Waves down cars for Liberty Tax Service

Waver for Liberty Tax Service

With a shiny turquoise gown and spiked Statute of Liberty hat to match, bearded Tom Humphrey waves at cars passing by on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough to drum up business for Liberty Tax Services. “It’s a fun job,” and he gets to meet a lot of people and see his neighbors, says Humphrey who works four-hour shifts, morning, noon or night, depending on his schedule. Some “wavers” who work other shifts are not so keen on the rainy, sleety or snowy conditions that, he hints, don’t faze him. According to Humphrey, this is Liberty’s signature and effective way of advertising, as the company does not advertise on radio, TV or in newspapers. Watch video here.


Why I vote (Obama)

Why I Vote (for Obama)

Everett Staten sells Obama for President clothing and paraphernalia from a boutique storefront in Mount Airy, Philadelphia. By purchasing items, Staten says, people can both show their support for the President and help fund his re-election campaign. One T-shirt has the outlined letters of the phrase, “Why I Vote.” Each letter is a window on a photograph of some significant even in the civil rights movement – the freedom riders’ bus that was set on fire, a police dog attacking a college student at a rally in Greensboro, a malt being thrown on an African-American woman at a lunch counter, Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, fire hoses being directed at protesters in Birmingham, an imprisoned Dr. Martin Luther King from where he wrote the “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, one of the Little Rock nine girls braving segregationists to enter high school and Congressman John Lewis who, as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, got pummeled Everett says this t-shirt is especially needed to remind people why they need to vote – now to fight voter suppression in the form of the voter ID laws which a Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker boasted would guarantee Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney a win in Pennsylvania. Watch video here.

New barber cuts old style

Young Roxborough barber cuts old style

Greg Roussos is a new barber doing old style barbering at the Wissahickon Barber Shop in Roxborough. Old style is spending more time with the customer, doing scissor over combing and straight razor shaving, he says. Roussos feels that guys these days are often forced to go to “girlie” shops and that they really prefer the old time experience where they can hang out, get a cut, talk sports. But he does women’s hair too. The friend who was helping Roussos put flyers on car windshields on Northwestern Avenue near the horse stables says Roussos always does her hair. “He’s the best.” Watch video interview here.

Milica in the Hat


Milica's cousin Alex posing with a hat


Watch video here.

[Guests mingling and trying on Milica’s hats]

>>Milica Schiavio:  My hats are very nature inspired. I love being outdoors so I try to use a lot of organic elements. I definitely went through a fruit phase. I used plastic apples, plastic pears. This one right here for example, is mounted on a suede headband and it’s packing material, egg cartons and all sorts of green elements.

[Guests trying on hats]

>>CLOSEUP: And where would someone wear a hat like this?

>>Milica: They would wear them to the Radnor Hunt races, the Devon Horse show, different horse shows. I won first place at Radnor Hunt two years ago, second place last year. We’ll see what happens this year.

>>CLOSEUP: So the horses compete and the hats compete too?

>>Milica: Yeah, they do in the chapeau contest. It’s fun. I love to make people smile. I think women have a really good time when they wear my hats.  People approach them, talk to them…. That’s a fascinator. So it’s Styrofoam in the middle with paper and just acorns and green moss.

[Trying on hats, posing for camera]

>>Milica: The name of my website is  Milica in the Hat Millinery dot com and it’s You can also go to my Facebook page where there’s a lot more photos. 


Milica's neice looks at one of Milica's fascinators

Harajuku meets Lolita - Fashionistas Japan style

At the Japan Society Sakura Sunday Cherry Blossom Festival, Japanese fashion took center stage.  Tamagawa Taiko dancers and drummers performed wearing traditional Japanese dress, followed by models wearing fashions inspired by Tokyo's Harajuku District, designed by students of the Art Institute. Meanwhile Frilladelfia girls pirouetted about in their frilly Lolita outfits imported from contemporary Japan and harking back to the dress of Victorian England.




“Students from the Art Institute designed outfits for this show. It’s a Harajuku style so we have the more fun, colorful and bright style. Then we go into formal wear which is what I’m wearing. Then it’ll go into a more gothic [unintelligible]” (Pointing), “Hers is a much more of a fun style… hers is a really bright Harajuku, and a fun – really.” Heather Chow “It was made from a Kimono that I ripped apart and turned into a skirt and a top. So kind of re-inventing itself into a young Japanese look for now… This is one of my friend’s designs. Her name is Latoya. She turned this kimono into a wrap dress." Monica Monique, shown above.

Watch video here.




WHAT’S JAPANESEY ABOUT YOUR OUTFIT? It’s from Japan.  It’s a fashion style called Lolita. L-O-L-I-T-A.  AND WHAT’S IT CHARACTERIZED BY?  It’s pretty much female modesty.  Typically you’re going to see poofy skirts, dresses and over-the-knee socks. Stuff like that. This is Japanese fashion style. We’re a Japanese fashion group. DO YOU STUDY FASHION? I don’t but several girls do. I just like it. AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR OUTFIT? DID SOMEONE MAKE IT FOR YOU OR DID YOU DESIGN IT? Oh no. Except for two of the girls, we all purchased our outfit from Japan. Or from China. There’s some Chinese companies getting into it now.[talking about her soft pretzel] It’s good. AND IS THAT A JAPANESE TRADITION TOO? No it is not. It’s  a Philly tradition. Except I don’t have cheese or mustard. YOU’RE MIXING YOUR TRADITIONS HERE. I am. It’s a yummy tradition.

