Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Archive: January, 2008

POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2008, 1:27 PM
Filed Under: Traffic


I'm not sure what's my favorite part of "Shut The Duck Up!" the mini-documentary shot by Drexel filmies and posted this week to YouTube.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 8:42 AM
Filed Under: Health

Oysters One more story on behalf of disabled people -- this one from Kathy Bright of Wayne, who complains of a particularly inhospitable Philadelphia habit:

My brother, who lives in North Carolina, comes to visit sometimes. He has been in a wheelchair since a car accident at the age of 18 (he is now 63). When I spend time with him I am humbled by his amazing serenity in the face of constant obstacles such as the ones you mention. To name a few: yes, the inaccessible restaurants, and bathrooms in those restaurants and other places in the city. Also, people who park or stop in front of curb cuts so he can't get up or down. People who won't get out of the way as he is coming towards them on the sidewalk. And the constant staring as though he is a freak. The hotels offering handicapped rooms, when he can't even get his wheelchair in the bathroom. I must confess that I cannot imagine being so patient and calm in the midst of constant barriers. My anger and frustration are almost incontrollable when I share these frustrating situations with him. But, my brother does not complain about these injustices.

The only thing that really bothers him, though, is the spit. I asked him why the spit. He said it gets on his wheels and then on his hands.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 5:57 AM
Filed Under: Health

Disability It's easier to take a hit when the person delivering it has such a gentle voice.

"Hi Dan, the message on my voicemail began. "This is Beth Sutter... I really appreciate your article, your commentary, 'Philadelphia is a rough ride for wheelchair users.' I thought you were very intentional in using the word 'wheelchair user' as opposed to 'wheelchair-bound' or someone being 'in the wheelchair.' "

How did I know a but was to follow?

POSTED: Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Health

20080128_inq_drubi28a_2 Monday's column on Cliff Roberts' wheeling his chair through The Inaccessible City caused my phone to ring enough to think I'd hit a nerve.

"It's just as bad in the suburbs," said Barbara Quinn, 60, of Aston in Delaware County. She started by ripping into the nice man at her hair salon -- a brand new place in an expensive building.

"When I went in there, the first time after it was completed, the owner said to me, 'How do you like our building? It's all handicapped accessible.' " The owner proudly noted the elevator for those who can't climb stairs, the bathrooms with rails for those who need to support their legs.

POSTED: Monday, January 28, 2008, 7:24 AM
Filed Under: City Life

20080128_inq_drubi28b Tell you why I don't like Mondays?

Because the fresh start of the week means a blank sheet of paper for me. I've got two columns due and no plan.

Do I follow up on the Inaccessible City, the piece that's in today about Clifford Roberts trying to get into South Philly restaurants and shops with his wheelchair? Inky shooter Michael Wirtz made a cool video from my second interview with the violin-maker last week.

POSTED: Thursday, January 24, 2008, 8:42 PM
Filed Under: Deaths

061218hugs Thursday's column about the Wawa in the Northeast Philly that has a hugging problem prompted this email from Cindy Newman, which she allowed me to post:

As a recently retired law enforcement officer having read your column today regarding hugs at a local WaWa Store I was sadly reminded of an incident that occurred during my career.  I was blessed to have spent the last 17 years working in S. Florida in a school-based policing program.  We were a pro-active unit whose purpose was not just enforcement.  We saw our students everyday, taught in the classrooms, built positive relationships with them outside of the arena of law enforcement.  We were part of their everyday lives and I loved everyday I went to work with "my" kids.

     There was one young man about 12 years ago who became very dear to me.  He was 17 years old, at the time the same age as my son.  He and I became friendly and over the course of the school year he shared so much of his life with me.  He had been thrown out of his home by his mother and was living with his elderly grandmother.  He hadn't seen his father in years.  He had been a drug abuser, was involved in the "Goth" scene and was struggling to stay clean.  His grades weren't very good.  Every morning before school he would look for me as I was greeting the incoming students.  He stayed with me until class started, sharing details of his weekend, his evening, his life.   I listened, I advised, I counseled, we laughed.    I then walked with him to homeroom where I gave him a brief hug, patted his back and told him to have a good day.  This was our morning ritual everyday for many months.
    One morning I was met by my Captain who needed to have a "chat" with me.  Someone had called the police department and complained that they felt it "inappropriate" that I was hugging this young man everyday.  They weren't suggesting any wrong doing; they just thought it was wrong.  As a result of that phone call I was told that I could no longer hug or touch this young man.  When he came to find me that morning I explained the new rules to him and he was very upset.  He told me that he counted on seeing me every morning and "needed" that hug and send-off to class, that it "got him through the day".  I told him that as sorry as I was, I could spend time with him in the morning, but no more hugs.
     Less than a month after the "ban on hugging and touching" was initiated I was devastated to find when I arrived on duty one morning that he had  committed suicide the day prior.  He drove his car off the roof level of a parking garage and ended his life.  What a sad ending for a troubled young man.  I wondered then, and I still do now, if those morning hugs, those few seconds of human touch, really were what "got him through the day".
     It is a sorry commentary about our lot as human beings when a simple hug, the warmth of human touch, a pat on the back has been deemed "inappropriate".  As humans we require touch, it's how we show feeling, compassion, warmth and caring.  If more people hugged their spouses, their children, their friends and occasionally the stranger-in-need, only positive repercussions I'm sure, would be the result.
Jennifer Horvay describes herself as a "hugger".  Let those hugs keep on coming, Jennifer...people need them.
Posted 01/27/2008 04:00:18 AM
A very touching and moving tale. What's deemed inappropriate by the powers that be these days is simply ridiculous.
POSTED: Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 7:41 AM
Filed Under: Music

RingoWe love it when a star shucks his handler and speaks his mind without a script.

David Stewart, the former Eurythmic, said this about Ringo Starr's walking off the "Live With Regis & Kelly" set yesterday after a producer ruled Ringo's performance would be too long for the attention spans of the viewing audience:

"Four minutes (3 minutes and 40 seconds, actually) seemed like an appropriate amount of time for a former Beatle. Mr. Gelman apparently felt Ringo's musical legacy should take a back seat to additional banter about the size of Ms. (Kelly) Ripa's derriere."

POSTED: Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 5:44 PM
Filed Under: City Life

Violin_front Thursday I've got an appointment with Clifford Roberts. And I need some help from you.

I haven't seen him in about a decade. The piece I wrote in November, 1998 was headlined 'Working the Wood While He Can." It was about this master violin maker in South Philadelphia whose muscular distrophy made each movement successively harder. He was doing painstaking work against the clock.

This time we're going to talk about what it is like to move about this region in a wheelchair.

About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

Kevin Riordan Inquirer Columnist
Daniel Rubin Inquirer Columnist
Also on
Stay Connected