Monday, March 26, 2007

Eating The Illadelph: Tinto Says Hello Edition

Jose Garces inside Tinto[ Eating The Illadelph is a semi-regular, digest-like feature on noteworthy developments from the world of food in Philadelphia, typically combining remainders into a consumable whole, not so unlike Scrapple itself. ]

— Barely a week old and Tinto is already looking to expand. And for good reason. The new restaurant and bar, which has its stretch of 20th Street looking considerably sexier, is relatively small. With only 60-seats, Tinto needed to institute a reservation-only policy (that included the bar) in order to ensure it wasn’t overrun by the inevitable throngs clamoring for some of Chef Garces’ goodness. That’s one way to handle it; another would be to add more space. And that’s what Mr. Garces is reportedly doing… by trying to acquire the building immediately adjacent to Tinto to the south. Time to go big on Jose Garces indeed.

— The buzz from Midtown Village? That its new name (not to mention its
not-at-all-trying-too-hard logo) is still as lame puzzling as it was when it was first introducedand that Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney of Lolita, Grocery and Open House want to add an Indian restaurant to their repertoire. No word on whether it too would reside on South 13th Street. [Food and Wine, second item]

— Citizens Bank Park is making its concessions go trans-fat free (at least in their cooking oils) earlier than the City Council-imposed September deadline. So beginning on Opening Day this year, your crab fries will be fractionally less damaging to your health than previously. The line to obtain them, however, will remain as obnoxiously long and slow-moving as ever. [KYW 1060]

Balthazar in SoHo— A Balthazar in Philadelphia? Not quite, but the much-hyped New York eatery (above), which incidentally was just pillaged by the Times’ Frank Bruni, is reportedly serving as inspiration for Cary Neff (of Sansom Street Oyster House) as he tries to channel SoHo’s better qualities onto the corner of Fifth and Bainbridge in Queen Village. We’re glad to see a veteran take over a spot that has seen so much failure in recent incarnations, a fact that belies its potentially awesome location on East Passyunk Avenue, a block from both South Street and Bella Vista. True, the space sorely needs an overhaul, but as long as you treat the 'Shunk right (read lots of large, street-facing windows), the old girl will be sure to do well by you. [Table Talk]

— After the reception Scores received last year when it tried to open a club in Philadelphia, it's no wonder Penthouse wised up and realized it was going to need a work around. Instead of doing a "Penthouse Club," they’re doing a "Penthouse Lounge and Grill," which will be a massive luxe ultra lounge and supposedly will not feature naked exotic entertainers. Thus, it’s a good thing they still have such a prominent stage. [Foobooz]

Stay tuned for even more deliciousness invariably headed our way.

[ top image via ]

Thursday, March 15, 2007

M. Night's next film to pit Philly, Marky Mark against Mother Nature

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan will return to his provocative, dark Hitchcockian style with “The Happening,” a thriller about a natural calamity that threatens to wipe out humanity.
Or, if you'd prefer:
Tired of abuse by mankind, the earth is angry. Worse, the planet is out to even the score.

Audiences can expect a story along those lines when M. Night Shyamalan’s film “The Happening” reaches screens in the next year. The project, to which 20th Century Fox signed on last week, imagines a planet that is starting to act like the vigilante Travis Bickle from "Taxi Driver."

"The Happening” will not be the only big-budget studio film to test a new kind of villainy, in which the real victim is the environment, and, whatever the plot variations, the enemy is all of us.
How delightfully ominous. The Happening, which was previously known as The Green Effect, is slated to begin production in Philadelphia in August. Among the names rumored for the lead include Mark Wahlberg, whose brother, Donnie, had a small yet consequential role in The Sixth Sense.

Related:
Shyamalan to Find Form with New Apocalyptic Thriller [New York Times]
On Screens Soon, Abused Earth Gets Its Revenge [New York Times]
Newly Collaborative And Less Weepy Shyamalan To Make Next Movie With Fox [Defamer]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Brady Ballot Trouble: We Can Only Hope

Brady NOT for MayorSo about this whole thing, you know, regarding the possibility of Bob Brady being disqualified as a mayoral candidate over a technicality… well, we’re going to have to go ahead and say Philebrity actually already nailed it in their post on Friday titled, “Milton’s Great Gift To Philadelphia: Getting Bob Brady Thrown Off The Ballot.”
We have been dreading very much the entire Brady candidacy; not as much for Brady's lack of forward-thinking policy or Duh Factor, but more because he's very much Old Philadelphia Machine, where the Machine just gets the Unions to lean on people to vote for whoever the Unions want in office. And if you know anything about this election, you know that it's about New Philadelphia, not Old Philadelphia. Old Philadelphia can get the gas face.
A-effing-men.

