projects. It's a status quo that leads to patchwork development, encourages dubious deal-making and undercuts strategic planning.
Amen.

Related:
CCRA to unveil neighborhood plan; the planning commission is totally invited and will probably want to take notes [CCRA Official Site]
A little foreshadowing for you: CCRA shows up the Planning Commission [Philadelphia Inquirer via Google Cache]
Big Urbanism - The Year in Ideas [New York Times]
The Design Advocacy Group knows you dig it when they kick it, baby [Official Site]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Name that brothel hotel

Room Service IndeedBlind items are alright with us. Granted, this one’s a little old (from a Dan Gross column almost two months ago), but it's still worth relating.
One of Center City's brand-name hotels is said to be having prostitution problems. The hotel doesn't seem to mind playing host to an upscale call girl ring, but some guests have complained about the noises coming from the rooms of the floozies-for-hire.

In Oct. 2002, we reported that the same hotel was dealing with another prostitution problem. That time it was hotel staffers taking money for performing some extra special guest services.
If we had to guess, we’d go with the “Inn” that claims Philadelphia has a “Midtown.” For no other reason than it’s location, really.

UPDATE: An astute commenter points out that this is allegedly "an upscale call girl ring" which we had missed previously. So we were way off. Now we're inclined to agree that it could be the one with the Roman-looking lobby.

Toss your best guesses in the comments. Or if anyone has more than unsubstantiated conjecture, that’s welcome too.

Related:
Ain’t so much wrong with a little house of the rising son style room service [Daily News]

Monday, December 11, 2006

Riverside greenway coming soon to a neighborhood near you

The PSAs of Philebrity, Philly Skyline, Changing Skyline, Phawker and Philadelphia Will Do notwithstanding, we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage you to get your collective rear ends down to the water's edge and help shape the future of the Delaware River Waterfront.

Plan Philly's waterfrontWednesday in Queen Village and Thursday at the Independence Seaport Museum. Be there.

Related:
No more Mr. Nice Guy — green space and riverfront access to take on “developmania” [Plan Philly]
“Philadelphia is probably the last American city to reclaim its industrial banks.” Not too shabby, right? [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Can the city of Philadelphia demand the Sixers trade their owners instead? Seriously.

Ed Snider, the worst owner in sportsWow. We don’t really know what to say.

The Allen Iverson era is apparently over in Philadelphia. He will most likely never don a Sixers uni again.

We are definitely shocked and obviously pretty upset. And while we are admittedly very emotionally tied to Iverson and the Sixers, and absolutely devastated at the prospect of him leaving the Sixers, leaving the city of Philadelphia, and going on to bring another town the championships that he invariably would have brought Philadelphia… deep down, we cannot help but feel genuinely happy for the man.

Pound for pound, he’s one of the greatest players to have ever played in the National Basketball Association. He single-handedly took a godawful trainwreck franchise to the brink of greatness. He has the heart of a fucking 3000-pound lion. Basically, he’s our hero.

And for those reasons (and so many more), he should not have to deal with the egregious incompetence of Ed Snider, Comcast-Spectacor and Co.

He should not have to deal with sophomoric ownership, ownership that doesn’t even know how to put fans in the stands to watch, cheer and provide a home-court advantage to one of the most remarkable (and marketable) stars the NBA has ever seen.

Ownership that knows absolutely nothing about basketball, yet has consistently meddled with the team behind the scenes, forcing Billy King to shop Iverson almost every year since 2000.

Ownership that has been nothing but a disruptive negative force on the Sixers since 2002. (Everyone in Philadelphia (including the players) held their collective breaths for three months this summer and fall, hoping that Ed Snider would tire of preying on the hopes and dreams of a city, and finally sell the Sixers to someone not affiliated with Satan. But that didn’t happen. And now, instead, Allen Iverson is gone and we’re stuck with Ed Snider and a giant void.)

He also shouldn’t have to deal with a GM/President who has no idea how to evaluate or compensate talent. And he shouldn’t have to deal with a coach who can’t figure out how to help his players get better or to play better together.

Allen Iverson 4evaBut at least Billy King isn’t a complete idiot. He doesn’t want to trade Iverson. He was trying to mediate the situation. It’s his boss who wants to trade Allen
and has wanted to trade him ever since 1999. And now he’s seizing Iverson’s frustration as an opportunity for him to finally dump AI without being implicated or liable for being the terrible owner that he is.
"It's just time for him to go his way and for us to go our way," Snider said.

"We'll trade him," Snider said.

"At a certain point, you have to come to grips with the fact that it's not working. He wants out and we're ready to accommodate him."


"I think it's time for him to move on, for us to move on and find out where everything stands. We're gonna trade him."
While we want to hold out hope that Billy King will finally stand up to Snider, tell him to fuck off, not trade Iverson, bring back Larry Brown, demote Cheeks to assistant, and then bask in the glory of the team’s then guaranteed success, we know that will never happen.

And so it is with a very, very heavy heart, inordinate sadness and also incredibly mixed emotions that we prepare to say goodbye to Allen Iverson.

We are happy for him inasmuch as he’s getting out of an awful situation. We’re devastated that it’s come to this — that he has to leave Philadelphia because the Sixers ownership is so incompetent they wasted the best athlete to ever play for a modern Philadelphia sports team.

Without doubt, a little part of us has died inside. We will probably never care about another team as much as we cared about Allen Iverson’s 76ers.

One thing is for sure, however: Comcast-Spectacor is dead to us. We will never watch another game as long as they own the franchise. Fuck you Comcast-Spectacor, Ed Snider et al., you fucking greedy egotistical rat bastards. You should be run out of this city on a rail.

