December 22, 2014
To put it as mildly as possible, it was not a good weekend for bridging the gap between the police and, well, everyone who’s not related to the police.
· On Friday night, sociologically irresponsible talk radio parrot Dom Giordano led a #BlueLivesMatter rally that attracted hundreds… in Mayfair because of course it did.
· Hours later, as you most likely know even if you were trying not to know, up in New York, what appears to be a severely mentally ill young man executed two police in broad daylight, a crime shocking and savage not just in its grotesque, horrifying violence, but also, to a lesser degree, in the instant and needless politicization the situation encountered. Tragedy is tragedy, no doubt about that. And cops turning their backs on Bill DiBlasio and issue-ing war screeds at home don’t help. As Steven W. Thrasher writes in the Guardian:
[...] the necropolitics ["who, exactly, wields the power to kill"] have flipped, and the armed cops are in a position where they feel as vulnerable as the unarmed folks saying, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” And trust me: that’s when things get ugly. On Friday night, I went to a rally in support of the NYPD, which has been under increased pressure since a grand jury’s decision not to indict in the killing of the unarmed black father Eric Garner in a chokehold. You had almost all white pro-police supporters on one side, and non-white police critics on the other. The non-white people would chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot” – and the white people would respond, “Hands up, don’t loot.” Many of the white protesters invoked 9/11, and they sung “God Bless America” … and they wore t-shirts that read I CAN BREATHE.
Up in New York, the media frenzy continued; here in Philadelphia, statements were released, but fortunately, a long week of this kind of rhetoric last week fortunately resulted in not a lot of chest left to thump.
· And to their credit, Philly cops and protesters alike saw that another protest — this time attended by 1,000-plus — went off peacefully:
“Right now, I think everyone just needs to take a deep breath, step back a bit and slow down on the heated rhetoric,” Ramsey said. “I think that’s part of the issue that led to this, quite frankly, so we need to really have thoughtful discussion . . . going to extremes in terms of the rhetoric is not helpful at all.”
He’s right. Christmas, cooler heads and real change can’t come soon enough.
Here, then is the complete text of the full-page farewell letter Jimmy Rollins took out in the Saturday edition of the Inquirer (which exists, apparently — what, they couldn’t cut Jimmy a deal on a Sunday run? Aw who cares). To read its text is to realize just how much time we have spent with this guy and how much we’ll miss him. And, with him gone like so many other Legends Of ’08, all that is left for us to do is focus our ire on Amaro. Dude. DUDE.
Thanks to a contest organized by Azavea and OpenDataPhilly, this winning map of Bike Thefts in Philadelphia by Gregory Kaminski now exists. Kaminski crunched available data to find out all kinds of stuff about the rising tide of bike theft in Philly and the resulting maps and charts are revealing indeed. For instance, 5pm is the hottest time of the day for bike-stealin’, and by far the most likely place in the city to have your bike stolen is, um, directly across the street from City Hall. Oh, Philadelphia. Click through for more fun finds.
Currently airing on your Action News broadcast is the above little number from Christmas ’12, featuring the guy who’s gonna magically pick whoever our new bad mayor is, like some sort of Tammany Hall-era Punxatawney Phil, just, y’know, elfin’ around. Happy Holedays, youse guys! Dowen’t forgitt ta vowte!
December 18, 2014
This just in from PoliticsPA:
On Tuesday March 3, 2015 the candidates will meet in an event organized by the Next Great City Coalition.
The forum will take place from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Philadelphia Convention Center and will be moderated by WHYY’s Dave Davies.
The declared candidates — thus far, that’s State Senator Anthony Williams (no), former District Attorney Lynne Abraham (ugh), former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo (meh), Judge Nelson Diaz (hmmm) and former Director of Federal Affairs Terry Gillen (no chance) — will be formally invited to attend after the holidays.
Can you guess? No, it’s not Nicole Cashman and Arthur Kade, but points to you for trying. It’s Terrell Owens and Kate Gosselin. This will be awful, but I have like a lifelong pact with my mother to watch this show and then immediately call her at 11pm on Sunday nights afterwards to discuss that night’s episode, so I guess this is just what my life in 2015 will be like. Love you, Mom.
In response to its student body’s rapid growth and a subsequent increase in number of off-campus residents, Temple University is now expanding its campus police patrol in North Philadelphia. Students living off-campus around Temple’s North Philly campus are running into a lot more crime, and that crime is being addressed, naturally, by a greater police turnout. The crimes, which range from a petty burglary to a brick attack that shook the institution, are not to be sneezed at, but it remains to be seen whether the expanded beat will have any positive effect on these numbers. Temple students, even those who have experienced crime firsthand, are not feeling any more comfortable or optimistic. But, hey, maybe more Temple cops will end up meaning less city cops.