And sure, it kinda sucks to be thrown out of the race on a technicality. But it also must have kinda totally sucked for Jonathan Saidel — a smart, progressive candidate and a potentially awesome mayor — when Bob Brady and Vince Fumo forced him out of the race so Brady could be the only major white candidate in the upcoming Democratic primary.

Obviously that sucks because Philadelphia lost a good candidate in Saidel. But even more disturbing:
that two of the most powerful democratic politicians in Philadelphia would love to make this election — the 2007 Philadelphia Mayoral Election (read emphasis on the year not being 1957) — about race. (Not to mention the video…)

Unfortunately for them, this is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — not Philadelphia, Mississippi.

So Bob-o, we're not gonna lie — we won’t be shedding any tears for ya.

See ya. Bye.

Related:
Knox, Evans to join Milton in his last and most holiest of crusades [Philadelphia Daily News]
Milton’s Great Gift To Philadelphia: Getting Bob Brady Thrown Off The Ballot [Philebrity]
Philebrity Exclusive: The Curious Mystery of the Bob Brady Racist Youtube Clip Part II [Philebrity]
Jerry Mondesire calls a spade a spade [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Remember that time Fumo and Brady totally screwed Saidel? [Philadelphia Magazine]
Yeah, that must have totally sucked for Jon-boy [Philadelphia City Paper]

Breaking: Kyle Korver’s hair is not too gorgeous

Is Sunday Styles taking a few not-so-subtle shots at the NBA/its players for being intolerant, you know, stemming from the fallout over John Amaechi coming out last month?

We'll let you decide.
FORGET basketball. Michael Jordan gave the world of style so much, from the $175 sneaker to the concept that shorts need no longer be short. And nowhere has the legacy of his image lingered more stubbornly than in the shaven-head look he helped make ubiquitous in the National Basketball Association — and beyond.

Like Mr. Jordan himself, though, the look hung around just a little too long — nearly 20 years. But for the new generation of hoopsters, hair is back. These days, it’s increasingly rare to find an N.B.A. star under 30 whose scalp is shiny enough to reflect the scoreboard above.

Most younger players are opting at the very least for some hair, like the close-cropped Navy-ensign-style cut favored by rising superstars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. And many have adopted more expressive manes like the mountain-man mop of the Supersonics’ Robert Swift, the prog-rock stoner tangle of the Bobcats’ Adam Morrison, or even the Mohawk sported by the Warriors’ Al Harrington when he was with the Pacers.


But perhaps no recent hairstyle says “adieu, M. Jordan” like the curious “Lord of the Rings”-meets-“Where the Boys Are” hairstyle worn of late by the Grizzlies’ Mike Miller, the Lakers’ Ronny Turiaf, the Sonics’ Mickael Gelabale, and the Bobcats’ Walter Herrmann.


With long flowing tresses pulled back pertly under a debutante-worthy headband, sometimes with a ponytail added for spice, it would look equally at home on Legolas battling the Orcs in Middle Earth or a convertible-load of Tri-Delts barreling toward Fort Lauderdale on spring break in 1960.
Good god man — you can’t compare NBA players to sorority girls or, worse even, Orlando Bloom. Have you no self-regard? Tim Hardaway will eat your family.
Paul Podlucky, a Manhattan hairstylist with celebrity and socialite clients, explained that "headbands are really big for women right now," but they do send a mixed message on a 6-foot-10 power forward.

"This just looks like an all-girl group from the '50s, like the Shirelles," he said of the hairstyle. "But there's also something white trash in there, like trailer-y. It's almost comical — and I'm a gay hairdresser."
Holy hell, Alex Williams
you’re apparent death wish notwithstanding, we like your pluck.

