31 October 08: City of Champions

This is an invitation, across the nation, a chance for folks to meet. There'll be laughing, singing, and music swinging -- and dancing in the street.


Hey folks, it's Friday, it's Halloween, it's Phillies Town -- let's go watch a parade. If your boss isn't letting you cut out, punch him or her in the face, kick him or her while he's on the ground, then drag him or her with you and put him or her on your shoulders down on Broad Street. DO NOT MISS THIS. What overcrowded, inadequate Septa trains? Come on! Put your hiking boots on and hoof it. And if your boss is a Mets fan, quit your job.

Sweet, sweet victory -- it culminates today with ticker tape and good times. Be there.

One more time before you go, though, after you've watched the dude on the traffic light get pelted with the bottle (what a shot!), and the video of Harry Kalas calling the last out with Wheels going happy-crazy next to him, and the pictures of Brad Lidge's and Carlos Ruiz' embrace from 600 different angles, check out these photos from my homie, my stromie, the doo doo man on WRMS, Mark Adams at World Series game 5 (the second act) and in Sow Filet afterwards.

To check out those photos, please enjoy this mini-essay (20 total, about 3M), launched by clicking

–B Love

30 October 08: We really did it

This is why. In the four years Philly Skyline has been regularly updated with photos and commentary about architecture and development and trees and flowers and music and Comcast Centers and rivers and bridges and trains and politics and sustainability and beer and bars and dreams and flagpoles and just about everything in Philadelphia's 135 square miles, I've gotten a number of emails asking why I occasionally write about baseball. This is why.

This is what we've all been waiting, praying and starving for. This is it -- bask in it. Bask in the joy, the jubilance, the overwhelming celebration that's gonna take us right through Halloween with a parade down Broad Street. Don't be a contrarian jerkoff pretending you don't care -- get out there and celebrate with your city. This for all of us. Why can't us . . . well us did!

We did it. We really did it.

Thank you for this, Phillies. Thank you, Charlie Manuel. Thank you, Pat Gillick. Thank you, Dave Montgomery. Thank you, Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels and Geoff Jenkins and Pat Burrell and Pedro Feliz and Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Shane Victorino and Ryan Madson and JC Romero and Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer and Brett Myers and Joe Blanton and Davey Lopes and Steve Smith and Rich Dubee and Mick Billmeyer and Chris Coste and Greg Dobbs and Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey and JA Happ and even you So Taguchi. Thank you all.

Thank you for the party that started, so perfectly, with a nasty slider at 9:58 and which is still going on and which will carry into tomorrow, Halloween, to Citizens Bank Park, where you'll thank us back and we'll all die happy knowing the PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES ARE THE 2008 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS. I'm a little welled up just typing that.

One more time . . .


That's not red eye -- that's PHILLIES EYE!

–B Love

30 October 08: The view from section 306

When Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004, Mark, Scotty and I got a 17 game season ticket package in section 329. It was fun, but the Phillies not making the playoffs stung and the raise in prices the following year led us to not renew. Before last season, when the Phils signed Freddy Garcia and Jimmy Rollins declared them The Team To Beat, the three of us plus Pete and Bama got back in it. After the playoffs last year, there was no way we would not renew our seats in the front row in the Arcade.

We did, and what a season it has been. The 17 game plan gets you one NLDS game, two NLCS games and one World Series game. Pete and I used the ticket we were issued for Game 4. Mark had made unchangeable vacation plans that coincided with that game months ago, and through Craigslist, amazingly found someone in the same boat as him -- had a ticket to Game 5 but wanted to go to Game 4. Not leaving Mark to attend a game by himself, Bama traded out too. (Bama also accompanied me to St Pete for Game 1.)

Pete and I watched RyHo's two homers and Mighty Joe Blanton from section 305, and after their trade, Mark and Bama watched a World Series championship from section 306. Take it away, Brother Mark!

30 October 08: THE BEST

(More on our hometown World Champions later, obviously.)

–B Love

29 October 08: Curse Caple, or,
let me tell you what I really think of ESPN

I hate ESPN. I hate it very, very much. People have written books about their hatred for ESPN. Blogs exist because of people's hatred of ESPN. A google search for 'espn sucks' returns 238,000 hits.

There's a lot to hate about ESPN: its 'EOE' programs, ESPN Magazine, the ESPYs, Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn, Cold Pizza, Woody Paige, any segment that has a corporate sponsor (Budweiser Hot Seat, Coors Silver Bullet, etc), Stephen A Smith . . . It's basic cable programming with big network money, self-serving garbage, all of it. Once upon a time, it was a genuinely great television channel with sports and sports highlights. Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann and Craig Kilborn made Sportscenter great, and by doing so they killed it. Every wanker who's followed in their footsteps (Stuart Scott and the guy that yells "say hello to my little friend", par example) has tried to carve out a similar identity and failed. Their sports broadcasts couldn't be worse: Jon "Barry Bonds" Miller and Joe "Durrrrrr" Morgan on baseball, Mike "let's invite a guest unrelated to football" Tirico and Tony "a close-up of my face will kill your HDTV" Kornhole on football. (Jaws gets a pass for being Jaws and for putting up with these boneheads.) I actually liked Steve Levy and Darren Pang on live hockey, but ESPN's almighty advertisers deemed the NHL unworthy of ESPN airtime, instead opting for TV successes like poker, fantasy drafts and video games.

ESPN's pile of good intentioned crap mirrors that of MTV. They both started out great, built dedicated audiences, and caved in on themselves by the weight of money. Where the M is mostly gone from MTV, at least ESPN's bells and whistles still revolve around sports . . . you just have to sit through every single Tony Romo and Brett Favre and Red Sox and Manny story to get to what you want to see.

ESPN.com is much the same way. It started out pretty good. Its earliest incarnation, ESPNet SportsZone, was the first web site I can remember visiting, even before Netscape -- the old 'lynx espnet.sportszone.com' green-text-on-black-background machines back at the computer lab, freshman year in college ('94). ESPN.com kept up with the internet, adding plenty of original content -- Bill Simmons was great before the Patriots and Red Sox made him the king of Boston Smug. Hunter S Thompson's last hurrah was his fantastic column, Hey Rube, before he blew his head off. Come to think of it, if the good doctor was still alive today, he'd probably blow his head off now. All this Web 2.0, auto-loading video, talking head overload is insanity. How can anyone process it all? Why would anyone want to?

And so we come to Jim Caple. Jim Caple, the sports "expert" with Vince Vaughn Bloat who gets free rides and expense accounts to things like the Super Bowl and World Series while the rest of us have to pray and hope someone dropped their Game 5 ticket while leaving the unprecedented rainout and someone you know picked it up fork out an arm and a leg. Jim Caple, the "expert" who picked the Dodgers to beat the Phillies in five and who picked the Rays to sweep the Phillies. Jim Caple, the man who did us the honor of giving us a tour of Joe Maddon's office with the "portrait of Dr Seuss". (Jim, that's The Cat in the Hat, not Dr Seuss. He's also probably one of those people who calls How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.)

Anyway, the reason I'm even bothering with all of this is that Jim Caple decided to do a story on the curse of William Penn. This week. Without ever hearing of it. Without putting an inch of effort into its back story. While I'm perfectly happy that our friend Greta Greenberger takes the national stage to talk about City Hall, the rest of Caple's story is perfectly awful. Believe in it or don't -- what self respecting Philadelphian has never heard of the Curse of William Penn? There's a movie about it, for chrissakes!

