Photographs and Memories

In the summer of 1973, when I was nine, my father took me and two of my friends to a Phillies game at the Vet. As we drove down the Northeast Extension from our home outside Scranton, one of that summer’s biggest hits blared through the AM radio of our brown Ford LTD, and the entire car sang along:

Bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole …

At which point my friends and I stopped, not wanting to sing the next word in front of my father, who nonetheless kept barreling through the song:

… Baddest man in the whole DAMN town
Badder than old King Kong,
and meaner than a junkyard dog

It was the first time I ever heard my father use a swear word, and also one of the last. (On bad language, my father liked to quote his father: “Cursing is the crutch of the conversational cripple.”)

Is that why Jim Croce, the Philadelphian who wrote and recorded “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” occupies such a special place in my consciousness? Or maybe it’s this: One morning a few months later, I came down to breakfast and my father told me that Croce had been killed the night before in a plane crash in Louisiana. He was 30.

Native of South Philly, graduate of Upper Darby High School and Villanova, Croce is only sometimes included in the pantheon of Rock Stars Who Died Too Young, and perhaps that’s understandable. He wasn’t a cultural force—just an excellent songwriter whose work ranged from bluesy story songs about pimps and street hustlers to more emotionally complex acoustic ballads that retain their beauty, at least to my ears, 40 years later. (Skip the treacly “Time in a Bottle” and focus instead on “Lover’s Cross.”)

I sometimes wonder what would have happened to Croce’s career if he’d lived. After all, disco was just around the corner, with punk and New Wave coming after that and MTV just a few years beyond. By the time Madonna was making hits, would Croce have been relegated to the land of Whatever Happened To? Then again, you can probably make the argument that Bruce Springsteen’s entire blue-collar oeuvre springs directly from Croce’s “Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues,” and that Garth Brooks built a pretty swell career rewriting Croce’s “Alabama Rain.”

Jim Croce passed away 40 years ago this month, a Philadelphian who became famous enough but not nearly as famous as he should have been. My 80-year-old father died 18 months ago, not famous at all but having lived a life of joy and integrity. It’s a blessing that the music made by one of them still makes me think so lovingly of the other. —tom mcgrath

New Philly Mag Cover Story on Chuck Peruto Will Also Be Published as an E-Book

Over the last few years, the work we do here at Philly Mag has changed pretty dramatically. While once we simply published a monthly magazine, these days we also host a website with seven daily blogs; push out content to (and have conversations with) more than 100,000 followers on social media; and produce more and more editorially driven events, including ThinkFest, the Philadelphia Magazine Fashion Project and Philly Mag Shops.

I’m excited to say that this week we’ll enter another new medium — e-books. Our September cover story — Lisa DePaulo’s gripping investigation into the death of Julia Law, the 26-year-old paralegal who was found dead in the bathtub of her boss and lover, noted Philly defense attorney Chuck Peruto — will be published simultaneously as an e-book, available in Kindle, Nook, iBooks and other e-book formats.

Read more »

Meet Leigh Gallagher, Author of The End of the Suburbs

Your new book says the American Dream is in the middle of a major shift — various forces are making the suburbs unnecessary and undesirable. That’s tough talk from someone who grew up in Media and whose parents still live there.
[Laughs] That’s true. I had this almost comically idyllic childhood. I had a boss in New York who once came to visit me and had dinner with my parents, and from that moment on, he would chide me: “How’s everything in Grover’s Corners?” Because Media is really this unique place. It’s got all these ingredients that a lot of suburbs don’t have — a trolley, a courthouse, a 1927 vaudeville theatre. It’s built on certain urban-planning principles that got thrown out and replaced by what we more commonly see today, which is sprawl.
Read more »

Patricia Coulter Gears Up for the National Urban League’s Annual Conference

The National Urban League’s annual conference is at the Convention Center this month. How many people are you expecting?
Probably between 6,000 and 8,000 visitors to the city. And it’s also an opportunity for another 8,000 to 10,000 local people to participate.

So you’re basically planning a party for 20,000?
It’s a big party. We have really been working on this for the last couple of years.

The title of the conference is “Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America.” That’s an obvious reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
It’s very, very special that the conference is here in Philadelphia in 2013, because it’s the 50th anniversary of 1963. The March on Washington took place in August of 1963. That was also the year that Medgar Evers was shot and killed in Mississippi and the four young girls were bombed in the church in Birmingham. W.E.B. Du Bois died in 1963. And John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963. So there were a number of different events that relate to African-American history and the country.

You were a young girl living in Cleveland then. What was the mood in your house the day of the march?
We had a black-and-white TV. We lived in an apartment building, and neighbors who didn’t have TVs were all gathered around in our living room so they could actually see it. It was a really big moment. But it was also a scary moment—at least, for my parents. Because they didn’t know how this was going to be received by the nation and by those in opposition—especially Southerners.

