Like someone thought she was. Special: excerpt

She grew up in Kensington Irish Catholic, like so many subjects of stories like this. Too many kids. Too tiny a house, standing side by side with others that fell ill with the same afflictions.

When she was young, she was like a Philly soft pretzel, she told me. Skinny and narrow and twisted and salty. She smiled at that.

She got her braces off 34 days before her 19th birthday. She met a boy 59 days before she graduated from Archbishop Ryan. He would go home with her, the 50 to the 3, 67 days before she chose for him.

This is an excerpt. To read the rest of this piece and other writing of mine, go here.

My son was riding this Chinese bus

Good find on Philadelphia Weekly’s Will Do blog.

Chris Matthews, a Philly kid and MSNBC talking head, tried to talk about the Chinatown bus, and how his son took it to get home and vote. ‘Cept he kept calling it the Chinese bus, not that getting it right and calling it the Chinatown bus woulda helped most of the country know what the hell he was talking about.

So, yeah, though Matthews totally goes to bat for Philly on the reg, it’s fairly amusing.

Arrest that jaywalker

philadelphia-police-badge.jpgNew Philadelphia Police Commissioner Chuck Ramsey unveiled his comprehensive crime fighting report early this month. Lots was made of  initiatives to pump in new cops and lessen homicide totals with direct action, but a smaller plan is in the works.

An old suggestion by city cop Edward McLaughlin for Philadelphia to conform with most of Pennsylvania in a small and sensible way caught the attention of Ramsey and was included in his plan, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer today.Throughout most of the state, such quality of life offenses like littering, jaywalking and acting as a public nuisance require an officer just to write a citation, permitted the transgressor has proof of address. Since 1974, Philadelphia officers have had to arrest the person, and spend an hour or more bringing the individual to be booked and processed.

Don’t be too hopeful though. The change could take at least six months and could require a massive overhaul in processing, as there is the expectation for a huge upsurge in citations. We’ll see if Ramsey can fight Philly, where good ideas come to die.

Like someone thought she was. Special

By Christopher Wink | Feb. 13, 2008

She grew up in Kensington Irish Catholic, like so many subjects of stories like this. Too many kids. Too tiny a house, standing side by side with others that fell ill with the same afflictions.

When she was young, she was like a Philly soft pretzel, she told me. Skinny and narrow and twisted and salty. She smiled at that.

She got her braces off 34 days before her 19th birthday. She met a boy 59 days before she graduated from Archbishop Ryan. He would go home with her, the 50 to the 3, 67 days before she chose for him.

Even then, when things were good enough, she’d sneak to Saint Mike’s. Sit in the back. Maybe light a candle. Something about it made her feel like someone was listening to only her. Like someone thought she was. Special. He could do that for her, too, then, she said. But not like those morning in Saint Mike’s, when the world stopped, aside from a girl in Kensington with no braces and a tight grip on the smooth, rolled edge of that pew.

She had thought about community, she told me. Get the grades, go to Temple, even. He wanted to strike out on his own, with her. Get a job. She chose for him, 138 days before she learned she was pregnant, 16 days before he did.

They had the kid. And another. One more, too. Too many kids. Too tiny a house, standing side by side with others that fell ill with the same afflictions. The neighborhood was different, problems seemed more daunting, but it wasn’t anything that hadn’t been said before.

It was sometime around then – the young one couldn’t have been more than two – when he learned he had Hodgkin’s disease, the same day she did. Aggressive. Inevitable. She couldn’t remember much of it. It took more than three years. Seems a lot longer when you say it then when you live it, even less when you remember it. He died in pain. She still lived it.

She stopped going to Saint Mike’s. Someone else could sit in the back. Light a candle. Clutch the pew in control of the wooden and stable. She got mad. And spent a lot of wasted years being mad with kids trying to learn to live in a world that she couldn’t recognize anymore.

The kids got older, though, as kids do, and she got so used to the pain and frustration that unlived dreams became childish fantasies. She was better for having avoided them.

She went to bible study a few weeks ago, she told me. You’re bound to rediscover what once meant something to you. Maybe we have everything at the start and are meant to spend the rest of it finding it again.

