Hey Donald Trump, African Americans Heard You Loud and Clear

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Late last week, in his umpteenth “foot in mouth” moment, Donald J. Trump rhetorically asked African Americans a question that in my mind perfectly synthesized this election and Trump’s used car salesman pitch. “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Donald Trump?”  Read more »

Philly Could Actually Win a Sports Championship on Friday

Philadelphia Soul players celebrate a touchdown at a recent game. (Photo by Todd Bauders, Contrast Photography)

Philadelphia Soul players celebrate a touchdown at a recent game. (Photo by Todd Bauders, Contrast Photography)

It has been quite a dry spell for Philadelphia professional sports franchises since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. We haven’t had a champion team since. (Well, assuming you don’t count the 2016 champion Philadelphia Spinners Ultimate — as in Frisbee — team, which we most certainly do not.) But that could all change on Friday night when the Philadelphia Soul take on the Arizona Rattlers. Read more »

Smart Guns Aren’t for Sale in America Because of a New Jersey Law

Split photo: Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, and a smart gun developed by NJIT

Christie photo by Bob Jagendorf (license); smart gun prototype photo via of New Jersey Institute of Technology

Chris Christie yesterday vetoed a bill that would have required New Jersey gun dealers to carry at least one “smart gun” for sale. Christie used a pocket veto, which means the Democratic legislature cannot override it.

Smart guns have been developed by several different sources, but are not yet for sale in the U.S. A smart gun can only be fired by an authorized user (though some smart gun tech has a way for authorized users to override that and allow anyone to fire it). The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s smart gun prototype uses “dynamic grip” technology to prevent anyone else from firing it. NJIT’s smart-gun project was begun at the behest of the state, but was eventually killed.

The gun-lobby says it’s agnostic to smart gun tech, but that’s a lie: The CEO of Colt’s Manufacturing Company was dropped after backlash to the company’s smart gun prototype; the NRA famously boycotted Smith & Wesson after it agreed to develop smart gun technology as part of a deal with the Bill Clinton administration. Some people go even further: A Maryland gun dealer, who planned to sell a new smart gun, said he received death threats. (Some death threats are empty, but these presumably came from people with guns.) Read more »

Philly Prof’s New Book Treats Wildwood Motels Like the Works of Art They Are

The Blue Marlin Motel in Wildwood Crest -- blue beach chairs and blue walls

The Blue Marlin Motel, at Toledo and Atlantic avenues in Wildwood Crest | Photo courtesy of Mark Havens

It all started with the Garden State Parkway.

The roadway’s construction — complemented by the postwar boom period — led to the birth of the Wildwoods. The several cities that make up the five-mile island had been around since the late 1800s and early 1900s, but it wasn’t until carloads of middle-class Philadelphians trekked down the shore that the Wildwoods became the place we think of today.

And the simple L- or U-shaped motels built around that time are more than just places to sleep. “For a clientele whose out-of-reach dream vacation was Polynesia, the Caribbean or even the exotic Far East, Wildwood willingly stood in as a surrogate,” architecture critic Joseph Giovannini writes. “Blue-collar workers from as close as Philadelphia or as far away as Montreal could still enjoy a week of vacation on the sand in an environment that evoked distant lands.”

Giovannini writes that in an introdutory essay in a new book by Philadelphia University industrial design professor Mark Havens. His Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods chronicles 10 years of Havens’ fine art photography of the famous Wildwood motel. While much Wildwood architecture hagiography focuses on kitsch, Havens’ book goes a bit deeper: The beauty of the chair placement at the Blue Marlin Motel, the wonderful doors at the Ocean Sands Motel, the hilarity of the neon sign and pirate combo at the Jolly Roger.

“These motels were very simple, built mostly from cinder block, stucco, iron railings and a few coats of paint,” New School professor Jamer Hunt writes in the book’s other essay. “Few mistook them for anything more than what they were—economical. But through the inventive and highly formalist use of decorative elements, owners, contractors, and architects were able to elevate these buildings beyond the utilitarian. They created a genuine, expressive middle-class vacation aesthetic that transcends the more saccharine pleasures of the big-budget signs and exotic names.”

I talked with Havens about his book. This conversation has been lightly edited for style and length. Read more »

Reports: WIP Fires Drive-Time Radio Host Josh Innes

josh-innes-940x540

Yesterday, a story broke about one of the two big drive-time sports talk radio shows in Philadelphia. The show’s white producers had fabricated a black caller, Dwayne from Swedesboro, who trawled in racist stereotypes of black people.

Today, the host of a big drive-time sports talk radio show in Philadelphia was fired. No, the other one. Several reports, first on Crossing Broad and later on Philly.com, say WIP afternoon drive-time host Josh Innes has been fired by management.

Innes had been a part of his own controversies. He was suspended in January for calling Eagles offensive lineman Jason Kelce, who is white, a “house negro” for the organization. (Innes apologized: “I’m the dumbest human being on the planet. I apologize for that, I truly do. I’m an idiot.”) At the time, Crossing Broad’s Kyle Scott said CBS Radio was gauging the reaction to the Innes’ comments. Read more »

Dîner en Blanc Angst Is Apparently Unique to Philadelphia

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia 2016. Photo | HughE Dillon

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia 2016. Photo | HughE Dillon

Last week Philadelphia’s fifth Dîner en Blanc event went off without a hitch on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as thousands gathered to celebrate the French tradition, and a few others took to social media to ask why in the world they would want to.

Some questioned the cost, or more specifically, where that money could elsewhere be spent. Others took issue with the dress code. Still others questioned the choice to purchase a ticket to an event that requires you to BYO-everything, including a chair.

Other corners of social media boasted a great time, and even a marriage proposal. The haters were seemingly outnumbered by those who attended and those who hoped to. Of 70 cities hosting events this year, Philadelphia is the only one to have implemented a lottery system for the waiting list, similar to the one used for the Broad Street Run, after their website crashed last year from an overwhelming number of registrants.

In the past five years Dîner en Blanc has rapidly spread around the globe, with volunteers hosting their own events in top-secret locations that showcase the most spectacular corners of their cities. And the haters? According to Sandy Safi, co-founder of Dîner en Blanc International, they all live in Philadelphia. Read more »

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