Watch video here.

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, Horticultural Center, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA

Philly Roller Girls Jam at 23rd Street Armory

philly roller girls

Competing in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, the Philly Roller Girls jammed their way around the track before an enthusiastic multi-generational crowd at the 23rd Street Armory Saturday Night.

Philly's Independence Dolls took on and over the Wilmington, North Carolina Cape Fear Roller Girls. In the second match, two Philly teams faced off: The Heavy Metal Hookers and the Broad Street Butchers, attired, respectively,with tiger striped shorts and blood-red stained butcher aprons.

Vanessa Jackson "Euro Thrasher"

Vanessa Jackson, a bartender, aka "Euro Thrasher" of the Hookers doubles as co-head of public relations. Five years ago, a girl working at the bar behind hers invited Jackson to a game; it "blew her mind" - she knew she had to do derby and now "Thrasher" cannot imagine life without it.


"Mercedes Bends" of West Philly and Germany, a student teacher of the German language,  was selling roller derby paraphanalia at the event because her teams, the Britches and nationally 4th ranked travel team Bells weren't on the bill. "Bends" progressed into the sport through a combination roller skate dancing, soccer and karate!  Skater "Gingervitis" introduced her to roller derby and in 2009 she earned best team Jammer and MVP awards.  Her profile quote is "German engineering meets American crash standards."

Watch video here.

Valentines Day roses - does love hurt?


[Alexandra Serfass, Robertson's Flowers greenhouse employee]

In the 2004 movie, “Maria Full of Grace,” a pregnant young woman trades the harsh conditions of a flower packing operation in Colombia to come to the United States with a friend as a “drug mule.” It doesn't turn out well.

The flower export business is big business. Large, drab greenhouses, like those in Ecuador where “Maria” was filmed, can stretch for miles. From my bus window, I knew the eerily transformed landscape would not be on any picture postcard I would be sending home to the U.S.

Beauty has its cost to both the environment and people, however, according to “The Secrets Behind Your Flowers,” a February 2011 Smithsonian Magazine report. Because it may take three gallons of water to grow just one rose bloom, groundwater supplies become depleted.  The low-paying work is tedious and straining. In traditional growing operations, workers are exposed to the dangerous pesticides and fungicides that keep insects from taking the slightest nibble from an otherwise picture-perfect flower.

Public outcry in recent years has led to the introduction of fair trade practices.  Nicole Serfass, flower buyer at Robertson’s Flowers greenhouses in Wyndmoor, showed off the Veriflora label on the roses they import from South America.  Veriflora is one of a handful of certifying organizations that try to ensure that their growers are using sustainable agricultural methods and providing equitable, healthy conditions for their workers.

At Robertson’s showcase Chestnut Hill store, Sandy Robertson says they source their flowers locally  from New Jersey,  domestically from Florida when they can and even sees growing customer interest in organically or sustainably grown flowers. Serfass has been asking their growers about organic but believes it’s not yet economically worth it for them to invest the years required for organic certification.

“Aren’t they gorgeous?” Donna Beardell of  Chestnut Hill asks,  exiting Robertson’s with a brilliant bunch of pink tinged roses, destined for her nieces competing in a gymnastics meet. On Valentines Day, she’s hoping she’ll be the recipient.

watch video here


[Sandy Robertson]



[Donna Beardell of Chestnut Hill]


[Nicole Serfass Robertson's Flowers greenhouse, Buyer]

Jo D-Maggie-O wins most creative at NW Equestrian Costumed Horse Halloween Contest

Jo D-Maggie-O

SO HOW DID MAGGIE, “D-MAGGIE-O”, GET HER NUMBER “5”? Joe DiMaggio was number 5 because he was fifth in the batting order for the New York Yankees and they were the first team to start using the numbers regularly for their players. IS THAT NUMBER RETIRED NOW? I think it is. And we have Marilyn Monroe with us today because Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn and they were married for just a short while, under a year. And after two hundred and thirty some days she filed for divorce for mental cruelty. But here’s the interesting thing. She goes on to lead a life of fame and fortune but of course it comes to a very sad end. After she dies, Joe DiMaggio arranges her funeral, keeps all the paparazzi away and then after the funeral, he proceeds for the next twenty years to send red roses to her grave every week. Isn’t that wild? So that’s why we have Joe and Marilyn united today. AND THE HORSE? The horse is Maggie and today she’s ‘Jo D-Maggie-O.’” Sue Land, in background,with Maggie and Marissa Hall,Northwestern Equestrian Facility, Philadelphia. Watch video here.


Andrea Shumsky, as Marilyn Monroe, with Maggie.

Jasper the horse becomes unicorn for Halloween parade


Jasper’s a good horse. He’s stubborn. And really gentle.
Jump, cantor and trot.
Francesca Franzzo of South Philadelphia at the Northwest Equestrian Facility, Philadelphia, Halloween Parade with Jasper. Watch video here.