Best of Philly 2014 Preview: Health and Fitness

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Best Gym: Haverford YMCA

This isn’t your grandma’s YMCA. The gorgeous 75,000-square-foot Haverford Y, on the old Swell Bubble Gum Factory campus, includes three indoor swimming pools (hello, water slides), an indoor track, palatial cardio and weight-training facilities, and more than 100 fitness classes a week. No wonder that in less than a year, it’s attracted 21,000 members and counting. 891 North Eagle Road, Havertown, 610-649-0700.

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Best of Philly 2014 Preview: LGBT Winners

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Gay Bar: U Bar

There isn’t a dance floor in the whole place, and drag-queen sightings are rare. But that’s exactly what’s so great about the bar formerly known as Uncles. (Well, that and the studly bartenders.) U Bar stands apart from other Gayborhood watering holes as a no-fuss, no-’tude, unpretentious spot to grab a strong drink or two and gab with friends. 1220 Locust Street, Midtown Village, 215-546-6660.

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Best of Philly 2014 Preview: Home Decor

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Best Furniture: Studio 882

Wander through his airy showroom, and you’ll feel like you’re in an Architectural Digest spread: Impeccably styled vignettes featuring top brands like Baker, Kindel and Julian Chicester rotate often, so the space is flush with inspiration. And the owners — expert interior designers in their own right — have the know-how to make it work in your non-­showroom house. 882 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-314-8820.

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Best of Philly 2014: The Best Philadelphians

Katherine Gajewski and Connor Barwin. / Photography by Joseph Balestra

Katherine Gajewski and Connor Barwin. / Photography by Joseph Balestra

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Best Athlete: Connor Barwin, 27

Six-foot-four, 264-pound linebackers don’t usually make headlines for their social consciousness, but Barwin is a different breed of football beast. The Detroit native has earned cheers off the field for his Make the World Better Foundation, aimed at bringing sports and arts to kids; a benefit concert he staged at Union Transfer in June raised $170,000 to revitalize a run-down South Philly park. He’s fearlessly outspoken (tweeting praise for marriage equality) and bleeds green in more ways than one — bicycling to work, driving an electric car and promoting SEPTA.

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The Fonzi-Specter JFK Assassination Tapes

Linked By History: Salandria speaking in 1998; Arlen Specter working with the Warren Commission in 1964.

Salandria speaking in 1998; Arlen Specter working with the Warren Commission in 1964.

Philadelphia lawyer Vince Salandria prepped journalist Gaeton Fonzi for his interviews with Arlen Specter about the Warren Commission’s work; Specter’s evasiveness and inability to explain inconsistencies in the findings are chilling.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation has the audio and transcripts from three of those interviews in 1966, as well as a discussion between Fonzi and Salandria. Click here to listen.

Four Philadelphia Schools That Work

Ways Parents Can Fix Schools

Photo By Clint Blowers

Science Leadership Academy

A partnership between the school district and the Franklin Institute, Center City’s SLA is proof that a strong outside collaborator can help produce strong results. The diverse students (45 percent black, 34 percent white, seven percent Asian, seven percent Hispanic) have to apply to get in, and once there, they follow a college-prep curriculum focused heavily on science, technology, ­math and entrep­­ren­eur­sh­ip—­with a special emphasis on p­roject-based learning (plus some cool outside speakers, like Michael Dell). Eighty-eight percent go on to college, and SLA has been named an Apple Distinguished School from 2009 to 2013.
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Six Leaders Who Need to Step Up

6 city leaders Philadelphia schools

Darrell Clarke

The City Council prez talks frequently about how dire the current fiscal crisis is—even though he, more than any other city official, is in a position to help solve it. With the state legislature having rebuffed his cigarette-tax plan for raising more dough, he needs to look at other funding options—soda tax, real estate taxes, government cost savings—to help right the financial ship. Failure isn’t an option here, Mr. President.

Amy Gutmann

As the leader of the most important institution in the city, Penn’s president needs to get more involved in the conversation—and use the resources of her mighty university to help educate more kids. The highly successful Penn Alexander School is a model of a university-supported grade school, but it was launched under Gutmann’s predecessor, Judy Rodin. Where’s Gutmann’s PA?

Michael Nutter

After keeping his distance from the schools in his first five years in office, the Mayor has become more engaged, taking some politically tough stances to raise more revenue. But he could still do more to persuade a skeptical public that the dollars won’t be wasted, and to lead from behind in a statewide coalition of districts that have been shafted by state budget cuts.
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