School out, Eagles’ championship parade on!

I really didn’t know what to make of school districts cancelling classes for a parade and celebration for Super Bowl LII champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s probably because I’ve never been in this situation before.

And it’s certainly historic, not just for me but for everyone around here. The Birds have won championships before, but not the Super Bowl, as we’ve known it for the past 52 years. According to Wikipedia, they won NFL Championships in 1948, 1949 and 1960.

The School District of Philadelphia will be closed.  So will all administrative offices.

Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite explained, “The excitement of the Eagles first Super Bowl victory is a once in a lifetime event. For this reason we have decided to give our students, teachers and their families the chance to witness history.” #EaglesGreenSDP

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So will Archdiocesan high schools and parochial elementary schools in Philadelphia, although the Archdiocese said it was because of “projected city street closures and heavy demands on public transportation.”

But it didn’t end there.

“In order to permit members of all our school communities to participate in this celebration, Archdiocesan high schools in the suburban counties will also be closed,” the Archdiocese continued.

Also to be closed, according to KYW-TV: the Upper Darby School District, the Mantua Township School District, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Philadelphia City Seal

But not just schools. The city announced,

“All Philadelphia municipal government offices will be closed. … These closures include Philadelphia Park and Recreation’s recreation, environmental, and older adult centers. All Courts and Philadelphia Courts offices will be closed. If you are scheduled for Jury Duty … do not report for service. You will be rescheduled at a later date. All critical Court services are expected to remain operational. Philadelphia City Council has cancelled its stated public meeting for Thursday. Trash and recycling pickups are suspended on Thursday.”

So there will be significant travel delays. Look for detours and especially slowdowns everywhere even close to the parade route: Broad Street (no cars in the median!) from the stadiums up to City Hall, and then the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum (across the street from me) and its Rocky Steps.

Maybe the schools SHOULD be closed. There won’t be any way to get around. Also, if the teachers, students and other employees won’t be there, then it’s not worth having a day of school. I don’t know if the testing pressure is as intense here as it is in Florida. (Days before the test count because learning can take place. It doesn’t matter after students have already taken the test.)

But why have class if nobody will be showing up, and any lessons will have to be repeated? Why spend money paying substitutes under those conditions? I’m comparing it to the Jewish holidays.

And since this is so historic as I explained above, shouldn’t children be part of it and have something to remember? I didn’t get that privilege at least twice, while growing up.

Due to bad decisions, when I was in kindergarten and it (barely) snowed in Miami, nobody took us outside. (You can do research and math if you’d like. You’ll have to work for those details!)

And when my parents and grandparents got to visit one of the most important Jewish/Yiddish writers of the 20th century — Isaac Bashevis Singer — at his condo in Surfside, Fla., between Bal Harbour and Miami Beach, my parents didn’t want me to miss a day of 5th grade. Who the heck knows what happened in school that day? I didn’t know about the visit under after. Singer — who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978 — died in 1991. The opportunity is gone forever.

philadelphia eagles
Wikipedia
aldi closed sign
Wednesday’s sign at the Aldi on 31st and Girard.

There will be other closures, possibly because of the crowds, or employees wanting to be part of history. That’s kind of like restaurants without TVs being closed during Sunday’s game.

Don’t plan on visiting the Whole Foods or Aldi by me. Same story down at Society Hill Synagogue, which is far from the parade route but will be following its established plan.

society hill synagogue
http://www.societyhillsynagogue.org/events/building-closed-for-super-bowl-champion-philadelphia-eagles-parade/
So I’m hoping everybody has a good, safe time, and behaves themselves. But that may not be easy for some.
I do think it stinks that Bud Light will be offering free beer at two dozen bars along the parade route. Drinkers can thank a promise the beer maker made to Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson before the season.

Also, Yards Brewery is telling Eagles fans to stop by for a free beer.

Neither will help behavior, and the world knows Philadelphia sports fans “have a reputation for bad behavior and sports-related violence.”

Police report these eight people have been arrested so far for violence after the Eagles beat the New England Patriots, 41-33, Sunday night, and they expect many more to come.

Of these eight, KYW-TV reports one is charged with flipping a car at Broad and Walnut streets in Center City, another for throwing a bottle at a car, and a third who destroyed property.

