City on Skwire

A Southwest Philly Blogger lights a fire under Nutter's ass.

By Kellie C. Murphy
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 19 | Posted Dec. 17, 2008

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Photographs By Michael Persico

Part wiseass and part history buff, Brendan Skwire isn't the ordinary white-gentrifier-in-the-'hood that he might seem. Most nights after work the edgy 38-year-old bicycles home to his notoriously dangerous Southwest Philly neighborhood, dashes up the stairs of his rowhome, plants himself in a room full of books and then busies himself writing one angry missive after another on his provocative, take-no-prisoners blog Brendan Calling.

With the glare from the laptop illuminating his face, Skwire looks more like a man possessed than the creative urban professional he is. Throw in the backdrop of a charming picture window overlooking the sometimes perilous Kingsessing ball fields behind him, and it's clear this inner-city blogger is on a mission to force transparency in government by uniting pissed-off citizens into kicking some political ass.

The self-described loudmouth who "drinks a lot of beer" has no interest in the status quo, and is happy to use any means necessary--blog, email, cell phone--to harass local, state and even national elected officials into (to borrow from the master) delivering change we can believe in.

"I like making phone calls to people like Bob Casey and Arlen Specter to annoy them," he boasts.

In a recent post, Skwire confesses to making so many harassing calls to elected officials over the years that it's nothing for him to use up an entire month of cell phone minutes in just one week. Skwire even posts the conversations to his blog.

But some weeks ago, when Skwire--a grant writer who spends his days asking individuals, foundations and corporations for money for social programs like GED and ESL classes--first heard about Mayor Michael Nutter's plan to close libraries and pools in some of the city's worst neighborhoods (including his own), his rants moved closer to home.

He's more focused now on the city budget, City Council members and the slew of big corporations that owe the city millions in unpaid debt--most notably, the Eagles (which he often refers to as a deadbeat organization) and Sunoco.

Referring to Nutter as a coward, "disgraceful" and a "disingenuous liar," Skwire takes the mayor to task for choosing to cut desperately needed social services instead of collecting outstanding debts from his corporate buddies.

"That's the thing that's blowing the top off my head now," he fumes. "The Daily News reported a few weeks ago that the Eagles have owed the city $8 million since 1985. They were supposed to pay up in 2001, but they've chosen to tie it up in court believing the city will just give up. But if you go to the community relations page of the Eagles' website," Skwire says, "you'll see nothing but how they support literacy with their bookmobile. That's great, but you owe us $8 million! Nothing against the bookmobile, but that's nothing compared to keeping a dozen libraries open."

Rebelling against the machine comes naturally to Skwire. Born in Newport, R.I., he grew up during the Reagan years and became an early frequenter of the local punk rock music scene, learning how to rage with political groups like the Dead Kennedys and MDC.

He moved to Philly in 1999 to pursue his musical ambitions and settled in Kingsessing, one of the oldest settlements in the city. He says the area was the perfect fit, because he wanted homeownership and a yard--without going broke.

Skwire realizes how out of place he looks in his predominately black neighborhood. He remembers when he first moved in and his plumber warned him to put bars on the windows, because, "when they know you're here, they'll come." But nobody ever came, and this average-looking white dude shifted comfortably from interloper to a tried-and-true member of the community. He's even on the block watch.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 19 of 19
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1. Hannah said... on Dec 16, 2008 at 10:36PM

“Hey Brendan - great story. It's all true people! ....AND F___ THE EAGLES. ....And BTW - did you see this? http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/mark_alan_hughes/Mayor_telling_it_from_the_rooftops.html We're going to have the greenest jail in the country!”

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2. Doc Hollywood said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 07:37AM

“Why are you wasting ink on this commie-pinko-bedwetter-community-activist who wants to do "good" for the people? Why don't you put a real American on the cover like Rick Santorum?”

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3. THETruth said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 08:49AM

“Brendan's publishings usually aren't helpful. First, they aren't always true--take, for example last weeks comments that PW itself repeated about the city closing the Kingsessing rec center. A totally false rumor that PW AND Brendan refused to correct. Second, they don't produce any meaningful change. Can't prove a negative...but please be my guest and proffer up something to prove me wrong. Third, he is bilking someone out of their monies when he blogs from work, which mosts of his most recents posts indicate that he does. Does his boss know and approve of this behavior? Fourth, his opinions seem less relevant --if not irrelevant, considering that politicians' antics would have little to no impact on him and his silver-spoon. ”

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4. THETruth said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 08:52AM

“So there we have, the media and Brendan wasting our time by distracting us from focussing on the real enemy.”

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5. Doc Hollywood said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 09:54AM

“I think the real "truth" is that THETruth is jealous that he is not half the writer or person that Brendan is. Brendan's publishing's are very helpful and vital to a voiceless community. Perhaps THETruth prefers inner city residents remain quiet and illiterate.”

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6. Susie from Philly said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:12AM

“Most bloggers write their posts the night before or early in the morning before work, then time the posts to be published throughout the day. ”

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7. brendan said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:13AM

“"take, for example last weeks comments that PW itself repeated about the city closing the Kingsessing rec center. A totally false rumor that PW AND Brendan refused to correct." that's actually totally inaccurate: in fact, i visited the orignial article posted by ms. murphy here, and commented: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/articles/18045/news. "there's clearly a misstatement in the article. So far as i know, it's the Kingsessing pool that's being closed, not the entire rec center." i guess you missed it while you were researching my "silver spoon". Besides, that quote isn't attributed to me anyway: I never said that. And speaking of that spoon, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! I wish I had a silver anything.”

