Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breaking: L&I To Attempt Reform Of The Nightmarish State Of License Acquisition In Philadelphia — May Very Well Collapse Under The Weight Of It All

"Yea, see, your notice is yellow. That's wrong. It needs to be orange. Go to the license window and fill out Form 81-897."

L&I has a new chief — Frances Burns, who was hand-picked by Mayor Nutter himself.

Can this be seen as a step toward a more customer-, nay, business-friendly Department of Licenses and Inspections??

Well, at the very least, it’s surely a start. She's charged with fixing a department rife with problems.
Mayor Nutter has long promised to ease red tape at Licenses and Inspections and his just-named Commissioner at L-and-I vows speedy reforms.

“It’s time that we really embrace reform.”

Fran Burns will spearhead reform after Mayor Nutter chose her to head up the multi-tentacled Department of Licenses and Inspections. Slashing red tape is job one, says Burns.

For example, the city currently has more than 100 different types of licenses:

"We think that that's one quick place that we can look and say, 'alright, we can whittle that down.'"
Ya think?!

Customer service, people. That shit is the wave of the future.

(So is installing Retail Czars. Believe it.)

Looks like Team L&I is already down with this. And even better:
In addition to L&I's obvious role in protecting health and safety, it also has a key role in economic development, Burns said.

The Department will be paying more attention to its role in the development process, and its link with the Commerce Department and Planning, she said.
That's right: L&I should facilitate the development process — not obstruct it.

New Head of L&I Vows to Speed Up Reforms in Philadelphia [ KYW 1060 ]
Breaking: Nutter taps Burns to head L&I [ Plan Philly ]

Melograno Loses Lease, Neighborhood Loses A Lot More

[ Photo via Flickr user wonder al ]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking: A Healthy Dose Of Parking Policy Reform Could (And Should) Be Coming Soon To Philadelphia

No lie.
Mayor Nutter's point person on transportation says she's likely to recommend an increase in parking meter rates as part of a larger effort to ease congestion.
"You will drive around the block six times trying to find one of those dollar-an-hour spaces. So those on-street spaces really need to be more competitive with off-street parking rates, in order to get some of those folks off the streets and into garages."
This would likely be one of several recommendations she makes aimed at making Center City traffic flow more smoothly, such as how to deal with delivery trucks that double park, and how to make the commute easier for the growing number of people who bike to work.
Amen, people. A. Frickin’. Men.

Make no mistake about it — these reforms will be a godsend for the Philadelphia. And the best part about them is they’re going to benefit motorists AND pedestrians alike.

Just take a look at what some of our esteemed colleagues around the country are initiating in the way of parking policy reform:
While New York City is just beginning to revamp its 1950s-era parking policy, three other U.S. cities are leaping ahead by using higher metered rates, new technology and innovative new laws to cut traffic congestion. A new report released today, Pricing the Curb, shows how Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are all changing the way they charge and manage parking meters as a traffic reduction tool.

Each of these cities is raising the price of curbside parking to ensure one vacant space is available on every block in order to eliminate the need to "cruise" for parking, which contributes to 45% of some traffic on NYC streets.
Rina Cutler will probably want to get her hands on a copy of that report, (which she can do right here).

Meanwhile, Philadelphia should get cracking on this.
[Cutler:] "I'm expecting sometime in the fall to put some recommendations in front of the Mayor."
Really? Sometime in the fall?? Disappointing.

Said recommendations should be on the Mayor’s desk before Labor Day. For reals.

Seriously, Mayor Nutter — we know you have eight years and all, but you need to stop teasing us already and drop the effing hammer on some of this shit. Where's the urgency?

We are not talking rocket science here. Parking reform is extremely straightforward, and one of the most effective ways to ease congestion in downtowns. It should be fast-tracked.

Hell, we’ll even give you a head start. NYC is learning from friends — so can you.
* Chicago, Illinois: Use state-of-the-art parking meters that monitor parking space availability and adjust rates to ensure an open space on every block.

* Washington, D.C.: Return the additional revenue raised at meters to the streets where money is collected in the form of benches, street trees, bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and better bus service.

* San Francisco, California: Promote transit-oriented development with an inventory all off-street parking and by converting current minimum parking requirements to maximum parking allowances.
Also, we’ve appended below the five main points of the Transit Alternative's report (via StreetsBlog), just to make it that more easy on your team.

Whaddya say, Deputy Mayor for Transportation?? You like 'best practices'?
1. Raise curbside meter prices and employ variable pricing in key areas

Metering should be viewed as a tool to reduce double parking and cruising for parking. Premium curbside parking in the Manhattan Central Business District and adjoining neighborhoods is ten to fifteen times cheaper than off-street parking. In contrast, Chicago and San Francisco are introducing higher meter prices on thousands of meters in their central neighborhoods, and increasing meter hours. New York City business, planning and environmental groups recommend that the same should be done here.