I agree with the premise that the curse of William Penn is lame, but it's nowhere near as lame as Jim Caple. Video evidence is below -- enjoy the awful guitar jamming in the background for ultimate lameness.

However, immediately after that -- I have to end a post clouded in such negativity on a positive note -- is a video of ESPN's token Philly homer Jayson Stark (one of their non-idiotic personalities, which do exist) schooling Caple on what a championship will mean to this city.


–B Love

29 October 08: For your consideration

* * *


Toke remnants; her tots walked
Zap stinker in back
Goatskin hexmill
Contact cremes
A Youtube failure

–V Loeb

28 October 08: Series postponed, Sexcop right on schedule

This evening marks a sort of coming out party for a longtime friend of the Skyline: SEXCOP.

Chestnut Hill's Josh McIlvain has been making sweet music for years, in his NYC days with Hot n Hazy, and of the singer-songwritery variety in the past several years. His current outfit, Sexcop, is less a band than it is a network. Accompanied by musicians from Philadelphia and New York, Josh spices up his songs about real estate, loving himself and suntan lotion, for example, to create a sound that certainly has no equal but, suffice it to say, fits well within the annals of Philly's own Dead Milkmen, Hall & Oates and Ween.

The coming out party this evening is the mainstream's embrace of Sexcop. As you may have read in the Sunday Inquirer, Sexcop performs at the World Café Live with ukulelist Sweet Soubrette and NYC's Erin and Her Cello.

McIlvain was originally happy that his show was scheduled on the World Series' final travel day, then last night disappointed in the game's suspension, and finally relieved today that that suspension will carry to tomorrow. So the Sexcop show, rightfully, is tonight's top billing, and his new EP -- Sexcop EP -- is on display. Sexcop's second album, The Supermodel Who Loved Me, is coming in early 2009.

* * *

SEXCOP at World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street), with Sweet Soubrette and Erin and Her Cello. 8pm, $10.

–B Love

28 October 08: Brand new funk

I had every intention of being a participant in post-game activities on Broad Street in Center City last night, but for as accommodating and great as the Locust Rendezvous was, that picture above wasn't really what I had in mind.

After a consolation breakfast at Honey's this morning -- a scene straight out of Singles, rain pounding on the windows, total commiseration, slow strumming Seattle music, more coffee please -- I got a cup to go at Higher Grounds. Tony, not being a sports fan, asked me to explain my frustration with the decision to suspend the game last night, and I really couldn't.

Blame Bud Selig? Blame Mother Nature? Blame William Penn? Blame anyone? We're just so ready -- the Phillies, the fans, the city -- that any delay should just be a bump in the road. But if you take account for the baseball reality of Cole Hamels being forced off the mound (with Scott Kazmir already out of the game), it's a tough one to take. That the Rays were able to tie the game because of the weather -- there's no way Jimmy Rollins doesn't make that play on BJ Upton's grounder on a dry field, and the steal of second was cheap, but shrewd -- well, the frustration of that was only exacerbated by Bob DuPuy's forthright admission on the TV broadcast that they were waiting for the Rays to tie it to suspend the game. And if you even start to think about how Fox TV has Major League Baseball by the balls -- the way-too-late start times in spite of having two east coast teams after teams have started games at 7pm all year long, the idiocy of making it, for example, 8:28 and not 8:30, the ridiculous pageantry of network television and its number one nincompoops Buck and McCarver -- you could burst a brain vessel.

Being Bud Selig, the man whose executive decision to end the All Star Game on his home field in Milwaukee in a tie, maybe we're lucky that the game was only suspended. But it's all so damnably frustrating, isn't it? Pouring rain, gale force winds, frigid temperatures. No cabs to be found. Bad vibes.

Let's leave it all out there, last night, in the past. It's lingering today, sure, but let this continuation of pouring rain, gale force winds and frigid temperatures wash it away, and let's get it tomorrow. MLB has officially declared the game off tonight.

Let's go get it tomorrow. Eyes on the prize, focus. We can do this. We're going to do this.


–B Love

27 October 08: Greetings from the World Series

Pardon the slow going here. I can't think about the installation of metal sheathing on a condo tower I and no one I know will ever live in when the Phillies are one win away from a World Series title. The demolition of a wall at the Convention Center isn't even close to the same radar that's registering two homeruns from Ryan Howard. The Dead Milkmen are playing two reunion shows, one of them five blocks from my place? Man . . . I'm really sorry guys, but Mighty Joe Blanton is on the mound.

Plus there's a few changes going on behind the scenes here at yr Skyline, so just a fair warning that updates may be sparse over the next couple weeks, even after the World Series. It'll be werth it though, promise. (And I promise I'll update the Ritz and 10 Ritt sections shortly.)

Since the Phillies have had 24/7 coverage from every media outlet in the city, I'll keep it to a brief "HOLY SHIT THE PHILLIES ARE ONE WIN AWAY FROM WINNING THE WORLD SERIES!!!" and send it home with a series of Philly Skyline Phillies Skylines for you, your friends, and Phillies fans around the world.


–B Love

24 October 08: Greetings from the World Series

Tropicana Field is annoying. The mohawks -- oops, Rayhawks -- are annoying. The people with blue hair are annoying. The johnny-come-lateliness of it all is annoying. The cowbells . . . oh my god.

But the thing about all the annoyingness in St Petersburg, Florida is that it's cutesy annoying. There isn't any maliciousness from Rays fans, probably because they don't know it. (Of course we're Phillies fans, too, not Red Sox fans.) Rays fans are B101 listeners who write emails in comic sans. On my way into the stadium, I was taking a photo of the giant rotunda when Ned and Maude Flanders asked me to take a picture of them with Rod and Todd, all wearing their Joe Maddon eyeglasses and the kids, the Maddon quadriddilyuplets.

Success is so new to an area that's so used to circus-like spring training that it seems they're treating their Major League team the same way . . . inside the Trop, it's half Halloween, half Disney World. And it's perfectly fair to criticize these people, considering they drew the fifth worst attendance in all of baseball during the regular season and couldn't even sell the stadium out for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Conversely, only the St Louis Cardinals averaged a higher MLB attendance than the Phillies in ballpark ballparks. (The Yankees, Mets and Dodgers all played in older, much larger stadiums.)

But never mind all that nonsense, there's baseball being played. What we know at this point, we know well. The Phillies are not hitting anything with runners in scoring position. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell appear fast asleep. Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge are phenomenal. And the Rays, cheesy ass hairdos and "9=8" malarkey and all, are a Holy Crap Good baseball team.

A lot of people were hoping that the Phillies could split in Tampa Bay, and considering the offense's futility and the noise of the Trop, we're lucky to have done that. Considering the stakes and the travel arrangements, I'm lucky to have gotten Game 1 instead of Game 2. We're bringing it home for the next three at Citizens Bank Park, so all together now: LET'S GO PHILLIES!

* * *

A super huge and heartfelt Philly Skyline thank you goes out to my man Jimbo, Jimmy D from South Jersey who, as a St Pete transplant, is a genuine baseball fan (who by the way possesses neither a Rayhawk nor a cowbell). He grew up a Phillies fan in South Jerz and has been living in St Pete for the past five years, working for a newspaper I considered working for coming out of college (the St Pete Times) and attending Rays games while pulling for his hometown Phils. Jimbo has a Devil Rays license plate (proving he's not just on the bandwagon) that reads PHLES for the Phils, who do their spring training 20 miles up the coast in Clearwater. There are a lot of Phillies fans in the Tampa Bay area, Jimbo among them, but understandably, a lot of them aren't rooting for the Phillies this October.