Godspeed to you, Allen. You won’t need it. Especially if you end up in Minnesota.

Related:
Ed Snider is Philadelphia’s very own Lex Luthor [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Make it Webber for Garnett and then we'll have a deal [ESPN]
Damn, this shit is depressing [Google News]

Friday, December 08, 2006

Debunking the myth of the double-decker Schuylkill Expressway as a panacea to any of the region's traffic woes

Yea, we heard it all before. John Perzel's been hollarin' about it for years. And now apparently Richard Geist is on board. They want to build a second level on the Schuylkill Expressway in some crazy cockamamie scheme to alleviate traffic.
KYW's Tony Romeo reports that privatization of Pennsylvania roadways like the turnpike could open the door to some much needed relief on the Schuylkill Expressway.

Governor Rendell says he wants to hear from companies who'd be interested in running the turnpike in exchange for up-front cash, and Richard Geist (R-Blair County), chairman of the state House Transportation Committee, says there are other roadways in Pennsylvania that would be candidates for similar public-private partnerships.


If legislation Geist has drafted to allow that to happen is passed, he predicts that a proposal to expand the capacity of the Schuylkill Expressway by widening it some places and building an upper deck in others would be on a fast track:


"It wouldn’t take the normal 14 years that it takes in Pennsylvania. A project like that could be up and running in three."
The problem, kids, is that you can never build enough road to alleviate peak hour traffic. More cars come as soon as the road has increased capacity. Traffic engineers (some would call them "experts") even have a name for it: triple convergence.
The least understood aspect of peak-hour traffic congestion is the principle of triple convergence […] This phenomenon occurs because traffic flows in any region's overall transportation networks form almost automatically self-adjusting relationships among different routes, times, and modes.

For example, a major commuting expressway might be so heavily congested each morning that traffic crawls for at least thirty minutes. If that expressway's capacity were doubled overnight, the next day's traffic would flow rapidly because the same number of drivers would have twice as much road space.

But soon word would spread that this particular highway was no longer congested. Drivers who had once used that road before and after the peak hour to avoid congestion would shift back into the peak period. Other drivers who had been using alternative routes would shift onto this more convenient expressway. Even some commuters who had been using the subway or trains would start driving on this road during peak periods.

Within a short time, this triple convergence onto the expanded road during peak hours would make the road as congested as it was before its expansion.

Experience shows that if a road is part of a larger transportation network within a region, peak-hour congestion cannot be eliminated for long on a congested road by expanding that road's capacity.
How enlightening. Seriously. Read it again. In fact, you might want to check out the whole report.

Take a minute and think about it. In order to significantly alleviate the region's automobile traffic congestion via greater road capacity, "Governments would have to widen all major commuting roads by demolishing millions of buildings, cutting down trees, and turning most of every metropolitan region into a giant concrete slab."

That doesn't sound too smart, does it?

Instead of spending billions on a sprawl-inducing, smog-proliferating, monster highway, why not pursue a project that would actually do a lot more to address the problem… one that would "serve communities along this corridor, revitalize the old towns and cities along the Schuylkill River, encourage smart growth and development patterns that preserve open space, and reduce traffic, air pollution, and noise pollution related to automobile use." One that would basically make the Philadelphia region a lot stronger.

What could do all that? The Schuylkill Valley Metro Commuter Rail Line, that's what. Remember her? She was a fucking knockout. A ten. But all the toolish pols were intimidated by her sexy curves and overall hotness. (And, of course, the lack of federal funds — thanks dubya.)

Regardless, if people are going to start talking about building an extremely reactionary and moronic double decker Schuylkill Expressway expansion, we’re sure as shit going to start talking about sensible transit alternatives. And they don’t get much hotter than the fricking Schuylkill Valley Metro.

Hell, another alternative that’s way better — bury the goddamn expressway. At least we’d be able to reclaim one of our riverfronts.

UPDATE: New lead photo via Philly Skyline. Old Image below.

The Schuylkill Expressway, pre double decker
Related:
Coming soon to a toll road near you — the Pennsylvania Comcastic Turnpike On Demand Information Superhighway [KYW1060]
Traffic: Why it’s getting worse and what government can do (hint: it’s not build more highways) [Brookings Institution]
Schuylkill Valley Metro — you had us at hello [Official Site]
In my country there is problem, and that problem is transport [SEPTA]
Take it to the bank — Penn students propose a way to connect their campus to the Schuylkill [Philadelphia Weekly]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fire Maurice Cheeks?

We feel bad because obviously the players are devastated that the dead-end ownership decided not to sell the team. And, clearly, it's affecting their play.

So we're not sure how accountable to hold Maurice. But we fear the answer is getting precariously close to "very."

Meanwhile, as Philebrity pointed out, the team's new marketing efforts are not exactly — how do you say — inspired.



Oh dear. Um, we'll take a
whiskey on the side.

Better make it a double.

Related:
We're not actually sure that the Sixers qualify as a basketball team right now, professional or CYO for that matter [Philadelphia Daily News]
Watch the Sixers kick the Wizards' asses on Friday night and catch a live halftime performance of Chicken Noodle Soup — proud as peacock baby [Sixers.com]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's so fucking cold out, even PECO feels bad

Peco Energy Saver KitWe're pretty sure we just saw icicles in our toilet, so we can truly appreciate PECO's newest endeavor.

