Much like Justin Bieber before him, Bentley M. Saul is yet another Philadelphia lawyer advertising on SEPTA (grad students, please send us your papers on why SEPTA is a magnet for weird advertising) whose name seems to dovetail with a particular cultural moment. Why he hasn’t gone for it and actually done an ad that actually says “Better Call Saul!” is something we’ll chalk up to timing. If his next ad doesn’t riff on the AMC show’s title, an entire city will be disappointed. This is your moment, Saul; heed the call.
Last year’s frugal festival that could, Five Dollar Comedy Week, returns today and runs through Sunday, with 30 brand new shows and edifying workshops that showcase the best and most bizarre of the local independent comedy melange, if you will. All shows will take place at Plays & Players on 1704 Delancey, and advance reservations are highly recommended. Here’s a sampling of what Abe Lincoln’s mug on paper will get you in this day and age: (more…)
While it’s true that the cameraman’s biking up Market Street THE WRONG FUCKING WAY is inexcusable, we like the way these two just got down to brass tacks. “Are you alright?/Yeah, I’m alright, are you okay?” should be put on all new City of Philadelphia flags in Latin.
While we do not have Kenney Fever the way so many of our politically progressive friends do, both the man and his campaign make some more leaps forward this week. Most notable among them today is, amid a growing field of new endorsements and such, Kenney putting out a new policy paper as we speak:
PHILADELPHIA – On Monday, Jim Kenney will release his first major policy paper outlining the steps he would take as mayor to create a more ethical, efficient and effective city government for the 21st century. This good government paper focuses on reforms Kenney would make to the city’s campaign finance and ethics laws, open data policies, procurement procedures, governing structure, technology investments, and budgeting processes. At the announcement, Kenney will be joined by his Policy Chair Alba Martinez as well as other members of the Kenney Policy Committee involved in forming this paper, including Ellen Mattleman Kaplan.
Watchers of the election will note that policy papers have been rare indeed in this election thus far. And with the deciding moment less than two months away, you may not see many more of them. Which is something that makes this pool of candidates notable, and not in a good way: With so many vying for the Mayor’s seat, you’d think that the candidates would stepping over each other to offer ideas, documents, papers, anything. Not so. As the election approaches, most candidates still seem preoccupied with having the vaguest positions possible while, in many cases, tamping down the reasons they’re obviously compromised. History won’t remember them.
Meanwhile, Kenney also gets the PhillyMag treatment this week, which is to say, a long magazine profile that simultaneously oohs and sniffs at his “earthy” roots/urbanist present while also articulating perfectly why he’s both a good and bad man for the job at hand.
On second thought, yeah, we’ll probably have to vote for this guy. Sigh.
We enjoy a complicated relationship with Wawa. Having grown up with the PA-based chain so that its hoags and iced tea have become a sort of (very bad) mother’s milk, it’s also been galling to watch them, over the last decade years or two, pull stores out of the city proper while at the same time splaying its branding all over Welcome America and many other things Philly. We’re not the only people to notice this, as “No Wawa In The Hood” so wonderfully illustrates. If we were to believe in corporate personhood, we’d say that Wawa is pretty much the type of person to move out of the city as soon as they have kids, talk shit on it amongst themselves but then puff themselves up when they meet people by saying they’re “straight-up” Philly.
How then to feel about the news that Wawa is planning to open a bright, big, new “sit-down” Wawa (is that a thing?) at Broad and Walnut? Okay, we guess? Like, that’s something? In fact, it is. If we know how things pan out in Philly (and we think we do), the new Broad Street Wawa could be a little antidote to all of the weird Philly has been losing at an alarming rate. Think of that intersection and imagine with us: Scores of UArts kids sharing space daily with the homeless, the middle managers, the union goons, the bike messengers, all of them enjoying Shorti®s. Okay, Wawa, you win this time: Perhaps even a stopped Sizzli® is right twice a day.
>>> HANG ON with Aaron Nevins returns, bringing with it appearances by all-around cool cat David Rees (!), I Am Santa Claus director Tommy Avallone, stand-up from Max Barth, and a panel discussion featuring Steve Swan, Maggy Keegan and Pat Reber.
RECOMMENDED: Since we first learned of its Kickstarter we’ve been anticipating An Honest Liar. Focusing on the life and exploits of famed magician/skeptic/writer/debunker/generally fascinating person James Randi, the doc aims to tell the story of a man who has spent his life twisting and exposing the way people view reality.
