Archive: September, 2009
|Photos | Brian Howard's Android
The mystery of the words on the street deepens:
spin, in the western crosswalk at Broad and Walnut
pole, in the western crosswalk at Sixth and Chestnut
What could this mean? Theories being accepted.
How time flies â just a couple of hours ago, I was writing about the long-standing deadlock over Philadelphia's fiscal relief bill in Harrisburg - and then, about half an hour ago, the deadlock seems to have ended, with the Senate passing the bill, without amendments, 32-17. (KYW reports that Mayor Nutter made an "emotional" call to his cabinet to order them to "kill Plan C."
That means â not that we're even slightly surprised â that Nutter won't, in fact, shut down every branch of the Free Library, close our courts, and lay off hundreds and hundreds of cops.
Over at Philadelphia Weekly, my colleague Joel Mathis responded to my own assertion that nearly everybody â Nutter, the media, Harrisburg itself â was enacting a kind of mass bluff, and suggested:
"Well, if itâs a bluff, maybe it worked."
I don't know. Maybe it did work. But I wonder if Mayor Nutter didn't hurt his own credibility â not with Harrisburg, but with us.
If Plan C was a bluff â and I think it was â that means that there was either another plan, that we didn't know about, or there wasn't, and Nutter fully expected the passage of this bill.
If the former is the case, shouldn't Nutter have told us about the real Plan C? Shouldn't Council have been weighing in on real contingency plans, rather than holding their breath together?
If the latter is the case, it means that our institutions â library branches, police, etc. â were props in a political theatrical production.
And Philadelphians will remember that the next time that cuts rolls around.
All that being said, some congratulations are in order â to Philly, and to Mayor Nutter. May he go for a nice bike ride or something back home in Philly.
Confused about the Doomsday budget, or "Plan C?â It's simple: Nutter says he'll close all the libraries, lay off 1,000 police officers, and shut own our courts if Harrisburg doesn't pass the legislation necessary to tinker with our sales tax and pension payments.
But nobody believes he's going to do it.
But he says he will: which lead the City Controller to take his plan seriously enough to say the city
can't possibly implement it â which everyone already knows.
Everyone, that is, who's following this stuff closely. All week, I've been getting emails from out-of-town friends asking, "Is your mayor really going to close all the libraries?"
"No," I write back. "I don't think so."
So why, they ask, did they just read that he would?
Because local media â despite, I think, having a pretty good idea that the permanent implementation of Plan C is unlikely at best â has become part of the Big Bluff.
Maybe it's not their fault â if Nutter says he's going to close all the libraries and sack a thousand cops, it's a reporter's job to report that.
At the same time, it's hard to read articles about the "Doomsday" budget every day and see so little critical questioning of whether the plan â which hasn't been approved by anyone yet â is more than an elaborate game of chicken.
One notable exception is It's Our Money's Ben Waxman, who finally declared last week: "Plan C is a bluff. There, I said it."
Could it be that part of the reason Nutter isn't called out on his bluff is that we want it to work?
But surely, if we know it, and Nutter knows it, then Harrisburg knows it too. So are they in on it? After all, the more compelling Philadelphia's case, the easier it is for legislators from elsewhere to justify to their own constituents a vote to help us out.
But there are two problems with the mass bluff â if, of course, that's what it is.
For one thing, not everyone gets it. And the police officers and librarians and such watching this drama unfold probably aren't making popcorn for the show: I imagine they're scared.
For another, it paints the situation as a false either/or situation: either Harrisburg passes our plan or it's fiscal doomsday.
Seems to me, though, that six months ago there were a lot of other ways to balance our budget. Nutter did it, at one point, with property taxes; others devised ways to balance it with hikes in wage and business taxes.
Yes, the idea of rehashing a new tax plan to cover the budget shortfall seems crazy â but so does everything else right now.
And I'm getting tired of telling everyone to disregard what they read in the news.
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worried, we've got you covered.
Insult comedy is a thankless job. There's a fine line between pissing off your audience and being entertaining. Jeffrey Ross is a master at towing that line. Taking about Don Rickles mantle, Ross is a frequent contributor (and usually the best part) of the Comedy Central roasts and one of the few who is actually a member not to mention Roastmaster General of the NY Friars Club. See him tonight at the Free Library, pimping out his new book I Only Roast the Ones I Love. We're posting Night Moves early today, though, because the FLOP is offering tickets at half price. So get on it before everyone finds out that going to see Ross for $7 is a bargain.
7:30, $7, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., library.phila.gov.
Is anyone else seeing these reflector-tape words on city streets? I've seen a few already, but have been in transit and thus unable to snap them. This "was" is outside our office at Second and Chestnut.