2. Buy more Muni-Meters and try new parking technology

Modern meters are cheaper to maintain, more reliable, raise more money and are better at busting traffic congestion. San Francisco and Chicago are investing millions in state of the art parking meters, and electronic sensors which monitor curbside occupancy and automatically adjust parking rates. Meanwhile, New York City has a severe shortage of popular Muni-Meters, and has few meters capable of accepting credit cards.

3. Set meter rates citywide based on curbside vacancy, not politics

All three cities in this study are using vacancy targets to determine their meter prices. This means they are raising and lowering their meter rates so that at least one parking spot per block is always available. This practice eliminates most double parking and cruising traffic. In contrast, NYC meter rates vary widely depending on the community board and local politics.

4. Reinvest parking revenue in neighborhood transit, cycling and walking

Washington D.C. has created an innovative program to return the revenue from higher parking meter rates to neighborhood streetscape, bus, pedestrian and cycling projects. This has turned neighborhood skeptics into supporters of parking reform. Can you think of a few places that need sidewalk repair or better bike infrastructure in New York City? This type of reform could pay for it.

5. Monitor, enforce and cap off-street parking

San Francisco recognizes that more off-street parking means more driving. The city is "unbundling" the cost of parking from new residences, reducing or eliminating requirements for building parking near transit and exploring ride sharing as a way to reduce car ownership and use. In contrast, NYC City Planning, which is responsible for setting off-street parking requirements, does not know how much off-street parking there is, how much will be built, or how much traffic that parking will generate. New York City should develop a complete inventory of curbside and off-street parking for every borough, and measure the amount of traffic created by that parking. Most importantly, New York City needs to establish goals for the amount of parking it wants based on environmental and traffic targets.
Ok team, have at it.

Let's reform some goddamned antiquated parking policy already.

Nutter Aide Suggests Parking Meter Rate Increase [ KYW 1060 ]
New Report: NYC doesn't have to look far to bring curbside parking into the 21st Century [ Transit Alternatives ]
Transit Alternatives Urges Bloomberg Administration to Take the Lead in Parking Reform [ StreetsBlog ]

The Contrarian Makes An Inky Cameo, Attempts To Drop Boatloads Of Common Sense-Like Knowledge On Parking Authority Drones

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sure Comcast Center's Video Wall Is Great And All… But Where's The Observation Deck?

ferris bueller's day off sear tower observation deck
Alas — no being awesome Ferris-style for Philadelphia area youth…
Just sayin'.
[The video wall is] a 25-foot-tall, 2,000-square-foot high-definition LED screen which at times mimics the wood-paneled wall of the main lobby of the Comcast Center, which opened in June.

Mostly by word of mouth, the enormous video installation has been drawing a growing stream of visitors to the 975-foot tower, which owner Liberty Property Trust is hoping will become a destination a la New York's Rockefeller Center.
For everything that the Comcast Center gets right — transit oriented, pending LEED certification, public lobby, outdoor pedestrian plaza, market area with great shops, plaza café, etc. — it should be noted that if the Comcast Center were truly tourist friendly, it would have an observation deck.

Much like the observation decks at Chicago’s Hancock and Sears towers and Manhattan’s Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, which today are all still very popular tourist attractions decades after they first opened.

And speaking of things the Comcast Center should have but currently does not, a WEBSITE would be similarly high on the list. (A la Hancock and Rockefeller.) Confidential to Comcast: just because you don’t have a monopoly on the Internet doesn’t mean you should pretend it doesn’t exist.

A 975' uptick in tourism [ Philly Skyline - published July 24, 2008 ]
Philly skyscraper's huge HD screen wowing visitors [ AP via Philadelphia Inquirer - published July 26, 2008 ]

ferris bueller's day off sears tower observation deck sloane
"The city looks so peaceful from up here."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eagles New Marketing Campaign: Green Is… Being Too Underhanded To Fairly Compensate Your Best Player

(Brian, we feel for you buddy.)
The Philadelphia Eagles launched a new marketing campaign Tuesday built around its primary color.

The football team's "Green" campaign will [highlight] the theme: "Green is being an Eagles fan."

An example of one such targeted message that will be prominent at training camp at Lehigh University will be signage proclaiming: "Green is calling in sick to go to training camp."
More like “Green is seeing the world through remarkably unrealistic rose-colored glasses."

Eagles launch "Green is" marketing campaign [ Philadelphia Business Journal ]
Westbrook wants more and Eagles must give it [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Eagles Only Kidding Themselves [ Philadelphia Metro ]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Melograno Loses Lease, Neighborhood Loses A Lot More

melograno byob in philadelphiaWhen it was first reported back in May, we were very sad to hear that the awesome Italian BYOB, Melograno, had lost its lease to its current location in the (West) Rittenhouse / Fitler neighborhood after five extremely favorable years there.

And our disappointment at the news has not diminished, now that we’ve had a few months to deal. Mainly because said location — the northeast corner of 22nd and Spruce — is, in a word, perfect.

Perfect for Melograno, that is. Perfect for Melograno’s concept. Perfect for Melograno’s execution. And perfect for the neighborhood’s residents and visitors to experience why Philadelphia and its BYOB scene are so invaluably and irreplaceably awesome.