But wait. Did you just write an entire article about hair and the NBA and not mention Kyle Korver? Because that would qualify as bush-league. The man’s got a bobble head with actual faux hear. That pretty much makes him the Bobby Bigwheel of hair in the NBA.

Related:
The Flow Isn't Always in Their Plays [New York Times]
NBA Stars Handling Amaechi News With Typical Grace And Aplomb [Deadspin]

Monday, March 05, 2007

Philly Mag hires A.J. Daulerio, threatens relevancy

Ok, ok, so Philadelphia Magazine has actually been doing much better of late. But let’s not forget — it was not that long ago (four, maybe five years) that Philly Mag was only concerned with Philadelphia from a Main Line mother’s point of view. And it totally sucked. So it’s a very good thing that Philly Mag Editor-in-Chief Larry Platt has them skewing younger, more diverse and writing more about what actual Philadelphians care about Philadelphia.

Thus, consider the addition of A.J. Daulerio as another step in the right direction. We just hope Platt lets him do his thing and write about utter awesomeness like “smoky tornados.”

If you’re a reader of Deadspin, or were a reader of Oddjack or Black Table, then you probably know who A.J. Daulerio is. If you’re not, than you probably don’t.

It's likely that he’s most well known for his contributions to Deadspin. Every Friday he writes a Cultural Oddsmaker column for the site. But it was his correspondence from Super Bowl XLI last month (pictured above), which put him on Stuart Scott’s ass-kicking list, that raised his profile even further. A blogebrity if you will.

More importantly, he's funny. We sincerely hope Platt gives him free reign. We suspect they'll get along fine… Excerpted from an interview Platt gave Daulerio two years ago for Black Table:
BT: Whatever, dude. Without having that much of an editor's background -- I think you were quoted as being more of a writer's editor -- do you think that approach has been successful so far? And do you ever yell at anybody? Like, have you ever called a writer a "douche head" or "dead lady vagina breath"?

LP: I was never an editor. I never wanted to be an editor. I didn't like editors, because they fucked with my words. But I do think it helps to be a writer in this position. You can be more empathetic. No, I don't yell too much. We have a young writer here named Sasha Issenberg who is also kind of the magazine mascot. Since we're both Jewish, we've taken to calling each other, "My kike," as in, "You my kike" -- borrowing from the way African-Americans have appropriated the n-word and applied it to themselves as a term of affection. But Sasha really is a kike.
Terrific.

Related:
The A.J. Daulerio Going Away Roast [Deadspin]
A.J. Daulerio's video goodbye [Gawker]
A.J. Daulerio is the balls [Deadspin]
A.J. Daulerio interviews Larry Platt [Black Table]
A moment with A.J. Daulerio [Blinq]

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ryan Howard is sexy. And his swing is too.

Ryan Howard's swingHoly shit, we can't wait for opening day.

Great article in Sunday's New York Times Play Magazine about Ryan Howard. Nice big two-page opening spread. And, shit, the New York Times can sure take some hot ass photography.

Be sure to read the article in its entirety, but here are a few clips.

About RyHo’s physique:
Now, here is Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 3, 2006. He is a baby in baseball years, still in his first full big-league season, but a man-child at the plate: 6-foot-4, 250-plus pounds and big all over. He has biceps that it would take two large hands to fully encircle, thick-muscled forearms and — more noticeable in the locker room than on the field, where he wears a baggy uniform top — a surprisingly ample midsection. Howard is Ruthian, only bigger. Even his round, expressive face — quick to break into a smile, more open and inviting than the typical impassive countenance of the big-time pro athlete — seems extra large.
About the Phils’ front office and Howard's path to the majors:
A certain amount of ignorance, on the part of baseball executives, most likely impeded Ryan Howard’s baseball progress. A man his size is not easily overlooked. But his career trajectory strongly suggests that his talent was underappreciated. He was not a coveted prospect out of high school and went to Southwest Missouri State to play baseball. After the Phillies selected him in the fifth round of the 2001 draft, he began a slow, four-and-a-half-season climb through the minor leagues, making stops in five different minor-league towns and hitting for power and a decent average in each of them.

