Thursday, February 24, 2011

PennDot: or where you want to lay down and die

I've been back in Philadelphia for four and half years. In those four and a half years I have clung to my California driver's license. It was a safety net that could carry me back to sunny SoCal. But it was also a foot out the door and today I pulled in that foot and shut the door - for today I exchanged my California driver's license for one from Pennsylvania.

The experience was far more dreadful than expected.

  • People who work at the DMV actually hate you. No, really, they do. They must - because civil and polite behavior is met with grunts and rudeness.
  • When there is a line out the door they decide that three special needs employees (I'm not being mean -they really are special needs) taking license photos is one too many. So they then have only two employees helping one hundred people. 
  • You are constantly getting a new number to put you in a new longer line. 
  • The people sitting next to you - not the creme de la creme of society.
  • These may not, in fact, be facts, per se.
  • Make sure that you have plenty of time to spare. For example two to three hours. 
  • Bring reading material or be content to stare at the grimy floor.
  • Do have all the forms already filled out - it may just save you some mind-numbing wait time.

  • Bring cash. They only take check or money orders.
  • Expect the man next to you to actually bathe or clean his long yellow fingernails.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eye's Gallery - or how you don't have to like mosaics to like this store

  • The Eye's Gallery is located at 402 South St.
  • It began in 1968 after Julia and Isaiah Zagar returned from their two year stint in the Peace Corps in Peru where they worked in craft development.
  • In those early days they lived in the back of the store.
  • They are one of the few businesses on South st from the 60s that is still there.
  • Isaiah Zagar is responsible for a great number of mosaics in Philadelphia and for the Magic Gardens.
  •  Especially peruse the Day of the Dead art. There is a very large selection.
  • Check out all three levels of the store.  

  • Like mosaics? Me neither, but the store has many great things - from plates to glasses to jewelry and clothing.
  • Want to buy from the store? Then take a tour led by Julia to Mexico, India, Guatemala, or Peru. She'll take you to some great spots to buy from the locals.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Philadelphia Movies: Invincible

Why You Should Watch Invincible:

  • It's about Vince Papale, a South Philly walk-on for the 1976 Eagle's season. 

  • It's about Philadelphia, and okay, the Eagles.
  • It's a great nostalgic 70s movie.
  • Men were men. Or at least the people they chose to play them were.
  • Times were tough, like they are now. 
  • There is a couple of scenes with Bachman Turner Overdrive's Let it Ride and it captures the feeling of the movie perfectly.

  • It shows how Philadelphia got a reputation for having tough fans.
  • Mark Wahlberg looks great in tight pants. And tight t-shirts. Tight anything really.
  • I relate to the movie, sort of. Not that I watch football. But if I did, I would absolutely relate.
  • Everyone loves the story of an underdog.
  • Veterans Stadium. RIP.
  • It shows a time where your neighbors were your neighbors. If you needed to use their tv they'd also feed you a huge bowl of pasta.
  • Also watch the bonus features to see the real Vince Papale. On a side note - I can't figure out how they have two such young kids unless Janet was a child bride.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Man Full Of Trouble Tavern - Now Someone's Home?


  • Built in 1759 and is the oldest pre-Revolutionary War tavern remaining.
  • Located at 125-127 Spruce Street it catered to a less than genteel crowd.
  • Was at one point known as the "Man with a Load of Mischief" with a sign of a man giving a woman a piggyback ride, rather than the sign standing today.
  • Throughout its history of successive ownership, the tavern was also a hotel known for their oysters, and a wholesale chicken market.
  • The tavern was renovated and opened for tours in the 1960s and an archaeological dig took place in 1966.
  • The tavern closed to tourists in 1994.
  • The tavern now seems to be a home because when I took these photos I noticed a woman changing her baby on the sofa inside. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Penn Treaty Park: or a park that I had no idea existed but is kind of a big deal

Commemorative marker. Click here for older pictures of the park.
  • William Penn and Lenape Chief Tamanend entered into a peace treaty under an elm on that site in 1683. (Okay, this actually might not be a fact. There is no historical documentation of this specific treaty. But it has become part of our shared history and William Penn was on good terms with the Lenape.)
  • The elm tree was lost to a storm in 1810 but a descendant of the tree was planted there again on May 6, 2010. 
  • The peace treaty was the subject of several famous paintings, including ones by Benjamin West and Edward Hicks.
  • The park became part of the Fairmount park system in 1894.