A new online store makes it easier for suckers customers to weather-proof their homes, saving money and conserving energy at the same time. Everything is 20% off for PECO customers and PECO doesn’t profit from any sales.
It's December, it's cold and energy usage is rising, so where can homeowners go to purchase weatherization tools and energy-saving products? Simple, at PECO's new website, customers can purchase discounted energy-saving kits and energy-saving products.
PECO says one item, the Energy Saver Kit (right), can save customers between $125 and $250 per year and costs only $25. The kit includes:
-- Energy-saving information that can help homeowners save money around the house through weatherization and energy and water conservation strategies;
-- Kitchen and bathroom sink and shower aerators are practical, easy to install and are great to help save hot water;
-- Two rolls of foam weather-stripping to seal drafts in doors and windows;

-- Polyethylene tape to weatherproof and seal cracks in windows; and
-- Four switch and eight outlet insulators that fill the empty space behind wall switches and outlets to prevent drafts.
So the foam weather-stripping works on “drafts” does it? How about gusts? It’s not so much that our insulation is bad as — well — it doesn’t exist.

Related:
Sweet — maybe now we won’t have to wear a ski cap and mittens to bed [Yahoo Biz]
PECO unveils online store to help customers save [KYW1060]
PECO’s Energy Saving Web Store [Official Site]
How to cope with winter's high energy cost [Philadelphia Daily News]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Health vs. taste, and the many zero virtues of trans fats

5, um, maybe more like zero foood groupsThe veritable think tank that is WPVI asks:
Starting next summer all restaurants in New York City will have to stop frying food in oils that contains unhealthy trans fat. By the following summer ALL foods in all restaurants must be trans fat free. What if the same ban were imposed in Philadelphia?
Well, our fitness czar would probably dig it.

But is this on the Philadelphia Board of Health’s radar? Action News checked and the Board’s response: no — on account of most of their resources being used to deal with the smoking ban.

Ah, Philadelphia — a solid three-and-a-half years behind New York (bureaucratically speaking) and positively glowing.

Related:
Would a transfat ban work in Philly? We don’t know — would a vodka ban work in Moscow? [6ABC]
More than just cheesesteaks, pork nose for instance [Gridskipper]
New Jersey looks to bully poor obesity, diabetes and heart disease for no apparent reason [KYW 1060]
The good ol' days
— Phat times in Philly [CNN]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Adventures in breaking developers' spirits, NIMBY-style

Rendering of the Locust ClubThe Locust Club was the site of a proposed development for the 1600 block of Locust Street. An eight story, mid-rise condo (with tiered setbacks to respect the low-rise nature of the block), the proposal was generally received as a very good addition to a Center City block.

There was, however, a small set of local residents who were diametrically opposed to the proposal, even after the developer changed it to address their concerns, adding more setbacks on the higher floors.

Among them, Dan Berger, whose family owns the building at 1622 Locust, leasing it to his law firm Berger & Montague, which was conveniently prepared to litigate developments like these in perpetuity.

Here’s an excerpt from the dispute from 2005. [emphasis added]
The developer, Ceebraid-Signal Corp. of Stamford, Conn., which has already redesigned the project once to try and appease concerns, received support of local architectural preservationists, as well as local zoning authorities and the city's historic commission.

"There should be nothing that needs to be changed," said Jason Schlessinger, who heads the development firm building the $25 million project. Schlessinger is frustrated over the opposition. "I am committed to the project and the city of Philadelphia."
Fast forward 20-some months to Sunday. [Emphasis added]
Jason Schlesinger, chairman and chief executive officer of Connecticut-based Ceebraid-Signal Corp., said he sold the property about eight months ago to local real estate developer Ravi Chawla after tiring of resistance to the project.

"Berger made it clear to me that he'd spend whatever amount of money he had to stop me from building," Schlesinger said. "I'm not in the business of waiting around. I just said enough with Philadelphia."
Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it. If you’re wondering how to give Philadelphia a black eye in the minds of developers considering bringing business to this city, look no further. Dan Berger should be able to help you out.

The sad part here, of course, is that this is in no way an isolated incident. There are a lot of longtime residents of Center City and the surrounding neighborhoods that are inexplicably terrified of heights, waging war with any proposed new building that dare rise more than four stories.

And while community input is invaluable to any growth that Philadelphia is to have, you know something is fucked up when a small minority can so disrupt the process that they completely disgust developers to the point that the developers never again pursue or finance another project in Philadelphia.

We realize that in regards to 1616 Locust all is not lost. After Schlessinger sold the Locust Club property, the Curtis Institute of Music stepped in wanting to develop the site. Which is fine.

The massive black eye that Philadelphia now has in the eye of at least one developer, however, cannot be ignored. It’s too emblematic of a much larger problem that continues to harm Philadelphia everyday its planning and zoning issues go unreformed.

Related:
NB to Curtis Institute: mind the volume — we can’t imagine your new neighbors are going to be thrilled about the noise [Philadelphia Inquirer]
NIMBYs oppose condo development, citing the "historical milieu" of the block. Everyone in the room immediately points and laughs at the giant pretentious douchebags [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Legal limbo for Locust Club condo project [Changing Skyline]
Developmentally disabled [Philadelphia Weekly]

Friday, December 01, 2006

That town smells like cheeseteaks

That town is full of history.

Anyway, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce got Michael Scott and Jerome Bettis to shill for Philadelphia at a recent convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Actually, Steve Carrell and The Bus were there filming an episode of NBC’s
The Office, in which Carrell’s character, Michael Scott, and several colleagues attend the annual Northeastern Mid Market Office Supply Convention in Philadelphia, or, as Michael Scott calls it, "a booze-fueled, sex romp where anything goes."

The Chamber got The Bus to sit at their table and a lucky conventioneer eventually got a Michael Scott and Jerome Bettis sandwich.

Bully for her.

Related:
Looks like someone took the slow train from Philly — that’s code for check out the slut
[GPCC]
Season Three of The Office [NBC]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Breaking: Stephen Starr’s hotel dreams resurface

Stephen Starr talks hotelsRemember Stephen’s plans for bringing an awesome hotel to Philadelphia? We certainly do.

