Out in Philly: The Holiday Suits You

I’m walking home from Five Guys and turn up Walnut from 16th. Ahead I see a couple standing in front of Chipotle. The guy is tall, thin, in his 20s. The woman is shorter with long, straight, raven-black hair; she’s wearing a bomber jacket and a baseball cap.

What catches my eye is the man’s in a white suit with some kind of design on it. I’m curious. I’m just about to cross Sydenham. I realize the design is snowmen: No, it’s not a snowman suit. It’s a suit covered in cartoon snowmen.

He’s smiling, looking down into his companion’s face with a playful smile growing across his face. I’m not sure if they catch me looking, but the woman’s hand shoots over the man’s mouth. He wants to ask me something, and she definitely does not want him to ask me. I can’t resist. I stop, turn to face them, and motion “go ahead” with a smile.

The guy has an Eagles jersey under the blazer. He has a gruff voice. Maybe he’s from South Philly. There’s something quicksilver about him. People like this can go either way when faced with a surprise, and I sense surprise on one or both sides is imminent.

He asks me if I think the woman is attractive. I go with my (burger-filled) gut and say, “Yes, she is. But actually, I’m gay and I think you’re cute too.” He laughs, hugs me, and says I made his night. And he made mine.

 

 

 

Why Center City parking garages are disappearing

Technology is changing the long-term parking landscape in Philadelphia. In the era of Lyft, Uber and car-sharing services, a booming Center City population is being accompanied by a decreased demand for parking. Pressures in the residential areas to build more housing are decreasing the supply of parking in the neighborhoods. What happens when robot cars make it even easier to get a ride when you want without owning your own ride?

Inga Saffron takes a surprising position on demolishing some of the ugliest low-utilization buildings in our architectural toolbox:

As Philly parking garages make way for housing, urbanists cheer. But should they?

Source: Why Center City parking garages are disappearing

Coming Soon: The Cherry Street Pier

This, the current Spruce Harbor Street Park, the Race Street Pier Park, and the FINALLY coming I-95 cap make me wish I still had my Old City apartment. Oh, and The Book Trader. And the teaberry ice cream at The Franklin Fountain. And the Ritzes. I really need a place in each quadrant, and quadrant for each season!

Source: Delaware River Waterfront To Get An Awesome New Shopping & Dining Attraction With Cherry Street Pier

Phenomenal

Childhood and adulthood collide when Stephen Colbert notices a pattern in Melissa-McCarthy-impersonator Sean “Spicy” Spicer’s choice of words. With Trump already cutting funding to public broadcasting, what new revenge can he take on Muppets beyond some mean tweets? Plus it’s a nose-despite-face move since most of his administration would benefit from being sat down in front of Sesame Street.

My Open Letter to @SenToomey @SenBobCasey: Congress must act, appoint independent commission.

Senators Toomey and Casey:

Congress must act to address the growing web of scandals around Trump, Russia, and the 2016 elections. The Flynn scandal in particular demonstrates Trump’s disregard for national security. Both intelligence committee chairs’ actions this week raise serious doubts about them leading impartial investigations. I urge you to support a 9/11-style independent commission with the following goals:

  1. Quickly determine if the Trump Administration contains any more security risks. National secrets and the lives of military/intelligence personnel may be at risk right now.
  2. Investigate Donald Trump’s financial entanglements with Russia including a comprehensive review of his tax returns and business dealings with Russian oligarchs.
  3. Investigate Russia’s lop-sided interference in the 2016 elections and any connections the Trump campaign had with Russia before and during the election.
  4. Provide 9/11-style recommendations to harden future American elections against external threats like, but not limited to, Russian influence.

Donald Trump disregarded a clear warning from the FBI that General Flynn was compromised and could be subject to blackmail. Trump left Flynn in charge of the NSC, privy to the country’s most secret information, for two weeks after being warned, and he fired Flynn only after the story broke in the news. Donald Trump’s disregard for national security is clear, and Congress must take action.

I am disappointed that both of my senators voted to confirm Wilbur Ross, a man who chaired the Bank of Cyprus. It’s a favorite of Russian oligarchs and was recently implicated in a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme. Given everything else, how can the American Public not wonder about yet another tie to Russia in the Trump administration. Only an independent commission can remove the corrupt stink of Russian influence that surrounds the Trump Administration. We need answers now.

I look forward to an email or written response at your earliest conveniences, to Senator Casey’s Philly town hall on 12 March, and to Senator Toomey scheduling his first in-person Town Hall in Philadelphia soon.

A Concerned Constituent

My Open Letter to @SenToomey: Trump On The First

Trumping The First
Trump on the First Amendment

Senator Toomey:

As one of my duly-elected representatives, you have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Donald Trump did too, but his contempt for the First Amendment is made clear every day. I want to know that you will oppose his dangerous, anti-democratic views on core values so important that the framers placed them first in The Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Donald Trump wants to eliminate a constitutionally-mandated check on his power by branding the press “enemies of the people”. Your colleague John McCain has called this out for the dictatorial rhetoric that it is. I urge you to add your voice in condemning this affront to our rights.

Remember that I am exercising these very rights guaranteed by the First Amendment when I protest and reach out to you. I am a concerned citizen of Pennsylvania and these United States, and I am your constituent. Don’t disrespect me by calling me a paid protestor, and don’t expect me to stop speaking out and reaching out if you won’t listen to me and speak to me.

I look forward to an email or written response at your earliest convenience.

A Concerned Constituent

My Open Letter to @SenToomey: There Is No Religious Right To Discriminate.

Senator Toomey:

I am a life-long Pennsylvanian, I am gay, and I worry more every day that my hard-won rights will be taken away. Nominating Judge Gorsuch to our highest court is particularly troubling given his role in the Hobby Lobby case. I oppose his nomination and urge you to do the same.

Gorsuch’s corporatist view that businesses can have strongly-held religious convictions is a further eroding of my rights as an individual. This kind of thinking has turned campaign finance into the national disgrace of Citizens United: Money is NOT speech. Corporations are NOT people. Gorsuch will continue to steal rights from citizens and give them to corporations.

Show me that you understand that there is no religious right to discriminate. The First Amendment guarantees me freedom from other people’s religions, and Title II of the Civil Rights Act guarantees businesses that reap the benefits of government cannot discriminate. Now that most Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ citizens, these “religious freedom” laws are thinly-veiled attacks that try to justify homophobia as religious victimization.

Gorsuch does not understand this, and he does not understand how over-broad attempts to enshrine discrimination into law backfire. A baker can just as easily refuse to serve an interracial couple as a gay couple. So could a doctor or a pharmacy–with much more dire consequences.

Please schedule a town hall in Philadelphia as soon as possible so we can begin a direct dialog. Philadelphians make up 12% of Pennsylvania’s population. Prove that you represent all Pennsylvanians by coming here and talking to us. I look forward to an email, a written response, or your first Philadelphia town hall at your earliest convenience.

A Concerned Constituent