 To get here:
  • It involves the subway and walking. Take Market-Frankford to the Girard stop. Exit to Girard Ave and walk 4 blocks east to Columbia. Walk to the right a few blocks to Delaware Ave and voila!
  •  Or you can ask a friend with a car to drive. It's much easier that way.
  • Check out the powerful views of the park.  You can see Penn's Landing, the Ben Franklin bridge, and a great city skyline. 
  • Look at this amazing timeline of the park.
    • Know where the park is? Don't worry, I didn't either. It's hidden away in Fishtown at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Beach Street, just off Delaware Avenue.
    • Be fooled by these photos. The park is actually several acres and holds many events, such as a free concert series.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Solar Powered Trash Cans: or a flaw in design as I absolutely refuse to touch one

    • Philadelphia uses BigBelly Solar trash cans.
    • Philadelphia replaced 700 trashcans with 500 BigBelly Solar cans.
    • Philadelphia went from 17 collections a week to 5 collections a week.
    • Philadelphia saved $900,000 in the first year.
    • BigBelly Solar trash cans uses solar power to compact trash up to 5x more than a regular can.
    • BigBelly Solar trash cans have wireless connectivity and monitoring informing the city when the can is full.


    • Big Belly Solar cans require you to touch a handle.
    • These handles are disgusting to touch.
    • People don't want to touch the handle.
    • BigBelly Solar cans should have a pedal that allows people to throw their trash away without having to touch a handle.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Kanella - or how a Greek restaurant has the best English breakfast


    • Kanella is a Greek Cypriot restaurant located at 1001 Spruce Street. (That's 10th and Spruce for those who can't figure it out)
    • The chef Konstantinos Pitsillides grew up in Cyprus and later studied and worked in the London restaurant industry.
    • Pitsillides came to Philadelphia, married a philly native, worked in some popular area restaurants, and then opened Kanella. 
    • His varied menu displays both his Greek/Cypriot heritage and his time spent in London.

    • Try their Lemonnana: half mint tea, half lemonade. All delicious.
    • Try their English Breakfast. It is the best that I've had in the city and at a great price. It's like the ones that I had in London but without making me feel sick afterward.
    • Try and come for lunch during the week - unless it's a Thursday or Friday. Lunch/Brunch is only offered on Thursday-Sunday.
    • Worry - that means you can get your traditional English breakfast on a Thursday - no waiting for the weekend!
    • Only have their English breakfast. I know that I've been going on and on about it. But they have plenty of other tasty food.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Interview with an Knitwear Designer

    Me: Hello, thanks for doing this interview! First thing's first - you're British. Explain Cockney slang to me. No - never mind - more importantly - we won you know.  The Revolutionary war - how does that make you feel?

    Lucy: Like I want to gouge your eyes out with one of my many pairs of knitting needles or crochet hooks. Cor Blimey Govenor, not a polite start!

    Me: Sore loser. Anyway, Why did you move from the UK (United Kingdom to you ignoramuses out there) to Philadelphia?

    Lucy: I moved to Philly to find the Fresh Prince..... No I actually wanted to move to New York, but Anthropologie and Leifsdottir got in there first. I was desperate for a new job and so I was happy to move even though the only things that came to mind when thinking about Philly were The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Philadelphia cream cheese and The Philadelphia Story.

    Me: As it does. What do you think are the best things about Philadelphia?

    Lucy:  KANELLA. My number one vice in Philphie. God that restaurant saved my existence in Philly, along with wonderful friends. Philly is a good place to meet people since it is so small, sort of like a village where everyone knows who you are. Annoying at times! Haha. I love that you can walk everywhere. Night life is a little monotonous, but the restaurants are good, some great cocktail spots too! Wilbur vintage has the best accessories and clothing. I love The Eyes gallery for presents and inspiration. Beaux Arts video was a fave spot for horror films. So gutted it is closing. Makes me angry when small and amazing businesses fold. Grrrrrrrrrrrr
    Being close to New York is a definite plus! Also Philly is a great place to see live music! Cafe 12 has amazing lattes!!! Supreme my friends!

