Tuesday, February 9, 2016

POSTED: Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 7:16 PM
Monnette Sudler. Photo provided.

OutBeat,  billed as 'America's First Queer Jazz Festival,' opens Thursday and runs through Sunday at various venues in Philadelphia. 

"LGBT people have had a huge impact on the history of jazz," notes Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way LGBT Center, which is producing OutBeat  and hosting discussions, receptions and other events. The center was awarded a $220,000 Pew Center for Arts and Heritage grant to underwrite the festival (WRTI-FM's interview with Bartlett is here).

The OutBeat lineup includes pianist Fred Hersch; guitarist (and Philly native) Monnette Sudler; the Bill Stewart Quartet; and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and a diverse array of other performers. The Painted Bride, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, and Union Transfer -- site of Sunday's finale, featuring a dozen artists -- are among the venues.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 8:13 AM
Masonry is falling from former RCA building in Camden, NJ. Photo provided.

In Camden City Hall, whatever needs to be done -- like securing a downtown building the city has declared a public safety hazard -- always takes much, much longer than expected.

That's because it takes the people who are supposedly in charge time to figure out that whatever needs to be done needs to be done by somebody else. And the somebody else who's really responsible is always...somewhere else!

It's a fabulous arrangement.

POSTED: Monday, September 15, 2014, 7:52 AM
Bill Hansen, center, with Voorhees Township, NJ construction office employees wishing him a happy retirement. L to R: Lea Schaeffer, Rebecca Keane, Wendy Flite, and Valerie Marchitto. Photo provided.

After 83 years of work, Bill Hansen, 97, is retiring.

Monday is the Haddon Township, NJ resident's last day at Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling, the Cherry Hill firm where he's the permit coordinator. Hansen has delivered and picked up applications and work permits issued by municipalities all over South Jersey for decades; read the 2012 column I wrote about him here.

"This is the finale," says Hansen, whose first job was on a horse-drawn Jersey City milk wagon at age 14. He  later became a truck driver, shipyard worker, and supervisor of a home heating oil sales force. "I've never had  a job I didn't enjoy," he says.

POSTED: Friday, September 12, 2014, 5:20 PM
The blogger Brian K. Everett posted this image of himself documenting open sidewalks at Radio Lofts in Camden, nearly two weeks after a city inspection concluded the site should be fenced off to protect public safety.

Four weeks after a Camden blogger questioned the stability of a vacant downtown building -- and a day after he posted two-week-old municipal inspection documents urging immediate action --  the city is finally moving to secure the structure.

"If sounding a little alarmist is what it took to make sure people aren’t killed by falling objects, so be it," said Brian K. Everett,  whose NJ Poverty Reality blog suggested the Cooper Street landmark may be in danger of collapse, or could be demolished.

"There are no structural problems with the building," Camden spokesman Vincent Basara declared Friday, citing a city inspection as well as a preliminary review of outside consultant's inspection. "There is no structural damage to the building."

POSTED: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 1:23 PM

Patti Sheehy discovered that writing is merely one part of a novelist's job. Promoting, and hand-selling, the finished product are essential tasks, too.  

"I had no concept of the kind of response we would get," says the Haddon Heights resident, 67, whose debut novel  'The Boy Who Said No' was brought to market by Oceanview Publishing  last year. 

Sheehy and Frank Mederos -- his 1967 escape from his Communist homeland inspired the book -- will be on hand at the Friday, September 12 launch party for 'Stalked,' the sequel (also published by Oceanview). About 200 guests are expected for the 6 p.m. event at the Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield; proceeds will benefit the Haddon Heights Library.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 9:31 AM
Postcard image of Camden City Hall, 1930s.

Camden's Parkade Building was a monument to the follies of the urban renewal era. A block-long box built atop what had been a park and garden, this unwieldy mashup of parking garage and office building at Fifth and Federal was dysfunctional, ugly, and unloved. And when it was demolished three years ago, few mourned (although city filmmaker Jesse James Jackson Jr's short video, linked below, does offer an elegiac meditation on the Parkade's fall).

The demolition immediately liberated street-level views of the magnificently odd Art Deco milk bottle that is City Hall, and the resulting Roosevelt Park  became an instant oasis. It also became home to an ever-growing field of crosses erected to protest the city's skyrocketing homicide rate in 2012.

Lately the carnage has eased and the city is basking in some positive national publicity.  So it seems an auspicious time for a 'placemaking' project at Roosevelt Park. As my colleague Julia Terruso reports, $30,000 from the William Penn Foundation helped pay for imaginative 'pop-up' amenities aimed at attracting people and building a bit of buzz.

POSTED: Saturday, August 30, 2014, 2:00 PM

A few moments after the gates opened, Matt Rego and his roommate Jack Abrams were standing in the front-row by the Rocky stage. They expected to be in that spot wel into the night. The Temple students wound up about 200th in line Saturday morning, which required that they show up about 11:30 a.m.

"Matt loves Kanye West and I'm here to support him," Abrams  offered.

The roomies have a poster of Kanye hanging in their dorn room. Over Rego's bed.

POSTED: Saturday, August 30, 2014, 1:14 PM
Sylvester Stallone: The man who wrote "Rocky" and played the title role, earning him two Oscar nods, also created a Philadelphia legend in the process. The inspirational theme music is still played at local sporting events, and tourists and locals alike can't resist recreating a famous scene by running up the so-called "Rocky Steps" at the Art Museum, or posing with the Rocky statue there. Sequels continued featuring the city.

The gates had opened. The crowd was moving toward the stages. But walking along Pennsylvania Avenue, a group of out-of-towners was wondering what the fuss was about. The men had come to see the Rocky statue by the Art Museum steps.

They're members of the Nueva Generacion Domino Club and the La Familia Domino League from around Chicago.

Not a great day to jog up the steps, they learned. But the Made in America line-up caught their interest. For a moment.

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
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