Better Than Best: People and Places

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

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Best Self-Promoters on the New Media Scene

To be honest, we’re not always sure exactly what it is the young journalists at Technically Philly are trying to accomplish at the site. Are they attempting to chronicle the local media’s often-painful transition into the web-centric era? Well, yes, there’s certainly that. But it sometimes seems that TP’s contributors are trying to bring about the future of media by loudly declaring themselves to be the future of media. The guys—Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and Chris Wink—are certainly good at getting their names out there: The trio appeared last spring at BarCamp Philly, a gathering of veteran journalists, to explain the virtues of their approach. And if that approach appears to be a combination of web links, brief stories and occasional interviews that skim the surface of the local scene—well, who’s to say that isn’t the future of media?

Technically Philly,

Cutest Couple Making Handsome Furniture and Creating Sweet-Ass Metal Work (and pottery)

There’s something to be said for yes men. For those of us who are big dreamers but not always big doers, it’s nice to hear “yeah, I can probably do that for you.” That’s what’s so endearing about our list’s most adorable couple, Michael and Jessica Carter : They can do. You want to lay new tile in your entryway? They can. You want a custom dining table made from reclaimed wood? They’re on it. You want to express your individuality through an artfully sculpted metal porch railing? No problem. They’ve yet to turn down a request or leave a customer unsatisfied. But the cutest yes we’ve heard is when Jessica said I do to Michael, the love she met at University of the Arts several years ago. Most of the magic happens in their Port Richmond live-in studio where they have all manner of tools and doodads for welding, carving, sawing and sculpting. Together they’re banging out some great work.

Carter Studios, 267.804.2876.

Best Old-School Journalist Reinventing Himself for New Media

There are always plenty of former Philly newspaper scribes trying to figure out how to start over. The most successful of the lot? That might be Tom Ferrick , the longtime Inquirer columnist who left the paper in 2008. This year he started up Metropolis , an online-only magazine that features in-depth news coverage and commentary from a band of familiar Philadelphia writers. His aim? To make up the shortfall in local coverage left behind by staff cuts at news organizations around the city. “At Metropolis we have no illusions about our limits—we have a small staff and a modest budget—but we are sure of our mission,” Ferrick declares at the site. Whether he can make it is anybody’s guess. But at least somebody’s still trying.

Metropolis Magazine,

Best Larger-Than-Life Actor

Nobody in Philadelphia can play larger-than-life characters like Scott Greer . The area’s most versatile actor, Greer has played numerous titanic figures in history including Orson Welles ( It’s All True ), Walter Winchell ( Baby Case ), Voltaire ( Candide ), and Faustus ( Wittenberg ). A winner of four Barrymore Awards, Greer is equally adept in comedy and drama, musicals and straight plays. Even when playing outlandish men, Greer avoids spotlight-grabbing star performances. The ultimate ensemble player (he was part of the Barrymore award-winning ensemble in Lebensraum ) Greer doesn’t think about “stature” when approaching a role, but instead creates an appropriate “physical vocabulary” for the character. At six feet tall he is an imposing presence on stage and while he doesn’t have to go big (his performance as the shy introvert Dale in last season’s Something Intangible garnered a Barrymore nomination) his colossal portrayal of the egocentric filmmaker Orson Welles in It’s All True was as good as acting gets.

Best Record Store Clerk

Some of you refuse to give in to the digital downloading tidal wave. On occasion you may even go in to a record store and ask what’s good, what’s new or what sounds like a band you already love. In these situations you need help. You need Chris from AKA . He listens for you. He also plays guitar so he has an ear for talent and plays in a couple bands (Fang Island, Infinite Possibilities), so he knows his contemporaries. While owner Mike may take some warming up to, he’s embedded in Chris a fondness for ‘70s guitar rock (Thin Lizzy) to balance out his young grasshopper’s love of proto-punk (Ramones, early Velvet Underground). Chris takes his job seriously; he reads things and anticipates new releases. Long In The Tooth on Sansom and Repo on South can be whack experiences—LITT is so punk, and Repo is staffed by stoners. AKA is big, user-friendly and they care about getting records into your head.

AKA Music, 27 N. Second St. 215.922.3855

Best Person to Call When Your Roof Caves In and You Just Don’t Know What to Do

The hot water heater’s busted. The floors need refinishing. Spring is coming; you need a roof deck. Ah, the joys of home ownership! Selecting a contractor feels a lot like walking onto a used car lot: negotiating rates and terms for a product you don’t fully comprehend. Thankfully, Sean Graf , co-owner and contractor at Helios Builders, can put you at ease with simple but detailed explanations of the work ahead. Whether it’s a new powder room or a Jersey mcmansion, Graf’s got you covered. Helios isn’t always the cheapest—Graf is easier on the eyes than he is on the pocketbook—but you get what you pay for. Want to continue to dream about the palace your shack could become? Catch Graf as the helpful contractor on the upcoming season of HGTV’s Dear Genevieve .

Helio Builders, 528 Bainbridge St. 215.922.3393.

Best Sinisterly Ingenious Renovation

We were finally getting smart about how to navigate Target with minimal impulse purchases and wandering spells. Then the evil Target overlords went and added a supermarket and switched the entire place all around, and we’re fucked again. So, yes, Target, of course we’ll take the low-top camo Chucks and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead on DVD. The quesadilla maker too.

Target, 179 Mifflin St. 610.567.2736.

Best So-Bad-It’s-Awesome Commercial

How, oh how, could we ever choose which low-budget local commercial we love best? One is like a Goretti girl’s Facebook album set to Power Point slides. The other heavily features the phrase “Sal’s Back!” quacked by a penguin, who, with a few of his flightless buddies, could probably make more professional looking TV spots that either of these. We call an enthusiastic tie and extend our heartfelt gratitude to these two South Philly businesses for lightening the mood between World Series commercial breaks. But keep a sharp eye, boys; Steak ‘Em Up’s gunning for this award next year.

Best Public Figure Holding Philly Together Because Mayor Nutter Can’t

Everybody knows that Congressman Bob Brady is a major player in town, but what the last year has revealed is just how much of a player he is really is. Take the SEPTA strike: Mayor Nutter came out talking tough then he got booted from the strike negotiations. When a settlement was reached after a week—well, it was Brady who got the credit. When the Dad Vail Regatta threatened to leave town, it was Brady who stepped in and helped Nutter keep the local treasure here at home. This kind of stuff happens all the time. What’s more, as public discontent with Nutter has grown, it is Brady who has emerged as the mayor’s most prominent defender. All of which leads us to ask: Doesn’t Brady have a full-time job in Washington D.C.?

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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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