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Philly chef Michael Solomonov earns mention in trend piece on Middle Eastern flavors

Middle Eastern flavors are invading high-end kitchens, including those in Philadelphia.

Today Ms. Oliveira is one of many chefs, with and without roots in the Middle East and North Africa, who are pulling those regions’ rich and ancient culinary traditions into the limelight...

Elsewhere in the nation, chefs like Michael Solomonov in Philadelphia, Mourad Lahlou in San Francisco and Alon Shaya in New Orleans are delving into the Middle Eastern pantry. And some chefs who have no connection to the region but who embrace a global, nowhere-but-everywhere cooking style are rifling through the cupboards of Middle Eastern kitchens, then riffing on what they find there: new grains and syrups, cheeses and pickles, fresh herbs and dried beans.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

City schools face new round of cuts

Budget issues continue to inflict pain on Philadelphia's public schools.

A $216-million budget shortfall could force Philadelphia’s public schools to make further staffing cuts next year, school officials said on Friday.

The superintendent of schools, William R. Hite Jr., said the 131,000-student district would not have the money it needed to maintain existing levels of education that he said were already "wholly insufficient" after a $304-million budget cut at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The district, which has had chronic budget problems, laid off some 3,800 employees as a result of that cut. Although about a quarter of those employees were rehired as some funding was restored, about 2,350 jobs could be eliminated next year unless the district finds funding to bridge its new shortfall, Dr. Hite said...

The district is also looking to the private sector for financial help, but corporate or individual gifts tend to be for specific projects, not recurring revenue, he said. The district’s sale of some two dozen vacant school buildings is expected to raise $25 million by June 30, said the district’s chief financial officer, Matthew E. Stanski.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Check out the jaw-dropping Penn's Landing feasibility study

Last week, we wrote about the ambitious new plans fomenting for Penn's Landing and the rest of the Delaware Waterfront. Now, check out the awesome, inspiring feasibility study complete with renderings.

Original source: Delaware River Waterfront; HT PlanPhilly
Check out the whole document here.

Curbed Philly seeks new editor

The real estate-centric site Curbed Philly is hiring a new editor.

We're looking for a real estate obsessive to keep Philly apprised of all the good neighborhood news and development gossip on a daily basis. While you don't need to be a real estate expert, it helps to be completely fixated on architecture, city planning, and all the only-in-Philly weirdness that makes this place so great. Think you're up to the task?

Click through for more details.

Original source: Curbed Philly


 

The New York Times shines a light on Comcast's David Cohen

David Cohen, former chief of staff to Mayor Ed Rendell (and star of Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City), takes a leading role at Comcast. The New York Times profiled this behind-the-scenes institution.

Mr. Cohen is well known in Philadelphia from his time as chief of staff to former Mayor Edward G. Rendell in the 1990s, a six-year tenure that established his reputation as a master of big-picture strategy, fine detail and just about everything in between.

"Whatever the issue is, David learns more about it than anyone, and he can keep it all in his head," Mr. Rendell says. "With me, he knew all about municipal pensions, and he knew about picking up trash — I mean the actual routes of the garbage trucks." 

...Mr. Cohen oversees Comcast’s robust lobbying operation and sets the strategies to shepherd its acquisitions past antitrust questions and other regulatory concerns. It’s a big job — and one that would fully occupy almost anyone else — because Comcast’s appetite for expansion is large, and it needs to be fed with a frequency that some find alarming...


Mr. Cohen has, as well, gotten into the weeds of Comcast’s cable and broadband customer service — a fraught subject since surveys have consistently shown that the industry in general, and Comcast in particular, are held in low regard by consumers. He has even gone on talk radio shows in Philadelphia to take calls from customers, a duty that few executives at his pay grade — Mr. Cohen pulled in just short of $30 million in compensation over the last two years — would seek.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Grantland writer Chris Ryan takes a delightful look back at a woeful Sixers' season

It was a rough season for Sixers fans, but Philly native Chris Ryan sees signs of hope. (Plus, that GIF of Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue will make any local's day.)

