Updates from February, 2005 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Ted Mann 4:07 pm on February 25, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Settling the Urban Park Debate 

    At work this morning I got into an unusually passionate debate with a coworker about which is the largest city park in the United States. He adamantly maintained that it was Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco. And I, being a proud Philadelphian, boasted that Fairmount Park was the undisputed urban park champ of the world.

    Well, turns out both of us are wrong. And, to my Brooklyn homies out there, no, it ain’t Prospect Park either. Nor is it Central Park, you egocentric Manhattanites!

    According to The Straight Dope, Golden Gate, with its measly 1,107 acres, wouldn’t even be in the top ten. At 840 acres, Central Park would come in at about 15th place. By comparison, Philly’s Fairmount Park looks like Goliath, with 4,618 acres (4,239 if you deduct the Schuylkill River, which runs right down the middle). But even that isn’t enough to give it the top spot. It’s not number two, either!

    As it turns out, one city lays claim to both. The largest city park in the U.S. is South Mountain Park, currently 16,169 acres but planning to expand to 16,455. Which city spawned this monster? None other than cursed Phoenix, the metropolitan abortion that just usurped Philly as the 5th largest city in the U.S. This cancer of the Southwest is also home to the number two park, Phoenix Mountain Reserve, which is also expanding from 7,358 to 7,750 acres.

    Still, I’m not willing to concede nothin’ to Phoenix — Phoe-friggin-nix! If insisting that Philly has the largest urban park is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

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  • Ted Mann 3:01 pm on February 24, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Sexiest Treasure Hunter Alive 

    Feb. 28 People MagazineWhen we returned to Philly last weekend, after spending a few fun-filled days skiing and Treasure Troving with the Mendes clan, the Feb. 28 issue of People Magazine was waiting by the front door. For once, just once, I leapt for it — knowing full well what was waiting inside. As I’ve said before, People is Ana’s version of bedtime crack. But to me, on this particular occassion, it held the cure to my recent bout of insomnia. A way to end the nightmares, the marital bickering over my newest hobby — in short, a quote from me in an article about “A Treasure’s Trove.”

    Lemme explain …
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    • Jesus 5:08 pm on February 24, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Ted, this is Jesus. Your marriage isn’t going to survive if you can’t lie to People magazine. You should have made Ana an integral part of the story, and given her lots of credit. Because you didn’t, you have been condemned you to six more months of aimless searching.

    • Jesus 5:10 pm on February 24, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Why can’t these angels take dictation without messing up?

    • dew 6:21 pm on March 1, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      hi ted because of that article you got me hooked and i’m a retired grandma. having a good time with the grandkids and the book. thanks dew

    • dino 8:23 pm on March 21, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Ted, did you provide this clue? “I give you the following: UGFXJ YPCK = EARTH WHRC” If so, my question to you is: How can this be correct? How can two different letters stand for the letter “R”?

    • Ted 11:26 am on March 22, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      I was wondering when somebody would pick up on that tidbit. To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s relevent at all, but it does seem much stronger than any of the other crackpot theories I’ve come up with. I’m not ready to explain how I got it, but for the time being I can say this: As far as I can tell, this page doesn’t have a typical substitution cipher.

  • Ted Mann 10:09 pm on February 15, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Nothing Says I Love You Like an Allman Brother 

    Being a hopeless romantic, I decided to make this year’s Valentine’s Day a spur-of-the-moment kind of holiday. By which I mean, Passion was fully booked up and OpenTable.com wasn’t cooperating with my last-minute scrambling.

    wxpn1.jpgWhen my attempted breakfast in bed, of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon, was met with a meager appetite and stifled yawns, it became quickly apparent that dinner at Smoke’s or Cereality might not be the ironic evening encore Id originally planned. In a last-ditch effort at originality, I hit upon the website for World Cafe Live, the live-music space in WXPN‘s new building. As luck would have it, they were hosting a Valentine’s Day “Jam Lover’s Fest” with none other than Oteil Burbridge. Whats that, you say? Oteil who? Oteil Burbridge, formerly of the Allman Brother’s band, of course. You know, the bassist. Awww jeah.

