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Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ Category

Chinese Lantern Festival Lights Up Franklin Square

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When the Chinese Lantern Festival came to Norfolk, Virginia, my sister and her family reported back that the display was amazing and not to be missed when it comes to Philadelphia. On opening night, the display was spectacular, illuminating over seven acres of Franklin Square!

Artists create the lanterns using cloth and heavy wire, creating a mosaic-like effect. In addition to light shining through the cloth, thousands of LCD lights outline some of the designs. Against the night sky, the colors looked brilliant.  Wheels whirled along one of the pathways, and a two-hundred foot dragon glowed with yellow and red.

The festival marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, typically held around the beginning of February but postponed in Philly to April for friendlier weather outcomes.

Not to be missed: a ride on the carousel . . .  for all ages! Spinning around while riding the horses, viewing the kaleidoscope of colors, truly a magical moment.

Springtime at Morris Arboretum: KyoDaiko Drummers and Trees Wearing Sweaters

Percussion in the Park

IMG_3728Enchanted by the beautiful gardens of the Morris Arboretum on a early September afternoon a year ago, I returned to visit again, this time on spring day in April. This weekend the arboretum celebrated their annual Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.  As part of the celebration, KyoDaiko, a community-based taiko drumming group, presented a stunning visual and sound performance. I admired their synchronized movements as they beat the drums in unison. According to Wikipedia, taiko drumming goes back to the 6th century; the Japanese used the drum for communication, theatrical performances and religious events.

Yarnbombing!

That’s what they’ve called it when trees, bridges and gazebos are covered with crocheted yarn. Melissa Maddonni Haims is the local fiber artist who wrapped up the limbs and structures, mostly from recycled materials. Well, I think I’ve seen everything now after finding trees adorned in sweaters.

Fish and Fowl

Gurgling streams flowed into peaceful ponds where swans paddled gracefully and ducks splashed around in the water or in one case, take a nap on the nearby wall. In the fernery, carp swam in the shallows of a rock garden.

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The arboretum has 92 acres to wander and each vista offers something interesting to study. Stepped into a grotto, passed through the rose garden and explored a woodland path–a warm spring afternoon at the Morris gardens has stayed with me for days.

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Photo Ramble: Filter Square Neighborhood, Philadelphia

To Meander: following a winding course: a meandering lane. Proceeding in a convoluted or undirected fashion.

The Philadelphia Photo League sponsored “Meandering with Mike K” street photo walk. Members met at the Good Karma Cafe at 331 S 22 Street to get coffered up before heading out on our late afternoon trek. Below is the street scene along 22nd and Good Karma’s back patio.

Filter Square is located in the area west of Center City, bordered by the Schuylkill River. Mike, who presented commentary and helpful photo suggestions, led us down Rittenhouse Street and Delancey Place, where we admired and photographed the Victorian architecture.

We then paused as we passed through Filter Square, a quaint residential neighborhood park built more than a century ago. Surrounded by mature trees stands the park’s central feature, a Victorian-era fountain surrounded by an iron railing and a ring of white flowers. Children chalked on the sidewalks and neighbors chatted on the benches as we photographed the goat and other animal sculptures.

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From this neighborhood, we walked several blocks to the Schuylkill River Park, where the skyline of Philadelphia poked above the trees, and as Mike put it to give us the opportunity, “to take the golden hour skyscraper shot.”

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We finished our meander on the Schuylkill Banks boardwalk, which I followed back to 30th Street Station to catch my train. What a delight to visit this section of Philly, finding so many places to photograph and to just enjoy being in this picturesque city.

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Bernie Sanders for President: Rally in Philadelphia

I jumped back into politics placing a reservation to attend the Bernie Sanders Rally in Philadelphia on April 6. I’m very much a pragmatic thinker. As much as I would like to overhaul the American economic system, replacing corporations with worker-owned collectives, I can support a candidate who strongly endorses unions and a living wage.  Bernie’s positions on income inequality, living wage, medicare for all, tuition-free college are issues I strongly support. Bernie cannot, however, change the broken economic system alone.  It is up to the citizenry to create that sweeping change. We must be invested in our democracy by participating in ways that guarantee that every citizen has a voice.