With all due respect to the obvious and well-documentedcharms of Malik Rose and Marc Zumoff, the Sixers, especially post–trade deadline, have been a tough watch on TV. Life is too short and Kevin Durant is too good to spend all your time watching Henry Sims learn to crawl. This is specific to the NBA, I think. You can drift away from your team now. Baseball is a months-long, religious experience (or so I’m told), and football is a one-day-a-week committment, where only the truly putrid teams are out of contention early on. The NBA is different. With League Pass, national games, and players that you want to be able to tell your kids about, it’s tough to stick with a bad team. And the Sixers are bad.

But live? Live, the Sixers are punk-rock bad. The Sixers are gloriously, three-chords-and-a-beat bad.

Live, you feel it. You feel how fast they are trying to play, you can see that Brett Brown has removed the restrictor plate on this team, you can see a bunch of guys desperately playing for their lives, or at least their livelihoods. If you just watch the game, and don’t look at the scoreboard, and don’t think about how Rajon Rondo must wonder what he did to deserve this … well, it’s kind of awesome.


Original source: Grantland
Read the complete story here.

Philly aims for 'World's Largest Bar Crawl'

On Saturday, May 3, organizers in Philadelphia are aiming to launch the 'World's Largest Bar Crawl.'

"What makes this event unique is being able to be compliant with the Guinness Book of World Records," explains Ray Sheehan, president of Philly2nite and one of the event’s organizers. "Anyone can throw a bar crawl, but here there are some rules and regulations and certain things that we need to do in order for Guinness to be able to validate it as it being a true bar crawl."

To officially rewrite history, each consumer has to go to ten venues within an eight-hour window. To keep track of everything, "we built a sophisticated app specifically for this event," says Sheehan.

In order to be counted as part of the crawl, the consumer has to drink at least five ounces of alcohol, or a non-alcoholic beverage, at each of the ten venues they enter, between the hours of noon and 8 p.m., all throughout the city.

"Basically you’re going to have people as far south as South Philadelphia, as far west as University City, as far north as Fairmount/Northern Liberties and as far east as the Old City section and a bunch of bars participating right downtown," Sheehan says. "People are circulating from neighborhood to neighborhood, and essentially what you have is just a full day of festive activities, going from bar to bar to bar."


Original source: CBS News
Read the complete story here.



Philadelphia hosts world's largest game of Tetris

A Drexel professor and his students hacked the lighting system of the 29-story Cira Center, allowing them to play Tetris on the building's facade.

 Check out the video here.

Original source: The New York Times

New tools for detecting cancer come out of Thomas Jefferson

New blood tests -- or "liquid biopsies" -- are making the cancer detection process more painless.

Telltale traces of a tumor are often present in the blood. These traces -- either intact cancer cells or fragments of tumor DNA -- are present in minuscule amounts, but numerous companies are now coming to market with sophisticated tests that can detect and analyze them.

While the usefulness of the tests still needs to be proved, proponents say that because liquid biopsies are not invasive, they can be easier to repeat periodically, potentially tracking the disease as it evolves and allowing treatments to be adjusted accordingly...

"You will have a chance to identify a treatment sometimes and sometimes not," said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, director of the breast care center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who is treating Ms. Lewis and is a leading expert on liquid biopsies. Still, he said, "you are certainly much more advanced than going blindly." 


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Qatar Airways comes to Philadelphia International Airport

Qatar Airways has started daily service out of PHL.

Qatar Airways launched service to Philadelphia on Wednesday, kicking off daily round-trip service to its hub in Doha.
Philadelphia becomes the carrier's fifth city in the United States, joining New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare and Houston Bush Intercontinental.

"This is a huge deal for us," Mark Gale, CEO of Philadelphia International, says to CBS Philadelphia. "Tied with the merger of US Airways and American Airlines and this airport becoming a oneworld Alliance hub, an East Coast gateway. We think there's just a tremendous amount of positive impact."

