31 December 06: But wait, there's more!

Squeaking in just minutes ahead of the deadline . . . you know how we do. Instead of one look inward and backward, we decided that two heads are better than one and went with the one-two punch of RBM & Steve Ives on the 2006 retrospective tip.

After months of shootin', talkin' & plannin', I'm proud to finally share the first set of people pictures -- Philly people in portraiture -- on da Skyline. It's a new take on an old favorite, the Philacentric photo essay. West Philly warrior chief Steve Ives is on the scene for his own Philacentric take, his look back on the year that was. This is it folks, say buh-bye to 2006, and say hello to the brave new world awaiting us after midnight.

To look ahead to the future, we're gonna look deep into the past, twenty-seven years ago when the Polish American String Band strutted their Mummer stuff in a 1980 Philadelphia.


–B Love

29 December 06: Usher in the New Year

Yeah! Yeah, yeah! Yeah!

How you doin' there? You good? Keepin' the soap up outcha coffee? You gotta rinse out the pot after lathering, else you'll be drinking soapy coffee, yo. Philly Skyline will keep your coffee clean, but soap-free -- that's a promise, a new year's resolution we guarantee we'll stand by. We've got a lot of resolutions for the new year, all with you -- our friends -- in mind. Like?
  1. WE RESOLVE TO KEEP OLD PROMISES: Just wanna get this out of the way first. Remember Circling the Square, the study of architecture on Rittenhouse Square? Remember the Great Cheesesteak Debate? Remember the Parking Garage Survey? We do. These previously alluded-to features will all be rolled out in the new year. The research is mostly complete, so it's basically a matter of organization at this point. But rather than unleash one vigorous wallop, we're more likely to ease them in one at a time, thanks to the fact that . . .

  2. WE RESOLVE TO BE MORE USER FRIENDLY: As the days have passed and Philly Skyline has grown beyond the occasional photo essay, we've stuck to our guns and written this mamma jamma in hard html . . . and at our own expense. Blog software makes what we do very very easy, but more importantly does two things we don't do: gives each new post its own link, and creates archives based on categories. While phillyskyline.com has technically always been a web site, not a blog, we're this close to making it a hybrid. Just as soon as we figure out how to get Wordpress rolling without messing up the work we've already put in, we'll have all the features you've been asking for (looking at you, multiple "do you have an RSS feed" emailers) and -- what a concept! -- a search function and errrthing. We're actually looking forward to this.

  3. WE RESOLVE TO CONTINUE THE BEST COVERAGE OF COMCAST CENTER'S CONSTRUCTION: Ever since Comcast Center was a One Pennsylvania Plaza twinkle in Liberty Property's eye and Symbolic Building of a City was the shortest lived mural in the Mural Arts program, we've been up on what would eventually become Philadelphia's, and Pennsylvania's, tallest building. The 975' glass tower is a column of confidence, a symbol of the world's largest provider of cable television believing in its hometown. Since this is Philly Skyline, after all, it's therefore been the item of our greatest interest over that same timeframe, and is why we update our Comcast Center section as frequently as we do, and is why we're proud to be the only site recognized by Comcast themselves.

  4. WE RESOLVE TO ALSO RECOGNIZE NON-COMCAST CENTER CONSTRUCTION: Meanwhile all over town, there are cranes and detours and dudes in hard hats building non-On Demand things. To the Murano, to the Western Union Building, to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, to the Target on City Line: we'll see you in 2007. Guess this is another old promise we need to come through on, and we will. We envision mini-Comcast Center sections for all these projects, and they'll all be a part of The Skinny, Next Grilleration.

  5. WE RESOLVE TO UP THE DOPE DOSAGE OF THE SKINNY: With a little help from our friends -- two leading ladies of the young & important Illadelphian community -- The Skinny is about to meet its makers and be 1, more dynamic, 2, easier to update, 3, updated more frequently because of it, loaded with photographic updates and 4, map happy. Michelle and Nidhi are two of our favorites around here, and by the time it's said and done, they'll be favorites of yours too.

  6. WE RESOLVE TO STAY SHOOTING IN THIS CITY OF NEIGHBORHOODS: The whole of Philadelphia is greater than the sum of its parts, no doubt, but those parts do make up a hell of a sum. The Philly Skyline army of photographic documentarians is in 2007 marching into Olney, Chinatown, the Gayborhood, Fairmount, Mount Airy, and yes, you too Port Richmond. We'll probably also make various stops in Northeast Philly and North Philly, maybe go check out Lancaster or Allentown, maybe dig deep into South Street or Castor Ave or the Schuylkill Expressway . . . it's all good, the skyline's the limit.

  7. WE RESOLVE TO FURTHER BREAK SKYLINE DOWN INTO BUILDINGS: Sumthin' else we've been doing on the back end here is fixing up the Buildings section of the site to be more presentable. More buildings and more architects in the new year.

  8. WE RESOLVE TO BRING OUT THE HUMAN ELEMENT: One of the things we were working on all this year was a portraiture project, to be a sort of personalized photo essay. To everyone who's participated: thank you kindly. The series is finally ready to roll, so just as soon as we stop yappin' on about our new years resolutions, we'll launch Philly Faces 2006. In 2007, we plan on kicking that idea up to the next level for an as yet unnamed interview/interesting people feature. It's a mayoral election year, so it could get real good real quick.

  9. WE RESOLVE TO STAY CRUNK AND HELP YOU GET THERE WITH US: You might have joined us at the Sidecar back in August, and you might have joined us up in Northern Liberties a couple weeks ago, and you might have our 2007 calendar on your wall right now, to all of which we say: thanks, holmes. In 2007, we've got some fun lined up and we'd be so happy to see you there. We'll let you know just as soon as the details work themselves out, but as a heads up: we hope you're not afraid of heights, and we sure as hell hope you eat meat.

  10. WE RESOLVE TO KEEP YANKIN' ON YOUTUBE: Oh technology, you magnificent mistress, you. As we do, we're gonna send this post and, well, this year, home with a video whose bandwidth is hosted elsewhere. New Years is the ultimate party, most definitely my favorite holiday. While it's fair of you to question my integrity by attending Phish concerts (28 of them if you're keeping score), I just have to go back seven years to the best New Years party ever, Phish's millennium* concert in the Everglades. (* - As everyone knows, 99-00 was not the millennium, but who cares.) Peter Jennings, rest his soul, introduces the band's performance of "Heavy Things" from the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in the Everglades, where 80,000 people danced under the stars and watched the most amazing sunrise.

    Peace in the Middle East, papachino, we'll see you in 2007 at the Mummers Parade.

–B Love

27 December 06: On death and on humps

Don't be misled cos the newsman said: James Brown is dead. So said the first techno song to cross over to the Billboard charts. And so it was, JB got on up to the afterlife for a funky birthday party for Jesus. Papa Don't Take No Mess . . . The Big Payback . . . Hot Pants . . . his 'less successful' songs from the latter part of his career are 99% better than 99% of all other music recorded. He died Monday at 73.

Gerald Ford was the only US President to have reached office without ever being elected. He was the president when I was born two years after the day he took over for a shamed Richard Nixon, and three months before he was defeated by Jimmy Carter. I don't remember anything about Ford but his clumsiness and his wife Betty and her rehab center. He died yesterday at 93.

Late autumn of 2000 was sort of the late autumn of the dot-com boom and dot-com companies' petty cash. Good thing I got in before the winter set in. My first job in Philadelphia was at Xlibris, the online DIY publishing company responsible for classics like "A Nazi Who Shagged Me" and some book whose title I can't remember but which was a collection of tales from one woman's experiences as a security guard at a discount department store (but not even Wal-Mart). Like any good pre-Fucked Company start-up, Xlibris threw regular parties either with pizza and beer in the office or somewhere out in Old City. On my third night at Xlibris (which was my third night as a Philadelphian), one of these was held at Rotten Ralph's at 3rd & Chestnut. I was there with my new friend the Draft Daddy (props on the Posluszny graphic, btw), talking to this self aware cool dude in shades named Reggie Branham. It turned out he wasn't just some chatty guy in the bar, but an IT guy at Xlibris who picked up the tab that night. He died Monday at 37.

The city's 402nd murder victim of 2006 was a former coworker of mine. I didn't know Reggie well, but I knew he was ambitious enough to juggle a management job at Xlibris, the Full Moon Saloon (the straight strip club in the Gayborhood), and later Pandora's Box, G-Ho's yellow bar at Grays Ferry and Catherine which is getting closer to reopening remodeled and which our friends at The Illadelph remind us still needs your help in finding a name. (We nominated Mellow Yellow and The Gentry, but they painted the outside tan and probably didn't appreciate the Gentry joke.)

Anyhow, Reggie. The Inquirer's Joseph Gambardello wrote yesterday about his murder at the Cognac Corner, his bar at 21st & Point Breeze in South Philly. To me, it sounds like that of the snitches-get-stitches variety, furthering the divide between right and wrong in the ghetto, and solidifying the point that if you think you're going to try cleaning up a struggling area, you're not going to do it at the expense of those running the streets in that area. See also: the Pearl Theater in North Philly. (Not entirely unrelated, Simone Weichselbaum has a story in today's Daily News which follows the story of a teenager from the Abbotsford projects in North Philly as he's faced with the decisions so many teenagers in his situation face: the easy money of dangerous hustling or the miniscule reward of hard work.)

Reggie Branham was killed on Christmas Day in his bar, which unlike most bars on Christmas he kept open for the folks who either had no family to celebrate with or who had had enough of their families and needed to unwind. I don't know how he spent his evenings, but I thought of him as a smart guy, local boy done good that liked to have a good time and make sure others did too. RIP, dude.

Well then on a lighter note, it's Hump Day and time for an Umpdate, yo.
  1. E-A-G-L-E-S: Can you believe these guys? Straight making believers out of non-believers, three weeks in a row on the road against the division. That's sick no matter how you slice it, especially you Hank Goldberg, stupid idiot ESPN jackass who says that because New York and Washington are "bus trips" they're not really road games. This guy is an expert because . . . ? Never mind him, and never mind Tee-Oh, the J Garcia Express rolls on. Even the Gov thinks they're the best team in the NFC right now. And why not? The Bears are totally beatable, and the Iggles owe the Saints one, so the Super Bowl isn't exactly out of the question. Fly Eagles Fly, and Jeff Garcia, enjoy those Gary Barbera wheels.

  2. NYC'S FREEDOM TOWER, NOW FEATURING A SPACESHIP HAT WITH A JOINT STICKING OUT OF IT, IS OFFICIALLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Wheeee! It's only taken five years, but rebuilding at the World Trade Center is now for serious. After loads of American flag masturbation, lame duck George Pataki and company took one last photo-op last week to lay the first steel beam, signed by thousands of tourists we the people. With the Freedom Tower comes the death of any thought of rebuilding the twin towers, which defined the New York skyline both boldly and subtly. The new World Trade Center, as we posed back on 9/11's fifth year reunion, is a bland, sterile, post-modern garden of throwaways by David Childs (Freedom Tower and 7WTC), Norman Foster (whose tower 2 isn't bad, but is dragged down by its other silvery glass neighbors), Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki that will forever remind us how 9/11 changed us. (That's a bad thing, people.) Peter Slatin's take on this is pretty spot on, HERE.

  3. LOOKING BACK WITH STEVE-A-RINO: Our VP of West Philly operations Steve Ives is before you can say "oh seven" gonna roll out his fourth photo set on da skyline, his retrospective on the year of our lord 2006. Check back later this week.

