Pennsylvania has finally joined the rest of the Northeast. Sort of. Last week U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III overturned the state's 1996 ban on same-sex marriage, moving the commonwealth a seismic step into the 21st century, making it the last state in the region to recognize marriage equality.
Voters, all few thousand of you, what did we learn from Tuesday's primary? That a genial small-city businessman and political neophyte at age 65 with a Jeep, a beard, and a doctorate from MIT can become Pennsylvania's Democratic gubernatorial nominee, provided he pumps $10 million of his own lucre into the campaign, and saturates media markets early and often with inspired, folksy ads.
Every now and then a story comes along that trashes conventional wisdom. Celia Pretter organized a cleanup of her Mount Airy block, rented a U-Haul truck to haul the debris, and drove it last week to the city's Northwest Sanitation Convenience Center. She was turned away for using a commercial vehicle, which she had rented solely for that purpose. Irate, Pretter watched multiple pickup trucks unload what appeared to be commercial debris. Last week, I wrote a column lamenting the situation.
Nobody loves you when you're ahead. Nobody, that is, except the voters. Just ask Tom Wolf. With little more than two weeks until the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the soft-spoken York County cabinet king is crushing in the latest poll, leading the three other candidates by at least 25 points.
Seemingly immune to simplicity, Philadelphia has perfected the art of duplication. For almost two decades, the city has been home to two marketing agencies, each fielding two websites, two sets of handsomely compensated executives, and now two branding campaigns to woo potential visitors.
Victor Anderson was a mess for two decades. He was not even himself. He went by Kenny, the Homeless Street Entertainer. "I would tell jokes, give out knowledge and stuff," he said, pocketing change for a fix. "But I thought I was going to be one of those people who was going to die out there."
It's Comcast's world. We just pay for it. Executives from the Philadelphia-based cable and Internet behemoth traveled to Capitol Hill to plead their case for a $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, part of its inexorable march toward complete domination of American viewers.
Every indicted legislator deserves his or her day in court, and in Pennsylvania there have been so many of them. How many other states can boast of not one but two former House speakers now intimately familiar with the correctional system? We should all be so proud.
Jennifer Baichwal's meditative documentary Manufactured Landscapes begins with an eight-minute tracking shot of a Chinese factory, numbing in its breadth and repetition. The factory is not identified, nor is the product, but that's hardly the issue. The place is a soul killer.
Poor Mark Philippoussis. Tall, dark and requisitely handsome, the Australian tennis star, age 30, onetime swain of a pop star, a model, and L.A. County Prisoner 9818783 (that would be Paris Hilton), he's now forced to travel well outside his comfort zone. On national television, no less.
Curiously, while most of us spend our lives trying to avoid surgery, more than half a million women elect to go under the knife annually, all because they're unhappy with their breasts or, as one leading surgeon gracefully puts it, "two stupid mounds of flesh."
Karen Heller has interviewed Philip Roth and Zsa Zsa Gabor, spent time with Pink and the Philadelphia Orchestra, the celebrated and the exemplary unsung. She's covered Miss America and political conventions. She's been a provocative voice at The Inquirer for nearly 20 years, garnering awards for criticism, feature writing and investigative reporting, and was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in commentary.