Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Wooder's Fine...

The Parkway fountains are back on, and winter has finally left us for the year.

A beautiful day, even the Comcast Center doesn't look as boring as usual from certain angles...

These are the good times.

Take a look, it's in a book.  Yeah, I don't know how that show's song just got stuck in my head, but I hope it's stuck in yours now, too...

Now where's that bus home?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Eagles draft Lane Johnson.

I'll pretend I know who he is.

(well okay, I 'know' who he is, but I don't know anything either way as to whether this is a good pick or not...)

Ultimately, my thing is that I trust Chip Kelly.  And I'm glad to have that man in my life again.  Like me, he's an East Coaster who moved out to Oregon, did some work (he was more successful than I was on that count, let's just say), then came back home.

An athletic OT who used to be a quarterback seems like something right up Coach Kelly's alley, so I will call this a good pick.
"His 40-yard dash time was faster than Anquan Boldin," [NFL Network's Mike] Mayock said. "His vertical at 34 inches was the same as A.J. Green - think about this, this is an offensive tackle at 300-plus pounds. He ran faster than Anquan Boldin, he jumped the same as A.J. Green and his broad jump at nine feet, 10 inches was the same as Steven Ridley. Think about those three things for a 300-pound offensive tackle and put that in perspective of what he can be."
Mayock says Johnson has more upside than both Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, who went #1 and #2 respectively.
The Eagles have 8 more picks remaining over the last 6 rounds.
Yes, I'm clearly allowing myself to be talked into this.

Especially since the Phillies' season was over right around the time it started (I stick by my 64-98 prediction), and the Flyers and Sixers both vastly underachieved.

We need at least one good professional sports team, no?

I think our Eagles are gonna surprise a lot of people this season.  More to come after the draft ends.

(And go Temple!!!)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Orlando Officer Runs Over Pedestrian, Lectures Him, Flees Scene...

Florida's streets have a... bit of a reputation.  Let's say.  Note that in this report, Orlando-Kissimmee is ranked the #1 most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States for pedestrians.  In fact, the 'top' (bottom?) 4 metros according to this report are all in Florida.

Which probably contributed to this shocking incident, from January, in Orlando.
Here is another outrageous story from Florida of a police officer acting with complete disregard of the law:
WFTV obtained more video Friday that shows an Orlando police officer hitting a pedestrian with his squad car. Police will only say he’s under criminal investigation, but Officer Michael Fiorentino-Tyburski is still allowed to patrol the streets.
It’s been almost three months since the pedestrian was hit at Hughey Avenue in downtown Orlando.
An investigator concluded in January that the officer was at fault for leaving the scene. The video shows the victim, Tetris Nunn, rolling over Orlando patrol car No. 8128 with Fiorentino-Tyburski behind the wheel.
On Friday, Channel 9 obtained the 911 calls and radio transmissions in the case. On the radio transmission, Fiorentino-Tyburski can be heard dodging questions his own department was asking him.
Video at the link.  Investigators also now claim the victim was (allegedly) 'jaywalking.'

So of course, I guess that makes it okay for a public safety official to drive his patrol vehicle into him, get out to lecture the victim a bit for his carelessness, and then drive off as if he hadn't just plowed into a pedestrian with a two-ton motor vehicle.

(And not to mention trying to lie his way out of it once caught.)

A perfect demonstration of the psychology of motor vehicle violence being considered an acceptable part of everyday life, is what we clearly have here.

Don't you just love it?

I'm sure the officer justified his actions in his own mind as not even being an incident, since he surely felt he was 'right.'  Mr. Fiorentino-Tyburski may have even considered it a favor not to have arrested Mr. Nunn for 'getting in his way.'

There, they're even.

I think not, however.

Due to his unconscionable callousness and complete disregard for human life (especially considering his position as a police officer), Mr. Fiorentino-Tyburski should have his privilege to operate heavy machinery in public revoked for life.  And if that costs him his job, well then tough noogies.  It's nobody's fault but his own.  Personal responsibility ain't just a dangerous, anti-pedestrian, high-speed one-way street.

Perhaps Mr. Fiorentino-Tyburski should ask his fellow officer Michael Brady what he thinks about hit and run drivers...

Sunday Signs: Norristown Edition

Had to head out to Norristown, PA for a few hours yesterday, so of course I used the opportunity to ride out on SEPTA's somewhat unique Norristown High Speed Line (p.k.a. Route 100).