In 2004, splitting time between Double A and Triple A, he hit 46 home runs and knocked in 131 runs, the kind of performance that ought to bring about a promotion to the big leagues — especially considering that Howard was already 24. But the Phillies had a veteran at first base, Jim Thome, to whom they had paid millions as a free agent, and Howard began the 2005 season in Scranton, Pa., back in Triple A.

Thome was signed after Howard had already been a Phillies minor leaguer for two seasons; another team, recognizing what it had in Howard, might have spent its free-agent money elsewhere to avoid a logjam at first base. But the Phillies, with no postseason appearances since 1993, have not been the canniest of franchises.
Ryan HowardAbout Howard’s swing, which is only likely to improve:
In one sense, though, Howard was probably lucky to end up with the Phillies, whose manager, Charlie Manuel, while not much admired for his in-game strategy, is widely considered to have a deep knowledge of hitting. Howard was still in the low minor leagues when Manuel, then an assistant in the Phillies’ front office, first saw him bat. Manuel noticed something unusual about Howard’s style: he stood way off the plate, and his posture was oriented toward foul ground in left field, like a golfer who compensates for a wicked slice by aiming wide of the fairway.

In Howard’s case, he did not like to handle pitches inside, in on his hands, and his strength still allowed him to hit outside pitches a long way. So he took a stance that forced pitchers to throw the ball about a foot inside the plate to jam him. Manuel saw Howard hit a home run to left field and concluded that because of the way he was standing, it was more like a center- or right-field home run — he had to pull the ball just to keep it fair.

“We got him straightened out a little bit, so it wasn’t so extreme,” Manuel says. “He was the type of kid you always could talk to.”

All hitters, though, have a way they want to hit, a style that feels natural. Howard’s left-field orientation is still a large part of his approach. When he hits the ball to the left of second base, he almost always lifts it, which is what pitchers specifically try to avoid with home-run hitters: fly balls. When he pulls the ball, he hits more ground balls and low line drives with top spin — the type that do not carry over fences. “The amazing thing is, even with all those home runs, Ryan’s still learning to pull it,” says Milt Thompson, the Phillies’ hitting coach. “When he learns to clear his hips out of there and get the ball in the air, you’ll really see something.”

Pitchers defeat hitters with good pitches, of course, but all hitters have a way they get themselves out, the most common being a lack of patience. Instead of hoarding their energy — their “load” or “power load,” as it is called in baseball — they commit to a swing too soon, particularly on off-speed pitches, and by the time the bat meets the ball they have expended much of their power.

Howard is different. When he gets himself out, it is more often the result of an overabundance of patience. He lets the ball get too close to his body and does not get the barrel of the bat fully around it. “It’s unusual in any player, let alone a big strong kid just into the league,” Manuel says. “But that’s why Ryan hits the ball the way he does. He’s rarely out in front of where he wants to be. He’s got his full load intact when he does make contact.”

Howard takes a slight uppercut, quick and compact. “Ted Williams used to say, The longer the arc, the farther the ball will go,” Manuel says. “I say, The longer the arc, the slower the swing. Ryan has all the power he needs with that shorter arc.”
And about Howard’s intellect:
After Howard and I were finished eating at O’Charley’s and the table was cleared, I unpacked my laptop and we watched a sort of greatest-hits collection, a compilation of his home runs that the Phillies had copied onto a DVD. He enjoyed it — what player wouldn’t? — but what struck me was how much he remembered. He came to the plate 704 times last season and saw 2,859 pitches, yet now he recalled pitch sequences from months before. He doesn’t keep a notebook, as some hitters do, but it seems he doesn’t have to.

“This is a pretty good AB,” he said as we watched him step in for his at-bat against the New York Mets’ Guillermo Mota. “He was mixing it up pretty good. Fastballs, change-ups, inside, outside.” After eight pitches, including several foul balls, the count was full. Mota threw a change-up, and Howard barely managed to foul it off. “That was a tough pitch — nasty,” he said. “Here comes the fastball now.” The next pitch was indeed a fastball, which Howard hit over the center-field fence for his 47th home run.