Jimbo played the gracious host to myself and Bama as we made an overnighter of it on Wednesday, showing us a good time in downtown St Pete after the game and issuing us a proper tour the following morning. Here are a few wallpaper-postcards, let's call em Philly Skyline St Pete Skylines.

This is Fort de Soto Park, on Mullet Key (heh heh, Mullet Key) in the mouth of the Tampa Bay. This guy declared it the best beach in America a few years ago. Indeed, for a metropolitan area of around 4 million, the park is surprisingly quiet and secluded, and is populated by beautiful birds such as egrets, cormorants and pelicans, and trees like mangroves, banyans and palms. It also has an amazing view of . . .

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I watched the sun set on the 90s as I crossed this five and a half mile long yellow bridge on my way into the Everglades for the Phish Y2K party. The cable-stay bridge's main span rises 175' over the shipping channel that was previously the site of, and partially the cause of, a terrible disaster in 1980. The original Sunshine Skyway was a cantilever bridge similar in appearance to the Commodore Barry that opened in 1954. As Tampa Bay traffic grew, it necessitated a second bridge, and in 1969 its twin opened, one for northbound, the other for southbound. A thirteen degree curve near the Skyway's clearance made the route of the channel tricky as it was; when a flash storm popped on May 9, 1980, it blackened all visibility for the freighter Summit Venture, and at the height of the storm it collided with the bridge, collapsing half of the newer span, sending a number of cars and a Greyhound bus into the choppy water below, killing 35 people. The St Pete Times recounted the events in a compelling article on its 20th anniversary in 2000, archived online HERE. The current Skyway is a bit of a triumph, engineered with hurricane-resistant hollow concrete and protected by dozens of dolphins -- rubber bumpers designed to withstand the impact of an 87,000 ton ship. It was also placed 1,000 feet from the previous bridge to lessen the grade of the turn in the channel. And the yellow tubed cables have earned it a number of design awards.

The St Petersburg Pier -- The Pier -- is the Mondrian-esque color-changing inverted pyramid that got a lot of face time on Fox's TV broadcast of Games 1 and 2. It's the focal point of St Pete's downtown waterfront and has a free observation deck. The wacky, colorful concrete structure opened in 1973 and was designed by . . . who knows? It's nowhere online, The Pier's web site has nothing about it, and the concierge there wasn't sure, but thought it was designed by St Pete's Wedding Architects. When I contacted Wedding for confirmation, they said no they did not design it and that they did not know who did. If by chance you know who did, let me know so's I can give props to the architect who dared buck old St Pete's neo-mediterranean norm in such a prominent location.

Finally, the St Petersburg Skyline.

* * *

Cole Hamels continued his postseason dominance in Game 1, and will be back on the hill for Game 5 which, hey, could be a pretty big game for the Fightins and the city they represent.

Let's bring it back home to South Philly for this weekend's World Series stage -- games 3, 4 & 5 -- and this final approach to Philadelphia International Airport, for the Philly Skyline never-can-fully-focus-through-two-separate-panes-of-glass window seat view Skyline.

UPDATE: Now with photo goodness. For a mini-essay of photos of Game 1 and St Pete (37 total, about 5M), please click

–B Love

21 October 08: Where to watch

Holy moly, Johnny Brenda's went and got themselves a telly! Just in time for -- and just because of -- the World Series, the good folks at JB's will be playing host with a 50" plasma TV mounted behind the bar. Also, the stage upstairs will host Game 1 on a 12' projected screen, and if it gets to a Game 7, they'll do the same.

Come for the Fall Classic, stay for the Philadelphia Brewing Company specials!

For the full World Series schedule, check Phillies.com HERE.

ALSO: Speaking of PBC, Kenzinger is sold at Citizens Bank Park at the Brewerytown station behind section 110, so if you find yourself at the World Series down on Pattison Ave, go all out Phillies and all out Philly with the best $6.75 pint in the park.

I'm off to St Pete for Game 1, so if you make it to JB's, tell em Philly Skyline sent ya. And if you're at Tropicana Field for Game 1, look me up.


–B Love

21 October 08: Seoul power

This weekend past, I took a couple of strolls on some familiar grounds that will in coming months grow more familiar. I'm kind of obsessed with Port Richmond's Conrail Yards . . . it's got to be the biggest park in the city, maybe even the United States, that isn't a park at all. It's an archaeological trove, just sitting there with a number of relics of industry past still standing. (Just mind the dudes with the paintball guns.)

Sunday afternoon was perfect for sitting with one's feet over the edge of the coal dumper pier, soaking up the Rays with a smoke while watching boats go by. I was with the Sexcop, talking about his forthcoming album and World Café Live show. (More on each of these next week.) As we were talking about the two converted Navy ships docked at the Tioga Terminal -- USNS Shughart and USNS Yano -- we noticed a third vessel backing out of port and into the channel. Even if watching ships on the water isn't your thing, seeing one as long as the Blue Cross Tower is tall back out, turn, and sail downriver for the ocean is impressive.

This particular ship, the 30,000 ton Rickmers Seoul, has a story all its own. Last month, when Hurricane Ike ran ashore through Galveston, Texas, the Seoul was docked at the Port of Houston. When Ike brought 100+ mph wind in the wee hours of the morning, the Seoul broke loose, moving into the channel toward a number of oil barges and the Sidney Sherman Bridge, which carries I-610 across the shipping channel. Against an enormous storm surge and crashing waves, a small fleet of tugboats braved the hurricane and were able to guide the vessel back to safety, protecting the bridge from certain catastrophe and the basin, which eventually leads to the Gulf of Mexico, from an environmental disaster. The Houston Chronicle has a riveting account of it HERE.

There was no such drama on the high seas Delaware River on Sunday, just an empty freighter (it had made a delivery from South America to the Tioga Terminal late last week) heading out for its next delivery. The Rickmers Seoul was built in Shanghai, is serviced in Germany, and is operated by a company from Cyprus. Learn more about it HERE. For more about the Tioga Terminal, visit the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority's web site HERE.

For a mini-essay of photos of the Rickmers Seoul on the Delaware (21 total), please click

–B Love

21 October 08: Skyline by Mike

In Philly Skyline's days of skyline critiques, few have been the ones who've updated their skyline graphics to include new buildings (usually Comcast Center, but sometimes Murano or the Ritz-Carlton or even the St James, depending on how old the graphics are). But there have been a few -- Philly.com was a big one once they overhauled their site last year. But none of them have been as tailor made as an update to last week's critique (11 October 08: Constructive criticism).

My man Mike at the Pizza Shop here in Fishtown got the memo and made sure the decisive NLCS Game 5 basketball pizza came with the above menu, custom made to include the two buildings pointed out in the critique. That's dedication right there, so to Mike, a big Skyline thanks. (The pizza was great, too -- both that night and for breakfast the next morning.)

* * *

Philly Skyline. With the World Series upon us, we're going to be seeing a lot of it, the Citizens Bank Park view and the Fox blimp view. It's been considered as to whether to change the buildings from Breast Cancer Pink to Phillies Red. And it's been discussed as to whether William Penn's attire modernize itself from Quaker chic to pinstriped jock. With a little more consideration, my response to both is very simply: let it be.