    Me: I'm sure we all agree.  How did you get into knitting? It's something I tend to think is something old people do - or people with lots of cats.

    Efterklang. Collaboration by Lucy & Natasha. Lucy designed the sweaters on each end
    Lucy: Well, I am not old and I do not have cats. It is possible that I have been Possessed by my dead Knitting Nanny?? So my Mum used to knit alot when I was little, but Knitting Nanny (obviously called Knitting Nanny as she Knitted....ALOT!) probably ingrained this yarn obsession into me when she used to knit shockingly disgusting kids jumpers for me when I was little. Nanny was a Knitting and crochet, technical Designer.

    Lucy: It was actually my Mum who thought I should get into knitting and take it up as a degree. I started out in painting, but always was drawn to Fashion and textiles. If my Mum and I did not discuss me taking Fashion Knitwear as a degree and taking it on as a career, who knows if I would be this happy now?

    Me: It's funny that knitting is now on the leading edge of fashion. How do you keep up to date with trends?

    Lucy: I try to not be too consumed by Vogue, Style and all the generic catwalk websites. It is great to do that and to look at magazines for trends, but I feel like trend becomes more interesting when you can make them yourself. This has to come from looking at books, blogs, art, Everyday life and people. Imagination and abstract thought is vital for me. is a great Fashion Knitwear blog. Pitti Filatti, Florence Italy is one of the best Yarn and Knitwear exhibitions. A really good place for trend. I am really inspired by new designers. I think researching new graduates collections is a great place to find new trend. These are the people who are pushing the boundaries and making Knitwear exciting and challenging! I think the V&A museum in London is a wonderful research space for both historical and modern ideas. You need both to make something extraordinary and out of the box.

    Me: Excellent.  This makes me want to knit! Thank you for your time!

    Catwalk piece created for Moonspoon Saloon AW 2011 show at Copenhagen Fashion week by Lucy

    • Check out Lucy's blog.
    • Want to be knitwear designer? Check out programs that include industry internships.
    • Push yourself to explore all kinds of knitting possibilities!
    • Research and Network constantly. Half the game is about who you know.
    • Collaborate.

    • Think that knitting is just a hobby. Being a knitwear designer can be lucrative and your designs can be shown on the runway.
    • Be afraid to push the boundaries of knitting. You can knit with anything. We have moved on from the basic sock and merino wool guys!!! So don't be afraid!
    • Don't do this if you think it is going to be easy. It is challenging and ongoing. Perfection takes a lifetime!!
    • Don't give up if you make mistakes. Professionals have been known to create entire garments and then pull them apart. It is good to do this! 

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Update on a Fountain

    I posted last week about a hidden fountain. Turns out that the snow and my poor eyesight hid more than I had realized.

    Rather than For Our Gentle Friends - it actually says Drink Gentle Friends. And with further snow melting - it shows the date and inscription.
    See an original photo here:
    It makes this water fountain for horses a little sweeter - that it's in memorial for Annie L Lowry who was an avid supporter of the WPSPCA.

    • Annie L Lowry was a resident of Philadelphia. She had been brought up as a Lutheran, married an attorney and later became a member of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
    • Her executor Elwood Bonsall, Esq managed her donation requests and she had two buildings on separate Lutheran campuses in Topton and Tressler named after her in 1911 and 1923 respectively. Each was called The Annie L Lowry Memorial Infirmary.
    • Today the Lutheran Social Ministries is known as Diakon. Only the Topton building remains and now houses some of Diakon's children services.
    • Annie L Lowry was known as the "mother" of American Presbyterian churches due to her generous donations.
    • She died at 85 years of age on August 1, 1908 and left $5000 for care of her pets.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Interview with a Taxidermist!

    Me: So, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I have to say, when I think of taxidermy and women - well, I guess I just don't.
    Me: But if I did think of taxidermy and women - I would have expected you to be some po-faced goth. You're absolutely not,  - but - tell me - do you worship the devil?

