Of the few remaining bookstores in Philly, Penn Book Center has the game on lockdown. Their new book selection is the best in town, and it’s independent, so you’re not shoving money into the pockets of megastore stooges. If you dig philosophy, poetry and all sorts of strange postmodern humanities texts about how Dr. Seuss is best theorized through the lens of anal sex, prepare to have your cherry sexed. Shout out to Jeanette Winterson.
Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th St. 215.222.7600. pennbookcenter.com
Best Music Producer
Here’s a tip for Philly bands: If you wanna blow up, make a record with Jeff Zeigler. As the founder of Uniform Recordings, he’s produced albums by many local artists who’ve earned national acclaim: Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs, Pattern Is Movement, and Clockcleaner, to name a few. As everyone will tell you, with Zeigler working the knobs, the sky’s the limit. He knows all the right moves, helping bands realize the previously impossible. He’s recently worked with Purling Hiss, Violens and Oh! Pears, and has upcoming projects with Chris Forsyth, Royal Shoals and Blood Feathers. Get in line.
Best-Kept Musical Secret
Northern Liberties local Thom McCarthy, 24, has a voice that just makes you think of buttah. Buttah all in yo’ ears, butta’ melting down your eardrums, smooth and slippery as he belts the kind of lyrics that are cute without being corny, witty but not pretentious. Plus his guitar chops are somewhere between Lonnie Johnson and Charley Patton (like a young, jazzy Eric Clapton). And barely anyone knows about him—for now. You can listen to his single “Cheesesteaks Live Forever” at myspace.com/thommccarthy, but this cat should be caught live.
Things were going pretty OK for the Philadelphia Housing Authority. It was Aug. 13, and the city’s biggest landlord was going green in the form of some public housing units at 72nd Street and Paschall Avenue. But then something strange happened. It was reported that Executive Director Carl Greene’s house had been foreclosed upon. Four days later, Greene’s friends and colleagues didn’t know where he was. Then he was accused of “predatory sexual misconduct” by a colleague. Then it turned out the PHA had spent some of its funds on laser tags and strippers. Before long, a series of women were accusing Greene of sexual harassment; he was let loose by the city; the PHA Board—which includes former Mayor John Street—threw him under the bus; and Greene found himself at a mental hospital in Maryland, perhaps getting Clockwork Orange ’d. It was a long way down for the PHA head, who’d been making more than $300,000 per year on the books. Nevertheless, he’s gone. And he’s trying to sue the city for two years’ pay, since they, uh, tarnished his name.
Best Political Flip-Flopper
Karen Brown has spent nearly 30 years in Philly as a Democrat, doing Democrat shit, working for Bob Brady and heading a civic association. But then a guy named John Featherman decided he’d run for Philly mayor as a Republican. The official GOP in the city didn’t like that, or him, so they began begging literally everyone to run. Brett Mandel was asked. As was Malcolm Lazin. And Rick Hellberg. And Gene Cohen. They all declined. Featherman was set to go unopposed, but then, less than a week before signatures were due, Brown decided to run for mayor as a Republican (she had previously been running for the 1st District and At-Large City Council) and was endorsed by the RCC. Then she beat Featherman. Now, she’s a Republican with opposing points of view. For instance, she says she’s a Republican, but supports the city’s unions. She supports unions, but told the Metro she’d eliminate the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. She’s got the RCC’s endorsement, but now they don’t really want her.
Best Community News Blog
Seen those signs around West Philly for “Know Your Local?” That’s the handiwork of husband and wife duo Mike Lyons and Julija Kulneva, who’ve been putting out West Philly-focused news like it’s their job (even though they both also work full-time). The brain child of a former Associated Press journalist (Mike) and a technology guru (Julija), this little blog delivers what’s happening in the neighborhood before anyone else, with rogue journalistic flair and a strong point of view. You might see them heading over to the police station for comment or taking to the streets in search of a story, but they also never forget to post about the simple things that make West Philadelphia feel like home.
Ever think to yourself: Hey, I wonder where I can have a threesome and then promptly forget about it? Well, one of our writers thinks he's found that place. Want Mexican food that doesn't burn on the way out? Of course you do. More of these questions and answers have found their way into this year's Better Than Best issue. And what's better than best, you ask? We have no idea. We just knew we couldn't use Best Of, because another publication in this town has it on lockdown. But that doesn't mean we didn't put an enormous amount of effort into bringing you the most random hidden gems Philly has to offer. Because we did. And we think we've got a pretty good list going on here.
PW's Summer Guide 2015