    It took about five minutes of hearing Oteil jam, later that night, before I realized, Christ, I hate the Allman Brothers! I hate jam bands even more! What was I thinking? I started having horrible flashbacks to a New Year’s Eve Phish concert that I went to back in college, where the band would rhyme nonsensically and riff for 45 minutes on one song (no joke). Oteil wasn’t that bad, but still, a five-minute bass guitar jam feels like an eternity when all you really want to hear is “Freebird.”

    wxpn2.jpgFortunately for Ana and me, everything else about our trip to the WXPN building was well worth the five-minute drive. The comfort food at the joint was de-lish; the renovated Hajoca building was decked out in mahogany paneling and funky, colorful decor; and the warm-up act, The Blue Method, was kinda catchy. I still don’t understand why, during one of their solo instrument jams, Ana felt the need to declare the saxophonist dead sexy. But this was more than made up for by the moo-moo wearing lead singer, a fella named Brian Williams. In addition to making Ruban Studard look like a toothpick, Willimas brought tears to my eyes as he sang gloriously, reached deep into his soul for the lyrics, paused briefly to hock a loogie, and then played the trumpet.

    wxpn3.jpgIn some ways, I felt that World Cafe Live could still use a little Trading Spaces action. The tables and chairs in the Downstairs performing space, where we were, seemed like the kind you’d find in a high school cafeteria — cheap Formica and aluminum. But besides some minor decorating quibbles, I thought the space had phenomenal potential. I know Philly has plenty of live-music dinner joints, with Warmdaddy’s, Zanzibar Blue, Ortleibs, and Tritone already scattered around town. But let’s be honest: In these joints it’s often difficult to see the band, and the acoustics are downright fugly. The XPN building has the only stage large enough for a band to actually shake their bootie, as well as an amphitheater that’s actually designed for music listening. What more can you ask of a former plumbing supply warehouse?

    Hopefully World Cafe Live will start drawing some decent talent soon (the only name I recognized in the next month was Edwin McCain, who I think may have played cowbell for Blue Oyster Cult). But even if they don’t draw the John Legends of the world I’ll probably head back soon anyway. The “Sunday Gospel Brunch” sounds too good to pass up.

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    • gwynne 8:17 am on February 16, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like a good recovery with the last minute musical event, Ted.

      It can’t top my gift — an i.o.u. for a $400 vacuum cleaner which we can’t afford. I think you run out of ideas on year eight. I did get a handmade card and the cats made one too, so that was nice.

      Well, you’re off the hook for another 364 days.

    • Ted 11:02 am on February 16, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      I soooo, soooo wanted the Dyson ANIMAL to be my Valentine’s Day gift, but, alas, we already gave that up as a suggestion to my sister. The family is still trolling for suggestions for belated wedding gift.

      Wish I’d thought of the Roomba over the weekend. That would have been sa-weet! Much better than the zero-creativity jewelry I picked up at Tiffany. What is it about that place, by the way? No matter what the gift, no matter how random or impractical, those powder blue bags never fail to get women all frothy-mouthed and blubbery. I don’t get it. But then, I won’t question it either. Until I start learning to make homemade cards, the jewelry store will remain my get-out-of-jail-free card.

    • destructo 3:34 pm on February 16, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah Freebird! Good call on the last minute concert… music tames the wild beast after all. What’s wrong with the Allman Brothers? I mean, Jessica is the greatest song to speed down the highway to. Oh, and as far as sex-a-ma-phone players, yeah, we’re all smexy.

    • Gabe 11:06 pm on February 16, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Ah, Valentine’s Day: for a woman, the worst day of the year to be single; for a guy, by far the best.

      But yeah, even the sub-$100 (if I remember correctly) silver bracelets will keep your head above the quicksand, as long as they come in that powder-blue box.

    • gwynne 7:34 pm on February 17, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      can someone get the memo out to my husband — i never got nothin’ in no powder blue box.

    • Ted 9:41 am on February 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      In my opinion, Tastykakes should count. The box isn’t exactly powder blue, but sky blue is close enough.

