31 July 06: Free our independence!

And independence most assuredly does not stand for the abominable, unsightly barriers seen here. What in the mother of God are they thinking?

INDEPENDENCE National Historical Park -- "the most historic square mile in America" -- is yet again being threatened with nauseating irony, trickled down through the sieves of bureaucracy as decided by Washington, specifically the National Park Service. As reported thoroughly by Stephan Salisbury in the Sunday Inquirer, President Bush's forthcoming budget has $2M allotted for "security provisions" for Independence Park, including the erection of a 7 foot -- seven feet tall -- iron fence along the backside of Independence Hall, right in the middle of the Square where the 'bike racks' are now. It's disgusting, vile, and an insult to the local levels of government and citizens of Philadelphia.

Do tourists actually mind, though? Judging by the success -- the noise and the ubiquity -- of Ride the Ducks, apparently not. It's just the way it is, it's a post-9/11 world and you just . . . never know.

Horseshit. That's just the kind of fear that has seemingly driven every federal expenditure since 9/11. I know it, Senator Specter knows it, Congressman Fattah knows it, Mayor Street knows it, and you know Governor Rendell knows it. If there's one thing that has succeeded since 9/11, it must be intel, because outside of the anthrax episode and the Beltway sniper, nothing of major human-inflicted consequence has happened on our home soil in the five years since. This collective success was not attained by building a fence around any historic attractions, not the least of which represent the very freedoms we've stood taller for in that same timeframe.

The street posts on the Chestnut Street side? Totally understandable. You want neither a hellbent lunatic nor an erratic Septa bus plowing through the front of Independence Hall. Screening to enter Independence Hall? That's also understandable, for similar reasons, and it can be done in a tasteful way which, let's say, does not involve an ill placed makeshift vinyl tents, bike rack barriers or the invasion of the original Supreme Court. But this?

A seven foot wrought iron fence, no matter how ornate and detailed (and given it's design-stunted 2006, that's highly doubtful), sends the message "stay out; privileged visitors only; access restricted." The fence is to essentially replace the bike rack barriers seen above -- the bike rack barriers which effectively cut Independence Square, the park behind Independence Hall leading out to Walnut Street, in half. On July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell had no crack, nor was it yet known as the Liberty Bell. It was just a nicely crafted and dignified bell residing in the tower of Independence Hall, then simply the PA State House. On that day, the bell was rung to gather Philadelphians -- Americans -- in this very Square for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Since that day, the site has been visited by millions of tourists and used as a symbolic platform for efforts toward freedom, one suitable for Abraham Lincoln, for women's suffragists, for Martin Luther King and civil rights activists, for gay rights activists, for Nelson Mandela, for countless others.

Since 9/11, those events have become historical minutiae. Before it was torn down, Mitchell/Giurgola's exemplary bicentennial-era Liberty Bell Pavilion was in its last days used as the security scanning area for the new Liberty Bell Center, with metal detectors x-raying on the very spot the Liberty Bell once stood. Since 9/11, the arches on Independence Hall, along Chestnut Street between the main Hall and its bookends, the first Supreme Court and Congress Hall, cannot be passed through, as I used to do every morning on the way to work after moving here in 2000.

Is Independence Hall seriously considered a threat? Is this the Bush administration's way of confirming just how valuable our freedom -- the freedom which is on the march, the freedom seen taking shape so handsomely in Iraq and demonstrated so admirably in Lebanon -- is, to protect all its symbols at any cost? Freedom is so magnificently vital to the American way, that to ensure the safety of its very symbol, we must remove a little of itself! Where have we heard this before?

For the love of Ben Franklin, National Park Service, don't do this. Don't slap a security fence across INDEPENDENCE Square. Senator Specter, Congressman Fattah, Mayor Street, Governor Rendell . . . don't let them do this to us.

–B Love

28 July 06: No seriously, how long?

'Member way back on May 3rd when we asked how in the hell long it was gonna take those yahoos building the townhomes with the garages on 22nd Street between Spruce and Locust to finish up? The ones with the chainlink fence and the dumpster and the construction trailer that have been bottlenecking northbound traffic while endangering cyclists and pedestrians, all for two stinkin' townhomes? Well, apparently the answer is indefinitely. The photo above is current, and even after well over a year (it seems like and probably is longer), they're still not done. Hey fellas? Even if you're just finishing up the interiors, think you'd mind giving the neighborhood 22nd Street back? Check a map -- see the yellow? It means the street is arterial. Arterial streets serve through traffic and bus routes. (The 7 and 12 buses pass through here.) Come ON already.

And really, all this time for that? Red brick with a cornice that looks like it was bought at Wal-Mart, mismatched windows that have no trim or shutters and two curb cut car garages? BLEH.

And while we're griping . . .

Hi, Streets Department? LUV YA. Except when you do this. Why, oh why, oh why, must you rip up like eighteen neighboring streets in a single day, let them sit like this for a month or two, and then pave them all back in a couple days' time? Wouldn't it be more productive to do them, oh, one at a time? You'd meet your goal in a single day! Productivity would stay high! Employee morale would follow it! Neighbors would be happy and proud of your work and bake you cupcakes! Seriously . . . we understand the need to resurface and we're totally cool with the construction issues, but there's no need to have streets all ripped to hell for weeks at a time, is there?

Y'all have a splendid weekend out there. We're gonna see what sorta trouble we can get into, and we'll report back Monday with our findings (and probably a brand spankin' new photo essay). Y'heard?

–B Love

27 July 06: Downtown Philly, where it's realer than a heart attack

A strange thing keeps happening. On a daily basis, and at different times of the day -- the second cup of coffee in the morning, the mad rush of the afternoon, the tuned up evening -- a 47 minute musical epic floods through our office window, evoking a head nod and toe tap not seen, it seems, since bygone days of when we looked forward to new hip-hop records. See, Philly Skyline's sprawling corporate headquarters, as mentioned frequently, straddles South Street, embracing both the G-Ho and Fitler Square neighborhoods, and one of our neighbors is a car alarm and stereo installation shop. Our guess is that one of its employees scooped an internet leak of Game Theory.

Game Theory is the return of The Roots. Damn, I say godDAMN, The Roots have returned. Hip-hop, let's even put this out there, has returned. Where's it been? Elephino. I mean 'Be' by Common was a real nice record. Kanye West, his beats and records are all right. ImmoTech, El-P, The Streets, Aesop Rock, these underground cats . . . they have some nice rhymes, but not to be a dick, who's listening to them but their peers, members of hip hop message boards and coffeehouse employees? And then commercial radio? Christ. We listen to 100.3 The Beat only because we love Monie. (Pooch and Laiya are cool but Monie is our homegirl -- Movie Love and B Love are cousins, y'know.) But the music . . . TI? Yung Joc? Chamillionaire? DeWHAT?

Call me a luddite purist, but nothing in the hip-hop section has moved me beyond a "huh" in years. Like, seven years, about the duration between right now and 'Things Fall Apart', the last classic Roots opus. 'Phrenology', it got a "huh." "Water" was a moving track, really laying on the line Black Thought's thoughts on Malik B's disappearance before transforming into the Roots' own "Revolution #9." 'The Tipping Point' wasn't even "huh," it was "uhh . . ." "Star" was a great lead track, and Web→Boom was one of the better back-to-backs they've done, but for the most part the record was straight filler, with subpar hooks and an unnatural commercial (read: borderline gangsta) flair. "Stay Cool" and "Duck Down" just tried too hard. A lot of people have gone so far to suggest that the best effort the Roots laid on record in these past seven years was as backing band to Jay-Z's 'Unplugged' record. That might be harsh, and this might be unrelated, but at least something huge came out of that:

The Roots are on DefJam with Jigga now. We've heard that G-Ho's biggest afro, ?uestlove, had the biggest hand in producing Game Theory. And thank god for that. The songs sound like a hip-hop band that's again serious enough about hitting on all cylinders that Malik B is back for a few tracks and Dice Raw for another. North Philly labelmate (by way of Roc-a-fella) Peedi Crakk cameos, too.