Video is everywhere these days, so finding the people who vandalized an A.C. Moore store, looted a gas station, smashed windows at the Old Navy at 17th and Chestnut, and did the same at the Macy’s across from City Hall shouldn’t be too hard.

The station also reports several poles taken down, and who can forget the Ritz Carlton awning collapsing under the weight of so many people?

As for me, I don’t plan to be on the parade route. It’s going to be freezing and windy, so it’ll feel even colder. But the wind will help get rid of the water, so the dry weather arguably beats Wednesday’s snow-turned all-day rain.

temperature 1 temperature 2

So there will be very cold weather and free beer along the route, along with crazy fans. Definitely not a good combination.

“Patience will be the order of the day,” KYW-TV reports Police Commissioner Richard Ross said. “It will be a lot of people, a lot more than most have ever seen in any one gathering in this city.”

That could mean another record.

The city says the celebration will have 14 jumbotrons placed along the route.

The parade will end and the celebration will begin at the Art Museum (my neighborhood, of course!).

Hundreds of crews did weeks, if not months, of work in just days including a wet Wednesday. The Eagles are “foot”ing the bill. The tab has reportedly not been calculated yet.

Once it starts, I’ll head out for a few minutes to take in the scenes. Then, I’ll go back in, warm up, and watch everything on TV!
harold lenny pedro
Harold, me and Pedro watching Sunday’s Super Bowl at my place
Wednesday night porta potties
Wednesday night: lots of green porta potties hard to see after a day of rain

And another reason to watch the festivities on TV while warm, indoors: Will there be enough porta potties to accommodate the amount of people who are expected to attend?

Some people are skeptical, with reason, due to drinking and cold weather. You know how that works!

2017-05-06 porta potties
May 6, 2017: Can’t figure why but the pink must be for girls and women, with the blue for boys and men!

My friend Hadas talked to a man who said he expects to have to hose down his driveway.

Another reason I’ll be mostly staying indoors! (That was always something I liked about being a news producer.)

Click: Eagles’ fans give April the Giraffe an ‘F’

prediction link

Click: Eagle eye: Most Philadelphia media ignore possibility of local terrorism

daily express

Click: Philadelphia Eagles on Twitter

Click: City of Philadelphia’s up-to-date information on Twitter

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More details on Israel after the gay paper

column

I got up extremely early this morning to take Pedro to work, since he didn’t get the holiday off.

Soon after getting home, I noticed my Facebook friend Mark Segal — founder, owner and publisher of the renowned Philadelphia Gay News — had posted his column from last week. I’m two weeks behind in reading.

I love and respect Mark because he’s amazing: the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) media.

That said, I’m going to bury the details. There’s a reason and it’s because this week, he came up short.

First, read his column here or in the embed.

You’ll notice on Facebook, I responded with:

“Mark, Israel’s oppression of Palestine? Who are these people of Palestine? The ones who massacred the Jews of Hebron in 1929? The ones who refused the U.N. partition plan in 1947? The ones who support terrorism, teach hate, and have turned down every peace opportunity? The ones you failed to include in your list of so many homophobic groups of people.

Why do the gay “Palestinians” try to sneak into Israel? Freedom to be themselves, or so their own families don’t kill them? Why do most of the straight ones in Jerusalem want to stay Israeli citizens? That doesn’t sound like oppression to me.”

Then, he gave a quick response: “I’ve written time and time again all that you have stated. Point is most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”

To Mark’s credit, he “liked” my response.

However, I don’t think it went far enough. That’s why I wrote back, and I’m also doing so here because I feel strongly the point is so important:

Yes, Mark. You have “written time and time again all (I) have stated.” (Your words.)

And yes, Mark. “Most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”

gay flag

In other words, unfortunately, most in our community are ignorant because they don’t understand the issues.

That’s a disappointment and shows your writing “time and time again” has not gotten through.

For example, take this column. You were pretty clear about most of the countries you mentioned.

middle east
Israel, the size of New Jersey, is surrounded by dozens of Arab and Muslim countries. The circle includes Judea and Samaria (“The West Bank”), and the Gaza Strip.

However, when it came to Israel, you wrote the longest of your 10 paragraphs (159 words). You focused on “a powder keg of dispute” rather than “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” and I think that was a mistake.

