31 July 07: A reminder

PHILLY HISTORY COMES ALIVE: For the last couple years, the City Archive has, with Avencia's help, built one of the raddest web sites out there, a searchable, mappable archive of the city's archived photos, bringing the 19th century into the digital age. And to think that the 36,669 photos (as of 30 July 07) scanned and uploaded barely scratch the surface of the over 2 million photos they have.

This Friday, the Art Institute of Philadelphia yanks them off of your computer and smacks 'em up on their walls. Curated by AI professor Maria DiElsi-Connolly, the show features archived photos professionally printed by AI's Academic Director of the Photography and Digital Filmmaking and Video Production, Robert H. Crites, as well as some of his own contemporary photos for before-and-after goodness.

The exhibit, entitled Philadelphia Stories, is free and runs from August 3-31. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 9am-7pm, Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday 9am-4pm, and the opening is Friday, August 3rd, 4:30-7:30, Art Institute of Philadelphia, 1622 Chestnut.

[Philadelphia Stories.] [AI Philadelphia.] [Philly History.]

In anticipation of the exhibit, Avencia and PhillyHistory.org have graciously granted permission to use some of their historic photos (not necessarily those which will be on display), for which yr Philly Skyline will contribute a combo Philly Skyline Philly Skyline, the second of which is seen here, the view looking west from City Hall Tower, 1929 vs 2007.

Click. Compare. Collect.

–B Love

30 July 07: The week is strong

Hi dilly ho, neighborinos. Been a while since a Calendar of Events, you say? Well boy howdy is this the week for YOU! Let's see let's see . . .

  1. WELL AWARE RIVER? This is the week we find out for sure. The long going, ongoing Penn Praxis study of the central Delaware Riverfront unveils its progress in the form of two forums, one Wednesday and one Thursday. Director Harris Steinberg previewed the plan to the Riverfront study's advisory group last week, and the always thorough Matt Blanchard wrote about it in detail for Plan Philly. That link has a 14 minute video that nicely summarizes the preview and includes comments from Harris, members of the Planning Commission, community members and Center City District's Paul Levy. There is also a PDF version of the presentation, with sketches, renderings and explanations HERE.

    Philly Skyline will weigh in on this plan after the forums, but suffice it to say the early action items -- namely a protected bike/hike/blade/etc trail that begins at Pier 70 (Wal-Mart/Home Depot) and runs four miles north -- are a very good thing. The forums require registration and are as follows:

    Wednesday, August 1st: Cescaphé Ballroom, 932 N 2nd St (Northern Liberties, across the street from Conspiracy Showroom), sign-in at 5:30, program at 6:15. Register HERE.

    Thursday, August 2nd: Settlement Music School, 416 Queen Street (Queen Village), sign-in at 5:30, program at 6:15. Register HERE.

  2. IT'S CHRISTMASTIME IN HOLLIS' SCENES: It's that time of year again out in Manayunk: Hollis Week at Dawson Street Pub, now in its third year. The home of the city's best burgers turns the party out with seven nights of Jeremy Hollis running the show: behind the decks, behind the mic, heading up Quizzo, heading up karaoke. Check the full lineup over HERE, take the R6 to Wissahickon station, and party down in 3D at Dawson Street.

    All week long, 100 Dawson St, Manayunk.

    [Hollis Week.] [Dawson Street Pub.]

  3. WHEN SMOKEY SINGS: The Mann Center really stepped up its lineup this summer with the likes of Lyle Lovett, Morrissey, John Prine, and Elvis Costello (and, uh, Clay Aiken), but they all pale to the legendary Smokey Robinson, who takes the stage Friday night. If you haven't been to the Mann Center since its renovation -- or if you haven't seen the skyline from the top of the hill since Comcast Center topped out -- Friday's as good a time as any to head out to Fairmount Park for an evening of classic soul.

    Bob Dylan once called Smokey the "greatest living poet", and it's hard to argue with that when you consider he was vice president of Motown Records for nearly 30 years and he wrote a slew of hits for the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and others. He's obviously, though, most recognized for his music recorded with the Miracles (I Second That Emotion, Tracks of My Tears, Ooo Baby Baby, Tears of a Clown) and on his own (Sweet Harmony, Cruisin', and especially Quiet Storm, the name of which stuck to an entire slow jam genre). Expect to hear all the hits up on the hill.

    Friday, August 3rd, Mann Center, 52nd & Parkside, $49-79. [Mann Center.]

  4. PHILLY HISTORY COMES ALIVE: For the last couple years, the City Archive has, with Avencia's help, built one of the raddest web sites out there, a searchable, mappable archive of the city's archived photos, bringing the 19th century into the digital age. And to think that the 36,669 photos (as of 30 July 07) scanned and uploaded barely scratch the surface of the over 2 million photos they have.

    This Friday, the Art Institute of Philadelphia yanks them off of your computer and smacks 'em up on their walls. Curated by AI professor Maria DiElsi-Connolly, the show features archived photos professionally printed by AI's Academic Director of the Photography and Digital Filmmaking and Video Production, Robert H. Crites, as well as some of his own contemporary photos for before-and-after goodness.

    The exhibit, entitled Philadelphia Stories, is free and runs from August 3-31. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 9am-7pm, Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday 9am-4pm, and the opening is Friday, August 3rd, 4:30-7:30, Art Institute of Philadelphia, 1622 Chestnut.

    [Philadelphia Stories.] [AI Philadelphia.] [Philly History.]
In anticipation of the exhibit, Avencia and PhillyHistory.org have graciously granted permission to use some of their historic photos (not necessarily those which will be on display), for which yr Philly Skyline will contribute a combo Philly Skyline Philly Skyline, the first of which is seen here, the view looking east on Market Street from City Hall Tower, 1915 vs 2007.

Click. Compare. Collect.

–B Love

29 July 07: Guchi Guchi Ya Ya Heeee

It may have only been the woeful Washington Nationals and the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates, but there's no denying that a sweep and a 5-1 homestand are a boon to the Phillies' collective confidence, especially in light of the loss of Chase Utley for at least three weeks. Tom Gordon and Brett Myers are back on the roster, Pat Burrell is crushing the ball in this July heat, Chris Coste is pure clutch, and Pat Gillick made what seems like a bangup acquisition in Tadahito Iguchi (above, lining his first hit for the Phillies) to fill Utley's really big shoes.

The Iguchi trade is not only significant in that it brings the first Asian-born player to the Phillies' roster (and first of Asian descent since Bruce Chen), nor that the vernacularly challenged Charlie Manuel will be Iguchi's personal translator (since Uncle Cholly is fluent in Japanese from playing several years in Japan, including an MVP season for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1979), but most specifically: because the Phils traded minor leaguer Michael Dubee for him. In a farm system full of prospects and nobodies, the Phillies traded their pitching coach's son for hired help who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Ouch.