As for Stephen, maybe not so much:
What’s next for you in New York?

We’d like to do one of the Philly restaurants here, Jones or Continental. I’m also thinking of opening a small hotel in New York. I used to just want to do it in Philadelphia, but the more I’m here the more I feel confident I could do one here.
Um, first of all, you already did not one, but two of "the Philly restaurants" there. Duh. Second of all, WHAT THE FUCK? Don’t you even try to pull that shit with us, Stephen. We had a deal. You could go off to New York and do your whole wow-i’m-a-rich-and-famous-restaurateur-weee thing… and we’d be cool
as long as you came back to Philadelphia and built us a goddamn boutique hotel like you said you would.

So we’re going to go ahead and chalk that quote up to you doing a little bit of good-natured flirting with the New York media. And, that, at the end of the day, you do realize who butters your bread. But don’t think, even for a second, that we’re going to let you renege on your half of the bargain.

You need to open a boutique hotel in Philadelphia. And you need to do it soon.

Don’t worry about the W — that shit is corporatized. Oh, and Aloft? Please. Like anyone is going to stay there.

Philadelphia wants a fucking original. An independent. Be the man. Think the James, but even a little more urban. You’ll own the market.

We totally have the locale too: it’s in the Wash-West/Gayborhood neck o’ the woods or, sigh, Midtown Village. (You’re honestly telling us that no one could come up with anything better than “Midtown Village?” Unfuckingbelievable.) So much awesome, vibrant foot traffic already, your hotel will just make it hotter.

Seriously, the locale is sick. It’ll totally kill. (Way better than the cabana-topped Penn Postal Land one you’re cooking up.)

But you gotta move on it. 2007 is, like, here already.

Related:
Stephen Starr admits there’s something in Philadelphia’s water [New York Magazine]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nordstrom to Market East: believe that when your shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbert

Not sure if you all heard ‘em, but we certainly did. Talking 'bout rumors of Nordstrom going into the Gallery at Market East. Of course, we realized they were pipe dreams rumors. And outlandish ones at that.

But PREIT, who purchased the Gallery in 2003, had been actively seeking new anchor tenants. Especially after Federated axed Strawbridges earlier this year.

The courtship notwithstanding, we cannot say we were surprised to hear who the new rumored tenants were
word on the street is that Boscov's and Sears are on the way.

So not exactly Nordstrom but whatever. Market East doesn't need a Nordstrom — it simply needs to be a lot more pedestrian friendly. And we mean A LOT MORE.

The Center City District’s recent report on Market East, not just the Gallery Mall but all of Market Street East, will tell you as much. And as can be expected of the CCD, it’s a good report with a lot of actionable recommendations.

So while it’s great to hear that PREIT is bringing some new department stores to the Gallery, we have to admit, we’d be much more excited if PREIT was moving on some of the more pressing recommendations, like getting the mall to embrace Chinatown instead of blocking it out or making the Mall’s Market Street façade a little less bleak/fortress-like/lifeless.

Open up to Chinatown
Animate the Gallery's façadeOr, actually, we’d be even happier if the city was the one taking the initiative and moving to adopt other parts of the master plan in a timely fashion. You know, like adding density to the area in the form of housing, developing useless surface parking lots, or animating isolated streetscapes between Independence Mall and 13th Street.

After all, it has already been two and a half years since CCD’s very similar, earlier critique of Market East (PDF):
Diverse and walkable networks of pedestrian paths characterize successful visitor destinations. The more interesting and lively the sidewalks of a city, the further visitors will venture to explore, to shop and dine, to linger and return.
[…]
Despite enormous progress, Center City's transformation into a vibrant visitor destination is still a work in progress. There are significant gaps in the continuity of the pedestrian experience that limit the time that visitors are prepared to spend exploring the attractions and amenities of Center City. Significant gaps of even one block in length that are uninteresting, unattractive or which feel unsafe will deter many visitors from walking between destinations.
[…]
Market Street East: With several great historic department stores, the distinctive architecture of the Reading Terminal Headhouse and, with two convention hotels, it should serve as the vital walkway between Independence National Historical Park and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. But undeveloped land at both 8th and 13th streets, unappealing storefronts and the blank walls of an internally oriented shopping mall dominate too many blocks.
OK. Enough reports. Time for some action.

Related:
Strawbridges to come back to life as a new hybrid department store / family court [Changing Skyline]
Report: The Next Generation on Market East [Center City District - PDF]
Photo Essay: Steve Ives on the Importance of Market East [Philly Skyline]
The Gallery at Market East [Official Site]

Monday, November 27, 2006

John's Roast Pork, Say Hello to the Sunday New York Times

John's Roast Pork in South PhiladelphiaA couple years back, saying John's Roast Pork was under the radar would have been a bit of an understatement.

Few people outside of South Philly locals knew of it.

Then, four years ago, Craig Laban grabbed four Lower Merion High School seniors and tried to find the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia. What they found was John's Roast Pork.
What we discovered was a rarity in second-generation owner John Bucci Jr.: a cook who knows what to do with a griddle, who plays the searing hot spots and cooler regions of his flat-top like a virtuoso. Frying each batch of meat and onions to order, deftly seasoning his steaks, strategically crumbling and folding his cheese into the middle, Bucci packed the marvelous seeded rolls from Carangi Baking Co. with nearly a pound of explosive flavors.
Since then, a lot more people have been making the trek to the odd-shaped lot amidst South Philadelphia’s burgeoning borough of big box stores.

John's Roast Pork courtesy Holly EatsPhiladelphia Magazine heaped on the praise.

