Better Than Best: People and Places

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Feb. 23, 2010

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Have you noticed “passion” has become a buzzword? At the very least, it’s overused. Every whiny dick-munch on the Real World or sad sack trying out for American Idol has a “passion” for something. But really they don’t—they use the word like it’s a ticket to an event called The Life I Think I Deserve. Which is a crying shame, because real passion is a beautiful thing. Take mixologist Katie Loeb of the Oyster House, for instance. She has a passion for making killer cocktails, and you can taste it—she doesn’t have to say it. The assortment of bitters, citrus fruit peel cut for twists and specialty liquors behind the bar that help her brew up scrumptious concoctions are myriad, and watching her work her mixologist magic is a pleasure. After all, she’s not just mixing cocktails, she’s teaching a class on the true meaning of passion.

Oyster House, 1516 Sansom St. 215.567.7683.

Best Rebels without a Cause

In order to become a true, honest-to-goodness Jedi Mind Tricks fan, you either need to have a good-natured disposition or a large surplus of inner-anger; preferably both. Headquartered in South Philly for roughly a decade now, the wide reach of JMT’s massive popularity in the underground hip-hop world seems to expand with each new independently released album. Yet regardless of the group’s incredibly offensive lyrics—which range from pro-radical Islamism to anti-Christian sentiment and even homophobia—the pulse-pounding JMT beats are so addictive it’s hard not to forgive the group its nasty prejudices. Whether or not you agree with what MC Vinnie Paz has to say—and it’s a safe bet that most of his biggest fans don’t—there’s no doubt that each and every furiously angry verse is nothing less than 100 percent genuine. Now that’s real hip-hop.

Jedi Mind Tricks,;

Best Inadvertent Community-Building Through Free Music

The Great Recession is a bitch. But there’s at least one perk to getting laid off: your Friday afternoons are free, making it much easier to make it to one (or all) of ’XPN’s Free at Noon concerts at World Cafe Live. Occasionally they feature high-profile local artists, but most of the time it’s top-shelf singer/songwriter royalty; last year’s acts included Peter Bjorn and John, Andrew Bird, Erin McKeown, Raphael Saadiq, Indigo Girls, M. Ward, Dr. Dog and Gov’t Mule, among many others. The first question from the stage is usually the same: “Don’t you people have jobs?” Largely, no. But that means many of the same faces are free to show up week after week, naturally building a hybrid concert club/unemployment therapy group. Who needs income when you’ve got friends?

World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.573.WXPN.

Best Roof To Get Your Green On

You’ll never see it unless you go there, but you’ll definitely feel it, in both the money and environment that PECO is saving. When it opened last year, the roof of the PECO building became the largest green roof built on any preexisting structure in Pennsylvania. At nearly an acre, it improves stormwater runoff, which definitely helps on the hardscaped Market Street below; regulates the temperature of the building, which lowers the bottom line of your electric bill; and fosters natural wildlife, from birds to native grasses and plants. Plus, they offer tours, which means you can go visit one of the places that’s improving the city, literally, from the top down.

PECO Building, 2301 Market St.

Best Place to Learn a Hobby That’ll Freak Out Your Parents

Founded last year by Catherine Dentino and Paul Yavarone, Pterodactyl Philadelphia is the only place in the city where you can learn how to make badass art from animal remains. On Thursday nights, Katie Elia teaches the basics, including the initial steps of boiling, bleaching and preserving the bones of deceased critters, and then students determine what kind of art they want to make and dictate the rest of the curriculum. If you’re into live animals, Darla Jackson (whose gorgeous animals sculptures you’ve seen everywhere from the late Mew Gallery to Urban Outfitters) teaches the two-part “Introduction to Animal Sculpture,” which starts off with bone basics, segues into taxidermy and ends up with a segment on modeling live animals. There are also classes on sewing and comic book creation, but they’re way less likely to make your mom wonder what the hell happened to you after college.

Pterodactyl Philadelphia, 3237 Amber St., fifth fl. 215.501.7158.

Best Person to Talk to About Must Eats

Jennie Hatton is the PR guru behind the biggest, most talked about restaurants (and the names behind them) in the city—Jose Garces, Zahav, Pub & Kitchen, Tria—and by virtue gets first dibs on the lip smacking grub coming out of their kitchens. She’s always quick to give tips about what’s next, what’s delicious and what creative flavors are going to have the city abuzz. What’s more (and for that matter, rare), she doesn’t just pimp the chefs and restaurants on her client roster. This chick loves food, and is just as happy to talk Tangier Café’s bang-up wings (not a client, but her favorite in the city none-the-less), as she is the new rabbit heart dish chef and client Michael Solomonov is serving. Hatton bats a thousand with her recommendations too: We’ve yet to try anything she’s raved about that didn’t absolutely deliver.