While that seems like a dick move, it's very much as much a fire under the arse of Rich Dubee as the hiring of Davey Lopes (who has been a fantastic base coach) and Jimy Williams was to Charlie Manuel. The message is loud and clear to the man responsible for the worst ERA in the National League. Does bullpen coach Ramon Henderson have a son we can trade to get him fired up out there for something other than tossing Derby homerun balls?

Here we are, less than 48 hours from the trade deadline, on a roll and only three and a half behind the Mets. Tad Iguchi (who got a very welcoming ovation from the CBP crowd) should be a fine stand-in until Chase returns, and once that happens Iguchi will offer the most solid right hand bat off the bench after Coste or Carlos Ruiz, depending on who's catching that game. Obviously, Gillick knows he's gotta get us an arm or three (more so now that one of the few solid arms in the pen, Ryan Madson, is heading to the DL), and here's hoping he can do it without sacrificing Michael Bourn.

* * *

Here's an interesting observation:

Yellow denotes League Leader.

For as celebrated a young shortstop as Jose Reyass is (and for as much as Chris Wheeler verbally fellates him every time the Phils play the Mets), his numbers don't exactly make you regret having Jimmy Rollins instead of him. Rollins has way more power, is a clubhouse leader (even if he doesn't have a corny song fans sing every time he has a hit), and is on a pace to have the most NL triples since 1930, and to be the first NL player with over 700 at-bats since a fella named Juan Samuel did it for the 1984 Phillies. Reyes may be blowing the league away in stolen bases and have more walks than Rollins, but J-Roll clearly generates (and scores) more runs, and he leads all baseball in total bases, a figure that includes the contributions of Alex Rodriguez.

The second place Phillies now head to the midwest for a huge series against the 2nd place Cubs and the 1st place Brewers. The set begins at 7 in Wrigley with a showdown of 11 game winner lefties, Cole Hamels (11-5, 3.63) vs Ted Lilly (11-4, 3.46). LET'S GO PHILS!

This 'ere series sweep edition of the Philly Skyline Philly Skyline previews our Comcast Center section, updated again over the weekend. It also invited the following quote from a certain syndicate of Pirates fans in town for the weekend: "What the hell is up with that Phillies sign right there in the way of the skyline?" To which a certain season ticket holder said, "dude, that's not a Phillies sign, that's a Theme Tower."

–B Love

27 July 07: The Fountainhead

Upgrade? Sure . . . so is upgrading to Windows 2000 from Windows '98.

On June 27, Washington Square (the park, not the neighborhood) finally ditched the leaky garden hose in favor of a sculpted fountainhead, the original vision of the Square's 1950s architect, G. Edwin Brumbaugh. The previous pitiful single stream spigot was replaced by a bronze lilypad sculpture, designed by Brumbaugh, built by Downingtown's Heritage Metal Works, and executed (paid for) by a collaboration of Independence National Historical Park (INHP), the Philadelphia Fountain Society, and the Society Hill Civic Association, especially the efforts of former president Tania Rourke.

INHP spokeswoman Jane Cowley sayd that the current fountain is a one-third larger version of the one Brumbaugh designed and which was approved by the Arts Commission, but for one reason or another ($$$?), was never built.

While there is no arguing that it's a major improvement over what was there before, this fountain struggles to inspire, considering the fountains in the other three of Penn's corner Squares (Franklin is far improved thanks to Once Upon a Nation, Rittenhouse's Water Girl and pond are classic meeting grounds, and Logan is home to the greatest fountain in the entire region).

On the other hand, it doesn't overtake the intentionally solemn feel to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, and hey, the right gust of wind near a larger fountain could theoretically put out the eternal flame. Right? Right???

It's not a bad fountain. It's quaint. It's just . . . eh, it's all right.

Now that there's actually water in the fountain, it'll be interesting to see if parents let their children swim in the water like they do at Swann Fountain, and if they do, how INHP park rangers and/or the Wackenhut nazis will react, considering they tape off the park during a snowfall.

Ellsworth Toohey, would you kindly get the F out of my city's Washington Square?

–B Love

PS: If you're into fountains and Steve Ives' Skyline contributions, keep it local as those two ideas will soon be coming together in a picture perfect way.

27 July 07: That's the breaks, that's the breaks

If there is a god, John Lannan, may She spare your soul. Because here on earth, you are in the crosshairs of all that is decent, you no-good, dirty rotten piece of dog shit playing for the worthless Washington Nationals, making your own mother cry on television because you got ejected in your Major League Baseball debut. May baseball's karma police please see to it that this no-name a-hole get his comeuppance.

John Lannan became the first ballplayer in ten years to be ejected in his debut when he drilled Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on back-to-back at-bats, Howard's following his earlier homerun. It was Chase's that made the needle-scratching rip sound, though. Diagnosis: broken right hand, out 4-6 weeks. This is the guy who leads the league in hits (134), who's 2nd in the league in batting average (.336), 3rd in RBIs (82, three behind league leader RyHo), first in doubles (41), and -- wait for it -- first in all MLB with 17 Hit By Pitches. (Aaron Rowand is second with 14.) When you get hit by that many pitches, sooner or later one of 'em is gonna sting, and brother, the one that that Nats rookie threw stung.

This sucks. Bad.

But the Phillies must march on. They're still only five games back of the first place Mets, and the Braves just won't go away. The division is still winnable, even if that means Abraham Nuñez will be our starting second baseman for the next month and a half, perhaps longer depending on the severity of Utley's break. The Phils' offense has more than compensated for a pathetic pitching staff that has suffered injuries to four top level players (Gordon, Myers, Garcia, Lieber), so now they need to step it up a notch to compensate for the couldn't-have-happened-at-a-worse-time loss of the best 2B in baseball, temporary though it may be.

The 14 inning game the other night was in a sense the Phillies' season in a nutshell: Cole Hamels pitches great, Uncle Cholly pulls a boner (Tom Gordon is paid to save games and is healthy, yet he went with Antonio Alfonseca, AND he used up the entire bench before it even reached extra innings), bullpen blows game, offense overshadows them, Phils somehow win, Phils somehow over .500. Jimmy Rollins' inside the park HR triple-and-score-on-error was pure guts, and RyHo's walkoff homerun rewarded those who stayed till the end. (That group, by the way, did not include yours truly. I'm not normally one to jump ship before the end, but my season record coming into the game was 3-9, and in my seven summers in Philadelphia, the Phillies have won one game in extra innings in my attendance. That includes a 16 inning game against the Orioles a few years ago in which Jim Thome went 0-8 with 5 Ks.)