We’re not sure who or what sort of person happens upon a videotape of a 1986 broadcast of White Christmas on Channel 29 (pre-Fox Network), edits out everything but the commercials and then uploads that up onto YouTube, but we would like to thank that person for taking us back to a simpler time. Shout-out to when the Bourse was a place where anyone would go shopping, and if you have any recollection at all of who/what “Harvey In The Morning” was, shit, you’re old! Happy Christmas!
The story of the Boyd Theater has always been one rife with twists and false starts, but it looks like this time it might actually be gathering some steam. Paul Safran of iPic, the Florida-based entertainment company that made a deal over a year ago with Live Nation to turn the Boyd into an 8-screen theater, says of the project “We’re moving forward, and once we finalize the lease negotiations I expect things to move in a more expeditious fashion. This is just another bump in the road, but we’re anxious to move forward and pick up where we left off.”
As we already knew, the interior of the theater is going to have to be gutted, but thanks to a deal with preservationists, the construction will be monitored and the interior will be inventoried, and hopefully a good chunk of that old-timey luster will be repurposed as exhibition. And, of course, the facade of all facades will stand strong. Boyd Theater, your pretty face isn’t going to hell just yet.
We have remarked on this before, but really, Darrell: It’s bad enough you are totally gumming up the works with this here city. But where does it stop? You referred to yourself in the third person within five seconds of going on air with Marty Moss-Coane yesterday (see above), and then ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ACCUSED HER OF SPOUTING NUTTER’S TALKING POINTS. Why you gotta be like that with Marty? Damn! Then you made poor Mark McDonald blow a goddamned gasket. And still you are playing coy with reporters (who really oughta know better by now, it’s like a pathology at this point, a sickness to even indulge the question) about running for mayor in 2015. NONE OF THIS IS WORKING FOR US. WE HOPE YOU CHILL OUT OVER CHRISTMAS.
Previously: Darrell Clarke’s Ego Is Totally Gumming Up The Works & It’s Not Even Our New Bad Mayor Yet
After reading in the New York Times that Philadelphia’s consumers spent $160 million more than average on alimony in 2014, Next City wanted to know if, and how, geography also dictates city and government spending. Based on the findings, Philly’s geography mostly influences municipal spending by being totally fucked up, because this past year we spent, like, all our money on construction:
City of Philadelphia
1. Tony DePaul and Son
2014 price tag: $34.4 million
Founded in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1940s, the company handles many of the city’s highway and street construction projects, like the resurfacing of 12 miles of U.S. 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard).
2. Mansfield Oil
2014 price tag: $24.1 million
Mansfield oil provides gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas to the City of Philadelphia.
2014 price tag: $24 million
This local general contractor has done projects this year that range from the renovation of an athletic field to the construction of a new crosswalk, also along Roosevelt Boulevard.
These numbers only look good if you stack them up against New York’s: in 2014, NYC paid $5 billion to “Unnamed Security Vendors.”
Here’s a bit of light reading for you: A meditation on “Letting It All Burn: How A 2013 “Best of” serves as a reminder of 2014’s “Worst of” by blogger Ryan Reft. Taking a look at Let The Fire Burn, last year’s critically acclaimed documentary on the MOVE disaster here in Philly in the 1980s, through the prism of this year’s events regarding Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Reft finds that sadly, the events surrounding the MOVE incident were oddly prescient:
“This police department here in Philadelphia could invade Cuba,” Mayor Frank Rizzo told reporters. “What I’m saying is that we are trained and equipped for war.” Rizzo’s appraisal might have been made nearly 30 years ago, but it now seems eerily prescient.
It’s more than that, though: What about cameras?
The film’s omission of a voiceover narrative and the nature of its almost primary source footage seem especially relevant to events today. If the Eric Garner and Tamir Rice killings tell us anything, it is that even video evidence that sometimes seems incontrovertible can be useless in a court of law. Writing in the Los Angeles Times recently, sociologist Jennifer Dawn Carson correctly notes that recording an officer’s every movement won’t solve everything. “Cameras are not unbiased observers.” she writes. “Often, they are like witnesses whose hazy memories rarely have the power to subvert powerful narratives that reflect mainstream beliefs about police and criminality. The actions police take might become part of public debate but in the courtroom video functions more as a means to establish “alibis, not game-changers.”