Is there a route that forms, say, a sentence? And are these in any way tied to the reflector-tape Stickman outbreak of 2007?
|Photo | Brian Howard's android|
|this is where was was.|
Send me your photos (bhoward [at] citypaper [dot] net), or post links, and we'll try to solve this puzzle.
I mean, why not â they certainly seem to need the money.
The Daily News reports today that Sugarhouse is asking the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to help it get around having to pay taxes for transfering its gaming title to the corporation that own the waterfront land on which it intends to build.
And it's not like the city needs any tax money right now, is it?
(Rep. Mike O'Brien disagrees, actually â he questions why Sugarhouse should get any special assistance. Imagine that.)
So I say, let's start baking.
It wouldn't be fair for Philadelphia not to pitch in now â we've already allowed them to scrap their plans for the attractive, multi-faceted casino that was promised originally for an "interim" facility â that will be surrounded by nothing but a vast parking lot (they were originally supposed to build a garage; Sugarhouse hasn't offered a timetable for when that garage will be built).
You can't help someone out like that and then abandon them in their moment of need (or at least, in their moment of having to pay taxes).
A strange piece in today's Daily News describes an incident in which Philadelphia Police officer Richard DeCoatsworth shot and wounded a Kensington motorcyclist who was allegedly trying to run the officer down.
The driver's girlfriend denies that he was driving at the officer when he was shot.
You might remember DeCoatsworth: he was shot in the face with a shotgun during a traffic stop two years ago, and was honored for his bravery with a seat next to Michelle Obama during the presidential campaign.
Or you might remember him from an article that appeared in April, when DeCoatsworth shot â but did not kill â Anthony Temple, an apparently mentally ill man in West Philly. Police say that Temple had lunged for his gun, and that the gun "went off" in the struggle.
A witness, who told reporters that Temple was well-known among neighbors to have mental health problems, contradicted the police account, saying DeCoatsworth drew and fired.
Temple ran off, encountering another officer. A second confrontation ensued, and Temple was shot dead by yet another police officer, who arrived on the scene.
What does any of this mean? I don't know. It just seems like DeCoatsworth makes a lot of headlines for strange situations.
Esquire has been doing these really entertaining "75" lists to commemorate their 75th anniversary. Today, they blasted out a list of the 75 Best People in the World and they give it up for our very own Ed Rendell, who makes the list along with George Clooney, Britney Spears and Rahm Emmanuel.
About the Guv, they said:
Because he proves that not every macher need be a pig or a prick.
They forgot: If he had his druthers, he'd probably still being sit up at the 700 level.
Now tell him to pass a goddamned budget already and he'll really deserve that spot.
|Photo | Mark Maglio
|Daryl Hall and Angelica Huston?
The only good things about The Spectrum's closing are the memories it'll conjure the closer to implosion, and the rash of wildly amazing shows (Maxwell with Robin Thicke, Leonard Cohen, Halloween with Pearl Jam) in the wake of its finale.
And though we were excited by the notion of Hall & Oates playing out their hits on Oct. 23 in accordance with its first ever box set Do What You Want Be What You Are. We got triply thrilled when we heard that Todd Rundgren was on the bill.
Not only did the Upper Darby/Philly boy trio form what would be the Seventies Blue Eyed Soul Axis (all due respect to Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan). They all worked as one when the Runt produced H&O's War Babies album 37 years ago. If you don't know from this oft-maligned personal fave of mine, oh ye "Kiss On My List" fans, dig this: Tonight (Wed. Sept. 15) you can catch Rundgren and Hall on the web series Live From Daryl's House (livefromdarylshouse.com).
Reunited for the first time in eeooooooooooons doing "Better Watch Your Back" from War Babies, seven of each other's best and a few covers by The Soul Survivors and Average White Band, this promises to be just a lick and a taste of the Philly brand cream cheese to come. Yum.
|Random House, 144 pp.,
$17, Sept. 1
Today we're giving away a copy of New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus' The Death of Conservatism just in time for his talk tonight at the Central Branch of the Free Library.
Here's what freelibrary.org has to say about Tanenhaus, whose appearance tonight is part of the Meelya Gordon Memorial Lecture Series:
Tanenhaus is the author of the National Book Award finalist Whittaker Chambers, a biography of the man whose accusations sparked the post-war crusade against suspected American communists. His new book, The Death of Conservatism, argues that modern conservatism is a counter-revolutionary movement with two sides: "realistsâ who believe in tradition and "revanchistsâ who often find themselves at war with the United States.
Mr. Tanenhaus will be interviewed on-stage by Carlin Romano, critic-at-large for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
To win a copy, answer this trivia question:
Sam Tanenhaus can be heard chatting with authors and critics on what weekly podcast?
E-mail email@example.com for a chance to win.
Sam Tanenhaus reading/signing, Tue., Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m., $14, Free Library, Central Branch, 1901 Vine St., 215-567-4341, freelibrary.org.
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