But this record is pure Roots, a pure album. It's got that continuity, that flow-to-the-next song that made Things Fall Apart so fluid. Game Theory, it seems, is the next movement. The album is at once a bell curve and a circle; it's a bell curve that intros softly upward with a keyboard soundcheck, before unleashing fury that peaks mid-album with "Here I Come," the Black Thought / Malik B / Dice Raw trifecta with a Myxomatosis-fuzzbox power bassline. There's a more obvious Radiohead reference, though, after the album comes back down and eases toward its end, in the next-to-last track "Atonement." A female chorus of "as I wait for atonement, trapped in the heat of the moment" is sung over a background of Thom Yorke's "you and whose army . . . you and your cronies . . . ahh-ah-ah-ah-ahh." (Black Thought's "OK Computer / Radiohead's knock to the future" from Things Fall Apart's "You Don't See Us" was the first nod to The Greatest Band On The Planet.) The bell meets its circle at the end of the last track, a tribute to the late J-Dilla, fading to black before track one -- Dillatastic Von Won(derful) -- fades back up like some Alan Parsons studio trickery.

"False Media" is one of the better hip-hop observations on world events, with Black Thought suggesting we've been "sentenced to four more years." A 'wise old man' voice not unlike Chuck D's from "Anti-Nigger Machine" also borrows from Chuck's "Don't Believe the Hype": America's lost on west side of Littleton / 11 million children on Ritalin / that's why I don't rhyme for the sake of riddlin' / false media, we don't need it do we?

"Livin' In a New World" is the only non-summer track. It is straight out of the winter of 1996, when DJs B Love and Warren Kaos were ruling the overnight Shippensburg airwaves, throwing up a 15 minute segment of the radio friendly version of Illadelph Halflife to go smoke a blunt in the movie theatre and take a long 6am walk in the snow before eggs over easy at the caf. The track starts with an acapella Black Thought verse through a bullhorn with an echo that the beat slides in under, just in time for Thought's voice to come into focus.

"A Clock With No Hands" is one of those Roots smooth jawns, the introspective beat with the R&Bish hook (which interpolates the Pharcyde's "Runnin"). It might be Thought's lyrical high point of the album, rhyming "livin' in turbulent times / the blind leadin' the blind / some call it evolution some say intelligent design / you say you want a revolution / you out of your mizzind / son's destitute and they pop's all in the pris-on."

"In the Music," though, had better be a single. Through and through, it's the best overall song on Game Theory. It's the soundtrack of 2am in the summer of in the city of murder. The song starts with a raw beat that evolves into Kamal's keys that sound like sirens coming up the block, with Black Thought and Malik B firing a verse each like ten years ago but with a 2006 perspective.

Whether or not 2006's hip-hop demographic -- the ones making Young Joc and TI popular -- see this as the sound of the streets, as a modern classic, or just some local dudes doin' they thang, still doin' that band thing and yeah it's cool but yo, "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It" is that crunk shit my stereo wants to rock . . . well, we'll see. We'll see if it even gets any spins on Monie & Pooch, or any local hip-hop stations for that matter. It should.

Either way, Game Theory has our seal of approval. It's out on DefJam Records on Tuesday, 29 August, and they're performing alongside Common at the Electric Factory on Thursday, 17 August. Until those two days come, we can only hope the car stereo dudes keep blasting this on the daily. Let it bang on the block till the neighbors call the cops.

–B Love


To take it home, let's Yank On YouTube and go back ten years to the days of Illadelph Halflife (with a video shot in New York).

26 July 06: Philly: so out, we're in

Better late than never, they say. Here's your Happy Hump Day Umpdate.

Yo Olympics: We didn't want you here anyway! So there! Get bent! Jerks! California can piss off. Whatever. [KYW.]

Philadelphia: Starwood's preferred guest of the week. Hot off the heels of the W announcement for 12th & Arch (to open in 2009), Starwood has announced that it is, in fact, responsible for the empty window holes in the former Polly Esther's nightclub at 12th & Race. Because if one new hotel isn't enough, you build one a block away. I suppose a Four Points Sheraton and a W are ever slightly different demographics, but they'll all be conventioneers for the to-be-expanded PA Convention Center. [PBJ.]

G-Ho is all up in your Philadelphian lexicon. The Weekly's Kristen Henri finds herself in Philly Skyline's favorite neighborhood for this week's restaurant review, the Turkish BYOB Divan. [PW.] Remember, Turkish food is not one of the best foods in the world, IT IS THE BEST FOOD IN THE WORLD. On a related note . . . who knew!

Big Apple Sal: As our good friends at PWD, Philebrity and Beerleaguer have already reported (by way of phillies.com et al), Sal's Pals are moving 90 miles north. In what we'll consider bittersweet news, Sal Fasano has been traded to the Yankees. It's bitter because we've lost our third-favorite Phillie (behind RyHo and Chase), but it's sweet for Sal because he gets to join the Yankees. But then it's bitter again because George Steinbrenner requires that all Yankees, including Judas Damon and Donnie Baseball, to be clean shaven and have respectable haircuts. Not that Salfa's mullet was not respectable.

And another plus: the Phillies now have a new 21 year old infielder in the system, and just in time too, considering David Bell's finally realized it's a contract year and he has to turn it up if he wants to get PAID this offseason. He's in the middle of an un-Bell-like 10 game hitting streak, while Chase Utley's is up to 25. But the rest of the Phillies, they suck.

Stupid Bikes. You just weren't satisfied with the Ducks, were you? All that quackin' and singin' along to a blaring "YMCA" while bumpin' across the cobblestones just wasn't enough, so you went and paid seventy-five clams to ride a Segway up the Schuykill Banks trail. And now you're bored with that? Well, my ridiculous looking friend, you're in luck. The biggest, dorkiest, stupidest tourist pocketpicker yet is now all yours, the Super Bike. I hope you don't get hit by an overaggressive cab -- honest! [KYW.]

–B Love

25 July 06: Old gray lady hearts sixth borough's central landmark

The New York Times: America's paper of record. It's been under a lot of unnecessary fire recently for, you know, doing its job and reporting things Republicans and war trumpeters don't like. (And while we're propagating the dichotomy, we'd like to say for the record that Maureen Dowd -- at 54 -- is approximately 438 times sexier than Ann Coulter, who has an Adam's apple.) But every now and then, we can all lay down our guns and appreciate a well written article. Bill Marsh is our huckleberry.

In today's Times, he waxes historic and indeed poetic about Philadelphia City Hall, touching upon its architectural importance and controversy through different eras, the Calder sculptures, the pigeon guano, and how much this symbolic edifice has cost, and continues to cost, Philadelphia's residents. I dare say it might be the best article I've ever read about a single piece of architecture. Read it HERE. (Oh you don't have a NYT login? Slacker. Bypass it at BugMeNot.) Then you can come back and check out our City Hall photo show by clicking William Penn in the Philly Skyline main graphic.
Two other MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS for this Tuesday:
GO TO ARBORIA RECORDS! This is it, folks. Last day ever for the best record store ever. Yeah, it's in State College, but it's not so hot you wouldn't enjoy a midsummer's eve drive through the mountains. Very easy, too: 76→PA Turnpike→322→College Ave exit→loop back to Beaver at Atherton. Seriously: they're having a blowout sale for their last day of existence after 31 years. Do them a favor. Do yourself a favor. Pay your respects. And to Arboria Records sincerely from the kid from Tyrone: Thanks for the memories. My record collection wouldn't be half what it is, and my bank account would be double what it is, if you hadn't been there all those years. EDIT: The Centre Daily Times has a fitting sendoff/obit today. Sniffle.

