Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia’

Right on cue, Flowers shows up to defend the horrible “Being White in Philly”. Her main defense is that there is no problem with anonymous quotes. Well, OK fine, but that wasn’t really the problem. There are so very many problems, but the fatal flaws are these. 

The setup is that white people never talk about race, yet the entire article is white people doing exactly that. 

The conclusion is that we must move discussions of racism beyond “whites talking to whites” about race, yet we just spent four pages reading accounts of Huber (a white person) talking exclusively to white people about race.

It refutes itself entirely, that’s actually all it does, and it does so in as offensive as possible a fashion. 


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Lamenting the fact that "our public discourse ignores the fact that race—particularly in a place like Philadelphia—is also an issue for white people. Though white people never talk about it.", Robert Huber attempts to "bridge the conversational divide so that there are no longer two private dialogues in Philadelphia—white people talking to other whites, and black people to blacks", by interviewing a ton of middle class white people. People who, despite the fact that the premise of the piece is that they "never talk about it" proceed to talk about it at length, telling him scary stories about black people.

He relays the story of John, a lovely old man who relates how wonderful his neighborhood used to be before all the black people moved in, and then it went to hell. Of course he has no problem with blacks, he claims, except for that "nigger boy" that broke into his house.

And then there’s Anna, the "slim, dark haired beauty from Moscow" who wishes all the black people would stop smoking pot on their porches and get a damn job. She sounds nice.

And lets not forget the author himself, who makes a show of holding doors open for black people, or his friend who pats himself on the back for advancing race relations by acknowledging black people’s presence.

Had I been interviewed, I would have told him about finding the window of my car smashed one morning. He would probably have assumed it was smashed by a black person. Of course I have no idea who smashed it because I was three blocks away sleeping at the time. Honestly the experience was probably worst for the poor kid I scared half to death when I loudly yelled “FUCK!” right after discovering it, not realizing she was passing me on the sidewalk just then.

Racism is a problem in Philly and its a problem elsewhere. Cataloging tales of scary black people doesn’t help, and it most certainly does nothing to advance the stated goal of "starting a conversation" about race. It’s a goal that I have a hard time believing was honestly pursued here. For the official take-downs, published by the same magazine (balance!), see here and here. For what seems to be considered the "definitive" take-down, here.

The best one, though, is on Phawker:

There’s a lot of anger going around this city right now because of a magazine story that is almost universally agreed to be completely irresponsible. However, if you’re on the fence, let me beg you not to be taken in by it. Reject it. Don’t listen to old white men who are disengaged from reality, steeped in fear and delusional prejudice…

You can take Philadelphia Magazine’s lead, and selfishly retreat from our problems, or you can muster the actual courage necessary to dive headlong into them. Forty years from now I don’t want to be sitting in a suburban cul de sac blaming somebody else for what happened to my city, I want to be living in a better city that is better for the hard work I put into making it that way, and so can you.

That cannot possibly be said enough.  

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We should pay people to fix things. Heaters in elementary schools would be a nice place to start. 

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You know what would be awesome? 

If we could borrow a lot of money for free, and then give it to people. I’m sure we could find some stuff for them to fix in exchange.

But we won’t do that, because austerity. 

No one was using those bridges anyway, except the 16,284 people who travel across them on an average week day. I’m sure we can fit thousands more cars on the highway during peak commute time, so it’ll be OK. 

Less sarcastically, King of Prussia is the biggest suburban employment center in the Philly metro area, and the only way to get there via train is the Norristown line, which will be the first to lose its bridge this summer. Traffic on the only major route into KoP from the city is notoriously bad, so the plan to bus passengers around the failed bridge will be subject to unpredictable delay. Unpredictability will effectively eliminate the rail line as an option for folks commuting to work, so this really is a big deal.

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Downtown Casinos

I actually agree with Bart Blatstein about something:

Would more parking spaces than the 1,700 currently contained in onsite garages be provided?

They would not. “We are in a city,” Blatstein said. “You want to encourage public transportation and not cars.”

I don’t think the overall proposal, for a second casino downtown, is a good idea. Actually I think its a terrible idea. We’ve already got one, you see (in an outrageous French accent) and it’s struggling to get by. Blatstein’s idea that his casino will be so fucking awesome that it will attract all the Richie Richs that want ever so badly to gamble but don’t want to go to Sugarhouse because Sugarhouse attracts the blahs is just not believable on its face, and is pretty absurd as a business plan. 

How could he be so confident The Provence would attract a high-end clientele that can afford to gamble, and not a less-well-off clientele that cannot?

“We’ll get our target market because we don’t have any competition,” Blatstein said.

The upscale Atlantic City casinos, such as the Borgata, don’t attract the thousands of wealthy Philadelphia-area fun-seekers who won’t travel to the shore just for dinner and a show, Blatstein said. He said that nobody in his target market is visiting Sugarhouse or other regional casinos, but that his proposal would be fantastic enough to attract them.

Atlantic City just tried this exact idea with Revel, and it has thus far been a miserable failure. 

But hey, at least he recognizes that adding surface parking downtown is pretty dumb, so there’s that. 

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Fix Foobooz!

If you don’t live in Philly or care about food, restaurants, and people writing about those things, you probably won’t care about this post. 

Foobooz is a blog about food and booze (get it?) in Philly. Or at least, it used to be. Now, its a blog about insider restaurant gossip. It’s the water-cooler talk of your servers. Or, as Ashley Primis put it in this interesting bit of self reflection, it  “cover[s] the city’s food scene like ESPN covers sports”.

When I first moved to Philly, Foobooz was a great blog. It kept me up to date on what bar had what awesome specials, which restaurants were serving interesting or innovative new dishes, what was worth the price, and what wasn’t. It was like having that friend thats lived here forever and knows all the best places and what to avoid. It was a great way to learn about interesting new restaurants that were off the beaten path, great little neighborhood places that inevitably had the best food.

But not any more. Now the majority of their content is about staffers getting into fights with each other, people quitting to open their own places and getting sabotaged, etc. It’s all inside baseball, all industry gossip.

All this goes by way of saying that the food editor of Philly Magazine, ie the person in charge of Foobooz, wrote an interesting piece lamenting this change. It’s a problem I’ve written about before, in fact. Here’s hoping she intends to fix things.

Also, I figured something not involving guns or the fiscal cliff was in order.

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Here’s something from Flowers that I missed last month, about Philadelphia’s ongoing fight to evict the Boy Scouts from city property for being anti-gay. 

I’m not really familiar with the situation, so I won’t comment on the case itself, but I do want to mention something Flowers wrote.

And guess what?  Some of these boys may very well be gay.  But that’s irrelevant to their sense of self-worth when all that matters to a troubled boy is that he be fed, be respected, be taken seriously and be viewed as someone with potential.

Really, being gay is irrelevant to their sense of self-worth? An important part of who they are is irrelevant to their self worth?

But Flowers is right about one thing. Being respected, taken seriously, and viewed as someone with potential are all very important things. And yet Flowers seems to believe that being gay precludes one from those things. I argue that if you tell someone that they cannot be open about who they are, then you are very much not taking them seriously, you are certainly not respecting them, and by encouraging them to hide who they are you are undermining their potential. 

Flowers spends much of her column extolling the virtues of scouting, heaping praise on the organization for allowing “these kids to leave the mean streets of the inner city and actually escape the shootings and the drugs and the premature deaths.” Unless of course these kids happen to be gay. Then its back to the streets. 

At least they have “well-heeled activists and a sycophantic City Hall”, to stick up for them. Folks like Flowers certainly won’t. 

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