Details Magazine called the Roast Pork one of the 22 best sandwiches in the country.

Earlier this year, the estimable James Beard Foundation gave John's one of its distinguished “America’s Classics” awards.

And now the New York Times has repped John’s in their Sunday Travel Section, in another piece on Philadelphia.
O.K., O.K., two in the afternoon is a bit early to arrive in any city on a Friday, but the cheesesteaks at John's Roast Pork (14 East Snyder Avenue, 215-463-1951), which closes at 3 o’clock sharp, are worth it. […] The 76-year-old luncheonette makes each cheesesteak to order, folding in the cheese and onions as the rib eye spits and sizzles on the grill ($6.25).
Well done. And we agree. John's is indeed money. The sandwiches are fricking huge. And the taste aint no joke, either.

Just do yourself a favor: if you’re heading down there anytime after 12 p.m., call and make sure they still have some bread. They run out of it like their sandwiches are, um, going out of style?

Related:
36 Hours in Philadelphia: Steve Wynn, eat your heart out [New York Times]
The Cheesesteak Project [Philadelphia Inquirer]
John's Roast Pork [Official Site]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Washed-up NFL player accuses Philadelphia of poisoning his food, back when, you know, there was a chance he could actually impact the game

Warren Sapp tries to eat Donovan McnabbThis just in from the Department of Paranoid Self-absorbed Prima Donnas:

Warren Sapp has a big appetite. (In the above picture, he actually removed his helmet mid-game so he could try to eat to Donovan McNabb. ) And when something gets in the way of him satiating that appetite, he gets pissed.

Meanhwile, you don’t hear so much about Warren Sapp these days. Old age must be setting in.
Sapp insisted Wednesday his food was tampered with during his nine-year tenure in Tampa Bay from 1995-2003.

"You get your food poisoned," Sapp said at Raiders headquarters. "They don't want you out there on Sunday. You don't think about it. It just got crazy."

He pointed specifically to three incidents: Before the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia at the end of the 2002 season, which the Bucs won en route to the Super Bowl title; before a divisional playoff game at Green Bay in January 1998; and at New Orleans, where the Bucs played a game during the 1998 season.

"I know it's real, especially in Philly, come on," said Sapp.
[…]
For example, Sapp said that about a month after the Bucs won the Super Bowl, he and a friend traveled from Philadelphia to New York to watch Michael Jordan in his retirement tour at Madison Square Garden. First, they had dinner in Philadelphia, trading plates at the restaurant after their orders came. Then, Sapp said, his friend repeatedly threw up all the way to New York.
Because the friend ate some of Sapp's dish, which the kitchen staff purposefully made gross. We get it.

Actually, on second thought, now we're inclined to believe him — Eagles fans are a bunch of immature dicks.

Related:
Warren Sapp thinks he’s too good for a little spit in his food [ESPN]

Monday, November 20, 2006

New York Times piece manages to rep Philly without, amazingly, equating it with some en vogue parcel of Brooklyn

Shocking — we know — but it happened.

The nice little piece on Philadelphia’s contemporary art scene in the Times T Style Magazine’s Winter Travel edition yesterday is, on the whole, well done.

Basekamp, Space 1026, Zoe Strauss, Black Floor, the Fabric Workshop, Cerealarts — they’re all mentioned.

And the overall culture — and relative lack of pretentiousness — that's covered too.
Philadelphia is not the new Chelsea — or the new Williamsburg or the new Lower East Side for that matter. And it probably doesn't want to be.
Holy shit. Thank you. It's about time somebody said that.
The city provides a glimpse of what Baker calls "a community of generosity." This generosity affects the work. Pym says he's seeing "more smart, globally aware, unprovincial work each year" — and it can easily rub off on the viewer. For artist and visitor alike, Philadelphia offers a respite from overheated scenes, unwelcoming galleries and the economy of the latest thing.
Respite indeed.
Yet selling contemporary art to the local population remains an uphill battle, which is a good thing for the out-of-town collector. There's more inventory than in a market like New York. Those with the money to collect here often gravitate toward traditional landscapes and portraits; those with a taste for the contemporary usually can’t afford to buy. "The thing we lack is the hipster with disposable income," Baker says.
We'll go ahead and blame that on the godawful city wage tax. (And our penchant for alcohol.)

But the real kicker here? That Jessica Pressler is still writing smart articles about Philadelphia for the New York Times even when she’s not credited for it.

Related:
How an emerging creative class is transforming Philadelphia into a major arts destination [New York Times]
How cheap real estate, creative minds and a scrappy attitude are turning Philadelphia into a happening art town [Philadelphia Magazine]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Allen Iverson wants to help put an end to Murderdelphia

Earlier this week, the heartbreaking yet inspirational story of Kevin Johnson put another face to the sometimes all-too faceless epidemic of Philadelphia gun violence.

Kevin, shot three years ago over an Allen Iverson jersey and a quadriplegic ever since, fell into a vegetative state last week after his ventilator malfunctioned, leaving him brain dead and on life support.

In the three years since the shooting, Kevin had become a fixture in the city’s anti-violence efforts, telling his story at schools whenever he had the chance.

Early Tuesday morning, Kevin’s family took him off life-support, donating Kevin’s organs as he would have wished.
Although Johnson and his family have forgiven the shooters, the decision to take Johnson off life support once again crystallized the gun epidemic gripping this city.

"I'm hoping that everyone got the chance to see Kevin riding down the block in his wheelchair and sucking on that [ventilator] tube and know that's the after-effects of picking up a gun," Jackson-Burke said.

"It's not a joke. I would think that if we were able to put [the procedure of withdrawing the life-support system] on television, I would do it if that would help one more child."

