How Philly Ended Up With a 30-Foot Squirrel Nibbling on a SEPTA Token

Photo by Bridget Kelly.

Evan Lovett’s zany new mural on the border of Kensington and North Philadelphia has captured hearts for its lifelike depiction of a cute and cuddly squirrel, coupled with its inclusion of a soon-to-be bygone symbol of SEPTA ridership. (Are people really feeling nostalgic for tokens already?)

But without one key suggestion from a local homeowner, this art installation on the 2200 block of North Hancock Street would be a lot less Philly-centric.

Lovett told Philly Mag that while painting a gigantic squirrel was his own idea (his Kensington pigeon was the first in Visual Urban Renewal & Transformation’s Local Critters project), the idea to have it feasting on a SEPTA token came straight from the brain of the person who donated the wall for his mural.

“When I first came up with the design a year ago I didn’t know that SEPTA would disband the token,” Lovett said. “When it came time to paint the piece, it just became relevant.”

Lovett said other small items were also considered, but he and the VURT team were looking for something more closely connected to the neighborhood in which the piece was going up. Given the close proximity of the El, the homeowner’s suggestion of a SEPTA token was just what they were looking for.

It took Lovett about ten hours to paint the mural, which he completed all in one day after the weather wouldn’t cooperate during several previous attempts. Another VURT artist, Anthony Enochs, helped Lovett fill in the squirrel.

“I couldn’t have gotten it done without his help,” Lovett said of Enochs.

As for what’s next, Lovett said he’d love to paint murals of a raccoon and a possum, and maybe even some chickens too.

Follow @jtrinacria on Twitter.

VIDEO: Coatesville Loser Sucker-Punches Man With Cerebral Palsy

Photo courtesy of the Chester County District Attorney’s Office

It’s only Monday, but we already have our worst person of the week solidified for the Philadelphia area: Coatesville’s Barry Baker.

Baker is that type of guy who desperately wants you to think that he’s tough despite him having the yellowest of bellies. The gutless 29-year-old is so hung up on appearances that he would freely mock a stranger’s disability… and do much worse according to authorities. Read more »

Nordstrom Rack’s Roving Cashiers Are Exactly What We Want

Photo by mphillips007/iStock

C’mon, admit it: You hate people like I do, right? OK, maybe not hate hate — but the fewer of them around, the better. Well, here’s a secret the next time you go shopping.

At the Nordstrom Rack on Chestnut Street, you don’t have to wait in line with other annoying people to purchase an item any longer. You can if you want. But instead, just find a store employee on the floor and ask to checkout. Chances are that the floor employee will be able to ring up your purchases and take your credit card with a smartphone that they’re now carrying around. They’ve only been doing this for about a month. Unfortunately for the employees at Nordstrom, this will ultimately result in fewer cashier jobs. That’s bad for them. But it’s reality. And it’s our fault. Read more »

Penn Student Sustains Brain Injury After Falling From Campus Building


The Riepe College House via iStock/f11photo

A rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling 25 to 30 feet from a campus building earlier this month.

According to the student-run Daily Pennsylvanian, Mason Mings, an engineering and Wharton student, fell from the second story of the Riepe College House, located at 310 S. 36th Street, on May 11th.  Read more »

Two Sixers Named NBA Rookie of the Year Finalists

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

In truth, the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award is rather meaningless. It does not guarantee that its winner will enjoy a long and fruitful professional basketball career, nor does it signal that the team employing its winner is instantly regarded among the league’s playoff contenders.

But it’s still nice to have nice things, and we here in Philadelphia take competition seriously. With center Joel Embiid and forward Dario Saric named as finalists for this season’s Rookie of the Year, we should fully expect that one of the young Sixers will walk away with the honor. Read more »

WATCH: Italian Market Grease Pole Competition

Watching videos of more than a dozen greasy people stacking themselves on top of each other in attempt to climb a 30-foot, lard-slicked, sausage-topped pole doesn’t really compare to standing amongst a rowdy crowd at the 9th & Montrose Piazza in Bella Vista and seeing it for yourself.

But just in case you missed long-standing Italian Market Festival tradition this past weekend – called the grease pole competition, for those who don’t know it – never fear: we’ve rounded up some of the best footage, including the video above.  Read more »

Report: DNC Committee Promised to Give Leftover Funds to Charity

Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center - end

Photo: Dan McQuade

The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention had pledged to donate money left over after the event to charity, according to a report published by this weekend.

But the committee used about $1 million of that surplus money to hand out bonus checks (ranging between about $13,000 and $220,000) to its own staff (which was offered weekly salaries) last November.
Read more »

Remember When People Told the Truth?

Photos by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Sport (Irving); Pool/Getty Images News (Trump); Associated Press (Williams); Chris Goodney/Bloomberg/Getty Images (Conway)

Daniel Langleben has a terrible sense of timing.

The Penn neuroscientist and psychiatrist was the proud lead author on a scholarly treatise published last November in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showing that MRIs are superior to traditional polygraphs at detecting when people are lying. Five days later, Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States, and lying didn’t matter anymore.

Trump’s election, and the litany of claptrap he and his administration keep spouting, is what spurred Time magazine to ask on a recent cover: IS TRUTH DEAD? But the President is only the most prominent prevaricator in our midst. Last year, Volkswagen became the best-selling automaker in the world — hot on the heels of a scandal in which the German company lied for years about its diesel emissions. Kevin Deutsch, a veteran reporter whose work has appeared in publications as august as the New York Times, Newsday and Newsweek, is the most recent writer pegged for lying about sources, in the grand tradition of Stephen Glass, Jonah Lehrer and Janet Cooke. Syria swore six ways to Sunday it got rid of all its chemical weapons. Read more »

The Phillies’ Latino Uprising

The Phillies’ emerging Latino core (from left): Odubel Herrera, Hector Neris, César Hernández and Maikel Franco. Illustration by Gluekit, photos by AP

For teenage big-league hopefuls at the brand-new baseball academy the Phillies opened (with the Minnesota Twins) in the Dominican Republic this January, the box score from the home team’s April 26th victory over Miami had to provide inspiration.

Vince Velasquez got the win. Joely Rodriguez, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris provided solid relief work. Maikel Franco slugged a grand slam, and Freddy Galvis hit a solo dinger. The Phils’ fifth straight victory had a distinct Latin flavor. Read more »

In Praise of the Philly Stoop

Two women sit on the stoop at 1308 Lombard Street in 1913. Photo from, a project of the Philadelphia Department of Records

Over the next few weeks, as the weather in the Delaware Valley makes its slow, humid descent from gloriously sun-kissed to armpit-soakingly swampy, you, dear reader, will find yourself overwhelmed with the desire to get away. And you will have options. There will be no shortage of articles and news segments advising you of the multitudinous places you can get away to. And sure, jet off to the French Riviera, Rich Uncle Pennybags, if that’s where your bliss — and your rewards card — takes you. But I posit that this year, the best summer spot is much closer. And I’m not even talking about the Shore.

I’m talking about the stoop. Everyone has one. It’s at once impossibly ordinary — it’s the steps to your door, duh — and grand — per urbanist saint Jane Jacobs, the basic building block of community, the perch for her famous “eyes upon the street.”

In a year when social media has made us increasingly antisocial and politics have rendered us hopelessly divided, it’s time for a re-appreciation of the humble stoop and the centuries-old tradition of hangin’ out on it. Read more »

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