31 May 07: Centers of gravity

The City Paper issue from exactly five years ago has a story worth a read for some Philly Skyline perspective. Daniel Brook's May 30, 2002 article Skyline Drive profiled two proposed skyscrapers, Cira Centre and One Pennsylvania Plaza. The story references the newly opened Kimmel Center as an architectural achievement (my what a difference five years makes) and implies it raises the bar and need for new architectural statements in modern Philadelphia. Check out that story HERE.

One Pennsylvania Plaza shed its golden kasota stone for a duelling glass component, raised the roof and landed Willard Rouse's worst kept secret for an anchor tenant, Comcast, thereby lending its name to the project. It seemed unlikely five years ago that two significant office towers would rise in this city -- a certain adored architecture critic even told me around that time that she'd be surprised if we got more than The St James -- but here we are in 2007 with residential cranes all over town and two new skyscrapers of the office variety. The skepticism we're so used to and expected of is slowly being chipped away, though there are plenty of realities (see murder, Front & Chestnut, Septa in general) to keep our Utopiadelphian balloon tethered.

Back to these two towers of interest: What do you think? Have Cira Centre and Comcast Center contributed improvements upon this Philly Skyline of ours? Send us your thoughts and we'll share the best of 'em next week. The Centers Comcast and Cira: love em, hate em or ignore em, drop us a line.

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We'd again like to thank you for your patience this week. Yesterday's technical difficulties aside, it's not for no reason that production is low this week. We have a pretty major announcement to make and it will explain everything. Things is good, just like the view from 17th & Oregon in South Philly. Every day is a block party on the 2600 block of South Colorado Street. Click, enlarge, and feast on Sow Filet.

–B Love

30 May 07: The sweet Lemon

Not too long ago, the good Doc wrote about the Lemon Hill Viewshed Restoration for The Necessity for Ruins. Less than a year later, we can see the, um, fruits of the labor of the volunteers and Fairmount Park employees.

This morning's Philly Skyline Philly Skyline is the vista from the Federal style mansion built by merchant Henry Pratt on land once owned by financier of the revolution Robert Morris and named for the citrus trees planted there in the early 1800s. The land was also the first purchase made by the City for the creation of Fairmount Park. The view above (including the construction sites of Comcast Center and Murano) was overgrown as recently as winter, but will soon be framed by fresh grass and new landscaping.

–B Love

29 May 07: Took a hike

With a special hello to an old friend Wendy up in Buxco, we happily report that Philly Skyline is light today on account of it being Pennsylvania's Hiking Week. That PSPS there is a Hiking Week special from the Wissahickon. We'll be back in action for real for real with a Hump Day Umpdate, so in the meantime make like us and our Harrisburg hippies and take a hike. [PA DCNR.]

–B Love

28 May 07: Happy Memorial Day

This 'ere Philly Skyline Philly Skyline is for all the guys and gals keeping score of their hometown from the dusty internet connections in Iraq and Afghanistan and especially to their fallen compatriots. Promise promise promise The Skinny will be updated soon. You all keep on keepin' on, stay safe and thanks for all you're doing. Leave it up to us and we'd see you home sooner than later.

To everyone stateside, it's summah summahtime and RyHo is back and blastin' em deep. Pick me up an orange/vanilla twist at Kohr Bros if you could please, but if you're staying local I'll see you down at Pop's with a spoonful o' lemon.

–B Love

25 May 07: Four courses of brick

by Nathaniel Popkin
May 25, 2007

Front and Chestnut went up in flames for a few minutes yesterday when the wreaking ball encountered live juice. The traffic cops were spooning themselves cookies and cream ice cream from Chinese food containers by the time I arrived on the scene and the world's tallest shower head was pouring 80 pounds per inch pure Delaware onto the smoldering remains of the maritime trade.

Another demolition in this city of rubble and loss: it hardly seems worth reporting. Now three stories down, the best parts of this corner -- the Palladian window arches and the Mexican yellow paint on the stone pediments -- are still there, if only to live through one more cool night of this spectacular spring. Tomorrow -- there is no tomorrow for the invincible walls built four and five courses thick.

How should we feel? There is a God-like power in all of this destruction, a rage, an anger. It feels good to knock things over: ask any one-year-old. It's a joyful act, a release, for us Philadelphians a way to condemn our ancestors for not being good enough. These buildings were, after all, a pair of plain four-story buildings, essentially unadorned, built to manufacture money. Never very special. Used up and out of time.

On the north side of the Art Museum, where bulldozers these days are busy removing an artificial hill (the one on brilliant winter evenings where we used to sled) to build a parking structure, it's engraved, "From earth are all things, and to earth all things return." So perhaps this act of constant demolition is something akin to the pattern of nature. We build or grow, we demolish or shrink and die, and then we start again. Perhaps we're merely helping, hastening nature's own process.

Thinking proudly, we might interpret the demolition of the maritime buildings at Front and Chestnut as faith in our own ideas and vision for the city. While the water rained down this afternoon and the restaurateurs along Chestnut mingled, smiling in the precious, serene air, the trades were busy finishing 101 Walnut and 22 Front. There is much good to say about these two projects as well as the completed Moravian and Beaumont Condos on the same block. Yet I was struck by how little -- in a sea of macadam hemmed in by a highway and a hidden river -- these new buildings have altered the feeling of our first street. It's still an unpleasant, unarticulated stretch, a backside in other words, and not a front. If it's true we're constantly negotiating with the past, then we Philadelphians seem doubly burdened by the future. So uncertain are we of our own values, we're making hesitant, half-attempts to mark our time here.

Front and Chestnut will stand vacant a while, maybe years, as Inga Saffron noted a few weeks ago. What will grow there? What should?

Demolition, I suppose, is simply honesty. Nothing lasts. The fire was out and the firefighters were putting away their armaments when the hardhats up the block hit the head and went on home. Standing in the middle of Front Street, I wondered if they had been watching the demolition, if from the sixty-foot perch of glass and steel they noted the thickness of the brick walls, the heft of the joists. Now just a pile of rubble down below.

–Nathaniel Popkin

For Nathaniel Popkin archives, please see HERE, or visit his web site HERE.

24 May 07: The ABCs of the Philly casinos

One more quick note on the casinos. We realize it's a complicated matter and that there are two very different but very solid sides to the issue. They're creating a lot of jobs (both temporary/construction and long term/casino employees), but there is the issue of traffic. Their tax revenue will help to reduce the wage tax, but there is the quality of life concern. The state has the authority to make this decision, but the residents it will affect the most had no say in the matter, not even getting a ballot question.

So, as a helpful Philly Skyline guide, we've gotten together Governor Ed Rendell, Gaming Control Board Chair Tad Decker, State Representative Vince Fumo and the ladies of NABR to break down these ABCs of Philly casinos.

Cutie pie, pound those horse teeth.

