I See “The World” Differently Than Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates | Nina Subin, Penguin Random House

Coates | Nina Subin, Penguin Random House

I missed out on the hottest ticket in town when Ta-Nehisi Coates was in Philly in October for a talk at the Free Library based on his bestselling, National Book Award-nominated tome, Between the World and Me. (There is a streaming finalists reading tonight at 7; the awards will be announced tomorrow.)

Chances are, though, that if you are an avid consumer of ideas, you’re talking about him anyway, even if you missed the talk, haven’t read the book or one of its many excerpts, or missed his chat with Terry Gross on WHYY’s Fresh Air.

That’s because Coates has undeniably struck a national nerve at just the right moment. As the drumbeat of stories in which cops kill black men (and they are mostly men) with questionable use of force continues, along comes Coates to tell us this sort of thing is encoded in our nation’s DNA.

Like James Baldwin before him, Coates has cast himself as our racial Cassandra, reminding us that the debt for slavery remains unpaid and condemning society for failing to recognize this. And like Baldwin before him, Coates has decided that it’s best to reflect on his native land’s transgressions from afar — Paris, to which numerous African-Americans fed up with the United States have retreated.  Read more »

PPA Unveils Smartphone Payment App


Starting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the PPA will offer a nice little bribe to the first 5,000 people who pay for their parking using Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new “meterUP” app: An hour of free parking courtesy of everyone’s favorite governmental authority.

Even if you’re not one of those lucky 5,000 parkers, the meterUP app will still offer some nice deal-sweeteners for those who use it. Read more »

Navy Yard Subway Extension Update: Funding for New Feasibility Study Secured


From left: Sen. Pat Toomey, John Dougherty, Sen. Bob Casey. Photos | Sandy Smith

“I’ll be back only when I can ride a train from City Hall here,” U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-1st District) told the assembled dignitaries and construction workers at this morning’s news conference announcing that Federal funding had been secured for a new feasibility study for the planned Broad Street Subway extension to the Navy Yard.

The Congressman will have to wait a while longer for that train, for despite the tone sounded by the elected officials who spoke at the conference, there are still some more hurdles to clear before shovels can be stuck in the ground. Read more »

South Ardmore Residents Speak Out Against Police Treatment

Nathaniel Williams (left); Zion Baptist Church (right). Photos | Sandy Smith

Nathaniel Williams at the Lower Merion Township Commissioners meeting (left); the prayer vigil at Zion Baptist Church before the meeting (right). Photos | Sandy Smith

Correction: A quote in the original publication of this story was incorrectly attributed to Commissioner Joshua Grimes. It was actually said by Commissioner Brian Gordon. 

The snow shovels may still be in storage in Ardmore, but they’ll be coming back out soon, and when they do, the residents of South Ardmore would rather not use them while keeping one eye cocked for the Lower Merion Township Police.

They made this point and more loud and clear to the Township Commissioners at their regular meeting last night at the Township Building.

The triggering event that brought some 60 to 80 African American township residents and their white neighbors to the meeting was a recent incident in which township police manhandled 58-year-old Nathaniel Williams as he was waiting for a bus across the street from the Ardmore branch of TD Bank. The bank had been robbed, and police were responding to a call stating that a “black male in a hoodie wearing glasses” had done the deed.

Williams was all three. But, after he had been forced to his knees and handcuffed, it quickly became clear that he was not the robber. Nonetheless, several officers continued to hold him until a bank employee came across the street to confirm that he was not the robber.  Read more »

SEPTA and the Temple-Notre Dame Game

The Temple Owl mascot leads the team onto the field during an October 10, 2015, game against Tulane at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Temple Owl mascot leads the team onto the field during an October 10, 2015, game against Tulane at Lincoln Financial Field.

The eyes of Temple Owls fans everywhere, and of the nation, will be on Lincoln Financial Field this Saturday evening when nationally Top 25-ranked Temple — when did you ever think you’d see that phrase in an article about Temple football? — takes on perennial college football powerhouse Notre Dame in the heart of Owls territory.

We like Temple’s chances in the game, as, we suspect, does the entire Greater Philadelphia region. So does SBNation, by the way.

If you’re among the fortunate fans who have tickets to the sold-out game, or want to hang out with the ESPN “College Football GameDay” crew on Independence Mall in the morning, SEPTA is adding extra service to get you there quickly and with less hassle than sitting in traffic at the Pattison Avenue/Broad Street exit on I-95. Read more »

Why the Broad Street Line Was the Star of SEPTA’s Pope Weekend Service

Waiting at Broad Street. Photo | SEPTA

Waiting at Broad Street. Photo | SEPTA

So how well did SEPTA handle moving the masses in town for Francis Festival Weekend?

