Night Market is Back!

Philly China Town Skyline
Night Market is back!!
This urban phenomenon is essentially a street food festival that travels to different neighborhoods just in time for Thursday evening happy hour. 

The Food Trust has announced dates and locations for Night Market 2015. So get your tastebuds ready, it’s gonna be a fun ride as trucks serving everything from traditional burgers to tricked out gourmet dishes, wine and designer beer. This is a food revolution to some and an urban spectacle for others, as hundreds of people push bumper to bumper under street lights to see why each line to the food trucks is longer than the last. Yes, many would argue the yummy food is worth having to navigate the busy crowd swilled with libations. Why not? It only happens a few times a year.

The fifth year of Night Market, really kicks off May 14 on South Street West. The market will hit Callowhill in June, Lancaster Avenue in August and Fishtown in October. 

Sadly, no Chinatown this year. But, there are plenty of new & exciting destinations.

Want to try some great food, good music and long lines. You can join the Food Trust’s Night Market email list for updates.

Winter 2015, The Squatter that won’t leave.

 

First day of Spring on Spring Garden Street in Center City a Philadelphia.

First day of Spring on Spring Garden Street in Center City Philadelphia.Winter 2015, the squatter that won’t leave.

It’s been a long cold winter season filled with frozen sidewalks, ice and fizzled snow storms. Philly has earned a few days of uninterrupted sunshine. However, the already lagging season of cold weather won’t take a hint. Winter just won’t leave. How rude.
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To add insult to injury, today, the official first day of Spring, has thoroughly given into the pressures of the self involved season of winter as clouds once again sweep across the Philly skyline. No more fizzled storms. The first day of Spring has ushered in only its second bonafide snow storm. Offering gusts of wind carrying a blanket of tiny wet fakes of frozen pollution, Spring is a no show.
Again, how rude.
At least that’s how Philly Pre-teen, Dwayne feels. Spring had given the cold shoulder and he feels nothing but a cold chill on the first day of Spring.
Dwayne from Philly

Dwayne from Philly

Begging the obvious question moaned up to Zeus, the Cloud Gathering God of Thunder, how much can the City of Brotherly Love stand?
(Crickets…followed by snow in the face.)
“At least another 24hrs,” says all major television news networks.
Yeah, thanks for nothing Spring.
 And, Winter go home, you’re drunk.
Signed,
Philly be frozen!

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.

Gloria Casarez, Gone Too Soon.

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Gloria Casarez, appointed Philadelphia’s first director of the city’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs in 2008, passed away this weekend after a long hard battle with cancer. She was 42.

Following Casarez’s appointment as the head of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, she was the driving force in establishing the Mayor’s Advisory Board on LGBT Affairs.

Casarez’s helped to shape the future of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights and policy throughout the city. She worked tirelessly from inside the walls of City Hall and on the streets of Philadelphia. Casarez was a founding member of housing rights organization Empty the Shelters before becoming a coordinator for the LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before her time at City Hall, Casarez was executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI) in Philadelphia for nearly a decade, beginning in 1999.

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Monday afternoon, Mayor Michael Nutter on behalf of the Administration honored Casarez with an emotional flag-lowering ceremony at City Hall.

“Gloria was a fun, serious, strong and kind person who always wanted to do more for others and who fought for equality of rights for all people,” Nutter offered in the statement. “She was a clear, strong voice to the LGBTQcommunity in Philadelphia and across America.”

Philly OutFest 2014

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Philly OutFest 2014 is still one of the hottest rainbow tickets in town. And it’s Free!
Once a year during the ides of October, just as leaves begin to turn welcoming the fall season, Philly puts on a block party fit for kings and queens.

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The Gayborhood overflowed with music, glitter, rainbows and an abundance of pride as Philly OutFest 2014 pumped up the volume. DJ’s blasted music from every corner as people danced in the streets. However, there wasn’t just dancing. Performers sang and entertained the crowd and community organizations whose missions are to support the LGBTQI community such a the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF), The Attic a Youth a Center and COMHAR reached out to LGBTQI festival goers to provide information and support.

COMHAR employee

COMHAR Employee

Everyone was welcome and throughout the day the crowd grew thousands thick. It appeared everyone had come out to celebrate. Midway through the day, The party spilled out from Tabu along 12th street, between Locust and Walnut streets, just in time to remind the crowd dancing is essential to celebrating gay pride.

Dancing festival goers

Dancing festival goers

If nibbling on some tasty treats is more you speed, vendors lined the streets offering up rainbow trinkets and delights from classic festival foods hotdogs, burgers, falafel to food truck treasures.

Shane Rubin, Temple Student.

Shane Rubin, Temple Student.

Shane Rubin, a local Temple University student, was bursting with Pride when I spoke to her at OutFest. Rubin said,”It’s an amazing experience. It’s a place where you feel love and see people with awesome hair!”

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Last year, the 2013 Philly OutFest had a large turnout, and this year may have been even larger. If this year’s event is any indication of next year, 2015 will most likely be a blowout.

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The U.S. Military & Temple Students Fight Against Sexual Assault

Female Cadet & Temple Student reads empowering statements on t-shirts written by fellow students.

University and college campuses have served as purveyors of change & political progress for decades. Now, the American Armed Forces and University campuses combine forces in fighting a common enemy, a staggering rate of sexual assault standing at 18 percent to date. In response to the growing concern of sexual assault within the ranks of the United States Military, as well as on hundreds of college campuses across the country, Temple University’s Army ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) members, are working to provide resources to support victims of sexual assault by creating a network of platforms to ultimately stop the violence.

