Breaking Down

Illustration by Mario Zucca

Illustration by Mario Zucca

I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of my 2006 Honda, saying a little prayer. I’m not, under ordinary circumstances, a praying person, though when my kids were small I never merged onto the Schuylkill Expressway without thinking, “Please, God, just let me live to see the children again.” But the odometer on the Honda reads 209,468 miles, and a prayer seems in order. So I say it: Please, God. Not today. Read more »

Pets: The Dos and Don’ts of Owning a Dog in Philly

A dog walker at Mario Lanza Park | Photography by Christopher Leaman

A dog walker at Mario Lanza Park | Photography by Christopher Leaman

Q: My dog’s a yapper. What should I do so my neighbors won’t hate me?
Most people say Philadelphians are (surprisingly) polite about yippy neighbors. Still, tension can arise, especially when no one’s warned. Matt Schimsky, head trainer at Tuff Pup Training, suggests that new dog owners leave notes on doors saying they understand there’s a barking problem and they’re working on it. Wouldn’t hurt to attach that note to a bottle of whiskey.

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What Happened to Philly’s Booming Movie Industry?

Illustration by Bruce Emmett

Illustration by Bruce Emmett

The hallway that leads to Sharon Pinkenson’s perch on the 11th floor of One Parkway Building is wallpapered in old movie posters from the city’s brushes with Hollywood, from the first Rocky to Philadelphia to M. Night Shyamalan’s assorted experiments with surprise endings. Nicolas Cage and Mark Wahlberg stare back at you silently, stuck in classic cinematic hero poses, like faded snapshots of Bobby Clarke and Mike Schmidt pinned up in a neighborhood bar.

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They Do Exist: Five Hip Jersey Shore Hotels To Book This Summer

The Star's sunflower-yellow exterior | Photo courtesy of Cape Resorts

The Star’s sunflower-yellow exterior | Photo courtesy of Cape Resorts

The B&B: The Gables // The French influence is strong in this renovated five-room Victorian, thanks to toile bed linens, gilded furniture in the library, and a proper garden dining area. Reserve the Bailey Lloyd room; it’s not the swankiest (that’s the Victoria & Albert), but its sloping walls, cherry red claw-foot tub and iron stove exude coziness. For dinner, nab one of the courtyard or porch tables — the chef changes up the seafood-heavy menu daily. // Starting at $180 per night; 212 Centre Street, Beach Haven.

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Is Chestnut Hill the New East Passyunk?

Distinctive shops like Bone Appetite have led a new generation of fans of urban life to discover the joys of Chestnut Hill. The road to today began with the Starbucks right next door. | Photo courtesy Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District

Distinctive shops like Bone Appetite have led a new generation of fans of urban life to discover the joys of Chestnut Hill. The road to today began with the Starbucks right next door. | Photo courtesy Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District

It’s sometime after 5 on the Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend. That usually means Philly’s restaurants are quiet because everyone’s down the shore. But all the bar seats at Paris Bistro in Chestnut Hill are full. There are regulars, out-of-towners, and a large, boisterous group. From behind the bar, Justin Bellerjean presides over the scene genially. As the night goes on, he explains, the personality of this space will change. “Having a nice neighborhood corner bar … you see different layers of customers come in,” he says. “My Monday happy hour crowd, it’s like the men’s bar at a city club.”

My burger order hadn’t gone to the kitchen yet, but I wasn’t particularly worried that 15 minutes had passed since I placed it—it’s easy to get caught up in the vibe. Even chef/co-owner Al Paris seemed to be having fun.

This new, up-late Chestnut Hill isn’t the neighborhood I visited in the early 1980s. Back then, ads on the radio spoke in plum tones about the “little shops” along Germantown Avenue and the “Ladies Who Lunch” made up the crowd at the handful of restaurants. Now, three decades and two waves of change later, that crowd has mostly ceased to define the environment of Philadelphia’s most elevated business district. (Literally: the highest point in the city is just north of the Germantown Avenue commercial strip.) Far from being a prim and proper enclave for bluebloods, today’s Chestnut Hill has finally become the urban (and urbane) village it has long had the potential to be.