    • Gabe 10:50 am on February 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Well, Gwynne, as far as I’m concerned the powder blue box is really to compensate for being distant and emotionally undemonstrative. The equation goes something like this: (Powder blue box) + (showing only vague irritation when your girlfriend cries) = 0. This may not apply to Mr. Gwynne or Mr. Ana, so that may explain the lack of so-colored boxes at gift-giving time.

      The sky-blue box probably doesn’t work so well.

  • Ted Mann 4:07 pm on February 11, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Portuguese Barbie 

    I can’t believe I forgot to post about this, the single coolest Christmas present I saw this year. Wish I could remember who it was that decided to get the triplets’ the Princess of the Portuguese Empire Barbie doll, but whoever it was, they’re a genius in my book.

    While we were passing the doll back and forth on Christmas day, I could clearly tell that the girls’ non-Portuguese grandparents were feeling left out of the joyous merchandising melee, the yuletide commercialization of one’s ethnic heritage. To make them feel better I said something like, “Now we have to get Albanian Barbie and Turkish Barbie to complete the set!”

    I was being facetious, of course, but little did I know that there really are Barbie dolls based on just about every country of the world. There’s Icelandic Barbie, Czechoslovakian Barbie, and Princess of the Korean Court Barbie. But amazingly, just about the only Barbies they don’t have are ones to match Mr. and Mrs. Shoro’s native countries! The closest I could find was Grecian Goddess Barbie — and to be perfectly honest, she ain’t quite hot enough to live up to the Barbie name.

    Anyway, now that I’m family, I figure it’s safe to just exploit my own heritage. That’s why I’ve already pre-purchased the Scottish Barbie 2nd Edition (left) for next Christmas. What 10 year old wouldn’t want to cuddle up next to this lassie?

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  • Ted Mann 9:25 pm on February 10, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    A Close Encounter With the Rodent Kind 

    This update on my treasure troving is long overdue. As I’ve already said, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time studying and puzzling over Michael Stadther’s book, and though Ana has recently started cracking down, Washington SquareI was able to get out and search one site before her “mandatory break period” was implemented. And the lucky location was … Washington Square Park.

    But first, a preface to the story, an explanation of what drew me Old City. Since New Year’s I’ve been posting daily to a website called tweleve.org, a snazzy bulletin board that popped up to service all the newly minted treasure hunters (the URL is a nod to weirdly written numbers in the book). As the recent spike of visitors to TurkeyMonkey.com attests, my new friends at twelve have been swarming this blog. And sooner or later, I knew that some of the fanatics were bound to contact me. Which is exactly what happened two weeks ago, when I got an email from OSmaster, aka David, who said he urgently needed to talk.
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  • Ted Mann 1:49 pm on February 7, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Who Needs a Quarterback When You’ve Got Skyscrapers? 

    Everybody is sooo bummed out about the Superbowl. Find me a Philadelphian who isn’t down in the dumps about the Eagles’ loss and I’ll find you a Superbowl ad that devotes more than 2 seconds to a brand message.

    Even at my office, which is populated by egghead editors and sports-phobic women, people are hanging their heads in shame and disappointment. To help brighten the mood, I’ve been changing the topic of conversation to Philadelphia architecture, that ol’ watercooler standby. We may not have much of a rushing game here in Philadelphia, but we still gots a mad building boom going on. With all the glass-and-steel phalic skyscrapers that have been popping up lately, it’s almost possible to foget how the city was castrated of its championship hopes yesterday.

    The new building that everyone’s talking about is the Comcast Tower at 17th and JFK Boulevard, which they just broke ground on a couple weeks ago. Once completed, it’ll be the largest building in the city — 57 stories tall, 975 feet. My beloved Inga Saffron already dissed the tower in her Jan. 9th column, but I’m not going along with her on this one.
    Sure, Comcast ain’t building another Crysler building, and sure it’s a little boxy and uninspired as far as skyscrapers go. But the powers that be are finally doing something with this skyscraper that they didn’t do with its predecessors; namely, they’re planning at the street-level, not just in the clouds. The planners have hired Laurie Olin, a renound landscape architect (and Penn Press author), to design the grassy plaza on the groud level; they’re building a huge, glassed-in “winter garden,” sort of like the WTC used to have; and a giant indoor/outdoor food court, connected to Surburban Station, is in the works. The hope is that all of this will finally convert that stretch Market and JFK into something other than an apocalyptic, barren wasteland. Maybe if people are actually milling about and enjoying the street life places like Trader Joe’s will finally place their entrances on the street, rather than facing parking lots. And take a look at the architect’s rendering of the new city skyline. Personally, I think it looks pretty damn cool. (Not as cool as it would have from a Phillies ballpark on the Schuylkill, mind you, but we won’t go there right now.)