24 May 07: Ramos pulls a fast Juan:
Lame duck Councilman OKs construction of
Sugar House casino in district of Councilman opposed to it

Plan Philly has the scoop on the total dick move by At-Large Councilman Juan Ramos -- fresh off his primary defeat -- to introduce a bill that would rezone Sugar House's 22 acre site in Frank DiCicco's district (i.e. NOT Ramos', i.e. it breaches the accepted rule of councilmanic privilege) as a "Commercial Entertainment District" designation. Bad form man, really bad form.

For the full story: Matt Blanchard, take it away.

On the other hand, Matt Blanchard also reports that, speaking strictly on matters of design and planning, Sugar House has met the approval of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Check that story (which includes several images of Cope Linder Architects' designs for Sugar House) HERE.

For the record (and we've been asked a few times), Philly Skyline takes no hard line stance for or against the casinos. Both sides of the argument hold merit, but it's hard to deny the fact their impending arrival was railroaded through by the State and gave the City and its residents zero chance to weigh in on them. Never mind the fact that common sense would have awarded Pinnacle the second license instead of Foxwoods. Foxwoods is in a ridiculously bad location that's already too congested, and Pinnacle would have more or less created a 'casino district', since its Port Richmond site is just a few piers upstream from Sugar House. If you're gonna do it, do it right. What we have here . . . it ain't done right. And don't forget Pittsburgh's too good to be true Isle of Capri proposal which was denied in favor of PITG.

So, we're not opposed to the casinos in principle or their design or even their inclusion as part of a larger waterfront plan, but how they've gotten here kinda sucks.

–B Love

24 May 07: Some more o' that azure and gold pride

The past few nights, Mellon Bank Center's pyramid has draped itself in a handsome blue & yellow hue, presumably something on the city civic tip. More specifically, reader S Mattei lets us know, the pyramid is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League. The Cops Helping Kids celebrated their diamond jubilee with a gala dinner on Tuesday night. Congrats!

That picture above is one of thirty new shots in our Comcast Center section, including a number from just after sundown last night, when the crane was still moving I-beams and welders were still making those sparks. And, as the insets might suggest, our Residences at the Ritz-Carlton and Murano spots are also up to date as of this afternoon.

Something else I noticed whilst ote-n-abote last night is that the GlaxoSmithKline Building has replaced its old standard red neon with LEDs. It was changing colors and even spent a minute as a rainbow before settling on a golden orange (which was about the time I finally got around to busting out the tripod . . . oops).

–B Love

24 May 07: Fire Charlie Manuel, Castrate Rod Barajas

If last night's game doesn't sum up everything that is wrong with the Phillies, I don't know what will. And not because of dunderheaded plays, but because those dunderheaded plays won't escalate the wrongs to the level of accepting blame and cutting losses. Yeah, the Phillies won, and they won their first extra inning game of the season. But they never should have been there -- anyone who watched the game knows that.

The whole thing is unbelievable. How does Charlie Manuel get to keep keeping his job? Why in the holy Floridian hell was Brett Myers pitching with a four run lead? Francisco Rosario was already warming up and needs some quality pitches. Good one, Cholly.

Greg Dobbs goofed and threw home. Oh well, he owned up to it and it wasn't the end of the game. No, that came when Jayson Werth threw a strike to home that beat Hanley Ramirez by two steps, and all Rod Barajas had to do was the most fundamental thing a catcher a can do, block the goddamn plate and tag him out, game over. NEGATORY. He decided instead to stand up and let Ramirez slide under him. The ump made the right call, Ramirez was safe, tied game, unnecessarily blown save for Myers, game rolls on. Two pitches later, Myers, the new ace closer, throws his shoulder out. Hopefully he'll be okay, but we should not even be having this conversation. Charlie Manuel never should have had Myers in there in the first place, and if Barajas wasn't such a pussy, Myers would have never thrown the pitch that strained his shoulder.

Courtesy of Phillies Daily News writer Marcus Hayes:

"I wasn't sure what [Ramirez] was going to do," Barajas said. "I didn't want to be down low and give him a good shot at me, maybe knock the ball loose."

. . .

Barajas' take: "Since we won the game, we can look back and laugh at some of those plays.''
Yes, that play was HILARIOUS, Rod. HA! HA! I can't wait to hear what's wrong with Brett Myers' arm -- that too shall surely be a laff riot!

But what does all of this mean? Zero, zilch, nada, kaputski. Barajas won't get reprimanded, or released, as he should be. Carlos Ruiz is indisputably the best catcher on the team, and Chris Coste, who everyone loves, is a better bench player than the grossly overpaid Barajas. Or as we suggest in the headline, castratration is an option, because his balls clearly aren't serving him. What's more, dude is such a bad hitter (.208 avg) that they're walking Abraham Nuñez to get to him.

Charlie gets to keep on keepin' on, because well, he's Charlie! Aw shucks, he's the manager, he must know what's best! When Jimy Williams and Davey Lopes (and Art Howe, who left as soon as he was hired) were signed on, it seemed like Cholly was put on the hot seat.

But The Team To Beat is only now .500 and has yet to get itself a majority winning percentage. That could happen tonight, but it hasn't happened the first four chances they've had. Jon Lieber has been pitching great, and the Phils have hit Dontrelle Willis well this year, so here's hoping for another W in Miami.

Meanwhile, get well soon Brett Myers, and RyHo, get on back here, wouldja?

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A reminder to all ye patient fans of yonder Skinny: it will be updated soon, that's a promise, cross heart and hope to die and all of that.

Meantime, check out the blue bullet on Market, Monsieur Murano. Clicken, enlargen:

Though not usually a fan of photos from moving cars, I like this wide angle shot taken yesterday afternoon from the back seat of a cab going about 35mph. It does a good job of illustrating the bullet-shape of Murano, now on the 22nd floor of 42; its height is now officially more than halfway to the top.

Our Murano, Residences at the Ritz-Carlton and Comcast Center sections will all be updated this afternoon, so pop in a little later for that with the Quick Links on yr left.

–B Love

23 May 07: This week is like a . . . ro-o-ollercoaster

Greetings friends and regular readers! Please forgive the sparsity in commentary this week . . . we're shifting major gears behind the scenes at da Skyline, so we thank you for your patience. Above is a Philly Skyline Philly Skyline with the Marlborough Man in chartreuse o'er on the left.

While we get everything in order, we'll take this moment to say what up to our friends at Philadelphia Weekly, whose issue this week is on the great heights of our great city. Sara Kelly offers up her best views of the best views in town, prodigious penis and all. Our pal DMac tells us why it's okay to get high, and this time that's not a play on words -- DMac writes on the recent marijuana march and elaborates on why pot's illegality is still just plain stupid. And, well, a feller named R Bradley Maule asks what now, G-Ho?

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A quick Yank on Ye Old Tube: just for the record here, we at Philly Skyline are in NO WAY AT ALL AFFILIATED with this video which uses dozens of our (and presumably others') photos without permission and which has so much misinformation it hurts. More on this later.

But for now, we'd like to wish Hersheypark a Happy 100th. Chocolate Town USA is mos def a childhood happy place, but it's still a happy place with its wicked new coasters like the gutwrenching Storm Runner (0 to 72 in two seconds), the Lightning Racer (the first wooden duelling coaster at Hershey), and the Great Bear, the inverted job seen in this video below. (Thanks Jen!)