With the national spotlight shining on us, we ought to just be; let the Phillies be the show. Fox and ESPN and everyone else will 100% without a doubt be talking about the fans who boo Santa Claus (40 freaking years ago), and the 25 years of misery, with montages of Joe Carter and Mitch Williams and Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady and Eric Lindros and Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant and Smarty Jones, and maybe even a jab thrown in that lesser franchises like the Soul and the Wings have won championships. Let them.

The national talking heads (ESPN's Jayson Stark aside, who's been here all season long) are all looking for their big stories. I can't imagine any of them will talk about how great a year 2008 has been in Philadelphia: Mayor Nutter took office. Comcast Center opened. American Commerce Center was announced. Philadelphia Brewing Company rolled out its first beers. B Love and Rachel got married. The Phillies won the National League with force.

It's been a very good year here, but we'll see video of our failed past. So what. We're here now, we have momentum, and we're looking good. All of us -- the Phillies, the fans, the city, the Skyline . . . why change now?

–B Love

20 October 08: The Possible City
Dreams of a Magic City

by Nathaniel Popkin
October 20, 2008

In this row house city sometimes we forget about what's beyond. But for standing in Center City we rarely look up -- most of the rather muscular six story factories are gone, even the occasional church steeple tumbles to the ground. This makes us grounded, and in myth at least, contributes to our long-standing distaste for ornamentation and presumption.

But such an intractable and unrelieved confrontation with reality can be painful and withering. Susan Snyder, a lecturer in architecture at the Penn School of Design, once noted, with chagrin, Philadelphia's inability to overcome its own tedium. "There just isn't any fantasy in Philadelphia," she declared during a meeting to imagine a more playful Schuylkill River.

In a sense, of course, her critique is as sure as a three-course wall of brick. As I've noted before on this website and in The Possible City, Philadelphia too often fails to delight, transform, and inspire.

And yet let's take a careful look at that brick wall -- the aging brick and mortar -- a pair of dancing, suggestive, climbing vines, a glittering mosaic peering around the bottom corner, a weathered man in a lawn chair leaning back with his head in the sun. He wants to talk, tell his story. That's magic here, in Philadelphia. For the urban ponderer-wonderer, it's the very joy of exploration, happenstance, and surprise.

Magic, it seems to me, requires mystery; that's why the encounter with the worn man and his fading wall is moving. He's someone we don't know, never would know, a gift of the city. Now, as we listen, his story becomes ours.

The vast majority of Philadelphia's gifts are, like this one, treats of the day. They are meaningful, extraordinary. Now, at this time of year, glowing brick walls carry shadows of long-stretching sycamore branches; and the yellowing leaves, pitched against the sapphire sky melt and dance above. These are our jewels. There's a finely pitched urban beauty too. The city is busy. Have our streets -- and streetcars -- felt this crowded any time in the past 30 years? Winning baseball and the swelling Obama campaign compound what's really a joyful energy.

Today we can sit at a proper café table -- and, at the right time of the day feel the sun on our faces -- in the northeast corner of City Hall courtyard. Drink take-out coffee; eat a hoagie; smile sheepishly at a lover. The two evocative Romanesque towers guarding the exit to South Broad may be enough to carry us away. It's happening here. And as the afternoon mounts, and voices rise and children skip across Ed Bacon's compass, it begins to feel just like a little like an urban stage.

Then, around 4:30, the umbrellas are removed from the tables and the chairs are chain-locked to the tables. The curtain begins to close.

Go further into the night and the only surprise is likely to be that for such a large and complex city it's so quiet. Stores close early, transit slows down. Lights come on, sure, but cobra highway lights, as most of ours are, are designed to help you get through, and not be in the urban night.

"It's disappointing," says Andrew Thompson, a City Paper intern from California and keen urban observer, who is otherwise taken with the life of this city. The disappointment is heightened in part because the city seems so engaging during the day. He can't quite figure out why it goes so quiet at night.

A city at night transforms; even the most interesting urban district -- Thompson imagines Greenwich Village, we might think about parts of Istanbul, Barcelona, or Taipei -- becomes something else at night. The conversion alone is often magical; the energy of the place doesn't dissipate, it shifts. Darkness invites freedom and also danger; and ultimately, we're each of us transformed.

Listen to Truman Capote lithely observe the metamorphosis; here is Broadway in the 1940s (the subject, Grady, is the main character of Summer Crossing, a novel only recently published):
In the last year, however, she had liked only to walk around or stand on street-corners with crowds moving about her. She would stay all afternoon and sometimes until it was dark. But it was never dark there: the lights that had been running all day grew yellow at dusk, white at night, and the faces, those dream-trapped faces, revealed their most to her then. Anonymity was part of the pleasure, but while she was no longer Grady McNeil, she did not know who it was who replaced her, and the tallest fires of her excitement burned with a fuel she could not name. She never mentioned it to anyone, those pearl-eyed perfumed Negroes, those men, silk- or sailor-shirted, toughs or pale-toothed and lavender-suited, those men that watched, smiled, followed: which way are you going? Some faces, like the lady who changed money at Nick's Amusements, are faces that belong nowhere, are green shadows under green eyeshades, evening effigies embalmed and floating in the caramel-sweet air. Hurry. Doorway megaphones, frenziedly hurling into the glare sad roars of rhythm, accelerate the senses to collapse: run -- out of the white into the real, the sexless, the jazzless, the joyful dark: these infatuating terrors she had told to no one.
It's simply difficult to talk about the life of a city without wishing to explore the joyful dark, without confronting, or immersing in, the infatuating terrors. It's like the dry friendship between office mates. You don't really know -- and what about the evenings, nights, weekends?

The night is a good part of what makes a city different from a village or suburb. It's the recognition, the allowance, the embrace of Grady McNeil's -- and our own -- freedom from the restraints of time and happenstance. And yet it seems we give it short shrift. It's rarely addressed by city planners. Jane Jacobs smiles knowingly and holds a cigarette while sitting in what must be a Village bar on the cover of the Modern Library edition of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It's almost assuredly night. But aside from an implicit explanation that a diverse streetscape supports nighttime uses and a nod to bars and well-lit sidewalks, she hasn't much to say about the functions and uses of the night. Nor do I find anything about the night city in Kevin Lynch's treatise Good City Form or in Witold Rybczynski's City Life (this despite a painting of a Parisian night scene on the cover) or in Mike Greenberg's The Poetics of Cities.

On the other hand, our most influential city planner these past two decades, Paul Levy of the Center City District, sees an institutional role in forming the experience of the night. What he started in 1991 (in response to extraordinarily moribund streets) with Make it a Night has led to innovative and exciting lighting displays among other adventures in street-programming, and now in parks and public spaces far beyond Center City there are evening concerts and movies. They've even begun showing films in City Hall courtyard, where three Wizard of Oz films will be screened next week.

This matters, as does the investment in proper sidewalk lighting -- from Germanton Avenue to South Street -- and Septa's recent extension of nighttime transit. And these days, a nighttime walk from Pennsport, say, to Fairmount is pleasant and long enough, indeed.

One of Andrew Thompson's complaints is that because stores generally close so early he can't just wander out in the evening and find what he needs. There are few 24-hour stores or restaurants. But it's not simply a matter of convenience. It's also the art of city life. "Sure, bars are open until 2," he says, "but I don't drink much. I just want to be able to go out and be somewhere -- the proverbial clean and well-lighted place."

Andrew, like Grady McNeil, needs a nighttime stage, where stores and other amusements are open. Grady has Broadway; the rest of us? South Street, Old City, Rittenhouse Square, a section of Passyunk Avenue? K&A? Broad and Snyder? Broad and Sansom? Broad and Cecil B. Moore? No, none of these places consistently deliver the sad roars of rhythm, none so ruthlessly challenge the night.

