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T Magazine details 'Year in the Life of the War on Drugs'

The New York Times' T Magazine publishes a "photo diary" about beloved Philly band War on Drugs.

"Lost in the Dream," the third album from the Philadelphia band the War on Drugs, has been one of the year’s most celebrated indie-rock releases, drawing near-universal acclaim for its sophisticated synthesis of classic American folk and rock influences as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth. The band’s frontman, Adam Granduciel, is also a longtime photography enthusiast. "In high school, I was head of the lab," he says. "I dumped a whole five-gallon bucket of D-76 on my head once. It ruined all my clothes."

Granduciel is rarely without one of his three cameras: a Polaroid, loaded with 600 film purchased from the Impossible Project; a Holga he’s had for nearly a decade; and a Rollei 35 he found at a camera shop in Brighton, England. Over the past year, in the run-up to and the wake of the March release of “Lost in the Dream,” the band has traveled the world, and Granduciel has documented the sights its members have seen — from giraffes on a Dutch safari to Portuguese palm trees to his own 82-year-old father on his first trip to Europe.


Original source: T Magazine
Check it out here.

Want a 'Lord of the Rings'-style map of Philadelphia?

PA resident Stentor Danielson creates super-cool maps of major American cities -- including Philadelphia -- in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. There, brave travelers will get some brief, telling glimpses into the mapmaker’s creative process, which seems to exist at the nexus of fandom and fetishism. A specifically-cited source of inspiration for Danielson, for instance, is this map of Middle Earth from the Ballatine paperback edition of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.

A faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, Danielson works with pen and ink and, on occasion, cut paper to create his otherworldly "cartographic art" of quite-worldly places like Boston and Washington, D.C. The artist, who describes his work as "delicate" (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.


Original source: The A.V. Club
Read the complete story here; and click here for Danielson's Etsy store.

Swimming the Cooper River in South Jersey

Baron Ambrosia swam the Cooper River through Camden in an act of civic good will. (Be sure to check out the slideshow.)

So began one man’s quest to paddle through Camden, known more for its high crime rate than its verdant waterways. With his five-mile swim along the Cooper, a tributary of the Delaware River, Baron Ambrosia aimed to change that.

“I’m trying to do something good for the city,” he said, highlighting urban exploration and environmental renewal. Born Justin Fornal, he has made a career of celebrating the gritty, most prominently as his alter-ego Baron, a fancifully attired Bronx foodhound with his own eccentric cable series (recently spotlighted by Anthony Bourdain on his CNN show). Last year, Mr. Fornal, 36, swam the Bronx River to promote his home borough, the first person recorded to do so. This year, asked by friends where he might take another dip, he settled on Camden as a similarly unsung landscape.


He completed his swim despite resistance from the city.

Undeterred, and without fanfare, Mr. Fornal decided to do the swim anyway, earlier than expected last week. “I just want to get in the water as quickly as possible,” he said, as he prepared to enter the river with three support canoes on Wednesday. They pushed off from a park in Collingswood, N.J., heading northwest through Camden toward Philadelphia. Even before the sun rose, they were spotted by some fishermen. “I was surprised to see them,” Mr. Fornal said, his head bobbing out of the water in a red Y.M.C.A. swim cap, “but I’m guessing they were more surprised to see us.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Upcoming Fishtown restaurant earns 'Weekend Update' quip

Soon-to-be-opened Fishtown restaurant Girard Brasserie & Bruncherie and its no-tipping policy earned a decidedly un-P.C. joke on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." Check it out here.

It's been a big month for tipping in Philadelphia.

Original source: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
 

'Finding your tribe' on review sites

A New York Times writer looks at the different travel-and-review sites, and emphasizes the importance of "finding your tribe." Yelp helped her find a hidden Philly gem.

When searching for a hotel or restaurant, you don’t want everybody’s opinion. You want opinions from people who share your taste and travel goals. But how to cherry-pick those travelers from the multitudes of citizen-critics on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Hotels.com?

...More often than not I agree with Yelp reviews. Take a recent afternoon in Philadelphia. Craving a Mexican snack yet deterred by unenthusiastic restaurant reviews, I ended up in the Italian market area in Bella Vista where inside the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Tortilleria San Roman, Yelpers advised picking up “dirt-cheap” hot tortillas, fried chips and, as one reviewer put it, “mean fresh green salsa.” Delicious — and I got to stroll through the market.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Reading Terminal named one of the country's great public spaces

Reading Terminal Market has been named one of the "Great Public Spaces" in the nation by the American Planning Association.