The irony is that Kevin, even in his paralyzed state, would often speak at various schools and panels, discussing the violence that so deeply touched his life while urging the assembled youth to not resort to guns.

"Every time Kevin was invited to talk at a school, he jumped at it," Jackson-Burke said.
More, from the Daily News:
To many, Johnson, 22, became the silver lining in the black cloud of violence that haunts this city when he forgave a group of teens who had shot and paralyzed him over a basketball jersey.

He never gave into the despair of his confinement to a wheelchair or his dependence on a ventilator and his mother to keep him alive. Johnson opted instead to become a fixture at area schools, lecturing kids and adults on the perils of violence.
[…]
Though his health forced him to make frequent trips to the doctor's office, his mother said Johnson never gave up on his dreams. He continued to lecture at schools and churches - he was slated to speak at a peace summit in North Philadelphia later this week - and took online college courses that he hoped would one day allow him to work with at-risk kids.

"I was so proud to be his aunt," said Jeanne Jackson-Parks. "He was an inspiration."
And the Inquirer:
For Johnson, the shooting - which many people may have viewed as an ending - became a new beginning. Strapped into his wheelchair, he and his mother spoke at schools and rallies, advising their audience to stay away from guns: One bullet - fired without a thought - could change or destroy a life.

Johnson's family says the injury changed, not ruined, his life. True, his mother had to bathe and dress him. He could no longer lace up his sneakers to play basketball or grab a video game controller. His plans to go to college were put on hold.

But Johnson was the same positive thinker he'd always been, they say. He forgave his assailants, even befriending one of them and giving advice as the man played video games at his bedside. He cherished and teased his sisters while lying prone on his bed. His mother's spaghetti was still his favorite food, although she now had to feed it to him.
Allen Iverson, the man whose jersey Kevin Johnson was wearing when he was shot, quietly contacted the family this week, asking to help and will pay for the funeral.
Iverson said once he saw Johnson's story in the newspaper, he felt he needed to do something. Aided by his wife, Tawanna, who found the hospital where Johnson lay critically ill, he got in contact with Jackson-Burke and spoke to her and Kevin's aunt.

"They didn't have the financial support to be able to have the funeral like they wanted," he said. "So I spoke to her and asked them: Could I do anything to help?

"I didn't want them to think I was trying to disrespect them by doing it for any publicity or anything like that. It was just something that touched me, and I felt I could do something to help. She appreciated it. I was just happy that she let me help."
And now Iverson wants to do more.
"Seventy-seven people a day all across the U.S. Almost 400 people in Philadelphia [this year]. It's just terrible, what's going on in Philadelphia. I just feel like I've got to do something more than I have been doing to try to help this situation as much as I can. If I can reach one person and take one death away, I think I'd be doing something. It's not right in Philadelphia right now."
[…]
"There's a lot of good people trying to help the situation in Philadelphia," he said. "Obviously, you need a lot more help and a lot more different ideas to try to make this thing better.
An Inquirer editorial today urges Mayor Street to find a way to try to use Iverson to help.
The Answer just might be one of the answers to this critical question: How can Philadelphia begin to holster gun violence? Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson has said he wants to help. City leaders should jump at his offer.
[…]
That background and his sports skills give Iverson credibility with the very young people who need to be reached and steered away from violence. Mayor Street, take Iverson up on his offer.

Let one of Philadelphia's creative minds design a TV/radio campaign so Iverson can address young men. Recruit him to help lead a peace summit for gang leaders.

Iverson may be one of the few who can get street thugs to listen and lay down their weapons. As gun violence continues to rise, seeing what he can do is worth a try.
It is, indeed, worth a try. Please. Try something.

Meanwhile, Kevin Johnson, shot three years ago over an Allen Iverson jersey, will be buried next Wednesday, November 22, wearing an Allen Iverson jersey once again.

Related:
Offering help to stop a plague [Inquirer]
An Inspiration to the end [Daily News]
Family to end life support for gunshot victim [Daily News]
Cut down over an Iverson jersey, he'll be laid to rest in one [Inquirer]
Iverson felt need to aid gun victim [Inquirer]

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ed Snider makes us cry

On Saturday, like seemingly everyone in Philadelphia, we were out enjoying an unbelievably warm November afternoon in Center City, when suddenly everything changed.

Our heart literally sank when we saw Ed Snider’s mug and the accompanying headline staring up at us from the cover of Saturday’s Daily News.

What was going to be a great change for the Sixers and Philadelphia was no longer happening.
Months after enlisting the expertise of Galiatoto Sports Partners in New York to review, evaluate and sift through the qualifications and resources of a flurry of suitors, Snider said "No sale." Just like that, the team was off the market.
[…]
"The 76ers were a prize acquisition for anyone," he said. "The team could have been sold at a record price. We just decided we wanted to keep it."
[…]
Snider said he also wanted to dispel any perception that he didn't care about the Sixers, either because of lack of interest or because he was founded the Flyers and that his expertise was in hockey.

"Not true," he said. "I talk to [King] every day. We're hoping the fans will stay and support us and believe in what we're doing. I'd love to win a championship. I really enjoy the games. I don't think we're boring anybody."
You thought wrong, Ed. Please, please reconsider.

Related:
Comcast-Spectacor realizes it enjoys torturing Philadelphia fans, decides not to sell Sixers [Daily News]

Thomas Jefferson University to sell Eakins masterpiece for $68 million, use money to build more parking garages

(We can only assume they’ll also ramp up their awful advertising in which they insinuate their hospital, or “Jeff,” can become one of your closest friends.)

