Back On the Job

Feels strange to be wearing long pants again. I'm back at my desk after two weeks of vacation at home. Read, caulked a bathroom, tried to unplug. Good to see the world was able to turn without me.

I'm amazed, actually, at how much went on over the fortnight. We destroyed another heat record. The Phillies remain the best in baseball. The Eagles finally seem back in the game. I got to watch the greatest soccer players in the world have trouble with a pesky team of barely knowns from Philadelphia Saturday night. It was 30 degrees hotter at the Linc than it was in Madrid. The Union held together pretty admirably.

Even more surprising to me was the appearance on N. 2nd Street of paving trucks this morning. I thought the city didn't care. Or couldn't afford to. When Philadelphia rolled out its new 311 system for handling citizen complaints I started braying about the mogul run of pot holes and frost heaves that start at Godfrey and stretch for several suspension-jarring blocks. Took more than two years, but the city is on the job.

Speaking of motoring, did you happen to read a column today in that peppy new-improved people's daily magazine about why city lights are so uncoordinated? Stu Bykofsky's piece reports that Philly is the only major city that doesn't have a department where engineers can flick a switch to synchronize its traffic signals so cars can move at a productive speed. Two thirds of the 3,000 or so street lights require a Streets Dept. technician to drive out and manually change the settings. A federal grant is on the way to pick up the pace.

In other news, we lost a pair of talented, troubled musicians this weekend. A big chunk of the commentariat dismissed Amy Winehouse's work and washed hands of her fate - she did it to herself, they wrote, whatever it turns out to be. (Some wrote absolutely wacky stuff.) I'm guessing these critics don't know the first thing about addiction. Her problems seem to have preceded her self-medicating. But listen to this if you have any question whether this lady had the goods. 

We didn't hear much about the other death. Bill Morrissey died in Georgia Saturday. The New Hampshire singer-songwriter was open about his demons - depression and drink. And man, could he write. May the song "Birches" burn bright for 100 years.

I have trouble listening to pols on any side as they talk about the debt ceiling, not because I don't think it's important, but precisely because I do. My sentiments align with those of Jeff Jarvis, who has been mining public opinion on Twitter, Google +, Facebook, etc..., following a hashtag that translates, essentially, to screw you, Washington. Because that's what Washington's doing to us.