If you’ve been there (and we imagine most of you have), you know this. The set-up at Melograno is great. Large glass windows allow diners to see the neighborhood and, similarly, allow passersby to see the experience of dining inside. A clean, airy interior includes an open kitchen, which produces some consistently exceptional contemporary Italian fare.

But even more awesome is the scene at Melograno during warmer months, like right now, when sidewalk tables wrap around the storefront restaurant’s corner location and diners enjoy the scene, both inside and out.

Prospective diners patiently wait for their tables outside the restaurant — Melograno doesn’t take reservations and waits can approach an hour on busy nights — while enjoying a glass of wine.

This is the stuff that great evenings in Philadelphia are made of. Showing up to Melograno on a Friday night around 8 p.m. Taking in the picturesque location on a tree-lined corner of Center City. Waiting for a table with your party of four (give or take) outside for a half-hour or so. Basking in the neighborhood’s ambiance while enjoying a glass of wine.

Maybe chatting up others doing the same, perhaps even enjoying a glass of wine on the front steps of Trinity Church, which is just across Spruce Street. And then partaking in a delicious dinner without worrying about being rushed to have your table turned. And all the while, the pitch perfect set-up of Melgorano making you feel like you truly belong in Philadelphia. And making you feel like this city is truly one of best places for young people anywhere.

This description might seem a little melodramatic, but it’s also true. Melograno, in its current manifestation, is (and, soon to be, was) a perfect microcosm of why so many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods are burgeoning with new life. A great neighborhood restaurant/bar is, literally, priceless. That’s not an overstatement. They do amazing things for making a neighborhood a great place to live. And “making a a neighborhood a great place to live” is pretty important to getting more residents to live in the city.

So why does Philadelphia make it so frickin' hard for neighborhood bars and restaurants to open??

This is a huge problem and Melograno’s story is kind of a roundabout way of getting at it. But it will have to do.

The point? Basically that Melograno, through a series of unfortunate events, was forced out of its invaluable location by Philadelphia’s terribly shortsighted lack of a retail/restaurant strategy.

To clarify: the events that lead to Melograno losing its lease began when Fitler neighborhood residents (most likely a total of 2 or 3 people — seriously, that’s all it takes) opposed a restaurant concept with a liquor license for a space at 24th and Locust. (You may recall, we were, uh, disappointed upon first learning about it.)

So Andrew Krouk, the landlord/owner who was planning on opening the restaurant with a bar in this location at 24th and Locust (currently Sandy's), subsequently gave up on his idea of bringing a new restaurant to that corner of the city. (Bear in mind that openng this new restaurant to replace the stale Sandy’s was something that pretty much everyone with half a brain agreed would be a very positive thing for the neighborhood. Except for about three extremely reactionary local residents who opposed the idea of a nice restaurant opening in their neighborhood. Why? Who the fuck knows. But NIMBY objections, however irrational, always carry enormous weight in Philadelphia.)

So instead of dealing with the gargantuan headache of fighting the residents before the Zoning and Liquor Control Boards, Krouk decided it would simply be easier to do the restaurant in the other piece of neighborhood real estate he currently owned, which happened to be the corner building that houses Melograno at 22nd and Spruce.

Thus, Melograno’s lease was terminated so that Krouk could open his own restaurant in the Melograno space — all because it was too much of a hassle to open the new restaurant a few blocks away on account of the objections of a few obtuse neighbors.

So instead of having two vibrant new restaurants in the West Rittenhouse neighborhood, now there is only going to be one.

And a few old, crotchety, deadbeat neighbors are to blame.

Which is very much a shame. And quite unfair really.

While plenty of people realize how valuable restaurants and bars are to making an area livable and attractive, restaurants and bars never really have anyone in the city in their corner ready to help them navigate through the Byzantine process of actually opening a business in Philadelphia.

And that’s what is missing. A retail czar of sorts to advocate and stand up for restaurants and bars that are trying to open in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Because it’s not like the Sandy's thing is an isolated incident. Idiot neighbors opposed 1601 when it opened a couple years back in South Philly. Imbecile neighbors opposed Sidecar when it was trying to open in G-Ho. Johnny Brenda's had to jump through hoops when it wanted to expand. Every restaurant and bar applying for a liquor license has to go through it to varying degrees. And a lot of times it proves too costly to manage.

A progressive solution would be for the Mayor's Office of Economic Development to step in, recognizing just how hugely important good restaurants and bars are to the overall health of the city's burgeoning neighborhoods, and decide to facilitate the opening of small businesses, instead of sitting idly by while entrepreneur after entrepreneur is bankrupted by the process.

Kirsten Henri has been talking about this problem forever. And rightly so.
Philadelphia is completely void of any kind of cohesive retail strategy.

If you want your neighborhoods to be vibrant, and to attract the precious kind of smart, mobile and young residents a city must have in order to prosper, you need to incubate small businesses, not terminally frustrate them.

