From multiple sources your correspondent (“I”) had learned about and followed through with signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine through the Philadelphia government website. Shortly after I got my first vaccination! Here’s how it went down. A few weeks after registering I received a notice that I could make an appointment for a shot by filling out a form. The form took me step-by-step through what I needed to provide in the way of information about my health and age and and such. I was given an opportunity to select a time of day and then was assigned appointment date on March 15 at 9:30 am. By about 9 AM hundreds of us were already gathering in a long line along the western wall of the convention center. Yellow vested attendants prompted us to keep our distance and to have our identification ready. They also asked few preliminary questions about our health today. The line moved slowly but deliberately along to the entrance. There, a uniformed soldier asked to see our ID again and provide a couple particulars. Once inside, we were directed into long lines and turning a corner, were directed by a small cadre of military personnel assigned us to one of what seemed to the hundreds of tables where other personnel were administering shots. I said at the end of the table and another person at the other end. As soon as the marine finished administering her shot he had me roll up my sleeve to the shoulder and and politely shot me with what looked like a small orange click needle, handed me my CDC vaccination card and directed me to the area where I needed to sign up for my second shot. A jolly FEMA worker stickered us, those willing, with “I got my Covid-19 vaccine!” labels. I could have waited in line to schedule an appointment with personnel but I opened to scan with my phone camera the QR code that another worker offered me to do this online. This took me step by step through the registration system for the second shot. And then, we vaccinated, wound our way toward the exit where another attendant cheerily reminded us, “See you on April 5th!” As we exited the doors, hardly 20 minutes after we had first entered, I may have felt like waving my arms above my head in exultation but the woman in front of me actually did. Watch military personnel administer vaccines to people at FEMA mass vaccination site in Philadelphia here
Two separate rallies, one for Black Lives Matter and the other for Back the Blue both kicked off at 10:30 am on October 10, 2020 in Springfield Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania in two nearby township parks. Was it coincidental??? Watch short video of rallies here. An unscientific poll of 99 respondents on the NextDoor app indicates that people who support both causes are in a distinct minority, about 27%. It also indicates 76% support Black Lives Matter and 47% Back the Blue. Caveat: there is always the question of what people are thinking who are neither participating in such a poll or even on the social media platform where the poll was conducted. It's also worth noting that people may support the causes espoused without ascribing to a provocative movement or slogan.
As a member of the minority who espouse both causes, your correspondent attended only part of each rally so the material here is certainly not comprehensive and due to personal history, not necessarily well balanced. Photos of both rallies here.
At the Back the Blue Rally in Cisco Park, your correspondent heard 37 year veteran, Michael E. Pitkow, Chief of Police, thank the community for their support and the dedication of his officers. He spoke of a survey being conducted [the outgrowth of community meetings] among community residents soliciting their input about what they want from their police department. He remarked about the challenging times ensuing after the onset of the corona-virus pandemic and the "death of Mr. George Floyd" but noted Springfield Township hadn't experienced the civil unrest occurring in many other places around the nation.
Michele Chesaitis, an active member of the Friends of the Springfield Township Police is concerned when people make negative generalizations about the police. She comes from a police and fire department family and is proud of her family’s service. She considers the close knit community of law enforcement as part of her family, too. When asked whether the Black Lives Matter protesters had any legitimate issues she answered "There are legitimate and valuable issues for every walk of life," and as to what whether police could do better, "that we stop lumping police into groups.” When introduced she began her public remarks by asking everyone to join her in a prayer for the police, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit...."
At the Unity and Diversity rally to honor Breonna Taylor, clumps of young adults, families and older adults were spaced far apart in Mermaid Park listening to the speakers. Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence contrasted the actions of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who fired out from inside their home, defending their home with the act of a white vigilante who traveled from his home and killed protesters “There’s a hypocrisy. That’s why Black Lives Matter. Because when it happens to us it’s always something that we did wrong to end up dead.” He highlighted a recent incident in Upper Gwynedd Township in which police successfully de-escalated a situation and no one died; they were able to disarm a man who had fired a shotgun at them. “It absolutely can be done.” Napoleon Nelson, who is running for representative in the 184th district of the Pennsylvania State House, encompassing Springfield Township spoke next. He had visited the police rally, too, and a photo of him there appears in the photo album above. Your correspondent regrets an opening didn't present itself to interview him, being apparently only one of three African-American adults present at the police rally. The African American Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette was similarly engaged with others and Barnette's mother declined to be interviewed. The below is only an excerpt of Nelson's remarks. Readers are encouraged to listen to the fuller versions of both Lawrence and Nelson here.
"Before I got here I was over on the other side of the Township at a Back the Blue rally. And I do, I support police. I think there’s an important role for law enforcement in our community. But this day, this time, is not about backing the blue.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, most businesses along the Germantown Avenue business corridor (excluding some of the vacant ones ) had been securely boarded up in the wake of widespread protests and looting elsewhere in the city. The Weavers Way Coop market, which has a wide expanse of windows, was a notable exception. (The Coop's General Manager, Jon Roesser, explains its decision not to board up below.) When asked why he was boarding up the Wells Fargo Bank a workman replied "It's a job. Do you think I like doing this? It's sad."