With the debut of its Doha flights, Qatar Airways becomes the first new foreign-flag carrier start service to Philadelphia since Swissair in 1990, Gale adds to The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Original source: USA Today
Read the complete story here.

Redefining 'elevator music' as a community booster

Inspired by the development of Muzak, Artist Yowei Shaw, a freelance public radio reporter and producer, has been working on "elevator music" that actually improves the community.

Shaw has been grappling with questions of engaging listeners in public spaces as part of her residency with the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab. Muzak's social engineering history, she says, gave her an idea: "What if we could make our own kind of elevator music, but do it with pro-social intentions, to promote community?"

And so her project, Really Good Elevator Music, was born. Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March.


Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia's population continues to rise

According to recently-released census data, Philadelphia's population continues to rise -- though the rate has slowed slightly.

The city's population as of July 1, 2013, stood at an estimated 1,553,165 people, an increase of 4,518 residents, or 0.29 percent from the previous year. It marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for the city, according to the Census Bureau’s population estimates. So the turnaround continues, but not as dramatically.

Philadelphia saw steep declines in the latter part of the 20th century as it continued to struggle with the loss of its industrial base. That trend continued into the new millennium. Indeed, the city’s population declined every year between 2000 and 2006, losing nearly 26,000 residents during the span. But since 2006, the city has added more than 64,000 people.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

The city simplifies rules for farmers' markets

PlanPhilly reports on changes to how the city regulates farmers' markets.

Last week City Council approved changes that eliminate the farmers’ market licensing fee, simplify the rules for operating a market and require a simplified registration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health...

“There’s been a real growth in farmers’ markets in recent years, and so these rules were kind of updated to reflect their popularity, and folks in public health have come to view farmers’ markets as good sources of fruits and vegetables for people, so the code kind of reflects the changing times,” said Nicky Uy, senior associate of the farmers’ market program at The Food Trust, which operates 25 farmers markets in Philadelphia and has plans to open four more this year.

 
Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.

Citizens Bank named one of the best ballparks for craft beer

The Phillies' home stadium came in No. 6 in a list of the country's best ballparks for craft beer. (In fact, a local microbrew will run you the same cost as a Miller Lite.)

It comes as no surprise that two Pennsylvania cities (the only two with major league teams) made it into the top five. The state is well represented by a number of great breweries and both stadiums felt it only right to serve that amazing beer. At Citizens Bank, Phillies fans drink beer from Tröegs Brewing, Victory Brewing, Flying Fish (in nearby New Jersey), Sly Fox, Yards Brewery, Prism Brewing, and Philadelphia Brewing. The list continues with several out-of-state breweries, like Goose Island, Long Trail, Otter Creek, Allagash, Anchor, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Samuel Adams, 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada.

Original source: The Daily Meal
Read the complete list here.

Drop in traffic on local highways speaks to broader societal changes

A drop in traffic on local highways indicates a change of habits in the metro area -- and could lead to a changes for infrastructure planners.

Before beginning a $2.5 billion project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike, turnpike officials said the construction was necessary to reduce existing congestion and to cope with future traffic.

"Turnpike traffic is on the rise," the state Turnpike Authority said in its justification for the project. "By 2032 northbound traffic volume is expected to increase by nearly 68 percent [above 2005 levels]; southbound traffic is forecasted to increase by 92 percent."

Now, one-third of the way through that 27-year forecast, turnpike traffic is actually about 10 percent lower than it was in 2005...

"The millennials are really changing the world dramatically," Hughes said. "We have a younger generation that is driving less and doesn't want to live in Valley Forge. They want to live in Center City Philadelphia."

"We had a 50-year period of unrestricted suburbanization, and now there's a dramatic shift."

Cars and driving are less important to young adults, who find that trains and buses allow them to work and socialize on mobile electronic devices, he said. That may mean fewer cars on future roads.

"Nobody was really anticipating this," Hughes said. "The models have to be recalibrated."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

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