Alexander Lassoff, ROTC cadet and Temple Student says,”The Army and University entities are taking a stand against Rape, sexual harassment and assault,” by forming SHARP(Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention) and enacting a zero tolerance policy to work alongside University a Wellness Centers to increase support for students and cadets alike.

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As part of awareness, the Temple University ROTC, The Wellness Center and other university student agencies are out and about on campus for The Clothesline Project. On Wednesday, October 8th through October 10th they will be encouraging students to speak out against violence by painting t-shirts with statements of empowerment while offering information on how to prevent and seek help against abuse.

Male and female Temple ROTC cadets work together to fight sexual assault on campus and in the military.

Male and female Temple ROTC cadets work together to fight sexual assault on campus and in the military.

ROTC Cadet, Alexander Lassoff, added the U.S. Army is mandating that all commanding officers down to cadets be trained on how to “compassionately and appropriately deal with all types of assault in the Military from Rape, domestic violence to child abuse.” As thousands of complaints of the U.S. Military commanders neglecting assault victims mounted in the past, the Military vows to support all victims of violence within their ranks and to keep their fellow soldiers safe.

For more information please got to www.PreventSexualAssault.army.mil or call their hotline at 1-877-995-5247.

Shonda Rhimes Runs Thursday Night Must See TV

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The Thursday night premier of How to Get Away With Murder, was a hit. The premier prompted positive responses throughout Facebook & Twitter as audiences were riveted by Shonda Rhimes’ new Thursday night lineup. The overwhelming feedback was that How to Get Away With Murder appears to be an interesting mix of styles from Grey’s Anatomy to Scandal. Shonda hit the nail on the head with her characters who are young and compelling- capturing a wide demographic. Not to mention the show has a certain historic cashe as it is set right here in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

Shonda Rhimes, the prolific producer behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal has done it again. How to Get Away With Murder, was all the buzz leading up to, during and hours after  premier on 6abc Thursday night. This is possibly the best revenge in response to a New York Times failed feature designed to put the spotlight on Rhimes’ ability to break down stereotypes essentially reduced the prolific showrunner to an “angry black woman.”

Social media was popping after The New York Times story went viral as audiences were furious and frustrated with what was perceived as the authors careless and linear view of women of color. The story haplessly gave Rhimes back-handed compliments, thus perpetuating stereotyping of black women as “angry,” rather than driven, talented and rightfully successful-in Rhimes’s case.

In response, producers and stars from all three shows gathered Saturday night in Hollywood to kickoff the fall’s Shondaland “TGIT” programming block. At this viewing, The Hollywood Reporter asked stars to describe Rhimes in three words and no one uttered “angry black woman. Here’s what they had to say about Shonda Rhimes,

Kerry Washington, Scandal
Brilliant, compassionate, courageous

Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Innovative, courageous, visionary

Kevin McKidd, Grey’s Anatomy
Inspirational, intuitive, deeply passionate

Bellamy Young, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal
Genius life-changer

Tom Verica, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder
Beautiful, gifted, powerful

Caterina Scorsone, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice
Kaleidoscopic, nuanced, compassionate

Brian Sims Love Park Rally in Philly

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PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Brian Sims is galvanizing the LGBTQ communities as more than 300 people took part in a his Love Park rally advocating for Hate Crime legislation in PA. Sims and his supporters at the rally demanded protections for LGBT people be added in Pennsylvania’s hate-crime law. The rally was organized by Sims in response to the recent attack on two gay men in Center City Philadelphia, his legislative district.

Sims said, “There are some in Harrisburg who object to restoring sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the hate-crime law. But they haven’t been calling for repeal of the law’s remaining protections, for victims targeted because of their race, color, religion or national origin — they know they would take a political hit for that. Unfortunately, they think there’s no political penalty or constituent outrage to face for leaving out women, LGBT people, or people targeted because of their ancestry or mental or physical disability. Pennsylvanians who don’t like this injustice need to let their state representative and senator know now.”

Dilworth Park in Philadelphia is Open!

Dilworth Park

Dilworth Park is helping to bring Philadelphia into the 21st Century of Urban Centers. The $55 million renovation of the concrete-laden Dilworth Plaza into a fun, modern & green Dilworth Park is complete.

After more than seven years of anticipation, design and construction, Dilworth Park officially opened in early September to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony was followed by a day-long community-driven festival and an entire weekend long celebration.

The transformation of the west side of City Hall into a multi-use public space has been in the works for almost as long as it has drawn controversy and all eyes on deck attention.

So this is the Layout.
The 120,557-square-foot public park will create a dynamic and accessible new hub for pedestrians, commuters, visitors — really, for all of Philadelphia.

As a reflection of the park’s multi-use space, Dilworth Park includes an enormous Great Lawn, an outdoor cafe operated by Jose Garces, a computer-programmable fountain, six tree groves, a performance space and activity areas for outdoor markets and an ice-skating rink in season.

And as the cherry on top, SEPTA transit lines will now be far more accessible with new elevators and new stairs, sheltered by cool-looking clear glass headhouses, to connect the surface streets with new entrances to the Market and Broad Street Lines and transit hub below, a system that transports more than 300,000 passengers daily.

Designed by KieranTimberlake architects, OLIN landscape architects and Urban Engineers — teams well known locally for developing dynamic designs — Dilworth Park will most certainly bring a new vibrancy to Central Square.