60-Second Critic January 2007

Starbucks at 18th and Market Streets
By Andrew Putz

If you’re one of the millions of Americans whose morning routine includes a stop at some mundanely competent Starbucks, I pity you. You know nothing of the sadistic thrill that comes from ­patronizing the company’s outlet at 18th and Market streets, perhaps the worst Starbucks in America. The distinction has nothing to do with the products served, which are indistinguishable from those you’d find in Pittsburgh or Paducah. No, the problem is architectural and cultural. Small and poorly configured, the location is ill equipped to move people in and out efficiently; peak times feel like the Fall of Saigon. There’s also the matter of customer service. Employees tend to be chatty rather than expeditious, and surly when they biff an order. Maybe this is just the company’s way of helping customers differentiate among its outlets. If so, the plan is succeeding brilliantly. I, for one, cannot think of another Starbucks where the folks behind the counter regularly tell you what you want, rather than the other way around. D-

Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City's Movies
By Irv Slifkin (Middle Atlantic Press; $17.95)

There’s something about seeing your hometown on the silver screen that gives even the most sophisticated movie-watcher gooseflesh. Hey, isn’t that Reading Terminal? City Hall? Dave Roberts? That’s a big part of the appeal of this definitive guide to Philly-area films. Slifkin — a local film writer and occasional Philly Mag contributor — gives the backstory on gems such as Rocky and 12 Monkeys as well as rightfully forgotten dogs like The 13th Child: Legend of the Jersey Devil. His mini-reviews won’t make you forget Pauline Kael, but he compensates with sheer exhaustiveness: The book includes more than 100 films, plus sidebar looks at influential Philadelphians in the movies (including Q&As with Kevin Bacon and David Morse). And yes, that really was weather guy Dave Roberts on the big screen — he played a TV anchor in Brian De Palma’s Blow Out. B+

The Parking Locator
By Victor Fiorillo

When I heard about the dreaded Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new online Parking Locator, which provides lot addresses and rates based on your inputted destination and time of visit, I thought it would be an easy “F” review for this page, since the PPA doesn’t exactly have a track record of doing things that make me happy. But then I tried it. Of course it’s not perfect — the rate information can sometimes be inaccurate — but I have to admit that I can’t stop using it anyway. The Locator guided me to a lot in Chinatown where I paid $1 to park all night, while the suckers I met for dinner paid $22. And my wife thought I was really savvy when I found a $6 lot for our Friday-night date in Center City. And I saved more than $100 in several trips to Jefferson Hospital. This doesn’t make up for all the tickets and tows I’ve been treated to over the years, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. A-