It was one of the first warm Saturdays of spring, and I couldn’t wait to get outside for a run. As is always the case when good weather finally sets in, the city was a beehive of activity; a palpable feeling of neighborliness hung in the air. It was one of those perfect Philly days when you can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Drink with your dog at Cantina Los Caballitos • When you’ve got a bowl of guac on the table, a margarita in your hand and your BFF (yes, that would be your dog) by your side, what more do you need? This South Philly watering hole offers dog-friendly seating all around its outdoor tented area. Pooches ready to party can expect a complimentary cold bowl of water. (It’s no mango margarita, but it’ll do.) 1651 East Passyunk Avenue, East Passyunk, 215-755-3550.
See a psychic with your dog at New Age Psychic • Wondering if your four-legged pal will be rich or find the bitch of his dreams? This psychic specializes in reading your pet’s paw and energy to tell you things he might not be able to express by way of a simple bark. Hey, if nothing else, it makes for a good dog-park story. 1000 Pine Street, Washington Square West, 610-931-8896.
East Passyunk: Columbus Square Dog Park
The vibe: A huge fenced-in gravel square with tree stumps for climbing and picnic tables for owners. A renovation is planned for 2017. Best for: Friendly types, of the human and canine varieties. Regulars organized two pool parties last year and are big on community involvement. The scoop: If your dog is shy, head over between 10 a.m. and noon or after 8 p.m., when it’s noticeably less crowded and frantic. 12th Street between Reed and Wharton.
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 »
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.
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.
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.
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 »
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.
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.