BUT IF YOU DON'T: Go to Isaiah Zagar's Magic Garden instead. From 5:30 to 8 this evening, they're hosting a fundraiser. Support the legendary mosaic artist and help to preserve the Garden and keep it at 1022 South Street. [PhiladelphiasMagicGardens.com.]
For those keeping score of G-Ho events, there are two major decisions to be made about large projects affecting the entire neighborhood.

1. The first is tomorrow's zoning hearing about Toll Bros' 2400 South Street project. It's at 2pm (Wednesday, 26 July) at 1515 Arch, 18th floor. The architect who proposed the large scale, high density project with ground floor parking grates for 25th & South which would have cast a shadow all the way to Lombard, the same architect who opposes this large scale, high density project with ground floor parking grates for 24th & South which would cast shadows onto his home across the street, will probably be there.

2. The other is a meeting about the forthcoming park at 22nd & Montrose. The Philly Skyline staff, headquartered on the G-Ho/Fitler South Street cusp for years, has long thought that the only major amenity missing from the neighborhood is green space (never minding the proximity to the Schuylkill Banks and Rittenhouse Square, obviously). City Council President Anna Verna (who represents G-Ho) has a task force who, along with the RDA, SOSNA, and a bunch of involved neighbors, have brought this to where it is and should be recognized thusly. The meeting is open, is Wednesday 2 August at 7pm, at Shiloh Baptist Church, 2040 Christian Street. Stop by to hear (and offer) the good news, then go say hi to Adam and Jen at the Sidecar, 22nd & Christian. Frosty mugs of Philly Pale Ale and a new cachet of burgers await you. And plus it's Wednesday, so Bring Yr Own Vinyl and have the DJ spin your tunes while you imbibe.

–B Love

24 July 06: Sal Fasano: you will be missed

For real for real, Phillies fans have not had an "our guy" like this since Lenny Dykstra. Granted, the curly-mullet and the fu manchu were the introduction, but the gritty play and genuine nice guy-ness to him -- this is what made Sal the big hit he did. And the Phillies? They flushed him down the drain like the bewildered boobs they are. More on that in a bit, but first . . . it's Monday Morning Looking Up, yo.
  1. Back to front. CREI's 101 Walnut is well over halfway to being topped out and ready for its opening next year. But alas, watching it grow, we've all been welcomed with the sad fact that it shares a problem with its neighbor a couple doors up on Front Street: the blank wall. While I understand that the issue is one of zoning for open air rights, it's unfortunate that these walls are left to look the way they do. Fortunately 101 Walnut is not yet finished so we may be surprised yet, but unfortunately, Bower Lewis Throwup handled this design, so we'll be surprised if we're surprised, but then again fortunately, CREI is the developer here, and they seem to demand a high standard, so we're not writing it off just yet.

    But take the Beaumont. (Please!) The blank wall is a big, fat, fugly tan wall with tan trim. Air rights to the neighboring property (the four story rowhome that has probably been there for over a century and which will probably be there a century more) say the Beaumont can't have windows on the north wall. Err, all right. But a design, maybe? Old City 108's raw zinc sides are pretty decent. There are some buildings on the Upper East Side whose blank walls are elaborated by patterns from the exterior material. Perhaps our city of murals could add a new tallest mural?

    Regardless, these blank walls are just hideous, and 101 Walnut's wall bookends the south end of the 100 block of Front Street to form a blank wall, parking garage, parking lot, blank wall sandwich. [101Walnut.com.]

  2. Did I say Philly needs some new murals? Somebody did. The Mural Arts Program is hard at work on new murals at 4th & Spring Garden and another at 27th & South at the foot of the South Street Bridge. [MuralArts.org.]

  3. Hub on Chestnut is mural-like. Not exactly, but kinda. Okay, not really at all, but still, this West Philly project is a breath of fresh air to the corner of 40th & Chestnut, shedding oh-so-cliche materials like red brick (or worse, faux red brick) and tan stucco for a dark wood look with polished aluminum (and chartreuse!) trim. It's funky, but not as cluttered as let's say the Westin New York. The Hub is a truly mixed use project with strangely high-end rental prices (it's close to Penn and Drexel, but not $1400/mo close) and the forthcoming opening of a Mexican restaurant by Jose Garces (of Amada) as its ground floor anchor. [TheHubOnChestnut.com.]

  4. Thank you, may I have a Nutter? Speaking of West Philly, its most with-it former councilman made it official over the weekend. Michael Nutter announced to the crowd at 51st & Parkside that, PSSST, the reason he stepped down from City Council is that he's running for mayor. Hooray! [Inquirer.]

  5. False advertising. Recently around town, I've been noticing a bad trend in marketing. Do the marketing minds behind such expensive packages as workphilly.com commercials and The Murano's sales packaging not do their research? Do they even live IN Philly? The workphilly.com television spots start off with a moving nighttime image of . . . the Toronto skyline.

    The Murano -- seen at far left in the graphic above -- unnecessarily embellished 1818 Market with a light blue L, it stuck Mellon Bank Center's pyramid on top of the Blue Cross Tower, it plopped a dolled up 2000 Market in front of Liberty Place, and best, it shifts a Hummel figurine sized City Hall tower into the middle of Market Street, instead of set just north of the axis as normal. Why did they do all this? What is wrong with the real view?

    The St James appears to still be using its circa-construction marketing materials too, as last week's Philly Weekly ran an ad for it with a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge still wrapped in scaffolding. That scaffolding was removed sometime in 2003.

    And then there's the Philly real estate circular with the picture of the skyline from 1987. Is this irony? You push up residential and commercial real estate -- the changing face of the landscape -- and you use a nearly 20 year old picture when One Liberty Place was the only tall building in the city? Oh, 'scuse me, One Commerce Square is nearly finished and the Blue Cross Tower is under construction. Arrgh. Think, people.

  6. Philly Skyline: found in Allentown. So I see that big-head Gatorade commercial for the 117th time when I finally ask myself, "who in the hell is that girl with Peyton Manning, Dwyane Wade, Derek Jeter and Kevin Garnett?" Took a couple minutes to find it: her name is Jennie Finch, star of the 2004 Olympic gold medal softball team. Huh. So I do a search for her and learn that she plays for the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch League. (Whoa, there's a pro softball league?) And this weekend, they were playing the Philly team. (Whoa, there's a Philly team???) I had no idea. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact they play an hour and a half north in ALLENTOWN. Jeez. That's even worse than trying to bring a MLS team to Glassboro and call it Philly. The "Philadelphia Force" women's softball team's web site even has the Philly skyline as part of their graphic! But perhaps this Philadelphia Force is popular in Allentown, as their games seem to be televised. [PhiladelphiaForce.com.]