The Magic City sometimes implies a kind of vulgar pleasure. It's after all the name of a famous strip club in Atlanta. The Magic Kingdom, of course, is similarly bland. If either proposed casino opens, or if the entertainment center proposed for the Spectrum site comes along, then we'll become more familiar with this sort of magic. But the feeling of living long in the urban night outside -- with floating lights, sure, and faces, and music and food -- will still be foreign and distant.

It's something we'll still have to invent. Why shouldn't City Hall courtyard come alive at 5? Now, with the tables and chairs left by the filming of Transformers 2, it's obvious the space demands more of them; now add music, now add food, drink, performance. But don't restrain the show, let it linger and spread, so that it pushes the energy out -- to the Parkway, to the shopping streets (where certain stores already do a brisk early evening business), to the Gallery. The Gallery doesn't need a casino to engage the night, by the way, but a multi-plex. Show up there at 8:30 expecting to shop, to linger, to stroll. The place is closed. You can't even walk through it.

Certain other places might only become useful at night. In this way the city's energy moves as the day advances. It's a kind of temporal-spatial transformation we haven't really tried in Philadelphia, but which happens in cities all over the world. Make a nighttime village out of the strange and empty plaza across Delaware Avenue west of the Hyatt Hotel. The village -- erected nightly -- of beer gardens, restaurants, tables, artisan stalls, would be open for seven or eight months of the year and perhaps during holiday time. Connect that space to a line of beer gardens extending south along Penn's Landing. In other words, stop thinking of the waterfront as merely a daytime amenity. Let us enjoy the water at night, when it's most evocative and beautiful. And lead us there with pleasure. What's the cost of this compared to a massive shopping mall?

Early on in the thinking about the University of Pennsylvania's role in West Philadelphia, University officials and the planners they employed, including me, began to imagine the 24 hour city. It was a naïve and empty vision, but it was predicated on responding to the life rhythms of young people. In other cities with this many students one feels their energy more forcefully. That isn't an accident; there's money to be made in the night. At present we fatally ignore it. But University City makes an awfully compelling case for nighttime magic in a district that would range from the catalytic new Cira South all the way to 45th and Walnut. Here is the largest concentration of students in the city; here too are streets of scale -- Walnut, Chestnut, Market -- with wide and compelling sidewalks that would support lots of stores and people without risking the relative peace of the interior neighborhoods. Here, stores can and should stay open late.

And there are more intimate spaces too, that given a little imagination, might truly delight and inspire.

Formal gestures are needed. The lighting is still inadequate, especially on forlorn Chestnut Street. As critically, this may be just the time and place to experiment again with pedestrian-only streets. In a similar part of Montréal a pedestrian street off of The Main creates a formal contrast to the busy shopping street. It diversifies, and therefore deepens, the experience of the urban night. Might we try a little of that nighttime magic?

–Nathaniel Popkin

For more on The Possible City, please see HERE.
For Nathaniel Popkin archives, please see HERE, or visit his web site HERE.

17 October 08: Every Silverliner has a cloud

by Steve Ives

Around this time next year commuters in the Philadelphia area will begin enjoying something that's become old hat for bus, trolley and El riders in Philadelphia -- new vehicles. The Silverliner Vs (manufactured in Korea and assembled right here in Philadelphia) will begin their tour of duty over the meadows and through the woods of Southeastern Pennsylvania and environs, replacing the charmingly outdated Silverliner IIs and IIIs, which began life with a railroad named Reading.

The new vehicles boast some of the trappings of modern railcars -- they're brightly lit and commodious, have electronic message signs and center loading doors, making it a bit easier to get out of them after a long day of doing whatever it is one does before boarding a train. The new cars are certainly welcome at a time when transit usage is up big time in cities all over America and, unlike in sports, Philadelphia's situation is what other places are aspiring to. (Ed. note: ahem . . . baseball?) SEPTA could never be accused of giving short shrift to its commuter rail network and these new vehicles are a solid show of support for the 21st century ideals of Regional Rail.

However, there's always an issue. Somebody is going to find something. It wouldn't be SEPTA and this wouldn't be Philadelphia if there weren't some kind of kink in any new 'thing'. Admittedly, the kinks aren't catastrophic on the surface. Depending on whom you ask they could range from potentially dangerous (no full operator cabs, eliminating the 'crumple zone' between the front end of the cars and the passenger cabin) to the shortsighted (no restrooms -- a jolly good idea at a time when SEPTA is courting people to take the train home after a night of chicanery on Market, Main or Grape Street). Most likely, the worst thing anyone will have to worry about are destination signs announcing 'Next Stop-Trevose' when you've just left Ridley Park. If only that were the case for those of us who ride The El.

The first half of this month, a mock-up of the new cars was on display at Suburban Station and it certainly elicited opinions. While sitting in the molded seats, comment such as "big windows!" and "more two-seats!" bounced down the aisle. Something stirred the old train buff in me looking around inside. I noticed at the front of the car a change from the Regional Rail vehicles of old -- a front passenger 'railfan window', giving two people the same view down the tracks as the train operator who would have to do his or her job from a compartment slightly larger than a shower stall. I made a comment about it out loud and it was promptly responded to with "yeah, so now SEPTA has more seats for more butts but I have nowhere to put my bag." Surprised, I turned to see a man who certainly looked the part of a train operator, sans the striped overalls. Assuming he knew something about the subject, I asked if all the new cars were laid out this way -- without full operator cabs such as those on the older cars or on the Broad Street Subway, which give more comfort and security to the train operators. He responded no, quickly adding that in his estimation the lack of such cabs is a 'safety risk' for riders. Probing him a bit further, he noted with a hint of disdain the danger that Jane and her railfan kid would face in the event of a crash. Nothing sturdier than the front of your average sedan protects the people in the front seating area and that the front seats are a lawsuit waiting to happen the next time a train comes across something on the tracks that shouldn't be there. Not wanting to push his buttons, I decided not to add that in the same situation the only difference between him and a passenger was that he'd have the privilege of being killed behind a door.

I was taken aback by his reaction to something that the public would give little thought to if any at all. After all, railfan windows have been a hit on The El for ten years and the cars of the previous generation had windows on the front doors that opened (I have fond memories of doing so in snowstorms).

The man's negativity notwithstanding, I guess one could see his point. Life is frought with all kinds of hazards but I don't know if it didn't come at least a bit from a resistance to something new. And as far as our transit system goes, the idea of something -- anything -- new is something all of us will have to adjust to.

* * *

SEPTA's Silverliner V is on display at Suburban Station until tomorrow (Saturday October 18) on Track 0. For more info, visit Septa's announcement HERE. A recent Silverliner discussion on Railroad.net is HERE.

For a mini-essay of photos of the Silverliner V (6 total), please click

–Steve Ives

For more from Steve Ives, please see his archives HERE.


What an unbelievable, joyous, exhilarating feeling this all is. Growing up in central/western PA, I cheered on the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup as a teenager in '91 and '92, and when the Steelers won the Super Bowl two years ago, my feeling was more of satisfying relief than anything. And the Sixers went to the NBA Finals my first summer in Philadelphia. But none of that is like this . . . the Phillies going to the World Series is such an unfamiliar, and incredible, feeling that I feel like a 10 year old kid on my way to Disney World.

The clinching game last night in LA put a big fat Phillie in the pipes of Fox (who very openly wanted the Dodgers and Red Sox in the Series to play out the Manny/Torre/Red Sox drama), and brother, they can smoke it.