Hersheypark is less than two hours away on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and you get a free Hershey bar when you visit Chocolate World. Do it man, you know you want to.

–B Love

22 May 07: It was one year ago today

. . . that this picture was taken of what would become the city's tallest building. The concrete core was 18 stories up and the six stories of steel barely had any floor plates. Two years ago this time, subs were still prepping the hole for the foundation. It helps to put into perspective how massive a job Comcast Center is when more than two years in, there's still a ton of work to be done. The steel isn't even topped out yet, though that will happen within the next couple weeks. Glass installation is up to about the 40th floor now, almost even with the cornice of Mellon Bank Center.

We went and slipped again on Friday's look at the weekend, missing both the Frankford Festival (one time of year that troubled neighborhood gets to cut loose and party up under the El) and the first ever Kinetic Kensington Derby. Sorry bout that . . . we'll do our best to atone next year.

–B Love

21 May 07: Pumpkin on the gourd

Been thinkin' about that knockout meal at pumpkin recently: the salty whole quail appetizer, the cornmeal crusted lake trout served over honey-infused grits and served with a side of white asparagus . . . BYOB? More like BYOhMY! Today's Philly Skyline Philly Skyline is a nod to that ahead of the curve G-Ho BYOB (though we certainly love the Balkan, Divan, Roberto and Apamate, Pumpkin predates em all) at 17th & South, Pumpkin, and its baby brother Pumpkin Market. For the Pumpkin particulars, holler at Foobooz: Pumpkin and Pumpkin Market.

Now if we may be excused, we've gotta sign off for the day on account of some more important back end bidness.

–B Love

18 May 07: Park-a-carcass

National Park, New Jersey is -- get this -- not a National Park. Some nerve!

The name is actually a shortened version of its original, National Park on the Delaware, which was created as a religious resort for the Methodist Episcopal faith. It is due south of Philadelphia, directly across the Delaware River from the Navy Yard to its north and the Airport to its west. If Broad Street continued in its arrow-straight line, it would split National Park in two.

It's one of those places we've been meaning to visit, just to check it out since we've never been there, to see how it treats its riverfront (compared to our own), and of course, to check for views of the Philly Skyline. Enter Matt Johnson.

Matt and his SkyscraperSunset.com have been friends of da Skyline for a long time. He's shared with us his views of Manayunk and Old City, and he swears that one of these days he'll take us through Chinatown.

But for now, this Jersey boy takes us downstream and across the river to take a look at National Park, New Jersey, and to share with us the WEIRDNESS he encountered there. Click that graphic to go there.

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After our Opening Day Philly Skyline Philly Skyline, Mike in Mount Airy emailed:

Looking at your latest picture of da Skyline from Citizen's Bank Park reminds me of how annoying that white Phillies sign/pole is out in the parking lot! It blocks an otherwise stellar view of da Skyline...and since we know where we are and who we're rootin' for already, what's its purpose really? Can we start a campaign to bring it down? I mentioned this to my barber Friday, as he was going on and on about attending the opening game, and he said that now that I've brought this sign/pole to his attention, he's just as annoyed as I am!
No doubt, Mike. We've noticed too and have mentioned it in casual passing, or whilst enjoying a Schmitter from the 'roof deck' level of the Ballpark. But it was never really the focus of Philly Skyline attention or aggression until our friend Enrico enlisted my services to guest host The 700 Level. I don't want to spoil the ending, but you'd better hope that you actually like that sign on that pole. Get the skinny on The Sign HERE or by clicking the image above.

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Speaking of The Skinny. Oh my, The Skinny. To all our friends who've emailed us pleading for The Skinny to be updated: you'll get your wish. We realize it is in major need of an update (as is the 50 tallest buildings now that so many buildings are actually under construction), and each are on their way. For what it's worth, Philly Skyline will very soon have a slightly new and improved look to it. We're taking those Crest whitening strips now -- wait till you see the sheen when they're off! (Please be patient -- we're really gonna fix it.)

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  1. RALLY AT RITTENHOUSE: Don't like bureaucratic bullying? Do you actually like the pleasant sound of music in our signature urban park? Then stick it to the man this Saturday, May 19 at 1pm. Meet at the headhouse in the center of Rittenhouse Square to protest the ASININE enforcement of the ASININE ban on music slash requirement to obtain an ASININE $250 permit.

    Read Nathaniel Popkin's thoughts on the situation at Rittenhouse in the May 18 post just below this one.

  2. LEAVE THE GUN, TAKE THE CANNOLI: Or you can buy both, since both Smith & Wessun AND Termini Bros have stands at the 9th Street Italian Market Festival, which seems to keep getting pushed up every year. It's this weekend, 10am-5pm both Saturday and Sunday, all along the Italian Market. It's always a good time and you won't leave hungry. Check out our visit to the 2004 festival HERE.

Also don't forget that the Congress for New Urbanism continues this weekend. Have fun whichever direction you go, go Phils and beat those Hoser Birds, and we'll catch you on the other side.

What's up?

–B Love

18 May 07: We have our victory yet!

by Nathaniel Popkin
May 18, 2007

Drew Gillis, the rock/blues guitarist, looks out across the Rittenhouse fountain, past the children laughing and the strollers, past the guard house, past the lovers stretched out on the grass, past the ash and plane trees and magnolias whose leaves blow hard in the wind. He sees none of it. His eyes are clouded by pain.

He is tormented by a bully.

His guitar, shrouded in a black cover, leans silently at his side. The bully won't let him play it.

Drew, who grew up on 25th Street in Fairmount and plays in the band Stone Soup, is one of the targets of the so-called Rittenhouse Music Ban. "All year I look forward to spending the summer here, playing guitar, teaching, exchanging ideas," he says and squints as if to bat away the ambivalence. Despite collecting 4,500 petition signatures against the recent police enforcement of the vague regulation against "musical presentation or amplified sound," he isn't sure that people really care.

After all, sometimes you can still play music in the park. Ed, another regular park musician -- who teaches young children and charms their mothers -- has simply asked the guard, "Okay if I play?"

Okay as long as Wilkinson isn't the policeman on duty.

If he is -- beware: don't ride your bike, throw a Frisbee, or play your viola. You'll end up with a citation. In the case of Drew Gillis and the other regulars who Wilkinson has already warned or cited, the punishment is likely to be worse. On Monday, I watched the officer in action. He stopped someone who was gently riding his bike, really walking it along while standing over the seat and looking for his girlfriend. He was issued a ticket.

"Aren't you just supposed to give a warning?" wondered the girlfriend.

"I don't need to go to Afghanistan to meet Osama bin Laden," yelled the bike rider. "You know that, you are Osama bin Laden."

Wilkinson refused my follow-up questions and referred me to Civil Affairs.

So Gillis, who doesn't resort to hyperbole (just the opposite, his every move in this protest seems to be understated), lives in fear. His guitar lives in its case. That's the result of power wielded arbitrarily, without just cause or reason. It makes no sense, as Gillis notes. Breakdancing circles, for example, are allowed. "Philadelphia wants to be a city of artists," he notes, "and that's what we [Rittenhouse musicians] are, we learn from each other, play together -- all the best musicians I play with I met playing in the park." They come from all walks of life.

