It’s 1:15PM In Rittenhouse Square; Do You Know Where Its Vibe Is?

Hey, where'd everybody go?

Hey, where'd everybody go?

BY JOEY SWEENEY

Early this afternoon, a friend sent us some images of an odd sight: Rittenhouse Square on a Friday afternoon, just around lunchtime, with benches upon benches and no one sitting on them. Which is to say, not only were the benches sparsely populated, but so too were the balustrades that, though it was not the original intention of the park’s design, people have liked to sit on for decades now. We bring up the balustrades because, just in case you hadn’t heard, it is now somehow illegal to sit on them. In the wake of this news, an entire city has scoffed.

Even for a Friday in January, albeit with highs just under 50 degrees, the sense that the park was somehow a little more empty, a little more lonely than it ought to be, was palpable. “There’s no one around,” our friend messaged. “It’s winter and all, but it’s a nice day.” In their place, a police car, in the middle of the park, looking almost like it had been left there by mistake. What could be the culprit? “Vibe jacked?”

Indeed. Rittenhouse Square — in fact, the entire system of Squares, comprising Rittenhouse, Logan, Washington, Franklin and Penn — was a major piece of William Penn’s original concept of Philadelphia as a “green countrie towne,” with all of them arguably there to preserve a vibe. And while the other Squares have certainly had their ups and downs, Rittenhouse has been and shall always be one of the of the great third places, not just in Philadephia but perhaps in all of North America. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, goes to Rittenhouse Square. As a public space, it could not be more democratic.

Which is why such offense is being taken to the sudden ban on the balustrades — and why, on Tuesday afternoon, brave and noble citizens of this city will gather in protest on those very walls. The powers that be claim the law has been put into place to curb what is admittedly one of the city’s more brazenly open locales for outdoor pot smoking, but mostly everyone else sees it as something else: Part of an ongoing war on public space in this city that seeks to undercut what makes locales like Rittenhouse so great in the first place. If you want to crack down on pot smoke, common sense would say, then crack down on smoking pot (which, by the way, would be easy to do if some of those pot smokers were perched on literally the highest, most visible sightline in the park). But don’t kill the park’s vibe. Some days, that park is the only good vibe this city has.

UPDATE: Well, whaddya know. Sometimes these things just work themselves out.

Listen One Last Time To The Soothing Sounds Of The KYW Snow Day School Closings

Like many of you, we learned today that KYW 1060AM — whose teletype audio ambience is perhaps the permanent sound of the city’s brain at rest — has retired what is for some of us its most defining feature: The reading of the school numbers, indicating school closings on snow days. The numbered system, as best we can gather, began in the 1960s, whereupon many stations would read them off on snow days, but over time, it was KYW who owned the practice. And as a result, innumerable Philly-area childhoods were marked by the sounds of the readoff — a rundown whose anticipation level was on par with Christmas wish lists.

But alas, technology and the era of the helicopter parent has rendered the snow day readoff a redundancy, and KYW will now instead merely forward its school closing information to a website, KYWschools.com, which has none of the nuance or theater of the beautiful lottery that marked many, many wondrous days for Philly kids. As a tribute, however, YouTube user Ian Bush has uploaded the clip above, preserving once and for all, that gorgeous litany. We’ll remember it — and our school number — for the rest of our lives.

Five Snappy Answers For The Person Who Will Inevitably Complain To You About The Soda Tax

Because it's a city full of slobs, and if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. 

Because it's a city full of slobs, and if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. 

"You’re right, you look great."

 

"I know, right? My dog tasted water for the first time today and promptly shit all over the place."

 

"I love you, and I want you to know that you’re better than this."

 

"Hahahah, you’re still hoarding BetaMax tapes, you weird old pervert?"

 

"I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!"

Craic Ain’t Wack: Fergus Carey, Unofficial Mayor Of Philly, Takes To The Radio

The grand dream of public access TV — the one that birthed PhillyCAM, aka Philadelphia Community Access Media, some years ago — was that it would provide community programming that local for-profit stations had no interest in, and that public broadcasting was too institutionalized to keep up with. The irony is, by the time Philly got proper public access TV (thanks in large part to said PhillyCAM’s tireless efforts), the Internet had arguably supplanted it, and today, maybe the real waves are to be made with PhillyCAM’s new radio station, WPPM, 106.5FM.

Take, for instance, WPPM’s new weekly show, Craic Radio, hosted by local Irish expats Sean Timmons and Fergus “Fergie” Carey. Carey, after all, is so well-known in Philly arts circles that he’s a kind of unofficial mayoral figure — the kind of person community access was born to give voice to. Every Thursday at 3PM, Carey and Timmons man the controls for Craic Radio, so named for the Irish slang term (pronounced “crack”) meaning “good fun.”

“It's two Irish guys who love music and live Philadelphia,” says Carey. “It's not an Irish music show. We do play some stuff from Ireland and England. We do a Discovery/Rediscovery section every week where we feature a band that everybody over here knows but maybe they only know one or two songs but overseas they may have had twenty hits in the British Charts. We also interview a musician or a personality in the music business every week and we play what we like.”

And even just a month or so in, it’s easy to see how Craic is very naturally fulfilling WPPM’s mission — more and more local artists are finding their way into the studio with Carey and Timmons, and so are other local hosts, like DJ/musicologist Aaron “The Kosherican” Levinson. It’s almost like all the smartest Philly lifers just got their own college radio station.