Outside the stadium, Dodger fans were riled up and ready to raise some hell. Seeing some of the videos on YouTube, it almost seems like Dodger fans are worse than Mets or Red Sox fans, and who thought that was even possible? Given that they're famous for showing up in the 3rd inning (it's not the LA traffic, it's the fashionably lateness of it) and leaving early (those yellow seats really bring out the emptiness -- you'd think they'd make them blue so it at least looks like Dodger fans care), I'd say it's a fair bet that Dodger fans are the worst in baseball.

Fox's Jeanne Zelasko talks with a Dodger fan in her finest Dodger hat and "put me on TV" sign before the game.

Pat Gillick and Charlie Manuel have a laugh about the amazing run they've put together. I will happily, happily eat crow for all the smack I've talked on Charlie over the years and for questioning Gillick's ability to locate talent. Who even cares about Freddy Garcia or Adam Eaton or Rod Barajas any more when we're in the World Series? We're talking about Greg Dobbs and Jayson Werth and Matt Stairs and JC Romero and obviously Brad Lidge. And good on Charlie for giving Ed Wade credit for building the nucleus of this team on homegrown players. Charlie's influence on this team cannot be understated at this point. I think everyone knows that . . . I was wrong, I was wrong, I am so happy I was wrong.

Jimmy Rollins' leadoff homerun was a perfect sensation of déjà vu. Like he did in the clincher in Milwaukee, he did in the clincher in LA, giving the Phillies an enormous boost right off the bat and taking pressure off of his pitcher. He may not have the postseason numbers of a league MVP, but he's definitely still leading by example, and his defense has been superb.

That pitcher, the 24 year old Cole Hamels, pitched his way into an NLCS MVP award. (Though I don't think he or anyone would've been mad if it had gone to Shane Victorino.) Congrats, Cole, you've earned it. The SoCal kid came home and mastered the Dodgers. Fourteen innings pitched, thirteen strikeouts and only three earned runs in the League Championship Series, 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA so far in the playoffs. RIGHT ON.

Chase Utley and Pat Burrell hit .353 and .333 respectively, and each had a homer and 3 RBIs in the NLCS. These guys may have grown up in California, but they're Philadelphians through and through. They live in the city in their penthouse condos on Washington Square and off Rittenhouse Square, they play hard, and now they're in the World Series. This is what it's all about.

Joe Biden and Sarah Palin weren't bothering with any presidential debates last night. Biden is from Scranton, where the Phillies' AAA team played for years, and lives in Delaware, so you know he was watching the Phils. And Palin, pander though she may, pals around with Ed Snider and eats Tony Luke's steaks and wears Phillies jackets when she hangs out at the Irish Pub. To Joe Biden and Sarah Palin: thank you for your support, and GO PHILLIES!

Finally, the old and antiquated (yet strangely handsome) Dodger Stadium put on a pyrotechnics show like any stadium, but as we see here, it was colored in Phillies. Think Blue? More like Paint the Town Red.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Wow. The Phillies are in the World Series. It's so weird and wonderful to say it.

But we're not done yet. We're almost there. Four wins to go. C'mon Phillies, it's Fall Classic time.


–B Love

15 October 08: Sailing to Jupiter

Penn's Landing is largely viewed as a disappointment for all the missed opportunities of the past 30+ years; Concrete Pi looms over the giant riverfront parking lot as a constant reminder of that. And while you can't actually touch the Delaware River, a visit there doesn't have to be long to see it in active use. Sitting on the built-in benches atop the bulkhead, one can watch oil tankers, jet skis, freighters and pleasure boats sharing space on the water . . . and those are just the ones passing by.

Right here at Penn's Landing, a fleet of extrinsic brethren makes up what does work here: the boating life. Tucked just below the Seaport Museum -- itself a permanent exhibition of Philadelphia's place on the River -- about fifty steps downstream from the Riverlink Ferry to Camden, is a marina whose vessels include private yachts and sailboats, two Navy ships (the circa-Spanish-American War cruiser USS Olympia and the circa-WWII submarine Becuna), the four-masted barque and floating restaurant/bar/awesome place for a cigar and a scotch Moshulu, the Totally 80s corporate cruise ship Spirit of Philadelphia, a couple of human powered kayaks and canoes, and Penn's Landing's finest representative of Philly's history as working riverfront, the Tugboat Jupiter.

Jupiter has only been around since 1939, when the Independence Pier Company of Philadelphia bought the 37 year old tug and renamed it. Prior to 1939, the Jupiter was the Sacony #14, a working tug commissioned by Standard Oil to assist with their fuel ships and barges, largely in New York Harbor.

In 1902, Standard Oil went to the standard tug builder of its time, Neafie & Levy, whose yard occupied the space currently inhabited by PECO's Delaware Station next to Penn Treaty Park. (Neafie & Levy also built the Navy's first submarine, the USS Alligator, in 1862 for use in the Civil War.)

After its purchase in 1939, the tug took Philadelphia as its home port and Jupiter as its name. Its early service in Philadelphia assisted in the launch of several naval vessels during World War II, including the USS New Jersey, the battleship now docked as a museum across the river. For several decades after the war, it performed typical tugboat duties, assisting larger ships traveling the Delaware River and Bay, and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.

Penn's Landing Corporation purchased the Jupiter in 1999, and the non-profit Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild assumed care for it. Volunteers operate it and perform its upkeep; they also participate in education programs and chartered cruises like the one held by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) a few weekends ago. The timing for PEC was perfect, as they're in the process of finishing the new Tidal Delaware Water Trail with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, DCNR and others. Unfortunately, their trail coverage stops at Marcus Hook, as it's primarily a Pennsylvania project. However, it will (naturally) meet up with the existing Delaware River Greenway north of Trenton/Morrisville.

Members from each of those organizations joined the volunteer crew of the Jupiter for a three hour tour (a three hour tour) of the Delaware, departing from Penn's Landing and heading north to near Neshaminy State Park before a teenage passenger had the distinction of being our voyage's U-turn man, wielding the wooden spoke wheel for a Burlington-Bucks Turnaround. (He took over from the little girl pictured with the captain in the picture at the beginning of this post.)

My photos from the river route, about eight pages of ten photos each, begin

The set includes this Philly Skyline BFB Skyline, a preview of the next tidal Delaware bridge toward the sea, whose feature will be live soon.

To learn more about the tugboat Jupiter, visit its web site HERE. If you've never been on a casual sail along the Delaware or seen the Philly Skyline from the water, why not grab a rail on the sailboat Sigsbee on Tuesday the 28th? The Chesapeake Bay skipjack departs from the Seaport Museum and sails from 4-6pm. Cost is $25 -- more info HERE.

–B Love

14 October 08 . . . OCTOBER BASEBALL

Holy mother of god. Shane Victorino. Brad Lidge. Carlos Ruiz. Chase Utley's double play. Russell Martin's double play (ha ha). The unbelievable Manny. The flamethrower Jonathan Broxton. The greatest Canadian ever MATT STAIRS.

This has been a hell of a series already, and tomorrow night the Phils have their 24 year old ace taking on the Dodgers' shaky 24 year old we tagged for seven runs last time out. Ohhhhh baby. October baseball. Check out Yahoo/Getty's image gallery from Game 4 HERE.


–B Love

13 October 08: Catching up with the Art Museum

These economic tough times could especially spell tough times for museums, but you'd never know it from all the activity surrounding the museums in Philadelphia.