  4. PRINTS FOR SALE: Just a friendly reminder, friends, that our pictures are looking for walls to hang on and families to hang with, and if you think yours is that family and yours is that wall, here's whatcha can do: B Love's got some 11" x 14" prints hanging at Conspiracy Showroom till mid-January, so you can pop in there, 910 N 2nd Street in Northern Liberties. Or, you can buy Philly Skyline, The Calendar: 2007, available online right here in our STORE. Whilst there, you might also check out Charles Cushing's lithograph of the new Philly skyline, replete with Cira Centre and Comcast Center. If these aren't yet enough, we're working to expand the store to include 8x10s and 11x14s, and a little birdie told us a G-Ho retrospective is coming down the line in the spring.

  5. HOLLA HOLLA OLLA-KNEE: You Olney cats crack me up with your "Olla-ney". That you get three syllables out of a five letter word is quite endearing, though, and one of the many reasons Olney is next on our list of neighborhood visits. We're coming up your way in January, so if you've got some good insider tips (especially if you're from or currently live there), let us know.

Speaking of Olney, the base picture in the graphic above is a slice of the view from Albert Einstein Medical Center, just below Broad & Olney. This particular slice is looking southeast (past Jeff Garcia's sexy pecs) toward the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridges, the latter of which is nearly 10 miles away. Clicking this image below opens in a separate window a panorama nearly 10,000 pixels wide (it's 1MB in size), stitched together from 17 separate pictures looking nearly 270°. Keep an eye out for all four Delaware River bridges, the Fern Rock subway terminal, the Home Depot shaft off of the Boulevard in the Northeast, the Tioga Marine Terminal, thousands of rowhomes and a skyline that includes a now second tallest Comcast Center. Within a month, the city will have a new tallest building.

–B Love

25 December 06: Sunsabitches . . . Bumpuses!

Bing Crosby's not the only one dreaming of a white Christmas today. Have we even seen a flake this season?

The above Philly Skyline view is from Aramingo & Castor up in Port Richmond. It's a veritable who's-who of American chain logos, innit? Soon enough we can stick Comcast's up there. Pretty wild that it's that significant in the skyline and still has a good 200' to go before it's at its full height.

Heynow, it's Monday, so let's roll out a Monday Morning Merry Christmas.
  1. MAD PROPS TO MACY'S: When Macy's assumed responsibility for the former Lord & Taylor at the former Wanamaker's, Philly's department store legacy was again put into question. But, it must be said, Macy's is a company that knows its holiday celebrations and tradition, and as such it kept the Wanamaker's Light Show going. Not only that, but it's funded continuation of Strawbridge's Dickens Village by moving it to the third floor of its own store (in the Wanamaker's Building). And dig it: the light show's even got its own Myspace.

  2. AND A MONIE CHRISTMAS TO YOU TOO: Here comes a strange story from the world of commercial hip hop. Most commercial hip hop these days is just garbage, and most people know this . . . including old skool mainstay and 100.3 The Beat's (and B Love's cousin) Monie Love. Though the high profile morning DJ gig with Pooch (and then Laiya) kept her kids fed, a conflict had to be brewing in her head. Earlier this year, she made a post to her Myspace that hinted at this, stopping short of apologizing for working for a commercial radio station.

    So then Nas drops Hip Hop Is Dead, a power statement from a power player in commercial hip hop. Taking the bait, lots of the young artists pushing the garbage that's killing it cried foul and called out Nas by name, including his labelmate Young Jeezy on the Monie and Pooch show a few weeks back. The man who popularized the frowning snowman t-shirts asks "who is Nas to say hip hop is dead?" and pretty much laughs off Monie being from London, which makes her mad and leads her to side with Nas and say that hip hop IS dead. Just some drama? Yeah, it's drama, but it's an interesting debate when you consider that Nas is on both sides of hip hop history. If you put the line between old school and new school hip hop at '96 (the year DJ Shadow declared "why hip hop sucks in '96", by the way), it leaves Illmatic as one of the last classics of old school production. Though there have certainly been credible and even great hip hop records in the last ten years (Illadelph Halflife, Blueprint, Aquemini), they've been the exception rather than the rule, as was the case from '95 and before.

    Should you care? Eh, that's up to you. If you do, you can listen to Monie's and Jeezy's exchange HERE. Whatever the case, Monie is now no longer on Philly's airwaves. (100.3 The Beat's web site already has the show listed as the Pooch and Laiya Show.) SOHH sort of suggests that her dismissal was the result of the on air argument with one of commercial hip hop's biggest stars on one of Philly's biggest commercial hip hop stations. Michael Klein's Inqlings suggests it was contract talks that failed. Philly Skyline believes that this Jeezy thing was the straw that broke Monie's back and that her scruples just won out. She's still reppin' at Ladies Love Hip Hop, so show her some love and pop into Fluid this Friday night, 4th & South.

  3. MURDEROUS MILESTONE: On a banner day -- four total, including a guy who picked up a pizza delivery route to make some extra cash to buy his kids presents -- the city's gangsta-ass wannabes pushed the year's homicide total over 400 for the first time in nearly a decade. There really isn't much to be said about this other than "damn." People: please stop killing other people. KYW.

  4. THAT SWEET YULETIDE SYMPHONY: But we can't end on a murderous note on this most celebrated of holidays. We'd like to extend joyous tidings to all, even the most picked-on of buildings under construction, Symphony House. Regardless of how it looks (now or when it's finished), the contractors deserve a pat on the back for doing their job well. Congratulations on topping out, fellas.

This week we'll do the standard year-end wrap-up stuff and roll out some New Years resolutions that we swear we'll stand by. We're gonna send it home by Yankin on YouTube for our homegirl Monie, seen here in her 1990 duet with Queen Latifah. Ooooooh, ladies first, ladies first!

Merry Christmas, yo.

–B Love

22 December 06: All up in yo solstice

Twenty-two minutes past midnight on this twenty-second of December, we stepped into the cold unknown of a long winter. If Denver sends that nonsense our way (the blizzard -- we already got Joe Smith), we might end up with our own White Christmas. Philly Weather says nah.

Hey, hi there. Happy Winter. Now that we've had a day and a half to digest the classy classy casinos, and on the understanding that litigation will delay their construction well beyond the target opening date of 2008 for each, let's have a look at the two winners.

FOXWOODS CASINO PHILADELPHIA: Bleh. That's the initial reaction to this beast at Dickinson & Delaware. Its two hotel towers look Atlantic City plastic-y and the Delaware Avenue situation, between strip malls, the Riverview Theatre and Wal-Mart/Home Depot, is already nightmarish. It's nowhere even close to public transit. (Yeah yeah, there are Septa buses but they'll sit in the same traffic, and even though a lightrail down Del Ave is a good idea and is supported by Penn Praxis, its reality is of the believe-it-when-you-see-it variety.)

BUT. Check out the river side of the thing. It's got a New Orleans-ish entertainment zone on the large undeveloped pier, and it ditches the rotting piers in favor of a dock which could eventually support a river taxi. A public boardwalk also surrounds the project along the Delaware. And hey, it's got jobs and free booze.

SUGAR HOUSE CASINO: Here again, Delaware Avenue. It's not as bad here at Shackamaxon St as it is in South Philly, but it very well could be once Sugar House opens and the interstate exit closes. While I-95's Girard Ave interchange is being reconfigured, traffic in the neighborhood will take a hit. There's literally no other way around it. While on cars, good LORD check out that parking garage. That might exceed the one at the Airport Marriott for sheer mass.

The plus side again includes the free booze -- this is NoLibs/Fishtown we're talking about here -- and again the public amenities. Sugar House will too feature a riverfront promenade (which features a large swimming pool) and a marina, and it's designed by Philly architects Cope Linder. The development team is spearheaded by a real estate billionaire from Chicago, a city that gets its waterfront. Here's hoping he can parlay that into recognition of what's wrong on ours. And, for what it's worth, the developers of Bridgeman's View Tower, in their vision for a pedestrian friendly Delaware Avenue, have promised a pedestrian bridge from their side of Del Ave over to Sugar House.

. . .

Presuming the reasoning for the Gaming Control Board's selections of Sugar House and Foxwoods is to anchor opposite ends of an area that both citizens and officials agree is ready to be fixed, there's no time better than now to approach each thusly and try to figure out how they'll work in the long term vision for the riverfront. Keep an eye on Penn Praxis' planphilly.com to stay up to date on how you can be involved and how your voice can be heard in achieving the best Delaware Riverfront possible.

For further reading . . .

Foxwoods.com: official site of Philly casino buried deep in Foxwoods' corporate web site
SugarHouseCasino.com: official web site of Sugar House Casino with quality images of models and renderings
Design: couldn't be worse: Inga's take on the casino announcement
Who's who: today's Inquirer profiles those involved in Sugar House and Foxwoods, including Sixers Bozo Billy King

* * *

Elsewhere on this 49° wintry horizon . . .
  1. SPEAKING OF WHO'S-WHOS AND BILLY JEAN KING: Following the Allen Iverson trade and the Foxwoods announcement, Mark Adams said "fuck BK and the burger he rode in on." No doubt. Most people with brains would agree on all fronts, but like we said earlier, there's about 10% of the population who think the Iverson trade is a good thing. One of these 10 percenters is the Daily News' Bill Conlin, the crotchety old anti-interneter. Today's column features the title "Iverson was harder to handle than them all", barely touches on Iverson at all, instead opting for running down the list of 'difficult' former Philly athletes like Wilt Chamberlain and Scott Rolen, and then actually does end with this amusing rundown of the job Billy King has done as Sixers general manager:
    So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in summary, I give you 10 years of the draft since Billy King came aboard in 1997: Keith Van Horn and Marko Milic (whoever he was), Kebu Stewart (ditto) and James Collins; Larry Hughes (Larry, we hardly knew ye) and Casey Shaw; Todd MacCulloch (bad wheels, great voice); Speedy Claxton (an actual warm body, but just barely) and Mark Karcher (huh?); Samuel Dalembert, Damone Brown (Larry must have liked the name) and Alvin Jones (deep on shallow bench); Jiri Welsch (I'm drawing a blank) and Sam Clancy (an extra in "Apocalypto"?); Paccelis Morlende (I thought he was the cardinal from Torino); Andre Iguodala (renting A.I.'s franchise designation short-term); Louis Williams (mopup time looms); and Thabo Sefolosha (he's not easy for you to say, but he did land King the rights to Rodney Carney. Wheeeeee!)
    Somewhere, Ed Wade is laughing.

  2. PHILLY STAYS GROSS: The college of physicians involved in totally Grossing out the public resides not at the Mütter, but at the Alumni Hall of Thomas Jefferson University. Spearheading yesterday's hoopla was Mayor Street, announcing that funds were more or less matched to keep Thomas Eakins' master painting The Gross Clinic here in Philadelphia where it belongs. Leonore Annenberg, Gerry Lenfest, Joseph Neubauer, and (of course) Pew Charitable Trusts led the charge which also saw smaller contributions ranging from donors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Charles Cushing's replica painting. Kevin Bacon sez: you're gonna love the arts in Philadelphia.