All the same, today's Philly Skyline Philly Skyline comes from that high drama 14 inning game two nights ago at Citizens Bank Park. Click it, enlarge it, use it to send your support to the Phillies infirmary supplying the get-well juice to our fallen second baseman. Nobody is sicker about Chase Utley's injury than Chase Utley, believe that.

(Not unrelated: our Comcast Center construction section is up to date with two new pages of photos.)

With four days left until the trading deadline, it's time for Pat Gillick to show us what he's made of. This is the man who constructed the Toronto Blue Jays team that depleted the dreams of the '93 Phillies, the man who built the winningest team of the modern era, the 2001 Seattle Mariners (whose pitching staff had a guy named Jamie Moyer go 20-6, 3.34, and another fella by the name of Freddy Garcia at 18-6, 3.05). This is also the man who signed Rod Barajas, Ryan Franklin (who's having a fine season in St Louis, thanks), Jose Mesa(!) (and also Greg Dobbs, to be fair), who let Justin Germano and Joe Borowski get away, and who kept Chris Coste in the minors, behind Barajas, for half a season after batting .330 the season previous.

Gillick said the Phillies will be buyers, but that was two days before Chase went down. Only Pat knows whether that will affect the Phils' deadline drive. C'mon Pat, your résumé shows that you can build a winner. Mind doing that here, too?

–B Love

26 July 07: Bullet Time

By Steve Ives
26 July 07

Let's start with a story.

We know that far too many young black men shoot for too many young black men for far too many foolish reasons. Far too many of these young men have lived lives of want -- sometimes extreme want, the kind of want those of you reading these words may have have difficulty understanding. Too many of these young men grew up with barely the most basic material needs met. They grew up in a world without a positive male figure, they grew up in a world with a parent who most likely was ill-prepared to raise a child, being one herself. They grew up in a world where discipline was swift and harsh. They grew up in a world where mainstream morals applied 'situationally' and in a world where there was little relief for those responsible for them.

Often, parents made a choice between playtime with the kids or food and shelter for the kids -- which means somebody can't be where they are. The responsibility of being a parent acts a double-edged sword -- the child may have physical needs met but emotional needs left by the wayside. Mom can't always be there, dad most likely was never there and all that remained much of the time, after overwhelmed or neglectful relatives, were the ever-present streets. Here, this young man can get the male bonding he has longed for since he could understand his world. Here, this young man can learn the traits of 'being a man' from actual males. Here, this young man hears from others what he has observed all his life -- that the world is cold, that it is against you and those like you and that all you really have is your image as a man and the only way to defend your image as a man is to pull that hammer faster than the guy looking at you.

And, lacking any other effective example, this young man cleaves to this philosophy at the most critical juncture of his development personally and socially. He's put his foot down the path that does not necessarily lead to crime as many of us understand it -- he may, at some point, sell drugs to get the money he needs to buy groceries or clothing -- but this path does not always lead to a guaranteed felony conviction. What it does lead to is the nearly irreversible creation of a person driven by some of humanity's worst natures. 'No concern for the future because I could be dead tomorrow.' 'No concern for things larger society deems important because larger society shows little concern for me.' 'I'll do what I gotta do to keep my stomach full and my house warm.' And it leads, sooner or later, to coming across the guy who believes in the philosophy a little more than he does. Who lived a little worse off than he had. Who pulled that hammer a little quicker than he did. And his life is extinguished. And his place on those cold, ever-present streets is filled as swiftly as it was vacated by the next young man who's seeing life with eyes a little deader, with a heart a little colder, with a mentality a little harsher and harder to shape because he doesn't want to go out like that.

This story, to various extents, plays out hundreds of times, every day of the week, every month of the year, on the streets of Philadelphia. A generation of young men comes to find their place in a world that they see as hostile, a greater world lacking realistic opportunities. It is a world that they read and understand better than they're often given credit for. It is a world they know they lack the skills to join as they currently are and many times it leads the young man who didn't get that supportive shove, who didn't get that guiding word, to a pivotal fork in the road. Both roads lead to uncertainty but one is lined with trees with low-hanging fruit. To a person that has had a rough way to go, the temptation often overwhelms reason and personal morality. And it's the fact that such a fork exists that exemplifies the failures of both society at large and the communities that bore and bred these young men to these young men.

Philadelphia has stood and watched in horror for the past two years as many of our young people have participated in the systematic deletion of the next generation. Bullet riddled and broken bodies have fallen to cold sidewalks in virtually every corner of this city, the end result of a collusion of numerous social failings that result in this sinister storm that is coating our streets red and our hearts black. Mothers, girlfriends, wives and grandmothers wail and wring their hands in agony over the waste of their beautiful babies. Fathers (where found), brothers, cousins, friends and old heads shake their heads in disappointment because that thing they taught him to watch out for, to outrun, to outsmart since he was small, caught their boy. There is a sense of sadness in them but it is tempered by their realization of the cold reality that they could as easily have been there. The realization of the fragility of life, often overlooked or downplayed in a larger culture that celebrates dangerous excess and exalts those who willingly come to the very edge of death and return, is ironically a stark reality at the bottom and fringes of our society where you find the most people dead for frivolous reasons.

It has become something of an academic pursuit to pinpoint the root causes of our recent surge in gun murders. Over the past months, we've been treated to an array of in-the-know people, those whom we have elected to ameliorate this kind of problem, those who have survived the streets and have made it their raison d'etre to ensure as few young people follow that path as possible and those to whom the community looks to for solace and wisdom when this dark cloud creeps over their piece of the world. And all of them offer truths when asked what are the causes and what are the cures. Better oversight of the sale of guns. Better schools. Better jobs. More police involvement on the community level. More proactive cooperation from afflicted communities. All of these things will, with time and dedication, soothe the problem. But nothing will reverse it, nothing will dramatically change its speed or growth short of a total about face on the Second Amendment.

But every time I hear the solutions and think of what it took to get to this point, I think of three things.

I think of how different the worlds people occupy are. I think of the fact that someone can live a life of true luxury a 20-minute walk away from someone living in abject squalor, in a state of want that is supremely difficult to assuage and how, in a society that claims to believe so much so in the strength of its moral convictions that it can send young people by the boatload to deliver it to others -- ironically, at the point of a gun -- that we can abandon those among us who don't paddle in stride. We, as a society, allow terrible people to dictate terms of the humanity of others -- whether we accept that or not -- based not on the higher moral standard we like to think we operate by, but simply by who can best keep up with or outdo the group -- who makes the most, who looks the nicest, who lives the best.