Not surprisingly, considering he is the son of a computer programmer, Howard talks about hitting as if each at-bat is a problem to be solved: “If the pitcher is one you’ve faced before, you have to be thinking, How did he try to get me out? He might try something different this time, but you have to have that in the back of your mind. Each at-bat and each pitch you have a game plan that comes about from processing all the information you have.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Howard got his one-year contract extension on Friday for 900K. Should have gotten more. Excerpted from a different article.
But from the get-go, these negotiations weren't as much about money as they were about making a statement. The Phillies say Howard is a special player. They say they want him around for many years to come. For these reasons, the Phillies needed to go above fair and appropriate. They needed to set aside the constraints of service time and the guidelines of the commissioner's office. They needed to do it for this one guy.
We concur.

Related:
Ryan Howard, No Asterisk [Play Magazine, New York Times]
Dissecting the Game’s Most Feared Swing [New York Times]
Howard’s contract: Phillies miss their chance to make a statement [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Exercises in crazy pills — parking and Philadelphia

Seriously, we know it’s not normal that we have nightmares about parking garages overrunning Center City. But knowing that doesn’t really offer us much consolation. Garages give us the willies. But it’s not just garages. There are so many things about parking here that totally creep us out. In fact, the first thing we want to do when we think about the state of parking in Philadelphia, the general lack of any kind of sound, concerted urban parking strategy and the damage all this is causing (and, of course, the problem being compounded by the fact that SEPTA is borderline incompetent), is to curl up in ball on our bathroom floor, gently rocking back and forth until the Peanut Butter Fairy comes to take us off to Happy Delicious Hamburger Hot Wing Land.

But we fight the urge. Baby steps.

We are, however, left to wonder how we got here. (The middle of a parking shitstorm; not the point where our mental happy place features giant hot wings growing like trees…) And how it is possible for everyone to not realize what a tragic waste of real estate above-ground parking garages are in Center City.

It’s like the powers that be got together some time back in the 1990s, sat down and said:

“OK. So Philadelphia. Great. They've got this priceless, colonial-era, dense, eminently walkable, vibrant, thriving, totally awesome downtown. And it's got exponentially promising potential. Let’s go ahead and completely fuck it up by orienting everything in it fundamentally toward cars. And lets do it just so we can go down in history as being some of the dumbest motherfuckers to ever set foot in a city. Anywhere.

That’s right. All we need to do is design everything primarily for the automobile and you just wait, in no time, this town will be fucking dead. We’re talking absurd parking policy — or better yet — no parking policy. Laissez fucking faire man. Except not really… New, massive, above-ground parking garages on every block. A complementary surface parking lot around every corner. Ridiculously reactionary parking pricing structures that deter lucrative short-term parkers (read shoppers, diners, i.e. spenders) and encourage long-term parkers (read office workers), exactly the type of people that should be utilizing mass transit for their commute.

Also, make sure all these new behemoth garages have sidewalk-interrupting curb cuts on primary (not secondary) arterial thoroughfares to 1) further punish anyone foolish enough to try to walk and 2) fuck up and congest traffic further. Create a parking garage company CEO syndicate that becomes a major political campaign donor so elected officials fall under our control as well. Implement new zoning rules that actually spur neighborhood-ruining, garage-fronted rowhomes because they’re easier/cheaper to build than normal rowhomes — you know, ones with doors, windows and actual living space on the first floor.

Force condo developers to a) adhere to antiquated parking minimum requirements, which require them to include multiple parking spaces for every unit even though there isn’t enough demand to warrant .75 spaces per unit and then, adding insult to injury, b) not bury their condo’s parking underground (as cities like Vancouver do) where it belongs, instead encouraging them to construct their condos on top of massive, eye-sorific, 10-story parking podiums.

Deprive the city’s transit system of any legitimate funding stream and competent management so it then drives away even its most dedicated riders, forcing ever more people into cars. Figure out a way to make cars eat actual human babies and then hold public feedings in Rittenhouse Square. Oh man! It’s going to be totally fucking crazy. We are going to completely shit on this city. All in favor?” At which point, everyone in attendance raised his or her hand.

No joke. We’re pretty sure a meeting like that had to have taken place. There’s no other explanation for it. And while they didn't succeed 100% in all of their machinations, they did accomplish a lot.