    It's a great day for those arts in Philadelphia for sure, but one has to wonder: was this all posturing on Thomas Jefferson University's part? Maybe they realized all along that keeping The Gross Clinic in the Alumni Hall was doing this masterpiece a great injustice. The Art Museum has wanted the painting for itself for years and was thrilled to have it for the Eakins show a few years ago. Maybe they just didn't offer enough for TJU to part with it; TJU was well aware they were sitting on a goldmine. Understandably feeling slighted, TJU rolled out not just big guns, but big Republican Wal-Mart brat guns, insulting the decency of the art community and instilling a sense of urgency regarding this underappreciated, homegrown artwork into said community. And it worked. So to Thomas Jefferson University: I saw what you did there. Well played. Philly keeps the Eakins and TJU gets a pile o' cash to build new parking garages.

    But the job ain't finished yet -- there's still money to be raised, and you can help by donating large sums to the Art Museum's Eakins fund or in $2 chunks by buying "KEEP GROSS IN PHILADELPHIA" buttons when you see Charles and his replica Gross Clinic around town.

  3. THE CASINO SHAFT OUT IN PITTSBURGH: The Day of Casino Reckoning struck its hand down upon the Burgh on the other end of the state, too. While the winning license belonging to the North Shore's PITG group is not 100% bad, the fact that something that benefitted an entire city and revitalized a neighborhood needing revitalization and saved a desperate and dear hockey team from leaving town and taking its history (and jobs) with it did NOT win is nothing short of devastating. The entire city of Pittsburgh, including 26 year old Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, supported the Isle of Capri's excellent and privately funded plan which included a new arena for the Penguins, but watched the Gaming Control Board with close scrutiny to make sure no shady business would win Rendell campaign contributor Forest City's Harrah's proposal.

    The way we see it, the Rendell-appointed GCB overcompensated for not being able to award Forest City by spiting the one that its detractors fervently supported, instead giving the license to a group that already operates casinos. On cue, CEO and team legend Mario Lemieux the following day announced that the Pens are off the market and will now consider moving to a market that will support it, be it Kansas City, Winnipeg, Houston or otherwise. It's a sad day for our friends to the west, but it's even sadder that this sad day is the direct result of Pennsylvania politics that just can't ever seem to get it right. As they say, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  4. IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN A ROTTING TOENAIL? Yes there is, as a matter of fact -- 99.999998% of things covering the earth are better than rotting toenails, and brother, I'd rather see every last one of them before I see these rotting toenail ads on the teevee and on all sorts of web sites lately. Please: if you ever notice a rotting toenail ad on Philly Skyline, let us know immediately and we'll ban it at the source so it doesn't happen again. Honestly. If you've got some sort of fungus in your feet, you know you've got foot funk, and you should deal with it accordingly. So when you do, could you please tell your doctor to tell his medication supplier that they should save their marketing expenses? Nobody wants to see your crusty brown toenail!

  5. YOU NEED A PLAN IN 2007: And you can write it all down on your 2007 Philly Skyline calendar. Supplies are limited -- we've only got a few left -- but if you act by let's say next Wednesday, you'll have it in time to mark down your Mummer reminder. Make your purchase in our online store, and do it quick quick like a jackalope quick.

We'll probably be poppin' in and out this weekend, but just in case we miss you -- Jew, Gentile or otherwise -- HAPPY HOLLER DAYS AND GO EAGLES!

–B Love

20 December 06: Happy Happy Hump Hump

I'm sorry, did we say Happy Hump Day Umpdate? EH. We're getting there. Hard not to be amped up after the geniuses in Harrisburg went and took a dump on the citizens and hopes of Pittsburghers and Philadelphians. I mean, good for the Poke-a-Nose, but these casas de coins are for the birds. (And Jersey.) C'est la, I reckon. Onward and upward, then . . .
  1. ET TU, GARY PAPA? So much for onward and upward. Like a small handful of other local clowns who clearly did not understand Allen Iverson's value, Gary Papa spent last night's 11 o'clock Channel 6 Action News going on about how "if Allen Iverson had only seen this team for something other than himself; if he'd only been a team player, etc . . . then things wouldn't have ended the way they did." Even Jim Gardner called BS on him: "you're claiming Allen Iverson was not a team player?" C'mon Gary, you're better than that.

    Eh, it's behind us now. The Sixers have mad draft picks (and Joe Smith!) and the worst record in the worst division in basketball, so maybe Greg Oden isn't out of the realm of possibility. But until then, honestly, WHO CARES? Go Nuggets.

  2. PAT GILLICK, FINALLY READING PHILLY SKYLINE: Could it be? Pat Gillick's finally coming around to acknowledging that the Rookie of the Year / HR/RBI king / NL MVP is underpaid??? Imagine that; we've been saying that since we watched lessers such as Jose Reyes and David Wright receive contract extensions, Adam Eaton(!) sign for $8M per season(!) and Daisuke Matsuzaka get $50M just for having tea and crumpets with the Red Sox. Sign RyHo now, Pat. Sign Utley, too. DO EHT. Thanks, Daily News' Marcus Hayes.

  3. CITY HALL STRIP TEASE CLIMAXES INTO CALDER DISPLAY: Thank god almighty, the Calders are free at last! We'd mentioned it last month, but the scaffolding is now officially off of the top of City Hall tower and is almost completely off of the shaft of the tower, revealing the newly cleaned Alexander Milne Calder sculptures of Swedes, Indians and eagles. City Hall photo essay, coming soon, that's a promise.

  4. COMCAST: I'LL BE YOUR MIRROR. Sooner than the City Hall photo show, though, is our Comcast Center section, ever growing with its fancy fancy glass. We're at like 760+ photos of it since it began, and there is now the hard-hat-tour-in-the-fog show to go. Stick with Philly Skyline for all your Comcast Center photographin' needs, yo.

–B Love

20 December 06: State of Pennsylvania to residents of
South Philly, Pittsburgh: eat shit and die

Good people of South Philadelphia, welcome to your neighborhood the Foxwoods casino! You might recognize some of its backers as the guys who ruined basketball for not only your neighborhood, but for all basketball fans in the Delaware Valley. Yessirree, Ed Snider and Billy King -- bosom buddies calling shots for South Philly from their cozy digs out in Ardmore -- and their financing friends including Peter "Dockside/political contribution" Depaul have won a license for their Foxwoods proposal. Congratulations!

Good people of Pittsburgh PA, say goodbye to your hockey team, your chance to right a wrong and fix a neighborhood, and budding superstar Sidney Crosby, who already has more points than Wayne Gretzky did at the same age. Can't wait to see Sidney chowing down on some Kansas City barbecue? Then go visit your latest, greatest destination, the PITG casino on the North Shore, YAAAAAAAY! (Kermit the Frog voice on that YAAAAY.) One might say "well, at least it wasn't Harrah's" and one might be right. But where Pittsburgh has taken strides to recreate a desirable city, starting with injecting its downtown with activity and housing, it loses a major, major opportunity to not only create a new neighborhood, but embrace a struggling neighborhood cut off by highways and Mellon Arena.

Good people of Northern Liberties? Say hello to Sugar House, the other of Philly's two slots parlors. NoLibs, a change is gonna come.

(Big thanks to DMac for the heads up, to the Inquirer's PA Slots and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the coverage, and to WHYY for absolutely nothing. No offense Marty Moss-Coane, you usually rock our socks, but this is major news and should have interrupted your show.)

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Pittsburgh loses on several fronts, and Philly's riverfront gets two big ol' slots parlors with somewhere around 7,000 cars promised. Penn Praxis, good luck with that.

Man, this is a really shitty day for Pennsylvania. We'll prolly be back later today, and if so we'll try to tone down the cursin'.

–B Love

20 December 06: Slots, slots, you dirty filthy slots

Mad props to the Inquirer's Robert West, Cynthia Greer and John Tierno for that graphic, blatantly stolen from their well done Flash presentation on the Philly region's slot proposals which you will find HERE. Actually, the Inquirer's entire slots package has been put together well, and includes all of Inga Saffron's reviews as well as editorial picks (Pinnacle and Trump). It is HERE. And, while we're on the Inky's jock this morning, we'll also include this handy little graphic with brief descriptions and Vegas odds on each, in PDF format HERE.

Philly Skyline's thoughts? Well, we've stayed intentionally apathetic, allowing the good folks at NABR to do our fighting for us. But since it's gonna happen, and any second now honestly, here's what we think, in order of preference.
  1. PINNACLE: All told, this is the best of the bunch. It makes great use of the barren land on the riverfront in Port Richmond and is actually decent looking. We don't, though, think that it will win because it's already focused its attention on Atlantic City, where they're replacing the Sands with a billion-plus dollar actual casino, not just slots parlor. Plus it would have to contend with the I-95 Girard Ave exit reconfiguration for its first couple of years.

  2. SUGAR HOUSE: Fishtown fun for all, yeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaw! It has a riverfront pedestrian plaza, which is a bonus I s'pose, but it would probably have a feel not unlike New Orleans' at the Convention Center. That is to say: it feels forced. Still, it's more of a pedestrian plaza than we have there already, and if there's a riverfront development location that could be a catalyst for something good (despite over 3000 estimated cars) around it, it's probably this one. It's also less opposed than most of the other ones.

  3. TRUMP STREET: The biggest double edged sword of them all. It creates jobs for North Philly, but it creates a gambling hotbed for North Philly. It's close to the suburbs (and the suburbs' money), but well, it's in North Philly. It's mostly ugly as sin, but its updated version has a Turning Torso-ish tower that would be a new icon in a Turning Torso-ish (i.e. stand-out) location. It's got Donald Trump's name, but it's got Donald Trump's name.

  4. FOXWOODS: This is absolutely horrible, and no one in South Philly wants it. It's gotten the loudest opposition, it's gargantuan, and Ed Snider and Billy King are among the backers. If this wins, expect it to be half decent for about a decade, then bad business decisions will be made and ultimately it will be traded for Joe Smith and an Applebees.

  5. RIVERFRONT/PLANET HOLLYWOOD: But, for as horrible as Foxwoods is, Planet Hollywood is even horribler. AND it has Mayor Street's official endorsement, one week after he accepted their money on behalf of the city for putting on the New Years fireworks show. AND Sylvester Stallone phoned in his support of it. Do we really need any more Sly this year? Give it a rest, man. Everything about this proposal sucks. Really, really sucks.

For what these stupid ass slots parlors represent, it's incomprehensible that a Market East location was not one of the serious proposals. The Girard block at 12th & Market was tossed around for a hot minute, but 8th & Market is the most obvious spot, isn't it? Exactly halfway between the Convention Center and the Liberty Bell (i.e. tourist hotspots inviting tourist dollars), across the street from a huge shopping area, and directly upstairs from every last Septa regional rail line, the El, the Broad Street-Ridge Ave spur and Patco. DUH.

And yet regardless which two of the five proposed, each will be auto-oriented, with 3000+ car garages, in a time when Philadelphia has finally recognized that that is not the way to go. Philadelphia still has yet to recognize politics and business shouldn't mix. Here they are, your slots.

–B Love

20 December 06: Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh

Welp, today's the day we find out just how bad we lose. The whole slots/casino/license fiasco has been, not unlike the Mumia saga, a lightning rod for heated discussion that we'd rather not get involved in, but which we admit is really bad. We like Ed Rendell well enough, but table-less, slots-only casinos are just tacky, and in a state riddled with a history of corruption, its ugliness isn't even buried, but is right there out in the open. And, nowhere moreso than in Pittsburgh.

