PW: Undesirable elements and an interview with Director Ping Chong

Charisse Loving, with Ping Chong and others of Secret History performance, warming up before rehearsal.

Charisse Loving, with Ping Chong and others of Secret History performance, warming up before rehearsal.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend in Philadelphia, I know what it should be. My byline on about a performance commissioned by the Village of Arts and Humanities:

Secret History: The Philadelphia Story debuts this Friday at Old City’s Painted Bride Art Center. The play, written and directed by Ping Chong, a New York–based theater director, explores six teenagers’ first–hand experiences with conflict and violence. The catch? Some of them have never acted before. Read the rest here.

Read the rest, comment, buy tickets, go to the show, then come back and read below a Q&A with director Ping Chong that didn’t make it into the story.

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PW: Frankford addiction recovery homes

Dignity Recovery sober-living home at 1734 Harrison St. in Frankford, as seen on Fri, Feb. 6, 2009. Add a Caption Save CaptionCancel

The heated debate on private addiction recovery homes in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia takes the front stage in a story I wrote for today’s Philadelphia Weekly.

It’s 1997, and Jeffrey Jackson is getting wet.

He’s balled up, trying to sleep inside New Way Out, an addiction-recovery house in Kensington.

The 28-year-old addict is in the process of kicking heroin after moving on from cocaine, but he’s starving and sweating and can’t somebody stop that damn rain from coming in?

“I told the director, ‘Hey, your roof is leaking,’” Jackson says now. “The guy looked at me with a straight face and said, ‘Then move your bed.’” Read the rest here.

Go there, read the story, comment and return here to check out the extra information and quotations that didn’t make it into my final story.

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PW: Reader response for Free Library expansion story

The following feedback came in regarding my recent article about the halted expansion of the central branch of the Free Library, as collected here:

I was at the library last week. I’m not sure the expansion is a necessary ingredient of the Philadelphia ego. Chasing technology as an improvement when the city is not flush is foolish. I can’t imagine it’s a good thing to chase down short attention spans.

Before building it the city should do an evaluation of how much is actually part of the library and not transitory technology.

A longer letter is after the jump.
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Number of Views:3864

Required reading to own your name in a Web search


I don’t want to repeat this anymore, so let me direct you elsewhere.

I got an e-mail from a young aspiring journalist, still in high school and already coming to the questions I just started coming upon late in college. Her question:

how do you buy spaces on a google seerch?

Hey, even she will tell you that I told her to work on her grammar and spelling. (Oh, word processors, what have you done to us?).

But more importantly, it made me realize I never wrote the obligatory “own your name in Google” post. I have surely touched on it in previous posts, but rather than repurpose that information or rewrite what has been written so many times, I say to young reporter or fresh-on-the-web journalist, find out why branding your name online matters, and then read the following – because they’ve already done the job.

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Community journalism: What's the job and what's your life

I live in Frankford, an old neighborhood in lower Northeast Philadelphia. Community journalism – the important and perhaps least paying element of the craft – is something I cherish and, as I understand it, begins, funny enough, in your own community.

So when I moved here back in November, I was excited to discover and learn and experience a new neighborhood. My interests reached beyond the professional, I wanted to help and learn and develop with Frankford, like I would wherever I lived. So, I reached out to my legislators – State Rep. Tony Payton and Councilwoman Maria Sanchez. I went to the first neighborhood meeting I found and began what I hope will be a monthly habit, sitting in on the Frankford Civic Association meeting earlier this month.

As life will do, I learned plenty doing just that, a lesson I think every journalist, freelance or otherwise, should recognize.

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My elevator pitch: what's yours?

Has anyone ever successfully used an elevator pitch?

I don’t know if I believe preparing a 15-second statement about myself in preparation for when a professional idol, mentor or potential employer-of-my-dream-job asks for it, perhaps in an elevator, is really anything more than HR lingo.

But I took three minutes to make one anyway. Why don’t you?
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Celebrating Valentine's Day with links from 2008

The only proper way a journalist could celebrate Valentine’s Day 2009 is to look elsewhere, the past, namely.

It might have been hard to think in February 2008 that one year later would only look darker for newspapers. Let’s look back on those happier times with what was going on in the blogosphere circa Cupid’s Day 2k8, via the archives of 10,000 Words. Thanks Mark.

For those of you pathetic souls alone and online searching today, something that can totally take away the pain is due up later this morning.

Image from Wikipedia.

Number of Views:2990

Four ways to improve the Philadelphia magazine Web site


A host of people smarter than I am call Philadelphia magazine home.

Better writers, reporters, editors, designers, photographers and more. I suspect they know worlds more about the business model, their print product and Web presence, but I can’t help but think has a lot of work to be done.

Their lessons are worth learning for all publications on the Web, particularly magazines. Philadelphia is too large a market, and Philadelphia magazine is too historic a product for both not to be served by innovation in every field and industry.

Below see four broad areas Philadelphia magazine can improve its less-than-remarkable online product.

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Don't do it for free, freelancers

Photo by Alex Irwin. See more at

Pike Place Market in Seattle.Photo by Alex Irwin. See more at

Last month, Alex Irwin, a good friend and a very hip arts blogger and Philadelphia music writer, posted that he gave over publishing rights of two of his photos to an online travel guide for Seattle, where he was visiting his girlfriend when snapped the pictures.

Wrong move, I say. Let me tell you why.

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Number of Views:5929