What’s the Urban League’s plan for more jobs?
This year we released a series of public-private investments that total $100 million to help expand what we’re calling the war on unemployment. And since 2011 we have been involved in a number of things on the legislative policy side to put urban America back to work. Chaka Fattah is one of the sponsors of the Urban Jobs Act, which is a bill that looks at 18-to-24-year-olds who are out of work and out of school. If they’re on the streets, they’re probably headed toward incarceration pretty quickly.

What are the chances the bill gets through Congress?
We don’t know, but we still have to work. At the end of the day, when these political leaders go back to their districts, there are people who are hurting. And although the Urban League was founded around African-Americans, today all across the country we work with people of every hue. Los Angeles may now be even more Latino than black in terms of the work we do there.

Some African-American leaders have been critical of President Obama for not doing enough for the black community. Agree?
I believe that with any national leader, you’re not always going to be satisfied with everything they do. So is he doing a good job? Yes. Can he do more? Absolutely.

If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing when it comes to jobs, what would it be?
I would look at how we can better utilize cities. I think of North Philadelphia, where there used to be a lot of textile factories. Those have all closed. If we could figure out how to transition those places for 21st-century companies, we could drive jobs through technology.

Think you’ll get much sleep the week before the conference?
Oh, no, no. I said to a woman in my gym: The thing I have to make sure of is that I get my exercise in. Because that is what is going to sustain me.

You can sleep in August.
August is going to be a beautiful month.

A version of this story originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

What Does Bart Blatstein Think of Philadelphia’s Future?

Few people have had a bigger impact on Philadelphia in the last couple of decades than Bart Blatstein, who’s not only re-imagined and revitalized Northern Liberties, but who’s now trying to bring to fruition a dazzling casino project on North Broad.

So what does Bart think of Philly’s future? What’s it like trying to get something built in Philadelphia? What does he think of Philadelphia’s leadership? And what, exactly, is the deal with the mansion he just bought on Rittenhouse Square?

I’ll be asking him all those questions, and more, at our next ThinkFest Salon, which takes place Monday evening, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Barnes. As with our March conversation with Brian Roberts, this is your chance to listen in on–and take part in–an intimate conversation with one of the most influential thinkers in Philadelphia. Tickets are available here. I hope to see you there.

Sam Katz Takes on Frank Rizzo (Again)

The next installment of your 12-part history of Philly airs on 6 ABC this month [7:30 p.m., June 20]. Why focus on 1965 to 1978—a.k.a. the Rizzo years?
We’re working on a trilogy, if you will, of episodes that when put together will cover 50 years of contemporary history—from 1944 to 1994. It just felt right to connect the dots of contemporary history on issues that really explain how Philadelphia arrived at the place it finds itself today. Read more »

What to Do in Philadelphia This Summer

Summer activities and things to do in Philadelphia for summer 2013. Photo by Ryan Donnell.

Honestly, it’s pretty hard to screw up summer. One sunny deck and one steady stream of IPA is pretty much all it will take to make this past winter in Philadelphia (a.k.a., um, hell) a distant memory. But because we’re who we are—actually, because you’re who you are—we don’t want this to be just a decent summer, an acceptable summer, a passable summer. No, what we’re aiming for, people, is nothing less than an extraordinary summer, a gargantuan summer, a summer so epic that if summer were never to come again, you would be totally okay with that, because you would still have had this summer. That’s the kind of summer we’re talking about. And that’s the kind we’re confident is coming. How do we know? Keep reading.

What to Do in Philadelphia: June

Things to do in Philadelphia

May 25th
Cowtown Rodeo
Time to grab the bull by the horns: The 2013 season runs through late September, with rodeo action every Saturday night in Salem County. Pilesgrove

Things to do in Philadelphia

May 30th-June 23rd
Cirque du Soleil’s Totem
The evolution of a species, told through visual and acrobatic language.

Things to do in Philadelphia

May 31st-August 3rd
Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts
Weekly shows at the gazebo, mixing folkies like Dar Williams and Steve Forbert with Beatles and Pink Floyd tribute bands.

Things to do in Philadelphia

May 31st-June 9th
Philly Beer Week
The sixth annual celebration will be bigger and boozier than ever. Keep track of the action with Beer Week’s sharp smartphone app.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 1st
Appel Farm Arts & Music Festival
More than eight hours of music, plus crafts, kid stuff, food stuff and beer. All in rural Jersey.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 1st
Roots Picnic
Gary Clark Jr. and Naughty by Nature are among the guests at the sixth annual shindig.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 1st-2nd
Collegiate Rugby Championship
Twenty top squads from around the country bang their heads together for two days. Good clean summertime fun, right?

