Looking back at this week in the news, the anniversary of 9/11 made everything else feel insignificant by comparison—quite a feat in this election season (and with all the sports drama that’s unfolded here lately). But beyond the tributes and memorials, we’ve seen a number of local headline-makers that deserve attention, as well as our praise or scorn. Here’s a sampling of who’s worth cheers or some old-school 700-level jeers.
PPA Ticket Fixer
Yes, I understand I’m supporting an admitted extortionist in Rocco Martinez, who pleaded guilty to hustling $500 from the Parking Authority. And yes, I wish he’d just gone public with his video of a PPA stooge offering to fix his ticket. But Martinez’s poor judgment still brought the issue of rogue ticket-writers to light. And considering I spent three hours in PPA hell last week, waiting for a hearing on a bogus parking fine, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of these city-sponsored con artists getting a taste of their own medicine.
A day after Muhammad Ali was awarded with the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center, let’s take a moment to remember Frazier, the hometown hero who’s finally getting his own statue at the South Philly sports complex. Lost in the praise of Ali is the way he demeaned our champ, painting him as a dopey Uncle Tom. Those theatrics took a toll on Frazier, who too often stood in the shadow of his slick-tongued, charismatic rival. It’s about time Smokin’ Joe will stand alone here, immortalized as the city’s greatest real-life fighter.
The congressman brokered a tentative peace treaty between the building trades union and the Pestronk brothers, whose Goldtex project on 12th Street has been subject to protests and thuggery for using non-union labor. Will this signal a move toward loosening the unions’ suffocating iron grip on city construction? Doubtful. But it’s a baby step in the right direction.
Congrats on its most profitable month ever—$20 million in August. Based on my recent visit, it’s the best-looking casino in Atlantic City. (Despite being, by far, the most expensive and difficult to navigate. Here are the directions I was given to one of its restaurants: “Take two escalators down to the casino, walk across the floor, and you’ll see a bar with an orange sign in the right corner, walk past that to a doorway, and you’ll see an elevator or a flight of stairs, take either down and you’re there.” I felt like a character in one of those Family Circus cartoons trying to follow the dotted lines.) Revel’s financial woes also reportedly scared away a Hard Rock casino project, which I’d chalk up as a good thing. Who goes to those joints anymore? And with A.C.’s current casinos struggling, who thinks adding another one is a smart idea?
Silver Linings Playbook
The movie starring Jenkintown’s Bradley Cooper earned raves at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival. There might be more Philly in this flick than any other since The Sixth Sense—check out Cooper rocking a DeSean Jackson jersey in the trailer. His co-star Jennifer Lawrence is also stirring up early Oscar buzz. If you only know her as the girl from The Hunger Games, do yourself a favor and check out her gutsy performance in Winter’s Bone. She’ll be worth the price of admission alone.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
As a kid growing up in South Jersey, I remember Rob Andrews had a reputation as one of the good guys in politics. Now he’s been named one of the “most corrupt members of Congress” by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. This follows an investigation into a $30,115 family trip to Scotland that was paid for with campaign funds and approved by his compliance officer—his wife, Camille. CREW also points to a California trip that “coincided” with a recording session in Los Angeles for his daughter, an aspiring singer, and $1.5 million in funding for Rutgers Law, where his wife works. Says Andrews’s PR consultant Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry about conflicts of interest?”
I can’t think of someone more despicable in the local blogosphere than Joshua Scott Albert, aka Staphmeal. Until recently, the attention-starved 26-year-old’s only accomplishment was pissing off a bunch of restaurant people. Now, there’s a warrant for his arrest, thanks to his Facebook pages titled “Kill Mitt Romney” and “Kill Seth Williams.” He also created a support page for the two men charged with murdering Officer Moses Walker Jr. Predictably, Albert is calling his stupidity “satire” and painting himself as a civil liberties freedom fighter. Perhaps an introductory law course would be a good investment. In America, hate speech is protected. Death threats could land you in jail. Whether it’s to prison or elsewhere, please go away.
City Hall DUI Duo
Here’s a sad fact of urban life—if you drive drunk, chances are decent you’ll get away with it, since city cops can’t sit at checkpoints all day and night. That is, of course, unless you’re so bombed you crash into something, which is what City Council sergeant-at-arms Rodney Williams did, in a city-owned car he shouldn’t have been driving. The best/worst part of this story is who came to his rescue—Robin Jones, a receptionist for City Councilman Darrell Clarke. In a city-owned car she shouldn’t have been driving. She was also drunk. Both were fired. Hopefully for the rest of us, these two will be sticking to SEPTA for a while.
Just as mercurial Flyers goaltender Ilya Brzygalov declares he’s “skinny and prepared” for his sophomore season in orange and black, the league gears up for a work stoppage. It’s hard to imagine a lockout will last long, considering the NHL doesn’t have the deep pockets or the unshakable fan base to survive a second lost season in less than a decade. But never underestimate the capacity for rich white guys to make bad decisions.
Sorry, Coop, but this movie was tough to sit through. Some of the worst screenwriting in recent memory—which is especially unfortunate, given it’s about a novelist and, as we’re told repeatedly, the craft of wordsmithy. Our homeboy turns in an admirable performance, but the voice-over narration by Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid is grating, the relationship between Quaid and Olivia Wilde is creepy, and the ending is a laugher. Not worth a spot on your Netflix queue.
Just when we thought you’d become an elite quarterback, you lay a four-interception egg and barely beat the abysmal Browns. Turn in a similar performance against the Ravens on Sunday and the Nick Foles train will officially begin boarding.