Sorry, Jazz Is Not Dead

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Trombonist Ernest Stuart, founder of the Center City Jazz Festival. Photography by Jauhien Sasnou

It wasn’t so long ago that this very magazine asked whether jazz was on life support in Philadelphia. But several key players have injected much-needed energy into the mix, among them trombonist Ernest Stuart, who launches his third Center City Jazz Festival this month on April 19th.

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City Council Has an Ethics Committee! (But It Never, Ever Meets)

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Philadelphia is one of the most corrupt major cities this side of Lagos. From the ABSCAM convictions in 1981 to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s 2013 admission that she broke campaign finance law, we’ve had nine lawbreakers on City Council over a 32-year period. If you’re not particularly good at math, know that this averages out to more than one lawbreaker for every four-year Council term. Read more »

Where We’re Eating: Vietnam

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On a recent visit to one of the many hole-in-the-wall pho joints on Washington Avenue, I saw a table of large white construction workers slurping up noodles. And while there might not be anything strange about that today, things weren’t always that way. Twenty-five years ago, when Benny Lai took over Vietnam on 11th Street from his family, no one in this town who didn’t grow up on home-cooked Asian food knew a pho from a bun. Lai opened the door, making the food more accessible while getting lots of us drunk on Flaming Volcanos and other tiki concoctions. These days, there are plenty of Vietnamese restaurants in town. But Lai’s Vietnam (and the mirror-image Vietnam Cafe in West Philadelphia) remains the place for Vietnamese dinner with out-of-towners, the in-laws, etc. Order the barbecue platter (Lai’s version of the pu pu platter), salt-and-pepper fried shrimp and some of those flaming drinks, and you’re good to go. 

Vietnam [Official]

First appeared in the April, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Manco & Manco Pizza Owners Arrested on Tax Charges in New Jersey

UPDATE [3:50 p.m.]: According to the Inquirer,  Manco & Manco Pizza owners Charles and Mary Bangle have been released. They’ve been ordered to surrender their passports, and Charles must turn over an arsenal that includes “12 handguns, two shotguns and two rifles” by tomorrow afternoon.

Original: On Thursday morning, Charles and Mary Bangle, owners of Manco & Manco Pizza (formerly Mack & Manco’s), were arrested at their home in Somers Point, New Jersey, on 30 counts of tax evasion and other charges. Read more »

Philly Cop Edward Sawicki III Charged With Making Threats and Harassment

edward-sawicki-philly-cop-charged-threats-2On Wednesday, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office announced that it had charged Philadelphia police officer Edward Sawicki III with simple assault, harassment, disorderly conduct, and making terroristic threats stemming from an October 2013 incident in South Philadelphia.

According to a statement by the DA’s office, Sawicki, who is 34, was off-duty at the time of the altercation. Sawicki lives in Northeast Philadelphia.

Sawicki turned himself into police on Wednesday.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has suspended Sawicki for 30 days and intends to fire him. Of course, we all know how complicated firing a Philadelphia police officer can be.

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Uber May Bring UberX to South Jersey

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Over the weekend, a colleague told me that he had seen an Uber Philadelphia advertisement soliciting drivers for UberX, the low-cost Uber alternative that exists in some 40 U.S. markets, from Boston and New York to Milwaukee and Tulsa.

I thought it a bit odd, since UberX is very similar to SideCar, the car service app that was so memorably booted out of Philadelphia in 2013 by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. While an Uber driver is a licensed limo driver who shows up in a suit and a nice black sedan, your UberX or SideCar driver is basically your Uncle John in his flannel shirt and 2009 Buick. And the PPA, which regulates taxis and limousines in Philadelphia, doesn’t like that very much. Read more »

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