"So why don't you play now," I ask. "Wilkinson isn't on duty."

"Then people will say everything's okay. But it isn't," he lights an American Spirit. Then, for a moment Gillis begins to dream, Philadelphia-style. "Let's not make it difficult . . . we can do things to make it [the square] nicer. Music (at the right decibel and hour, he adds) is a stepping-stone."

He mentions the non-profit he's starting -- PARC -- the Philadelphia Artistic Rights Council. PARC will advocate for public art, street performance, and the free exchange of ideas. All so that this city might live up to its constitutional heritage.

Then I tell him about Brundibar. Brundibar is a book by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner based on a Czech opera that the children of Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp, performed 55 times in 1938.

"Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak?"

"Yes, of course," I say. "This is the story of two children who need money to buy milk for their sick mother."

"You want milk?" demands an old man. "Then go to the town square!" exclaims his wife. But when the children arrive on the square, they realize they need money. The two of them begin to sing for change -- but no one hears them. Brundibar -- a kind of demented old Hitler-Napoleon -- is cranking his hurdy-gurdy and the sound is so loud and awful no one can hear the children. What's worse, all the grown-ups are filling his bucket with change. When the children protest, becoming so mad they turn into "bears," the baker yells, "Bears on the loose!" the ice cream man, "Call the cop!" the cop, "No bears on the square! It's the law!" and Brundibar, "They're worse than bears, they're children!"

He cranks his hurdy-gurdy and sings:

Little children, how I hate 'em
How I wish the bedbugs ate 'em
When they're rude and answer back
Stuff 'em in a burlap sack!

Nasty little children, quiet
Don't be loud, don't even try it
You'll find out what troubles are
If you bother Brundibar!

The frightened brother and sister run away to an alley, where they meet a bunch of animals who decide to help. "What to do when you are few? Ask for help, get more of you!"

A sparrow flies off, gathering 300 children to come to the square to sing. Some carry a banner: Bullies Must Be Defied!

Indeed. The kids sing "Blackbird," the adults weep and fill their bucket with money. But Brundibar, yelling "Mine all mine," steals the bucket. Finally, the crowd nabs him -- "must you be thumped and bumped and squished and vanquished?"

Must it come to that? Drew Gillis thinks it would be a lot easier if instead of calling the cops, we just learned how to speak to each other. "We're still a people," he muses, "connected."

So Gillis and Anthony Riley, whose case started this battle, and the other musicians of the Square, most of whom don't play for money but for love, are asking for your help. We must help them beat Wilkinson. But how?

Come to Rittenhouse Square this Saturday, May 19 at 1PM. Come stand before the guard house and make music. Sing. Bring your children and animals. Drown out the hurdy-gurdy. Drown out the pitiful and muzzling cries of the controlling, small-minded, anti-urban, and un-American neighbors and their irrational and mean-spirited policeman.

Exit, Brundibar, disappear!


French horn and violin
Bassoon and clarinet!
The wicked never win!
We have our victory yet!
Tyrants come along, but you just wait and see!
They topple one-two-three!
Our friends make us strong!
And thus we end our song.


Hans Krása, who wrote the original music to Brundibár, was also imprisoned at Terezin. He was killed at Auschwitz in 1944.


A more basic question may be, Why isn't the Rittenhouse guard house an ice cream stand?

–Nathaniel Popkin

For Nathaniel Popkin archives, please see HERE, or visit his web site HERE.

17 May 07: Congressional herein

New Urbanism and the Old City. That's the name of the game at the fifteenth annual Congress for New Urbanism, which this year is in Philadelphia, which begins today at the Loews, and which features some heavy hitters that are familiar to friends of Philly Skyline. Governor Ed Rendell, Comcast Center and 10 Rittenhouse Square architect Bob Stern, author James Howard Kunstler and legendary Philly architect Denise Scott Brown are among the speakers and participants at this year's program. Straight from the source:
CNU XV will feature a variety of breakout sessions with developers, planners, architects and code writers focusing on the tools and techniques for implementing New Urbanism successfully. From the farmlands to suburbs, from downtown to new towns, we will explore the challenges and innovations of creating great places. Here is a sampling of breakout session topics: Beyond LEED-ND; Emergency Responders and Street Design,; Innovative stormwater management; Design Guidelines Debate: Modernism in a New Urbanist setting; Creating great civic spaces through landscape architecture; the Press and the New Urbanism, Affordable housing: physical design issues, updates from new urbanist work in Mississippi and New Orleans and many more sessions!
The events are neither free nor cheap, but they are important and it puts Philadelphia on display to planners, developers, architects and writers from across the country. One of the reasons CNU came here is National Geographic's ubiquitous blessing of Philly as the next great city, and with Michael Nutter next in line, this brainstorming session could not come at a more appropriate time. If you've got the money, honey, you've got the time, and each would be well spent by checking out CNU XV.

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Hey, yesterday was Hump Day and we took R&R instead of goin' umpdating. Our bad. Here's a mini-makeup then.
  1. WALT WHITMAN BRIDGE: MAYBE 50, MAYBE ALMOST 50: Boy I'll tell you what, yesterday's Courier-Post came as an unexpected surprise. Longtime reader John reminded us a while back that the Walt Whitman Bridge would be turn the big five-oh this year. With a little poking around, we discovered that the exact date was August 16, 1957 and accordingly marked it on our Philly Skyline calendar.
    The final stages of construction were delayed by a prolonged steel strike. On August 15, 1957, the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey dedicated the bridge, and one day later, the DRPA opened the bridge to traffic.
    Cool, we thought. We've got all summer to go take some nice shots and get a nice little piece together. Survey sez: BZZZZZZ. Even Wikipedia agrees with the C-P, the Inquirer, and most authoritatively, the Delaware River Port Authority. DRPA of course operates and administers the seven-lane, 12,000' long Bridge between South Philly and Gloucester City NJ.

    So with all of this in mind, Happy Belated 50th, Walt Whitman Bridge. We'll keep our promise and have that WWB spread up for your 50 year, three month birthday on August 16. (I'm so embarrassed.)

  2. ELSEWHERE IN DRPA NEWS, THE DREDGE REPORT: After an eighteen month dispute, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have agreed to move forward with the dredging project on the Delaware River. The river's shipping channel will be deepened from 40 to 45 feet, which the ports predict will attract more and larger ships, but more importantly will create thousands of jobs. Also as part of the agreement, DRPA will extend PATCO's Speedline rail service into Gloucester County. (In your face, Glassboro! Public transit is coming your way, HA HA HA.)

    These each seem like no-brainers, right? Well, the opponents to the dredging fear an environmental impact on the River (won't somebody think of the horseshoe crab?), and PA gets to keep all the spoils of the riverbed. But hey, Jersey gets extended rail service, and the US Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an environmental impact study that will precede actual work.