(We'll get back to Philly's proposals in our next post.) Pittsburgh has three proposals for one license:

  • A North shore spot between the West End Bridge and Heinz Field funded by a minority-owned group based in Detroit and which owns casinos elsewhere, including Las Vegas. Not horrible.
  • A Harrah's funded by an Ed Rendell campaign contributor at an already crowded (and Old Cityish) Station Square. Bad, really bad.
  • Isle of Capri, a fully-private proposal which fixes what the Civic Arena broke in the 60s urban renewal mindset, which guarantees a 100% privately-funded new arena for the Penguins, and which reconnects the forlorn Hill District (Pittsburgh's North Philly if you will, only in a G-Ho type location) by a redeveloped street grid with shopping and low-to-middle income housing. It's about as perfect a proposal for slots as anyone could ask for.

  • The Isle of Capri, to quote one recent gubernatorial loser, is a "win-win-win situation." It just makes sense all the way around. Taxpayers are relieved of much of the burden they'd incur with the other two, the Hill District finally gets a boost (a private funded one at that), and then there are the Penguins, the team finally on the rebound with two of the most exciting young players in hockey, Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin.

    You might have noticed in the news over the weekend that Blackberry Chairman Jim Balsillie reneged on his bid to buy the Penguins, because the NHL required he sign off on the agreement, two months in the making, to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Mario Lemieux is at the end of his rope -- he's done all he can to keep the Penguins afloat and keep them in Pittsburgh, and it's all revolved around a new arena.

    If Isle of Capri doesn't win the license today, there's a real good chance the Pens don't get a new arena. If the Pens don't get a new arena, there's a real good chance they'll be sold to a buyer who won't keep them in Pittsburgh. Suitors in Kansas City and Hamilton Ontario are drooling. If Isle of Capri doesn't win the Pittsburgh license and the Penguins ultimately move, hockey fans will be left with their memories of Stanley Cups embodied by the blight of an outdated arena surrounded by a sea of parking which is, more or less, the great white barrier to the big black Hill District.

    Pittsburgh needs the Isle of Capri license in so many ways. The North Shore group can rest assured they have other interests to fall back on. The Harrah's proposal, however . . . if Harrah's walks away with Pittsburgh's license, Ed Rendell is going to have to answer to an awful lot of people. Pretty convenient for him, then, that this particular license is being awarded after his final re-election campaign, isn't it?

    For further reading:

    Slots for Mario, an in-depth look at the Isle of Capri proposal
    Post-Gazette: [The license] is a turning point for the future of Pittsburgh
    Station Square: Harrah's details
    Post-Gazette: "Isle of Capri would be great for The Hill", by a Hill resident, Rev James Simms

    –B Love

    20 December 06: I was in the right place
    but it must have been the wrong time

    So I'm walking home from McGlinchey's up Spruce Street, right, and I notice this huge tractor-trailer turn off 17th and onto Spruce. I'm impressed by his maneuvering. In the time it takes me to walk from 17th to 18th, he's gone to make the next right onto 18th. Problem is, Center City streets are already narrow and hard to navigate for 18 wheelers, so he's having some difficulty, stuck in one of those "oh shit I'm backing up traffic and people are honking their horns but well I gotta get out of this no matter how many times I have to back up and adjust" moments. So he does. And he gets reeeeal close to this Mazda minivan as he's backing up. (HOOOONK.) He manages to avoid it . . . until he pulls ahead again.

    BOOOOM/SCRAAATCH. The back end dove right into the passenger side of the minivan. My momentary gawkin' friends and I all wince and drop our jaw.

    The George Carlin looking man then laughs and says "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!" Indeed, the minivan owner is nowhere to be found and will return to one hell of an early gift. The first reaction from the guy and his girlfriend returning to their Spruce Street apartment from the gym is "that's at least $2000 right there." The gaucho in black then says "he shunna been park there." ¿Que?

    Oh man, he's right: this guy's parked illegally! Err, well, a proper reading of that twisted street sign suggests as much anyway. Isn't this quizzical!

    The 18 wheeler has, properly, pulled over on 18th Street. The driver and his friends are looking at the damage trying to figure out what's next. (One of them's on the phone with cops who are en route.)

    The gaucho makes the point of telling them the minivan is parked illegally, and I agree. Understandably frazzled, the driver and his crew aren't really interested in talking to us, despite our offer to back up their side of the story. I notice that the contents of the truck includes a construction hoist and ask where they were going. The one guy says "well that's the thing -- we're one fuckin block from where we're headed and this shit has to happen. This fuckin city . . ." Whoa whoa, hey guy, I'm sorry your buddy just drove your truck into the side of a van, but it ain't the city's fault. I had to wonder . . .

  • Did he miss his original turn to be driving on 17th to Spruce to 18th? (From the Broad St exit of 676?)
  • Whose insurance is picking up that tab? Anyone's? Not the driver's fault the minivan was parked illegally.
  • Was the minivan owner inside the Great Scot grocery store across the street? (Wouldn't that be a hard lesson to learn: you live in Center City but don't feel like walking to the grocery store so you drive there and park illegally for what you think will be a ten minute trip, but then OOPS.)

  • ANYhoo, back to the drivers. They and their East Coast Hoist (based in Telford, between Lansdale and Quakertown according to Google) were en route to: 10 Rittenhouse Square! Looks like all that diggin' and fillin' back in and rippin' down Rindelaub's and shorin' up Rittenhouse Club's façade is not for naught. That hoist has gotta be attached to the side of something tall, so let's go ahead and presume it's for the construction of Rittenhouse Square's first real pomo highrise, even if it's got a throwback appeal to it. All eyes on 18th & Sansom.

    It's Hump Day and we're happy, so we'll be back in a bit. Today's the day the slots licenses are announced, and believe it or not, one proposal in Pittsburgh has a lot more on the line than any of our half-assed honky-tonks.

    PS: a big thanks to everyone who's written in recently -- things have been a little hectic down here in the Ho, but we'll get back to all of yous -- that's a Christmas promise!

    –B Love

    19 December 06: Bozo the King

    And now, a word to Sixers team president and general manager Billy King from Philly Skyline and probably 90% of the citizens of the good city of Philadelphia (the other 10% care about Rocky):


    Ed Snider's ego wouldn't let Pat Croce's ego buy the 76ers when he had the chance, and all Ed's got to show for it now is a 10 game losing streak and Joe Smith. Philadelphia 76ers, you're dead to me.

    Allen Iverson: Godspeed, good luck, good night, live long and prosper. Denver? Ehhh . . . how long till pitchers and catchers?

    –B Love

    19 December 06: Ohhh darling

    In response to Sylvester Stallone coming to town last night to premier his new film, packaged together with faith and fitness, I'd like to suggest that there is no better way than to start your day with a slice of peanut butter silk cheesecake and a black coffee at Darling's Cafe. It's your way of saying "I don't need your motivation, Sly." The coffee is black as the devil, the cheesecake is so good it's sinful, and none of it is healthy. Go on. You need this. Do it for yourself; do it for Philly. (Darling's Cafe has two convenient locations: 20th & Pine below Rittenhouse Square, and 21st & Spring just above Philadelphia River City.)

    Hey, while we're unabashedly offering up our endorsements, we'd like to remind everyone that we've now got a STORE where there are our 2007 calendars and Charles Cushing original prints for sale. If you prefer to do your business in person, stop by Conspiracy Showroom in Northern Liberties. Some prints are for sale there as well, and you can always shop for the stylish ladies in your life while you're there.

    Back in a few. Say hi!

    –B Love

    18 December 06: A walk in the clouds

    Remember that spring like weather we had like two weeks straight? (And then it continued again beginning this weekend and is going on right now?) But in the middle of last week, there were three days that broke up the string of clear and sunny and photogenic, instead cloudy and rainy and foggy as all get out? Well wouldn't you know, it was during that little island of overcast that Philly Skyline got its first shot on site at Comcast Center.

    In many ways, it's like any construction site: welding gas cylinders and wires, construction materials, hard hats, guys busting each others' rocks . . . But at the same time, these guys are fully aware of how special and significant Comcast Center really is. By our count, the concrete is now moving up to the 52nd floor, making it 817' tall, now taller than Mellon Bank Center (792'). Two more jacks of the hoist and we'll be above Two Liberty Place (848'). It'll probably be until January that the structure is taller than One Liberty Place (945'), though, as the concrete stops at the 57th floor, and the steel frame rises 99 feet above it.

    Steady as she goes. We'll have the diagram updated later today and more pictures as the week rolls on. Meanwhile, clicking that graphic right there will take you to the pictures of Wednesday's hard hat tour in the clouds.

    –B Love

    15 December 06: The week that was

    Say hey, how ya feelin'? I just want to take a moment to thank everybody who came out to Northern Liberties last night to celebrate. I'd also like to thank the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and their delectable product served up 12 ounces at a time, Iron City lager, for the way I feel this morning.

    It's ok if you couldn't make it out last night, though, because the calendars are available for purchase just one click away at PHILLY SKYLINE, THE STORE. (You can also pick it up in person exclusively at Conspiracy Showroom.) If it's good enough for J Conor Corcoran, Esquire, then Bubba, it's good enough for you and yours. If you click on Conor there, it'll launch the mini-gallery of pics from the party.

    Hope you don't mind, but since it's Friday and it's foggy (still? I don't know that I remember ever seeing fog last three days straight, and aw shucks I didn't have a chance to go shooting photos in it . . . looking at you, Steve), we're gonna call it a week and head for the hills. We'll be back on Monday with an intense hard hat tour of the Comcast Center site, 33 floors up inside a cloud. You better not be an acrophobe!

    –B Love

    14 December 06: Finally, some Thursday throwaways

    1. AI, SITTING IN LIMBO LIMBO LIMBO: All this pomp and circumstance and the Sixers STILL haven't traded the best thing to hit the team since the Round Mound of Rebound? What a joke. Ed Snider, you're a turd. Billy King, you're a turd. Hip Hop the Bunny, you're a turd. Philadelphia 76ers, you are collectively a turd the size of 21,000 people but only worth about 9,000. Philadelphia Phillies, you can send your regards directly across Pattison Avenue for making you less a turd (although part of that has to do with Pat Gillick's wheeling and dealing this offseason, which we can only hope like heck is not finished).

      On Allen Iverson, though, as we've said a thousand times, we wish AI all the best and we want him to be happy which, one would presume, does not include being told to clean out your locker and be benched for four straight games LOSSES and still not be traded. My god, the Sixers suck suck suck, and it's all on Ed Snider and Billy King. Looking for words of wisdom and reflection on The Answer? Try Bill Simmons (ESPN Page 2) or Pat Croce (Forbes).

    2. HOMELESS BATHROOM ATTENDANTS? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? Caught this on the Monie & Pooch show this morning and couldn't help but scratch my head. Ladies and gentlemen, legalized panhandling as you're zippin' up, brought to you by the Free Library of Philadelphia. [NBC10.]

    3. IT'S ACCLAIM ABOUT RAE: Did you see that W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W at Cira Centre last week? W-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-what the hell was that all about? Tell you what it w-w-w-w-w-w-wasn't about: Rae! Daniel Stern's latest restaurant is now open for business at Cira Centre. You've been thinking up ways to sweet talk the security guards into allowing you access, and now you don't have to. [Rae Restaurant.]

    4. PHILLY SKYLINE, LIGHTING UP YOUR NIGHT: Big ups to the Inquirer's Julie Stoiber, who more or less beat us to THIS STORY, which basically tells the stories of how and why the lights are changed on the trophy skyscrapers of Philadelphia. Think of it as an elaboration of the I Wanna Know we asked the adorable Sara Kelly all those years ago. She really went above and beyond, so I wanna know: what's she doing these days, anyway?