    Beth: I worship at the altar of good fortune.  Taxidermy has traditionally been a male-dominated craft (however behind every successful taxidermist I'd bet my salt you could find a nimble-fingered wife scraping fat and stitching up rugs) but times have certainly changed.  That couldn't be more evident than in the alterna-taxidermy scene where  women like Sarina Brewer dominate.  But no – no devil worshiping.

    Me: I didn't really think you did. But I'm still not removing this cross.

    Beth: Suit yourself.  Just don't let me catch you wearing Uggs. 

    Me: Too late! You went to school in the Poconos - was it like the movie Deliverance?  Were you afraid for your life?

    Beth: I was living in a mountain house which belonged to my two friends Warren and RJ (it's actually been featured in Elle Decor  and Shelter Pop ).   The property was an old pig farm and I had plenty of land to roam around as well as an empty farmhouse where I could rehearse my aerial dance routines (I’m a trained aerialist as well as a State- and Federally-licensed taxidermist). 

    Beth:  I think I can safely say it was nothing like Deliverance (although I've never actually seen that movie) - but  I did develop a real soft spot for contemporary country music.  As for the people, I found the kindness of strangers permeating every facet of everyday life there.  I felt completely safe and at ease.  Nighttime could be a different story, however – when you're completely alone, living in the mountains and you hear coyotes just outside, it can be slightly unnerving.

    Me: You were brave! I think that some people would believe that taxidermy is a sick hobby about dead animals. But I know that you have two living cats at home and that you love them. Why taxidermy?
    Photo by James Coughlin

    Beth: I love animals and believe that their beauty should be preserved. My cats mean the world to me; I've always had pets and spent many hours of my life watching them, mostly in awe.  By working with animals I have a deeper appreciation for how they're formed, what makes them tick, how they move and all the wonderful little nuances nature has installed into them which makes each creature so unique and awe-inspiring.  Through my craft I also enjoy a greater sense of responsibility when it comes to eating meat and wearing animal by-products. I use nearly every single part of the animal, either to feed myself or my pets. And one standard I always uphold is to source every specimen humanely and ethically. While this does make obtaining specimen a bit harder, I have a clear conscience when I do create a piece. When you meet your meat, so to speak, waste is not an option.

    Me: I've seen your work - and it is incredible. Do animal rights activists ever hassle you?

    Beth: Not that I care to acknowledge.  I wrote a lengthy blog entry about my philosophy in regard to my work and the reactions of others.

    Me:  Lastly, do you think that by posing animals with jewelry and outfits that you are actually enriching their afterlife? Do you think animals have an afterlife?
    Photo by James Coughlin

    Beth: I have no idea if any of us have an afterlife.  I just recently read about the mummified Japanese monks known as Sokushinbutsu and found it touching that the monks who are able to reach a state of pure mummyism achieve idol status and their remains are tended to and watched over by devotees for eternity.  I wondered if this was for the monks themselves or more for the caretakers, and I'm at a loss.   If animals do have an afterlife, I can't imagine they'd care that much what has been done with their bodies.  I suppose it's my way of idolizing them for eternity, as a postmortem care taker.

    Me: Thank you for your time!

    • Check out Beth Beverly's website and blog
    • Think a little more carefully the next time you see something dead on the sidewalk. One man's roadkill could be another man's art.

    • Think you can tell someone's occupation just by looking at them. Taxidermists look just like you and me. They're among us!
    • Have a gift for Valentine's day? One of Beth Beverly's unique pieces would be an incredible gift!

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Di Bruno Bros: or a good place to get cheese


    • Di Bruno Bros began with two brothers originally from Italy opening a grocery store in 1939 at 930 S. 9th Street.
    • They became Di Bruno Bros "House of Cheese", a gourmet cheese and meat store in 1965 to combat the spread of the big supermarket chains.
    • Still a family run business, it now encompasses a variety of specialty goods from all over the world.

    • Visit the original location at 930 s 9th street (I'm not just saying that because they have some good looking guys working there. Okay, I am.)
    • Ask for advice on the right cheese and/or meat. They are extremely helpful and good looking. (Wait, did I already mention good looking?)
    •  Buy some warm bread to go with your cheese. It's made down the street in the Italian Market.
    • Ask for a sample.