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK:The Divergent Series: Insurgent, more dystopian fodder from the YA literature sausage mill with Kate Winslet and Jai Courtney; The Gunman, a Taken-esque jam with Sean Pean and Javier Bardem which makes us think if it is good enough for them then it is good enough for us; Deli Man a history of delicatessens in the United States that makes us want to blow off the rest of the day and eat everything at Famous 4th Street; The Wrecking Crew, a must-see documentary about the LA backing band who helped make the greatest songs ever recorded (including “Good Vibrations,” “Be My Baby,” and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”) so great; and Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem, a haunting-looking Israeli-French drama about a woman’s struggle to get a divorce amidst a backdrop of absurdity.
We were just about to call bullshit on the entire week when “A Drink (Or Two)” by Philly’s “atmosphericana rockers” Oldermost appeared in our inbox to give us a much-needed mental hipcheck. Envision, if you will, a few weeks from now when the air is the perfect mixture of warmth and crispness and everything seems a bit nicer and bright. Why yes, we would like to read outside, thanks. Listening to this song helps us leapfrog from the wet unpleasant right now into these sun-drenched days ahead. Join us, won’t you? Oldermost’s new EP, It’s Difficult To Know Anything At All, is released on March 24th.
Last night, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia held a “Better Mobility 2015 Mayoral Forum” in which all the mayoral candidates (except Tony Williams) sounded off about transportation issues. Citified, who moderated the evening, has a complete breakdown of the event and the social media commentary it inspired. As Patrick Kerkstra points out, the most interesting thing about the forum is how it seemed to indicate a sea change in opinions about biking and pedestrian concerns from local politicians:
Though there were important distinctions between the candidates, all were eager to proclaim their interest and commitment to cycling and transit, all said they supported “Vision Zero” (the Swedish-born notion that traffic fatalities can be eliminated through better planning and infrastructure design), and all said that improved conditions for cyclists and pedestrians were important concerns for a diverse array of Philadelphians, in spite of some public perception to the contrary.
That’s a major political evolution over a relatively short period of time, particularly given that this mayoral field isn’t exactly replete with cutting-edge thinkers and urbanists. Long story short: bike lanes have gone mainstream.
With the imminent arrival of the Indego bike-share program as well as other factors ranging from new public space initiatives to the ever-growing legions of cyclists in the area, it makes political sense for local officials to embrace bike-related issues and look to which way the transportation tide is turning.
If you listen closely you can already hear the cries of “not my president” coming from Central PA, as the Obama administration has just handed down new regulations that will change how fracking will be done on public lands (private lands will still be a frack-for-all, if you will). The New York Times has more:
The regulations, which are to take effect in 90 days, will allow government workers to inspect and validate the safety and integrity of the cement barriers that line fracking wells. They will require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in the fracturing process within 30 days of completing fracking operations.
The rules will also set safety standards for how companies can store used fracking chemicals around well sites, and will require companies to submit detailed information on well geology to the Bureau of Land Management, a part of the Interior Department.
We’ve previously discussed the weird, shadowy ways that the fracking industry operates. So we’re guessing the industry isn’t going to be too keen on any additional governmental involvement. Furthermore, Governor Tom Wolf has already banned fracking in state parks and forests. But while that move doesn’t impact local companies that already had operating leases, these new regulations by the Obama administration will. So much like methane seeping from the unnaturally violated ground, expect some inevitable blowback from these new guidelines. Stay tuned.
Earlier this month, the Philadelphia-based retailer’s fourth-quarter results were up 12 percent year-over-year, and its stock was up 1.71 percent to $45.10 on Wednesday night.
Cramer went on record to say that out of all the retailers, Urban Outfitters is the cream of the crop.
“Urban Outfitters would be the company that now has the strongest fundamentals in the industry,” Cramer said on RealMoney.com. “It is a three-legged beast: Free People, which has always been strong, Anthropologie, with a fantastic new home furnishing look, and Urban, the namesake business which has gone from negative to positive comps helped by a really terrific new set of designs.”
Are we alone in hoping that this means Cramer is going to be wearing button-downs like this one on Mad Money from now on?
We now turn your attention to this Daily News infographic that shows what pension each of the mayoral candidates currently draws from the city…and what they’d get if they became mayor. It’s something to mull over as you try to figure out if you have enough scratch to keep your Netflix for another month.
File this one under Great Moments In Nepotistic Philadelphia Advertising, the classic Atlantic Transmissions ad that ran every five minutes during the 1980s when we just wanted to get the hell back to watching Bugs Bunny already. Andoh man if this jingle isn’t damn near Doors Unlimited-level catchy.
Each year, the Keystone Awards celebrates the best in news-gathering from across Pennsylvania. This year’s winners have just been named, and we’re happy to see an abundance of local faces recognized for their hard work. Especially noteworthy are City Paper‘s wins for Investigative Reporting (Ryan Briggs), Series (Emily Guendelsberger), Feature Story (Natalie Pompilio), News Feature Story (Guendelsberger again), News Beat Reporting (Daniel Denvir), and Feature Beat Reporting (Mikala Jamison), as well as other multiple wins from the Daily News — who really continue to clean up at this thing, wow — and the Inquirer in various categories. (You can check out all the the complete winners from all divisions here, and we encourage you to do so). To all of the winners we extend a huge and heartfelt congratulations. Let’s hang out soon, okay?
