To Ryan Howard for speaking truth. Though there have been signs of a turnaround of late, the Phils slugger has gotten off to a pretty crummy start this season. As a consequence, he's occasionally caught the predictable rainfall of boos from the Cit Park faithful. Many Phillies stars in the past--Schmidt! Parrish! Rolen!--have received the same unpleasant treatment and reacted by either a) saying they didn't hear the boos and therefore it meant nothing; b) turning sullen, shutting down and refusing to talk to anybody about anything; or c) lashing out at the fans by implying that Philadelphia catcallers are supreme dumbasses. Ryan Howard, though, reacted in the smartest way possible. He confessed that, yes indeed, the boos did bother him. But then--hold on--he came through with the all-important rhetorical fan-winning stroke: "But at the same time," he said, touching every base, "that's what happens when you sign a permission slip to play here in Philly."
To Mayor Nutter for being green. Last week the mayor anointed Mark Alan Hughes the city's first sustainability director. This is cool, first off, because Nutter promised he would appoint somebody in that role, and then he did. It's also cool that he picked Hughes--an urban affairs expert who used to write a highly opinionated op-ed column for the Daily News--to expand recycling, cut energy use and come up with a host of environmental goals. This is what a sustainability director does, and it's going to take someone willing to make a lot of noise to make this environmentally backwoods city turn emerald. Back when he was penning columns, Hughes once wrote this: "Most members of our political class act and sound like dropouts from a neighborhood gang. They can barely talk to each other, let alone anyone with influence outside City Hall. They wouldn't know the public interest if it bit them and they have no sense of a vision of the future beyond their next payday." You can see how we might come to like this Hughes dude.
To Camden High for being so fashionably innovative. Good news about Camden High comes along about as often as a bright idea from George Bush, so it was encouraging, if not downright awe-inspiring, to read in last Sunday's NYT about a recent student fashion show at Camden High sponsored by Parish Nation, a New York-based collective of hip-hop-influenced "culturally aware designers." The fashion show had a few glitches, but was boffo box office at the school, where it packed the auditorium. Eyes were opened, new ambitions established. But so much work needs to be done. This startling New York Times quote comes courtesy of Gregory Wake, a Camden High English teacher, who said of the students, "They need to realize that there's somewhere outside of this 8-mile city. There's a whole world to see. Some of these students have never even been to Philadelphia."
To Signe Wilkinson for continuing to amuse and infuriate. Since 1985 the DN cartoonist (and 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winner) has been holding up a mirror to the way we live and work, and she still gets it. Wilkinson can be comical (like in her recent animated depiction of Hillary climbing the Art Museum steps � la Rocky), but she can also be biting where it counts, like when depicting our gun culture and troubling murder rate. We bring Signe to your attention at this moment because she just won the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award for cartooning--for the second time. "Her series attacking gun violence in Philadelphia spared no one and drew complaints from everyone--the hallmark of any good cartoonist," the RFK judges wrote when awarding her the prize. Indeed.
To Daniel McQuade for his comedic brain. We also learned last week that PW blogger Daniel McQuade--D-Mac to the Western world--has been named as a finalist by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for the top prize as best alternative newspaper blogger in the country. This acknowledgement of his Philadelphia Will Do (www.philadelphiawilldo.com) blog is gratifying to us, because a) blogging is hard work, and is rarely viewed that way; b) D-Mac--whether riffing on the Phillies, the overblown celebrityhood of our citizenry or the antics of our local anchorbabes-- captures the comedic zeitgeist of the moment in the most charming of self-effacing ways; and c) because he's such a nice guy. For example, last week, when blogging about his two competitors for the top prize, he wrote, in that self-effacing way of his, that he planned "on breaking kneecaps till I'm the only one left standing."
To Liz Spikol for her enduring courage. Okay, and one last homegrown shout-out. Spikol has lifted up this paper for quite some time by writing about her personal struggles with mental health with candor and humor. Now, happily, it's being noticed on a national scale. Liz herself tells you how it's all gone to her head this week.