A retail czar would be able to shape and implement policies that make it considerably easier for a neighborhood-catalyzing restaurant (or other small business) to open in Philadelphia.

And it's not that we expect residents to not be able to object — we don’t, because residents will always object, that’s what old people do, they hate fun — we just recognize the need for a retail czar to make it easier on both sides. And to properly weight the objections/arguments.

It's pretty simple really: if you want to encourage businesses and residents to locate in your city, how about trying something different than the all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach of throwing huge tax-break incentives at giant corporations and instead attempting to create sound economic policies that incite organic economic growth.

Maybe create a position that would actually be charged with assisting small businesses navigate the unholy nightmare of opening a restaurant, bar, tea bar or other small business in the city. Adding a concentrated campaign to attract, assist and retain these small, local businesses could would be a lot more effective than the millions spent chasing the Unisys’es of the world.

Because it's not like Philadelphia is the only city that has very treacherous openings — it's not. But by instituting a smart, forward-thinking retail and restaurant strategy with corresponding policies, Philadelphia could certainly send a very positive message to creative entrepreneurs: "Hi, we are going to make it much, much easier for you to open your restaurant/bar/business here. We shit you not. Come see."

In the end, Melograno’s story only somewhat illustrates the consequence of Philadelphia’s total lack of any kind of cohesive retail development strategy.

And it’s really just one of countless examples of why Philadelphia needs a Retail Czar. (Really, really badly, we might add.)

But it's an example nonetheless. And one that definitely disappointed the hell out of us.

Melograno's last night at its current location will be this Sunday, July 27. We recommend you stop in for a farewell meal, pour a little of your wine out on the curb to pay respect, and wish them luck in their new location.

Melograno to move this summer [ Food and Drinq ]
With all the money, media attention and excitement restaurants and bars bring us, why does the city make them so hard to start? [ Philadelphia Weekly ]
Build a good bar, and they will come [ Joe Sixpack ]

Eating the Illadelph: Exercises in why neighbors slash NIMBYS suck, part six billion, eighty thousand, four hundred and seventy three

[ Photo via PhillyEats ]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Charlie Manuel Does Not Understand Probabilities, Tactical Management Abilities Suffering Signifcantly As A Result

Philly.com poll confirms charlie manuel is an idiot for taking pat burrell out of games
Wow. Shocking. Didn't realize it was that blatantly obvious. Oh, wait. Yes we did.

Fucking A.

Pat Burrell was again removed early from a close game yesterday. It was in the eighth inning and it was for “defensive purposes.”

To be clear, there is no defending such a move. Charlie Manuel is simply wrong and anyone who understands basic mathematics can see as much.

Pat Burrell has ZERO errors. Add to that the fact that Pat Burrell is tied for the Major League lead in outfield assists among left fielders.

Then ask who are you going to replace him with? So Taguchi? The man can barely catch. Bruntlett? Bruntlett is an infielder, who is, at best, serviceable as an outfielder. However, see how well Bruntlett does throwing someone out at the plate. Or second base. Or Third base.

And that’s just in the field. By removing Burrell from your line-up for defense, you’re also taking away from your offense the FIFTH MOST EFFECTIVE HITTER in all of baseball right now — Burrell’s OPS of 1.000 is fifth in the Majors. (Behind Pujols, Chipper Jones, Lance Berkman and Milton Bradley.) Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, the Phillies offense kind of sucks right now without him.

The probability of his less-than-stellar range in the field negatively affecting the outcome of the game in the last two innings is very, very small. In fact, the removal of his a) bat, b) accurate and strong arm in the field and c) error-free, consistent fielding will actually result in a greater probability for his absence to negatively affect the outcome of the game.

There simply is no longer any debate as to whether Burrell should be finishing games or not. His offense negates any and all perceived defensive shortcomings. You simply can’t afford to NOT have him in your line-up.

(Also, the Phillies are so terrible at manufacturing runs these days that there is similarly almost never a valid argument for pinch-running for him when he gets on first base.)
Pat Burrell was not happy with manager Charlie Manuel's decision to remove him late in yesterday's 11-inning loss to the Florida Marlins.

"I'm upset, absolutely," Burrell said. "I'm upset, and I have been for a long time. It's not personal. I don't want to ever come out of close games."
Burrell had been 5 for 12 with two doubles and two home runs in the series. His would-be spot in the lineup came up in the top of the 11th, and Bruntlett hit a soft leadoff pop-up to second, dropping him to .231 on the season.
Pat is smart too. He knows what to say. And being the gentleman that he is, he doesn’t directly question Manuel. Which is good because that’s where we come in. And we are going to question the shit out of him.
Burrell did not raise his voice or show much emotion as he voiced his displeasure with Manuel's strategy.

"In that situation, we're trying to put more speed out there, so I can't question what the manager is trying to do. He's got confidence in all his guys," Burrell said. "But I can't lie and say I'm not frustrated by it, especially when it's close like that in a low-scoring game. He knows that. We've discussed it.

