Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's been a while

I've been off the city for a while. I'm sick of being crammed in with a bunch of sweaty, cranky city dwellers. Still, there's a few things worth mentioning.

First: Team Monday. I work Tuesday through Saturday and have Sunday and Monday off. I hate it. Team Monday began out of a bad economy and my desire to make the second half of my weekend still feel like a weekend. Myself and my two unemployed friends now go on small outings either within or in close proximity to the city. So far we have gone to Long Beach Island, Bowling at Laurel Lanes, and Putt Putt golfing. Pics and reviews to come so you can start your own Team Weekday. In the meantime you can check our facebook page for photos and links.

Second: My buddy Bill started a blog. Bill is both awesome and proving to be a more active blogger than me. I will blog vicariously through him and link often. Check out

Friday, May 8, 2009

Another New York Times nod

I know, I should really be reading the, but the New York Times has such lovely pictures. Either way, they've been giving Philly the regular nod, first about the beer (see previous post) and now about the city in general. There's a great article detailing a 36 hour vacation in Philly. I feel exhausted just reading it, but must say that I endorse this article for two reasons. First, all the places listed here are worthwhile and fun. Secondly, I don't go to any of these places too often so I don't have to worry about lots of tourists getting in my way, ordering wrong and tipping lousily (is that a word?).

Stay tuned for a follow up 36 hours of how to hit Philly on the way cheep. Have any suggestions of where to go and how to not act like an asshole? Send 'em my way!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'll drink to that!

Pilsners were the beer in question in a recent New York Times piece lamenting the lack of beer options and New York's new baseball stadiums. Unlike Yankee and Met fans, Phillies fans have plenty to cheer about and so does the rest of Philadelphia's beer drinking public. Victory Prima Pils came out on top with the reviewer stating "It seemed to be alive in the glass, with wonderfully refreshing bitterness to balance the floral and citrus aromas." On a hot summer day I love a cold, crisp bitter beer and Prima Pils is a definite favorite. The brewing company itself is also great about giving back to Philadelphia sponsoring many local events (including The Print Center's Annual Auction) so that gets a big thumbs up in my book.

The other end of the state got a nod as well with Pennsylvania Brewing Company taking second place. Haven't tried their beer before, but I'll definitely be on the look out.
Check out the rest of the New York Times story here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Philly Car Rage

As a long time user of Philly Car Share and an employee of a fellow non-profit I was not that surprised at the new billing plan. I was also not that surprised at how the blogging public seemed to be handling it. I was, however, ashamed.

Do I think the announcement was handled poorly? Yes. Do I think there should be more transparency in a company that markets itself as a public service? Yes. Do I believe I have better ideas about how the company should be run--of course. We all do, but we also don't have all the facts. I think there are a few things people are forgetting.

First, to those of you complaining about how you only use it once a year--Philly Car Share is still paying to insure you those other 364 days. That is expensive. Philly Car Share is now much more expensive than taking a cab or renting a car every so often, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper than owning, maintaining, insuring and gassing up your very own car.

Secondly, when you're running a business--even a non-profit one--there is a need for a regular stream of income. When the economy, sucks grants dry up and the money needs to come from somewhere. You know how when you just buy a plain old bagel it costs 50 cents, but when you get it with cream cheese it's $1.75. You're not paying $1.25 for that lousy swab of cream cheese. You're paying for that employee to stand their and wait for that electricity sucking toaster, pull it from the tray, slap the cream cheese on, wrap it up and hand it to you. Likewise with Car Sharing--you're paying for someone to clean up the car after your kid smashes Cheerios all over the back seat, to talk to you for 15 minutes when you can't figure out how to start a Prius and to keep the electricity on in the building so they can turn on their computers to make the whole system run. And by the way, Zip Car is not the answer. The only reason they are cheap now is because they are crazy expensive in other cities. Once healthy competition is run out of town they will double in price. Ask your friends in New York how much they pay for a car. They don't know any better, but you'll be shocked!

