Dispatch From a Philly Church: Trying to Make Sense of the Paris Killings

Overbrook Presbyterian Church (photo via Google Maps)

Overbrook Presbyterian Church (photo via Google Maps)

Other than during summer, when the Jersey Shore tempts even the most God-fearing families to its surf and sand, the parking lot at Overbrook Presbyterian Church is generally pretty full; a couple of times each year — Easter Sunday and Christmas — it is positively overflowing.

Yesterday’s service had no official significance, but less than 48 hours after ISIS-sponsored militants took to the streets of Paris, committing cold-blooded murder at least 129 times, the parking lot was more reminiscent of one of those holy days than your average Sunday morning. Read more »

Milton Street Finally Brought Porn to City Hall Yesterday — and It Was the Right Call

Yesterday the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women gathered at City Hall with several City Councilwomen to demand that District Attorney Seth Williams fire three of his employees: Frank Fina, Pat Blessington and Marc Constanzo. The three men, now prosecutors for the City of Philadelphia, were all involved in Porngate, the snappy name for the scandal that erupted after the discovery of a glut of pornographic, misogynistic, racist and homophobic emails written and distributed on state computers.

In reviewing the conduct of his employees, Williams has said that he will not fire them; rather, he’ll have them go through sensitivity training. The members of NOW and the five City Councilwomen feel this is not enough. The question, if you boil it down, is whether these men can perform their jobs responsibly, fairly and effectively — including prosecuting sex crimes — given the attitudes reflected in the emails. Williams says yes; NOW and the Councilwomen say no.

Yesterday one woman after another stood behind a podium to talk about the old boys network, the lack of judgment, and why women need to be respected. There was a lot of back-patting: I’d like to thank Cindy for this, I’d like to thank NOW for that, etc. Despite all the words, not much was said. One TV cameraman starting packing up to go even while one of the women was still talking. It was an earnest presentation, but it lacked impact. For a discussion of porn, it was really quite boring.

I don’t say that to be flip. I say that as a former hell-raising activist who spent many hours in meetings about the most effective tactics for making change. Standing behind a podium and talking in generalities was never on the list.  Read more »

How Penn Just Ushered In the Apocalypse

We saw the writing (ha!) on the wall back in May, when Penn announced it would no longer be considering applicants’ scores on the essay portion of the SAT while pondering whom to admit to its hallowed halls. We winced a bit when we saw that the comments beneath a recent Daily Princetonian article on a student’s attempted suicide had devolved into a flame-throwing, name-calling brawl over whether “the person allegedly hanged themselves” was grammatically proper or not. We fell into a fever when we watched a privileged young Yalie scream at a professor to “SHUT UP!,” then fainted dead away when we read another Yale student’s defense of said screaming in the student newspaper, which featured the immortal line, “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.” Really, we’d like to see that tattooed on every incoming Ivy League frosh.

Read more »

New Parking App Touted by the PPA Does Exactly Nothing You Want It To

Promotional screenshots of ParkSnap app via iTunes

Promotional screenshots of ParkSnap app via iTunes

When we read last week on the Philadelphia Parking Authority blog (yes, the Philadelphia Parking Authority actually has a blog, and yes, we look at it regularly) about a new parking app for the city, we thought: Finally! We can finally add time without running to the car. Bravo, PPA! After all, remote app payment for on-street parking is available in lots of cities all over the country, even in such tech hotspots as Ft. Lauderdale. Alas, we couldn’t be so lucky. Read more »

Penn, Are You Serious About Not Revoking Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree?

Actor Bill Cosby visits with athletes during the games of the 2011 Penn Relays on April 30, 2011, at Franklin Field.

Actor Bill Cosby visits with athletes during the games of the 2011 Penn Relays on April 30, 2011, at Franklin Field.

When the Association of American Universities released its survey on sexual assault in September, Penn President Amy Gutmann called the findings “deeply troubling.”

Deeply troubling, indeed. Although the numbers weren’t unique to Penn — results were “deeply troubling” across the board — that didn’t make them any easier to take in.

A staggering 27 percent of undergraduate women who responded to the survey reported that they had been sexually assaulted at Penn. A full two-thirds reported that they were subject to sexual harassment. Less than half said they thought it was “very or extremely likely” that Penn would take a report of sexual assault seriously, and only about a third were confident that the university would conduct a fair investigation.

To summarize: Women at Penn are being sexually assaulted in alarming numbers, and they don’t trust Penn to do anything about it.

Is now a good time to mention that Bill Cosby still holds an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania? Because he does. Although a number of institutions have revoked Cosby’s honors after more than 50 women have accused him of sexual assault, Penn declined to do so on Friday. Read more »

After Okafor and Noel, Sixers Roster Historically Bad


Sixers GM Sam Hinkie.

The early reviews on the Philadelphia 76ers are a study in complexity: They are worth watching for Jahlil Okafor and occasionally Nerlens Noel. But the rest of their roster might be the worst roster assembled in the history of Philadelphia sports.

And this is where I get off the Sam Hinkie subway car while he stays on it until the end.

I think any general manager can pick first-round players, especially ones in the top 10, as the Sixers will get next year with their own pick and perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick. The others, ones coming from the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder will be decent, but not premium players.

I need to see Hinkie find the diamonds in the rough. He traded for Isiah Canaan and the kid has no idea how to play point guard. Since he’s only 6-foot tall, he can’t play the two position either. So basically, Canaan is a waste of my time.

Do you see anyone else on the roster who can be an NBA difference maker? Read more »

Philly’s 5 Creepiest Mascots


We did it, guys. We resurrected Gus.

According to the Pennsylvania Lottery, it was popular demand that brought the state’s “second most famous groundhog” back just in time for the holidays.

“Gus went into semi-retirement in early 2012 after a nearly eight-year run as our instant game ad mascot,” said Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko of the beloved critter in the only press release worth reading. “In the years since, we have continued to hear from players who told us how much they missed Gus and wanted him to return. Simply stated, Gus is a Pennsylvania Lottery institution.”

Damn straight he is, Drew. Damn straight.

Granted, not everyone is happy to see Gus return, which is understandable. (Wrong and heartless and unfeeling, but understandable.) Read more »

Dear Philly: Battered Women Aren’t Sports Mascots

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy (76) leaves the field following a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Eagles won 33-27 in overtime. | Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy leaves the field following a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Eagles won 33-27 in overtime. | Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Philly: Battered women are not your sports mascots.

Like you, I think that Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy is a bad dude. And like you, I’m always going to regard the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane with a certain amount of wariness. But take away their team affiliations — make them two relatively anonymous guys — and I’d still feel that way.

In Philadelphia, though, we seem to treat the transgressions (alleged and otherwise) of our sports rivals as an opportunity to express our fandom. And that’s kind of gross — a conflating of priorities that, at its worst, serves to further objectify women who’ve already been treated and made to feel worthless. Read more »

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