Don’t Blame Donald Trump for Donald Trump

Trump photo: Andrew Harnik/AP. Kane: Matt Rourke/AP. Christie: still from NJTV livestream; used under a Creative Commons license

Trump photo: Andrew Harnik/AP. Kane: Matt Rourke/AP. Christie: still from NJTV livestream; used under a Creative Commons license

My boss asked me the other day why I was writing fewer opinion pieces online than I used to. I told him the truth: that I was tired of getting dragged through commenter hell whenever I did. He thought about that for a minute, then nodded: “I can see that.”

Back when the Internet was a baby, I was writing books for a living. When one came out and was posted on Amazon, there would commence a flood of “reviews”: Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Sam Katz’s Secret Stash

Sam Katz Smokes Weed

So stalwart civic watchdog Sam Katz—a man who campaigned to become governor of Pennsylvania, a former Republican business leader, a municipal finance expert, a guy who’s run for mayor here on numerous occasions—was on his way to do some fishing in Florida on Thursday when cops pulled him off his plane. Seems Sam (for God’s sake, man, you were a Rizzo supporter!) had packed a little pot in his bag. When the news broke, helpful commenters deluged him with suggestions on how not to get caught the next time (“Pro tip: carry-on luggage”); Sam admitted to being “terribly embarrassed,” noted that he was a “child of the ’60s,” got slapped with a $25 fine, and caught the next plane. Hey, all you millennials still living with Mom and Dad? This is why we always seem so happy when you leave town for the weekend. Now stay out of our dresser drawers.

Penn Doesn’t Pay Philly Taxes. Here’s Why It Should.

Photo: iStock/f11photo

Photo: iStock/f11photo

A couple of months ago, my husband told me about a flier he found in our mailbox. It was from a lawyer, he said, right in our hometown. A guy who’d gone to the local public schools and then made good. Now he’d come back to town to do something neighborly: He was offering to challenge the real estate tax assessment on our house to try and get it lowered. All he’d ask was a share of any savings we got. Read more »

Three Philly Elections That Were Even Worse Than This One

Donald Trump. Photo | Michael Conroy, AP. Hillary Clinton. Photo | Andrew Harnik, AP

Donald Trump. Photo | Michael Conroy, AP. Hillary Clinton. Photo | Andrew Harnik, AP

This week Donald Trump told the world to be very, very wary of Philadelphians in this election. He said we were going to steal the election from him, and urged his supporters to swarm polling places to make sure everything was on the up-and-up. Besides showcasing the Great Pumpkin’s paranoia, this clarion call highlights something very surprising: The Donald is an astute student of our city history. While there has been no proof of the widespread voter fraud that he warns of, it’s not that weird for elections to cause mayhem hereabouts. Here are several instances when, spurred on (always, always) by gossip, they did. Read more »

The Robots Are Coming! Inside the Franklin Institute’s “Robot Revolution”

Sly guy Baxter, making his move. Photo by Daryl Peveto

Sly guy Baxter, making his move. Photo by Daryl Peveto

Robots are like those creepy clowns that have been popping up everywhere, only more scientific. They’re at once attractive and repulsive: sort of human, clearly not really human, with an undercurrent of someday-we’ll-take-over-your-world. I got to write about robots for Philly Mag’s September issue, and on Thursday I got to attend a preview of the Franklin Institute’s new “Robot Revolution” exhibit, which opens this Saturday and runs through April 2nd. Read more »

How the USDA Screwed Up the American Diet — and Deprived Me of So Much Delicious Butter

Illustration by Matt Harrison Clough

Illustration by Matt Harrison Clough

Back in the late 1800s, Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a prize to anyone who could come up with a substitute for butter that would be cheap enough to be used by the lower classes. The winning spread, invented by a chemist named Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès and composed of rendered beef fat and skim milk, became known as margarine. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Springsteen Signed a Fifth-Grader’s School Absence Note

So back on September 7th, Mike Fenerty took his son Michael to Bruce Springsteen’s show at Citizens Bank Park. You remember that show — the one that went on for four hours and four minutes? Springsteen’s longest-ever U.S. show? That was also Michael’s first day of fifth grade at Masterman. Despite all that excitement, Michael enjoyed grooving to “Spirit in the Night and “Born to Run” so much that when he heard The Boss would be signing his new memoir at the Free Library, he begged Mike to take him. Only problem? That would mean missing school. “Why don’t we just get Bruce Springsteen to sign my excuse note?” Michael asked his dad.

Right.  Read more »

13 Things You Might Not Know About Penn’s Life at Vet U TV Show

Clint Kuban examines a patient at Penn Vet. | Photo by X

Clint Kuban examines a patient at Penn Vet. | Photo courtesy of Animal Planet

We were agog with excitement when news broke earlier this year that Animal Planet had been shadowing six fourth-year students at Penn’s veterinary school for a reality TV show, Life at Vet U, based on their experiences. It felt so right, so familiar! Like many people with pets in the city — especially those with accident-prone cats — we’ve been to Penn Vet a kazillion times, and we’ve always come away awed by its students’ calm assurance and expertise. Now, finally, the show is debuting, at 10 tomorrow night. To tide you over, and to celebrate the fact that October is National Dog Show Month, we thought we’d share some info on the stars — and their pets. Read more »

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