    [Courier-Post: PA, NJ agree on Delaware River dredging.]
    [PBJ: Standoff over on Delaware Dredging.]
    [Inquirer: Dispute over dredging settled.]

  3. IN STILL MORE DRPA NEWS, A BFB PSA: Just a heads up, y'all: it is National Bike To Work Week, and DRPA is participating by keeping the Ben Franklin Bridge's walkway open until 11pm through tomorrow night. As part of the event, the Phila Bicycle Coalition and Trophy Bikes are tomorrow hosting "Bike the Ben to the Ballpark", in which participating cyclists will meet at Independence Mall, ride across the Bridge and catch a minor league ballgame between the Camden Riversharks and Bridgeport Bluefish. Phila Bicycle News.

  4. EL RRRRRRRRRUMBA SAYS ADIOS: Talk about your unpleasant surprises. Ever since Monie Love was canned from 100.3 The Beat, my alarm clock has been set to 104.5, El RRRRRRRRRRumba! Seriously: everyone with two brain cells knows that commercial radio is dead, XPN in the mornings is unbearable, and my reception to WHYY is garbage thanks to WMMR's antenna on One Liberty Place.

    "So just get a new, digital alarm clock." Never mind that -- I was totally grooving to El RRRRRumba's salsa format in the morning.

    This morning, instead of a horn section and Cuban percussion easing me into my cup of coffee, I partied like it's 1994 with "Low" by Cracker. Seriously: hey, hey, hey like being stoned. I wish I was. What a bunch of crap. You suck, Clear Channel.

    But if you still want your RRRRRRRumba fix, you can tune into 1480AM . . . the longtime Philly home of gospel music, right up until 10am yesterday. Philly gospel ha mudado a . . . man, who knows.

  5. COLE HAMELS EATS WHOLE CAMELS, IS A FLIRT: God blessed this cocky young lefty, there is no doubt about it. Cole Hamels sat down his first eighteen hitters last night before walking Rickie Weeks and losing his no-hitter to Milwaukee's JJ Hardy in the 7th inning. (That's another thing -- where the hell did JJ Hardy come from? Dude is 24 years old and is already the best hitting shortstop in the league.)

    King Cole kept his composure from there forward, giving up only one more hit through eight innings and striking out 11, giving him 70 on the season, good enough for second in all of baseball. That win also brought the Fightin' Phils up to .500 on the season, 20-20. They go for the sweep by sending Fab 5 Freddy Garcia up against Ben Sheets Shmuffin in this afternoon's BPS.

  6. THE PRIMARY ELECTION WAS A FAVORABLE EVENT: Even Mayor Street congratulated Michael Nutter for his democratic nomination on Tuesday. In spite of his backhanded compliments, that's a commendable but very necessary thing for the Street-Nutter transition to go well. (You'll have to forgive our continual ignoring of Al Taubenberger, but really now.)

    But also, as you probably already know, most of the ballot questions passed in high favor. Questions 4, 5 and 6 in particular each earned a resounding YES, bringing our antiquated zoning to the fore of the public discussion. Sounds like a perfect time to focus attention to our friends at Plan Philly, who have added zoning reform to their Delaware Riverfront study to form a one-two Plan Philly punch. Currently on that site, there are several articles involving zoning, but we recommend two in particular: Kellie Kirkpatrick's Taking a Dip in the Delaware, which examines the idea of actually swimming in the Delaware River, and Matt Blanchard's No. 6: a crucial ballot question, which . . . looks at ballot question 6 and why it is crucial.

That's your ThirstDay report on da skyline. Check in tomorrow and this weekend as Nathaniel Popkin revisits Rittenhouse Square and the pesky noisemaking musicians there, and Matt Johnson kicks in a new and unusual photo essay from that National Park which is not a National Park, the borough of National Park, New Jersey and its Delaware River shore.

EDIT: On second thought, an icy Philly Skyline Philly Skyline for our good friend Walt. Happy 50th, pal.

–B Love

17 May 07: Comcast Center news on the 9s

Hey buddies. Thanks for hangin' with us for Mayor Mike's May Madness. While that played out, our favorite Comcast Center kept nudging upward, upward in your Philly Skyline and upward in your periphery.

Last week Citizens Bank announced it was moving its regional headquarters from Commerce Square (which has no affiliation with Commerce Bank -- it is so named because the twin towers were built over Commerce Street) to Comcast Center, thereby furthering its eschewal of the eponymous building of the company it bought, Mellon Bank. Hey man, money talks. Citizens' move to Comcast Center means that that building is now 95% leased, a pretty impressive feat considering its cost and its detractors who thought they'd struggle to fill it. [PBJ.]

"But doesn't Comcast's corporate move to its new building mean that that just opens that much vacant space elsewhere in Center City?" It's a fair question to ask, but at the moment that doesn't appear to be a major concern. The largest office lease signing of the year is unsurprisingly Comcast related, but perhaps a little surprisingly not Comcast themselves. The space that they are vacating from Centre Square is on its way to being filled before Comcast even moves out. According to Commercial Property News, 70% of Comcast's space there is already spoken for, led by the aforementioned lease signing, which belongs to UPenn Health System, who will account for 263,000 sq ft.

But back to our Skyline pièce de résistance at 17th & JFK, the PBJ's Natalie Kostelni is naming names for Comcast Center's retail tenants. We already knew Georges Perrier was signed on for a new Signature restaurant, but there are some new names in the mix. It stands to reason that with Citizens Bank's move, there will be a bank branch at Comcast Center, although it seems kinda funny that it's right across the street from another branch inside Mellon Bank Center. Then again there are a number of cities with multiple Starbucks directly across the street from each other.

Speaking of Starbucks, they are NOT among the new tenants, as we instead get a (mostly) local purveyor of the bean, Bucks County Coffee. La Colombe would have been the ultimate, but it seems unlikely that they'd want a location so close to their flagship on Rittenhouse Square. DiBruno Brothers will have a new cheese and prepared foods outlet, Tokyo Lunchbox will be serving sushi, Jake & Max's Deli will be hawking hoagies, and Ardmore Produce will have a store large enough to not only outfit the business crowd with the freshness, but also serve as an alternative to a trip to Trader Joe's for the residents of the Sterling, 1850 Arch and so forth. [PBJ.]

Finally in this Comcast Center Public Service Announcement, we'd like to suggest perhaps popping over to Philly Skyline's own Comcast Center section, where we've got an updated diagram and a total of 76 new photos for May, including the fuzzy fly-by from a Boeing 737 belonging to Southwest above.

–B Love

16 May 07: Finally, a little more pride flies out of this flag

And somewhere, Michael Nutter is sleeping in.

That breeze you feel through your window this morning is the wind of change. The people have spoken, and what they said was Change, Reform, Leadership, A New Direction, A New Philadelphia. Breathe it in, it'll make you feel real good.

We need a few to recupe over here, so check back this afternoon/evening and have a great day.

–B Love

15 May 07:
Ladies and gentlemen of Philadelphia, proudly presenting:


Somebody must have whispered victory in Carlos Ruiz' ear in the bottom of the ninth inning of tonight's Phillies-Brewers grudge match, because he smacked that 2-1 Derrick Turnbow slider into the leftfield seats for his first walk-off homerun and the Phils' second straight win over the previously hot Brew Crew.

