Archive: December, 2009
Just wanted to say ... forgive me, mine employer ... thanks to Philebrity.
Last night's Philebrity Awards Show at the Trocadero & Xmas Pageant was awesome â everything about it, but especially getting a chance to meet some of the faces behind the names. (Free Library Director Siobhan Reardon shook. my. hand.)
In one of those "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice" moments, host Joey Sweeney even uttered the words "City Paper," before releasing a dove into the night sky.
But if you made it out, you already know how awesome it was, and if you didn't, you probably don't care to hear it now. So I'll leave it at that.
But yes, thanks, Philebrity. Good on ya.
Both Naughty and nice
Saturday: But do Mama's eyes deceive me? Could it be?! TWO GAY SANTAS?!?!? Head over to Giovanni's Room where Samuel R. Delaney (who claims to have boinked over 50,000 men) will let you sit on his lap if you help out the ailing gay book stop. Transitioning from gay Santa to the Nutcracker could lend itself to a litany of both terrible and hilarious jokes. But Mama is classy and will not go thereLook, don't beesmirch my childhood memories. Just go see it.
Sunday: Because Christmas should get in you the giving mood, head to the World Cafe Live for Carry the Fire, a benefit with a full bill of Philly bands to help out the recently shuttered venue. Then round out your holidays-in-full-swing weekend with some grub or as the French say: grub with Bistro La Minette's French Christmas Dinner Menu.
We Win! Cutler to recommend making the Pine/Spruce bike lanes permanent, expansion of center city lane network
Cutler says that during the pilot phase, bike traffic on Pine and Spruce Streets went up significantly on those streets while car traffic dropped 11 percent. And average speeds, she says, dropped only slightly: "The average vehicle speeds changed by at most two miles an hour, where the speeds changed at all." She says that change is not significant, making the pilot program in her view a success -- so much so that the bike lane concept could expand: "We certainly are going to take a look at additional east-west streets and try to figure out where else in the city we might want to do this." So the obvious questions are: Where next? And why just east-west streets? I say Fifth and Sixth to connect Northern Liberties and the Northeast with Bella Vista and South Philly would be a good start. Then maybe Walnut and Chestnut west of the Schuylkill to connect University City with Upper Darby. Where do you want a bike lane?
Cutler says that during the pilot phase, bike traffic on Pine and Spruce Streets went up significantly on those streets while car traffic dropped 11 percent. And average speeds, she says, dropped only slightly:
"The average vehicle speeds changed by at most two miles an hour, where the speeds changed at all."
She says that change is not significant, making the pilot program in her view a success -- so much so that the bike lane concept could expand:
"We certainly are going to take a look at additional east-west streets and try to figure out where else in the city we might want to do this."
So the obvious questions are: Where next? And why just east-west streets?
I say Fifth and Sixth to connect Northern Liberties and the Northeast with Bella Vista and South Philly would be a good start.
Then maybe Walnut and Chestnut west of the Schuylkill to connect University City with Upper Darby.
Where do you want a bike lane?
|I'm Isaiah Thompson,
and I approve this message
Come see Isaiah accept his award tonight at the Trocadero, 10th and Arch, 8 p.m.
I can hear him working on his speech right now, and it's a doozie.
Isaiah thanks you all for your votes.
Don't make us do it. We totally will.
It's your last chance to vote for Isaiah Thompson as best city writer in Philebrity's awards thing. Voting ends at midnight. I suggest you do it now.
I haven't been in town all that long, but I'm developing a deep appreciation for my man Stu Bykofsky, over there at the Daily News. Every major media market needs an old, out of touch curmudgeon to yell at the sky, and whether it's a lecture on those damn kids bicycling in your driving lanes, an essay on why Muslims are not belligerently pro-'mercan enough, or a simple rumination on why you should be able to pop a cap in someone's ass if you think you're being threatened because the district attorneys can all figure it out later or something, Stu's your go-to geezer.
So, it was with particular interest and tingly anticipation that I hurried over to Stu's little corner of Philly.com this morning, to uncover his taken on a subject about which I know little, but about which I've been told much: The Mummers. Now, in fairness, I'm not precisely sure what these people do or why anyone cares about them. I gather they have some sort of New Years Day parade, and then everyone goes to South Philly, gets drunk on shitty beer, pisses in the streets and vomits up shell pasta. Also, there are sequins involved, somehow. Do I have it about right?
Apparently, this passes for culture around these parts, so as a newbie Philadelphian is my goddamn duty to enjoy this â¦ um, thing that happens. (In the immortal words of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, in an interview with this newspaper's "editorial board" back in 2007 when he was running for mayor, "Mummers is cultures!" Or so editor-in-chief Brian Howard recounts. Anyway.) But it seems that the Mummers have come upon hard times. The city, being flat-broke and all, might not be willing to pay for them to frollic in the streets, or whatever it is they do.
Stu, who, you know, has previously come out in favor of parades having to pay their own way, thinks this is bullshit (or, in his generation's vernacular, poppycock, or even horse hockey). See, as Stu tells it, the mummers are special. Why?
The Mummers are a special case. I admit my bias, as a former Mummer marcher and a dedicated parade lover.
Oh, wait, that's not his real reason.
The Mummers, like the now-departed Dad Vail Regatta, bring in more money than they cost the city.
How much? An estimated $9 million, according to an economic impact report from the Center for Forensic Economic Studies.
You can argue the precise amount, but you can't argue that hotel bookings zoom during an otherwise dead time of year; you can't argue the money spent by Mummers clubs on feathers and fabrics, on carpenters and choreographers, on decor and deli.