Then you spent the rest of the paragraph (135 words, or 85 percent) being negative towards Israel. You condemned its current government (that allows it to be “the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East”). You said the worst thing about them is “they work in collaboration with the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” which is perfectly within its rights.

israel flag

Like it or not, Jerusalem is Israel’s seat of government, the Knesset (parliament) is there, and every country decides the site of its capital. This is one call President Trump got right, and former presidents for more than 20 years have not.

It is not a gay rights issue.

Then, you wasted 89 words (66 percent, which is nearly two-thirds of the paragraph) doing the job of Israel-bashers and anti-Semites (if there’s a difference) bringing up a vicious boycott that hasn’t worked, and comparing Israel to South Africa under apartheid.

You failed to clearly teach our community that does not understand the issues there is no apartheid in Israel, that Israel rescued so much of the Ethiopian Jewish population which is black and that black Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis have the same rights as everyone else. All types of Israelis get elected to the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, join the army, become beauty queens, etc.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (page 9 in link) and that great man said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

gay symbols

That is Israel.

That paragraph in your column — its largest — was a wasted opportunity to inform, which we both know is the point of a news organization. You did not state unequivocally that Israel is morally right as a supporter of the LGBT community, and the Palestinians are morally wrong for being homophobic — plus all the history I stated in my previous post.

Not strictly differentiating between right and wrong — and allowing the less educated, simple among us to continue to use intersectionality, and their prejudices towards Israel and the Jewish people — was a disservice. Ignoring it allowed misinformation to continue.

mark book

Mark, you are usually a terrific writer. I bought your book. You were nice enough to autograph the portion of Larry Kane’s book, Larry Kane’s Philadelphia, about you for me and also for my parents.

mark larry book

You’ve done a ton of creative and constant protesting for the LGBT community over five decades. You’ve traveled extensively and know better. This was not your best column.

I rarely write about the Middle East. In fact, I haven’t since this story in early 2015 about Israel having injected some Ethiopian immigrants with a birth control drug, how it involved about 30 women, lasted for about three months and ended because Israelis found out and were furious.

Oh, and the anti-Israel reaction since the story was misleadingly brought up after more than two years. And how Israel is constantly being treated differently than every other country in the world. (By the way, look for the part that reads “a fair and just immigration policy in our own country.” Who knew we’d still be discussing that?)

That makes some of us very defensive.

A month earlier, there was my very first blog. Three years and four days ago, I wrote how reaction to a terror attack in France was different than terror attacks in Israel, and what it would look like with the shoe on the other foot.

(Side note: Anniversary missed. Can’t let that happen again!)

mlk Wikihistoria
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Wikihistoria)

Here is some more on Dr. King and Israel, thanks to the group Stand With Us.

Click here to watch Dr. King state, “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”

Other examples of his positions on Zionism and Israel include:
— “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
— “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”
— “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

Clarence B. Jones, personal attorney and close adviser to Dr. King, said:
— “I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism.”
–“Martin … warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism.”

According to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights leader and one of the 13 original Freedom Riders: “(MLK) understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and Jews … He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation … He knew that both peoples were subject to laws passed with the particular intent of oppressing them simply because they were Jewish or black. He knew that both peoples have been subjected to oppression and genocide on a level unprecedented in history.”

pgn

I may be wrong, but I’m going to guess Mark is working extra hard since he’s between permanent editors for the first time in years. He definitely means well and usually does well. But notice, since I wrote so little on that, it doesn’t come across as the focus of this blog — just like “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” in the column.

Mark has put his own freedom on the line for the cause too many times to count. He knows how to take a stand. I just just wish he’d done so this time, for the issue’s importance, and that more people may be reading PGN if they’re off from work due to the holiday.

P.S. I have a positive update on my mother since Thursday’s post, after she fell in the kitchen and broke her pelvis in three places. Yesterday, she was transferred from the hospital to rehab. She’s expected to be there for physical therapy, two weeks minimum. Then, she and my fathher will need help when she returns home.

Not exactly a warm welcome

I got to Philadelphia and it rained. For a week. And it was much colder than normal for late April. And I saw my new apartment for the first time.

map phila
Pretty much a straight shot up I-81, but Virginia is HUGE. (See what I learned to do in the past year?!)

Then, the movers couldn’t get into little Quince Street. That was a disaster. Anything that could’ve gone wrong that day did. Read on.