    • Feel like walking to the Italian Market? Visit one of their other locations, including Rittenhouse Square and the Comcast Center. 
    • Feel like cooking? Try their cafe or purchase their ready-made meals at the Rittenhouse location.
    • Like olives? Yeah, me neither. But they have a vast selection. 
    To order online or learn more, visit their website.

    Get ready for tomorrow's Interview with a Taxidermist!

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    The Italian Market: or where you can find a lot of stuff that you forgot that you needed

    • Philadelphia's Italian Market is the oldest and largest working outdoor market in the United States. (Take that everywhere else!)
    • There are over 100 merchants.
    • You can buy at minimum: poultry, meat, pasta, produce, baked goods, and spices.
    • The Italian Market stars in In Her Shoes and Invincible.
    • The Italian Market in on 9th street and runs from Fitzwater to Wharton.

    • Try Lorenzo's Pizza. It's among my favorite's in Philly.
    • Shop at Fante's. It will make you want to cook and/or bake just so that you have an excuse to buy that amazing pan.
    • Browse at Molly's Bookstore at 1010 S. 9th St.
    • Try and get Lorenzo's Pizza delivered. They only do carry out.
    • Be afraid of the hipsters. They tend to stick to Anthony's Italian Coffee House. 
    • Correction: Hipsters hang out at Gleaner's. My bad. 
    For Thursday: Di Bruno Bros

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Termini Bros Bakery: Or super friendly really south philly

    • The original Termini brothers came to America from Sicily in 1921.
    • Termini Bros opened their first location in 1921 (now Mr. Joe's Cafe).
    • They moved to their flagship location in 1938 at 1523 S 8th Street.
    • The s 8th location has all the original cases, floor tiles, ceilings and work benches.

    • Check out their Art Deco sign and entrance.
    • Come on a Saturday to listen to two older gentlemen play Italian music on their guitar and accordion.
    • Come in for a free sample.
    • Try their famous cannoli (singular cannolo), cream cakes and Italian cookies.

      • Come on a Saturday if you don't like to listen to two older gentlemen play Italian music on their guitar and accordion. (Actually they're not there every Saturday)
      • Feel like walking all the way to south philly? Visit one of their four other locations, including the Comcast Center and the Reading Terminal Market.
      • Be shy to ask about their baked goods which are made on the premises. Peach is especially helpful.
      • Be fooled into thinking that this is a small bakery. Termini Bros extends into several buildings.
      Original mixer still in use today. The machine, not the man in the background.

      Click on for more information.

      Monday, February 7, 2011

      Interview On Wheels

      Me: Thanks for doing this interview. First, and most important - are you in a wheelchair because you're just too lazy to walk? it because you get your own stall in public bathrooms?

      Walter: You’re welcome… Anything I can do to get my 15 minutes. I want to be the Snookie of wheelchair folk.
      Walter: Actually, it’s an amazing workout and cheaper than joining a gym. Have you seen my guns?

      Me: I guess that answers my question of why manual and not electric.

      Walter: Seriously, though, I flipped a car when I was 14 while driving back from feeding my neighbors’ horses and broke my back. Sometimes I get bored with that answer, so I make up a more interesting story that better suites the moment. In this case, it was a freak blogging accident.

      Me: That really wasn't the answer that I was expecting. I mean, I expected the blogging accident but not the car flipping.

      Walter: Cripples are full of surprises…

      Me: My apartment building has several levels of stairs but no elevator. Are you going to sue my landlord?

      Walter: Probably not. I’d win the lawsuit, own the building, and I’d hate to raise your rent. You pay way too little. I really don’t want to do that to you.

      Me: You are as generous as you are handsome. So no elevator for me? That's too bad. Carting up groceries can be a real pain.

      Walter:  Consider yourself lucky. Do you know how many elevator related injuries occur the United States, alone? It’s safer for you this way. Trust me, that’s how I ended up in this wheelchair.

      Me: Actually, speaking of elevators and and accidents...