And really, it’s all because the timing was finally right. Read more »

On Philly Fatherhood: My Dad, Vacation King

Photograph provided by Ashley Primis.

Photograph provided by Ashley Primis.

Most of the year, there was Regular Dad.

Regular Dad was kind of like Don Draper (minus the three-martini lunches and workday naps). He was a hardworking, good-looking, big-city, big-job media guy, with monogrammed cuffs on custom dress shirts. He lunched at the Rainbow Room. His job was high-stress, and we didn’t see a lot of him: He left our bucolic New Jersey home each morning before the sun had fully cracked the horizon and came home late each evening — all to beat the rush-hour traffic. His long commute, which was filled with off-ramps and toll roads, bridges and tunnels, was something he did every day for nearly 30 years without complaint. Regular Dad was pretty great as far as I was concerned: Decades later, I still remember jumping off the couch each night when I saw the headlights of his car pan across our family-room window as he turned into the driveway. I would race the dog to see who could get to the garage door first.

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On Philly Fatherhood: My Dad and the Father Who Wasn’t

Photograph provided by Malcolm Burnley.

Photograph provided by Malcolm Burnley.

You brace yourself for a phone call; you don’t brace yourself for an email. But one day last year, this message from my father, with no subject line, was waiting in my inbox: “I got an e-mail last night informing me that Paul Burnley had died,” it began. “No details about when or how.” An email about an email about the death of my grandfather: Abstract and abrupt, it might as well have been a telegraph, all 135 words of it. I’d gone through the deaths of all my other grandparents, each one marked by a memory of my dad gently unspooling the facts, either in front of me or over the phone. His crackly voice on the other end of the line, trying to comfort me with a She died peacefully to soften the blow. But now, after the death of his father, he seemed unreachable.

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On Philly Fatherhood: My Dad and the Talk

Photograph provided by Robert Huber.

Photograph provided by Robert Huber.

One summer night a long time ago, when I was 11, my father drove me down into Philly to see a baseball game. Dad had zero interest in baseball. I loved it. So it was up to me, riding shotgun down Roosevelt Boulevard from Morrisville, to conjure: the grass more perfect than any grass anywhere. The Reds! Skinny Frank Robinson, part of the first wave of great black players allowed into the majors, who stood almost on top of home plate, as if daring the pitcher to hit him.

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Meet Philadelphia’s Most Infamous Snitch

Photograph by Gene Smirnov

Photograph by Gene Smirnov

Benny Martinez is sitting in a dimly lit booth, giving me some serious side-eye. This is the first time we’ve met. He doesn’t trust me. Or at least, he wants me to think he doesn’t trust me. It’s hard to tell what he really thinks. With Benny, artifice and reality blur. Constantly.

We’re at a bar in Washington Square West that lists meatloaf under the house specials. Benny’s dressed in a candy red FUBU jersey and matching flat-brim cap. Fifteen minutes in, our quasi-clandestine rendezvous feels like a bad imitation of a secret meet at Bada Bing, save for the lack of strippers, Napoli roots and slightest respect for omertà.

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Why We Love Philly Dads

Nothing about fatherhood is or ever has been easy — and so the better, more complicated answer incorporates all the things our fathers have given us, their children. Things like: Bear hugs. Money. Daddy issues, and other neuroses. Lectures. Our work ethic. Our first car. Butt-whuppings. A healthy fear of credit-card debt. And, of course, stories. Our dads, all of them — the ones who coached us; the ones who cheered us; the ones who sat, stoic, on the sidelines, smoking; the ones who left — gave us stories. Below, we tell a few of them, tracking, across eras and across this city, this not-easy, complicated, essential job. Fatherhood.