The seat of Montgomery County, Norristown is a municipality of about 35,000 people, 6 miles northwest of Philadelphia, connected by the High Speed, the Manayunk-Norristown SEPTA regional rail line (which runs through Center City to Marcus Hook, PA and Wilmington / Newark, DE) and a handful of buses.

A large and mostly intact downtown (except for a few clear recent missteps like a half-dead, low-rent strip mall facing the wrong way, anchored by a fried chicken fast food chain featuring garish, plastic cartoon architecture and a three-sizes too big, mostly-empty surface parking crater in the heart of downtown; as well as a tragically failed courthouse plaza and a block-long, blank-walled generically offensive mid-20th-century government building in the Soviet Brutalist style) and plenty of well-maintained rowhouse blocks show good bones.  The Lawyers' Row off the courthouse is beautiful.  A few old mills stand and look well, though industry (and retail) seems to be gone.  Its section of the Schuylkill River Trail runs along the waterfront, is completed, and was being well-used yesterday.

Physically, Norristown is (aside from the few flaws noted above) my ideal of what every small town in this corner of the United States should look like.

Wandering around town was a rather disconcerting experience, however, as on a beautiful (if somewhat chilly and breezy) sunny Saturday afternoon, there was nobody on the streets and nothing much open for business, either.

A security guard slowly cranked and clanged while adjusting a flag at the rear of the (breathtaking) courthouse, three teenagers sat on benches in its aforementioned plaza looking half-bored and three-fourths shady, a well-worn older gentleman in heavy winter clothing asked me for a cigarette or a dollar... I nearly tripped on a cracked sidewalk while admiring a cornice on a nicely kept commercial building and I'm pretty sure a lone crow cackled at me due to this.  I demanded of the crow, "what are you laughing at?" while the winter wear guy mumbled to himself about what a nut this sidewalk-tripping, roof-admiring, non-smoking, no-dollar-having, bird-talking motherfucker is.

C'est la vie.  He's not far off.

Anyway.  Signs of the week.

Main Street family pharmacies in any town are always a solid source for excellent signage.  Norristown does not disappoint.

Stepping back a bit, this is a great block except for the Verizon building at center.  Seriously, why do all Verizon buildings look like this?  Do they spend so much on bricks that they don't have anything left over for windows?  They have littered way too many of our cities with such atrocities.  The municipal parking garage down the block has better architecture than that... thing.

One other misstep is the bench at lower right.  Turn it around and face the sidewalk!  Who wants to sit facing speeding traffic on a too-wide, one-way street from three inches away?

A cool, though unfortunately empty, storefront, featuring four distorted Jays (that's my band name if I ever start one!  Four Distorted Jays).

Nice art deco entrance to this place.

Can't leave without taking a (bad) shot of the Montgomery County Courthouse.  Excuse me, I only had my cellphone on me yesterday.  The clock in the dome is worth a post of its own, but I just couldn't zoom in well enough.

At the end of any day out of town, though, this is the sign I always like to see best!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Signs

One of my fascinations is interesting urban commercial signage.  Specifically, still extant retro-signage from the middle of the 20th century, but also ghost signs (the older the better), as well, of course...

Since Philadelphia is extremely wealthy in both of these currencies, I figured I'll make this a regular weekly feature.  My favorite such sign of the week.

Ideally, in the future, I'll have more background to fill in on these.  I'll be able to note their exact vintage, perhaps have something to say on their fonts, a few words with their owners, etc etc.  But for now, excuse my amateur-ish-ness.

I'll enter the first in this series, which just so happens to be a few blocks from my apartment, at Cumberland & Sepviva.  Philadelphia, PA 19125.

A classic corner store in the first floor of a rowhouse, set amidst a perfect example of a mixed-use residential block from which our society never should have turned away.  My belief is that we'll all (city, town and whatever can be salvaged of the suburbs) be moving back to such models sooner than we think.

The mid-70s Pepsi logo stands out (if even though I'd never touch their product, myself), as does its frame and the wonderfully low-key and respectful, black & white lettering of the shop's name below.

No garish cartoon architecture or ridiculous flourishes here, just a solid throwback to a time of solid neighborhoods.  Of which Kensington still has the bones of being one, despite all of our industry having vanished over the past few decades.