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8. kenny mayne said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:25AM

“oh please, he's not much of writer”

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9. Neil Cleary said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:33AM

“Funny how the internet inadvertently rewards cowards like "THETruth" who lack the cojones to sign their own name under their opinions. Score one for Brendan on that count. If you're going to take someone on, at least do it on an even playing field, ie with your own name. In light of this, this mysterious and unverifiable person's "insights" about Brendan ring hollow, especially considering: 1.) they seem designed to harm him personally rather than contribute to the discussion (Going after a man's job in times like these? That's low, low stuff) and 2.) the "silver spoon" comment (hmmm... racial profiling anyone?) is knee-slappingly laughable to anyone who's read an inch of the blog, in which Brendan chronicles his own near-desperate financial situation which -- (surprise, THETruth!! ) -- are directly impacted by the people he rails against. I would direct your attention to his numerous entries on his own home heating bills, child support payments, education & health care costs -- not to mention those on his own neighborhood safety, directly related to poverty in the neighborhood. It's insanity to claim that Brendan's not personally invested in what he writes about... but it does seem to beg the question of whether the coward behind "THETruth" is somehow personally invested in harming Brendan. Hmmm... And by the way dude, seriously... The Truth? Really? Maybe give yourself a weensy bit more time in picking a fake name next time.”

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10. lutton said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:38AM

“as the saying goes...THETruth is out there--way out there.”

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11. Phillybits said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 11:33AM

“Speaking of writing.... ”

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12. kenny mayne said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 12:55PM

“exactly...”

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13. Jane Goodall said... on Dec 17, 2008 at 06:06PM

““Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read” ~Frank Zappa”

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14. Disgusted said... on Dec 19, 2008 at 03:02AM

“Acutally Brendan from Brendan Calling thinks most people who don't agree with his ideology are idiots. If you have ever read his blog, he completely denigrates anyone who has an opinion that differs from his own. He is a far left liberal who has this sense of entitlement. He blames the government for most things in his life that are lacking. He uses the blog to complain about all the injustices in his life. The most entertaining aspect of his blog are the personal comments he writes about family and friends (his mom being an alcoholic etc). She must have been thrilled to see that was all over the internet. Another wasted article from Philadelphia Weekly”

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15. oprah said... on Dec 21, 2008 at 02:12PM

“amen brother "In a recent post, Skwire confesses to making so many harassing calls to elected officials over the years that it’s nothing for him to use up an entire month of cell phone minutes in just one week" -if that is true, it is pretty lame”

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16. Dr Schuylkill said... on Dec 22, 2008 at 07:34PM

“ The Grinch that stole the Library at Christmas… By Dr. Schuylkill Every Who, Down in Kingsessing, southwest Who-ville, Liked their library a lot… But a new Library director Grinch, From a town far from southwest Who-ville, Did not. The city was going through a tough financial season, Mismanagement of money and an economic downturn was the reason. Budget cuts had to be made, that might be right, But the Free Library’s cut, that was way, way, (20%!!!) too tight. The director decided she didn’t need the libraries, serving the small, And didn’t want any cuts to the prestigious central library at all. The Diabolical Director, Siobhan Reardon, came up with a plan, She figured a way to keep the money, for the central library’s expansion. She would close the library in the neighborhood of the Whos. And for this she set herself up to receive big BOOOOs. It was the day before Christmas was the date of the closing, Where the building would be shut up, and readied for selling. It was Cindy-Lou Philly Who, who first saw the fact, That this was forever a library, as it was written on a stone plaque. Cindy read the words of a man named Carnegie, That said this building would forever be a library. Cindy looked up forever in the dictionary, confused by what she found, As the entry said forever, couldn’t be closed down. Then Cindy-Lou Philly Who told all her Who friends, So that the library that she knew and loved, wouldn’t have to end. Library director Reardon must not know her vocabulary, Otherwise she wouldn’t confuse the meaning so badly. She wouldn’t morally carry on with this library closing endeavor, If she knew the true meaning of the stone carved word, forever. Cindy called the library directors office, but Ms. Reardon didn’t care, But Cindy-Lou Philly Who knew, that this wasn’t legal, moral, or fair. Also Cindy-Lou Philly Who’s mother, was mad as can be, And it wouldn’t be long before the next democratic primary. Mrs. Who and her friends who vote, will definitely remember, The man who ignored, the library sign saying forever. If Mayor Nutter was a smart man, he would know what to do, Find a new director who could keep the library open, for the Who’s. Nutter could be the one to save the libraries, and stand much taller, And he should, because political careers have been lost, over things much, much smaller. The Mayor has in his power, to free the Who’s library from their Grinch, Because there are other ways of saving money, in a financial pinch. Mr. Nutter it time to do the right thing, to be a strong leader and to be brave, Because you know in your heart, that the library branches, need to be saved. ”

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17. phillygrrl said... on Dec 22, 2008 at 09:26PM

“Enjoyed your poem, Dr. Schuylkill. And kudos to a fellow blogger for the great exposure. Obviously THETruth fails to realize that blogging is opinion, not news. It's meant to highlight the author's interests, not yours, Mr. Truth. Brendan is definitely exposing some important issues. ”

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18. Wing Bowl Louie said... on Jan 28, 2009 at 03:38AM

“This guy's thirty-eight years old, and this is where he is in life? Jeez, no wonder he's mad - I'd be mad, too, when I took a good look in the mirror and realized that this is all I've achieved in life. I'm sure it feels cool to be a rebel and live in an edgy neighborhood doing edgy, provocative things, but in reality, the rest of us enjoying the good life in the suburbs (where we have nice libraries for our smart children!!!) just find you amusing. "I will wander around barefoot I will have a psychedelic gleam in my eye at all times I will love everyone I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street"”

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19. Hector said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:05AM

“Grant Writer = Parasite”

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