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 2nd
Brooklyn Flea Philly
The buzzy import from New York’s most NoLibs-esque borough makes its debut at the Piazza. Look for it every ­Sunday.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 2nd
Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic
A casino saved the almost-cancelled race, and this year’s course has been shortened. But who cares? The “Wall” will still shorten ­riders’ lives.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 2nd
Free First Sundays at the Barnes
Yup, free. First Sunday of every month.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 4th
David Sedaris
He’s at the Penn bookstore reading from his latest: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 7th-16th
Bloomsday at the Rosenbach
The home of Joyce’s original manuscript for Ulysses celebrates with a week of lectures, readings and re-enactments.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 8th
Be Well Boot Camp
Philly Mag’s wellness blog hosts a one-day fitness fest at Drexel. You’ll be sore, but happy.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 8th
Vendy Awards
The annual food-truck smackdown at Penn Treaty Park raises money for the Food Trust.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 8th-9th
Stone Harbor Seafood Festival
Come to 96th Street to eat. Stay to shop.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 8th-9th
Prison Food Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary
Eat meals served to prisoners during the prison’s long history, including “Indian mush” from the 1830s and Neutraloaf, a “food product” still issued as punishment in many prisons today. Mmm …

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 9th
ODDyssey Half Marathon
The name says it all: Put on a wacky costume, then run 13.1 miles.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 10th-16th
U.S. Open at Merion
Tiger, Rory et al. descend on Merion for one of golf’s most prestigious weeks. Shhh—don’t rattle your jewelry while the boys are putting.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 13th
Bucks County Playhouse
The iconic theater opens its first summer show of 2013—Mothers and Sons, a new play from Terrence McNally that runs through June 23rd. Also on tap for the season: The World Goes ’Round (June 27th-July 21st); Really Rosie (July 5th-21st); Summer of ’42 (July 25th-August 11th); The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (August 15th-September 1st).

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 13th
Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll
Walk the boulevard from 42nd Street to 50th Street and be amazed at the food, drink and more you can get for a buck. (There’s another one on September 12th.)

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 13th
Schuylkill Banks Movie Night
The first of 10 nights of flicks along the river. First up at Walnut Street: 10 Things I Hate About You.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 14-15th
Sting. Borgata.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 15th
30th Street Craft Market
The Porch, the alluring little park alongside the train station, welcomes more than 40 local crafters.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 16th-22nd
National Marbles Tournament
It’s the 90th annual, and where else would it be but Wildwood?

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 17th
Phillies Dollar Dog Night
The third one of the season—and not, we hope, the only good reason to come to the ballpark this year. (Look for another DDN on August 19th.)

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 18th
Rolling Stones.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 20th
Night Market West Oak Lane
The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts will be performing, so, you know, BEWARE OF CLOWNS.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 22nd-23rd
Manayunk Arts Festival
The region’s largest juried art show, now in its 24th year. Nearly 200,000 folks show up for it.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 23rd
Concert Under the Stars in King of Prussia
Upper Merion puts on one of the best of the suburban concert series. Tonight is WXPN night; Chris Smither performs on July 21st. Check for the full calendar.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 24th
Bruno Mars.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 26th
Atlantic City Airshow
Adventures in aviation and aerobatics. What better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon?

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 28-29th
Dave Matthews Band

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 29th
Wanamaker Organ Day
Dedicated to the “greatest musical wonder in the world,” and highlighted by an evening concert with three organ virtuosos.

Things to do in Philadelphia

June 29th-July 7th
Kutztown Folk Festival
Sixty-four years and still going strong. Travel to Berks County and indulge in food, crafts, animals … and the largest quilt sale in the nation.

>>Need more fun things to do in Philadelphia this summer? Click here to view our picks for July.

Help Wanted: Philly Mag Puts Ad for Mayor on Craigslist

The next mayor’s race isn’t for two more years, but the prospective 2015 field? Not so inspiring. To help turn up some more exciting contenders, Philly Mag yesterday placed an ad for prospective candidates on Craigslist. It reads in part:

“Large Eastern city with problems (but potential!) seeks bold, dynamic leader to run for mayor in 2015. Ideal candidate will have vision, independence, and the courage to take on entrenched interests. Large personal bank account helpful, but not required.”

In our new issue, Patrick Kerkstra also writes about the lameness of the field—and calls out the city’s business and civic leaders for not getting more involved in the overall direction of the city.

“Philadelphia’s political class is imbued with powers entirely disproportionate to its abilities and past performance mostly because the private and nonprofit sectors have, time and again, surrendered that power without a fight. What about the … contention that leaders can make a bigger difference outside of City Hall than within? It’s rank defeatism, just the latest iteration of a decades-long capitulation to the hacks. You don’t simply cede control of a $3.8 billion enterprise to the very people who, over decades, have made that enterprise so ineffective. And yet that is exactly what Philadelphia appears poised to do. Again.”

A Retraction and an Apology

Earlier this week, two different readers contacted the magazine, each raising questions about the facts in a story that appears in Philadelphia magazine’s April issue, “The War Within.” The article—written by Anthony Gargano, the popular WIP radio host—tells the story of a former Marine sniper who claims to have killed scores of people during his tours of the Middle East and who now says he is haunted by what he did. Read more »

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