Off the Cuff: August 2007

August gives me the opportunity, since it’s our Best of Philly issue, to pick some of my personal favorites among restaurants and services and so forth. In years past, I’ve singled out Steve & Cookie’s in Margate as my favorite Shore bar and Raymond Partito as the Philadelphia area’s top tailor. Barton & Donaldson are the highest-quality shirtmakers. I’d still call Saloon’s bar upstairs one of the best watering holes in the city, and I think DiBruno’s cheese shop is fabulous.

I’ve got many other favorites, but somehow, picking restaurants and artisans misses something, what I’d call the true, essential spirit of Philadelphia. What is really terrific about the city is a certain civic single-mindedness of purpose, of doing things our way. It’s an attitude that I find admirable, and it is the people who set a certain tone, a level of conduct, who have made us what we are today.

So here are the good, bad and ugly, my Best of Philadelphia choices:

City official at work: One thing about John Street — he certainly gets up early. Then he spends almost an entire day in a beach chair, waiting in line for a new Apple iPhone at an AT&T store. The rising murder rate, economic problems, disastrous schools — hey, that stuff isn’t going away no matter what he does.

Hanging in: Vince Fumo is in a peck of legal trouble, but Ed Rendell still got together with him and hammered out a state budget.

Move: Paul Vallas obviously thinks he has a better shot at fixing the schools in New Orleans than here. Proof — as if we needed any — of what a basket case our schools really are.

Lawyer lost: Bobby Simone’s passing also marks the end of an era. Defend ’em and befriend ’em — that was Bobby’s credo, as he tried to get various mobsters out of trouble and then wound up partying on their boats in Florida. May his soul rest in eternal winning arguments.

CHUTZPA: Donald Trump, with his three aging Atlantic City casinos in and out of bankruptcy and virtually unsalable, selects his 25-year-old daughter, Ivanka, a former model and Wharton grad, to his casino board.

Turnaround: Michael Nutter’s campaign was in deep trouble in January, and then he won the May primary going away. (Thank you, Olivia Nutter.)

Business decision: Brian Tierney letting Citizens Bank run the Business section of the Inquirer. I know, I know — it has no journalistic influence whatsoever. Question: Would we notice the difference?