Economics! OK, I can't quibble with the "hotel booking zoom" thing, because I haven't been here. But it does occur to me that this event happens on New Years, the day after a night where everybody gets positively shit-faced, and since they don't want to drive home and spend the evening in the drunk tank rather than singing Auld Lang Syne and making out with some girl they met at a party, perhaps there are other variables at play in the hotel bookings.
Post hoc, ergo proctor hoc, Stu. Just because two things appear to be correlated, doesn't mean one caused the other. And I'll confess not knowing much about the Center for Forensic Economic Studies, whatever that is, and I'll assume they're on the up and up, but one thing I've learned covering cities the last decade or so is to not put a lot of stock into economic impact studies. Maybe this one's the exception.Who knows? Doesn't matter.
I'm sure the Mummers spend a lot on sequins and feathers and clothes and choreographers wait, so this thing doesn't happen in the gayborhood? and eat a lot of shell pasta and drink a lot of lager or whatever it is they imbibe, and that'll probably help out the local economy. But does it do so more than the St. Patrick's Day parade, which sounds like pretty much the same thing, only with green stuff, more booze and less, um, you know, straight dudes in drag?
Stu's got an answer for us there, too:
Most importantly, the Mummers are unique, only in Philadelphia. They are part of our cultural heritage, as much as the Liberty Bell, whether you like them or not.
It's unique. It's culture. It's special. Stu says so. (And he used to be one of them, so he knows.)
Give them whatever they want, Nutter. The sage of the stone age has spoken.
|It's meta, dude.
Disclaimer: I am woefully, scandalously under-qualified to write anything about TV. Until discovering I could watch shows on the internet (and what a discovery!), I hadn't watched TV since the late 90s. Having said that . . .
Anybody else feel like TV's been getting uncomfortably, overtly racist?
I've got two shows in mind: Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 30 Rock â both of which I watch religiously (although - 30 Rock's hurting these days, don't you think?).
And I like those shows! Man cannot live on blogging about casinos alone, you know?
But this racism thing is on my mind largely because it's actually started to upset the flow of those those delicious, smooth TV brainwaves through the old cranium.
You know what I'm talking about: Larry's household being taken over by a black family, and the storyline revolving partially around his trying to get rid of them; the minstrel-like Leon; the cunnilingus-loving Krazee Eyez Killa. Tracey Jordan's stupidity, Dot Com and Grizz's servility, Angie's bitchiness.
It's not like it's hidden, or something: the shows put it right in our faces â I mean, that's supposed to be the whole joke, right? They're not racist, they're meta. It's meta-racism - the opposite of racism.
But I don't really buy it. And yeah, I'm the asshole who's ruining the joke by talking about it: but of the many things that make Curb and 30 Rock hilarious, I gotta say: black people playing crazy black people doesn't top my list.
On a side note, The Office has managed to be witty, meta -- and yet doesn't, I think, do the same thing to its black characters: Stanley and Darryl are as real and fully-developed characters as the others, it seems to me.
Anyway, that's it. What do people think?
for more information.
Fiction: Stories should be 3,000 words or less and previously unpublished. No more than one submission per entrant.
Poetry: One entry can consist of up to five poems.
Eligibility: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware residents are invited to participate. Employees and regular freelancers for the City Paper are ineligible, obvs.
Prizes: Winning story and poem will be published in the Dec. 31, 2009, issue of City Paper and featured in a reading. Top two runners-up will be published at citypaper.net. Additional prizes TBA.
Deadline: We must receive your work before 5 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 11. No exceptions.
Please include a processing fee of $5 made payable to City Paper Writing Contest at the address below or via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories should be e-mailed to email@example.com or mailed the old-fashioned way to:
City Paper Writing Contest
123 Chestnut St., Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106.
No phone calls please regarding specific entries. Manuscripts will not be returned.
You may have noticed that it's raining. That is has been raining. And that it will apparently never ever stop raining stop raining this afternoon.
This morning I went down to the basement to retrieve clothes from the dryer to discover that, for the first time in the year and a half I've lived in my house, there was water in the basement.
Then I got on the 47 bus to get to work and the last available seat was next to a large, lovenly man who appeared to be drunk or hung over and whose boxer shorts (and love handles) were showing just a little too much to be tasteful given his previous characteristics AND who had PLACED HIS SOPPING WET UMBRELLA ON THE AFOREMENTIONED LAST AVAILABLE SEAT. (The guy proceed to fall asleep and belch loudly, all with an open can of Cherry Coke in his hand.)
How was your morning commute?
What We've Found: Kensington sting doesn't catch rapist, Senegalese judge toughens rape punishment, ACLU loses quarter of its budget, cyberbegging for holiday gifts and fewer homeless on Philly streets
Julia Harte with your morning fix.
Kensington female cops posing as prostitutes arrested 102 people in a two-week sting, but failed to catch their target: a local man who's been raping and beating prostitutes over the past few months.
In response to increasing rape cases in his country's schools and homes, a Senegalese judge was calling for tougher sentences against rapists, punishments for family members who know about rapes but do not report them and allowing women's-rights associations to bring suits as civil plaintiffs.
The American Civil Liberties Union lost 25 percent of its budget when its largest donor, an anonymous individual who gave $20 million annually to the group, withdrew his gift "due to market conditions".
Websites devoted to online panhandling, a recent and growing phenomenon, were crowded with appeals from parents hoping to get their children something for the holidays without having to beg for money openly in the street.
According to data recently released from Mayor Nutter's office, street homelessness in Philadelphia has declined over the past year, with 135 fewer people on the streets this November compared to November 2008.
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