We've still got a ways to go to get fully back on our feet again, but we've at least got solid ground...

....and infrastructure to start rebuilding from.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Blob Leads Philadelphia Casino Proposals

The more 'original' our 'architects' try to become, the more they stay the same.  Isn't that funny.

Leading off this article on the recent 'report cards' given to the current Philadelphia casino proposals by a civic group is a rendering of the project to which they awarded the highest grade.  It's fascinating, yet not at all surprising, how similar this... thing... is to the newly-proposed BART San Francisco Trans-Bay Transit Center, which was quite deservedly savaged by Jim Kunstler as his current Eyesore of the Month feature.

Of particular note to me in this rendering of the "Market8" (how futuristic-sounding!) parasitic protozoan-looking (and sounding - the casino that 'ate' Market Street?) proposal at Market & 8th at the heart of one of the most historic streets in America, is the blurry, speeding car which looks like its driver has lost control and is just about to hop the curb and plow into the crowd of pleasure- and treasure-seekers milling about outside.  Which said pedestrians are maybe trying to figure out how to even get inside the fucking thing.

(You probably have to get somebody to drive you into it through the subterranean series of access roads and parking dungeons which are planned to come along with this project, even though it sits at a spot where the Market-Frankford, Broad-Ridge and PATCO subway lines all converge, not to mention the two dozen SEPTA, NJ Transit and intercity bus lines that run along Market, Chestnut, 8th & 9th; along with SEPTA's Market East station, a few blocks to the west, through which all 13 of our regional commuter rail lines run; and 30th Street Station, eight (train ride) minutes to the west, which is the 3rd-busiest Amtrak station in the nation, and also hosts yet another regional commuter rail line - NJ Transit's Atlantic City line.)

None of the projects look or sound good in the very least, as they're all generally of the auto-centric eyesore variety.

Take Steve Wynn's (yes, Las Vegas Steve Wynn) proposal, for example.  A 'riverfront' casino which, naturally, sticks its rear end out at the river in favor of facing the fantastic views afforded by the elevated traffic sewer of I-95 on its other side, and whose centerpiece looks like it comes right out of the 1965 version of the Generic Highrise Hotel Handbook for Dummies.  It also contains a 20-acre (yes, 20-acre - that's the size of three Rittenhouse Squares, and almost 15 times the size of the nearest City of Philadelphia Rec Center in Fishtown!), single-story parking lot with a... wait for it... 'green roof.'

Mr. Greenwashing also, not surprisingly, trashed the potential of public transit, in what fortunately turned out to be, by all accounts, a terrible performance in front of the board.  If nothing else, Mr. Wynn made it very clear that he does not understand Philadelphia is an extremely walkable city with a thriving public transit and bicycling culture, and not just a colder version of Phoenix or Las Vegas.  Hopefully this will cost him the bid, but that's of little comfort in the end.

The idea that perhaps yet another casino (we already have one in the city, as it just so happens only a few blocks from Wynn's proposed site in Fishtown; along with two others both just a few miles up or down I-95 in either direction, in Chester and Bensalem) may not be the most positive way to do 'economic development' seems to be completely out-of-bounds in the debate around here.  Then again, I'm certainly not shocked at that, since the idea of a happy motoring, adult fantasyland, something-for-nothing utopia sadly seems to appeal to all too many these days, at the very same time when the cumulative effects of our past debts, our energy situation, and our built environment all threaten to impose their own changes upon us soon.

So we cling to a past that never was (while we let our actual history fall into decay and burn down), in hopes that we'll somehow be able to live in a form of the future that will never be sustainable.  I only hope we can wake up in time, and stop this madness.

Beware Autonomous Astro Vans

This five-sentence NY1 article is a bit too late for April Fools' Day, and sadly enough it actually does seem to be a serious journalistic effort.
Witnesses tell NY1 a Chevy Astro van was trying to avoid traffic when it drove up on the sidewalk before hitting the pedestrian.
I truly don't know which sentence to highlight (its title is bad, too), as they're all pretty equally horrible, at least in context.  But the above should do, for starters.  Take eight seconds to read the whole thing, and then take another few minutes to admire its truly taking idiocy to an art form.

I drove a Dodge Caravan for work for nine years, and as far as I can recall it never took the wheel away from me, in 'trying to avoid traffic,' before proceeding to drive into people on the sidewalk.  Must be a New York thing, maybe.