And I think, with all the excuses, we very rarely see blame accepted by or foisted upon the communities that allow members of our future to come in to festering conditions. How some members of these communities, despite the material resources they often lack, fail to exercise judgment, good sense and neighborly decency -- small things, seemingly, that ultimately separate 'good' neighborhoods from 'bad' ones. How so many people go to bed with the 'snitches get stitches or ditches' mentality, guaranteeing them maybe a good night's sleep and the promise of uncertainty and instability to greet them with the morning sun. How it got so bad that Ty from the block holds more sway on the block than a 6,800 member police force with helicopters, dogs, shotguns and the full weight of The United States Department of Justice behind them should things go really sour.

I think of the culture of fear and violence that is created and strengthened by members of these communities, communities I move through, communities I have lived in since birth. I think of the simplicity of twenty neighbors who'd like to sit on their front stoops on a warm night without a reasonable fear of catching a bullet going to their police district, demanding action from the men and women they pay to ensure public security and pledging full eyes and ears cooperation in return.

And I think of the next young man, who grew up cold and hungry, who decided to never be that way again and declared himself strong, a man. I think 'Will I be sitting on the wrong side of the bus, will I be walking down the wrong side of the street, will I be coming out the wrong door at the wrong time and find myself between such a young man and another like him, set for showdown?' I'm sure I'd think a hundred things, few pertinent, before fate does what it would. But the reasons wouldn't matter then. As they didn't matter 406 times last year and as they haven't nearly 240 times this year. Maybe soon we'll reach the tipping point. Enough mothers will get tired of funerals. Enough roll dogs will get tired of looking at all those airbrushed shirts. Enough people will grow tired of being ignored and decide to be proactive and maybe the culture will start to change. No one spark is going to set it off, unfortunately.

Maybe it'll take 240.

–Steve Ives

26 July 07: Live from Boyertown USA, or,
Pennsylvania Love, Altoona Edition

Stepping back into our Philly Skyline Far Out series, Mike from Boyertown contributes the farthest distance yet, these two photos from over 40 miles away, taken between the Berks County towns of Oley and Boyertown, just outside of Reading. Click and enlarge, and thanks Mike.

Let the record show: as yet, there have been no takers on the Take-A-Picture, Win-A-Six-Pack contest. All you need to do to is take a picture of the Philly Skyline from the southbound Northeast Extension between the Quakertown and Lansdale exits, near mile marker 38, and you'll earn yourself a sixer of Yards Philly Pale Ale. Which, by the way Philebrity, is not only totally delicious (hops hops hops, MMMM), but is the perfect summer drink. Tall, cold and frosty: the American Philadelphian way.

We'd also like to use Mike from Boyertown's contribution to tie a few loose ends together, reminisce about days of yore, and offer up another round of Pennsylvania Love. (Hope you don't mind, Mike.)

* * *

Some time in the late 1980s, when this fellow pictured at left was scoring touchdowns for the New York Jets, change was afoot in Altoona, Pennsylvania. This town of roughly 50,000 in Blair County is home to the eighth oldest amusement park in the country, Lakemont Park, which itself is home to the oldest active rollercoaster in the country, Leap The Dips, a certified National Historical Landmark.

Lakemont Park, which opened in the 1890s, assumed new ownership in 1986 by the Boyer Candy Company, who changed the name to Boyertown USA and deactivated Leap The Dips rather than renovating it. The people of Altoona illustrated their disapproval with attendance so bad that only two years later, it was re-sold and the name changed back to Lakemont Park.

One good thing the Boyertown project did bring to the table was quite possibly the best named rollercoaster of them all (sorry, Sooper Dooper Looper), the Skyliner. (Duh.) They relocated this half-mile coaster from Roseland Park in upstate New York, and it's active to this day, especially notable as the view seen beyond the rightfield wall at Blair County Ballpark, home to the Altoona Curve. The Curve are the AA affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who visit Citizens Bank Park for three starting Friday night (John Van Benschoten, 0-4, 8.17 vs Jamie Moyer, 8-8, 5.01).

(Print by Grif Teller, 1952.)

The Altoona Curve borrows its name from the engineering landmark of the longtime Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Railroad, the Horseshoe Curve. (Interestingly, The Horseshoe Curve is the name of the new Trey Anastasio record, released yesterday.) The Horseshoe Curve is to Pennsylvania and the eastern seaboard what Promontory Summit, Utah is to the wild wild west. While that location's golden spike in 1869 is perhaps more celebrated for completing the transcontinental railroad's passage of the Rocky Mountains, the Horseshoe Curve essentially represents the same thing for the Allegheny region of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. And, it was completed 15 years prior to that.

The Horseshoe Curve, just outside city limits, and the Railroad Museum downtown really represent the history of Altoona, a city founded basically as a railroad workshop by the Pennsy. Altoona Works, as the railyard was known, was important enough to the industry's early days that Altoona was an intended target of General Robert E Lee's Confederate Army in 1863; they only made it as far as Gettysburg.

As well, the freight-active Horseshoe Curve itself was a prime target of Nazi infiltrators during World War II. It still serves several freight trains a day, but only one Amtrak train daily in each direction, one-third the service before the Bush administration. (An advanced purchase is $82 roundtrip, but if you want to ride through Horseshoe Curve, you'll have to go one further to Johnstown, an additional $4.)

Like so many rust-belt towns, Altoona's growth stunted and has actually reversed with industrial decline and the shrinking of the railroad industry. Despite being on the main line between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for over 150 years, Altoona is still predominantly white, over 95% according to the 2000 Census. Unfortunately, when the racial scales are tipped so far in one direction, it presents a greater chance for prejudice and bureaucratic xenophobia and paranoia to grow. Like?

Like the photo on the left, taken a few years ago in an Altoona residential neighborhood. (Yes, surely this is an isolated case of racist idiocy, but that a sticker like that exists and is being bought in Altoona is a pretty accurate depiction, no?) Like the story last week in USA Today in which a gradual increase of in-migration of lower income families from New Jersey has raised the eyebrows of Altoona's government and the ire of long-timers. Like an anti-illegal-immigration law modeled after that from Hazleton, the similarly sized PA mountain town which made national headlines a year ago.

The difference between Hazleton and Altoona, though, is that where Hazleton's proximity to New York enables population spillover, particularly that of the immigrant variety, Altoona has a less than 1% Latino (or any immigrant) population. Their law, it seems, stems from one sad similarity: a horrible murder by an illegal immigrant, in Altoona's case a triple murder. Just sayin': Miguel Padilla, a Mexican raised in the US and sixteen years removed from his home country, killed three (white) people at an Altoona bar: its owner, its bouncer, and a patron. Though Padilla is convicted, incarcerated and sentenced to death, he never should have been there to commit the murder -- the non-resident had a criminal record involving a domestic offense, a firearms violation, and alleged drug trafficking.