  7. Finally this morning, Sal. The sad bit of news that is just the latest notch in the Phillies' management's cluelessness in this forgettable 2006 campaign: Sal Fasano was designated for assignment this weekend, which in lay terms amounts to him being cut from the team. Ruben Amaro, the .235 lifetime hitting assistant general manager, offered up the standard canned pat-on-the-back-don't-let-the-door-hit-you statement to the press. Why Rube Junior? It's obvious: this was an in-house decision that even Pat Gillick could not be a part of. Oh, AND: they apparently didn't even tell Sal to his face. You're telling me that Chris Coste -- a lifelong minor leaguer who became the oldest player in over 50 years to make a Major League debut and who's played all of 20 games here -- is more valuable to the Phillies than insanely popular Sal Fasano?

    No one is ever going to suggest Sal should be starting the All Star Game, but let's be real here: 1. The Phillies season is a lost cause. 2. Mike Lieberthal is bad and is often injured. 3. Sal Fasano makes $400k and is a huge hit with the fans. 4. Chris Coste. CHRIS COSTE.

    Ditching Sal before the season's over yet keeping roster spots for Coste and Rick White, as well as not only keeping but endorsing manager Charlie Manuel, as Gillick did on 950AM, well . . . it's all a terrible slap in the face to the team's fans. We'll miss you too, Sal, and we'll keep bad mouthing the guys who did this until they finally realize they're not wanted here. [MLB.com.]

    Ruben Amaro gets the bozack. As do the starting nine. Sixteen guys left on base isn't gonna win many games there, boys.

Welp. That's your MMLU, but some other things comin' 'round the mountain this week include a new photo set by Steve Ives, a long promised Skinny update, and news on Toll Bros' 2400 South Street development. Stay tuned . . .

–B Love

21 July 06: Construction Roundup

In anticipation of the latest major update to The Skinny, which will finally involve bringing the descriptions of each project into the new Skinny, as well as develop pages for construction updates (like Comcast Center only more simplified), we've got a big roundup for ye, the dedicated reader. Click the image above for lots of construction updates around town.

–B Love

19 July 06: Philadelphia: because it's good, it shall be bad

Aightcha, it's hump day and we need an umpdate. This follows a busy week involving a photo shoot at the United Nations in New York, softball playoffs, and rollergirl models for the Phila Craft Mafia launch party (which followed airtime on WHYY and precedes a spread in the Inquirer). The Philly Mafia is the new Philadelphia incarnation of the Austin-based Craft Mafia network, a band of mostly young, mostly female seamstresses, tailors, jewelry makers and the like. Philly Skyline's official wardrobe provider, Ladies Auxiliary Club (through whom Philly Skyline shirts will soon be available), is a founding member. If you like clothes or fashion or attractive 20- and 30-something girls, be sure to support the Phila Craft Mafia.

Onward, then, Christian soldiers (that's a George Bush joke -- and it didn't even involve the word "shit" or an awkward massage to the German chancellor) . . . it's time for a Happy Hump Day Umpdate!
  1. There shall be no swimming in Swann Fountain. Dewhat??? It's a hundred effin degrees outside! The Metro's Josh Cornfield reports that the Fairmount Park Commission has stationed a manned SUV inside pedestrian-only Logan Circle to keep people out of the fountain. Look. If people wish to contract a parasite by scuba diving in Swann Fountain, why not let them? As we've said a million times, Philly Skyline HATES NANNY LAWS. This is kinda like those, with a dose of Love Park. "Here is a nice amenity for all to enjoy, except we don't want you to enjoy it." This is like smoking laws and motorcycle helmet laws, only worse. It's HOT, there's WATER, you go IN the water to cool OFF. It's an ok law to break, like speed limits. And it's tradition! They've done a good job about keeping the homeless from reclaiming Logan Circle as home, so what is wrong with some kids splashing around in the fountain, or grownups taking their shoes off and wading, or climbing on Alexander Stirling Calder's sculptures (like B Love, pictured above circa 2001). Hallahan Catholic School's girls use the fountain as a rite of passage with every graduating class. National Geographic even ran a picture of this in its 1983 Philadelphia spread. But then, this is the city where a park is so popular with skateboarders that it gets its own level in a Tony Hawk video game and draws ESPN's X-Games for two consecutive years, only to have its square-headed mayor spend a million dollars of taxpayer money to make it skater UNfriendly. Because Swann Fountain is good, it shall be bad. Lynn Swann unavailable for comment on swimming or Catholic girls, but asks why, if Ed Rendell is so popular, he doesn't have a fountain named for him. [Metro.]

  2. Sounds like a plan. Gwen Shaffer of the Philadelphia Weekly has written what might be the greatest story ever done on city planning. She gives the back story from William Penn's plan with Thomas Holme's vision, through the Ed Bacon urban renewal era, to today when the Planning Commission and the ZBA are big question marks with a price tag and it's easier to build a 500 foot tower in a neighborhood than to put a deck on your house. If that's your broad brush, Shaffer has your fine detail brush. Because the boom is good, planning shall remain bad. [PW.]

    On a related note, Center City District -- whose head Paul Levy is one of the good guys of Shaffer's article -- has scanned and made available a 1947 expo on . . . city planning! Images and a link to download the PDF are found at Phillyblog.

  3. Speaking of that 500 foot neighborhood tower . . . the Fairmount-Spring Garden NIMBY brigade is back yapping loud enough for local news outlets to pick em up, as the developers had to meet with . . . the ZBA! As of right now, the future of the Barnes Tower at 22nd & Pennsylvania (site of the Best Western Hotel and B&W Lounge) remains uncertain. It's gotten its demolition permit for the motel and approval to build the 500 foot condo, but the neighborhood groups in opposition (let's call em Fumo's Fubars) are threatening lawsuit based on how approval was met and, well, the fact that the new tower is gonna make a big mean shadow and block views . . . of people in other towers? Something like that. For further reading, see City paper, Phillyblog and Daily News, but the best of them all is the Daily News' comments section.

  4. The PREIT is right. Federated decided that the Strawbridge's building wasn't worth in-house competition with its new Macy's -- scheduled to open in the Wanamaker's building on August 2 -- so it sold it to Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, who says they're probably not gonna do a Nordstrom after all. Well la di da! Kicking it over to Henry Holcomb then: [Inquirer.]

  5. Old City's got the blus. Coming soon to a Skinny near you: six stories of blue post-postmodern condo goodness. No word on whether the ZBA will make them change the blue exterior to "throwback," "traditional" "red brick." [BluCondo.com.]

  6. Phillies, oh Phillies, you stupid horrible Phillies. Except you, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Bobby Abreu. Chase Utley? 20 game hitting streak. Ryan Howard? National League leader in homeruns and reigning homerun derby champ. Bobby Abreu? One of the best hitters in the game, and about to get traded to any old team for a song and a salty sack of nuts to be named later. Chris at Huge Tiny Mistake is going to be very sad when that happens. David Dellucci and Shane Victorino, we're guessing, will not. In other Phillies futility news, Beerleaguer has decided it's worth celebrating Abraham Nuñez's terribleness. We agree!

  7. We like to yank. In the past couple months, our Yankin' on YouTube feature has taken off, and for no other reason than that YouTube is insane. It is to 2006 what Napster was in 1999. Any song that ever popped in your head -- as soon as you searched for it on Napster, you had it. You got to hear Rupert Holme's "Piña Colada" song for the first time since you were three. Well now, thanks to YouTube, you can revisit the Golden Girls' Just Say No PSA or a video like "Potholes in My Lawn" for the first time in ages. And, at least half of the time, you can blame YouTube for Philly Skyline not being updated. We'll do better about that. But not before we yank on YouTube! It's the Henry Rollins Show's second appearance, and the first for Thom Yorke.

–B Love

17 July 06: Don't ask for whom we slack, my fair Mayfair; we slack for you

Heynow . . . it's well beyond the morning, so here's your Monday Afternoon Looking Up At The Sun All Pissed Off That It's Eight Thousand Degrees (MALUAPOTIETD).

As promised, this week we revisit our Great Northeast Lovefest with a trip into Mayfair. A fine neighborhood indeed is Mayfair, dare I say one of the best in all Philadelphia. Good food, good times, good people: all an el-and-66 ride away. Take a trip with Philly Skyline through the neighborhood by clicking below, and when you're done, you can sample our summer sample, Summertime Rolls.

Later this week: South Street Bridge revisited, Bridgeman's View Tower and more. Till then, between World War III and all of the shooting deaths going on, we don't really know what the hell to say. So where we went Yankin' on YouTube to let Bob Dylan address the former, we'll do the same and let KRS-One's 1989 assembly address the latter. Be back tomorrow, dipped in fresh gear and shaking off a hangover. Holla.

–B Love

14 July 06: Our love's gonna grow, oowah, oowah

Good news!
As we reported on Thursday, CREI's latest innovation (oh yeah, we bit) is simply known as Q. All we know at this juncture is that it'll be on 2nd Street above Fairmount, and that one can register for its September VIP at qcondominiums.com. (Back-in parking and Standard Tap lamb sandwiches not included.) CREI is good about following through with their big plans, so let's keep an eye on this one.

Bad news!
This isn't to say that Opus doesn't follow through on their projects, but the one in Philadelphia is all but officially dead. The only reason it's not is that 1919market.com is still live. Philly Skyline sources are legit, though, and the word is that their low end price points and rising construction costs put the kibosh on 1919 Market. Too bad, too, because Opus seemed to be a good neighbor, and the tower itself was pretty good infill for the most exclusive grass lawn in Center City.

Good news!
As mentioned yesterday here and on just about every Philly related blog, Starwood is gonna build a Dubya hotel at 12th & Arch, to open in 2009 when the Convention Center's expansion is also set to be complete. Today's news yields a few more details, namely that its architect will be Gary Handel, who also designed Residences at the Ritz, currently moving ground toward construction. [GlobeSt.com.]

Good news!
More happy promises for North Broad Street! State Senator Shirley Kitchen, state Representative Dwight Evans and City Councilman Darrell Clarke announced that the state has approved $500k in grants for the renovation of the Metropolitan Opera House at Broad & Poplar. Here's hoping that happens, and that the Divine Lorraine renovation happens, and that the Convention Center's expansion to Broad works, and that North Broad Street blossoms. [Daily News.] See also, Philly Skyline North Broad Street photo essay.

Speaking of bosoms . . .
After spearheading Rindelaub's Row-gate, the Center City Toilet Reader's Thom Nickels left us shaking our heads, in spite of our purchase of his Philadelphia Architecture book. But wow, is he ever on a roll right now. Following the nude dudes in body paint from a couple weeks ago, Nickels writes this week from Atlantic City on the Borgata's expansion. To wit:
As a gay man I enjoy looking at cleavage but probably because I am gay I don't think twice about letting my gaze linger. Cleavage to me is symbolic of the fall harvest, a bountiful spring, or ripe melons in an organic supermarket.
The Toilet Reader hasn't updated its web site with this week's edition yet, but they will, and when they do, it is highly suggested reading. [Philly1.com.]

It's usually sunny on Phillies.com
Welp, the Fightin Phils are back in action tonight for the second half of the season from hell. With David Montgomery, Bill Giles and Uncle Chuck three stoogin' it up in the press and with Brett Myers anticipating a hearty Philly welcome back, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley look to ignore them all and continue their outstanding seasons. Two quick observations: 1. Phillies.com -- ever the purporter of the sunnier side of the Pattison Ave Circus -- has even seemed to come around lately. Open talks of trades and admissions of disappointment are something, anyway. 2. Comcast SportsNet's Phillies Clubhouse tv show: come on guys. Ditch the comic sans. Nothing says amazing awfulness like comic sans.[Phillies.com.] [CSN.] [Ban Comic Sans.]

Reason #171 to not drink Coors products
This week's Nelson Muntz HA-HA goes to Pete "I run a beer company with an ad campaign with a bad rock song about The Twiiiiins but I'm going to run for Senate on the Republican ticket, citing family values" Coors, who -- surprise! -- was busted for a DUI. Quite a twist, no? [Inquirer.] You know, we really hope that Kenny Gamble got PAID for the use of the O'Jays' "Love Train," which we've heard about 769 times thanks to its use in this summer's Coors ad campaign. We might even except Coors if they paid for restoration of the Royal Theatre. Sound like a deal?

South Street Bridge is falling down . . . but man, what a view!
Last night, the milky sky finally dissipated and blue sky shone through, just in time for sunset, so we thought we'd take a stroll down to South Street Bridge to see if Comcast Center was visible yet. (It is -- barely -- on the eastern end of the bridge, where you can see the concrete core peaking just above 11 Penn Center, which it will soon surpass in height.) Thought we'd just take a picture or two and enjoy the skyline, but don'tcha know, it turned into The State of South Street Bridge, Part 2. Our last exposé apparently raised enough ruckus that City Council President Anna Verna was appalled by the pictures, which is a good thing. Well, just for Mrs. Verna and especially for G-Ho and West Philly residents who expect a bridge closure and reconstruction beginning in April of next year, we're working on this follow-up photo essay and hope to have it up by Monday, so check back for it. Till then, you can revisit the first go-round over HERE

Finally, some Philly Skyline weekend suggestions . . .
TONIGHT: New Pony blues gig upstairs at Fergie's, 12th & Sansom. TONIGHT: Eldorado rock gig at The Fire at 4th & Girard tonight. SATURDAY: Buy Fresh Buy Local trolley tour to Somerton Tanks, an innovative farm in the Northeast under the shadows of two picnic table looking water tanks. SUNDAY: the SoCo concert at Penn's Landing with the Flaming Lips, Bob Mould and De La Soul. ALL WEEKEND: Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College. Go enjoy the country, and PLEASE stop by Arboria Records on Beaver Ave and pay your final respects, as it closes its doors for good on July 25.

B Love signing off, peace, over and out.

PS: in honor of World War III, which has begun in the Middle East, we'll Yank On YouTube to take it back to the 60s, when people actually paid attention to political music. Bobby D, take it away!

13 July 06: YO PHILLY SKYLINE: the Q & A

Q: Yo B Love, Philly Skyline always used to be about the photos. What happened to the photos, you old windbag?

A: That's true, I am getting old and windy, especially in this unhealthy summer air. Seriously . . . let's pour it in a glass, call it milk and watch it go sour. So, just for the sticky, icky air, we're back up with a new photo essay and new Comcast Center updates. Clicking the images to your left will take you respectively to each.
Q: Isn't it time for a Comcast update? It's been 7 days dweeb.

A: Now see, I would have replied to this one individually, had this dweeb actually left a valid email address. No matter, it's worth bringing up. Now that the Comcast Center Progress section has a diagram that follows construction, it will be updated on the regular, including one hopefully today. A new batch of pictures (which really illustrate how thick and white the air has been) should do in the meantime.

Q: Are you aware of the W & Q?

A: Indeed! Whilst at the W & J, C & R gave us the 415 on the W & the Q by CREI. As you may have read in The Inquirer, Starwood is at long last making good on their promise with a W hotel right here in Philadelphia. Its location: 12th & Arch. 12th & Arch? Erm . . . well yeah, the Convention Center is there and conventioneers need a bed to sleep in, but wouldn't a (mega trendy, stylish) W be better suited where it was originally planned -- New Market near 2nd & South -- or even Rittenhouse Square? Just wonderin'. Anyway, a new hotel is great news, after other rumors (including one which saw the Robert Morris Building across the street from Comcast Center returning to its hotelier roots) have died. ||| Oh, and the Q? More news at 11, but for now, the word is that CREI -- whose stuff we really like: Nouveau, American Loft, par example -- has got a 14ish story condo named Q lined up for the phase 2 of Northern Liberties' Extreme Priceout Makeover. For real for real, it's pretty good looking. [Q condominiums.]

Q: If that car alarm doesn't stop, what are you going to do?

A: Most likely go outside with a sledgehammer and give it something to honk about. Jeezus. People: car alarms are worthless. They are hardly deterrents from would-be thieves (show me some stats that prove otherwise and I will still doubt them), and they annoy the piss out of EVERYone. And if you're in a city, there's a good chance you're parked far away enough from your car that you won't hear it, thereby allowing the alarm to run its full course, giving everyone within ear shot its chorus of chaos. Oh you silly car alarms . . . I LOVE YOU.

Q: Are you ever going to finish The Skinny?

A: The Skinny is never finished -- updated as the city updates itself. To answer the direct question though: yes, it's high on the current agenda. There are already a few new projects needing an entry, and the descriptions and links are still being brought over on the back end. Hopefully by the end of the month.

Q: What's up with Mayfair?

A: Patience, my dear Neasters, patience! Indeed, we recently paid an initial visit to the Mayfair neighborhood in Northeast Philly with anticipation of bringing its goods to Philly Skyline's neighborhoods section. And we still will be doing so -- we just wanna get back for a follow-up and perhaps some crab fries first. It's coming, don't worry.

Q: I have a question too, where may I submit it?

A: Right over HERE. Thanks for sticking around this time, and look up. Yo.

–B Love

12 July 06: Hot enough for you

Before anything else, our condolences, hearts and goodwill go out to Mumbai after the train bombings. Jesus. 7/11, 3/11, 9/11 . . . these are no lucky elevens. Dear terrorist assholes: stop doing this. You don't even get a please. Dear India: stay strong and don't resort to a state induced life of fear like some countries in similar situations have done.

Onto lighter, local notes for a happier Hump Day Umpdate then . . .
  1. 10 Rittenhouse Square. Hi, remember me? I'm the building that caused the big fuss about the four piddly, nondescript adjacent buildings at 18th & Sansom -- the one where three of my four four businesses successfully relocated and one pizzeria took its dough and went home (to New York)? The one that was gonna have to knock down and then rebuild the Rittenhouse Club and then didn't? Well, I'm back, and I'm ready for action. Caissons are being put together right this very second, and just momentarily, I'm going to start drilling the ground. Ooh ooh OOH! [10rittenhouse.com.]

  2. Throes of summer. Oi vey, all that picture perfect weather from the weekend? History (or as Fox ran on a graphic during the All Star Game last night, "Histroy"). Hot & hazy is the name of the game this week, and doubling up with the post-flood mess, it's bringing MOSQUITO MAYHEM! Stock up on your Off!, yo, and don't be an infant or old and on your death bed, lest you catch West Nile. This forecast comes secondhand from our favorite meteorologist and yours . . .

  3. Cecily Tynan. Consider this an open letter. We love you, Cecily; we always have. Your bedside manner prepares us for the worst of storms and the best of sunny days. We appreciate your marathon athleticism and pay no mind to your personal life when Dan Gross reports about it. We really do love you. But girlfriend, just one little request that's been on our minds for years: FIRE YOUR STYLIST! Now, we know the image in the graphic above has been updated on 6abc's web site, but it's a pretty accurate portrayal of Cecily's wardrobe. (Perhaps it's 6abc's stylist because really, what's up with Monica Malpass's hair?) Seriously: a fresh haircut and some sexier clothes would just kick the already-best weather forecast up a whole 'nother level. We obsess because we love, and because honestly: do you really want us to watch those crappy newscasts on nbc10 (um, Hurricane Schwartz? No thanks.) and, god forbid, cbs3 (as if)? It's ok -- we're looking out for the best that 6abc can be.

  4. Sheetz > Wawa. Pardon this uncharacteristic negadelphian outburst, but while it's fresh on my mind like a roll fresh out of Dot'z Bakery, I gotta go off for a second. As reported yesterday and Monday, I was back home in Central PA (WHERE YOU SHOULD GO THIS WEEKEND FOR ARTS FEST AND TO BID FAREWELL TO ARBORIA RECORDS, 119 EAST BEAVER AVENUE, STATE COLLEGE PA) over the weekend. When I am home, I go to Sheetz. Sheetz is a convenience store, not unlike Wawa, which sells food on the fast. That food is good, it's always fast, and the service is usually good too. Over the weekend, I enjoyed several cups of Sheetz' European Blend coffee, two chili dogs (for $1.29) and a ham/bacon Shmuffin. Yesterday, whilst walking the streets of a foodie's delight -- Center City Philadelphia -- I found myself hungry, short on time, and nearby to Wawa. What the hell, I thought. I stopped in for a roast pork Shorti, which I've known to be decent. Well despite the menu board saying otherwise, there was no roast pork at 20th & Chestnut. Okay, I thought, I'll be brave and sample the cheesesteak for the forthcoming Great Philly Skyline Cheesesteak Debate. Except when you are asked "would you like sauteed (as opposed to fried) onions?" you are only presented "No" as an answer. But . . . I wanted to say yes! No major bother, I'll just walk a couple blocks to the 20th & Locust Wawa. Aha! They have the roast pork. So place an order for a roast pork Shorti with provolone, creamy horseradish and black pepper I did. Paid and picked up, I continued over to Rittenhouse Square to enjoy this roast pork Shorti. And when I opened it? Why, it was beef -- and not much of it -- doused in gravy, mixed with my creamy horseradish just like I like it! Except no, that wasn't even close. Savory and translucent gravy, mixed with the tart of horseradish and the twee of sweet mayonnaise? Did not the sandwich maker stop to think, "this seems out of the ordinary"?

    I am sorry Philly, but Wawa sucks. You can take a boy out of Sheetz country, but . . . you know. Plus Sheetz has bathrooms. And coffee that doesn't taste like it ran off of a bus driver's boots two days ago. And creamsicle slushees. And peanut butter cinnamon rolls.

  5. Tastytrump. Talk about putting all your Krimpets in one basket. The Donald's casino operative wants to buy up the Tastykake factory near to his Budd site, with apparent intent of expanding his sprawling plastic neon rainbow 21 Jump Street across the road. That's a lot of space for a place that doesn't have a slots license yet. Think Trump and Pat Croce know something we don't? Speaking of Pat, maybe he could buy the Phillies?

    WARNING: the rest of this Happy Hump Day Umpdate pertains to the Phillies, so if you don't like-a da sports, you might go peruse fireworks photos instead.

