Articles for the Month of November 2014

Philly Living: My Car is Gone!…But the Pile of Trash on the Sidewalk Beside it…is Still There.

Pile of trash beside the empty spot where my stole car was parked.

Philadelphia living comes with its ups and downs. However, lately, there seem to be more downs than ups.  My partner and I live in a neighborhood popular for being in a constant state of transition. Once known for its 19th century factories and charming brick buildings, The Loft District is now the neighborhood of bushy bearded twenty & thirty somethings who wear ironic T-shirts while walking their rescued pitbulls to their exorbitantly expensive cars. However, despite the lofty name, the crime and the problems have not subsided. (Well, aren’t they disappointed.)

As gentrification sets in and property values soar, the local government has yet to address the real issues that plague Philadelphia neighborhoods like ours. The city we live in today almost feels like the Philadelphia of the 1970s my mother described-when Philadelphia was littered with political corruption, failing schools, crime, drugs, trash and poverty. Is Philadelphia going backward?

Families are still struggling to find work, hot meals and a good education to stop the cycle of poverty. Many Philadelphians feel the city is neglecting their needs and families are suffering as a result. How is it that our city can afford a $500 million project to bring high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus along Market street for the affluent transplants, but can’t ensure our streets aren’t covered in litter or crime? Shoot, I’d settle for my car simply being where I left it the night before, which leads me to another personal story.

Let me start by saying my father was a Philadelphia K-9 cop and I was raised to respect and appreciate police officers. However, lately I agree with the popular consensus that Philadelphia’s men in blue have many improvements to make. Unfortunately, the last few times my partner and I felt it necessary to call the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), they either came hours late, came unprepared or didn’t show up at all. My favorite line from an officer,

“Well, we are an hour late because Obama is in town.”

Really? You’re gonna blame your willingness to be late and rude on President Obama? Take some responsibility, people!

Infuriatingly, in this particular instance, the PPD responded over an hour late to a frightening domestic violence call made on behalf of a neighbor and her infant. When the police officers finally arrived, they showed very little urgency or concern to ensure the poor woman’s safety. Sadly, we weren’t shocked by their lack of investment, but we were all equally outraged.

Just a week after the above mentioned incident, my partner and I awoke to find our humble Honda CRV stolen and right next to the empty parking spot was the rather large pile of trash I regrettably had to park beside the night before. This rather large pile of trash sat on the crumbling sidewalk for over 2 months. As a side note, the city was called several times and still today the pile sits untouched. Some would say, move it yourself. My response is, how is it that in a city where wage taxes are higher than most, property taxes are on the rise and police are chronically late to 911 calls, can I wake up to my car stolen, but the pile of trash that sat beside it still untouched? That’s not why we pay our taxes, and that is not why we elect political representation to speak out on our behalf in the hopes they will fight for our families safety and security.  My second favorite response from the Philadelphia Police,

“Don’t think you’ll be seeing you’re stuff again.”

Thanks for the hope, and the advice. Maybe he didn’t blatantly say not to count on him, but we certainly got the message.

No one is asking for handouts or magical Harry Potter politics. I think many Philadelphia families would just settle for a good job, and a city that protects them.

Joblessness in Philadelphia is increasing while other major cities are adding jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Philadelphia’s unemployment rose steadily from 5.7 percent in September of 2013 to 7.1 percent in September of 2014 as the national unemployment rate dropped to just 5.9. The Bureau predicts the national trend will continue. However, the trend in Philadelphia may lead to the domino effects of a suffering local economy.

As nation braces itself for one of the coldest winters in history, there is an alarming number of Philadelphians facing a bitter winter of food, housing and job insecurity. According to Philabundance, a local organization that responds to the critical needs of the Delaware Valley by increasing access to emergency food for food insecure families, while joblessness increases more than13 percent of Philadelphians – or nearly 200,000 people – live in deep poverty and a city littered with both crime and trash.

We need our city government to work for us. We need our city government to fight tirelessly to bring jobs back to our city, rather than make excuses for why their broken promises stay broken.

 

 

Philly’s own, Amos Lee, sings on The Sons of Anarchy

Amos Lee

Philadelphia singer songwriter, Amos Lee, and the Forrest Rangers share their petroleum and honeyed version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Boots of Spanish Leather.’

The Son’s of Anarchy house band, The Forrest Rangers, chose Lee, one of Philadelphia’s musical unsung hero’s, to construct a brassy and yet smooth take on Dylan’s 1964 hit for the show’s upcoming episode titled “Faith & Despondency.”

Lee’s popularity has grown internationally as he has become known for his emotive vocals, sweet runs and raw lyrics-Such a fiery combination of talents seems fitting when paired with the powerfully acclaimed show, The Son’s of Anarchy.

When listening to the collaboration, it’s almost impossible to ignore the sweet melancholy of Lee’s voice and the beautiful sting of the steel guitar, while Dylan’s heart wrenching lyrics cascade throughout. This collaboration is truly inspired.