Long story short: like anywhere, Altoona's got its ups and its downs, but on the whole it's not a bad place to visit. A lot of Philadelphians know that one guy who went to Penn State Altoona campus, and if they visited that guy, that guy probably took 'em up to Wopsy, the lovers lane of Altoona. He may have also taken them for one of the signature square slices at Pal-Mino's Pizza. If he was there long enough to know Altoona beyond the campus, he most definitely took those Philadelphians to Tim's American Cafe, where they learned how hot wings are supposed to look, feel and taste. He took them hiking in the mountains by day, and to world famous Classic Attitudes by night.

But for all the Pennsylvania Love we bestow upon our friend four hours to the west, none is greater than the love of hometown heroes SHEETZ. Bob Sheetz, if for some reason this story makes it to your desk, I'm the dude that interviewed you for the opening of the Tyrone store in 2000. Please reconsider your stance that Wawa and 7-Eleven have Philadelphia covered and there's no sense to enter this market. For those of us who know better, we respectfully disagree. The Shmuffin needs a new home in the southeastern part of your home state, Mr Sheetz, and it could very well be the tie that binds -- a modern day Horseshoe Curve -- to this farfetched idea of Pennsylvania love.

–B Love

25 July 07: And now, a word from a traveling Phillies fan

Driving from Philly out to Sussex County, NJ last night, I caught the end of the Phillies game, the post-game, the star of the game (static-y) and then, feeling good for this team of decent men, I switched over to the FAN in New York. I religiously listen to talk radio when I'm driving at night because it keeps me awake and so I suffered through the over-confidence of the Mets fans. These people are as stupid as we are, only with their accent somehow they sound like they know more. One caller said he nearly shed a tear when John Maine, the pitcher, homered . . . the pitcher homers against Pittsburgh and these people are crying. Christ, I hope we catch those mother-fuckers, for all their sour sentimentality for their "greatness."

Nathaniel Popkin

(Photograph by B Love: Shea Stadium, full of Mets fans)

Ed. note: The Mets are currently in first place, three games ahead of the Braves and five games ahead of the Phillies. Cole Hamels takes the hill tonight on Cole Hamels bobblehead night against the last place Nationals. GO PHILS!

25 July 07: The Philly Skyline Time Warp: 2006!

(Click and watch it grow.)

Exactly one year ago, this photo was taken from Martin Luther King Drive at the bend of the Schuylkill River, the vantage point from which the official renderings of Comcast Center were drawn. In February, we had another photo from the same location, comparing that photo with the rendering and projecting the finished product. (This comparison is found HERE.) Almost six months later, it's easy to see that what we thought was a good projection is pretty far off, at least with the inner massing's glass. How about that!

While we're back in 2006, we'll revisit an old fallen comrade, the Adams Mark Hotel. This time last year, the once 23 story tower was only about 18 stories tall, in the midst of its demolition. Have a look at its history and it demolition HERE.

Today, on July 25, 2007 at 8am, its replacement opened its doors, following a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday attended by one Michael Nutter, in whose former councilmanic district the new City Line Target store resides. Jessica "TV News" Borg has the story for Target's next door neighbor Channel 6's Action News.

–B Love

24 July 07: All I wanna do is zooma zoom zoom zoom
and a boom boom

Now this is what I'm talking about. This photo (click, enlarge) was submitted by Matt and was taken during a helicopter ride that departed the Helicopter Museum just outside of West Chester, about 23 miles away.

And then this one . . .

. . . was sent in by Rob up in Buxco. This is a shot from the webcam atop Council Rock High School South in Holland, about 20 miles to the northeast.

If you've got something similar, send it in! Email PHOTOS (AT) PHILLYSKYLINE (DOT) COM with your name, neighborhood/hometown and the location of the photo, and we'll post it (with a credit, of course). The offer still stands: a six-pack of Yards Philly Pale Ale* to the person who gets a shot looking south on 476 (PA Turnpike Northeast Extension) near mile marker 38 between the Quakertown and Lansdale exits.

Speaking of Skylines, this 'ere is from last night.

And now, a thought on power lines. Philly is an old city whose power is transmitted by wires hanging from tall poles. It is what it is, and nothing's going to change it, short of a trillion dollar windfall. Even then, that money would be better spent expanding Septa, building the Schuylkill Valley Metro, making the South Street Bridge the perfect icon it could be, improving schools and creating jobs in violent neighborhoods. Maybe somewhere in the future our power lines will be buried, but until it happens, they are here to remind you that electricity is being delivered to your home just like it was to your daddy and your daddy's daddy. If views are your thing, they can be an obstruction, but they don't have to be. They can frame your view/shot/photo/painting/lithograph very nicely. The above Philly Skyline Philly Skyline? Not a good example of this. The power line in this shot is annoying, but there wasn't much of a choice. (This is a reminder -- if you have a 12 foot ladder you'd like to donate to Philly Skyline HQ, please drop us a line!)

Anyhoo, that photo there was taken during last night's unseasonably cool sunset, perfect for smoking an Ashton corona and swigging one of those Yards Philly Pale Ales*. The glass of Comcast Center's crown will differ from the glass reflecting the sunset here, so we'll check in on this view in a couple months to compare notes.

* About Yards: In today's Daily News, Joe Sixpack brings us the sad story that the rumors are true: the partners at Yards Brewery are going their separate ways. Founder Tom Kehoe is moving Yards to a new brewery (location as yet undetermined), while Bill and Nancy Barton will remain in Kensington to brew a new brand. So, get up to 2439 Amber Street while you can, because the face of Philadelphia beer is going to change at the end of the year.

–B Love

23 July 07: Philly Skyline: far out, man

Boy is that Ithaca, NY a nice little town. (We've all seen the t-shirts about the gorges, but I think "Ithaca is gangsta" and "Ithaca is gay" are better.) I mean I wouldn't defend it in an argument with a Penn football player, but it's a nice place to spend a weekend or hang with Shai and Angela in a Finger Lakes vineyard on their wedding day. Driving back from there was not as nice; a traffic jam entering Pennsylvania on I-81 added over an hour to a 12 mile segment (through which there was a "Welcome to Pennsylvania" sign next to a "Be Prepared to Stop" sign) of the trip.

After that nonsense and a reset at Sheetz, it was onto the PA Turnpike's Northeast Extension, 476, in Clarks Summit. Before descending into the Wyoming Valley, you see the 12 turbines at the Bear Creek Wind Farm on the mountaintop in the distance. After passing through Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, you turn a corner on 476 and bam, there they are right in front of you, nearly 400 feet tall of poetry in motion. AHHH WATCH THE ROAD!