    5. DID WE MENTION WE'VE GOT A STORE? Well we do! Check your Quick Links on the left there, or follow your mouse HERE to see all two of the goods we're rocking in our online retail department. Right now we're Philly Skyline heavy (since we're Philly Skyline), but you can expect more things in the months to come. First things first, though, it's the holidays and that means the year is coming to an end, which means you need to secure your calendar for next year now.

    6. DID WE MENTION WE'RE HAVING A PARTY? Well we are! It's tonight and tonight only, from 7 to 9ish at Conspiracy Showroom, 910 N 2nd Street (directly across from North Bowl), but the calendars will be there during regular business hours if you can't make the party. If you can, stop in, say hi and have a beer. If you can't, pay the girls a visit Thursday-Saturday noon-8 and Sunday noon-6.

    7. PETER BOYLE, RIP: All right, unless Patricia Heaton goes on a killing spree, I promise this will be the last ever mention of the poster child of what's-wrong-with-sitcoms, Everybody Loves Raymond, but Big Pete deserves his due. As such, we'll yank on YouTube to close out this record setting day of posts on Ye Olde Skyline and put on the ritz with the late Philadelphia native's crowning moment in one of the best films of all time, Young Frankenstein.

    –B Love

    14 December 06:Philadelphia: River City!

    Meanwhile, down on the other river, ideas are finally taking shape. Penn Praxis' three-part series of public forums concludes at Penn's Landing this evening. Last night's session at George Washington Elementary (which featured an excellent fresh mozz-tomato-pesto sandwich) produced similar results to that of Monday's in Port Richmond (not Fishtown, B Love, that's why you couldn't find it). What you see above is an outline of the brainstorming performed by subgroups of subgroups of the 200 or so people in attendance. Tonight's is likely to have more people, and Harris and the gang will give a recap of this week's events. These ideas, then, will be applied toward the development of the unified riverfront plan.

    Matt Golas and his crew are doing an excellent job keeping PlanPhilly.com up to date, despite its tag as a 'placeholder' until the real site is unveiled in January. Looking forward to it, guys.

    Tonight's value session is at the Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing from 6 to 9 this evening.

    Which, coincidentally, is during our (all caps now) PHILLY SKYLINE, THE CALENDAR: 2007 LAUNCH AND OPENING PARTY. From 7ish to 9ish tonight, pre-game your night out in Northern Liberties at Conspiracy Showroom, the best outpost of original clothing, jewelry and artwork this side of the Vine Street Expressway. It's at 910 N. 2nd Street, conveniently across the street from North Bowl and Standard Tap (as well as Rustica Pizza and The Foodery, where you can fill your belly with sustinece -- we're not here to feed you, just to get you drunk). We got 2007 calendars, we got friends, we got booze, and we got a good time awaiting you this evening. Come say hi.

    –B Love

    14 December 06: Grumpy old bitties & the River City

    A big thanks to everyone who responded yesterday about the Logan Square Neighbors' Tuesday meeting about Philadelphia River City. The best of this correspondence was from an attendee known only as . . . Logan Square, and it went something like this:

    I live in the Logan Square neighborhood and was at the meeting last night. Things did not go well. Generally there is about 30-40 people at these meetings and last night there were about 300. Most from the Kennedy House on JFK - old, angry, and up past their bedtimes.

    The Daroff group did not do too good of a job with the presentation. AV problems only built into a restless crowd. As you'd expect the biggest issue was having 60 story buildings in the neighborhood (NIMBY), but there were a variety of much more thoughtful comments - including the "Sim-City" appearance of the project, the engagement of the neighborhood, the engagement of the city with the development, and importantly the development truly being WORLD-CLASS including going Green.

    There were some interesting revelations. They are interested in building a sound-stage and a media center to get media types back from the 'burbs. Rendell is clearly on-board and has been consulted. As well, they have clearly been working with Penn on their Postal lands and trying not to duplicate Penn's efforts....

    The big negative was this: they were asking for the LSNA support for a variance on the 125 foot limit for the 23rd street parcel (assuming it passes), but yet had no details on the buildings... They admitted they weren't ready to present their work in public, but needed to ask for the variance, before purchasing the 23rd street parcel... from what I gather. Clearly the neighborhood isn't going to issue a variance on a virtual building....

    I think the project would have been much better received IF it had been presented differently... ie, as a concept, rather than this is going to be a 60 story building, this one a 50 story building etc..... but, again, that was a function of the timing for the variance.
    Recall if you will our September update in which we chronicled Philadelphia River City (long before the usual media outlets, we might add). Describing the seemingly conceptual super sized development, we forewarned of the abominable NIMBY monster's insta-opposition. And right on cue (well, ok, three months later), the abominable NIMBY monsters teamed up to pounce on Tuesday night.

    While we admit that we were not there to witness the carnage, we've been to enough of these meetings to picture how it went down: mostly knees and jerks. The Inquirer's Joseph Slobodzian makes it sound like LSNA was there to consider approving the entire project, but as we understand it, the only parcel in the proposal requiring rezoning is that along 23rd between Cherry and Arch. JFK, you might remember from such skyscrapers as Comcast Center and the Sterling and Kennedy House (from whence many of the complainers came, oh-so-ironically), is zoned for big development. In addition, as the Daily News's Dave Davies reports, the developers applied for permits back in September, before Councilman Darrell Clarke's bill to impose a height limit around the Parkway would have affected this project in either direction.

    Is Philadelphia River City sustainable? Is it even feasible? Who knows. In light of the presentation, though, those questions should be secondary. If there is such a loud cry of "NO!" from the immediate neighbors, then the follow-up question needs to be asked: Why not? If there is anywhere in Center City that can support this type of project, it's this location. Right now between 20th Street and the Schuylkill River along JFK Boulevard, there are two items of interest: 1, a five inch concrete median separating the speeding traffic and 2, several separate rectangles of landscaped grass; neither of these exactly commands an air of permanence. The Logan Square neighborhood is, in a sense, an isolated wedge. The Parkway museums are great, of course, but in terms of a neighborhood, it's really lacking. In one fell swoop, the neighborhood will be given a multitude of new social/dining/retail/entertainment options, it will provide life along a stretch where there is none, it will bridge the CSX railroad tracks which have proven so controversial to cross, and thanks to the super-spacy people mover, it will even provide direct pedestrian access to 30th Street Station.

    As we see it, Philadelphia River City is at this stage conceptual. It's very very large, and it needs work. However, its size is no reason to inherently oppose it. Consider the tangibles it provides before reacting against some mythical sun-blocking villain. Oh, and don't forget: Logan Square is in CENTER CITY. Center City, you may recall, is the indisputable heart of a region that six million people call home. Center City is the place you go to, the place you see before you're there, whether on 95 or on 76 or on Septa or on Amtrak or on your bike coming down Kelly Drive.

    Opponents to large scale projects always talk about the Manhattanization of Philadelphia, which is crazy, crazy baloney. Have these people been to Manhattan? Have they been to the top of the Empire State Building and looked in either direction? Have they been to the Upper East Side or stood in the middle of Central Park and looked in any direction? Those walls of buildings have taken more than a century to build, and they're still growing. Philadelphia, and pretty much any American city save maybe Chicago, couldn't fathom that kind of development. It would take fifty River Citys, all across the city, to even approach a genuine "Manhattanization" of Philadelphia. It would only take one, on a stretch of land where there is currently NOTHING, to make a bold and proud statement that the Schuylkill River, that Center City, that Philadelphia . . . that this is a great place to be.

    –B Love

    14 December 06: That's just Gross

    You know Charles Cushing. He's a Bella Vista reppin', PAFA-trained painter whose work is all over town, most especially on the walls of the civic and proud. His turn-of-the-millennium collabos with Perry Milou (of South Street, Old City and Center City) are sold in print shops across the city and, incidentally, make the pizza at Gianfranco's taste even better.

    You know The Gross Clinic. At least you do now. Arguably Thomas Eakins' masterpiece, the breakout painting was tentatively sold by its owner, Thomas Jefferson University, to Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton last month for her Wal-Mart museum in Arkansas, causing an outrage among art snobs and the generally civic engaged.

    Now, the two are being mentioned in the same breath. Not unlike Radiohead covering Neil Young, Charles is reproducing The Gross Clinic -- out of his own pocket -- to raise awareness and raise money to keep it here in Philadelphia, where it belongs. As we mentioned last week, Charles is also a part of the team selling buttons reading "KEEP GROSS IN PHILADELPHIA", their proceeds going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art's fund to do just that. It's pretty great: you can donate as much as you want to the PMA's fund, and if the effort falls short and the painting is moved, you can get your money back. I mean if you don't get behind something Kevin Bacon gets behind, what will you get behind? [PMA: Keep Eakins.]

    As for Charles' reproduction, you can catch him in his environment at the lobby of 2 Penn Center. (Directly across 15th Street from City Hall -- it's the one on the JFK Blvd side, not the Market St side. Enter from the plaza.) He'll be working on it for the next couple of weeks there, occasionally being removed for use at potential rallies. His intent is to sell it and apply a large portion of the sale toward the same fund.

    While I was talking with Charles at 2 Penn Center yesterday, a couple leaving their office upstairs stopped and talked quietly among themselves before asking Charles, "wait, that's not the original, is it?" That's a pretty significant and flattering mix-up; it's a testament to Charles, but even more to the importance of The Gross Clinic. The Inquirer's Stephan Salisbury (who's becoming a regular 'round these parts) had a nice write-up on Charles' efforts in Tuesday's Inquirer.


    Charles has also recently produced a painting of the Philly Skyline featuring its newest landmark, Cira Centre, and its other one which isn't even yet finished, Comcast Center. It's the first of its kind in the area, and now you can buy it . . . (Rod Roddy voice) in the Philly Skyline online store!

    Can you believe it's actually here??? We can't either. Soon to replace the long-since-obsolete "news" dealie in the site's navigation header, our Store is ready to roll with its first two items, Charles Cushing's new Philly Skyline print and . . . (another segue alert)

    (Rod Roddy voice again) A NEW CAR! Dur. Just kidding . . . it's our NEW CALENDAR! Yessirree Bob Barker, da skyline's got its own two-ought-ought-seven calendar with original photos, zingadelic commentary and both Daryl Hall's AND John Oates' birthdays. Seriously: you need some organization anyway, so how better than to put a dozen prints on your wall for one low cost? How do you do that? Why, just visit the ALL NEW


    If you've an aversion to buying things online (what is it, 1998?), then just head out NoLibs way this evening and buy one in person. You'll eliminate the shipping fee, you'll hang with all the cool kids, and you might even get a free beer out of it.


    –B Love

    14 December 06: Look out below

    Getcha hard hat, getcha popcorn ready and strap on your harness. There's gonna be an all out assault on this foggy Thursday. There's a million and one things to roll out today, but not least is the reminder that tonight's the night of the Northern Liberties chronological crush -- our 2007 calendar launch and opening party is at Conspiracy Showroom from 7 to 9ish. Back shortly.

    –B Love

    13 December 06: It's a party and you're invited

    That's what's up. Tomorrow night, 7 to 9, or maaaaybe a tad later if you're going to Penn's Landing for the third and final riverfront value session.

    This week's Hump Day Umpdate will be an abridged one later on, if one happens. Please bare with us, and enjoy this commercial break as we prepare our own commercial endeavour, the Philly Skyline online store to go with the Philly Skyline real life calendar. More news at 11.

    –B Love

    PS: If you were able to make it to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association's presentation on Philadelphia River City, please drop me a line, as I was unable to. Grazi!

    11 December 06: Fare thee well now

    Let your life proceed by its own design, Allen Iverson.