Chemical Heritage Foundation just uncorked the champagne for the opening of their new museum which this web site previewed in June and which Inga Saffron reviewed for her column two Fridays ago. The unusual but fascinating -- if a little industry friendly -- museum opened its doors for First Friday, showcasing the Making Modernity exhibit. Visit the web site HERE.

Up in Fairmount Park, Memorial Hall is at long last dusting off its makeup kit and getting ready for the ball. The Centennial's art gallery, designed by Herman Schwarzmann (who also designed the amazing homes facing Memorial Hall along Parkside Avenue) specifically as the centerpiece of the 1876 expo, is reopening this weekend as the relocated Please Touch Museum. Four years and $88M after announcing the move from the much smaller space across the street from the Franklin Institute, Please Touch appears to be stunning. Culture writer Peter Dobrin previewed the space for the Sunday Inquirer, which also included a nifty online feature in the form of a magic book belonging to Schwarzmann, HERE.

Back down on the Parkway -- our Museum District, if you will -- the Youth Study Center has relocated to a temporary location in East Falls while a new center is built in West Philly. Waldemar Raemisch's Great Mother and Great Doctor sculptures have already been moved and dedicated at the Microsoft School in Parkside. That leaves the unheralded but unwelcome modernist building at 20th & the Parkway ready for demolition. The rumor is that Williams Tsien Architects would unveil the design for the new Barnes Foundation building that will replace it this week, but that's apparently the best guarded secret in New York, as no one in their office would speak about it and there is nothing 'official' online on their web site nor on the Barnes'. So we'll see what happens there . . .

That's the museum front covering the industrial new, the expensive adaptation, and the controversial move. But quietly up on a hill called Faire Mount stands our greek temple of kasota stone, steadily improving its space inside, outside and in between.

It occurred to me on Saturday that I had not been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art since the Frida Kahlo exhibit, and more embarrassingly, on the grounds behind it, nor on Kelly/MLK Drives for that matter, since February's Water Works Balustrades essay (19 February 08). I took a ride around the grounds to see how things were coming along, and the photos that follow were the answer to my question.

CLICK HERE to continue reading . . .

* * *

–B Love

13 October 08: Looking back, looking ahead, lookin' up

All right all right all right, here we go, here we go, here we GO. I'd like to kick off this new week with another nod to Design Philadelphia, which has 91 programs scheduled beginning Thursday and running through next Wednesday, as part of National Design Week.

One of the most incredible of these is an installation that will run till the end of the month at 313 South Broad Street: A Clean Break. The empty lot next to the church directly across the street from the Kimmel Center will be transformed into a temporary neighborhood highlighting modern prefab architecture and sustainable development. The exhibition features full-scale homes available to tour, urban farming and other high minded concepts, and the opening reception even has a bike valet. That reception is Thursday from 7-10. The full program for Design Philadelphia is HERE.

Picking some other topics from a big stuffed hat . . .

* * *

PHILLIES: CAN'T WIN EM ALL: Well, a sweep's out of the question for the Phillies, and Jamie Moyer's performance in the playoffs is of definite concern. Still, the Phils are in the drivers seat, despite everything you'll hear on ESPN and Fox. The national coverage of the National League Championship Series would lead you to believe the Dodgers and the Dodgers only get three hours of devoted TV time to play with their balls. This 920 word Dodger masturbation by Jorge Arangure on ESPN.com mentions the Phillies, the team the Dodgers are playing, exactly once. And Fox's TV coverage? My god. Fox doesn't even wipe the drool from its mouth at the possibility of a Dodgers/Red Sox World Series. (OH MY GOD DID YOU KNOW MANNY RAMIREZ USED TO PLAY FOR THE RED SOX??!?)

Take away the 45 year old's uncharacteristically awful performance last night and you have a ballgame. The little brush-ups provided some entertainment -- the Russell Martin tantrum was especially amusing, more so when he got plunked again later -- but ultimately had no effect on the game. After the skirmish, the Dodgers scored only one run, off of a 25 year old making his first ever postseason appearance. Moyer aside, the Phillies have played this series strong. The bats could wake up a little more, sure, and they get their next chance this evening against a guy they chased out of Game 1, who's going on short rest. LET'S GO PHILS! (Photo of the Phils/Dodgers melee from Yahoo News, where you can also find at least half a dozen photos of Tiger Woods in the stands.)

* * *

A PHILADELPHIA SALUTE FOR A WOULD-BE VEEP: Over on the other side of Pattison Avenue, the Ed Snider Circus reached its loudest decibels yet. The multimillionaire chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, who according to Zabasearch lives in Ardmore, has championed the city he makes his money off of by investing in a casino no neighborhoods want, selling out a popular minor league hockey team that plays next door to its parent team -- the only arrangement like it in all the NHL -- by wastefully tearing down its 41 year old arena, home to so many memories, when there is already so much room to build the entertainment complex that's supposed to replace it, and now by parading around the vice presidential candidate who doesn't stand a Rangers fan's chance in the Wachovia Center at winning the local vote.

In 2004, John Kerry won the Philadelphia vote 81-19 over Gee Dubya; the second-closest county in Pennsylvania, whose electoral votes went to Kerry anyway, was Delco, at 57-42. Masquerading Sarah Palin's visit to the season opener as a "celebration of hockey moms" is a slap in the face to hockey fans who don't care to have any politics in their arena, let alone during a vicious campaign season less than a month away from the election. But since this was what Snider wanted, the fans obliged by bringing out their best boos -- and cheers -- which no one could hear because Snider promptly made sure the PA system, loudly blaring some generic patriot march, would drown them all out. Fortunately, there's plenty of fan video on YouTube that shows the real reception -- check The 700 Level for several -- and this high-res photo courtesy of the Wilmington News-Journal is worth wallpapering. What's more, Palin was unashamed in her rooting for the Rangers, who have two Alaska-born players (in Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky, who by the way, Flyers captain Mike Richards is no fan of).

("Puck Falin" graphic from Philebrity.)

* * *

DREXEL UPDATE, PT II: Following up on last week's post about Drexel Park (whose official dedication is this Friday at 5:30 -- 31st & Powelton), we slip around the corner for Drexel's latest answer to the "ugly campus" catcalls. Erdy-McHenry's second contribution at Drexel, the 34th Street Residence Hall, is a 17 story, football shaped wedge across the street from Greek Row. It's about halfway grown, as pictured above. It's a nice looking tower built with green construction that breaks from EM's previous campus trifecta. (EM's dorms/apartments at Temple, Drexel and Penn all looked decent, but very similar.) It will house 482 students when it opens for the 2009-10 school year. For a rendering of the finished product, have a look at a March story in The Triangle HERE.

* * *

WHERE WILL YOU BE IN 27 YEARS? DVRPC would like to know.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is hosting a series of workshops over the next couple weeks as they work toward a long-range plan for 2035 called Connections. The Philadelphia one is next Tuesday at the Loews, there's one in Gloucester County on the 29th, and one in Cherry Hill on the 30th. The workshops, which will consist of brainstorming and discussions on land use, economics, the environment, sprawl, transit and other topics, will ultimately help form a bi-state, sustainable, regional master plan.

Learn more about it at DVRPC's web site HERE.

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That's what's up on this Monday morn. This Philly Skyline Philly Skyline below, the first from Philly Skyline's signature Girard Avenue view in several months, was what was up at sunset on Saturday.