As police across the country continue to bristle at the public’s reaction to the events of this year — with an especially vitriolic tendency rising locally — it’s worth taking another look. Whatever this madness was this year, we definitely haven’t seen the last of it.
Buried in a list of official commutations and pardons sent over yesterday from the White House (yes, Philebrity gets email from the White House, it cracks us up, too), was this bit of local business:
Diane Mary DeBarri, fka Diane Mary Wilhelm – Fairless Hills, PA
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine; distribution of methamphetamine (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence: 90 days’ imprisonment; five years’ probation conditioned on performance of community service as directed by the court (June 15, 1984
Huh? Who? Wha? According to this Philly.com story, DeBarri (whom you’ll note caught the charge way back in 1984) has been on the straight and narrow ever since, rising to CEO of Kintock Group, which operates halfway houses — namely the one convicted personification of Philly politics Vince Fumo was recently in. Coincidence? Shrug.
Today at noon, City of Philadelphia Managing Director Richard Negrin and other City Hall staff will join with Sarah Leary, the co-founder of Nextdoor to announce a new partnership between the two — and a potentially smart one at that. Nextdoor is a social network for neighbors and neighborhoods; where it differs from, say, your regular neighborhood Internet messageboard (such as fishtown.us) is that it’s for verified users only (thereby cutting down on flamewars and probably comedy, too), and that it’s less chatty and more directed to specific neighbor-to-neighbor issues. You can get a sense of how people are using the service on Nextdoor’s blog. We know anecdotally that some neighbors are already using Nextdoor, but an official partnership with the City will definitely spread that. From the City’s angle, the partnership will “facilitate work being done by City of Philadelphia departments and Philadelphia Town Watch to build stronger, safer and more prepared communities.” There’s also the fact that if Philly wanted to build an app like Nextdoor, it would cost millions and probably not be very good. Nextdoor’s business depends on the app working. It’ll be interesting to see what adoption rates are like once people know that the threat of all-out online Gentrification Wars is eliminated.
December 17, 2014
To promote his new album Gliss Riffer, for which he is currently headlining a world tour, Dan Deacon just released this new official video for “Feel The Lightning,” and as it turns out, pretty much everyone involved in the making of the video is from Philly (except Dan Deacon). Philly artist Andrew Jeffery Wright directed the video in collaboration with All Ages Productions and Body Dreamz, whose dancing is on full display here. We’re not sure who the human chairs are, but we’re just going to say, yeah, they’re from Philly too.
All charges against the three accused of this past Fall’s Center City gay-bashing were upheld in court this week, including aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and criminal conspiracy. Judge Charles Hayden said he was satisfied with the testimony he heard, including from Zachary Hesse, one of the victims of the attack, and refused requests from the defense that the aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy charges be dropped. The Philadelphia Gay News has the most in-depth account we’ve read yet of the attack and the case, including some pretty dirty fighting from the defense, who implored the judge to overlook the “hysterics” the case had provoked.
The testimonies of Hesse and witness Geoff Nagle, who was in his apartment overlooking the scene at the time, provide new details that develop but don’t in any way complicate the initial accounts of the incident. While there appears to have been some nitpicking about whether conditions were present to support criminal conspiracy charges, Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry was able to convince Hayden that the homophobic slurs used repeatedly by all three defendants constituted sufficient circumstantial evidence. Luckily, criminal conspiracy charges are easier to substantiate than hate crime charges.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what are the windows the windows to? Er, if it’s Philly at the holidays, the windows are often reflecting that soul back out the other way, in ways that veer between sweet and crazy, then back to sweet, and sometimes over to weird. The Instagram account @windowfrontsofphilly is busy documenting as much of this as possible right now, since the Christmas season is the time, more than any other, when Philly breaks out all of that window swag. At turns lovely and kooky alike, this one’s a fun follow, and God bless the soul who’s pushing this one along.
Previously: And Now, Your Must-Follow Instagram Account: @imbenjaminfranklin
And Now, Your Must-Follow Instagram Account: JinxedStore
And Now, Your Must-Follow Instagram Account: MutterMuseum
And Now, Your Must-Follow Instagram Account: PhillyAlleys
And Now, Your Must-Follow Instagram Account: @phillyhasjobs
In February, no less. To which we say: Aw fuck it, Manayunk. And aw fuck it, Mummers. You guys do you. At least out there you’re with people who can, er, appreciate you.