  6. David Montgomery sucks on Bill Giles' feet. Speaking of tasty! I'm tired of commenting on the Phillies management -- I'll just let them speak for themselves! [kyw1060.] As a complement, Philly Skyline Presents: the Phillies summer in a summary of summarized quotes:
    "Yeah, 911? My husband beat me and pulled my hair." –Kim Myers

    "I'm sorry the fact I was beating my wife got public, not sorry for beating my wife." –Brett Myers

    "He's our best pitcher and he's going to pitch today, the day after he was arrested for beating his wife." –Pat Gillick

    "Actually, now I'm sorry for beating my wife." –Brett Myers

    "Brett Myers did not beat his wife; he was trying to help her. David Montgomery told me that." "We won't sell the team in spite of not knowing how to run it and preferring to be in Italy or Florida." "Gosh darn it." "Lieber sucks." "Burrell is overpaid." –Bill Giles

    "Umm . . . Brett Myers probably did beat his wife, actually." –David Montgomery

    "Charlie Manuel is doing a good job." –Pat Gillick

    "It's not my fault we suck." –Charlie Manuel

    "I want to start." –Ryan "The Steroids Don't Work" Franklin

    "That team is a circus that needs to be broken up." –Larry Bowa, Billy Wagner

    "It hurts to watch this team because we all really really like Howard and Utley, each of whom is making a peanut salary compared to blowhards and hurt-hards like Lieber, Lieberthal, Lidle, Bell, Franklin, Rhodes and Wolf." –B Love

Oh, Phillies. Like the disco record with William Penn on top of The Vet sings, "we love you Phiiiiilliiiiiiies." We really do. We just wish we ran the show, not the clowns that actually do.

Oh yeah, and Trevor Hoffman? You suck! Way to blow the National League's first All Star victory in a freaking decade after a scoreless inning by Phillie Flash Gordon. HOFFMAN: LOSER.

So anyways I says to Mable, I says . . . dis 'ere site's got a Summertime Rolls photo essay that oughta be up by the end of today, as well as a Comcast Center update. Sound good? We'll send it home and Yank on YouTube to make some wine.

–B Love

11 July 06: Rural interlude, expanded

It's 7-eleven and Philly Skyline is off the schneid for the free Slurpee, yo. Go get your freebie and spend your dollar on a Powerball ticket instead (currently $73M). Since we were pickin' our banjos in Pennsyltucky yesterday, we'll start there to bounce back in full swing like Ryan Howard with a Hit It Here, day late edition of Monday Morning Looking Up.

  1. State College: it needs you THIS WEEK! In a sad, sad stroke of reality, long time State College staple Arboria Records has succumbed to the internet and the corporate signage that has transformed College and Beaver Avenues, closing its doors for good on July 25. "Why is this relevant to Philly Skyline," you might ask. Well, it is quite so . . . their superior record selection has fed, and still feeds, our collective psyche for years. That a record store can't make it in a town with 30,000 people aged 18-22 is either a sign of the internet's prowess or the lameness of the PSU population. Either way, Arboria is closing in two weeks and they're having a blowout sale to unload the inventory. You should visit this weekend, as a bittersweet bonus to . . .

  2. The 40th annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, or simply Arts Fest to students and locals. So many Penn State alumni never spent a day of summer in State College and hey, to each his own. But Arts Fest? Come on -- Allen Street is transformed from arterial thoroughfare to outdoor gallery and stage. Just this weekend, skip downtheshore and head up the mountain. [arts-festival.com.]

  3. Ryan Howard: CHAMPION. Not to be all we-told-you-so, but you know. RyHo has been the official athlete of Philly Skyline since he was crushing heads up-Schuylkill in Reading. And now the world knows about him too. Blasts into the Allegheny and the winning shot off of "Hit It Here"? You kiddin me? [espn.com.] Now, as awesome as Ryan Howard is -- as are Chase Utley and Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino and Gio Gonzalez and oh hell why not, Jimmy Rollins -- we're still talking about the Phillies, so we just have to say:

  4. FU, BILL GILES. If you can get philly.com to work today (perhaps their webmaster is in State College for Arts Fest?), you can read the deep thoughts of the Phillies owner who prefers spending his days in Italy to toughing out the heat-n-humidity of South Philly while denying his best pitcher beat his wife in public -- calling Kim Myers a liar -- despite witnesses. Can we go to Florida and get an interview with Claire Betz and her pet dog next? How about Buck Buck Buck? Phillies ownership is a joke, and if what Giles says -- that they aren't selling the team no way no how -- then we're destined for the mediocrity we've always been known for. One hundred twenty-three years of existence, one World Series title. LET'S GO PHILS! [Inquirer.]

  5. Minimum wage: upgrade! Ed Rendell, working class hero. Finally bringing Pennsylvania up to the levels of neighboring states, Rendell's increases the minimum wage from the national base of $5.15/hr to $6.25/hr now and $7.15/hr next year. Remember, fence sitters: this had to pass both the state House and Senate, and had the support of Republican state leaders, and yet Lynn Swann did not support the increase. In short, Swann HATES POOR PEOPLE.

  6. All Barbaro all the time. Could someone create a barbaronews.com or barbaroshealth.com or barbarobarbarobarbaro.com right away so we can put ALL Barbaro news on it, where it won't be in your face and mine all the time, two months after the Kentucky Derby? Is this insensitive? [NBC 10.] Or perhaps he could model for . . .

  7. Franklin Square carousel: the carousel and the putt-putt golf course are just weeks from opening in a transformed version of the northeast square. Will tourists traverse Race Street and 6th Street and ignore the cacophony of 676 and the Ben Franklin Bridge to use it? We shall see. We'll hit it up once it opens and bring the full report. [Once Upon a Nation.]

  8. Eatin' on the Schuylkill: as opposed to eatin' in it. Seems the MontCo poo has finally washed away and is somewhere out in the Atlantic by now, and just in time too, as the new Waterworks restaurant opens Friday. Hopefully thewaterworksrestaurant.com will be updated by then.

  9. Shine on, you crazy diamond. I'm sure I'm the only person in the entire world who will use that title today, with the news of Syd Barrett's passing. RIP, Pink Floyd original.
Anyhoo, now that we're back on track over here, new photo essays are soon to follow, including the Mayfair neighborhood and a general summertime roundup. Other features are forthcoming too.

–B Love

10 July 06: Rural interlude/vacation

Sorry bout all the lollygaggin. Got so caught up in country livin that I decided to take in another day of it. Blame the interns for the mess.

–B Love

7 July 06: Jersey Lovefest is back . . . kinda!

Oy vey, what a slow drag this week of celebrating Independence has been. Well, not entirely I guess -- updates to Comcast Center are steady, and new photos of Society Hill Towers and the fireworks display at the Art Museum are in current rotation. (Lionel Richie's YouTube has been yanked further below.)

Anyway, with our sincerest apologies, we're throwing in the towel on this slack-ass week in favor of shooting guns in the woods, so we'll start over with a fresh view on Monday. Your week end throwaways go a little something like . . .

  1. These don't need links: New Jersey is open again. You already saw in the news and/or read it in the paper that Jersey's politicians have reached a compromise in their budget crisis. Congrats? As well, Councilman Rick Mariano got six and a half in the pokey for bribery. Yeah, that's never happened gone undetected in Philly before and it'll never happen again.

  2. Praise be; "Camden" and "farm" coexist in the same sentence: Dan Deluca reports for The Inquirer that Neil Young, Willie Nelson and the gang are bringing Farm-Aid to the Tweeter Center this fall, where its 19th concert performance should help raise awareness to support local farmers and buy local. [Buy Local Philly.] [Farm Aid.] [Reading Terminal Market.]

  3. The Illadelph has it right: Outdoor spaces are a must-have. The Philly Skyline central office would not be what it is without the mega-awesome deck with the mural of the, uh, Philly skyline, and the plants and the chillin' and grillin'. [TheIlladelph likes decks.]