My Dad, Vacation King

By Ashley Primis

Ash-Dad2-940x540.-400x400 Most of the year there was Regular Dad. Regular Dad was kind of like Don Draper (minus the three-martini lunches and workday naps). He was a hardworking, good-looking, big-city, big-job media guy, with monogrammed cuffs on custom dress shirts. He lunched at the Rainbow Room. His job was high-stress, and we didn’t see a lot of him: He left our bucolic New Jersey home each morning before the sun had fully cracked the horizon and came home late each evening — all to beat the rush-hour traffic. His long commute, which was filled with off-ramps and toll roads, bridges and tunnels, was something he did every day for nearly 30 years without complaint. Regular Dad was pretty great as far as I was concerned: Decades later, I still remember jumping off the couch each night when I saw the headlights of his car pan across our family-room window as he turned into the driveway. I would race the dog to see who could get to the garage door first. Read more >>


My Dad Sold Fords

By Lisa DePaulo

Dads-DePaulo-940x540-400x400 A memory: my junior year at Penn. I go home for Christmas. I bring the first story I wrote for the professor who, upon reading it, told me I would and should be a writer. (We can curse her later.) My mother is in the kitchen. My dad is in his favorite spot, The Recliner. Oh, this was such a nifty recliner! They got it at the fanciest furniture store in Scranton. It was from The Recliner that my dad did his favorite things: watch Johnny Carson; hold forth with all the relatives, friends, and friends of his kids who always seemed to be in the house; and fall asleep, snoring loudly, even if (especially if) the house was full of company. But on this night, it’s just the three of us. I hand a copy of my first “story” to each parent. My mother, Josephine, is mortified, horrified. I have made fun of our parish priest. She expresses her displeasure without uttering a word, by banging pots and pans. I look at my father, in The Recliner. He’s flipping through the pages and laughing. As robustly as he can without Josie hearing him. Then he looks at me. And grins. And puts a finger to his mouth, as if to say, “This is between us.” Then he utters the words that every daughter needs to hear from her father: “This is great.” Read more >>


My Dad and the Father Who Wasn’t

By Malcolm Burnley

F-Dads_01-940x540-MALCOLM-400x400 You brace yourself for a phone call; you don’t brace yourself for an email. But one day last year, this message from my father, with no subject line, was waiting in my inbox: “I got an e-mail last night informing me that Paul Burnley had died,” it began. “No details about when or how.” An email about an email about the death of my grandfather: Abstract and abrupt, it might as well have been a telegraph, all 135 words of it. I’d gone through the deaths of all my other grandparents, each one marked by a memory of my dad gently unspooling the facts, either in front of me or over the phone. His crackly voice on the other end of the line, trying to comfort me with a She died peacefully to soften the blow. But now, after the death of his father, he seemed unreachable. Read more >>


My Dad and the Talk

By Robert Huber

Dads-Huber-940x540-400x400 One summer night a long time ago, when I was 11, my father drove me down into Philly to see a baseball game. Dad had zero interest in baseball. I loved it. So it was up to me, riding shotgun down Roosevelt Boulevard from Morrisville, to conjure: the grass more perfect than any grass anywhere. The Reds! Skinny Frank Robinson, part of the first wave of great black players allowed into the majors, who stood almost on top of home plate, as if daring the pitcher to hit him. But my anticipation was wordless, as we gazed at the families chatting on their stoops along the Boulevard. My father, a virtually silent man, didn’t know Frank Robinson from Martin Luther King, and I knew he didn’t care to. Then suddenly Dad, until that moment simply chain-smoking his Salems, said, “I wonder if you’re having nocturnal emissions.” Huh? He looked normal — silent again — taking another drag from his cigarette. Read more >>


What My Dad Taught Me

Edited by Christine Speer Lejeune

F-Dads_06-400x400 Advice from famous Philly dads. Read more >>

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