Some useful and fanciful lists to get back into the swing of things.
1. The best places in North America, according to the Project for Public Spaces. Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square pulls in at No. 6, behind Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia; East Village, NYC;, North Beach in San Francisco, Camden (Maine!) and Coyoacan in Mexico City.
Frank of IFlipFlop wrote about the rankings Tuesday, and noted how visitors sitting at the square's edge always go, "wow, I didn't know Philadelphia looked like this."
Architecture critic Jane Jacobs famously raved about the irregular buildings surrounding it, and their irregular uses. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities she wrote, "Rittenhouse Square is busy fairly continuously for the same basic reasons that a lively sidewalk is used continuously: because of functional physical diversity among adjacent uses, and hence diversity among adjacent uses, and hence diversity among users and their schedules."
The British architecture writer Ian Nairn disagreed: "For all its leafiness, (Rittenhouse Square) has so much pointless and formless variety to the buildings around it (from four to forty stories) that it ceases to read as a square at all. It has become a pedestrian traffic circle: you can never feel happy in it."
I'm with the Project for Public Spaces. It pronounces the square "a gem" in look and life. "The space is among the best-used public spaces in the United States. Furthermore there is a sense of community here: an interaction between the habitues of the park that one actually feels that this is the City of Brotherly Love after all. People recognize each other and life here has a comfort and allure that has almost vanished everywhere else in the city and the country."
The Project also keeps a Hall of Shame. We're on it. For the Kimmel Center. "At best an interruption of an otherwise reviving Avenue of the Arts," it sniffs.
2. The best Internet radio stations. Rolling Stone magazine compiled this list of 5 last month, so my apologies if this sounds old to you. I just found it on Hypebot. I knew of WOXY, the former Cincinnati rock station that went all-cyber, and I tuned into Radio Paradise when living in Berlin and longing for guitars. But the others are revelations, like the Berkeley station.
3. The 50 Coolest blogs. According to Time Magazine, that is. But any list that starts with Overheard in New York has promise. It's a little heavy on major chords, not minors, but it IS Time.
4. 30 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do On The Internet. PC Magazine's picks help you tell off your boss anonymously, make-over Google, promote your products, bloviate about your blog, publish a novel, write a business plan, scan your PC for spies, and get free tech help, etc.."
5. The Always On/Technorati 100 Most-Influential Bloggers. It's been debated pretty hard in the blogosphere (Mark Cuban?), but offers a useful way of breaking them down: By Pioneers, Trendsetters, Practitioners, Toolsmiths and Enablers.
6. The Guardian's Alexis Petridis lists (sorta) Live 8 London's best moments. But not this one: "Mariah Carey, meanwhile, seems to be on for months, like a one-woman mission to bore the G8 leaders into submission."
7. AOL Music recommends specific Live 8 video clips to watch. My pick: "Comfortable Numb" by the happy-together Pink Floyd. They seem to have posted everything from around the world - with one glaring exception: Canadian show-closer Neil Young, a few weeks after brain surgery. No clips of the Barrie, Ontario singalong to "Rockin' in the Free World." Or "Four Strong Winds" for that matter.