–B Love

11 October 08: Constructive criticism

By my measure, it's been almost four months (18 June 08) since yr Philly Skyline has taken a Philly Skyline sampling around town. So as a nod to our good friends at Design Philadelphia, whose weeklong party starts this Thursday, this here is Philly Skyline's preface to National Design Week -- here be some fall findings, some autumn observations, some Skylines About Town.

Starting above, we find ourselves on South Broad Street, about fifteen seconds before an SUV ran a cabbie into the median, sending the cab's hubcap rolling down the street. Ow. This bus poster belongs to the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. PCMS' 2008 season is in full swing, and so is their new web site, HERE, launched over the summer. Looks good, guys. As does the promo poster -- the skyline is subtle behind the flutist, but it's accurate and up to date with a completed Comcast Center. A gold star for PCMS!

* * *

To move along, we must move backward a couple months. About a day after the last critique, I stumbled onto the official brochure for Sunoco Welcome America:

While it makes good use of all things red, white and blue and appropriate inclusion of Independence Hall on America's Birthday, the skyline image is from two mayors ago, which doesn't quite jibe with Mayor Nutter's new day and his first Fourth of July as mayor. But, you have to give credit to the photographer, Bob Krist, for making royalties in 2008 on a skyline photo taken in 1999. Bob's web site, HERE, showcases his stunning photography taken across the globe for National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian and other publications, from his home in New Hope to Libya to Easter Island to Tuscany, which is the subject of the latest of his several books.

Anyway, the graphics department for Welcome America get a red mark for not noticing the outdated skyline which doesn't include Comcast Center, Murano and now 10 Rittenhouse. However, Philadelphia International Airport gets an A for the photo it used in the same brochure:

It's a fine photo indeed, but that same photo would now include 10 Rittenhouse, which is getting near to topping out. Just a heads up to PHL, in case they're gonna sponsor another ad next Fourth of July.

* * *

While we're talking to you guys who are the official First Impressions of our fair city, we better make a stop in at 5th & Market, the highest concentration of out-of-towners in all Philadelphia. The Independence Visitors Center opened in 2002, when the popular South Street Bridge skyline view looked like the above. It's now got a Comcast Center and a Murano, and soon a 10 Rittenhouse. Time to update, Visitors Center!

* * *

On the eastern foot of that same bridge with the good view is a hulk of a building, the AT&T telecom facility. That company is touting its local goods on a number of local web sites with the ads above and below. The one below gets high marks for its high views (from the Loews). The one above, though . . . it's a strange cut-up of the same photo, with multiple Comcast Centers, multiple Centre Squares, a lopped off Two Liberty, and the transformation of William Penn into, presumably, a cell phone tower. Buncha weirdos.

* * *

While Phillies fever has swept the city -- Danny Brière and Simon Gagné each had Phillies hats on in their last press conference before the Flyers' season opener this evening -- the hurting Eagles are stuck in the cellar at 2-3. Fortunately they've got the 49ers this week and the Falcons next week, so that record stands a chance to improve.

The Eagles' graphics team need not improve, though. This year's "Green is being an Eagles fan" campaign beats all of their recent marketing efforts. (The "One" thing was pretty popular, but terribly cliché, wasn't it?) These banners have flown in Center City and along Pattison Ave, and the graphics are featured heavily on the Eagles' web site.

Check out the wallpaper page HERE for the only wallpaper of Sean Considine in existence, the cheerleaders (who train at Sweat on Passyunk Ave, HEYO), a totally decent High Top Fade wallpaper of the Gang Green (Simmons, Allen, Joyner, Brown and White), and of course, McNabb and Westbrook in the A for Effort skyline graphic.

Nice work, Eagles graphics!

* * *

To the left here we see a little in-house promotion and Center City pride from the Philadelphia Fire Department.

The fire house at 21st & Market is charged with literally protecting the Philly Skyline, and they're rightfully proud to do so. Engine 43/Ladder 9, go 'head with your Comcast Center including t-shirts.

* * *

We'll take this next one up to Fishtown for a shout to my main man Mike, who turned this Fishtown transplant into an instant fan of the basketball pizza.

The straightforwardly named Pizza Shop, at Frankford & Columbia, has the best pizza in Fishtown, it's cheap, and the delivery is quick. Right on. What is a basketball pizza, you ask? Well . . . it's not unlike a Chicago deep dish in its makeup, but it's not deep dish. Basically, it's one pizza on top of another, bound together by a chewy crust and extra toppings.

Where their pizza needs no modification, the Pizza Shop's menu could use a newer skyline. This Mann Center view shows a Mantua Hall that no longer exists, and the Bell Atlantic Tower stands all by its lonesome without its Comcastic neighbor. But in fairness, it's not like anyone's ordering skyline photos from a pizza shop.

* * *

Dig Philly . . . nicely designed, NBC funded, wildly promoted. But does anyone actually read it? I have no idea. I do have an idea about their skyline graphic, though, and that is: A for effort, F for execution. That is to say: good job to add Comcast Center to the graphic, but bad job on its placement.

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Regular readers of another popular Fishtown-based web site (happy 4th b-day, Philebrity) will recognize this graphic promoting this year's AIDS Walk. The red ribbon fundraiser is next Sunday the 19th, and the ad is now, right now. Comcast Center may be a wee bit to the right, but even mentioning that seems a little petty when you're talking about a good cause. So hey: Good job, AIDS Walk.

* * *

Finally on this sunny Saturday . . . whether you're the type who wakes at 6 in the morning to go to a presidential rally at a North Philly strip mall or the type who cheers on hockey moms dropping first pucks, we can stay happily bipartisan and applaud the Obama graphics team for their use of the Philly Skyline to promote the rallies happening around town today. Comcast Center and Murano, the Schuylkill River Park view. Throw in a cracked bell for All American measure and you have a winner.

* * *

Welp, that'll do 'er for your Skyline Skylines this time around. As is the custom, we'll send it home with a late look at that Philly Skyline, this one a Red October edition for the Fightin' Phils.

–B Love

10 October 08: BURRELL BOMB

Good to see the Phillies scoreboard graphics department saved that one from last year. Even better to see they needed it. Pat Burrell and Chase Utley have officially awoken from their postseason slumber, and thank heaven for that. What a night at the ol' ballpark!

The fans have been nothing short of incredible during this playoff run. We ran CC Sabathia out of his game, and we got into Derek Lowe's head long enough for him to have a mini-meltdown, two homerun, three run inning that was the only difference the Phils needed. Enter Brad Lidge, game over. Insane. All is well inside Citizens Bank Park.

Also, I have to give a shout to the little dude, maybe 10, in the row in front of us at the ballpark. He sat quietly through the first five innings, but when the Phillies came up to bat in the sixth, he put his rally hard hat with a red police light on, and whattaya know, Chase and Pat went deep. Nice work, kid.

To launch a mini-essay of NLCS Game 1 (18 photos total, about 4.5M in size), click


–B Love

PS: I'm with The Illadelph here . . . Building owners in Center City ought to have the same Phillies Fever the rest of the city has, no disrespect to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all. Last night from my high up perch (would it kill the Phillies to give partial season ticket holders their same seats for at least ONE playoff game?), I noticed only Cira Centre lit up for the Phillies, in its all-red-with-white-P. Well done, Cira Centre. But the rest of you . . . come on now. We'll give you a mulligan for this Game 1 gaffe. Game 2 is a day game today . . . but uh, a little later this month, might wanna keep the red handy, fellas. Especially One and Two Liberty with your fancy pants LEDs.

Cira Centre from the archives: