Funky Shit Goin’ Down in the City

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:10 am EST

In response to the post I made about my flight to Los Angeles, Sherri W. pointed out that there’s always someone who’s had a worse flight than you.

Yeah, I’ll say. Like the people on Virgin Atlantic Flight 45 on July 21st.

I’m paraphrasing here, but you’ll get the gist of it:

At around 6 pm, as we were descending into JFK, we were told that we would have to go instead to Philadelphia International Airport because JFK was shutting down due to the bad weather conditions.

Over the next 7 hours, we were told that the Philadelphia airport was bullying the crew and allowing other diverted planes to disembark and refuel over us because Virgin Atlantic had no right to be at that airport. And to add insult to injury, the fuel company was demanding to be paid in cash in full at the time of refueling.

Finally around 9:30 or so, we finally began to refuel and were told that we’d be in the air in no time. We started to taxi down the runway and then….stopped.

The flight supervisor came on again and said that if we didn’t land within the next 20 minutes, the crew would be over their allowed hours worked, and thus would be illegally operating the plane.

So we had to disembark in Philly, which would be a little difficult seeing as how we still had no gate or way to get through customs…

Dan Rubin over at Blinq reports that most of the story is true, according to Philadelphia International Airport spokesman Mark Pesce. You can visit the links below for more detailed information.

Man, that puts things in perspective.

Further Reading:
-Virgin Atlantic Flight 45 [Consumerist]
-Bringing The Benjamins [Blinq]


Down With the Ducks

Filed under: — Kate @ 9:52 pm EST

I’m a little late in reporting this, but I’m still catching up, so bear with me…

I now present you, via Philebrity, with more idiots who illustrate the need to eliminate The Ducks:

Teen tourists from Maine proclaim city, duck boats cool [Philadelphia Business Journal]

“I learned a few things. We saw where that girl who made the flag lives and where the money is made,” said Chelsey Pratt, referring to the Betsy Ross House and the U.S. Mint.

People! Stop it!! Don’t give them free publicity!! Don’t invite anymore mentally defective tourists to “quack” at Philadelphians as we walk through our most historic streets.

Just, just… just STOP!!

Further Reading:
-Biz Journal Inexplicably Delivers Ride The Ducks Blowjob Piece [Philebrity]

Previously at the Landslide in my Ego:
-Quack Quack
-Fight Back — Join the Résistance!


El Nightmare

Filed under: — Kate @ 8:11 am EST

For a moment there yesterday morning, I thought I’d wandered into one of my nightmares: SEPTA buses and more SEPTA buses.

Everywhere! As far as the eye could see! And none of them actually moving!

I was getting a little freaked out, but then I spotted this:

And I have to admit, my first thought was “El Shuttle? WTF? Does SEPTA think that’s Spanish for ‘bus’ or something?”

Well, it took me a minute, but I eventually remembered that the Market-Frankford El is currently bussing between 40th and 69th Streets.

Ugh. That IS a nightmare.


Blowin’ In the Wind

Filed under: — Kate @ 11:19 pm EST

Holy crap, I came very close to blowing away today! As I was leaving work tonight, the wind kicked up something fierce. By the time I got home, I was covered in city dirt and grit. In my shoes, my hair, my eyes, my ears, my mouth… and a few other places I won’t mention. YUCK.


Explosions in the Sky

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:26 am EST

I loved fireworks when I was a kid. The sight, the smell, the sound… especially the sound. The bigger the boom, the happier I was. My dad and I would call the extra loud ones “gutbusters,” and I looked forward to them every 4th of July.

But these days, I’ve become quite apathetic toward fireworks. It could be that I’ve just grown out of it, but I think it’s also because they seem less special than once were. Back in the day, it was hard to see decent fireworks. Now they are everywhere: anyone and everyone can put on a good show. And that’s great, but it does make them more commonplace.

My dad’s sentiments are pretty much in line with mine; my mom, on the other hand, still LOVES fireworks. It seems that as the quality increases, so does her enjoyment. If she could, I believe she would drag my father to every fireworks display in the tri-state area. So when my parents decided to come spend July 1st with me here in Philly, I couldn’t very well refuse to take them to see the pyrotechnics at Penn’s Landing that night.

I had the digital camera with me, so I amused myself by taking little movies and pictures of the fireworks. It actually made things a lot more fun, because given the nature of the subject, each photo turned out to be a surprise. I didn’t expect any of them to actually come out, but some of them did, and beautifully.

So… before the subject matter is completely irrelevant, I thought I’d post a few of my favorites. See the others after the jump. (more…)


Water Water Everywhere

Filed under: — Kate @ 6:27 am EST

Just so all of you know, I am not under water, though I can’t say the same for much of the surrounding region. A good chunk of Eastern Pennsylvania (as well as parts of New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland) is has been inundated with flood waters.

How are the rest of you faring?

Further Reading:
-Evacuations begin as rivers rise [Philly.com]
-Officials order massive evacuations [Philly.com]
-Flood [Philly Future]



Filed under: — Kate @ 9:47 pm EST

Philadelphia’s City Council has passed the smoking ban!! Woohoo! It’s not official until Mayor Street signs it, but we’re closer than ever before. I can feel my head clearing already.

Further Reading:
-City Council Passes Compromise Citywide Smoking Ban [KYW3]
-City Council bans smoking in city’s bars and restaurants [Inky]
-BREAKING: Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em! [Philebrity]
-Councilman Nutter Gets it Done: Smoking Ban Passes! [America’s Hometown, via Philly Future]
-Breaking: Smoking Ban Actually Freaking Passes [Philadelphia Will Do]

Previously at the Landslide in My Ego:
-No More Bringing the Bar Smell Home With Me


Many a Shoe I Have Purchased There

Filed under: — Kate @ 11:49 pm EST

The flagship Strawbridge’s store at 8th and Market closed for good on Tuesday. It was the last of Philadelphia’s great department stores. And even though I couldn’t begin to remember the store the way older generations do, it still holds a special place in my heart.

And so, I would like to take a moment to say goodbye, Strawbridge’s. I will miss you.

I will miss your wide open spaces, high ceilings, and those gorgeous, ornate elevator doors.

I will miss your pleasant, intelligent, and helpful salespeople.* They were something special. (I’m glad to hear many of them will be working at Macy’s when it opens in the Wanamaker building this summer.)

I will miss your shoe department. A LOT.

I will miss the wild boar who was so inappropriately molested by countless hands over the years.

And I’m sure there are many gay men who will miss your bathrooms…

So farewell, Strawbridge’s. Philadelphia is the worse for losing you.

Further Reading:
-A Center City style fades away [Inky]
-Philly Loses Historic Downtown Strawbridge’s [NBC10]

-Cops Make Sex Sting At Local Department Store [NBC10]

*Except for that weird grumpy old lady from the lingerie department. Please don’t rehire her.


Gloomy Sunday

Filed under: — Kate @ 11:49 am EST

Men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

I saw this on Philly Future last night, and thought it looked so cool…

Designing for the Dead:
Art & Architecture at Laurel Hill Cemetery

The tour will examine changing tastes and fashions in grave markers over the past two centuries, from the classical obelisks and urns of the Federal period, to the richly decorated crosses of the Gothic Revival, to the massive mausoleums of the Gilded Age.

Then I noticed the date…

Sunday, May 14th, 2006, 2:00-4:00 PM

Now why did they have to go and schedule a nice little walk through the cemetery on Mother’s Day?

Previously at the Landslide in My Ego:
-City of the Dead


8 out of 10 Would Sell Firstborn Child to Avoid Riding SEPTA

Filed under: — Kate @ 1:14 pm EST

In the Inky yesterday (via Philebrity):

From March 2004 through last month, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas climbed from $1.74 to $2.40 - a 38 percent increase - in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs. Yet weekday SEPTA ridership went up by only 2 percent during that span.

Is anyone as stunned by this as I am? I mean, I’m astonished that most commuters prefer being abused at the gas station to being abused at the train station. Who could possibly have guessed that people would rather pawn their worldly possessions for gas money than ride SEPTA? I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney:
“Most people, after a price goes up, get used to it, and unless there are other circumstances, will return to the automobile. For people who have those options, the attractiveness of public transportation is generally not the economy of it, but the speed, comfort and efficiency of it.”

Ummmm… what?! The “speed, comfort and efficiency…” of SEPTA?!! Should he even be allowed to use those words to allude to SEPTA? Isn’t that like, false advertising or something? Quick, somebody call the Better Business Bureau!

See Also:
-SEPTA: Gas price, ridership not equal [Inky]
-Rumblings… [Philebrity]
-People Pawning Goods To Buy Gas [MSNBC]


Ray of Light

Filed under: — Kate @ 5:45 pm EST

I suppose it’s sort of late to mention this, but if you happen to be in Philadelphia tonight (or tomorrow night), be sure to check out the light show. Yes, I said “light show.”

If you’re in Center City at nighttime from Saturday through Tuesday, look up. As part of the CoreNet Global Real Estate Summit being hosted in Philadelphia next week, a light and laser installation called “Light Up Philadelphia” will be set up from more than a half-dozen downtown buildings and the Ben Franklin Bridge. [Inky]

See Also:
-“Light Up, Philadelphia” [6abc]


SEPTA: In a Nutshell

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:17 am EST

I got a new cell phone over the weekend, so to prepare my old phone for retirement, we downloaded the old pictures and things I wanted to keep. And I came across the picture below, which I took on April 1st of this year at Suburban Station.

I realize it’s a rather crappy photo, but I just need to point out the thing you see hanging from the light there. It’s a loud speaker, strung up and wired in the most ghetto fashion you can possibly imagine. Now I realize they are working on this station (it’s only been what, 87 years?), but I found myself thinking “If anything could sum up SEPTA in a nutshell, this is it.”


My Film Fest So Far

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:12 am EST

So far, I’ve been to three screenings from the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival:

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man
Being the Leonard Cohen fan that I am, I enjoyed this film, especially the interview segments with Mr. Cohen himself. The performances in the tribute concert were good as well. But the camera work and editing were total crap! There were these annoying red dots overlaid on many of the scene transitions.

Much of the historic footage was altered to look like something from a History Channel show about ancient mysteries. And while I admit that Leonard Cohen could be considered an ancient mystery himself, it just won’t do to have his tribute looking like it was put together by a couple kids in their high school AV room.

Four Kings of Silent Comedy
This was a series of five silent shorts, featuring Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and Charlie Chaplin (and accompanied by live music and sound effects). My brother and his friend came down to see these with us on Saturday afternoon, and no one was disappointed. Simply fantastic. The Chaplin short was a little less impressive for me since I’ve seen some of his best feature length films, but still quite good.

I think the Buster Keaton shorts were the best. I had never really seen him in action before, and I was quite impressed, not only by his comic talent, but also by his athleticism. I had a similar reaction to Laurel and Hardy, since all I’d ever known from them was the famous “Who’s On First?” sketch (which had sound, of course). And for a big guy, Oliver Hardy can really move! From the skilled acting, to the audience laughter and live music, it was easy to forget we were watching “silent” comedy. Great fun!

Little Athens
This was a pretty good movie, in the tradition of films like Go and Magnolia, where several independent stories intersect each other. The low budget of the film definitely shows, but overall I thought it was well done. And a bit depressing, but I’m guessing that was the point.

So what’s in store for the rest of the fest?

4/6 - This Film is Not Yet Rated

4/7 - Evil Aliens

4/8 - Hell

4/9 - American Dreamz and Tokyo Zombie


Take Me to the Picture Show

Filed under: — Kate @ 10:18 am EST

The 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival starts today. It runs through April 11th, so I’m hoping to catch a few movies in the coming days. Every year we say we’re going to do this… and we never do.

But this year, it’s happening! First up is Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man tomorrow night at the Bridge.

I won’t get to see all of them, but here’s a shortlist of the other films that grabbed my attention:
-Sir! No Sir!
-This Film is Not Yet Rated
-American Dreamz
-Evil Aliens
-Tokyo Zombie
-Little Athens


We’re More Than the Sum of Our Cheesesteaks

Filed under: — Kate @ 2:29 pm EST

Come back later for my latest rantings, but for now, check out this awful Jack in the Box commercial. Philly, we really need to work on our national image if we have any chance at becoming the Sixth Borough or landing the 2016 Olympics! Sheesh.

Authentic Philly, as Depicted by Californians [Philadelphia Will Do]


Let’s Hear it for the SEPTA Webmonkeys!

Filed under: — Kate @ 1:33 pm EST

Oh my god. I think the SEPTA monkeys may have actually done something right! Their webmonkeys, that is.

I was checking out a transit schedule today, and I noticed they made some changes to their online content:

-Html schedules that don’t take five years to load, even on a broadband connection (but still the option to download the pdf if you want it).

-A clickable rail system map, that tells you the exact location, hours, and fares for each station.

I’m not sure when these upgrades happened (could have been a while ago), but I’m just tickled. I realize this may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but holy crap if this isn’t a huge improvement!

Baby steps, you know?

So, SEPTA webmonkeys, keep up the good work! Definitely fix the Center City street and transit map next.

Oh, and just get rid of the trip planner. I mean, who the hell uses that thing anyway?

Update: Thanks to Blinq, and Philadelphia Will Do, and Akkam’s Razor for mentioning this post.


That’s So Philly

Filed under: — Kate @ 10:33 am EST

Lots of cities have crazy weather. I know that we’re not alone in that. Still, I think it’s got to be uniquely Philadelphian to have 80 degree weather on Monday, then snow flurries on Wednesday, during which there are half frozen sprinklers attempting to water the soggy grass.


Something About the Clouds and Her Mixed

Filed under: — Kate @ 10:21 am EST

I love overcast days like today. A lot of people see that as gloomy, but I think the sky has more character when it’s covered in a blanket of clouds. Everything this morning was in gorgeous shades of grays and purples and blues, all of it reflected in the skyscrapers downtown. And the city noise was softer, muffled.

It won’t last. The temperature is already dropping, and at some point today, rain will start pouring down from those clouds. But for a few moments this morning, the city seemed so peaceful.


A Thumb Drools

Filed under: — Kate @ 3:59 pm EST

I thought the anagram transit maps I’ve been seeing on Boing Boing this month were pretty cool. People have been taking various cities’ mass transit maps and rearranging the names. It all started with London, I think.

I kept hoping someone would make a Philly version. Well, the wait is over:

Philly Broad Street Line Map Remix [djrock3k]

[via Boing Boing]

Wanna See My Gun?

Filed under: — Kate @ 6:40 am EST

As Edo was walking back to our apartment building on Saturday morning, he noticed a homeless man sitting by our door, clutching a brown paper bag. Deep in thought, Edo was trying to decide if he should go back up to our apartment, or wait outside for a friend he was expecting.

Well, he must have had a puzzled look on his face, because it prompted the homeless man to speak up…

“Are you all right man?”

“Yeah, just waiting for a friend.”

“Oh, I thought you wanted my gun.”

“No, not really.”

“Wanna see my gun?”

“No thanks.”

“Wanna shoot somebody?”

“No thanks, not today.”

Homeless man stands up, looks at abandoned pink and purple ladies bike with completely flat tires and screwed up gears.

“Do you know whose bike this is?”

“No, not really. It has been abandoned in my building for like two years.”

“So, if I take it no one’s gonna say I stole it?”

“Nah, I don’t think so. Go right ahead… it might not work too well, though.”

“It’s a bike… I’m homeless… I need a bike!”

Homeless man walks away with non-functional bike.


This is a Beatin’ Town

Filed under: — Kate @ 12:49 pm EST

I know I’m a little late in posting this, but I loved it so much that I don’t care. Remember the SEPTA driver who threw a woman off his bus? Well, I saw these last week on Philebrity and almost blew Mike’s Hard Lemonade out of my nose. Would’ve posted them immediately if I wasn’t in Vegas.

Read my old entries for background info:
-SEPTA’s Transit All-Stars
-This Week in SEPTA

View the images after the jump: (more…)


This Week in SEPTA

Filed under: — Kate @ 4:16 pm EST

February 8th: The Bus Driver

“The driver and the passenger began arguing about him not stopping at her stop,” Russell said. “He grabbed her by the hair and knocked her head into a pole.”

The driver then opened the door and allegedly threw the victim into traffic… [Inky]

I understand how he must have felt. On more than one occasion, I’ve felt the urge to do that same thing myself. To SEPTA drivers.

Edney was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats.

The driver did not follow proper protocol. [CBS 3]

The driver did not follow proper protocol??? Ummm… ya think, CBS 3?? Ya think??

February 9th: The Bomb Sniffer

The technology has never before been put to civilian use in the United States. SEPTA’s purchase has made the transit system a proving ground for the wares of a struggling California firm, one that is millions of dollars in the red and trying to emerge from the twin clouds of expensive lawsuits and a federal securities investigation. [Inky, via Philebrity]

Leave it to SEPTA to contract with a company that can’t get its act together. Seriously.

More Reading:
-SEPTA driver charged with assault after altercation with a passenger [Inky]
-Police: SEPTA Driver Tossed Passenger From Bus [CBS 3]
-SEPTA unveils antiterror weapons [Inky]
-Breaking: SEPTA Busts Out AntiTerror Gear Appropriate Circa 1972 [Philebrity]


There’s Hope For Us Yet

Filed under: — Kate @ 10:53 pm EST

‘Ben Station’ a no go [Philly.com]

Previously at the Landslide in my Ego:
-Can’t They Just Leave Well Enough Alone?


Can’t They Just Leave Well Enough Alone?

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:25 am EST

You may have heard that the Pew Charitable Trust has been trying to convince Amtrak to rename 30th Street Station after Benjamin Franklin, and offered to cover all the costs involved.

Upon hearing this I wasn’t very happy, but I figured, “At least they are proposing to name it after someone who had a major historical impact on Philadelphia (unlike last year’s renaming of West River Drive to MLK Drive).

Though I didn’t want them to change it, I thought maybe I could learn to live with “Ben Franklin Station.”

Except people won’t call it “Ben Franklin Station” or even “Franklin Station.” The will inevitably call it “Ben Station.” The newspapers are already doing it.

Ben Station.

Which of course sounds nothing like Penn Station. There’s no chance for confusion there.



Diamonds in the Rough

Filed under: — Kate @ 11:51 am EST

In spite of my vehement SEPTA hate, I’ve always tried to remain open-minded about the individual SEPTA employees. I don’t automatically assume that each one of them is a bumbling incompetent idiot (though many do eventually live up to that description).

That said, I’ve been stung so many times that it’s not always easy to maintain that attitude.

But every now and then, I’m pleasantly surprised by a SEPTA worker. The good ones are out there, and SEPTA should do more to encourage recognition their service.

There are always diamonds in the rough. Sometimes, we just have to look extra hard to find them.

-A Stranger in the Dark [Blinq]