On Saturday, Thomas Jefferson University announced the impending sale of Thomas Eakins’ masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and some fucking Walmart museum — in Arkansas of all places — for $68 million.
Officials at Jefferson said that money from the sale - which was privately brokered by Christie's auction house and pursued quietly over the last three months - would help finance an ambitious expansion plan mapped out for the next decade. Jefferson envisions a radically altered campus on the fringes of Washington Square, replete with new buildings…
Why? Because they haven’t already fucked up the neighborhood enough? There are entire blocks in Washington Square West that are routinely devoid of activity on account of Jefferson’s nightmarish planning abilities and urban vision. (Kudos to them for the recent completion of their latest big project, the massive Chestnut Street parking garage. Excellent use of real estate. Really. A bang-up job all around. Those pretty banners hanging on the side totally make all those variances it got for hundreds of extra spaces et al. totally worth it — they look fantastic.)
The deal gives Philadelphia cultural and governmental institutions 45 days to match the price; failure to do so will see the painting taken down from the walls of Jefferson's Eakins Gallery on Locust Street and shipped from its only home.
[…]
Local cultural officials, however, said 45 days was not nearly enough time to begin putting together a consortium to match the enormous sale price.

"It's not enough time, since nobody had any forewarning," said Penny Balkin Bach, executive director of the Fairmount Park Art Association. "This kind of time frame does not respect the city's relationship to the painting. Absolutely not."

Bach characterized the sale as "a tragic loss to the city's cultural history."
Yea, this whole thing definitely sounds pretty fucking shady.
Should the sale reach finality, it would be the second high-profile acquisition of a work deeply rooted in a local cultural environment by the cash-rich Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.

Last year, Wal-Mart heiress Alice B. Walton (net worth of $18 billion, according to Forbes magazine), using the Walton Family Foundation as a vehicle, paid a reported record of $35 million for Asher B. Durand's famous Kindred Spirits (painted in 1848), considered one of New York City's most beloved cultural icons. That painting was on view at the New York Public Library for a century. Kindred Spirits will now hang in the Arkansas museum when it opens in 2009.
Wow. We can't imagine why Walmart gets such a bad rap.

Back to The Gross Clinic.
The painting in question depicts Dr. Samuel D. Gross, a celebrated surgeon and teacher at Jefferson, demonstrating removal of a tumor from a patient's thigh. Dozens of Jefferson students look down intently on the scene. Eakins, who studied anatomy at Jefferson, painted himself into the tableau.

The artist, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, believed The Gross Clinic portrayed the city's technical and cultural preeminence. But when he submitted it for inclusion in the art exhibition of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the art jury rejected it, arguing that the bloody imagery would offend viewers.

Jefferson alumni, however, found the painting and its subject tremendously powerful. They purchased the canvas and bequeathed it to their alma mater.

The story of The Gross Clinic, then, is almost a metaphor for Philadelphia cultural history. The painting, like the painter, who was famously dismissed from the Pennsylvania Academy faculty for employing nude models in classes with female students, was rejected by a squeamish establishment. Yet The Gross Clinic's very existence and Eakins' enduring legacy are evidence that the city's often derided cultural environment is a breeding ground for great achievements - almost despite itself.

Kathleen Foster, curator of American art at the Art Museum, said: "To let this painting go, the city would be letting Eakins down all over again... . Are we going to do this again? Are we going to turn our backs on him once more?"
[…]
Kathleen A. Foster, curator of American art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, called The Gross Clinic "Eakins' greatest painting" and one that is inseparable from Philadelphia, the city where he was born, raised and died in 1916. His ashes are interred in Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia.

"It's not a generic painting that can be hung anywhere," Foster added. "It is all about his life, the life of the city, and the life of one of the city's greatest heroes, Dr. Gross. It is about the connections between the science, education and art of the place where it was made."
So, JEFF, looks like you’re going to be the bad guy on this one, huh?

Related:
Thomas Jefferson University does its best impression of a rat — and is incredibly convincing [Inquirer]
Walmart bitch heiress steals art from New York, learns lesson, adds bullshit “clause” to next theft in Philadelphia to feign fairness [Inquirer]
Only 45 days left to see Philadelphia masterpiece on view in Philadelphia [JEFF]

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Still Always Sunny in Philadelphia

FX has renewed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for a third season. Look forward to 15 new episodes next summer, more than double the amount in the show’s first season.

Despite being possibly the funniest show on television, Sunny’s renewal for a third season was never guaranteed.
Though its ratings improved 15 percent over the previous season, Sunny averaged only 1.3 million total viewers last season, and didn't bring in big advertising dollars. Still, FX Entertainment chief John Landgraf has faith in the show.

"The bottom line is that I believe in it creatively," he says. "I think it's really funny, a comedic expression of FX's brand. I love working with the guys. We just had to figure out how to produce it more cost-efficiently."

To that end, creator-executive producer McElhenney and his costars agreed to no salary hikes until (or if) FX orders additional seasons.
By comparison, two new sitcoms on CBS and Fox this fall, The Class and Til Death, which claim to be “set” in Philadelphia… the extent of which is a character eating a cheesesteak or another dating an ex-Eagle, prove just how good a show Always Sunny actually is.

Related:
FX to cut costs on third season of Always Sunny, better still film on location [Inky]

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On the roulette wheel of life, Atlantic City bets on GREEN

FOR almost a year, five turbines on New Jersey’s first coastal wind farm have been generating electricity in Atlantic City, their slowly revolving 118-foot-long blades making the turbines resemble gigantic upright roulette wheels.

They are the first full-size turbines along the coast in New York and New Jersey and the region’s first working examples of a clean-energy technology that supporters say will one day ease dependence on oil and gas and begin to address concerns about global warming.