      Me: As an architect, and I don't know if you're any good because I haven't seen your stuff, but barring that, are you more aware of designing with wheelchair accessible options?

      Walter: First, let me clarify that I’m an architectural consultant, not an architect. I don’t have my architectural license which means I am not liable for any building I design, falling down and putting you in wheelchair. 

      Walter: Most of the projects I design are houses and unless that house is being built specifically for someone in a wheelchair, I don’t necessarily force my accessibility agenda on them. I probably don’t like the people that are living there anyway, so why would I visit? BUT, universal design (that’s the correct term for designing spaces with the feeble, infirm, and elderly in mind) is usually a good design element to incorporate into a new home. It increases resale value and broadens the potential buyer base. Also, if this is the last place you plan on living, having a house that can accommodate decrepitude and hospice with minimal remodels makes life a little bit easier on everyone waiting for you to die.

      Me: Not only handsome and generous, but also smart! Where in Philadelphia would you say are some wheelchair friendly spots? And where are the worst (not counting my apartment building)?

      Walter: Actually, the museums here are quite accessible. Don’t let those Rocky stairs fool you, there’s a rear entry with an elevator. (Obese people are lazy, too.) If you’re the outdoorsy type, the River walk is quite lovely, but watch out for bikers, especially the ones dressed in spandex. Penn’s Landing is also a great place to visit. It’s at a slight incline there, so it’s a lovely, graceful coast. Coming back’s an uphill climb, so beware. My personal favorite is to sit in Rittenhouse Square on sunny Spring or Fall day with a box of wine, watching people and judging them. Seriously, how could someone with any self-worth play hacki-sack or four-square? 
      Walter, not in Rittenhouse Square

      Walter: Anywhere in Old City is a nightmare to get around. Between the cobblestone streets and the bridge and tunnel crowd, it’s hardly worth the effort. Plus, you have to remember Old City is old. Cripples died back then, so there was no need to accommodate them.

      Me: True, and Old City on Friday and Saturday nights is a nightmare in general.
      Me: Lastly, do people give you free things because you're in a wheelchair? Will you give me free things because you're in a wheelchair?

      Walter: They don’t give me free things because I’m in a wheelchair. They give me free things because I’m attractive.  
      Walter: I would give you free stuff, but I’m a radical feminist and don’t want to oppress you with my overbearing, misogynistic charity.

      Me: That's very thoughtful of you, Walter.  So on that note,  thanks for the interview!

      Walter: It was my pleasure. Let’s do this again, soon. I’m sure your viewers would love to hear the plight of a Southern farm boy living in the genteel-lessness of Philadelphian urbanity.

      Me: Please don't try and steal my audience.

      • Talk loudly to people in wheelchairs. Obviously they also can't hear.
      • Stare at people in wheelchairs. Everyone loves to be stared at.
      • Point. It is even better.

      On a serious note: Do:
      • Hold the door open. (You should be doing that for everyone anyway)
      • Wear your seat belt. We don't care if it wrinkles your suit or dress.
      • Check on your wheelchair friends during a storm. 

      • Ask if it works. 
      • Bring up your own sob story. No, really, it doesn't compare.
      • Sit on a person in a wheelchair's lap without first asking.
      I hope she asked...

      • Start pushing someone's wheelchair without permission.
      • Assume that if they're in a wheelchair that they must love Artie on Glee.

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Winter Woes: Or somebody is trying to kill me by not clearing the sidewalk

      Facts as per the City of Philadelphia:
      • According to the Philadelphia Code (10-720), "... the owner, agent, and tenants of any building or premise shall clear a path of not less than 36 inches in width on all sidewalks abutting the building or premises within 6 (six) hours after the snow has ceased to fall. The path shall be thoroughly cleared of snow and ice. "
      • The penalty for violating this provision can range from "a minimum fine of fifty dollars ($50) to no more than three hundred dollars ($300) for each violation."
      • To report a sidewalk or curb cut that has not been cleared, residents may call the Streets Department Customer Affairs Unit at (215) 686-5560.  For all City services dial 3-1-1.   

