Read my piece in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

One of the challenges I gave myself this year was to sharpen my humor writing. Though I like to think of myself of something resembling funny in person — would you like to hear a knock knock joke? — this is not a quality that I have developed in my writing.

So with that in mind, I took on several causes in fiction writing recently. I’m proud to say that that resulted in a small, playful item of mine being published by the Internet Tendency, the online satire site of well-known publisher McSweeney’s. I summoned my own entrepreneurship experience and coverage of other founders and startup culture: “REALLY, EVERYTHING IS GOING GREAT AT MY TECH STARTUP. I JUST HAVE SOME PAYROLL QUESTIONS.”

Read it here.

It was fun to see people I know share the piece without knowing I wrote it, in addition to McSweeney fans (and I am one) enjoying it too. It was a new experience writing for a publication I know well. I hope you enjoy.

Snowpocalypse: here’s a flowchart on whether you can park your car

Parking in the snow in dense urban neighborhoods is always a testy issue. People have strong opinions about whether you can use a chair to reserve a spot or swipe another’s — legal or not. Thankfully I sold my car last year, but I’m still a sucker for life hacks for city living.

Considering it’s something that happens in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia and likely anywhere else where great urbanism means parking is limitless, we need better agreement of what’s proper etiquette. Here’s my take, built on some thoughts I shared back in 2010.

Continue reading Snowpocalypse: here’s a flowchart on whether you can park your car

Technically Philly April Fools’ Day 2011: the stories we ran and those we didn’t

After a couple years of resisting, we at Technically Philly went ahead with a bit of some April Fools’ Day fun.

Yes, we, the Technically Philly crew, announced we were moving to New York, and then followed that up with hourly news items that were a bit less than real. We put them in an ‘April Fools’ category, colored the post background pink and avoided too negative posts, all in the interest of combating annual newsroom concerns about breaking news trust. We’re also deleting the posts next week, so they don’t get caught in search for the future.

Posts we ran:

  1. Technically Philly to relocate, rebrand as Technically New York
  2. First Round Capital invests in cheesesteak, Rocky references
  3. Port Richmond still has no Fortune 500 company
  4. Ignite Philly changes to stodgy 20-minute, 5-slide format
  5. Regional video game business leader Mike Werth “still stuck on Level 5-3 of Super Mario Brothers”
  6. Google to pit cities in epic cage match for Gigabit access
  7. Azavea to release GIS tool to map all Philadelphians who know what GIS is
  8. Comcast to host NBC acquisition parade down Broad Street

The reactions were great. Some were surprised, some weren’t. There was a lot of love from many people, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Councilman Bill Green.

Below are some headlines I suggested that didn’t make the cut.

  1. Company moves to Center City, ‘taxes actually pretty sweet,” CEO says
  2. ‘New city sustainability czar admits not knowing what ‘LEED’ actually means’
  3. ‘BREAKING: Inquirer reports on new co-working phenomenon’
  4. Penn Professor completes ENIAC defrag
  5. Duck Duck Go Founder: “When it comes down to it, Ask Jeeves remains the web’s best search experience”
  6. Mayor Nutter: “Wordpress is for pussies”
  7. Geekadelphia to turn editorial focus to pharmaceutical, biotech — “Ever since Sean Blanda whooped on me in Starcraft, I knew we needed a new niche,” Mikey Il said.
  8. With new website, BRT shares more bullshit tax info faster
  9. Mayor Nutter announces 811 to reduce call stress on 311
  10. City Controller: city needs new oversight group to oversee other oversight groups
  11. Census: Philly population actually closer to 2,500
  12. Philly Startup Leaders new residency requirements encourages entrepreneurs ‘to get the hell out of this town’
  13. Josh Kopelman: ‘What I really want to be is a dancer’
  14. Nat Mechanics to become Long John Silvers
  15. Philly Cocoa Heads challenges Philly CHI to Jell-o wrestling contest
  16. Safeguard Scientifics: Wait, who are all of you?
  17. Entrepreneur slyly changes his LinkedIn location to NYC — “Philly is so much cheaper, but I really really want my friends to think I live in New York.”
  18. Pew: “78% of poor people don’t know Pew”
  19. John Street still on line for new iPad [Sean had iPhone idea]
  20. City Council President Anna Verna “has an idea for a pretty sweet Facebook app”

Philadelphia newspaper auction aftershocks, including Hitler

There are new owners at 400 North Broad Street, the historic home of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, which publish online with stand-alone sister organization The movement begins immediately and will likely result in a closing by the end of June.