Joe Pie of McNally's Tavern, was putting a new coat of dark green paint on the entrance door (No boarding up to do because the tavern hasn't had windows on the narrow facade for more than fifty years.) He said that businesses along the Avenue had been "cased" the day before and was very alarmed should any photos be posted on social media. Bohemian Pink owner Monika Schermer said her store was boarded up based on the advice of the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the 14th District Philadelphia Police. Schermer directed questions to the Business Association. Its Executive Director Phil Dawson could not be reached for comment.
Outside the Fresh Market at 7 pm, a market employee stood outside watching two workmen prepare to board up the doors. He relayed that the CVS, farther down the street, had been broken into. Talking on the phone, one of these workers could be heard saying he would be back at the store in the morning to take the boards off so the store could open for business. "Hopefully I'm going to be putting these boards on and off for a couple days."
Large, delicately lettered chalk messages have already appeared on some of the boards. "Love lives here" on one and "Community" on another. Hillary O'Carroll proprietress of Isabella Sparrow, captured in a photo in the below tweet, is behind the heartwarming words. She says she wanted to add non-political messages of love and home by writing on the the boards. The one shown above "Black Lives Matter - donate: NAACP.ORG & phillybailfund.org" she attributes to an employee of Caleb Meyer.
On the Tailored Home store, O'Carroll's message is simply "This is home"
Comments of John Roesser, GM of Weavers Way Cooperative Association
Your correspondent is helping out with "Witness for Prosecution," the Agatha Christie play at the Stagecrafters Theater in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia running November 22nd through December 8th. He cornered a few actors who indulged him by delivering their favorite lines. The clip below features Jaime Roanne Schwartz as Greta, Mark Sherlock as Leonard Vole, John Pinto as Justice Wainwright, Tom Tansey as Sir Wilfred, Tom Libonate as Mr. Myers,and Leah O'Hara as Romaine.NOTE: CONTAINS POTENTIAL SPOILERS
OCTOBER 3, 2019 UPDATE: SUBSTANTIAL DELAYS IN PROJECT, DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Bradley Maule, pictured above reports:
Mural Arts Jane Golden and Cathy Harris have yet to respond to the question posed October 3, 2019 "Will you open the call for artists again since it will soon be be nearly two years since the call went out (February 26, 2018)? "
5/21/2018 UPDATE: According to Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, the selection committee is seeking additional submissions but anyone visiting the official website for the project http://mtairyusa.org/cresheimproject/ would not know that the deadline of April 13 for artist submissions has been extended.
Before a couple dozen community members at the newly renovated Lovett Library this past Monday evening, Cathy Harris of Philadelphia Mural Arts issues a call for artists to design a mural for the rusted abandoned railway trestle over Germantown Avenue below Cresheim Valley Drive. First envisioned fifteen years ago, the project is being relaunched now that the City of Philadelphia is acquiring the former Pennsylvania Railroad trestle from PECO. Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, a project partner, provided historical information on the structure and Mural Arts founder Jane Golden encouraged attendees to "spread the word" to artists to answer the "Call for Submissions." The Deadline for submissions is April 13, 2018. Your correspondent has posted a PDF of the "Cresheim Trail Mural Project Call for Submissions" here until it becomes available online from the collaborative which also includes the Trolley Car Diner, Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT), Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Chestnut Hill Rotary, the Mount Airy Learning Tree and ChestnutHIllPa. The abandoned railroad is being converted to a trail linking Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill with Springfield Township. See reporter Sue Ann Rybak's coverage in the January 18, 2018 Chestnut Hill Local The mural’s completion is intended to coincide with the opening of the extension to the existing trail which begins at Allens Lane and Lincoln Drive. In June the public is welcomed to vote "in several community locations" to choose a winner from among a handful of proposals narrowed down by Mural Arts. After the meeting, I approached Sam Hanna who had been intently taking notes during the presentations. As a business account manager for the Center for Employment Opportunities, Hanna planned to relay what he had learned to a client. While in prison for twenty years, that client began to do art. And after getting out last year at the time of the Monday evening meeting, was at a job he had just started. Things are looking up.
(In the photo left to right -standing: Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, Jane Golden and Cathy Harris of Mural Arts Philadelphia, seated 2nd from left- Sam Hanna of CEO and Judy Weinstein of MALT)
Your correspondent, a reliably strident protester of former candidate – now President Donald Trump, signed an online petition earlier this year calling for Trump's impeachment. This past week I received an email invitation from Tom Steyer at "Need to Impeach" inviting me to "and [sic] impeachment party", space permitting. The invite didn’t explain at all what would happen at the party but I sniffed free food. Sure, I would "stand with Tom" as other emails asked me to do. Steyer turns out to be a billionaire former hedge fund manager turned born-again environmental activist and Democratic Party candidate funder and fundraiser. I adhere to the credo that “behind every great fortune is a crime,” so it didn’t take long to find an academic critique of hedge funds that concludes they provide no social value and while they provide returns on investments no better than average they do make some managers extraordinarily wealthy.