Follow Hatton and the crew at Profile PR via their Twitter @ProfileTip.

Best Feel-Good Philly YouTube Clip

It was an emotional night when longtime WPVI weatherman Dave Roberts retired. As Roberts delivered his final report with quavering voice and tears in his eyes, the entire WPVI staff and Roberts family (including his son, Bones actor David Boreanaz) crowded into the studio to say goodbye. Overwhelmed by the support, Roberts delivered a touching off-the-cuff speech thanking his family, the viewers, the crew and his dear friend, anchor Jim Gardner. The two “old gray-haired guys” exchanged “I love you, mans” and remembered the dearly departed Gary Papa, who died last year after battling cancer. In a town where broadcasters are the closest we get to celebrities, this is the Philly equivalent of a great Oscar speech.

 Best Budget-Friendly Alternative to the City Tour

Hopping aboard one of those overpriced bus tours that always seem to be circling Old City can actually be an effective way to discover the uniqueness of Philadelphia. No matter what your opinion of big-city tours may be, though, the “overpriced” aspect is nearly impossible to escape. That is, unless you’re willing to think outside the tourist-trap box. For those willing to slum it, Septa’s 23 bus will give you a distinctly more realistic and diverse view of Philly. Going the full distance on this former trolley route takes about an hour, and as the trip progresses you’ll pass through historic Germantown and Mt. Airy, the retail playground of Chestnut Hill, the tourist-friendly Reading Terminal Market, and eventually the heart of red-sauce South Philly. And with an admission fee of just $1.45 each way, you may even be able to buy yourself a souvenir.

Septa Bus Routes, 215.580.7800.

 Best Gym for the Recession-Afflicted

Perhaps not surprisingly, South Philly has always been home to a fair selection of affordably priced gyms. But when the quickly expanding Planet Fitness chain opened a location in Quartermaster Plaza, cardio fanatics and jarheads alike took notice. While the generously-sized room is coated in a truly awful yellow-and-purple paint job and the high-school-aged employees seem to have a collective chip on their shoulders, the price of admission is ridiculously low: Monthly memberships start at just $10. Although various fees will set you back another $88 annually, there are numerous sales during which the majority of those fees are waived. As for the equipment, it’s essentially brand-new. The free weight collection isn’t exactly overflowing, but we guarantee you’ve never seen so much cardio equipment in one spot. The only truly unfortunate aspect? You no longer have an excuse not to get in shape.

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. Felicia D'Ambrosio said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:27AM

“Wow, guys, thank you so much! I am floored by the kind words, and you have given me the greatest accolade my CV has ever seen! Thank you Thank you!”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 01:07PM

“About the "Best Place to Embrace Punch-Drunk Love" article. Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is? These people are there to get help with their lives and not live in the same insanity that they have been for years while using drugs. Really? Have you no respect for an orignization of men and women who are trying to better their lives? You do realize that because someone who thought about seeking help might not because you published this. They wanted to go to an ANONYMOUS program and now, after reading your article, they might not because such peopple as yourselves think that meetings are a great place to go and just hang out. They might have a fear of being seen and you've just put this place up as a place to gawk at people who are trying to change their lives as if they are a bunch of freaks. What the hell is wrong with you? Have your writers lost their moral compass completely? Are your editors sleeping at their desks, just letting stories like this go by? You're sick!”

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3. akh22241 said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 03:54PM

“YOU MAKE ME SICK! Why on earth would you think an NA meeting is a place to HANG OUT!!!!! Have you no respect. If your an addict who wrote this, I'm even more p*****!!!!! It's ANONYMOUS. Apparently you've been there and if you know anything about the program then you should also know it's a direct violation of our traditions which are in place to protect addicts who want to remain ANONYMOUS! Also you would think a paper would know what that word means. In NA "Our primary purpose to carry the message to addict who still suffers" not to be a cool place to hang out. "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need maintain personal anonimity at the level of press, radio and films" If addicts think that this is a place where people just go to hang out then our message is lost and recovery won't happen. THANKS TO YOU THIS "BEST PLACE TO EMBRACE DRUNK LOVE" IS IN DANGER OF LOSING THEIR MEETING PLACE AND WON'T BE THERE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT!!!”

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4. TomP said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 04:20PM

“I agree, Felicia rocks!”

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5. Katie Loeb said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:36AM

“Wow! Thank you! That may be the nicest thing anyone has ever written about me or what I do. We'd all like to believe we're making someone's life better every day when we head to work. Whether we're doctors, lawyers, bartenders or Indian Chiefs, it's lovely to get some respect for getting out of bed and showing up to do whatever it is that we do. Thanks for making me feel like someone cares that I did and understands what motivates me to do it. I'm humbled and thankful.”