On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that the police officers involved in the December shooting death of 25-year-old Brandon Tate-Brown were cleared of any wrongdoing, DA Seth Williams and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey found themselves the focus of a protest during an appearance at the Lawncrest Recreation Center last evening. Some background: Tate-Brown was unarmed when he was killed, with the police stating that he was reaching for a gun that was located inside his car when the cops pulled him over — something that his family strongly denies. (This Daily News piece details the DA’s investigation and the unanswered questions that Tate-Brown’s loved ones still have). Supporters of the slain man seized the opportunity of Williams’ and Ramsey’s previously scheduled appearance last night to rally in behalf of their fallen friend and family member. Above you can see the footage that the resulting conflict, which led to 10 disorderly conduct arrests. Another disturbing aspect of an already very tragic story is Ramsey’s response to the incident, as reported by the Daily News:
As for the protesters, Ramsey said, “They got their little moment on TV.”
This Marie Antoinette posturing strikes us as being the most glib and dismissive thing said by a Philly public official in recent memory. But we suppose dubious honors are still honors, right? Ugh.
>>> In the most unmissable literary event in recent memory, poet Claudia Rankine appears at Temple University to share material from her recent book, Citizen. Featuring timely pieces that are enthralling meditations on race and society, the work is breaking out in ways that poetry books rarely do. Check it out, trust us.
>>> Do the Dark: Accordion Noir at Doobie’s is a candlelit, music-heavy affair that promises a “French cafe meets Hiroshima Mon Amour vibe,” words which are calling to the pleasure center of our brain. This starts at 7pm, but we’ve got a feeling it’s going to last forever. Don’t miss it. Did we mention the s’mores?
>>> It’s the grand finale of the Free Library‘s One Book, One Philadelphia program, featuring an appearance by Orphan Train writer Christina Baker Kline and a performance by cellist Udi-Bar David. Book it, baby.
We can’t begin to properly articulate how much the late, eternally great Lee Paris meant to our adolescent selves. The famed DJ and tastemaker helped us make our way onto a left-of-center path of righteousness that we’ll always aspire to keep moving down. Recently, the above footage of Philly’s long-gone punk/new wave scene from a 1986 tribute to Paris resurfaced and there are few things in life we want to do as much as to become part of the landscape this video lays out for us. Related: Our hair never really lived up to its potential.
By now you’ve probably heard of Starbucks‘ new campaign in which baristas write the words “#RaceTogether” on customers’ cups with hopes of kickstarting conversations about race relations. Right? However, the tone-deaf initiative is stirring more criticisms about Starbucks’ cluelessness than creating any real open dialogue about race. (Twitter hasn’t been this on fire in awhile). After reading Will Bunch‘s on-point article “Starbucks Wants to Talk About Race in Philly’s Upscale Mostly White Zip Codes,” we’ve been thinking a lot about Starbucks again, not only this woefully misguided campaign that attempts to dilute one of society’s most complex issues into a bite-sized nugget for you to digest while awaiting your Venti Caramel Macchiato, but the culture the company fosters as well. (We’ll spare you the rant about how indie coffee shops are superior as we’ve all been down this road many times before and we know that many basics need the Starbucks experience to, on some level, help them fulfill their Central Perk fantasies). So here’s where you come in. Head over to our Twitter account and hop aboard the #racetogethertothebottom movement by telling us what you think the worst Philly Starbuckses are and share with us all the details of your bad experiences there. And if your rant exceeds 140 characters, by all means e-mail us at email@example.com. We’re ready to believe you!
This December sees the release of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams’ attempt to make the iconic sci-fi space opera relevant again following George Lucas‘ terrible prequels. As fans of the original trilogy, we’re holding out hope that the new installment will be entertaining. And that’s pretty much where our excitement begins and ends. Having done time in the nerd journalism trenches, we can tell you that Star Wars fandom is more mind-bogglingly huge than you can begin to fathom. Enter Bellmawr, New Jersey resident Michael Fright. He has a simple dream: To construct a Millennium Falcon — the ship Han Solo flies — that is in scale with Hasbro’s 12″ line of action figures. (Fright has previously constructed several other large-scale, movie-accurate models from the films). In order to raise the construction costs, he’s started a Kickstarter campaign. So far he’s only raised $5.00 of the $22,000 needed to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (don’t ask), but maybe with some word of mouth he can accomplish his goal. The oddest thing about all of this? He’s not even the first would-be Chewbacca trying to build a Millennium Falcon we’ve featured on this site. Live long and prosper everyone!