        Seriously - has the city not visited South Philadelphia? I slipped twice trying to navigate my way. And in Queen Village? There are stretches of thick ice that require ice cleats and maybe even some grapples and hooks. It's like that movie Sanctum, but without me being crazy and in a deep cave. But it's definitely death-defying.

        Hopefully the higher temperatures of today will take care of the problem that the city didn't.

        Get ready for Monday's Interview on Wheels!

        Saturday, February 5, 2011

        For Our Gentle Friends

        I am obsessed with water features. Fountains? Yes, please!

        • Philadelphia is filled with huge and impressive fountains, many of which were sponsored by the Philadelphia Fountain Society.  (Which may or may not be a mysterious cult, because I cannot find much online information about this society.)  
        • Philadelphia's more popular fountains were large affairs designed by famous artists (like Calder and Lipchitz). 
        • I do not have many more facts about this particular topic because I just really wanted to share with you the fountain below.
        But what about the small humble fountains that we walk by everyday without paying any attention? Seriously, what about them?
        3rd between South and Bainbridge

        In the winter the fountain above is easy to miss, snow covered and weathered. But it has an endearing inscription: For Our Gentle Friends.
        Which I guess to refers to non-rabid animals or simple-minded humans. But whatever the case, it's very nice. I couldn't find any information on this particular fountain so you'll just have to enjoy without knowing more. Or purchase this book - though there is no guarantee that this fountain is in it.

        Extra Fact: 
        • There are other small fountains spread throughout the city dedicated to animals. There is a horse trough on 3rd and Arch "Presented by a Lady" with the words, "Give Us Water That We May Drink" emblazoned on it.

        Friday, February 4, 2011

        Ode to Two Philadelphia Chain Restaurants

        Dear Chipotle ,
        I don't care if you were/are owned by McDonald's or Satan himself; I love you.
        I love your burritos and your refillable drinks.
        I love that you are cheaper than that second class Qdoba.
        I even love your design.
        Mostly I love that you are now on 15th and Walnut.

        Dear Chick-fil-a,
        I don't judge you about your politics; I love you.
        I love your chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.
        I love that someone comes to my table with my food and offers to get me a refill.
        I don't love that you are closed on Sundays.
        Mostly I love your location at 2204 S Columbus Blvd.

        • Go to the Chipotle at 1512 Walnut. The one on 39th is filled with a young crowd - which is fine if you're into self-absorbed Penn students. 
        • Try and ignore the calorie count on the Chipotle menu signs. Unless that helps you with your bulemia.
        • Go to the Chick-fil-a on Columbus Blvd. It's a longer walk or bus ride, but I've been to the one at Liberty Place and it just isn't as nice.

        • Think that just because Chipotle and Chick-fil-a are good, that other fast food restaurants in the city are also as enjoyable.  (The Burger King at 1521 Columbus Blvd was particularly horrendous. Their meat did not smell like meat.)
        • Judge me because I like Chick-fil-a and Chipotle. Guess what? I also like Red Robin but there's not one in the city.
        • Know how to pronounce chipotle? Watch this awesome Jack in the Box (yes, another fast food chain) commercial.

        Thursday, February 3, 2011

        Fitzwater Cafe - Or don't you dare steal my lunchspot

        • Fitzwater Cafe started out in 1992 as a takeout pastry shop.
        • Before it was a cafe or pastry shop it was a gas station.
        • The owners did all of the renovation design work themselves.
        • In 1998 Fitzwater opened for sit-down breakfast and lunch service.
        • The owners of Fitzwater Cafe also own Saloon right across the street.

        • Bring cash. If you bring credit you'll be sorry. Really, really sorry.
        • Try their french toast - it is honestly the best I've ever had. 
        • Try their chicken cutlet sandwich. I don't care if you're a vegetarian - it's that good.
        • Try their baked goods - they are all baked in house by their pastry chef Lawrence Irvin.

        • Tell other people. Seriously, it's crowded enough on weekends.
        • Try to get lunch after 2:15 - the kitchen is closed.
        • Worry about breaking the bank for breakfast or lunch. Prices are really reasonable and portions are big. 

        Fitzwater Cafe is located at 728 South 7th Street, on Fitzwater at 7th.