World-renowned as an enclosed public market, Reading Terminal Market is conveniently located in downtown Philadelphia. The market is situated in a complex of buildings formally known as the Reading Terminal Train Station, occupying the basement and ground floor of the building underneath the old train shed. The market is organized in grid system spanning 78,000 square feet (1.7 acres) and is home to 76 independent small merchants. All of the merchants are locally based, selling fresh foods, groceries, prepared meals, and merchandise. The market is easily accessible to residents and tourists via public transit facilities, including nearby rail stations, seven subway and trolley lines, bus stops, a Greyhound bus terminal, and over 50 bike racks on the perimeter sidewalks...

Over 6 million people visit the market each year, generating upwards of $50 million in annual sales. Because the vendor businesses are 100 percent locally owned, the market's revenues are recycled within the Philadelphia region. The majority of patrons live in the Philadelphia region, and tourists make up about one-quarter of the shoppers.


Original source: American Planning Association
Read the complete list here.

Stunning Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk earns national praise

The spectacular new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, connecting Locust Street to South Street, is a big hit. (And not only with Inga Saffron.)

The winding, gray concrete pathway gives visitors the unique sensation of having water on both sides of them, Joseph Syrnick, president and CEO of the Schuylkill River Development Corp., said Tuesday as he walked the 15-foot-wide boardwalk prior to its opening.

"You feel like you're on the river," Syrnick said, noting the similarity between the scoring of the concrete and traditional New Jersey shore boardwalks. "This becomes a destination spot."

The $18 million structure serves as small but crucial link in what planners hope will be a 130-mile trail from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. About 60 miles of the trail are finished, according to the Schuylkill River Trail Association.


Original source: The Associated Press; via Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.

Philly's Springboard Collective, warriors against the 'summer slide,' featured in New York Times

This awesome Philadelphia ed startup earns praise in the New York Times.

Last summer was the second one Tayonna Taylor, an incoming second-grader, spent working with a reading tutor: her mother. Tayonna, who wears glasses and had the sniffles, sat with her mother, Tasia Carlton, in late July in Emily Roggie’s classroom in Wissahickon Charter School in northwest Philadelphia...

[Alejandro] Gac-Artigas founded Springboard in 2011, when he was just 22. He was teaching first grade with Teach for America, horrified by the summer slide. That summer he set up a four-teacher pilot with 42 children and their families. By the end of the summer, the children had gained 2.8 months in reading.

This past summer, Springboard worked with 1,200 students in 20 schools — public, charter and parochial — in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. In Philadelphia, Springboard is the only summer learning program the school district pays for. Springboard trains teachers for the summer program, and has now started to help them coach parents to help their children during the school year. The full cost of the summer program is about $900 per child, including the teacher’s salary, which is paid by the school.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Fancy Philly condo featured in The New York Times

A sprawling Old City condo gets a luxe spotlight in The New York Times.

The condo takes up the entire second floor of a 1914 warehouse that was converted to nine residential units around 2005. Original features include pine floors, exposed brick and some windows; updates include recessed lighting and stainless-steel appliances.

Common areas are anchored by a great room with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. In one corner is a kitchen with soapstone counters, a pale-green tile backsplash and appliances by Viking, Bosch and Sub-Zero. Pendant lights hang over the kitchen island. One of the bedrooms is separated from the great room by a partial wall and an original wood door. Another is used as a den and office, with a built-in metal desk, shelving and large windows overlooking a park across the street.


Check out the slideshow here.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 

Philadelphia to host Forbes' '30 under 30'

In October, the City of Brotherly Love will host a major event for young entrepreneurs. 

Philadelphia will play host to Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30″ summit in mid-October, not only a brain-storming session by those who’ve made it, but a springboard for those who want to.

From October 19th to the 22nd, the Convention Center will host a who’s-who list of millenial entrepreneurs, inventors, celebrities and more than a thousand others looking to make their big mark. Randall Lane of Forbes says attendees will get a chance to grab for the gold ring.

“We’re calling it the $400,000 pressure cooker,” Lane says, “where we’re going to have a pitch contest on stage in front of a thousand people, and the winner take all, winner gets $150,000 in investment and a quarter-million dollars in prizes, and we promised Mayor Nutter that one Philly entrepreneur gets a fast track to the finals.”
Lane says Philadelphia is abuzz with millenial energy.

“Based on what we’re seeing you’re doing great,” he says. “Stats we’ve seen show the rise in millenials in Philadelphia is outpacing the rest of the nation.”