While that drama played out 35 blocks south of City Hall, the offices inside that same building were finding out who their new tenants were going to be. At approximately 11pm (timed to coincide with the 11 o'clock newscasts, obviously), the great city of Philadelphia learned that its new (Democratic) mayor(al nominee) was going to be one MICHAEL ANTHONY NUTTER. I have to be honest here: I was never certain of his ability to overpower the Fattah GOTV, the Brady machine and the Knox . . . whatever Knox did, but Michael Nutter did it. He overcame, and he won.

* * *

Fox 29 . . . wow, was that coverage awful. Dawn Stensland couldn't tell the difference between the bald black guys, Dave Huddleston could barely correct her, their banter was awkward at best, and their mics kept going out at Nutter's victory speech. It's too bad this overshadowed Bruce Gordon's otherwise fine reporting.

When 11 o'clock struck, you know Philly Skyline was tuned in to Channel 6 Action News, where the big story was . . . the forest fire in New Jersey! Sorry Jersey, that sucks and all but on the night of the Philly mayoral primary election on Philly's best newscast, you're just going to have to wait. What's up with that, Jim Gardner? NBC10 had a split screen of the Jersey fire and Nutter's victory speech, and only CBS3 got it right by allocating the top story to the mayoral victor. WHYY's special coverage was pretty good, showing all of the candidates' concession speeches, but when Nutter took the stage for his victory speech, they didn't cut away from the young fellow waxing philosophical about the, erm, blogosphere and quoting Young Philly Politics. Look, I think that's great, but when the WINNER takes the podium, you cut away from Johnny Blogasaurus.

All that aside, it really is something that good ideas have at last been recognized in this crummy old town. It is a great day for Philadelphia. It is a new day for Philadelphia. Thank you, Philadelphia. At last -- at long, long last -- the right man has won the election. Congratulations, Mike Nutter and congratulations to all of us who believed in it enough to make it happen. We really, really did it. (Yeah yeah, there's that whole technicality of having to vote in the general election in November, but c'mon now, let's celebrate a little, shall we?)


–B Love

15 May 07: Finally today, a word from Septa

15 May 07: Stick a fork in the Fork;
Wilco's new album is out today and it is amazing

If you consider yourself even a marginal fan of rock & roll, chances are you've either succumbed to the hype of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (wow, that was five years ago already) or wasted money to find out if Wilco really is that bad live. To me, YHF is the Sixth Sense of rock albums. I waited and waited to finally bother and by that time, everyone else was sick of it and I was underwhelmed. But with repetition, it eventually grew on me and elevated Wilco above "oh yeah that band that's half as good as Uncle Tupelo" to "okay, these guys are pretty good and they're definitely better than Son Volt".

A Ghost Is Born came out two years later and it sounded like what an overhyped band would produce if a shit-tonne of money was thrown at it. That Spiders/Kidsmoke song is the epitome of that album: an incredible buildup that goes nowhere except ultimate disappointment.

Never mind all of that.

Sky Blue Sky is officially out today, several months after internet leakage and, according to my itunes, 47 plays on my ipod. (Only Z by My Morning Jacket and Game Theory buy the Roots have more.) Pitchfork? More like PFFFFFFFFFFork. Those unbelievable a-holes give Sky Blue Sky a 5.2 out of 10.
An album of unapologetic straightforwardness, Sky Blue Sky nakedly exposes the dad-rock gene Wilco has always carried but courageously attempted to disguise. Never has the band sounded more passive . . .
This from the folks who gave boring standard The Hold Steady's last album a near-perfect 9.4.

Never mind the bollocks. Sky Blue Sky is unapologetically straightforward, and if my approval of this means I'm buying into the hype, then I need a receipt. A lot of Wilco fans are saying SBS is a return to its Being There roots. While I think Being There is an ok album, it seems to me more of a good record from a young band that hasn't found itself. It took them a decade and a bunch of personnel changes, but I think they've finally done that.

While SBS doesn't raise any bars or break any particular new ground, it does illustrate that good rock & roll still exists, both electrically and unplugged. Nels Cline not only adds another layer of guitar to most songs, but he keeps Jeff Tweedy's freakouts in line, toning them down to well played duels (like on "Impossible Germany" and the drive-ups of "Side With the Seeds".

The star track, though, has to be "Walken". Again, it's not like the first time you heard "A Day in the Life" or "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" but, again, it just does everything right. The honky-tonk piano lead-in, the ZZ Top-ish riff, the lap-steel, and most of all, the bridge. Think of the bridge in "Magic Man" by Heart, only with a guitar taking rhythm instead of counting the time yourself: rhythm guitar . . . drum . . . second rhythm . . . piano . . . bass . . . lead . . . da na, da na, da na, da na, DA NA NA, da na, da na, da na, da na, DA NA NA . . . it's so good.

Wilco is touring the US in June, but don'tcha know, they aren't playing Philly this time around. That's pretty weak considering they're playing in Red Bank NJ AND New York, but not the Electric Factory (as they did in '02) or the Tweeter Center (which is the same size as Merriweather Post Pavilion, which they're playing on 6/21). Ah well.

Michael Nutter supports Wilco's new album Sky Blue Sky, so be sure to support Michael Nutter.

–B Love

15 May 07: Tastes like Falwell

This election day has really been something else, so it was on that notion that lunch had to be something else. Just have a look at that sandwich -- it really can't be beat.

  • CARANGI ON A ROLL: You've got to start with the best. Pardon my blasphemy, but there is just no better long roll in the world than Carangi's. I'm sorry, Amoroso family -- you've brought me so many fresh and enjoyable memories -- but Carangi's is king. They are part of the reason we think Steve's Prince of Steaks has the best cheesesteaks in all Philadelphia.

    For our purposes today, we'll get ourselves a Carangi roll for sixty cents at South Square Market.

  • AVOCADO AWESOMENESS: Remember when Pearl Jam used a halved avocado for the cover of its last record? No? Good. Leave that well enough alone then. They jumped the shark when Mike McCready got fat. Relatedly, "jump the shark" jumped the shark a good 4-5 years ago, so sorry about that dated reference there.

    The avocado is that most excellent (mexcellent) Mexican fertility fruit which is the tie that binds the best guacamoles and the freshest california rolls. It shouldn't always be just an ingredient, though . . . and for this reason, we're making it the star here. Well, the co-star anyway. Let's get a ripe and fresh avocado for under a buck at Sue's Produce on 18th Street.

  • BRIE . . . BRIE IN THE AIR: Don't be afraid to care. I don't know who decided that aging the lactation of an wild beast's teat was a good idea, but when I reach that afterlife, I will thank him or her to no end for doing so. Cheese is a gift of the gods. Nay, cheeses are gods. Cheeses love me, this I know.