Finally, the people who pick up the phone at Philly Car Share are people. They are your neighbors, they are your friends, they are your fellow Philadelphians and most importantly, the are most definitely not the people who made the decision to start charging you. Maybe the new charge isn't an economically good decision for you. Fine. Just cancel. Don't scream at the person on the other line. They aren't ruining your life, they're just forcing you to take a cab every so often. If you're that reliant on a service that a few years ago didn't even exist maybe you should just pony up the $15. I can't make that decision for you. I wish I had a few more days to make that decision for myself. I'm sure they will loose a lot of members. I'm sure many of those members will come back. All I'm asking is that you remember the last time your boss threw you under the bus and you had to take all the heat for it. It sucks. Practice a little decency and class up, people.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On This Day in Philadelphia Criminal History... has this really great slide show up right now of a history of Philly crime. There is over 100 photos and some pretty colorful characters.
Flipping through the photos I stumbled upon one man who's crimes were so gruesome I found it hard to believe I had not heard of him before. Gary Heidnik probably won't ring a bell for most people, but Silence of the Lambs probably does. Heidnik was the inspiration for Thomas Harris's fictional "Buffalo Bill".
At 4:30 am on March 25, 1987, Heidnik's home in North Philadelphia was searched and a world of unimaginable horrors were unearthed. There's a great article on Gary Heidnik at the New Criminologist website and check back here for future posts about those featured in the History of Philly Crime.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pay Up

Mayor Nutter can't be getting much love these days. If you're not upset about the libraries closing, you are upset about the pools. If you don't care much for the pools than you certainly must care about the fire houses. The fact of the matter is that like so many cities out there, Philadelphia is broke. Just like the rest of the American public, we spent more than we had and our line of credit ran out. The city is spending less and tightening it's belt just like everyone else. It's also coming after everyone that owes it money. I'm sure in these times you've been thinking about that guy who borrowed $20 from you last month and how you'd really like it back. Well, the mayor is thinking that too.

The mayor held a press conference outside of a lawyers' office on South Broad Street demanding that they pay up. Amongst the three of them they owe about $300,000. Instead of hanging his head in shame, this angered one of the men inside enough for him to come all the way downstairs and yell at the Mayor for using his name. He demanded to know if he was the only person in the city owing back taxes. (For your information, he's not the only one, but you can find out who else made the list here. He could spend the next year doing press conferences and still not get through the list. This guy just happened to be a block away from city hall.)

The mayor replied: "I'm not going to argue with you on the sidewalk - you owe the city money, pay your taxes," The guy then asked why Nutter was getting "upset," and Nutter took it all in stride. "Oh, you've never seen me upset," Nutter said. "So I'm not upset. Just pay your taxes and everything will be fine." Love it! The best part--after the press conference wrapped up, sheriff's deputies went in to serve the three lawyers with notices that if they didn't pay up their property would be sold at auction on April 2.

It is in moments like these that Mayor Nutter goes from being a political figure to a father figure. He gets picked on for wearing nerdy sweaters. He cuts back when times are tough. And, most importantly, he goes after the bullies who aren't pulling their weight. This is a man who took over the job from the incredibly corrupt Mayor Street (brother of Milton on page one of the back taxes list) and if that wasn't bad enough, the economy went into a tail spin. I like my library as much as the next guy, but lets all cut the mayor a little slack.

If you ever want a little insight into exactly what the mayor is going through right now, read the book "A Prayer for the City" by Buzz Bissinger (who also wrote "Friday Night Lights"). In this book, Bissinger follows around then Mayor Rendell as he deals with unions, crime, economy and everything else that goes into running a city. I always figured running a city would be complicated, but until I read this book I really had no idea. With every criticism should come a bit of understanding. And this understanding and sympathy is a little easier to stomach when you see the mayor yelling at rich guys on your behalf.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why I should have stayed a Lions Fan...

I grew up in Michigan during the era of Barry Sanders. Being a Lions fan at that time was a lot like being an Eagles Fan for the past 5 years. They were good, but not good enough. The team went downhill and I eventually moved to Philadelphia. The Eagles hadn't won anything, but there was a definate feeling of hope and excitment that is slowly slipping through our figertips.

This became most evident while witnessing fan reaction to the Eagles just letting Brian Dawkins walk away. There was a flurry of text messages with my football loving friend. I even posted my frustration on Facebook the next day. Good thing I don't work for the Eagles or I'd be blogging for a living right now.

Dan Leone, a six year employee of the Eagles also posted his frustration on Facebook and his outburst got him terminated. Now, I probably wouldn't badmouth my employer on Facebook. I am one of a staff of four and I don't really have anything to say. Although it was bad form (and bad grammar), Dan was in the privacy of his own home. He was posting as a citizen of Philadelphia and an Eagles fan. He wasn't posting on the teams blog or website. I'm not going to get into the culture of over-share. I'll leave that post to I will only say shame on you, Philadelphia Eagles. You're hemorrhaging players, firing staff and frustrating fans. I've never been this annoyed in the off season. Keep this up and you won't have anyone left come fall.

How much farther are the Eagles going to fall? At least if I'd stayed a Lion's fan I would know rock bottom and there would be nowhere left to go but up.