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6. ANONYMOUS!!! said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 05:51AM

“Tonight I heard someone share about an NA meeting being promoted in a newspaper... I couldn't believe that could possibly be true, so I had to see it for myself. And here it is. How sick and twisted are you to publish something like this??? Narcotics Anonymous is a place where we go, as addicts, to SAVE OUR LIVES... it's a matter of life and death, not some sort of hip hang-out! I recently moved back to Philadelphia and someone had actually recommended this particular meeting to me a few weeks ago... but who would want to attend a meeting where we will feel like we are specimens to be gawked at, a trendy Philly attraction?? And I'm curious how this was even discovered anyway...if the writer of this is actually a member of NA, you need to take a good, hard look at why you feel it's ok for YOU to violate the traditions that bind us all together. I know most of us would like to keep our meetings open, but it seems like this might be a good time to make The Eleventh Hour a CLOSED one”

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7. ANONYMOUS!!! said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:15AM

“I like how this story was conveniently written by "PW Staff." You get to remain anonymous, so please respect a program whose very foundation IS anonymity. If this meeting turns into some sort of circus, with people stumbling from neighborhood bars into a place that is supposed to be a SAFE HAVEN for addicts, I fear that our primary purpose (to carry the message to the addict who still suffers) will become lost in the chaos. Earlier I said that I wouldn't want to be gawked at, but, when I think about it, I'm not going to let this deter me from checking out a meeting that was suggested to me. I hope no other people seeking recovery are deterred by this either. Anyone who is not, please respect our desire to remain anonymous by staying away.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 01:56PM

“Well, it sounds like the NA people should make their meeting a CLOSED meeting if they dont want "NON" addicted people coming to them.”

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9. Nick Devlin c/o Long in the Tooth said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 03:37PM

“Although it doesn't really bother me to be labeled "so punk," it is a pretty inaccurate statement about my shop and the stuff we tend to also carry. I can't help but wonder why you would not just continue to reap praise on the guy with the spectacular range of influence(Thin Lizzy! Ramones!) and wonderful bands he plays in that know one seems to care about. Instead you feel the need to talk shit on two other record stores in town( Melanie, you Stoner!!). You also use the word whack. That is terrible. Unfortunately all of this goes down in the same article where you recommend that a good hang out in philly on a friday night is at an n/a meeting at a christian thrift shop! Ridiculous people. Please do not come to my shop for the next flavor of the month hype record that comes out. Go to AKA and give them the money. I will continue to enjoy my usual clientele who also buy the above titles, but do not shit on all the other styles that are held within the store. Oi.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 08:40AM

“Kudos to the Penns Landing post office staff. I don't even live in that neighborhood anymore, but still go back for the friendly service and the reasonable hours.”

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11. chris m. said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:37AM

“As far as the 11th Hour Group:
Calm down people. No ones anonymity was broken. No one is going to want to hang out with us on a Friday night because they are bored. This isn't going to attract anyone, nor is it going to make anyone not come.
Where our meetings are held isn't difficult to find out, hence the Public Information subcom. One website, one phone call and you can find any meeting in the city. Its not a violation of Traditions. Traditions are for groups, not media. We weren't the ones promoting us. And "personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films"? Key word: personal.
Make it a closed meeting? What is this '82? Glad that everyone that has had their lives saved now wants to hoard it, keep a secret and not let anyone else in now that you have found a new way of life.
And everyone acts like suddenly the last thing we would want to do is to shake the Hollywood portrayal of a bunch of old white men drinking coffee and whining about our lives.
See you at the homegroup!”

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12. John Culhane said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:31PM

“Avril 50 isn't cozy, it's...well, read all about it on my blog (”

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13. Mike said... on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:46PM

“Who is starting the rumor that Penn Treaty Park is deserted and empty? Have you ever been there? I have lived 2 blocks from Penn Treaty Park for the past 30 years. It is often crowded and filled with families having picnics and BBQ's throughout the summer. Hipsters do not go there. I reckon the rumor of it being empty and under utilized is being started by hipsters because they want more hipsters to go there. And then you can all play dodgeball, kickball and 4 corners there. Also, Penn Treaty Park is not adjacent to Fishtown. It is in Fishtown. It is adjacent to Northern Liberties and Port Richmond.”

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14. Jim C. said... on Mar 6, 2010 at 06:17PM

“It is a distorted way to mention an NA meeting--as if it was some hip thing to do for a night, like it's a "show." Ya, it's an "Open" meeting but that's not meant to mean "open to gawkers."”


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