    Let us then regard the Zeus of the cheese-gods. As good as that avocado is there, it needs a co-pilot, the co-pilot of all co-pilots. Brie is its name. Chestnut Hill Cheese Shoppe is the king of Philly cheese shops and DiBruno Bros is near its equal, but for our sandwich, let's stay in Center City. Triple creme brie is recommended, and you can get a good wedge of it at Trader Joe's for less than three dollars.

  • SWEET, HOT, MEAN MR MUSTARD: When Philly Skyline makes a sandwich, it does not F around with some bland, oversold, faker-than-yellow-#-5 mustard like French's. We mean business, so we're not going to settle for some lesser condiment. Woeber's Sandwich Pal has a sweet & spicy mustard that fits the bill. Get this: it's sweet AND spicy.

    Woeber's mustard is the flash hot three-way to the avocado-brie marriage. It's so wrong it's right.

    That official Philly Skyline Summer Sandwich may have come a little prematurely, but we're always looking ahead to both real deal summertime (June 21) and tourism summertime (Memorial Day). Your summer sandwich needs accompaniment, and just like French's mustard won't do, neither will Frito-Lay brand chips. Call us snobs, we're guilty as charged.

    With apologies to Mike Quick and Ed Herr, there really isn't a better potato chip sold in Philadelphia than Utz. And, there isn't a better potato chip than Utz Natural Dark Russet Kettle Cooked Gourmet Potato Chips (UNDRKCGPC).

    Finally, it's 80° and sunny as a mother out there. Do you really want to wash this lunchtime feast down with a glass of Schuylkill brand tap water? I don't think so. This is a celebration. Your thirst needs cold and your palate needs bold. That's where a little taste of Harrisburg will do ya: Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale. Tröegs' flagship beer is a slightly floral, slightly caramel-y splash of flower power in your mouth. HopBack, Loretta.

    In conclusion, vote Michael Nutter for Mayor and Yes to Ballot Question 6.

    –B Love

  • 15 May 07: Thank you sir may I have a Nutter

    In case you missed it, just about every regular publication in the city has decided to back Michael Nutter for Mayor. The Inquirer, The Daily News, City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, Philly Mag, The Northeast Times, The Daily Pennsylvanian, Philly For Change, Philebrity, Phawker, Phillyville, Dovate, America's Hometown, The Illadelph, Albert Yee, Dan from Young Philly Politics and your Philly Skyline have all made the pledge.

    There is clearly a pattern here, a pattern among journalism, for whatever that's worth. Well, here's what it's worth: a journalist's credo is to get to the heart of the truth and to tell that story to the people. There is a clearly defined commitment to truth and objectivity. Journalists are watchdogs by their nature and theoretically represent the best interests of everyone. Granted, no one has a 100% record of integrity (the media is just as much at fault for the Iraq War as the Bush administration is, for example), but when you see so many publications making the same decision and recommendation, it is an unmistakable indicator that the printed voices of the people are united under the same principle, the one that represents truth and objectivity.

    Michael Nutter has the smarts, wits and wherewithal to make the right decisions. After nearly eight years of John Street, any of the five -- even Tom Knox -- would be an improvement, but with the future of the city on the line, it seems absurd to consider NOT voting for the most qualified candidate. For the best Philadelphia we could possibly be, vote for Michael Nutter.

    By the by, the above graphic is your Election Day Philly Skyline Philly Skyline. Clicking it enlarges it without the eight Nutter butters.

    15 May 07: And now another word from Septa

    15 May 07: Vote YES to 6, YES to Brett Myers as closer

    Remember folks, on the ballot questions today, 4-5-6 means yes-yes-yes. It's time that Philadelphians admit that our zoning is all kinds of f'd up, and yes-yes-yes to 4-5-6 is the first step in fixing it.

    Meanwhile out in the bullpen, Brett Myers has become a force. While we certainly wish a speedy recovery to Tom Gordon (being hospitalized at 39 with an upper respiratory infection is no picnic), he can take his sweet old time getting back to the roster.

    Last night, finally, the Phillies won one for me. It only took six tries and the best team in baseball, but the Phils' win over the Milwaukee Brewers last night improves them to 1-5 in the games I've attended. Thanks guys. Seriously though, no one -- no one -- could have predicted the six run eighth inning comeback against Derrick Turnbow and the Brew Crew, much less that Wes Helms would miss a grand slam by three feet to give the Phils the lead.

    That at bat by Helms was clutch, the play by Abraham Nuñez in the ninth was solid, and Pat Burrell's power appears to be back. (The foul ball he hit on the pitch before his homerun hit the upper-upper deck before bouncing down to the dude five seats away from me.)

    But the star of the night just had to be Brett Myers. All BM did was pick up his fourth save by getting the top of the first place Brewers lineup out in order. He's given up a single run since moving to the bullpen, and he gets to keep his fastball fresh by pitching two innings at most. Brett Myers is the future of the Phillies bullpen. Now all we need is to get him some competent companions out there.

    15 May 07: Say NO to Tom Knox and large cats

    Tom Knox has bad, unnatural hair. Tom Knox talks funny. Tom Knox has huge earlobes. Tom Knox is unqualified to run for mayor. Tom Knox has an extremely unfair advantage over the four qualified candidates in that he has so much money the campaign financing limits don't touch him; he can spend money from his own pocket and not make a dent. Tom Knox has spent the past week spending that money on ludicrous, low-blow FALSE advertising attacking his opponent Michael Nutter. The most recent mailer his people sent out has a stock photo of a black man's hands being cuffed underneath a Microsoft Word Art announcement in Impact font that Nutter is for racial profiling. Tom Knox "had nothing to do with" the mailers that decried Nutter and Brady as bad Catholics and said that Tom Knox was a saint. Tom Knox certainly knows no boundaries of what is appropriate. Tom Knox supports large cats. Philadelphia has enough cats running rampant and spreading cat diseases and creating more cats that no one can care for. Philadelphia doesn't need LARGE cats added to the mix.

    Say no to Tom Knox and the large cats that Tom Knox wants on your streets.

    Vote for Michael Nutter.

    15 May 07: And now a word from Septa

    15 May 07: And now a word from Madonna

    14 May 07: Six! Six! Six! Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Okay, at last, here is your Philly Skyline guide to the primary election ballot. Depending on your councilmanic district, you have a pretty big choice, but regardless of where you live in the city, you get to choose your (party's) mayor(al nominee) and answer several ballot questions -- nine eight of them, in fact. You already know we support Mike Nutter for Mayor, so let's have a look at those ballot questions, shall we?

    To us, the biggest of all of these is #6 (as indicated by the devilish graphic above). Ballot question six asks if you would like to see the creation of a Zoning Code Commission: YES YOU WOULD! There's a reason that zoning has been a forerunner in mayoral campaign issues: it's broken. Really, really broken.