"Do I wish it was different? Absolutely. I don't know any other way to say that. A lot of games I've come out, it's never an issue, but when it does come back to bite us, it becomes more of a focus."
Actually, It’s been “more of a focus” for some time now. It’s been a bonehead move since at least this point of last season.

So thank you to Jim Salisbury for finally asking Burrell about it and for finally printing the fucking article.

Taking Burrell out of games early costs the team wins, and considering the Phillies are in a tight, three-way race for the division, you would assume they would want to do whatever it takes to win.

I.e. play Pat Burrell the entire game in the position he can play better than anyone on your team.

This, dear readers, is definitely not rocket science.

Burrell unhappy about being removed [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chelsea Atlantic City Opens; Stephen Starr Is There; His Restaurants To Follow Shortly

stephen starr at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the chelsea hotel atlantic city with jon corzine and curtis bashawThe Chelsea Hotel Atlantic City debuted yesterday with a splashy opening ceremony that included Governor Corzine among others.

Stephen Starr was on hand and, in addition to getting to help cut the ribbon (above), had the honor of hosting the post-ribbon-cutting reception in Chelsea Prime (below), offering a sneak peek at his retro-mod steakhouse set to open in a little more than a week on the hotel’s fifth floor.

Starr is also doing a second restaurant on the property's first floor that will be called Teplitzky’s, taking the name of the hotel’s original incarnation — “a kosher resort that catered mostly to Jewish guests.” With the name and motif of the first floor restaurant, Starr is paying a little homage “to a landmark he appreciated in his formative years. ‘I grew up here every summer. I worked on the boardwalk and often came to Teplitzky's,’ Starr said.”

stephen starr at chelsea prime in atlantic city
The semi-circular banquettes look out on the Atlantic Ocean

This is a soft opening period for the hotel as many of the amenities are not yet operating, restaurants included.

Both restaurants, Chelsea Prime and Teplitzky’s, are looking to open next week on July 28 in time for the hotel’s hard opening in August.

Meanwhile, the soft opening will allow you to book a luxe king ocean view room on a weekend for $230 per night compared to $490 for the same room on an August weekend.

Chelsea formally opens its doors to the public [ Courier Post ]
New Atlantic City hotel features lots of luxe but no slot machines or blackjack tables [ Press of Atlantic City ]

A sneak peek at the bar at Chelsea Prime

[ All photos via the Courier Post ]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Urban Dispatch: Put Wifi On Septa Trains

wifi on trains septa would be a smart idea
Wifi on Septa trains — a fairly foolproof way to attract and retain riders.

Ok, before we even get into it — obviously, the whole citywide wifi thing wasn’t the smoothest of operations… (but at least now it would appear to be headed in the right direction).

But train wifi can’t even be compared to municipal wifi. It has none of the problems that are inherent with municipal wifi… and wifi on trains is already a proven winner. Europe rocks that shit everywhere.
European rail travelers take high speeds for granted. Increasingly, they can take advantage of high-speed Internet access, too.

Train operators across Britain and the Continent have been accelerating the rollout of onboard Wi-Fi systems, allowing travelers to prepare for meetings, download video clips or catch up on their e-mail - sometimes while zipping through the countryside at 300 kilometers, or 190 miles, an hour.

While some railway companies see Wi-Fi as a new source of revenue for themselves or for the technology companies that run the systems for them, others see it as a service or marketing perk.
Stateside, we’re a little behind — shockin, we know — but both Boston and San Francisco are about to drop (or have already dropped) serious amounts of Wifi on their commuter trains.
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, is negotiating with a startup for a Wi-Fi network that would provide fast Internet access to riders throughout its 104-mile regional rail system.

BART would not pay anything for the network, which would be paid for by rider subscriptions and advertising, according to Wi-Fi Rail, a company based near Sacramento that says it has four patents pending on its Wi-Fi technology for predetermined paths such as railways and roads.

Municipal wireless networks have had a hard time financially, but public transit offers a daily captive audience that is growing as gasoline prices rise. Wi-Fi Rail estimates that within three years, as many as 20 percent of BART’s 180,000 regular riders will subscribe to the service, according to Michael Cromar, chief financial officer of Wi-Fi Rail.
So Boston’s MTA and San Francisco’s BART are unsurprisingly showing why their regions are centers of innovation and technology. If Philadelphia wants to join that party, Septa will need to get off its ass.

The obvious application here is for Septa to put wifi on commuter trains — as the ability to use internet on commutes would be extremely appealing to a ton of new riders for Septa. (Especially compared to battling traffic and $5 a gallon gasoline for an hour on the highway.)

But Septa should look even further into the future and realize that with the advent of iPhones and mobile computing, Wifi is going to be a perk to many more people than just those with laptops. Meaning, they should go ahead and look to install Wifi on their extensive, uh, two-line subway system as well. And possibly trolleys too.

And let’s face it — Septa needs every perk it can get its hands on. And offering riders cheap (or free) wifi on trains is simply a no-brainer.

