Better Than Best: People and Places

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

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Congressman Bob Brady’s District Office, 1907-09 S. Broad St. 215.389.4627.

Best Shoulder To Lean On When Your Boyfriend Won’t Attend Another Estate Sale

Treasure hunting doesn’t have to be void of testosterone, and when you’re looking to ditch the mundane Crate and Barrel crowd, Brian McLaughlin ’s ready to nerd out with you about all things salvage. Holding down the fort at Provenance, he is not the salvage yard’s owner but certainly its most valuable employee. He’ll walk you through the yard, pointing out recent deliveries (“we just got in this chicken wire glass”) and what a steal they are (“Old Goode things in N.Y.C. has this for quadruple the price”) and even spend the time brainstorming on how to incorporate their treasures into your own home. Establish yourself as a regular and you’ll start getting emails like you’re his salvage bestie; “I’m at an estate sale for the next three days, need anything?” You’ll be in good company. The city’s metal working artisans, set designers, and decorators all have him on speed dial.

Brian McLaughlin, 1610 Fairmount Ave. 215.769.1817.

Best Attempt to Make Philly a Two-Party Town

Remember when the Republicans used to run Philly? Neither do we. Now, after decades of somnolence, there are signs that the city’s Republican Party is starting to stir. The first big sign? Al Schmidt ’s run for city controller last year. Yes, he only got 28 percent of the vote, but that was better than the abject surrender by the GOP that’s seen most city races boil down to corrupt Democrats versus slightly less corrupt Democrats. Schmidt isn't done: With the backing of the Pennsylvania GOP, he’s leading a movement to put the city party in the hands of reformers who’ll actually try to win elections instead of settling for crumbs at the city’s patronage table. Even if you’re no fan of the GOP, bringing a little more competition to the city’s politics can only make the scene here more honest—and more fun.

Best Park to Exchange Brotherly Love

It’s said that in 1683 or thereabouts, William Penn and leaders of the Lenape Native American tribe met under a stately elm tree along the Delaware River. There, they shook hands in friendship and brotherhood, exchanged a few gifts, possibly brokered some land deals and ate and drank themselves silly. More than three centuries later, the elm tree is gone (it was felled by a huge storm in 1810) but the seven-acre Penn Treaty Park —established in 1892 to celebrate that momentous meeting—is one of the city’s best and most underutilized parks. Located adjacent to Fishtown/Northern Liberties, it remains perfect for shaking hands in friendship (or, y’know, making out with someone on a bench), exchanging gifts, cutting deals, and drinking yourself silly. Aside from the historical significance, Penn Treaty Park is clean, placid, and boasts amazing views of the river and all the ships passing by, the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Philly skyline; even Camden looks somewhat inviting from this vantage point. For reasons completely unknown to us, the park is rarely crowded—sometimes damn near deserted—even on the most gorgeous summer day. Part of us wishes it would stay that way; another part of us hates to see such a lovely place go to waste.

Penn Treaty Park, 1199 N. Delaware Ave.

Best Local Promotional Vehicle

From the second it landed, NeeKo’s “ Ill State of Mind ” quickly shot to the top of the massive heap of locally branded Jay-Z adaptations. With rhymes like “Now that we got Vick/ I think we need the Vet back/ Tougher than a stitch/ On a Mitchell & Ness cap,” he seamlessly blends old Philly and new in verses that are smarter, more clever and funnier than anything in the original “Empire.” If he’d just adapted names and places, it wouldn’t have stuck. But NeeKo jumps through history that he clearly knows, checking Ben Franklin’s Almanac, Chase Utley, and just about everyone in between in what amounts to a master class on Philadelphia. Forget the GPTMC—this is all the promotion the city needs.

Best Junker Jehovah

Tony Marino is a wrench turner from way back. He was brought up in his father's garage and has been replacing spark plugs since he was bumper high to a Buick. His South Philly garage looks like a typical gearhead's hangout complete with Maxim magazines but that doesn't mean Tony is your typical grease monkey. He's not only a superb mechanic but a trustworthy one. In an era where trust is a traded commodity, it's nice to know you can rely on your mechanic when you can't rely on your car.

Marino's Auto Repair, 1528 Alter St. 215.546.3954

Best Smile on a Dry Cleaner

Soonae Ko —that's Mrs. Ko to you—is a true testament to the success of American immigration. She left her small sewing business and came to the U.S. to live with her siblings in Wilmington, Del., because of what she refers to as "hard times" in her native South Korea. After a year of learning the dry cleaning business, she bought her own. The satisfaction she gets from her place in the world is evident as soon as you open her door. With a warm smile, she radiates a satisfaction that she attributes to being truly settled. The prices are reasonable and the tailoring work is that of a true artisan.

Deluxe Cleaners, 500 S. 23rd St. 215.732.3481

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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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