    A Zoning Code Commission would effectively review the current zoning code (which is decades old and has adversely affected several parts of the city -- look at the homes and their garages around Jefferson Square below Washington Ave, for example -- and which also has no provisions for green building), find what's wrong with it and fix it by updating its language (making it easier to understand), making it consistent, encouraging positive development and, most importantly, providing for community input on zoning matters. It will do that last one via one representative from each of the ten councilmanic districts who will serve as the liaison between community groups in that district's neighborhoods. The board will be three city officials: the City Planning Director (who will serve as Chair), the L&I Commissioner and the Zoning Board of Adjustments Chair. Don't worry, the commission is comprised of 31 individuals so there will be plenty of checks for shadiness. The others in that 31 include three City Council members, 5 mayoral appointees (that much better if they're Nutter's), 5 appointees by Council President, and one representative each from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Northeast Chamber, African-American Chamber, Hispanic Chamber and the Asian-American Chamber.

    This referendum is so important that an entire web site, ZoningMatters.org, was created to help better understand the ZCC's role. Please, vote yes on 6.

    Questions 4 and 5 ahead of it are not unrelated. Question 4 asks if you wish to require the Phila City Planning Commission (PCPC) to have among its appointed members an architect, an urban planner, a traffic engineer, a land use attorney and two representatives from community groups involved in land use (for example Design Advocacy Group). Put another way, would you like the Planning Commission to be comprised of qualified experts in the field of Planning? Yes, you would.

    Question 5 asks if you would like PCPC to be able to extend its review period of bills affecting development by 45 days. I would say yes, simply because it provides an extra month and a half for the Commission to say hold on, don't railroad these projects through, give us a second to actually look at the it. So voting yes to five is also good.

    * * *

    There is no Question 1 because the courts say there is no Question 1. Wanna vote on restrictions of casinos in your neighborhood? Better move to Monte Carlo.

    Question 2 would allow city officials to run for another position while holding office. Like . . . Michael Nutter. Nutter resigned his Council position to run for mayor, whereas Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady got to run for Mayor while each serving as Congressman (each one missing over a quarter of the votes in the current Congress), and Dwight Evans got to run for Mayor while not only representing his West Oak Lane area at the state level in Harrisburg, but also serving as Chair of the State House Appropriations Committee. In short, Question 2 would level that playing field, but were it up to me, I'd do it in reverse and make the Congressmen and State Representative resign their positions before running for Mayor. Besides, just imagine how the sixteen other council members would treat the one who decides to run for mayor while serving on council. Yeaaah, no. Vote No to 2.

    Question 3 asks if there should be a Youth Commission to advise the Mayor and Council on issues for children and teenagers. The commission would have 21 members aged 12 to 23 and would be chosen from youth involved in activities from all parts of the city. This is a good thing. Vote yes on 3.

    Question 7 asks if you would like US troops in Iraq to be redeployed out of harm's way. Philly Skyline is not gonna tell you how to vote on this because it doesn't really belong on a city ballot.

    Question 8 asks if the city should borrow exactly $129,695,000 to go to transit, streets, buildings, parks, recreation, museums, economic and community development. Uhhh, WHAT? We take no position here.

    Question 9 asks if you wish to stop the increase in real estate tax assessments. Look, nobody wants higher taxes. But for as burdened as our city is with taxes, real estate is not one of the ones pulling its weight, especially when compared with the suburbs (yo Jersey). Additionally, some places' taxes may actually go down (although not from any positive reasons -- think Frankford and Oxford Circle here). More importantly though, there are measures in place for lower income families and senior who are longtime residents of certain areas whose values have increased (think G-Ho or Brewerytown) that will allow deferment or even grandfathering of the current rate so that displacement does not happen on the bureaucratic level.

    * * *

    So! To recap:
    1. N/A: There is no 1, there is only Zool.

    2. NO: This is a bad idea on the city level and would only be a good idea on the state and federal level.

    3. YES: Won't somebody think of the children?

    4. YES: Planning people on the Planning Commission . . . who woulda thunk?

    5. YES: This is not authorizing procrastination, this is telling the Planning Commission to be thorough.

    6. YES!!!!!!!!!!!: You want a Zoning Code Commission. You do, you really really do. If you only vote yes on one ballot question, make it this one.

    7. N/A: Everybody but George Bush, Dick Cheney and the seven remaining people who support them think the War in Iraq is going well. Vote how you will on this question, or don't vote on it at all because it's not appropriate on such an important city ballot.

    8. N/A: One hundred twenty-nine million, six hundred ninety-five unexplained borrowed dollars for . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. No stance.

    9. NO: Reassessment may be a pain in the ass, but it's the right thing to do. Don't vote to stop it.

    Elsewhere you've got your state judge races, and Philly Skyline will defer to the proper authorities for those. Such as: The Philadelphia Bar Association has a well done voters guide to the judicial candidates. Also, don't forget to NOT vote for Willis Berry. To borrow from the Inquirer,
    Berry, a Common Pleas Court judge, owns 11 properties in North Philadelphia, many of them decrepit and unsafe. Neighbors say one of Berry's vacant buildings at Erie and Sydenham has become a haven for drug dealers. Judge Berry is supposed to be locking up such people, not providing them with a habitat in which to ply their illegal trade. The city has found numerous code violations at his properties; tenants have found mice and roaches.

    And as for City Council? Well, there are ten districts you might be reading this from, but there are only three that Philly Skyline really really hopes will be represented by new officials: the fifth, the fourth and the seventh. Please vote for Haile Johnston in the fifth to replace Darrell Clarke. Clarke is not only a chief John Street ally in Council, but he is a hypocrite with regard to zoning, especially in a neighborhood as diverse as his. It was Clarke who led the charge to put a blanket height restriction of 125' in the area around the Parkway after he saw how adversely people reacted to the Barnes Tower. Clarke followed that by creating a whole new zoning district to allow the expansion of a Westrum property in his own district. Haile Johnston is a young, innovative mind, and the Fairmount-Brewerytown-Poplar-Northern Liberties area could use a fresh face. [Johnston07.com.]

    The Fourth district is Michael Nutter's former district, and it has been taken over by the large and in charge Carol Campbell. She and her cronies have got to go, and Matt McClure is the one who's got to do it. McClure is a champion of education and job development, and he perhaps has a better understanding of Fairmount Park funding needs than any of the other candidates. [McClureForCouncil.com.]

    Maria Quiñones-Sanchez has been an activist for women's and workers' rights and voter registration for years, she is embarrassed by Rick Mariano's downfall in her district, and she is a founding member of the Pennsylvania Statewide Latino Coalition. [Maria2007.com.]

    Elsewhere . . . DiCicco or Anastasio? Verna or Roberts? Our stance here is no stance at all. There are arguments to be made on each side, and the incumbent is most likely to win each district. We're okay with that, but we'd be okay with the other outcome too.

    As for At Large candidates, DEFINITELY vote for Andy Toy (he had a huge hand in making the Schuylkill Banks park a reality) and Marc Stier. Matt Ruben's ok and Jim Kenney has been one of the more progressive At Large members of the past decade.

    Sheriff? We got nothin', but Michael Untermeyer sure does leave a lot of recordings on our voicemail.

    Anyhow, there we go, your sort of official Philly Skyline guide. Sorry to cut it short but the office is closing early today on account of official business. VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN and we'll see you on Election Day. Here's a Philly Skyline Philly Skyline to look up, way up from the airport on this Monday morn'.

    –B Love