The more people of all walks of life that Septa can retain as frequent public transit users, the stronger Philadelphia and the entire region will be. So extending the service of regional rails on weekend nights is a good start, but there is a great, great deal more that can and should be done.

Wifi would be a admirable start.

SF’s BART in talks for full Wi-Fi rollout [ MacWorld ]
Trains in Europe offering Wi-Fi [ International Herald Tribune ]
Would Wi-Fi Push You to Public Transport? [ PC World ]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Clint Hurdle Is A Dick

Ryan Howard rounding second after hitting his major-league-leading 28th home run
Ryan Howard rounding second after hitting his major-league-leading 28th home run last night, which evidently is not good enough to be on the All-Star team.

And dumb as rocks to boot.
All-Star Snubs

Colorado's Clint Hurdle, the National League manager in this year's All-Star Game, yesterday added Mets third baseman David Wright (.288, 17 home runs, 70 RBIs) to the team to replace injured outfielder Alfonso Soriano. Hurdle bypassed the Phillies' Pat Burrell (.279, 22, 54) and Ryan Howard (.234, 28, 84), among others.
Great call, assface. You just crapped on Burrell’s heart.

Meanwhile, both Conlin and Zolecki speak the the good word about Mr. Ryan Howard.

Also, note that RyHo has four home runs in his last three games and is batting .357 (20-for-56) during his current 14-game hitting streak, with 9 home runs during that span.

Phillies Notes: Scout: Phillies should bring up Carrasco [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Burrell disappointed at not getting All-Star bid [ Philadelphia Daily News ]
Howard's 27 homers outweigh his 125 strikeouts [ Philadelphia Daily News ]
Is Howard All-Star Worthy? [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Friday, July 11, 2008

Breaking: Like We Said… If You Stay At An Airport/Stadium Hotel, You Are Likely To Get Run Over By A Car And/Or Truck

pedestrian hit by drunk driver in south philadelphia near stadiumHate to say we told you so, but…
Two St. Louis women who came to Philadelphia to cheer on the St. Louis Cardinals as they played the Phillies were hit by what police say was a drunk driver as […] the women were jogging near the stadium complex Thursday night.
Sad, no doubt. But if jogging is on your list of things to do, you’ll want to stay at a Center City hotel… as Center City is much more pedestrian friendly than the Airport.

Meanwhile, this is simply more evidence that livable streets can not come to Philadelphia soon enough. [ KYW 1060 ]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pat Burrell Makes The Cira Centre’s Lite-Brite Lighting Schematic Actually Look Good For Once — Please Reward Him

vote for pat burrellWe can say — without a doubt — that putting Burrell’s #5 in bright lights is the best thing the Cira Centre has ever done with its uninspired exterior lighting scheme.* (Not pictured.)

So let’s all vote for Pat. Again and again. And make the Cira Centre proud.
On the National League side, Brewers outfielder Corey Hart remains atop the standings despite significant challenges from David Wright of the Mets and Pat Burrell of the Phillies. The top three candidates, who have each accumulated nearly 4 million votes, are followed by Aaron Rowand of the Giants and Carlos Lee of the Astros.
Voting closes at 5 p.m. today.

Do it for Pat.

Go To Bat For Pat [ Phillies.com ]

* We say uninspired because this is on a building that is absolutely breathtaking in the daylight, only to look unceremoniously tasteless at night with a lite-brite system straight out of 1982.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Breaking: First Look At Aloft Philadelphia Airport Hotel, Which Incidentally Is A First Look At Every Aloft Hotel Anywhere

aloft philadelphia hotel, re:mix lobby
Cool exposed ductwork, right?

That right there is a photo of the lobby space at Aloft marketed as the “re:mix lobby.” So very loft-like… *sighs*

Starwood marketing expounds:

The urban living experience [at Aloft] is expressed in the re:mix lobby, a flexible space that lends itself to both daytime and evening socialization, featuring a sunken living room with a two-sided glass fireplace which opens to an outdoor patio, a customized pool table and a 24/7 grab ‘n go gourmet pantry influenced by a New York deli (re:fuel by aloft).
Get it? "re:fuel" in the "re:mix lobby"?? (Just wait, the superfresh naming conventions do not end there…)

And then there’s the lobby bar or the "w xyz" bar. (Perhaps, maybe, its fly is down??)
The centerpiece of the experience is the bar area, w xyz. which transforms from a quiet, playful space by day to an eclectic, electric lounge at night. Special programming and theme nights create a constantly changing atmosphere to meet and mingle.
aloft philadelphia hotel, re:mix lobby
Everyone loves magenta and turquoise.

Wow. Look at all the pretty colors… Rockwell Group sure has their fingers on the pulse…
The space incorporates industrial design elements such as exposed ductwork on the ceiling, polished concrete floors and a bar top made of crushed glass backlit with colored LCD lights.

The comfort and sociability inherent in these design features all contribute to a casual place to stay and play day or night.
"Staying and playing" is probably a good thing since Starwood built this pile at the airport and you’re likely to get hit by a truck if you step outside. Just sayin'.