It was not long after that first return that she opened the book to find a verse to discuss and came, at random, to Isaiah, “defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Widows and orphans, and, like that, something about it made her feel like someone was listening to only her. Like someone thought she was. Special.

Political ad of the century?

The embattled, corrupt, figurehead of the contemporary South Philadelphia Democratic machine, Vince Fumo, is running his reelection campaign for state senator, amid questions of his having to sell his Fairmount mansion – built more than ten years ago – to pay legal fees in defense of the usual sort of allegations of malfeasance. But, boy does he have an advertisement for you.

Philly Mayor to be featured on ABC's 'World News'

Tomorrow, new Mayor Michael Nutter will be interviewed by ABC’s Charles Gibson, host of the network’s signature newscharles-gibson-world-news.jpg broadcast, World News Tonight.

ABC will also follow Nutter to film a day in the life segment. Gibson will host World News from Old City tomorrow night, as well.

The feature comes as Nutter comes into one power of one of the largest cities in the country, determined to take on urban problems with big plans.

World News broadcasts at 6:30 p.m. on ABC 6.

Andrew Brock: Getting out of his father's shadow

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in last Friday’s edition.

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Andrew J. Brock is finally the boss.

In December, Brock, 40, officially became president and CEO of Brock and Company Inc., a catering business based in Malvern. His promotion marks the conclusion of the 45-year tenure of man he has known his entire life his father, Lynmar Brock, Jr.

“The company has prospered for 81 years, and I’d like to see it prosper into the future,” Andrew said. “The responsibility is falling onto my shoulders.”

Brock and Company was launched in 1927 in Swarthmore by then-22-year-old Lynmar Brock Sr., Andrew’s grandfather.

He made boxed lunches in his mother’s kitchen to distribute to factories in the region. At his peak, Lynmar Sr. was sending lunches to hundreds of locations, delivered by more than 60 trucks. Because of a bout Lynmar Sr. had with Alzheimer’s, a then-28-year-old Lynmar Jr. was forced to take over the family business, losing his father in 1964. Lynmar Jr. grew the business, eventually transitioning the company from the dying boxed lunch industry to the contracted catering business. He provided for his family, which included another son, who now lives in California.

Andrew has been with the company full time since he graduated college 18 years ago, so he has seen it grow.

In 2001, the company expanded into the cafeterias of many regional private and preparatory schools. Today, they distribute to ten states and Washington, D.C.

No questions that Andrew is taking on a successful company, facing all the pressures of business, in addition to the 45-year legacy of his own father looming just down the hall. Lynmar Jr. will stay on in an advisory role.

“I’m very excited about the future,” Andrew said. “I very much value that my father is still in picture.”

Andrew’s mother is on staff, too, in leadership and administrative capacities. Andrew says he enjoys working with his family but knows there’s added pressure in being the boss’s son.

“It’s both exciting and a little daunting,” Andrew said.

Chicken attack in area high school

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Graduates of Philadephia’s Northeast High School beware. More than 50 live chickens were let loose in the high school, forcing the school to close, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting. Not even joking.
Security cameras show a handful of “culprits” gained access to the school around 9:30 p.m. last night, along its Cottman Avenue entrance. They also spread chicken feed across the school’s floor.It appears to be an elaborate prank. A prank that, at least one secretary told the Inquirer, would be preferred than a school shooting or similar news that more often gives headlines to high schools. A farmer was summoned to round-up the birds and haul them away to Fox Chase Farm, the district’s agricultural school. Hefty fines are expected.

Check out presidential hair

All those years you spent collecting other people’s hair might not be as weird as we previously thought.23515282.jpg

For President’s Day weekend Feb. 16 to 18, The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia will be displaying a scrapbook that has locks of hair from each of the first 12 U.S. Presidents, according to the Associated Press.

This collection comes from Peter Arvell Browne, a Philadelphia attorney and scholar of natural sciences, collected thousands of samples of animal and human hair in the mid-1800s.

He wrote to the families of each president and asked for the samples, which wasn’t – they tell me – as strange as it might seem today. In the 19th Century, many families kept hair from deceased relatives.

The scrapbook will only be open to George Washington’s brown and gray hair, though photographs of the others will be on display.