a philadelphian summer

I’m convinced block parties are the reason why summer was invented. Fairmount, Philadelphia.

Getting vertical. That’s Thom on the right. Tim (not pictured) had a bunch of people over during his block’s party, and was quite generous with the beverages. I owe you a few.

Earlier that day (this past Saturday), the annual Bastille Day event was going on over at Eastern State Penitentiary. Huge turnout, lots of French flags, crazy costumes, drag, etc, as they tossed things onto a massive guillotine.

• The massive old furniture warehouse near Girard and Front streets in Northern Liberties/Fishtown that Rich, Robin, and I checked out a few months ago (here), mysteriously burned to the ground last week, sadly. Luckily only one firefighter was injured, compared to Philly firefighters losing their lives in similarly-shady burnings of prime real estate. These gigantic structures have so much character, and it’s unfortunate when they disappear.

There’s this moment where you hit the edges of Port Richmond in Philadelphia, where the pavement gives way to plentiful urban weeds and dirt trails, and you’ve reached a kind of Mad Max environment.

I can’t get enough of oversized (and illegal) dirt bikes in the city. The temporary noise pollution is worth watching them buzz around and do wheelies.

Oh, and street racing. I was instantly taken back to the days on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh, NC, about 14 years ago. Pre-Fast and the Furious, etc.


the forgotten viaduct

I may have mentioned it before, but Philadelphia has an abandoned, elevated train line very close to downtown, similar to the High Line in Manhattan before it became a park. I finally got an opportunity to check it out a few days ago when Hans and Des were in town briefly from Brooklyn.

Looking south. Something gives off that vibe of being a place that could provide some refuge during something like a citywide zombie apocalypse, being that you’re a few stories up, and there’s enough collected dirt and plant matter to start a farm.

Despite running on about an hour of sleep the previous night, Des seems cheerful as ever.

I heard that some of the brush had been cleared — but there were still some leafless, deciduous Paulonias (princess trees) claiming their ground. If you’re familiar with them, they have massive leaves, and are quick-growing. This space must be even more magical in the late growing season (mid-late August).

I really cannot wait to see the area in about five months.

A stretched Hummer on Broad street. That’s the old Enquirer brick smokestack on the left.

• I had a great visit up in NYC part of last week for an intensive 2-day course, plus got in some time with my brother, his fiancee, and a couple friends. I managed to not take a single shot while I was up that way, a first.

Another Philly stealthy camper, beside about 3,000 plastic bottles and a traffic cone.

Cincinnati, Ohio, this past December.

winter rooftops

Facing south toward Center City, about twelve floors up, on the top of an abandoned warehouse just north of Girard in Olde Kensington, Philadelphia.

The top of an elevator shaft.

Rich had the idea to check the spot out — and the views were stunning.

Luckily Rich brought a light — the ground floor and basement levels were pretty dark.

Jenn and I checked out the Hobo Film Festival at Space 1026 in Chinatown a few nights ago. It was a great selection of documentary shorts from over the past few decades showing the lives of the people who hop rides on freight trains.

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.”
– Mohammed

• A week and a half ago, I had the opportunity to see Mayor Nutter speak to a gathering of design professionals at the WHY-Y space (one of Philly’s PBS stations). He gave an introduction to a night of round-table discussions on the current state (and future) of creative vitality in Philadelphia. The man is a great speaker – he had the room laughing, I’m a fan.

The Starlight Ballroom Dance Club is near Spring Garden.

fleeting permanence

The Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention is going on this weekend. It brings together quite an interesting crowd while providing a great opportunity for some portraits.

Megan Massacre (right) from the TV show NY Ink was in attendance, as well as her co-star Chris Torres (not pictured).

Tron, of Thicker Than Water. I was surprised that some Brooklyn folks made it down for the weekend, great to run into her. Her site. (Previously on TCIM here).

“Good Life.”

• Unrelated to tattoos, you may have noticed that I take shots of urban weeds from time to time. Per conversation with friends last weekend, I decided to start a small side project: Urban Flora. It is still in its early stages, but will contain some of my original plant photos as well as appropriated images & content from elsewhere.

Amber (on the left).

In 2012 it is never too early to consider facial tattoos.


The Italian Market, South 9th Street in Philadelphia. Luckily it’s been a warm winter so far.

There’s a fantastic Zoe Strauss photography exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art currently. Jenn and I had a chance to check it out when Alison came into town the other weekend. In addition to the large prints on display at the museum, many of her shots have been installed throughout the city as billboards, without labels or additional information. Her work is definitely worth checking out, it’s certainly in the spirit of Nan Goldin.

Either an ancient puritan totem, homeless Jenga, or something far more sinister in an empty lot near the abandoned Reading Viaduct.

Alison, in town from Brooklyn, in the Magic Gardens on South Street.

A gallery opening on Frankford Ave in Fishtown, at February’s First Friday, two days ago. Jenn and I happend to run into Adam there.

• I recently found out that my friend Shanthony has been keeping very busy by not only moving forward as an art director, but has been rapping under the name Miss Eaves (a nod to a typeface we used to use a lot back in school). Check her out here. She’s also been sharpening her skills through creating weekly songs on crowd-sourced topics (like Bacon). She’s performed in a few venues so far in North Carolina, though I haven’t had a chance to see her perform yet in person. If you’re in NC, look her up.

Free rent in South Philly.

Speaking of South Philly, Pat’s, down on Passyunk Ave, is not to be missed when friends are in town.

the old junkyard scramble

Stephen Bilenky, legendary bicycle frame maker, owner of Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia, and the host of a crazy junkyard bike race each winter.

Big turnout in the junkyard, despite cold temperatures. Great bike ride up to North Philly to reach the event as well.

Great turnout for the Women’s Race as well. The winner was BritLee Bowman, from NYC.

Dan Chabanov, of NYC, in the middle was the winner of the Men’s A Field. You may recognize him from last year at the Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn.

Tod Seelie, photographer and artist (you may have seen his work on suckapants or everydayilive), was in town from NYC last week for a talk at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Great to catch up with him, and got to meet some super nice Philly-based photographers, Phil Jackson, and Adam Wallacavage afterward.