    Hi friends, and happy Monday. This week's Monday Morning Looking Up may amount to little more than a bulletin board announcement, but it's an important one all the same. We'll get to that in a moment, but at the forefront of my mind today is, like so many heavy hearted Philadelphians today, The Answer, #3, A to the I, the first reason I loved Philly sports, Allen Iverson.

    I moved to Philadelphia in November 2000, when the Phillies were still a last place team, before Donovan McNabb was a hero and well before TO was a glimmer in Eagles fans' eyes. The 76ers were making their run with Larry Brown running the show. As the spring rolled around and it was clear that the Eastern Conference was theirs for the taking, I was settling into my digs at 21st & Fitzwater, where I had a rooftop perch with a clear view of the PECO Building's crown lights. Nine times out of ten they annoyed me to no end, but in June 2001, it was with a lot of pride that I watched it yell "BEAT LA, GO SIXERS!" just like Pat Croce's banner on the Walt Whitman Bridge. Through the madness, Allen Iverson was the face and heart of the team.

    I'll never forget the day of Game 1 of the Finals. During my lunch break that day, the SEIU local (janitors union) held a rally at the Liberty Bell attended by Jesse Jackson. I thought what the hell and went to see him speak. What I got out of that was "rah rah janitors" (which brought a couple of amens and a couple hoots) and "go Sixers!" (which brought the house down -- he name dropped Allen Iverson, Eric Snow and Dikembe Mutombo). That night was even better, when Allen drilled that three and stepped over that punk Tyronn Lue on his way to 48 and the Sixers' only victory of the series. After watching the game in a packed out O'Neal's, I walked up South Street the whole way home, high fiving and hugging strangers like they'd just won the whole thing.

    They didn't, but that night was the perfect taste of Sixers excitement. And alas, it's dwindled little by little ever since. First Mutombo left. Then Larry. Then Snow. Then Pat Croce. In that same timeframe, the decisions made by management (particularly GM Billy King but including chairman Ed Snider), from hiring and firing and still paying three coaches to taking on an old and overpaid Chris Webber, have slowly killed the Sixers.

    Once Allen Iverson is traded, they will have hit rock bottom, and the only way left is up. So to Allen Iverson, I wish all the best. He's done everything he possibly could with the Sixers, so in the tradition of Charles Barkley, may he join a winning team and head back to the playoffs. Because as long as he's playing for this squad, that won't happen. It's a Philly thing? Durrrrrrrrr.

    For an even more impassioned diatribe, I'd like to turn it over to my good friends at The Illadelph.

    * * *

    1. THE DELAWARE RIVERFRONT AND YOU: Tonight's the night to get off ye olde schneid, as the first of Penn Praxis' riverfront forums Value Sessions takes place at Saint Anne's Social Hall at Memphis & Tucker in Fishtown, 6pm sharp. Don't forget to register online ahead of time. The next one is Wednesday at George Washington Elementary School, 5th & Federal in South Philly, and the final one is Thursday at the Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing. The timing of that last one is unfortunate in terms of scheduling conflicts, for you see . . .

    2. PHILLY SKYLINE: THE CALENDAR 2007 LAUNCHES: Thursday evening from 7 to 9. That's right folks, we got the hard copies to prove it and, just for you, they're a mere fifteen beans. For only $15 US, you can hang on your wall what you'd otherwise only ever view right now, on your computer monitor, where your eyes might go buggy and your brain might get tired. Thanks to the lovely ladies of Conspiracy Showroom, we've got a great space for calendars and booze, the best compatibility this side of Delaware Avenue. Plus it's a Thursday happy hour, conveniently located across the street from both Standard Tap and North Bowl. If you ask nicely, we might extend the party a half hour or so so you can make both the final Riverfront Value Session AND the launch party. 910 N 2nd Street is the place to be, 7-9pm Thursday night in Northern Liberties. Come see us!

    3. BIG DEVELOPMENT VS LITTLE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: In what is sure to be a laff-a-minnit, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association's meeting tomorrow evening features a presentation on the Philadelphia River City project, which we announced back in September. We'll reserve judgment until after the meeting. [Logan Square Neighbors.]

    4. ODE TO PORK: In what has very little to do with Philly -- well actually, there IS a featured scrapple cameo -- I'd like to thank my West Philly homegirl Mars for calling to my attention Flickr user Mandydale's important essay 30 Days of Pork. It is tear-jerkingly beautiful and moving. Bacon, chops, prosciutto, pulled pork . . . it's all here. Thank you, Mandydale. Thank you. [30 Days of Pork.]
    And that's what's up on this Monday of Mondays. Meetings, parties, civic engagement, shilling, calendars and booze. What's not to love?

    –B Love

    11 December 06: The wild wild Southwest

    Here we go, here we go. The great Philly Skyline southwest sojourn goes live effective right now this minute. Holla. The duo Eastwick neighborhood tour / John Heinz Wildlife Refuge trek is now ready for consumption by clicking that graphic there. Nobody promised it would be pretty, but it's not BAD bad.

    It's kind of fascinating that Eastwick didn't really have a chance to fully blossom into the type of neighborhood you find all over the city -- tight knit, proud to represent -- before Southwest Philly started souring from suburban flight. It's additionally interesting in that the physical makeup of Eastwick represents a certain niche of time, the 1950s, in its very post-WWII autocentricity while maintaining a pastiche of old Philadelphia, namely the rowhomes and the trolleys.

    Anyhow, check that out, won't ya?

    We'll be back on the scene a little later with a Monday Morning Lookin' Up bearing some important announcements.

    –B Love

    8 December 06: U R HERE

    What a week, holy moly. Barkeep: Bushmills, rocks, double, quick.

    In case you're in need of direction, follow that finger above to your happy place. That asphalt map mural is compliments of the cool kids at Penrose Middle School in Eastwick, Southwest Philly. That neighborhood's taking center stage this weekend just as soon as the Hs and Ts can be put together with the Ms and Ls. (Bee Love you should install Wordpress, it makes all that shit really easy!) Yeah, it prolly does, but the Philly Skyline staff is a a particular bunch, unintentional luddites sometimes.

    Anyhow that's on its way, but on the events calendar right now, you should know about these things worth your time:

    DIVINE LORRAINE & YARDS, TOGETHER FOR YOU: Sixty photographers, including John, present their pictures of and from the Divine Lorraine with an opening reception from 3-6 Saturday at Yards Brewery, 2439 Amber Street up Kenzo way. [LINK.]

    WHITE DOG'S GREEN BUILDING TOUR: Forty beans for coffee, lunch, lecture and LEED. [LINK.]

    ARCHITECTURE TOURS: These guys are always giving interesting walking tours, but this weekend's a heavy hitter, with art deco, golden age hotels, City Hall and Rittenhouse Square on the itinerary. [LINK.]

    RIVERFRONT VALUE SESSIONS: These are the Penn Praxis forums being hosted in Fishtown, South Philly and Penn's Landing, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week, respectively. [LINK.]

    Y'know, looking again at that asphalt mural map, it looks like someone dropped their gum on Chester County, but we've received word that it's actually the world's largest mushroom growing in Kennett Square, and if you eat it, YOU'LL BLOW YOUR FUNKY MIND, MAAAAAAAAAAAN.

    –B Love

    7 December 06: My humps they got you

    While we realize the base of that picture resembles an ad for DeVry . . . it's actually a sample of what's in store for 2007 at Philly Skyline.
    1. 2007 AT PHILLY SKYLINE, YOU SAY? Yessir, 2007 at Philly Skyline, and you can follow along at home with our . . . brand spankin' new calendar! An event is being planned as we speak, and we think it'd be grand if you can stop by. Target date: next Thursday the 14th. Target neighborhood: Northern Liberties (sorry G-Ho). Target details: soon. Got some finalizing to finalize, but when it's finalized, we'll do the who what when where here.

    2. YO CAMERA'S SO WIDE, WHEN SHE BACKS UP SHE BEEPS: Ohhhhhh BABY. The permanent arsenal is growing, so watch out Iran. A Tamron F4.5 11-18mm lens (for Canons) has promised to bring a new array of wide-angle shots to your friendly Philly Skyline. Matter of fact, it's already in in that photo up above, as well as on Page 2 of the Comcast Center section.

    3. FAB 5 PHILLIES: Lawd have mercy, new-skool Pat Gillick pulled an old-skool Pat Gillick! To quote the inimitable Harry Dunn: "Just when I think you couldn't be any dumber, you go and do something like this . . . and totally redeem yourself!" Seriously: Gavin "you don't even KNOW how jealous I am of Cole Hamels" Floyd and Gio "eh who cares, the minors are all the same" Gonzalez for an all-star pitcher who throws for 200 innings a season??? LET'S GO PHILS! Now let's bundle Lieber, Rowand, either Bourn or Roberson and a draft pick and send them all to someone trying to unload a quality centerfielder. Ben seems to think Vernon Wells is a good idea. We agree.

    4. PAY TO PL. . . AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA: You can't make this stuff up. The very same week casino investor Peter DePaul (the guy to blame for Dockside) was fined $200k by the state for over-donating to political campaigns and the very same week his brother Milton was indicted for mad corruption, and a week before Michael Nutter and filmmaker Tigre Hill host a screening of Hill's The Shame of a City about Street's 2003 election race vs Sam Katz, Mayor Street announced that the not-in-existence Riverwalk Casino, the ABSOLUTE WORST of the five casino proposals, has donated $50,000 for the city sponsored New Year's Fireworks.

      First of all, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Secondly, Ha Ha Ha. Thirdly, haaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwww. He's not serious, is he?
      "The City of Philadelphia, through the Penn's Landing Corporation, has a contract with these people. They're sitting on a city site. So we don't think it's a problem."
      Dun da da dun-dun, DUN DUN!

      Philly Skyline has taken a decidedly non-stance stance on the casinos, but if we had to rate them on appearance and relationship to the CITY of Philadelphia, we'd go something like Sugar House → Pinnacle → → → . . . . . . . oh god I can't even finish this thought the casinos suck so bad. It's like picking your favorite turd. "No way dude, corn is SO much better than spinach!"

      With this Riverwalk fireworks nonsense right out there in the open, is there any way it possibly CAN win a license? ("It's Philadelphia, is there any way it can't?") Guess we'll find out in two weeks. [KYW.]

    5. WHITE DOG, GREEN BUILDINGS: As if their burgers weren't reason enough to love the lovably left White Dog Cafe, they're sponsoring a tour of LEED-certified buildings this weekend. Forty clams'll get you a trolley ride to the Navy Yard and Cira Centre, as well as coffee and lunch. (What, no stop at Comcast Center?) Starts at 9:30am on Saturday and meets at the White Dog, 34th & Sansom in University City.

    6. YEP, UNIVERSITY CITY: The same University City that Jeremy Burger is rockin' hard and rockin' fresh right now in our neighborhoods section. Check the tour HERE or just patiently read till the end, after which you'll see the graphic that links to the same place.

    7. THE PICTURES OF EASTWICK: That's the other hood du jour, Southwest Philly's answer to the ongoing struggle between urban blight and the space race. (WTF you talkin' bout, Bee Love?) I'm talkin' bout Eastwick, Southwest Philly, coming live and direct let's say first thing tomorrow. Fresh for Friday, you know how we roll.

    8. WHEN I'M DANCING IN THE SHOW TONIGHT: Or rather, dancing in the free show tomorrow at noon at World Cafe Live. The Brothers Ween and bassist Dave Dreiwitz will be joining Chris Harford for XPN's Free Fridays at Noon show, with promise to play a couple of Ween tunes. Since they're free, tickets are limited, so get thee to XPN's signup asap if you wanna go.