  4. Call up Drabek now: The Phillies at last signed Kyle Drabek and, don'tcha know, he privatized his Myspace. Ah well. As of press time, terms of the deal were undisclosed, but considering Randy Wolf (who hasn't pitched for the Phils in over a year) is raking in $9M, Jon Lieber $7.5M, Mike Lieberthal $7.5M, David Bell $4.7M, Arthur Rhodes $3.7M, Cory Lidle $3.3M, Ryan "The Steroids Don't Work" Franklin $2.6M, Aaron Fultz $1.2M(!), and while the two bona fide all stars on the team -- Chase Utley and Ryan Howard -- each make $500k or less, what difference would it make to call up Drabek now? He would get rocked? What's the difference! All the Phillies pitchers get rocked! Call up Drabek now and, who knows, he could be an 18 year old phenom. Imagine a rotation of Hamels, Drabek, Madson, Mathieson and, er, Myers. Yes, they'd probably each get rocked every other time out, but so do Lieber, Lidle and Brito. Let's do it!

  5. Lego my Philly, yo: Lots of good time summertime activities abound, for sure, but if you're over near the Parkway, stop in the Franklin Institute to check out Legodelphia: A Mini Philly. Incoming high school senior Austin Mosby is still expanding on what the rest of us never thought of in our Lego days. It's free in the 20th St lobby, but why not stick around and walk through the big heart, or see a star show at the planetarium, or beg them to bring back Laser Floyd.

    Y'all have fun now, and be back next week with a fresh head.
–B Love

5 July 06: Independenzzzzzzzz: now with fireworks gallery

Click-a da photo for more shots from the evening of the Fourth.

Big yawns, holy cow. Sorry for the slow updates. Blame the Fourth. The Fourth which, naturally, was nowhere near as cool as last Fourth. Live 8 and Elton John vs . . . Lionel Richie. Come on now. But just in case you didn't go rock out All Night Long, we yanked on YouTube to bring you what you missed. That's below, but real quick on the better late than never Happy Hump Day Umpdate, let's go:

  1. ALL NEW Comcast Center: Now with diagrammed goodness. There's more right around the corner, but for now, check the addition over here.

  2. Phillies are halfway done: and thank god for that. Let's get this season over with already, but heap praise upon the (REALLY INEXPENSIVE SALARY HAVING) young stars and leaders Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Like we've been saying since, oh, last August, those two are the future of this franchise. (You can excuse our brief praise of Jimmy Rollins on the blindness caused by his 38 game hit streak. He's back to the same old .250 J-Roll now.) The future of the franchise is not, of course, anything good while still in the hands of Claire Betz, David Montgomery, Bill Giles and the Buck Buck Bros. Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro, Mike Arbuckle, Charlie Manuel . . . this team needs an enema, and they can start with all those corny promotions.

  3. South Street Rhythm & Blues: No, not the bar that was once G-Ho's most notorious shoot-em-up (albeit one with cheap six packs and Tuesday night strippers)! Peter Van Allen reports for the PBJ that the South Street R&B/Entertainment District is still more than just an entry on The Skinny, and in fact has been studied to a point now where we know the costs involved. A new Center/Museum for R&B, $49M. Restoration and renovation of the Royal Theatre, $13M. (Somehow Philly Skyline thinks that price tag is a wee bit underestimated; maybe it's just the trees growing out of the bricks on the side of the building?) 200 new condos, $60M. And other stuff. We like any idea that makes South Street even better, especially on our side of Broad Street, but given Universal's track record in the neighborhood (not on the stuff they've built -- the MLK units are about as nice as low income housing can be -- but on the stuff they've sat on and NOT built), well, we'll believe it when we see it. Mr. Gamble, you have and always have had Philly Skyline's support (you really can't beat a driving bassline with strings and a hi-hat) . . . here's to hoping it happens.

  4. State budgets: Hey Jersey! Look what PA can do! Hey Corzine! Look what Rendell can do! [PBJ.]

  5. La la la: S'all we got for now. Back to normal for tomorree's Thirsty Thursday? Prolly.

–B Love

5 July 06: What's up, Jersey?

Operation Kill Tourism is in full swing over across the Delaware. New Jersey's budget crisis has moved into shutdown mode for road construction, state parks, beaches, lottery and, good god almighty, the casinos. For the first time in the 28 year history of Atlantic City gaming, the slots floors are not making the noise of your most bizarre nightmare.

New Jersey's government has decided that the best way to solve a $1B gap in its budget is to make it bigger, by shutting everything down. According to NJ.com (Newark Star-Ledger), if the shutdown lasts beyond this weekend, the state won't be able to make its next payroll. Governor Jon Corzine is not backing down on his plan to increase the state sales tax from 6% to 7% to help offset his spending plan, but state Democrats instead want to implement new taxes or increase smaller taxes such as car rentals, and state Republicans want to simply cut out some of the spending. How will it play out? Tune into NJN to find out!

In the meantime, AC's twelve casinos are still open but you can't, you know, gamble. Considering it's the peak of the summer and considering The Pier at Caesars (formerly Ocean One Pier) opened a week ago, this oughta go over really well with tourists and with locals in an already bummed out town.

A Happy Hump Day update is on its way and may or may not include pictures from the four day Fourth Weekend. It will definitely include a new Comcast Center feature, though, so stop back in a few.

–B Love

2 July 06: High on Society

Looks like someone fixed up the Society Hill Towers entry at Wikipedia before I could even comment on it. The previous entry included some harebrained rant about how ugly, out of scale and embarrassing they were. Uhhh, yeah. That's why they're so popular with their residents and are considered landmarks. So, instead . . .

Truth prevails, Wikipedia maintains its accuracy, and Society Hill Towers' reputation stays intact on the good side. It's a great complex, even for a non-resident to stroll through or shop at. For our pictorial of the Towers and the grounds, click that graphic to the left.
In other Philly Skyline goings on, let's see . . . oh hey, the new layout! Well, whattaya think? The font's lost its serif and gone from century schoolbook (or courier if you didn't have it installed) to lucida (which you should). The most visited pages are now easier to find with the Quick Links column on the left. We're starting to pay some of the bills that have been piling up with the Google goodness over yonder. Regular ads (a banner for the top, a box for the right side) are soon behind. Don't worry, it won't impede on your Philly Skyline satisfaction. Help us out, help them out, and help yourself. This is all about community, so if you'd like to contribute to this community, contact us.

We've got a bunch of other stuff lined up too -- a Mayfair neighborhood tour, a Bridgeman's View Tower section, a Phillies first half review (congrats to Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Tom Gordon for being selected for the All Star Game in the interim), the Skinny elaboration (finally), etc etc -- so stay tuned.

As a reward for your patience with our growing pains and to feed your nostalgia before Billy "Overthrow the" King trades him, let's Yank On YouTube for Allen Iverson's Top Ten plays as a 76er.

–B Love

1 July 06: Philadelphia freedom took me knee-high to a man

Gave me peace of mind my daddy never had. HEYnow, it's a beautiful weekend. What are you doing online? Get off the computer and get outside. Oh, you ARE outside? Piggybacking your neighbor's wireless? Well that's no way to celebrate your independence from the Queen, now is it?

Tell you what, spend your holiday weekend however you wish, but me, I might go to Reading to watch a REAL Phillies team (oh wait, they're in LAST place in the Eastern League) and hang out with Ryne Sandberg. As time permits this week, Philly Skyline will debut new features such as the Society Hill Towers, a search, and this new construction tracker jawn that's been stewing for a minute. Our Comcast Center section's already got yo funky July update.

We'll (probably) be back for Monday Morning Looking Up. Ooh, ahh, Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture and so forth. For big patriotic, flag waving American hoopla, relive last year's Best-Fourth-Ever with Live 8 & the 4th.

–B Love

June 2006 archive
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