Further on down the turnpike, past the Lehigh Valley and within Phillies radio broadcast range (Real Deal Durbin!), we're starting to feel a little more at home when, just past Quakertown near mile marker 38 on southbound 476, we see our old friend Comcast Center. Its girth and geometry were really what distinguished the 32-miles-away skyline from the canopy of trees. It's the farthest away I've seen the Comcast or the skyline, beating the 30 mile distance of the Delaware Memorial Twin Bridges.

How 'bout you? What's the farthest distance you've seen the skyline? When you're on top of Comcast Center -- or even City Hall -- on a clear day, you can see for 40-50 miles. One can presume that from those 40-50 mile distances you can see out, a person 40-50 miles out can see back in. Paul in Skippack graciously sent a photo from Germantown Pike and Valley Forge Road, 24 miles out, that I kept forgetting to post. So, here it is:

Tell ya what: now that Comcast Center's completed form has taken shape, let's see some other long distance photos of the Philly Skyline. Doylestown? Limerick? Williamstown? Whatcha got out there? If you have a nice photo of the skyline from a great distance (let's say 20+ miles) and it's 500 pixels wide or larger, send your best one to PHOTOS (AT) PHILLYSKYLINE (DOT) COM with your name, hometown/neighborhood and the location of the photo, and we'll post it with a shout-out. Sound good? A six-pack of Yards Philly Pale Ale goes to the first person who can nab the view on southbound 476, between Quakertown and Lansdale around mile marker 38. AHHHH WATCH THE ROAD!

No great distance shots here, but there are two new pages for July in our Comcast Center construction photos section, including the ultimate Philly Skyline Philly Skyline here.

Since we're on the subject of long distances, let's Yank on Ye olde YouTube for some thoughts on a Long Distance Call by Mr McKinley Morganfield. He's better known as Muddy Waters, of course, but then he's better known for his singing than his guitar playing. In this outstanding clip from 1977, he does both.

–B Love

21 July 07: One for the road

In the spirit of love, summertime and a beautiful weekend on the forecast, this old ship is setting sail for the Finger Lakes.

This here is the tide-over Philly Skyline Philly Skyline, the latest from up on Spring Garden Street Bridge over the Schuylkill River, Schuylkill Expressway and Amtrak tracks. The tripod for this shot was set up on top of the railing upon which someone must have taken hours to carve the lyrics to the Phish song "Waste" into the concrete. Fun to think that three measly years ago this time, the skyline was missing three focal points in this picture. Mattafact, looked a little somethin' like this:

* * *

Some Casual Observations for the weekend . . .

  • The glass on Comcast Center is now being installed where the west side crane used to stand, and the glass in the south side keyhole (which is the same transparent glass used on the winter garden, corners and crown) is about halfway done. A huge Comcast Center update will be live by Monday.

  • Saturday's Phillies-Padres game features the oldest pitching match yet, 88 total years between Jamie Moyer and David Wells, besting the 87 between Moyer and the Big Unit and the 85 between Moyer and Tom Glavine. Go Phils.

  • Inga Saffron is awesome. (Duh.) Philly Skyline has stayed pretty silent on the 1352 Lofts sidewalk situation, half because we're compiling a Skinny Phase-In for that building, half because Inga has done such a thorough job. This is just to recognize that -- she's even got the legalese agreement between Rimas International (developers of 1352) and the City. As if you didn't already know, her blog is over HERE.

    Thanks again for all the love this week and see you on the udder side. Stay chill, Bubba.

    –B Love

  • 20 July 07: You like-a da view? FIVE DOLLA

    They say the best things in life are free, but in Philadelphia they'll usually run you about $7-10. (A whiz wit at Steve's Prince of Steaks, Sunday admission at the Art Museum, snow date tickets to the Orchestra.) You can now add City Hall to that list.

    Very quietly last month, tours of City Hall and trips to the top of its tower, the city's only observation deck (excluding the Zooballoon, I guess), added a minor detail: a fee. The hours have always been slim and the parties small, but you could never complain because both the tour and the tower were always free. Greta Greenberger's tours of City Hall's rooms, causeways and chambers are always thorough, and the view 500' up from the literal center of the center of the city is unlike any other. And now you must pay for them: $10 for the full tour (which includes the tower), $5 for just the tower.

    While the principle of paying for this type of service is absolutely understandable and even justifiable, one can't help but feel a little slighted. But by whom?

    Following a massive renovation of the visitors center in the east portal of City Hall paid for largely by a grant from the William Penn Foundation and the Commonwealth (and including the City Department of Public Property, Independence Visitor Center and Center City District), the visitors center is open again, now under the guidance of Independence Visitor Center (IVC). The new center more resembles an art gallery with high walls and large displays than the dingy room it used to be. It also has an expanded gift shop selling some of the Philly tchotchkes the main IVC does at 6th & Market.

    Getting a sponsor for City Hall tours was all but a necessity, as funding for it was cut under Mayor John Street's administration, and the money allocated for it under Mayor Ed Rendell was used up. Recognizing the importance of keeping City Hall tours alive, Rendell was sure to bring the state to the table.

    Will the new fees allow for expanded hours, in particular in evenings and on weekends? IVC Director of Marketing Kathy Ries says that discussions are currently under way but that it basically depends on City Hall itself. The building is closed on the weekends, and a certain level of security would have to be met in order to do it. Keep in mind, the City Hall visitors center is in one room on the first floor, while the elevator to the observation deck is on the 8th floor, accessed by an escalator from the 7th floor, which you get to via an elevator from either the northeast or northwest corner of the building.

    Though one month is probably too soon to provide an accurate gauge, the initial impression from City Hall tours is that visitation has declined since the fee was imposed. "Tourists likely won't mind the fee, but Philadelphians who've been here before for free have already said they won't pay for it, and this is especially true for groups," says one of the volunteers in the office.

    If there is in fact a drop in visitation, that can bounce back one of two ways: 1, Locals can just accept and eat that $5/10, or 2, it can -- and will -- be marketed better, something it has always needed. At the main Independence Visitors Center, there isn't any City Hall literature just yet, but it is in production and will be available soon. IVC's telephone hold message already encourages you to visit City Hall.

    But really, what is five bucks for a visit to an observation deck? In New York, tickets to the Empire State Building are $18 and Top of the Rock $17.50. Chicago's Sears Tower Skydeck is $12.95 and the John Hancock Center is $11, the same price as the Prudential Skywalk in Boston. The difference is that in each of those places, your visit is untimed; you can take as long as you like. At City Hall, tower tours run in fifteen minute cycles, so subtracting the two minute elevator ride in each direction (which, by the way, allows you the only look from inside the 26 foot clocks on the tower), you're looking at about 10 minutes of observation time, max.

    In fairness, City Hall is a far older building than any of those other ones, and it's the only one among them housing governmental facilities, let alone the offices of the Mayor and City Council.

    I guess what it comes down to is: how valuable is $5 to you vs how bad do you want to see the view? As someone who's visited City Hall tower dozens of times, I think $5 is worth the view, but at 10 minutes max, I might want a little more bang for my buck. In which case, I'll spend the extra five and make my tower visit part of a larger, comprehensive, guided tour of City Hall. Those tours are once a day at 12:30, last about an hour and a half, and include stops in the mayor's office and council chambers. And, they end with a visit to the observation deck, so you'll still get the tower views.

    At any rate (be it free, $5 or $10), City Hall tower is always worth a visit, but most especially on blue-sky-wispy-cloud days. Just be sure to plan ahead; make a list of what you want to see, be it the long straight line of Broad Street, the scenic and lined Ben Franklin Parkway, the Sports Complex due south, or the Limerick cooling towers a good 40 miles away. Or, look straight up and see the 37' Quaker guy.

    –B Love

    [Phila.gov: Virtual City Hall.] [Independence Visitors Center.]

    19 July 07: And now, Benjamin Franklin

    This morning we find our hero sitting on his marble perch, his most glorious of tributes in this city of Ben Franklin tributes: the Franklin Institute (conveniently located on the Ben Franklin Parkway).

    This famous rotunda is officially called the Ben Franklin National Memorial, a designation it received from US Congress in 1972 and a dedication in 1976. The rotunda, modeled after the Pantheon on Rome, was designed by John T Windrim, (Municipal Court, PNB Building, Graduate Hospital) and opened in 1938. The self supporting dome is 82 feet high, wide and long. The 20 foot statue of Ben was carved out of white Italian marble over the course of five years by sculptor James Earle Fraser, also famous for designing the indian-head/buffalo nickel, as well as the pediments at the National Archives and Department of Commerce Building in Washington DC. The Memorial is also the only portion of the Franklin Institute that is free.

    Let this Memorial memorial serve as a reminder that, if you haven't already made it to the King Tut exhibit, to make plans ASAP, as it's only there till the end of September and there is a finite amount of tickets to it. Please see the following promotional video for more information:

    On a somewhat related note: as of this afternoon, Aviator Park is officially re-open to the public. The $1.7M renovation of the park directly across 20th Street from the Franklin Institute was managed by Center City District and includes improvements to the walkways and affords better displays for the All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors statue (J. Otto Schweizer, 1934) and the Aero Memorial (Paul Manship, 1950).

    [Franklin Institute.] [CCD: Aviator Park.]

    –B Love

    18 July 07: It's all a blur

    Oh, hi there! Welcome back to another edition of Philly Skyline's Hump Day Umpdate. If this is your first Umpdate, what we do is offer up a round of Casual Observations with yellow titles to catch your attention and often provide an internet hyperlink to accompany that Casual Observation.

    That photo above is clickable-to-enlargeable, as we like to call around these parts our Philly Skyline Philly Skyline (PSPS, like PSFS only PSPS). Speaking of PSs, pre-Inquirer readers may have noticed a change in the favicon, the little avatar thingy in your address bar. While the Love statue has served us well, we really thought the neon red PS was appropriate.

    Shall we get to this Umpdate then? Let's.
    1. COMCAST CENTER, ALREADY AT HOME ON PHILLY SKYLINE: The Philly Skyline Philly Skyline above is one of nineteen new photos in our Comcast Center section, updated early this morning. That particular photo was, as you can see, taken after a few of Sierra Nevada's limited edition Torpedo Ale (6.8% abv, double the hop, double the YUM) on draught right now at Doobies. It wasn't supposed to be all light-streaky but without a tripod you gotta use what's available, like the narrow edge of a planter. My apologies to the cyclists for cursing as loud as I did.

      Anyway, Comcast Center: photos of the construction of the tallest building in your city go way back like Aaron Rowand. Enjoy the show over HERE.

    2. SPEAKING OF COMCAST CENTER: Now at 975' and noticeable as far away as Limerick, it's finally making its way into skyline graphics all over Greater Philadelphia. (We're still waiting for Channel 6 to add a Comcast Center glass sculpture to its studio background.) Yesterday's Inquirer featured a Joseph Slobodzian story on the forthcoming furniture ads that was accompanied by a skyline illustration with Comcast Center in it.

      The furniture ads story is worth paying attention to. For a city whose highways are inundated with billboard after billboard, we have very little ad coverage in Center City, and this is a very good thing, CHOOSE BLUE at 22nd & Market and the Broad & Spruce billboard notwithstanding. But for the most part, billboards assault your senses stand tall along 95, 76 and the Walt Whitman Bridge. Having ads on benches and shelters can be done tastefully, and any additional income the City can take in is a plus, but here's hoping we don't get stuck with mini-billboards across Center City.

    3. ANOTHER PARTICIPANT IN THE CENTER CITY FOOD CHAIN: Georges Perrier . . . Su Foo . . . Stephen Starr . . . Jose Garces . . . stars of the popular restaurant scene. Marra's . . . August . . . Mama Maria's . . . Mr Martino . . . proof that South Philly's culinary showrooms shine beyond the neon at 9th & Passyunk.

      Philadelphia has so many unique and local eating options from cheap to opulent that the growth of chains seems odd, but there they are: Fogo de Chão, Oceanaire, Applebee's, Olive Garden. Hohum. Well there's another chain that can claim Philadelphia on its list of outlets, one that may actually be a welcome addition: Phillip's Seafood of Baltimore.

      Whether it was the prevalence of Philly steakhouses (and/or Philly steak houses) or the lack of Dolphins fans, who knows why Shula's Steakhouse closed its 200 seat location on the ground floor of the Wyndham Sheraton at 17th & Race? But they did, and seafood fans, particularly Maryland transplants missing an authentic take on crabcakes, just got themselves a new option.

    4. THE BUSINESS: So yeah, how about that Inquirer story? Another big thanks to writer Suzette Parmley for finding the Philly Skyline story compelling enough to share with the Inquirer's business readers, and to photographer Tom Gralish for making a good enough case to get us onto the roof of the Loews Hotel and in the face of the PSFS sign (which a little birdy told me Philadelphians used to think stood for "Philadelphia Slowly Facing Starvation").

      A few stats as a result of the article: we annihilated the old record for visits and hits in a single day, each previously established after the inimitable Erin O'Hearn's March segment on Philly Skyline during Channel 6 Action News. The old record: 3,600 visits and 288,000 hits. The new record: 7,500 visits and 830,000 hits. That's wild.