They called when they were close, but their truck was eight feet wide. Vehicles more than seven feet wide won’t fit past poles or trees on the sides of the street. Then they walked over and saw how they’d have to maneuver things inside the basement-level unit from the outside.

Quince_Street,_Philadelphia_PA
Another part of the street. See what I’m talking about?

 

The movers said it would cost $1,300 or so to load everything into a smaller truck and get close, but they couldn’t guarantee everything would fit inside.

I didn’t want to go along with that, so they said they’d take everything to the Atlas warehouse in Wayne, which was also bad. The stuff would have to be lifted by forklift at that place’s convenience and I wouldn’t be able to get to any of it. And I was supposed to start work in three days. With no clue when and how I’d pick it all up, or how much it would cost.

alexander
The day was kind of like this.

 

Turns out, the driver didn’t know what he was talking about.

It would simply cost $130 for another stop, so they took everything to a U-Haul storage facility in South Philadelphia.

Of course, the big unit I wanted — and had an online reservation for — didn’t exist. I could’ve gotten two smaller units next to each other, but the moving guy’s boss back in Bristol didn’t think it would be necessary to get both. It was. By far. So somebody else took it. And the place was completely booked otherwise. (Still was, a week later.)

 

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My unit. Waiting for the movers. The pants were packed.

So the unit was way too small for my stuff. My friend Scott had been a big help. He spent a week looking for a place for me to live.

Scott suggested renting a U-Haul moving truck since we were already there, but that also filled up quickly. Then we got a second moving truck. (Both were seven feet wide. Luckily, I didn’t have to back up. That wouldn’t have happened.)

Eventually, the movers loaded everything into the storage unit, the two moving trucks and also Scott’s car (which had more room than mine) – and it was still tight.

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Packed pretty tight. There was also a second truck.

We did alright watching the movers, monitoring what went into the storage unit, and took most of what I needed. But not all. (See next post.)

e55d1d30-cbf0-49c4-a1b3-b31f39d26f89
Not easy to get to things. Imagine chairs on top of the couch — and a bed, box spring and top of a dining room table blocking all this.

Then we drove off. My friend Tony helped with the heavy lifting from the car and trucks into the apartment.

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Yes, that was on my LAP.

 

Eventually, everything was inside.

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Just part of the place. It’s still not much better.

And we drove the trucks back.

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This was actually the arrival. I was happy to arrive with all my things. That changed while moving everything in.

Coming up next: the car situation. (And yes, things improve somewhat.)

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Quick break while moving stuff in.

We got snow!

Took long enough, until the second half of January, but it finally came.

Took long enough, but I’m actually writing about it!

Remember, in my field, snow means work rather than a day off. Also, I was getting ready for a visit from my brother and sister-in-law. More on that within a few hours. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, two posts in one day. And yes, the next one has been almost ready to go for a week.)

A few weeks ago, we had some flurries. Not really picture-worthy except for Yeti.

flurries

Then, there was a little snow, two Wednesdays ago (Jan. 20).

wide little snow
Just a dusting. Didn’t have to do much but look.
tight car little snow
New car. The windshield wipers did everything

But the big stuff came last Friday (Jan. 22).

snow in front of house
Pretty!

Yes, it’s still a big deal for me. I lived in Florida for about ten years. I hadn’t seen snow in about four years, since a cousin’s bat mitzvah in Pittsburgh. And the news makes such a big deal about it anyway. I have no apologies.

Yeti loved it! She hadn’t seen snow in years but remembered what to do and spent more time outside than usual.

yeti tight

yeti wideyeti facing wide

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I didn’t know there would be so much snow, so early in the morning, so I ended up working from home.

 

 

 

view outside friday morning
This would’ve been the better of the cars to drive.

 

biggest snow fri
You can’t tell there was a sidewalk and street under there, somewhere.

Luckily, Daniel and Jennifer would get to see it when they visit, and ski in fresh stuff in North Carolina.

One blogging year in review

It’s a big day in Cohen Country. I posted my first blog one year ago today.

A year ago, I was living in Florida, deciding what I wanted to do with my life (and not much else).

I wanted to go back to doing news on the web and had considered blogging. I hoped it could give me a better chance of breaking back in, considering I’d been out of the business for eight years. (And a lot of TV stations use WordPress.)