(Seriously Starwood, maybe in the future you could locate your next Aloft in a location that a) isn't terrible and b) actually adds something to the city, you know, like Center City. K? Then maybe we'll be a little more receptive.)

Anyway, for all of you out there waiting with baited breath, Aloft Philadelphia Airport will officially open its doors for business on August 9, 2008.

But wait — pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — VIP Launch Party on August 8th. Oh man, we’re so totally there not there.

aloft philadelphia hotel, re:mix lobby
Aloft all alone at the airport.

Meanhwile, no word on whether the alleged Center City locations for Aloft are progressing. No doubt, the economy is giving Starwood pause. Which it shouldn’t, by the way. We (like everyone else with a PhD in Obvious Intelligence) are bullish on the Philadelphia development market — especially that of Center City.

Bringing Boutique-Style and Design to the Traveling Masses, Starwood Hotels Announces the Launch of aloft Hotels [ Business Wire ]
Aloft Philadelphia Airport Hotel [ Official Site ]

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fishtown To Gain A Little More Cred With Crunchy Hipster Set, Named One Of The Most Fuel Efficient Neighborhoods Of America

greetings from fishtown postcard, philadelphia weekly cover 2004Preamble:
With the national average price of gasoline topping $4 a gallon, it's a propitious time to make the case for gas-sipping neighborhoods.
Owning a home in walkable neighborhoods saves residents $300 to $400 a month, up to $4,800 a year, on gas expenses alone, according to research by the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Kicking the car habit [can yield even larger benefits]: Traffic congestion sucked $78 billion from the economy in 2005, added 4.2 billion hours in commuter time, and wasted almost 3 billion gallons of gasoline, according to a 2007 Urban Mobility Report by the Texas Transportation Institute.
Places with plenty of mass transit and high rates of bicycle usage have received applause from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on the campaign trail lately.
As well they should have. (And it’s about time, we might add.)

As for Fishtown:
Fishtown (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Cost: $674 per month

Convert centrally located warehouses into art galleries and loft apartments, and frustrated yuppie commuters will follow. That's part of why Fishtown, a district located along the Delaware River shore, is experiencing a revival. Transportation costs are the second-lowest among neighborhoods in the 10 largest metropolitan markets.

Public transit ridership, at around 12%, bests some census tracts that border Temple University, a hub of frugal-minded students. With the time saved shuttling to nearby center-city Philly, Fishtowners frolic by foot in the hood's thrift stores and funky bookstores.
Ha. Alliteration.

Special Report: America's Most Fuel-Efficient Neighborhoods — with accompanying slideshow [ Forbes ]

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Charlie Manuel Still Trying His Best To Screw Pat Burrell, Luckily You Can Override Charlie And Put 'Pat the Bat' In The All-Star Game Yourself

Charlie just won’t stop.

And it’s not so much that he’s screwing Burrell — although he definitely is. More importantly, is that he’s screwing the team. The Phillies are best with Pat Burrell in the lineup. It’s as simple as that.

Every time Charlie takes Burrell out before the 9th inning (or, at the earliest, the bottom of the eighth at home), Charlie is weakening his team significantly. End of discussion. Just as you need to leave Ryan Howard (and his poor defense and slower than ideal speed) in the game and in the lineup, you have to do the same with Pat Burrell. End of discussion.

Just last night, Charlie Manuel pulled Burrell in the 7th after Pat got on with a lead-off single, only for Burrell’s spot in the order to come up again in the 8th inning in a key situation. At which point, Carlos Ruiz grounded out.
Pat Burrell… has started 82 games this season but has finished 31 of them. That is a drag for Burrell, who would love the at-bats he loses every year when he is pulled for defensive purposes.

But it certainly has not affected his productivity. In fact, Burrell, who hit a home run last night in a 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves, could be headed to his first All-Star Game.

"I've always said it would be a great thrill to be part of that," Burrell said. "But it's a tricky deal because there are a lot of outfielders involved."

But few have been better than Burrell. He entered last night ranked first among National League outfielders in home runs (20), on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.998), and slugging percentage (.584) and second in on-base percentage (.414).
So Charlie is clearly wrong. No big deal. Except that it is.

Burrell didn’t end up making the first cut for the All-Star Game. But you can still get him in. Just head over to MLB.com and vote for Pat the Bat to get the last roster spot on the NL team in the 2008 All-Star Game, a spot he very rightfully deserves.

All-Star Game Final Vote — Vote For Pat Burrell [ MLB.com ]
Burrell boosts all-star bid; The leftfielder hit his 21st homer as the Phils again beat the Braves [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
ESPN's picks to start the All-Star Game [ ESPN ]

Confidential to Charlie Manuel: Stop Taking Pat Burrell Out Of The Game In The Sixth Inning For "Defensive Purposes"

[ Photo via Flickr user Scott Abelman ]

Penn One-Ups Itself, Renames Prominent Campus Building — Formerly Named After A Founding University Trustee For 100+ Years — After Gossip Columnist

logan hall is now claudia cohen hall at the university of pennsylvania in philadelphiaAnd thankfully the New York Times Sunday Styles has deemed this little nugget fit for print.