    5. YOU'LL GET MAIL: Also as a result of all that new traffic, the amount of email yr Philly Skyline received spiked as well, so if you've not received a reply, hang in there baby, you will.

    So hey, nice to have you here. We'll round out this Umpdate with a special PSFS treat: a half dozen Philly Skyline Philly Skylines we've been sitting on since our trip to the roof. The PSFS Building really is at the top of our city's already amazing collection of architecture that also includes City Hall, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Drake and so on.

    The PSFS Building opened in 1932 during the peak of art deco's vogue. For example, the Empire State Building opened the year prior (1931) and 30 Rockefeller Center the year following (1933), each textbook examples of art deco. George Howe and William Lescaze bucked fashion and looked further ahead into the international style which was then in its infant stage, designing the first international skyscraper.

    We've got a whole section on the PSFS Building -- it includes mad props to the Loews for spending the money to renovate it and Daroff Design for splashing a little contemporariness into the already timeless modern design -- which you can find by clicking said building in the navigation at the top of every page, or by clicking right HERE.


    –B Love

    17 July 07: Sooo . . .

    Read any good Inquirer Business section cover stories lately?

    (CLICK . . . ENLARGE)

    More on this shortly. Just wanted to drop in and say hello to all new visitors, yo to all regular readers, and a big thanks to the Inquirer -- especially writer Suzette Parmley and photographer Tom Gralish (pictured above at left, and whose photo blog is HERE) -- for the crazy story. Check out that dude's farmer's tan!

    We'll resume regular posting tomorrow after we catch up on emails, photo essays, and a few new Skinny entries.

    –B Love

    16 July 07: Liberty Place: #2 is #1

    "It's different up here." So says the official slogan of The Residences at Two Liberty. Can you argue with that? Step off the elevator into any of the residential floors, 40th to 57th, and try to say you can.

    Up here at the latest in a line of Philadelphia condo conversions, things really are different. Office buildings have been converted before, but none with the presence and prestige of a trophy tower like Two Liberty Place. Residential towers have been built, even recently -- St James, Murano, Symphony House, Residences at the Ritz-Carlton -- and more are on their way, but none go as high in the sky as Two Liberty Place.

    PLEASE NOTE: this is not a paid advertisement; seriously. This is just looking at reality, or the view from reality.

    The Boca Raton based Falcone Group bought Two Liberty Place two years ago after ACE Insurance had already vacated its space and Cigna was downsizing, leaving a massive vacancy in the tower. No panic here. According to Suzette Parmley's March 3 Inquirer story, all the developers needed to see to convert to residential was . . . well, what they saw: the views.

    As a result, the top 18 floors of Two Liberty Place are now being primed for a move-in date of early 08. Designed by Agoos-Lovera, much of the interior is already finished, and a number of models are open for viewing. Asking prices? Lower floors start at $800K, while the 7200+ sq ft penthouse will fetch around $15M.

    When looking up at Two Liberty Place, you might notice a two-floor darkened band in the middle of tower. These are the mechanical floors, which also serve as a natural buffer between the office floors and the residential units. The highest lower floor, the 37th -- the one directly below the mechanical floors -- will feature a public restaurant that too will be the highest in the city. It also hosts a (totally private) recreation facility that includes fitness center with an infinity pool and a pet spa.

    The units themselves have all the high end names you'd expect: Miele, Sub-Zero, Mohawk. The windows are enormous, and cable is included. (Hey!)

    But really, Two Liberty is all about the views. Click the Skinny below to launch a gallery that includes the building itself, the model units, and of course, those views.

    Visit The Residences at Two Liberty's web site HERE.

    –B Love

    15 July 07: Drop in the bucket

    It happened at home after all. Ten thousand losses for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club, born in 1883 and still losing.

    For this particular game, Adam Eaton went with bad Adam Eaton (6 runs in 4 innings), Albert Poo-holes capped his lip-lickin' weekend with two more homers and the Cardinals hit six total on their way to a 10-2 spanking of the Phils. Interesting tidbit: speedster Michael Bourn hit his first Major League homerun in the franchise's 10,000th loss, and Chase Utley's double with two outs in the bottom of the 9th earned him his league leading 74th RBI and 36th double. Props to Uncle Cholly for pulling Rod Barajas during the double switch in the 5th. The guy is awful.

    But yes, 10,000 has come, and now it shall pass. The Phillies themselves were never mindful of the milestone -- Harry Kalas didn't mention it at all on the radio broadcast and he seemed nonplussed by Jon Miller's and Joe Morgan's 10k tomfoolery on the ESPN telecast -- but Phillies.com did give in and the always-solid Ken Mandel pitched a nice brief history on Phillies futility HERE.

    Worth noting: The Phillies have 8,810 wins -- that's 1,190 games under .500. The same article says it would take 32 consecutive 100 win seasons to make it back to an even .500. The Braves (currently in 2nd place, a game and a half back of the Mets and three and a half ahead of the Phillies) are second in all-time losses at 9,681.

    It's nice it happened when it did, though. The distraction is removed (though don't be surprised if those really clever Sportscenter people say after every single loss "that's the Phillies' 10,005th (etc) loss") and the Phils have a division to win. Let's do this thing.

    –B Love

    15 July 07: Neshaminy Love

    Gee whiz, you decide to finally give in and join the 10,000 losses party, and the Phillies bumrush the (not playing like) World Series champion Cardinals for 13 and 10 and they're still stuck on 9,999. I'll gladly trade a sweep of the Cards for the opportunity that dedicated Fightin' fans have to stay up late and watch the Dubeeous dubious milestone next week. LET'S GO PHILS!

    Meanwhile, about three minutes outside of Philadelphia city limits is one of the most unique and even natural views of our Philly Skyline. Neshaminy State Park is right off of the first exit on 95 past the city, Street Road. (Street Road has always been one of my favorite street names.) Instead of hanging a left and heading toward the home of the greatest horse Philadelphia has known, Smarty Jones and Philadelphia Park, bust a right just across State Road and take a hike down to the Delaware River. Though there is a large swimming pool on site at Neshaminy, many find themselves taking a dip . . . wait for it . . . in the Delaware.

    So when we talk about plunging one's body right smack into that River 'tween Penn's Woods and Jersey, we're not talking about some sparkling stream up in Port Jervis or strapping on hip waders up by Washington Crossing. With a little calculation and guidance, we ought to be able to do it right here in the city. Imagine a beach at Penn Treaty Park; it's possible, and we all want to see Governor Rendell there with his shirt off waiting to jump in with the rest of us.

    It could happen, but before it does, it really is possible (and technically against the rules, but hey) at Neshaminy State Park, the subject of yr half-under-water Philly Skyline Philly Skyline.

    –B Love