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, technicallyphilly.com
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. claywoodsteelspace.com
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, phlmetropolis.com
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.
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
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.
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. target.com
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.
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.?