    Seems like a good enough segue to close it on out with this, uh, interesting clip of an admittedly stoned Dean & Gene on Lifetime Television from 1994 singing about the greatest city in the world -- the one where brand new movie theaters have gun fights like the wild wild west!

    –B Love

    7 December 06: Are you serious?

    Remember a long time ago (seems like a decade ago), when Magic Johnson was supposed to build Jump Street, the movie theater complex that everyone said was going to be a great catalyst in the comeback of North Philly? And then he never did? And then Kravco also did not? And then in stepped Bart Blatstein with his big local money and his incredible local architects Erdy-McHenry to actually do it? The picture above was taken a year ago, November 2005, while Avenue North was under construction. Pay attention to the banner. (It's okay if it makes you want to put on some Public Enemy.)

    Okay then, remember a long time ago (Monday, three whole days ago) when we proffered that, thanks to the opening of the Pearl Theater at Avenue North, North Philly's nightlife got a lot less dangerous? BZZZZZZZZZZ. It took North Philly's finest gangsta-ass wannabes TWO DAYS to shoot the place up. If you can stomach the insulting 14 second Kelly Clarkson supported Ford ad, Channel 6 has the video segment from last night's news HERE.

    What can anybody really say about this but that it's disgusting? Everybody wonders whether Temple will be able to University City-fy the once grand North Broad Street and make it a better, more attractive, safer place than the reputation North Philly's thugs have made for it in the past two decades. Well when the most ambitious, innovative and promising (shut up, I know there's a Qdoba there!) thing to open on the Ave in ages is wrapped up in police tape two freaking nights after its gala opening, it's easy to see just how steep that uphill climb is. Oy vey. On a related note, the Inquirer's excellently done, Flash-based MURDER MAP has been updated to include all of November. It is HERE.

    The Daily News has a story (contributed to by Will Bunch) in today's paper that recaps last night's events, but also offers up this quote:
    Rich Ford, of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, watched hordes of adolescents yell and shove one another outside the complex, and then questioned the wisdom of putting a theater in North Philly.

    "This is not Center City or Manayunk," he said. "It's the heart of North Philadelphia. This place is going to draw a multitude of young kids from all over, and these kinds of events will probably be ongoing at this location."

    Mr Ford, I realize you were probably caught up in the passion of the moment, since you were there and all, but to just throw your hands up like that is the kind of defeatist outlook that at least partially contributed to North Philly's citywide perception of a drug and gang fueled post-apocalyptic wasteland. Do you not WANT a viable option for the decent people of North Philly and, HI?, Temple students to participate in on a Wednesday night?

    I can't think that Mr Ford can speak for all of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, not only because his name is not listed on Men United's web site, but because a "Better Philadelphia" has no place for a "things are bad and will only get worse" attitude. Here's hoping that the chairmen of Men United come out with a statement that overrides one man's opinion. Avenue North is a great thing for everyone in North Philly, not just Temple students. And, Avenue North had zero to do with the shooting, and its proximity to the young people who keep bad stereotypes in perpetuity should not cannot allow Avenue North to fail.

    * * *

    I know who has University City-fied, though: Philly Skyline! That's right, for the one-time low fee of zero, you can get some UCity up in your life by clicking the graphic below. Jeremy Burger took to the UCity streets over the past several months, and his results are presented all nice and orderly for us.

    Our desk is a mess, so here's what we're going to do on the name of disjointed organization (like that?): we're gonna pick these papers up one by one and expound on them one by one. Think of it as a Happy Hump Day Umpdate, Thirsty Thursday pressing. Also file under: My Humps, late edition. That'll be up a little later.

    –B Love

    6 December 06: Watch out for LUCY

    Is Septa even still running that thing, the LUCY? If they are, hop on board and keep an eye out for your man Jeremy. Back in March, he took us on a tour of Powelton Village in West Philly, and today, he takes the mask off of University City. Really, this is a well done tour: people, places, things and more, 107 times over. Do yourself a favor and put on a pot of tea, put on Getz-Gilberto, and put on your photo glasses. Next stop: University City.

    –B Love

    6 December 06: Pardon this beef encounter . . .

    Ok, yesterday when we said "this afternoon" we meant "tomorrow afternoon" which ultimately means "this afternoon" today. We can admit when we're wrong. University City, as seen by Jeremy Burger -- that's this afternoon.

    There are a few other things on our plate in the meantime though, like this fantasmagorical explosion of taste, brought to you by Rachael's Nosheri at 19th & Sansom. It is hands down, no questions asked, for serious, the greatest Jewish deli sammich in all the town. Roast beef, corned beef, swiss cheese, cole slaw, thousand island and your choice of sourdough (pictured), rye or hoagie roll, PLUS a healthy helping of pickles . . . it's one sloppy slice of heaven.

    And it really is called a beef encounter.

    –B Love

    5 December 06: BRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    And just like that, we're transplanted to Philasiberia where the clearance jackets at Christopher's just jumped back up to $900 and you need a new pair of boots because damn, what happened to that cool, comfortable fall anyway? Plus it's the day after trash pickup and it's windy so all it takes is one jackass to put out an open bag with lots of paper and trash for even the nicest parts of town to become that litter strewn Philly cesspool you always heard about growing up. Seriously. I prefer reading my strike-not-strike Inquirer at the breakfast table, not peeling it off of my shins.

    Whoa, sorry. Hi. It's Image Illustrated Tuesday here at da Skyline so henceforth, words will be captions and pictures will be images.

    I love the night light; I love to boogie • The nice thing about these super duper clear and frigid days is the night light. So clear, so blue, you pretty sky you. This skyline view is brought to you by Franklintown Park, the nicely landscaped park you're never in unless you are homeless, have to pee, or are walking your dog. I s'pose some KKF kids would take their study breaks there during the day? I dunno. Honestly, the landscaping of the park is really well done, but I think the cumulative total of people I've ever seen in the park is six.

    * * *

    I light my torch and wave it for the full moon on Monday • Peaking out over 1650 Arch to observe the now fourth-tallest building in the city (two floors to go before it's taller than Mellon Bank Center) is our good friend Margashirsha Pornima. The full moon shines down on Comcast Center, for which our diagram is now expandable for further progress details. It's decent -- go check it out. Do it! It's right here!

    * * *

    Down in a hole • (That line won out over "Residences at the Ritz is starting to act like a rebarred.") But it's true: those hard working fellows there are building what will eventually become Residences at the Ritz, one half of the 15th & Chestnut, It's Happening Saga, starring Tim Mahoney, Craig Spencer, featuring Cope Linder and Gary Handel, and with a posthumous lifetime achievement award to One Meridian Plaza. They've dug down as far as they're gonna go, and that rebar you see there was the final destination of the concrete in all those trucks you saw if you passed by City Hall or the Clothespin on Saturday.

    RATR (as Residences at the Ritz will be known on Philly Skyline, beating out "Rez-Ritz" and "Ritz for luxury Crackers") looks like it'll be rising out of the ground in the next month or two. When it does, we'll do for RATR what we've done for The St James, Cira Centre, Comcast Center and Murano (but not Symphony House, ha ha ha ha). Until then, really, how interesting is watching foundation dry? If you have a genuine answer for this, please write it on a piece of paper, put it in your pocket, hop on ANY of Septa's trains -- regional rail, subway, el, trolley -- get off at City Hall / 15th St / Suburban Station, come upstairs to 15th & Chestnut, walk into the (Mahoney owned) parking lot and read it aloud. Just don't try exiting the parking lot onto Chestnut Street because, well, you can't. You might park your car in the parking lot at 15th & Chestnut, but you won't walk out onto Chestnut. No, you're all fenced in, you silly pedestrian. Walk back out across the driveway you drove in on, fool, because in spite of every single train Septa offers being 15 steps down, this is a car town. Now get out of the way!

    * * *

    Curvalicious • Speak of the Murano . . . there she goes, up up and away. As the form takes shape, you can see that it's even curvier than its renderings, which make it look like a 475' bullet.

    * * *

    Flash popups, part of the Brian Tierney empire • He's probably also responsible for the murder rate, Donovan McNabb's injury, sensor dust on DSLR cameras and 9/11! But seriously: the Philly Skyline community is made up of people who don't use Windows and MSIE. We don't dig on the popup ads. So now you're gonna Flash popup right there on the homepage? Ugh, you jerks. Who even likes the Flyers? Buncha last place losers anyway . . . Putting a Santa hat on the winged P isn't gonna make them any more likable. Just go away.

    * * *

    ARRRRRRGH! • GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    * * *

    More like the TIMEWARP TO 70s PHILADELPHIA • This billboard is currently on display to the westbound platform of the 15th Street el station. That thing's actually pretty rad, innit? Picture Frank Rizzo ballyhooing all-day underground transit in the urban dead 70s . . . and dig the seven digit dialing! A follow-up to the first volume of Septa Daypass is due, right after 713 other things.

    * * *

    Like Eastwick, for example • This mutant venison machine calls the Southwest Philly neighborhood of our current affection home. An Eastwick neighborhood tour will be available by the end of this week. The deer there was on the grounds of the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, whose environmental interpretive center is seen behind it. Thursday? Friday? You're on your way, Southwest Philly.


    * * *

    But not before your neighbor to the north • University City is coming live and direct this afternoon, thanks to Fen Branklin's latest efforts. A little longer than our essay standards, Jeremy Burger's 107 photos are a thorough, in depth look at the neighborhood which professes to speak for everybody when calling itself left of center. It's a nice little hood, and an even nicer essay. That'll be up this afternoon.

    This building above is Domus, the new 'posh' apartment building in that very neighborhood. Or wait, is it Domus or "do-mus"? Their web site says both. Domus do-mus, if you will. Whatever it's called, it's at 34th & Chestnut o'er in UCity, and brother, it's got "amenities that pamper." We'll go ahead and assume that's where the money they saved on the building's cladding went. It will have retail of some sort at the ground level and will feature a huge courtyard through which residents will enter. A park in the tower instead of a tower in the park? Meanwhile, just up the road a piece . . .

    * * *

    She's delicate and seems like veneer • Okay, now this is something we can get down to. The Hub on Chestnut (née 40th Street Promenade) is all right by us. Philly architects Brawer & Hauptman worked in conjunction with Boston's Platt Associates to create an innovative exterior with a "rain screen" system with wood veneer and corrugated metal panels. One of the ground floor tenants will be a new Mexican restaurant by the same folks who've made Amada the Old City success that it is.

    The "corner of 40th & everything" may be a stretch, but it's decent. The new Mexican place catty-corner to Nan, New Delhi and Fatou & Fama certainly seal that corner as the most varied intersection for flavor in the city (unless there's something on the Boulevard near Old County Buffet we don't know about). It's a block from the el in one direction, and a block from the Fresh Grocer and Penn in the other direction. That corner (40th & Walnut) too will soon have its own new midrise residential building, this one designed by Erdy-McHenry. (It'll also be added to The Skinny just as soon as we procure a rendering or two.)


    * * *

    G-Ho residents find out tonight what's happening with Osun's planned senior housing mini-tower just off Grays Ferry and South. Odunde's got old people and SOSNA's got beef. The plan calls for a five story building with housing for 16 families aged 62+. The problem? Well, it's a civic association so it must be parking. Ding ding ding! Actually, the plan has no parking included at all, so anyone visiting residents there would have to park on street. Maybe they could park in the garage of the new 2400 South Street development by Toll Bros? Remember that?