Original source: CBS
Read the complete story here.

Philly physicist is this year's youngest MacArthur 'genius'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Friction over bike lanes in Fairmount

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron weighed in on a bike lane controversy brewing in Fairmount.

Unlike so many of Philadelphia's polar-vortex-ravaged streets, the stretch of 22d between Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Avenue is as smooth and dark as a chocolate bar. It was repaved in August, and yet no white lines ruffle its silky surface. The way things are going, there won't be any for a long time.

Perhaps if the Streets Department had simply presented the roadwork as an effort to calm traffic, reduce crashes, and make the street safer for pedestrians, those stripes and glyphs would have been painted on long ago. Instead, the department's traffic engineers made the mistake of mentioning the B-word - as in bike lane - and now the worthy improvement project is ensnared in the web of City Council politics...

What opponents don't understand is that bike lanes can be a tool to make conditions better for all users. By clearly delineating space for cars and bikes, all players know their place. On Spruce and Pine Streets, which were turned into major bike corridors under Nutter, accidents have fallen by 30 percent, says Andrew Stober, who runs the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities.

The explanation for the drop is simple. The two streets have been reduced to one car lane each, forcing motorists to drive more slowly. Cyclists feel safer, too, so they're less likely to ride on the sidewalk. That increases the chances that pedestrians will have the space all to themselves.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Training dogs to detect cancer with their noses

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center trains canines to detect cancer using their remarkable sense of smell.

McBaine, a bouncy black and white springer spaniel, perks up and begins his hunt at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. His nose skims 12 tiny arms that protrude from the edges of a table-size wheel, each holding samples of blood plasma, only one of which is spiked with a drop of cancerous tissue.

The dog makes one focused revolution around the wheel before halting, steely-eyed and confident, in front of sample No. 11. A trainer tosses him his reward, a tennis ball, which he giddily chases around the room, sliding across the floor and bumping into walls like a clumsy puppy.

McBaine is one of four highly trained cancer detection dogs at the center, which trains purebreds to put their superior sense of smell to work in search of the early signs of ovarian cancer. Now, Penn Vet, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is teaming with chemists and physicists to isolate cancer chemicals that only dogs can smell. They hope this will lead to the manufacture of nanotechnology sensors that are capable of detecting bits of cancerous tissue 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The reinvention of Conshohocken

The New York Times takes a look at Conshohocken, a steel town turned office hub -- and millennial magnet.

The recent increase in development plans reflects the geographical advantages of Conshohocken, which is near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476, its accessibility to central Philadelphia by commuter rail and the availability of its land, in contrast to some nearby western suburbs where land for development is scarce.

With its location at the intersection of interstates, Conshohocken could become the region’s new “Main and Main,” said Jeffrey E. Mack, executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, an international real estate firm that provides brokerage and other services.

He argued that the town was poised to take the title from an area at Route 1 and City Line Avenues on Philadelphia’s western outskirts, which has been heavily built. That location, in Lower Merion Township, “ran out of land,” he said.

The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.

“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”



Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia provides model for LGBT-friendly senior housing

The recently-opened John C. Anderson apartments could provide a national model for housing LGBT seniors.

The project, affectionately called “the gay-dy shady acres” by residents, is being hailed as a model for similar federally backed housing projects in the District and more than a dozen other cities across the country.
 
This initiative is part of a broader campaign by the federal government to address what officials say is growing housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The trend is due in part to more gay Americans being out of the closet, officially married and more aware of their rights than ever before, said Gustavo Velasquez, assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at Housing and Urban Development...

The Anderson apartments already have a 100-person waiting list. And that number is likely to grow. About 1.5 million Americans who are 65 or older identify as LGBT, with that number expected to double by 2030, according to the Institute for Multi­generational Health...

Every floor is decorated with framed black-and-white photographs of the 1969 Stonewall riots — demonstrations following a police raid on a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village that helped launch the gay rights movement — and other protests with activists bearing signs that read, “Homosexuality is not a sin” and “Gay Power!”

Susan Silverman said that even though she’s 65 and walks with a cane, she’ll always be the “radical lesbian feminist” who protested against the Miss America pageant and worked alongside Segal with the Gay Liberation Front.
She moved here from a walk-up studio apartment in Brooklyn that she had rented for 40 years, attracted by the lesbian-friendly atmosphere and affordable rent — not to mention the elevators and on-site laundry.


Original source: The Washington Post
Read the complete story here.
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