In a subsequent email we were instructed to arrive at the Liberty View Ballroom at the Independence Visitor Center in downtown Philadelphia with photo ID. We arrived. The other partygoers were mostly middle aged and white like us but much better dressed. We were ushered into a room with waiters walking about offering hors d'oeuvres and an open bar! I schmoozed and conducted some interviews
I engaged Paul Shrader, a tall man with an “impeach trump” t-shirt, the only one I spotted sporting political attire. He was an ATF-Explosives certified military man who felt it wasn’t appropriate to continue service in an administration where 130 people in leadership positions do not, according to him, have security clearances. Working with the enemy? he asked disbelievingly. That’s the number one thing you don’t do and that the administration has been doing.
I also interviewed Lindy Li and Rich Lazer, both young idealistic Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District. The map was redrawn just today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to correct court found Republican Party gerrymandering. Li, who came to the US from China when she was 5 years old, was propelled into politics when a shooter killed children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut on December 14, 2012. The date happened to coincide with her birthday and, in her words, damaged her “eternally.” She is vehement about diminishing the influence of the NRA in gun control matters and big oil on environment, climate change matters. Lazer had just resigned his position as labor liaison for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and opposes Trump‘s measures clamping down on sanctuary cities and calls for Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice in the FBI’s investigation of Russian state operatives’ interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. I also saw candidate Nina Ahmad who smartly drew attention to herself with a sign with her name on it.
Steyer eventually took a high seat at the front of the room alongside Pennsylvania State Representative Donna Bullock who spoke about how her constituents were being damaged by both Trumps policies and his manner. Seated at her right was Baltimore psychologist John Gartner who has been making the case that Donald Trump suffers from deteriorating pre-dementia and malignant narcissistic personality disorder. He speculated Trump might find relief, vindication and perverse pleasure in starting a nuclear war.
Steyer followed with remarks abut the need to energize college students to participate in the midterm elections. When he couched the situation as one of "absolute" right versus wrong, your correspondent impolitely rose before the third and final question that had been chosen from ones earlier submitted by attendees, to question Steyer about his extraordinary wealth. Steyer promised to be transparent. Considering how unrevealing he was in the party invitation, that’s a good thing.
Your correspondent took his wife’s car to Dr. Ralph’s Automotive Services Center in Roxborough after she discovered one morning that it had been bashed overnight. While a technician was dusting off the last traces of the repair job, body shop manager John Klimowicz began explaining the business. While high strength steel is still used in car construction, thermoset plastics are becoming more common. To point out the strength of the repair work, Klimowicz relates that the same epoxies used to weld airplane panels are employed for car panel bonding repairs. If repaired properly, according to manufacturer specifications, “you can hit it with a sledge hammer and it will not break.” As to a future when driverless cars are expected to reduce collisions? “That remains to be seen.” In the meantime, Klimowicz believes there is plenty of work for Dr. Ralph’s and for the other nine or so car repair shops tightly spaced alongside this industrial stretch of Umbria Avenue. Watch video interview here.
Neighbors and former residents of the 16-story Queen Lane Apartment building in the Germantown section of Philadelphia were happy to see the structure deliberately collapsed the morning of September 13, 2014, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in a terrorist attack 13 years ago, practically to the day.
Once sparkling new and desirable, over time the apartment complex became beset by drugs, crime and disrepair and sat vacant the last few years. The remaining residents were relocated and the playground fenced off.
At 7:25 am, a succession several large bangs from ignited caches of dynamite strategically planted on the 1st 4th and 10th floors, preceded the collapse of the building and it was over within 15 seconds
Bystanders outside the cordoned off evacuation and dust zones cheered as a large cloud of brown dust billowed up from the rubble, paving the way for the Philadelphia Housing Authority to construct some 50 rental apartments surrounding a green space.
Family members chanted outside the Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador calling on the government and President Rafael Correa to take action in locating loved ones who have been disappeared. (Kidnappers have been reported to force their victims into the sex trade or hold them for ransom) Watch video here.
On Tuesday, May 21st, at the home of Mary Moorhouse and Angela Griffiths on the corner of Ardleigh and Meade Streets in Chestnut Hill, Nena Eskridge and Fairleigh Dickinson University students began shooting an independent feature length film called “Stray.”
“Stray is a dark psycho/thriller about a killer who decides to give up a life of crime to settle down in a small town to start a family. But first she has to find the right guy to help make it happen – whether he wants to or not.” This, according to the production’s Kickstarter fundraising page which shows 133 donors have already pledged $50,400 surpassing the $50,000 goal.
“Stray” features actress Michele Page (who played a punk girl in a bank “Miss Congeniality 2”) as the lead Jennifer Davis and also tv and screen actors Annie Corley and Aaron Lustig.
A flier left some weeks ago through your correspondent’s mail slot alerted us that filming would begin today and continue through June 10th. The crew will shoot scenes along Germantown Avenue, at the Mermaid Inn and one on June 6th at the back of 213 E Meade Street, Eskridge’s house (on the alley behind our house.) Everyone is welcome to “stop by and watch. Just remember everyone has to be quiet “