Go here for the financial details of the auction of parent company Philadelphia Media Holdings, which was taken over by debt-holding lenders, not the existing local ownership led by Publisher Brian Tierney.

Such large daily newspapers going on the chopping block at a time of continued media fracturing makes for national news, meaning intellectual conversations have ranged from how Philadelphia now compares to other big cities like Minneapolis and why the conversation around this city is so prevalent in media circles.

It’s also meant that the Hitler film parody meme that had a swift death this very month, has been brought back in — I believe — wonderful, insider hilarity. (Aside from the missing ‘been’ on the first subtitle.)

Continue reading Philadelphia newspaper auction aftershocks, including Hitler

First to report Rendell named Obama’s vice presidential running mate: how an entire newsroom tricked me

AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster. Edited by Christopher Wink
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster. Edited by Christopher Wink

This is the story of how more than 20 statehouse reporters fooled me into believing I had a hot-breaking story – for the second time in a month. Last week I posted that a personal essay of mine was accepted by the Columbia Journalism Review and appeared on the CJR Web site. My essay touched on a story that I think is worth telling more deeply.


This past summer I was honored to serve a prestigious post-graduate internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association, the country’s oldest state government reporting society. For three months I covered Pennsylvania state government in the Harrisburg Capitol, home of the largest full-time state legislature in the country, representing the nation’s sixth most populous state. On a rotating basis, I worked for six media outlets, including Pennsylvania’s three largest dailies. I worked with serious, accomplished journalists, a handful of them ranked among the state’s most influential.

Yeah, and they screwed with me a lot.

Continue reading First to report Rendell named Obama’s vice presidential running mate: how an entire newsroom tricked me

There's a baby with beer on my news story

A photo of an infant clutching a beer is currently paired with a story of mine on Google News, as seen above.

Google’s news aggregation tool couples top ranked news stories with photos from related stories that are similarly rated. So, while my story on college presidents calling for a dialogue on underage drinking ran with the Patriot-News, at a particular moment, the top rated photo came from the story covered by eCanadaNow, which chose its image to be one of a sleeping baby holding onto a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft, at right.

That can’t be great for my professional product, eh?

Still, these pairings change continuously, so we can hope it won’t last long.

Hey, you looked bored, check out an array of photos with children comically – read: irresponsibly – placed with alcohol.

False Story — Rendell named vice-presidential nominee

I was tricked into writing this story by the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association in the Harrisburg, Pa. state capital newsroom on Aug. 15, 2008. This article is not true. All those interviewed were in on the joke.

Sen. Barack Obama embraces Philadelphia City Councilman Bob Brady and is applauded by Gov. Ed Rendell before speaking during a Democratic Unity Rally at Temple Universitys McGonigle Hall October 21, 2006 in Philadelphia. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Sen. Barack Obama embraces Philadelphia City Councilman Bob Brady and is applauded by Gov. Ed Rendell before speaking during a Democratic Unity Rally at Temple University's McGonigle Hall October 21, 2006 in Philadelphia. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

By Christopher Wink | Harrisburg Patriot-News | Aug. 15, 2008

Gov. Ed Rendell will be named Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate, a high-ranking source in the administration told the Patriot-News.

“Next Monday could be a very exciting day for Pennsylvania,” said Mary Isenhour, the commonwealth’s Democratic Party executive director. She wouldn’t corroborate the offer or Rendell’s acceptance of the position, but confirmed the governor was meeting with high-level Democrats in Washington D.C. Friday.

Continue reading False Story — Rendell named vice-presidential nominee