1st blog
January 11, 2015

What got me started was a wonderful picture someone (I forgot who) posted on Facebook.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks happened a few days earlier in France. Gunmen killed 12 people at the satirical magazine.

The next day, another extremist shot a policewoman dead and went on to kill four people at a Jewish supermarket.

France was the victim, like Israel all too often.

I wrote, “Perhaps the world should put the same demands on France as it does to Israel.” Fascinating thought! In the year since, the subject of Muslim immigrants and phrase “radical Islam” have been in the news a lot.

Also a year ago on this date, I wrote “Probably won’t be the last attack against a Western democracy. The world has to act & put an end to it, wherever it is.” Unfortunately, I was right in both Israel and France.

But it has been a good year personally. John hired me in the Tri-Cities and I started a whole new life, doing what I wanted at a whole new level. I got an actual house and rented out the condo in Miami. So I can’t complain.

Let’s not forget the home improvements. Thanks to Garry for a lot of that. And good times with Casey and Yeti.

The blog has been a work in progress, like so many other things. I learned more and actually like WordPress more than the web tool Lakana we use at work. And, I even incorporated more A.P.-style writing than I did, but still don’t completely like it.

There was a break for a few months. Work got in the way.

Eventually, this email: “At the end of the year, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

So there were 4,900 views through Dec. 31. There were 342 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 196 MB. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was Feb. 25 with 287 views. Not surprisingly, the post that day was that I could reveal I got a job – and I’m moving!.

In 2015, I wrote 32 posts. My longest streak was 3 days in a row, March 15-17. They were about the move, work and the new city. On the other hand, there was a big break between June and November. And Sunday was my most popular day to post.

What shocked me most was that people read the blog in 48 countries! A close second was that Brazil and the United Kingdom were the countries that followed the U.S.

So… Thank you for reading and following along. I hope I’ve helped or humored in some way.

From the Tri-Cities to the Tri-States

It’s me again. I have to write more often. It doesn’t have to be a book. Saving stuff up is too time-consuming, anyway. I’d be thrilled with something simple, once or twice a week.

I’m just back from New York. Was there for my cousin Danika’s bat mitzvah. Had a great time. Was nice seeing the extended family.

Right after I left: (back, l-r) brother Josh, sister-in-law Randi, cousin Jonathan, cousin-in-law Ali, nephew Preston, sister Liza, cousin Leo (front, l-r) cousin Danika (of bat mitzvah fame), nephew Logan
Right after I left: (back, l-r) brother Josh, sister-in-law Randi, cousin Jonathan, cousin-in-law Ali, nephew Preston, sister Liza, cousin Leo (front, l-r) cousin Danika (of bat mitzvah fame), nephew Logan

The service was outdoors at the beach club. Danika did great! Luckily, the weather held out. (Okay, it got a little windy for the Havdalah candle at the end.)

2015-06-06 Danika's bat mitzvah

I drove, which was a bit of a pain. (Actually, a lot of a pain. Two full days of driving for one day in New York and the first thing I did after breakfast was take a nap.) I don’t know if I’ll do the drive again. At least that’s how I feel right now. I wish I lived closer. Virginia is too big of a state: 324 miles up I-81. (I start at Exit 1.) There were lots of spots without radio stations. And signs for lots of places I’ve written about.

trip map

I don’t have a northern E-ZPass. The Florida one only works there, and in Georgia and North Carolina. And who knew the George Washington Bridge costs $14 to cross?

on the G.W. Bridge
on the G.W. Bridge

I have a wedding in August in New Hampshire. I don’t know if I’m going to drive or fly. If I fly, I have to drive a few hours to an airport anyway. I wish I lived closer to an airport, one that goes to more than four destinations, all south of here. (Atlanta, Charlotte, Sanford near Orlando, and St. Petersburg near Tampa.) The Tri-Cities is really an out-of-the-way location. (I am getting great experience here, and learning a lot. More on that next time.)

And I hope to be in Florida at some point in July when Daniel and Jennifer have their baby. Yes, the cat is out of the bag. Apparently, as I learned at the bat mitzvah, not everybody knew. Now everyone does (or should).

P.S. Garry and Yeti were with me for the first half of the trip. They are actually staying in New York, and I will miss them. I’m sure the car will smell like Yeti for a while.