More recently, back in 2003, Mayor Street, up for reelection, charged the Philadelphia Planning Commission with addressing the mess resulting from Philadelphia’s non-existent strategic parking policy, with an $100,000 comprehensive parking study. After 24-months, they came back with a report that inanely made no policy recommendations whatsoever other than to say more study/discussion was needed. Inga Saffron wrote an excellent article about the whole thing when it came out, but thanks to Philly.com’s unbelievably fucking stupid practice of not giving articles permanent URLs, we cannot link to it. (Seriously, Tierns, we sincerely hope you are in the process of a complete and massive site overhaul — have you seen a little site called nytimes.com? It’s only, like, 300 bajillion times better than your website — and that’s from a purely functional standpoint. Comparing content wouldn't be fair.)

But there is hope. To their credit, the Center City Residents Association addressed many of the important issues surrounding urban parking policy in their recently released Neighborhood Plan. They basically picked up the slack of the Planning Commision and went ahead and made a lot of the recommendations the Planning Commision’s report should have made in the first place.

Car sharing parking structureNow, those recommendations and more (like all parking garages need to be automated and located underground, except if the structure is exclusively for Philly Car Share, like this hottie designed for Zipcar, intended for dense cities like Boston, New York and DC) just need to incorporated into the new zoning code that (knock on wood) results from the planning and zoning reform coming to Philadelphia any minute now. And a new mayor to make sure it all goes down.

And no, we don't think that's asking too much.

Finally, a few quick clips from two recent Times articles. Parking as a destination:
“This is the future,” Mr. Schneeweiss said during a recent tour of the Chinatown garage, shaking his head as if he did not quite believe it yet.

But the future is coming on fast in cities like New York, where shiny towers are rising over what had long been parking lots. “There is a proliferation of high-rise condo construction in major urban areas,” said Donald R. Monahan, vice president of Walker Parking Consultants in Greenwood Village, Colo., who follows innovations in the business closely. “Usually these have small footprints that do not offer enough room for traditional garages.”

Not only are developers looking at automated garages, city planners and architects are discussing new ideas to manage automobiles, even when stationary. Urban theorists and policy makers are increasingly looking at the effects of parking on traffic, development, pollution and energy efficiency. Smart parking could save energy.
And from No Parking:
Although condominiums without parking are common in Manhattan and the downtowns of a few other East Coast cities, they are the exception to the rule in most of the country. In fact, almost all local governments require developers to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for each unit — and to fold the cost of the space into the housing price.

The exact regulations, which are intended to prevent clogged streets and provide sufficient parking, vary by city. Houston’s code requires a minimum of 1.33 parking spaces for a one-bedroom and 2 spaces for a three-bedroom. Downtown Los Angeles mandates 2.25 parking spaces per unit, regardless of size.

Today, city planners around the country are trying to change or eliminate these standards, opting to promote mass transit and find a way to lower housing costs.

Minimum parking requirements became popular in the 1950s with the growth of suburbia, said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of “The High Cost of Free Parking” (American Planning Association, 2005). “They spread like wildfire,” he said.

But in the 21st century, skyrocketing housing prices and the move toward high-density urban development are bringing scrutiny to the ways in which cities and developers manage the relationship between parking and residential real estate. Once a tool of government, parking requirements are increasingly driven by the market.

Last year, for example, Seattle reduced parking requirements for multifamily housing in three of the city’s major commercial corridors. Next month, the City Council will vote on a proposal to eliminate minimum parking requirements in Seattle’s six core urban districts and near light-rail stations. In June, San Francisco replaced minimum requirements downtown with maximum standards allowing no more than 0.75 parking spaces per unit. In Portland, where central city parking minimums were eliminated six years ago, developers are breaking ground on projects with restricted parking.

“In the future,” Dr. Shoup said, “we will look back at minimum parking requirements as a colossal mistake. Change will be slow, but it's happening now.”

Related:
15th and Chestnut is no place for even more traffic [Philadelphia Inquirer]
When all else fails, build a garage [Changing Skyline]
Transit cuts, parking boom — no way for Philadelphia to go [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The Center City parking debate that wasn’t [Changing Skyline]
The Asphalt Jungle [Philadelphia City Paper]
Center City Residents Association Neighborhood Plan [Official Site, PDF]
Parking as a Destination [New York Times]
No Parking: Condos leave out cars [New York Times]