    On the topic of glass-enclosed monoliths, the Cira Centre project seems to be moving along nicely. The building is scheduled for an April 2005 completion, and it looks like they’ve almost finished the exterior. As anyone who has come through 30th Street Station recently knows, the Cira Centre (why the “re” I wonder?) is right next to the train station, due north on JFK. I’m not exactly sure how much of an economic impact the Cira building will have on Philly, considering that it’s basically just poaching a couple law firms that used to be in Center City. Surely it won’t be as significant as the Comcast Tower, but West Philly can use all the help it can get.

    The thing that has my officemates really perplexed are the new condos scheduled to be built at 4200 Pine Street. 4200 Pine.jpgNow, I know we’re not talking about another skyscraper here, but we have an obvious reason for concern: Our office is at 4200 Pine Street. We’ve known for a while that we were going to be booted from here, and moved to the boarded-up hovel that is the former WXPN building, but now that the condo plans have been revealed we’re even more steamed than ever. Take a look at the luxuy condo price list: $270,000 for one-bedroom units, $350,000 for two-bedroom units, and the upper $400,000 range for the three-bedroom, three-bath units. Who on earth would pay that much to live in a neighborhood where the average 4-bedroom family home is about $250,000? These are condos we’re talking about! Jeez. I can’t wait to see how they justify this on their new website (4200pine.com). Just thinking about it makes me feel amost as frustrated as during the last three minutes of the Eagles-Pats game. Oh well, so much for distracting everyone with good news. Time to go mope some more.

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    • Gabe 5:40 pm on February 7, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting, Ted, how you shift from the topic of a Philadelphia pro-sports championship near-miss to the topic of Philadelphia skyscrapers, all without any reference to the obvious causal link between the two. It’s almost as if you were tempting me to point it out. Almost.

    • Korey 6:37 pm on February 7, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Inga Saffron’s opinions are good for me to poop on. And speaking of poop, take a look at the Swiss Re tower she admires:

      It looks like a suppository.

      And she’s jealous of the style of the Time-Warner Center, which features “one of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in the world.”

      Is she referring to Masa?

      I wish she would spare us all this “oh, London and New York are so daring,” whining. Philly’s not the place to build domed high-rises with over priced sushi joints — and I love it for that.

      Now, how many days until the 2005 season kicks off?

    • Korey 3:51 pm on February 8, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      The price differential in commercial Philly real estate is astounding.

      “Philadelphia is a real bargain compared to other major cities, Grubb & Ellis said. In London, prime office space rents for an average of $137.53 a year per foot. Comparable numbers are $87 in Tokyo, $76 in Paris, $53.66 in New York City, $46.45 in Washington, D.C., $38.33 in Boston, $40 in Hong Kong and $35.41 in Sydney.”

      http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/business/10681838.htm?1c

    • Korey 12:59 am on February 9, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Oops…left out Philly rent. “The city’s so-called “trophy buildings,” which commanded annual rents of $38 per square foot, plus electric, in 2002, are now getting $28, plus electric, said Craig Scheuerle, Grubb & Ellis senior vice president.”

    • Excited 4200 buyer 10:50 pm on February 28, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      I am writing to strongly disagree with your comments about the new project at 4200 pine st. You must know ( since you work there) how beautifull the old Trambauer mansion and its accompanying neighborhood. Good luck finding a newly renovated four bedroom home for 250,000 in the this hot neighborhood. And while your at it can you find me a 3 bedroom 3 bath condo for less than 550,00 in center city……….

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