Who knows?

Oh wait, I do.  I know.  Motor vehicles do not actually drive up onto the sidewalk, and into people, of their own volition.  Not even motor vehicles in New York.  There is a person responsible for this collision (not 'accident'), and that person needs to be charged and prosecuted, and at the very least they need to have their privilege to operate heavy machinery in public taken away.

Unless the driver's name was "A. Chevy Astro Van" (one of those German relatives of Clark W. Griswold, maybe?), this article is an incredible fail.


In somewhat related news.

Now here's a SEPTA bus ad I can get behind.  As seen on a 48 bus at Penn's Landing yesterday.

Of course, up here in Kensington, one of the very same bus lines which run between here and Penn's Landing (the 5) has a 'bus stop' (at least there's a bench, and not just a sign on the sidewalk) along its route (at Frankford & Susquehanna) which met a driver to whom 'thank yous' are not forthcoming.

How not to drive past (or through?) a bus stop.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Summer Time...

These two Philly kids sure knew how to make a summer song back in the day.

It seems like only four days ago it was like 42 degrees with sub-freezing windchill, and oh wait that's right... yes, it was only like four days ago we had 42 degrees with sub-freezing windchill.  Tomorrow we're into the upper 70s; while Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we'll be topping 80.  Then from there on out, we're 60s and 70s and on up.

Whatever happened to Spring?  Is that even a season anymore?  Did I miss a memo, or directive or something?

I guess the earth spins pretty fast.  If you don't stop to look around every once in a while, you could miss it.  As Ferris Bueller once said...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two PPD Officers Recovering in Separate Incidents

Two Philadelphia police officers have been victims of motor vehicle violence over the past week, both incidents occurring right here in Kensington.

Just down the block from the JayinPhiladelphia Global Affairs Desk, off-duty 3rd District Officer Michael Brady was mowed down by a hit-and-run driver (ahem) while walking to his grandmother's house early Wednesday morning.  Surveillance video (included in the news link) from a residence on the block reveals the driver far exceeding the 25 MPH speed limit, and as this happened on Cumberland, a residential street where there is a stop sign every block and the blocks are only 400 feet long, this indicates to me that the driver must have zipped through every other intersection along the way in reckless fashion, as well.

Cumberland also happens to be one of the main east-bound through streets from Kensington Avenue back to I-95 and the Delaware River crossings, and is a route PPD may want to focus some of their attention on (I'd feel quite confident in estimating that at least 50% of drivers operating vehicles with New Jersey tags speeding along Cumberland late at night, any night, are carrying quantities of hard drugs purchased from the plague of street pharmacists over on the Ave, and thereabouts), in addition to Lehigh and York.

Then, on Sunday night, just south of the Allegheny El around Kensington Ave, G Street and Clearfield, on-duty 24th District Officer Bryan Turner, who happens to be a US Army veteran who saw combat in Iraq, was dragged for three blocks by the subject of a traffic stop, as the latter attempted to flee once the situation during the traffic stop, whatever it was, threatened to turn bad for him.  Well, let's hope the situation is now considerably worse for him.  20-year old Naim Woodley is under arrest, and charged with aggravated assault (no attempted murder?) and resisting arrest.

The driver who plowed over Michael Brady is still at large, and there is a $10,000 reward being offered for information leading to his or her arrest and conviction.
Police believe the striking vehicle [ed note: I would have said "the striker's vehicle," since the car did not decide to strike Officer Brady on its own] is a 2010 black or dark colored Ford Taurus, last seen travelling east on Cumberland Street towards Aramingo Avenue. 
Police say the vehicle may have minor damage to the passenger side windshield and possibly a dented hood. 
The video shows a passenger getting out of the car about a half block away, presumably to look for damage, and then gets back in before the car [ed note: driver and passenger(s), who are the assailants] keeps going. [...]
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Accident Investigation Division at 215-685-3180. 
Ideally, both drivers will have their privilege to operate heavy machinery on our streets revoked for life, of course after serving time in prison for their violent acts and clear callous disregard for the lives of others.

Considering these two cases of motor vehicle violence involve police officers in the role of victim, at least we can rest assured they will be taken very seriously, and that there will be no shortage of resources dedicated to ensuring justice is served.  Here's hoping we can all ultimately receive that same courtesy one of these days.