They may also be a forerunner to more ambitious, far larger projects now under discussion for the coast of New Jersey…
Shit. We hadn’t noticed. (Has it really been that long since we’ve been gambling?)

Regardless, it’s about fucking time.
Europe, led by Germany and Spain, is in the forefront of wind energy, producing two-thirds of the 59,000 megawatts generated worldwide, the Global Wind Energy Council said.
But now, we’re going to catch up right?
Yet, despite the operation of New Jersey’s small wind project since January, there is uncertainty about whether wind farms, particularly gigantic turbines positioned off the region’s coastline, will be embraced here.
[…]
[A leading opponent] contends that the turbines would be a waste of customers’ money; a poor alternative to repowering existing fossil-fuel plants to boost capacity while greatly reducing emissions; a killer of birds and fish; and an eyesore.
Whaa? An eyesore?? That’s like saying green recycling bins in city parks are an eyesore because they contain refuse.

In reality, however, it’s quite the opposite. These are actually indicators of progressive government and forward-thinking urban initiatives that have positive connotations to people that see them.

Think about it. Which image is more appealing to potential residents, businesses and actual visitors?

1. Trash bins overflowing with various kinds of trash (as can often be seen around Rittenhouse Square) OR a comprehensive citywide system of recycling bins in parks and other high traffic pedestrian areas?

2. Public transit buses lurching down city streets and, with each stop and start, spitting out clouds of poisonous, smog-inflicting exhaust (Septa) OR clean, hybrid/bio-diesel buses painted green gliding down city streets, inducing envy in cities across the country?

3. Driving from the airport into Center City and staring out the window at pollution-spouting smokestacks at South Philadelphia oil refineries OR crossing the Platt Bridge in a hybrid taxi and admiring a small, serene windmill farm on the banks of the Schuylkill River producing clean energy for the city and the state?

All three of these questions are really, really, really simple
. Do you want your city's image to be old, dirty and negatively-industrial OR modern, clean, environmentally-friendy and progressive?

Apparently, Philadelphia digs the former.

Related:
Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore pushes for wind power, Donald Trump contends massive coastal hotels/condos/casinos are much more picturesque [NY Times]

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Philadelphia Business Journal can’t help itself, ditches “news” coverage in favor of, what else, the Eagles

Hey, if the Daily News and the Inquirer are plastering sports coverage all over their front pages (and obviously to great effect), then who’s to say that Philadelphia Business Journal shouldn’t toss their hat into the ring?

It’s not like there’s anything important happening this week — at least not anything that could impact the region's economy.

Duh, the Governor lives in Harrisburg.

Related:
Philadelphia Business Journal: What elections? Come on, this is Philly — people only care about the Eagles [PBJ]

Breaking: Lee Daniels hates success, casts Mariah Carey for next movie

Wynnewood’s favorite son du jour, Lee Daniels, has cast the Beyonce-channeling Mariah Carey in his latest project, Tennessee, scheduled to begin production soon.
He's gearing up to begin production on "Tennessee," which stars Mariah Carey. He says Carey, widely dissed for her work in "Glitter," is "a survivor" who is going to prove her critics wrong.

"The studios don't believe in her," says Daniels, who is producing the film. "They think I'm crazy for hiring her…”
We have absolutely no idea why they'd think that.

Related:
Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted Mr. Daniels [Daily News, Third Item]

Friday, November 03, 2006

City Council finds secret stash; Harrisburg bond company stooges say no to celebratory kegger

Apparently, economic growth does in fact lead to an increased tax base — as evidenced by the $255 million budget surplus the city of Philadelphia is now staring at… more than $50 million greater than previously estimated a few months ago.

Naturally, City Council members are jockeying for the spotlight, offering various ways to “appropriate” the cash.

Marian Tasco wants to give additional funds to the chronically under funded Police and Fire Departments. Well, shit, we can’t really argue with that.

Darrell Clarke thinks the School District and their $75 million deficit should come first. Uh, again — and we’re as surprised as you are on this — we’re going to have to say we agree… he’s absolutely right.

So what’s up? Council run out of crazy pills or something?

Actually, no. Apparently, they’re all just pipe dreams. A state agency is actually charged with overseeing the city’s finances and said agency wants to use the surplus to, wait for it, “reduce the city’s unfunded pension liability.”

For fuck’s sake. We finally get a few council members to put forth actual substantive proposals and now we have to deal with bureaucratic pencil pushers from Harrisburg??

Unbelievable.

Related:
Hey Harrisburg, that’s sweet of you to offer and all, and we’re flattered, honest, but the thing is, you’re ass is huge [KYW1060]

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Modern Love asks: where can a 50-year-old woman fall in love with a 25-year-old, bad-boy surfer… without ever having sex?

Why, Philadelphia, of course.
He had loomed about on the edge of my life since I moved from New York to Philadelphia three years earlier. I saw him daily at the neighborhood bakery, where he loaded boxes of muffins for morning deliveries, often returning for his surfboard around noon before heading off to the Jersey Shore. He was a risk taker, always sporting a bruise or a bandage, and I was there the day after his bad skateboarding accident, reaching out to touch his purple eyelids and broken nose.
[…]
It thrilled me. I was out of my pajamas and into a short skirt before you could say “cradle robber” (as I told my friends). But it was more than that; we were changing.

We sat outside at Brasserie Perrier — a fancy place I had never been but where he seemed quite comfortable. It was a warm night. A pack of women in their 20s twittered by, and I watched him watch them as they passed. I waited. He swiveled his head back toward me and said, “Don’t pocketless jeans just get on your nerves?”
Like, totally.

Related:
Is Rittenhouse Row starting to remind anyone else of the Upper East Side [NY Times]