About as well as it’s ever handled any large crowd. Better, in fact, than the last few times it’s had upward of 100,000 people to move into and out of a small area.

“We learned the lessons of the Phillies parade,” SEPTA director of media relations Jerria Williams said. And so it had, both on the moving-the-people and the keeping-them-calm end. Read more »

Wanted: An Oasis for Carpenter Green in Graduate Hospital

The Carpenter Square condo building. | Photos: Sandy Smith

The Carpenter Square condo building. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Between the new Carpenter Green park and the building diagonally opposite from it, a new “town square” is taking shape at the intersection of 17th and Carpenter Streets on the southern edge of Graduate Hospital.

Carpenter Green is a new community meeting place to be maintained by the South of South Neighborhood Association at the northwest corner of 17th and Carpenter. Ground was broken for the park a few weeks ago, and grading of the park site is well along (see gallery).

Meanwhile, on the southeast corner, work is all but complete on the corner condominium building at Carpenter Square. Like the park, the housing development is also green, incorporating such features as green roofs and permeable pavers in the rear driveway; the project is LEED-registered.

The condo features a retail space on its first floor that the developers intend as a complement to the park. “We’re looking to have something that engages with the community and invites the community in” occupy the space, said Jackie Balin, the CBRE/Fameco Real Estate broker handling the sale of the retail condo. (Noah Ostroff, whose real estate blog I write, is marketing the residential condos, but is not involved in the marketing of the commercial space.)

That community-anchor component is important enough that the space remains unfilled despite several potential occupants expressing interest in it.

“There have been people who have expressed interest in the space, but the developers didn’t feel they would be right for the community,” Balin said.

Read more »

The Complete Pope in Philly Survival Guide


[Updated on Tuesday, September 22nd at 12:15 p.m.]

Now that the organizers of the World Meeting of Families and city officials have switched gears from scaring you away to begging you to come, one big question remains:

Will you be there for the Popeapalooza, or do you plan on getting as far away as you can to avoid Popemageddon?

(Of course, maybe you don’t have a choice in the matter and simply need to get to work sometime that weekend.)

Fear not, brave souls. We’ve got you covered right here, no matter where you’re coming from or where you’re going.

The bottom line is, on September 26th and 27th,  you will be able to get into town to see the Pope, or to dine — or wait tables — at your restaurant if it’s #OpenInPHL for the weekend. And if you live inside the traffic box — ’scuse me, the Francis Festival Zone — you should be able to move about most of the area and take care of your basic needs during the three days when restrictions are greatest. There will be some catches, though, and we’ll get to them all below. Read more »

More Pope Logistics: Business Deliveries and Trash, Plus Where to Stash Your Car

Mayor Nutter | Jeff Fusco. Pope Francis | miqu77 / Shutterstock.com

Mayor Nutter | Jeff Fusco. Pope Francis | miqu77 / Shutterstock.com

Deliveries, trash collection and what residents need to do with their cars were the chief subjects Mayor Michael Nutter addressed in today’s press conference updating plans for the 2015 World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia.

Because motor vehicles will largely be removed from the “Francis Festival Zone” (formerly known as the “traffic box”) Nutter described alternatives for Center City car owners who need to put their cars somewhere.

But first, a warning: Those who don’t move their cars out of the Francis Festival zone expeditiously will have them towed away. Towing will begin on Monday, September 20th, and end Wednesday, September 23rd, in order to allow time for the secure perimeter around the Francis Festival grounds to be built. Mayor Nutter urged residents to park their cars in any open parking space outside the festival zone; to assist those wishing to find free parking spaces, the 1,500-space lot at the former Naval Hospital at 1600 Pattison Avenue will be open for residents to use. Read more »

SEPTA Got Better with Joe Casey at the Bat


Running a large transit system may just be one of the most thankless tasks anyone could take on. You have the responsibility for moving hundreds of thousands of people daily, usually with less money than you’d like to have for the job. Many of those people you move will not like the way your employees get them there, or fail to do so in a timely manner—and give them bad attitude while they ride. And chances are that the elected officials to whom you must answer will be among your most demanding critics while doing little to enable you to answer the criticism.

It’s a rare individual who manages to surmount even some of this to enact real change and improvement. The last person to do this at SEPTA was David Gunn, a name that’s become virtually holy among transit industry professionals for his ability to make every transit system he touched better, with the possible exception of his last, Amtrak.

SEPTA’s current general manager, Joe Casey, is Gunn’s equal—or his superior— in just about every measure. As he now takes his valedictory lap prior to his retirement Sept. 30, it might be worth pointing out why. Read more »

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