Logan Hall, the home to the College of Arts and Sciences (i.e. the cool part of Penn, the part that’s not Wharton) and one of the oldest buildings on campus, is now Claudia Cohen Hall.
Ms. Cohen [a former editor of The New York Post Page Six gossip column], who died in 2007, was a former wife of Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire New York businessman.
What do you think? Claudia Cohen Hall… It’s got a ring to it. Kind of. Right?
“I, as an academic, am accustomed to seeing buildings with names like Newton, Copernicus, Darwin,” said Ponzy Lu, a chemistry professor at the university. “Then to see the name of this person, who is very fresh in our memory, who is not associated with a pursuit of knowledge — a gossip columnist: it strikes me as being totally idiotic.”
Wow, Ponzy. Really? Be cool yo.
[Perelman] acquired the right to rename the building when he donated $20 million to his alma mater in 1995, a university official said.
If there’s an oversight here on Penn’s part, it’s that. Shit, $20 mill 13 years ago… Penn coulda got, like, at least $50 mill today.

Damn, Penn. Stop doing such a shitty job managing the endowment. God.

At Penn, the Subject Is Gossip [ New York Times ]
Logan Hall to become Claudia Cohen Hall [ Daily Pennsylvanian ]
Logan Hall is now Claudia Cohen Hall [ The University of Pennsylvania ]

logan hall map university of pennsylvania philadelphia

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hyatt Regency Penn’s Landing Renovates, Unfortunately Unable To Do Anything About The 14-Lane Asphalt Canyon Separating It From The Rest Of The City

hyatt regency penn's landing philadelphiaPhilly hotels are certainly getting their shit together. Seemingly everyone is renovating, no doubt in hope of staying competitive with the onslaught of new hotel properties opening up in Philadelphia in the next two years. (Hello, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia — we especially can’t wait to see you in action.)

The Hyatt Regency Penn’s Landing is only the most recent to do so.
Hyatt Regency Philadelphia, the only Philadelphia hotel located on the historic waterfront, has announced the completion of a comprehensive, $8-million renovation project that includes the transformation of all 350 guestrooms and 24,000 square feet of meeting space.
“We have a fantastic product that matches our stunning river front views,” said General Manager Julie Coker. “Our new rooms not only meet the needs of our business traveler but will also appeal to our weekend leisure guest.”
Leisure is where it’s at.
At the center of the transformation are new guestrooms designed with warm hues of chocolate, sky blue and beige. All rooms are fitted with the signature Hyatt Grand Bed complete with a pillow-top mattress, soft white duvet cover and plush pillows.

Sleek work desks have been added with wall-mounted, plug-n-play consoles for accessible Wi-Fi Internet connectivity. Dark wood furnishings, leather lounge chairs, contemporary lighting and 32-inch LCD, flat panel televisions complete the new room style. Guestroom baths include a spacious shower, a glamorous, marble-top vanity and stunning city or water views.
And we have to give a shout out to Keating’s. After all, it’s in prime position to take advantage of the forthcoming improvements coming to Penn’s Landing courtesy of the brand new Delaware Waterfront Corporation.
Additionally, Keating’s River Grill, Hyatt Regency Philadelphia’s signature restaurant, transforms the outdoor terrace into a cosmopolitan dining venue. Situated directly on the Delaware River waterfront, Terrace features upscale tapas style cuisine and contemporary lounge furnishings with a vibrant color scheme. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Delaware while taking in the perfectly landscaped Penn’s Landing surrounding.
Sounds delightful.

Hyatt Regency Philadelphia Announces $8 Million Renovation [ Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing ]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Breaking: Solar-Powered Trash Cans Coming To Philadelphia, To Greenify Center City With BigBellys Of Compacting Power

Really? Solar-powered trash cans??
The unit takes up as much space as the "footprint" of an ordinary receptacle — but its capacity is five times greater. Increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.

BigBelly also provides cost efficiencies from labor savings, fuel cost and maintenance savings, as well as environmental benefits from reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Well, that’s all good.

But, shit, let’s get some solar powered recycling receptacles already. Because that just seems like it would make all kinds of sense. (Seriously, a recycling bin next to every trash can.)

Center City District will be unveiling these bad boys next week on the 600 block of Chestnut Street. And a triumvirate of bigwigs will be there, demonstrating they can, indeed, play together nicely: CCD President Paul Levy, Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson, and Director of Sustainability Mark Alan Hughes. (To RSVP for the festivities, click here.)

Meanwhile, no word on how many of these BigBellys will be coming to Center City or what their actual impact will be as far as reducing the city’s overall carbon footprint. We hope the answer to both questions is substantial — and that it’s not some gimmick to get a bunch of buzz from, uh, bloggers. Ahem.

Stay tuned.

EVENT: Please join us as we unveil our new solar-powered trash receptacle demonstration project [ Center City District ]
Big Belly Trash Receptacles [ Official Site ]