        Wednesday, February 2, 2011

        Interview With Wilbur Vintage: Or where to go to buy awesome things

        Me: Thanks for the interview. So tell me, how did you get the name Wilbur for your vintage store? Is it because you love Charlotte's Web?

        Dan: Actually, I never saw that cartoon. In grade school through high school kids used to call me WILBUR THE PIG or they'd say WILLLLLLLLBURRRRRR like the horse, Mr. Ed, so I never felt the need to watch Charlotte's Web.

        Me: Oh.

        Dan: WILBUR is my last name. Crazy, right?

        Me: Are you actually the heir to the Wilbur chocolate fortune?

        Dan: If that were the case I wouldn't be selling my wares at WILBUR! I'd be painting the town in chocolate.

        Me: Oh. Well, then. Thank you for your time... 
        Me: Just kidding, though I don't deny that I'm disappointed. Anyway, I'm sure that you are constantly asked, "Where do you get your stuff?" So, where do you get your stuff?"

        Dan: Little vintage elves stock my racks and shelves with goodies daily.

        Me: Okay, I guess...
        Me: I'm looking around your store and you have a very keen sense of style and taste. I've read your yelp reviews and they are very impressive.
        What should I know about your store if I'm a first time customer?

        Dan: Don't leave without spending at least $200.00.

        Me: If people read this blog, and why wouldn't they, will you offer them any sort of discount for mentioning it when they buy something at Wilbur Vintage? And will I get a kick-back?

        Dan: Sure, Gail, everyone who mentions your blog will get 15% off their first purchase. And, as for your kick-back, I promise to read and comment on your blog daily.

        Me: Thanks, you're a prince among men.
        Wilbur Vintage is located at 716 S 4th street 4th between Bainbridge and Monroe in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia.
        How to get there:
        Walk. Or take the bus (horrors). Or take the subway Market-Frankford line (shudder) to 2nd and Market and still end up walking.
        Prices: It's not a thrift store, so don't expect to walk away with things for mere pennies. However, everything is very reasonably priced.
        store photo by  Winston J. Alford-Hamburg
        • Feel free to ask Dan for his opinion - he's always honest and will tell you if what you're wearing is flattering.
        • Check out his window displays - they are fresh and original.
        • Make sure to take your time while looking through his jewelry and accessories. If you're not careful you may just miss that owl necklace that you've been craving.
        • Leave the door open. What, were you raised in a barn?
        • Bring in food - first it's rude. Unless you brought enough to share with everyone. Second - it's dirty. No one wants to touch where your grubby hands smudged. 
        • Speaking of grubby hands - if you bring your children don't let them run amok.
        • Speak loudly on your cell phone. You're not that interesting.
        • Just enter without saying hello. It's a civil pleasant environment. Please keep it that way.
        Read more about Wilbur Vintage on his blog:

          Tuesday, February 1, 2011

          Reading Terminal Market - or where there is the occassional good looking Amish guy in suspenders

          • The Reading Terminal Market opened in 1893.
          • The last train departed the Reading station on November 6, 1984.
          • The terminal is now part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center (It's kind of a depressing area as far as other things to see).
          • The train shed is the oldest in the world. (I'm not really sure what a train shed is).
          • The Reading Market has over 80 different merchants.
          How to Get Here:
          Walk, you lazy fools!
          Located on 12th and Filbert (or near enough - just pass the guy in the wheelchair asking for money)

          • Visit the Fair Food Farmstand (local, organic food including dairy, meat, and produce and open 7 days a week)
          • Visit the Amish food stands like Miller's Twist for the best Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels. Or try Lancaster Co Dairy which has delicious strawberry lemonade (and a gorgeous Amish grandson).
          • Try Bassetts ice cream (America's oldest ice cream company!) - especially the banana flavor.
          • Produce at Iovine Brothers (if you can avoid the geriatric rush)
          • Try to visit the Amish stands from Sunday to Tuesday (they're off tilling the fields or something).
          • Go on weekends (it's all tourists who mill around bleating like sheep)
          • Go hungry if you're there to shop. (You may find yourself walking out with a pound of cherry dream whip or chocolate pudding when you came in for some spring onions.)