    Welp . . . that'll do for now, Yao Ming? You bundle up out there.

    –B Love

    4 December 06: THIS JUST IN:

    For the first time on record, Comcast Center is visible from Philly Skyline corporate HQ on South Street down here in the Ho.

    –B Love

    4 December 06: Cold blows the wind

    Hey Philly. How y'all feelin' out there? Let's cut the crap and hook up later on tonight. But right now? It's Monday morning and man it's bizzy out there. To wit:
    1. IT'S DECEMBER, IT'S COMCASTIC: As per usual, we're on the really tall skyscraper beat, and December's reppin' hard over in our Comcast Center section. By our count, the concrete core is now on the 49th floor, the bottom side of the square cutout on the south side. That cutout will be six stories tall, while the north side will have a similar two-story cutout. What's the significance? People. It's art. Make your own answer -- you won't be wrong.

    2. JONATHAN SAIDEL: ON SECOND THOUGHT . . . Here's hoping Jonathan Saidel has a 30 day money back guarantee on that office he just opened in the Northeast, cos dude just changed his mind on a mayoral run. J. Whyatt "but you can call me Jerry" Mondesire thinks it's because Bob Brady wants to be the token white guy candidate. Bob Brady thinks that's ludicrous. Oh, you guys. In other news, Michael Nutter is still declared and still most competent, yet strangely most unlikely to win.

      [Daily News.] [The Next Mayor.]

    3. I'LL BAYOU SOME CHICKEN MARSALIS: Man. Seriously, Olney? We haven't forgotten about you up there. Not quite North Philly, not quite Northeast Philly. Just Olney. It's on our shortlist of to-do neighborhoods.

      But right now? Right now it's a bayou blowout starring the controversial commentator, the man who killed jazz, the one and only Wynton Marsalis, yaaay! Seriously: good on Wynton reppin' his friend Melanie Marchand, opening the Yono Bayou Cafe in Olney. The Wynton Marsalis Quintet laid down the law on Sunday night at the brand new resto just off Broad and Somerville.

      [6abc.] [Yono's Bayou Cafe.]

    4. NORTH PHILLY, BLATSTEIN'D: It's true, the North Philly nightlife quotient just got a little less dangerous. Avenue North is pretty much in high gear now, as the Pearl cineplex, named for actress Pearl Bailey, ceremoniously opens tomorrow. The Erdy-McHenry complex also features a dorm that's already open and some food options (a Korean BBQ, Qdoba, a nosheri). Bart Blatstein: doing for North Philly what Magic Johnson could not. [PBJ.]

    5. NAVY 26, ARMY 14: . . . but everyone's a winner with these guys, right? Never minding that Rummy was on hand to flip a coin, the boys in uniform fought out a tough one, with Navy taking their fifth straight over Army, who actually played a tough game. Congrats to all parties. [Philly loves Army-Navy.]

    6. DING: As promised last week, we're heading Southwest this week to take a look at the Eastwick section of the city. We're halfway there, so check back for that later this week. Sooner than that, though, Jeremy Burger's University City series which is on the table as we speak.

    –B Love

    1 December 06: Bridgeman over troubled waterfront, II

    HI, EVERYBODY. (HI, DR. NICK.) Bridgeman's View Tower: is it approved or is it stalled? Is it 960' or is it 900'? Is it one tower or is it two towers? Did NLNA really sign off on rezoning because the developer promised millions toward a new Northern Liberties rec center? Is it part of the new riverfront plan?

    If only the BVT scenario were that easy. The real answers to the above, though, go something like:

    •Bridgeman's View Tower is approved, insofar as the rezoning of the site on which the one tower scheme would stand. Additionally, rezoning of the parcel that would house BVT's standalone parking garage was okayed earlier this week by City Council's Rules Committee.

    •The height of the single mixed-use tower project is 915' and 66 stories. The garage would be shielded from Delaware Avenue by a retail galleria, and from 2nd Street by I-95. Now, a two tower schema is an option, as a result of the meeting between 2945 LLC (BVT's developers), Penn Praxis and the City Planning Commission, presumably because 915' was too tall. The taller of the new two towers, all condos, would stand 725', while the shorter tower would be a 401' hotel. The ground level retail and galleria would remain.

    •Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association came to its approval of BVT not because of the promise of funding a rec center, but through the association's votes. You might remember our coverage of the meeting from May. One agreement 2945 LLC did make was to contribute to lower income housing should that come down the line.

    So really yo, what's the dealio now?

    Well, we're back to Northern Liberties, where last night 2945 LLC presented its two tower scheme to NLNA for review. Remember, NLNA overwhelmingly approved the 66 story, 915' tower, which itself was modified based on previous NLNA meetings that were open to the public. In short, the final product came from an open public dialogue, in a time that did not require public dialogue. This process was unlike that which produced Waterfront Square, the gated community of five towers (two of which are built) on a pier directly across the street from the BVT site, and the Barnes Tower, which was unleashed onto an angry and unrelenting Fairmount and Spring Garden public. (This is not a fait accompli!)

    That BVT passed through NLNA so swimmingly is no small feat. Neighborhood associations all over the city are extremely finicky, but NLNA's process with BVT has been exemplary. And, that BVT has had the support of Councilman Frank DiCicco, who himself has been so instrumental in making Penn Praxis' riverfront study happen and who openly criticized Trump's people for their Trump Tower dog and pony show, is really a testament to the job 2945 LLC has done in maintaining transparency for the greater good of Delaware Avenue, Northern Liberties and indeed, the riverfront.

    In the past few years, there has been much, much discussion of the Delaware Riverfront's development and activity, but the fact remains: except for Waterfront Square, it has been just that: discussion; talk. Trump Tower, Marina View, 700 North Delaware, World Trade Square, Columbus & Catherine, Dockside II, an all-new Penn's Landing, Riverwalk Casino, Sugar House Casino, Pinnacle Casino, Foxwoods Casino, Bridgeman's View Tower . . . Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, not yet, not yet, not yet, not yet, maybe. Drive down Washington Ave to Delaware Ave and hang a left. Follow that slowly and attentively up to Penn Treaty Park with your windows rolled down and take a good whiff of that development boom. Stinks, don't it?

    The Penn Praxis riverfront initiative (which is still in its infantile planning stages and which will likely not be ready for up to a full year) is indeed a noble one, and one with the greater good of the city's central riverfront at the fore. That initiative invites a public dialogue, and that initiative's number one opponent is traffic on Delaware Avenue. Strange then, it does seem, that BVT's public dialogue heretofore has been written off as meaningless by a small few with the power to say so. Stranger still, it does seem, that an approved, iconic single tower be questioned by a small few with power, with the suggestion to make two towers instead, when that alternative's end result finds greater traffic still.

    (More traffic is the result because: since construction of two towers requires much more labor and material, the cost must be offset by more units, which in turn means more cars in the garage, which in turn means more traffic on Delaware Ave. On the other hand, it creates the potential for 2945 LLC to build Bridgeman's View in two phases, the first being a hotel to serve one of the casinos guaranteed a slot on the riverfront. The second phase of that other hand, though, renders the residential-only tower ominously dependent upon the condo market, where a single mixed use tower has a far better chance at execution.)

    Philly Skyline is supportive of both Bridgeman's View Tower and Penn Praxis' initiative. It seems Councilman DiCicco is too. Penn Praxis needs to get on board with BVT, as well. BVT's people have done their homework and have had the public dialogue Penn Praxis aims to achieve. The problem, it would seem, is that that dialogue was not initiated by and approved by Penn Praxis.

    Putting the kibosh on BVT at this stage in the game sends a bad message to other potential new developers. Penn Praxis and the other few detractors should see Bridgeman's View Tower as a catalyst for other riverfront development that, of course, would by then go through the same public process. Then, years down the road when we have our utopian, beautiful, low-traffic, green public riverfront, we can all sip our tea at Penn Treaty Park -- or from the BVT observation deck -- and say we remember when.

    What now my love? Stay tuned.

    * * *

    Speaking of Penn Praxis and the good that they do do, they have announced the first three public forums they're putting on, scheduled for December 11, 13 and 14 in Fishtown, South Philly and Penn's Landing, respectively. For details, see HERE.

    * * *

    This weekend is gon' be cold, but it's gon' be fun, for these reasons:

    1. It's First Friday.
    2. My Morning Jacket's rocking the Electric Factory tonight.
    3. The Army and the Navy fight amongst themselves tomorrow at The Linc.
    4. Mazarin is playing its farewell thanks-for-the-memories show at Johnny Brenda's.
    5. We're gonna go see what's going on in Southwest Philly and report back with our findings next week.
    6. Local artist extraordinaire Charles Cushing (who'll be the subject of an update next week) and his art-minded friends are, like us, pissed off that Wal-Mart money has tentatively purchased Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic. They'll be outside the Art Museum this Sunday selling buttons saying "KEEP GROSS IN PHILADELPHIA" for two bucks with proceeds going to the fund to, well, keep The Gross Clinic in Philly. Support the cause, yo!
    7. Why Herb Alpert? He just seems right for this Friday of uncertainty and false conclusions. As a matter of fact, we'll yank on YouTube to take it into the weekend with a shout to Philly's biggest Herb Alpert fan, the Draft Daddy himself, DJ Bitonti. Can the xylophonist get some?
    Peace out.

    –B Love

    30 November 06: At last: Green Party in City Hall

    It's a City Hall double shot kinda day just like it's a double shot espresso kinda afternoon.

    For all your environmental concerns and your love of open spaces, the good folks at Green Plan Philadelphia have prepared a fun presentation for this evening in the mayor's reception room (202) at City Hall (7pm?). There's a PDF preview in that linked page there.

    Speaking of City Hall, that picture above was taken yesterday morning. As you can see, the scaffolding is nearly gone, and the Swedes, Indians and eagles by Calder are again basking in fresh air. Next thing you know, it'll be 2010 and all the scaffolding on City Hall will have been removed, just in time for the next round of cleaning to begin.

    Some mailed in observations for your Thursday afternoon . . .
    1. ALBERT PUJOLS IS A WHINY LITTLE BITCH: Seriously, Poo-Hole. All that good guy schtick you earned in the last few years is out the window. First you say the Tigers aren't any good, then you hit .200 in the World Series, and now you're saying RyHo didn't deserve the MVP. Seriously: shut up, stupid. You won last year's MVP, you won the World Series, and you clearly don't understand "valuable." Pat Gillick went on record saying the Phillies' 2006 season was out of reach when he traded Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, yet Ryan Howard had a Triple Crown second half of the season, single handedly keeping the Phillies in contention. And when they fell short in the last couple weeks, it is solely because opposing teams pitched around Ryan Howard. Plus the dude hit 58 homers with 149 RBIs. For real for real, Poo-Hole: all those sour grapes make for some really nasty whine. He best believe he'll have attained Philly boos worthy of Barry Bonds.

    2. RETURN OF THE GOOD BURGER: On a lighter note, however, Fen Branklin is back up in the Skyline's area. Jeremy Burger's tour through University City is slated for debut here next week. On a related note, an RBM looksee of Southwest Philly's Eastwick neighborhood is on the horizon, too.

    3. WUTZISS ABOUT BRIDGEMAN'S VIEW TOWER? That's the subject of tomorrow's update, as a matter of fact. Tomorrow, the first day of December, First Friday, My Morning Jacket at the Electric Factory, and a BVT roundup. Sounds like a plan, Stan.

    –B Love