December 18, 2014

All The People You Don’t Want To Be Mayor Have Scheduled Their First Mayor-Off

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.

The New Season Of Celebrity Apprentice Will Feature Not 1 But 2 Personifications Of 2000s-Era Philly Shame

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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.

Temple Expands Campus Police Beat In North Philly

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.



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Noontime Nuggetz: Relive Pre-FOX Channel 29 At Christmastime 1986

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!

Developers Say Boyd Theater Restoration Project To — Finally — Begin Soon

boyd-theatre 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.



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OMG Darrell Clarke Your Beef With Michael Nutter Is SOOOOO BORINGGGGGGGGGGGG

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

All Of The Money You Spent In 2014 Went To Paying Off Your Ex And Fixing The Highway

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.

3. Seravalli
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.”

Recommended Reading: What The MOVE Doc Can Tell Us About Race, Police & Justice Today

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.

Thanks Obama! Prez Pardons Old Meth Charge For Lady Who Ran Fumo’s Halfway House

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.

City To Announce Partnership With Neighbor-To-Neighbor App Nextdoor

NextdoorToday 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

Philly Artists And Performers Join Forces To Make Weirdest Ever Dan Deacon Video

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 Center City Gaybashers Upheld By Judge Who Actually Cares About Justice

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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.

This Just In: Cuomo Bans Fracking In NY

This is huge news for the State of New York, but what could it mean here in fracked-out Fracksylvania? In all likelihood, just frantic fracking straight up until 2017, when (maybe) something will (maybe) be (probably not) done about it.

And Now, Your Must-Follow Instagram Account: @windowfrontsofphilly


😃😄😀✏️🎉 learn somethin new every day! #southphilly #windowfrontsofphilly

A photo posted by Window Fronts Of Philly (@windowfrontsofphilly) on

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

Further Proof Manayunk Is Awful: The Mummers Parade You Didn’t Even Know You Didn’t Want

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.

MP3 Of The Moment: Black Landlord feat. Akire, “Christmas Party”

If the last 100 years of diligent and marketplace-selecting holiday song production have taught us anything, it’s this: All the best Christmas songs are just a little bit sad. A direct line of melancholia runs from Bing Crosby straight through to the Waitresses. I’ll leave it to Ken Burns to unpack what exactly that is all about (God, could you imagine Sad Christmas Music, An Eight-Part American Journey? I would watch the shit outta that!), but suffice to say that it’s true, it’s unimpeachable. As a guy who (I’m pretty sure) has donned the Red Suit a few times, Maxx Stoyanoff-Williams of Black Landlord knows this as well, and damn if his entry into modern holiday tune history isn’t catchy, knowing, and big time Holiday Sads. Built over a riff that sounds more like Unwound or The Grifters than, say, “Sump’n Claus,” “Christmas Party” details the dread of your average office holiday party and attendant hangover, redeemed only by the promise of maybe having hooked up with the person you wanted to… hopefully. If you can remember it all right. The very topical reverse-Cosby crossover is impossible not to take note of, sure, but hey, it’s been a shit year. This is the new “You mean you forgot cranberries, too?”

Maxx Stoyanoff-Williams of Black Landlord makes a cameo performance at this Friday night’s Paper Shakers’ Christmas Variety Show at Bourbon & Branch.

Philly’s Sapling Statute: Not Mattering Since 1982

Apparently, there’s a Philadelphia fire code that dates back to 1982 prohibiting naturally-cut trees in multiunit homes, which would basically prohibit anyone who lives in a building that is not a house from owning a Christmas tree. The code is a precaution against death by Christmas tree-related fire, which kills an average of six people a year. Obviously, it’s impossible to enforce this statute widely, and the responsibility to enforce it usually falls to doormen. Which means it must be enforced pretty minimally, because if we know doormen, they don’t usually object to anyone smoking a little tree.

One Liberty Place Observation Deck Will Almost Be High Enough To Escape All-Seeing Eye Of Comcast Tower

Talk of a One Liberty Place observation deck has been floating around for a while, but now it’s official. Montparnasse 56, the observation deck company (is it just us, or is it crazy that that’s a thing?) who have done similar work, apparently to great success, in Chicago and Paris, issued this press release yesterday announcing that in Summer 2015 they will erect an observation deck and open a restaurant at the 57th floor of One Liberty Place. Evan Evans, a Philadelphia hospitality exec whose parents have no imagination, will serve as the project’s general manager. Details, including a name for the structure, are still forthcoming, but it sounds like it’s definitely going to be built. Which means we’ll soon be able to eat lunch so high up that we can pretend the rest of the city doesn’t exist. Except, of course, for the one building we want to forget about most.

Bike Share Poll Results Come Back, CHOP, Art Museum Bring Home Top Honors

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Earlier this fall the city asked the public to suggest sixty bike share locations city wide. The Philadelphia Business Journal has the results of a recent poll that asked which locations would be most useful. The big five names, out of about one hundred total suggested, are: 30th Street Station, The Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary, Clark Park, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The reasons for these choices vary from the obvious to the really obvious, but they usually had something to do with getting to and from work, unsurprisingly. For example, 50 percent of those polled responded that the ESP is near their home, which reminds us of the yo momma joke about yo momma being so fat that at the lunch room at school she sat next to everybody. 86 percent of those polled said that 30th Street Station was near a transit stop, which makes us wonder where fourteen percent of you are at. For whatever reasons, though, the point is, bike share locations are coming, and they look like they’re going to be intuitive and convenient, which is all that matters. You can read the full press release from the city here.

December 16, 2014

The US Military Saw This Video Of A Drone Rock Band And Decided To Ask The Philly Startup Behind It To Build Them A Drone

A new program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Defense Services Office (DSO) called Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) seeks to offer a sole source contract through the DARPA Contracts Management Office (CMO) to KMel Robotics. What the hell does any of this mean? Apparently, according to Technically Philly, it means the US military (hence the acronyms) is contracting a Philly robotics company to build a drone. DARPA wants KMel Robotics, the startup formed by Penn alumni that’s known best for its video of a fleet of drones playing a cool futuristic rock arrangement of Richard Strauss “Also sprach Zarathustra” (the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme song), to build a 28-inch drone that can fly 45 MPH indoors. We don’t know what they want it for, but we hope it’s for a John Cale concert or a textbook delivery service and not, you know, the other thing the US military uses drones for.