The Rally

I returned to my graduate school Alma Mater, Temple University, for the rally. When I arrived at the Liacorous Center a little after 5, the line, ten deep, snaked along the sidewalk, weaving through the side streets for ten blocks. I thought I’d never get in, seeing that many people; and the doors had already been open so more folks were already inside. By 6 o’clock I entered through the security check, the Secret Service, inspecting coats and bags. My necklace alerted the wand, but the guard finally let me pass through. We waited until 8:30 for Bernie to speak because it took so long for people to get through security and get seated.  I didn’t think the arena would fill, but it did, all but some seats on the balcony. I estimated 5,000 but turns out more like 10,000 were present.

The crowd, mostly students and young people under 35, were friendly and well-mannered. No one was pushing or shoving in line, and most were engaged in happy conversation. Someone was carrying a sign, Free Hugs, and Philly Jesus showed up, giving his blessings. I sat down on an aisle seat for good visibility. The young man sitting next to me introduced himself, and we had a conversation about Pennsylvania politics. I met everyone around me, and turns out we were all alums of Shippensburg! I heard stories of underemployment and low wages, even for college graduates.

When Bernie walked to the podium deafening cheers erupted. As Bernie spoke the audience responded with enthusiastic cheers or boos, depending on the subject, i.e., living wage or mention of Trump.

Pennsylvania Primary, April 26

The Pennsylvania primary will take place on April 26. Political history in the United State will be made if we elect a progressive candidate for President such as Bernie Sanders.

 

 

Democracy Spring: The Philadelphia Story

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On the lawn in front of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, a crowd gathered to support and to send off 150 activists, who plan to walk the 140 miles to Washington, D.C., launching a civil disobedience campaign, Democracy Spring. The goal of the march: “Congress must act now to end the corruption of money in politics and ensure free and fair elections.”

The enthusiastic crowd responded to a series of speakers and performances that called on elected officials to support their initiative, an equal voice for everyone. The rally is Washington is set for April 11 at the Capitol Building and organizers have said that thousands have pledged to sit-in for seven days. Over 100 organizations have signed on in support of Democracy Spring.

Overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which has resulted in big-money interests buying elections, corrupting the political process, is fundamental to keeping democracy sound.

Zydeco: Philly’s Mardi Gras Party 2016

12657450_10207781476689215_1548317181980620869_oUntil a few months ago, I never even heard of Zydeco. A friend suggested that since I’ve been exploring the dance scene, that I might try Zydeco.  First, I had to find out–what is Zydeco? Zydeco originated in southwest Louisiana in the Creole culture. Creole folks descend from various nationalities including Haitian, Native American, French and Spanish immigrants. The music usually has a fast tempo, and the main instrument is the accordion accompanied by a washboard, guitars, violins and drums. Elements of R&B, rock, soul and other music genres have worked their way into Zydeco performances.  According to Wikipedia, Zydeco is similar to Cajun music but has has a harder, faster sound that features a rhythm that shifts accents to weak beats.

I’m certainly no expert on the music, but seems that the music has a recognizable sound, and the beat is so strong that it is hard to resist moving to the music.

At the Friday night Mardi Gras Party, the evening started with a dance lesson, which is typical for the Allons Dansor venues. I usually show up early for the dance lesson, as it is a great way to get moving, to review the steps and to meet the newcomers. The steps are easy, and by dancing as a group, no need to feel self-conscious. Eventually, the gender lines form partnerships to practice the closed position.  Partners switch out when the instructor introduces a new step.

A short video shows the introductory steps and then the dancing with live music from Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble.

Spirited Nights

Halloween and Mardi Gras have elements in common: religious origins, costumes, masks, revelry. Halloween has its origins in the festival of Samhain when the Celts would light bonfires to mark the beginning of the winter after the harvest time. On All Hallows Eve, as it is during Mardi Gras, the boundaries between worlds of reality and fantasy blur, and supposedly otherworldly spirits roam the earth.

This joyful music from the swamps of Louisiana can be played for a sultry slow dance. The word Zydeco derived from mispronouncing the French phrase: “Les haricots ne sont pas sales,” translated as, “the snap beans aren’t salty” and means, “I don’t have any spicy news for you.”  The video, however, does offer spicy news of such a slow dance on a Halloween night. Music by The Bayou Brothers!

Symbo

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Philadelphia Honored as a World Heritage City

Moon over Philadelphia

November 6, 2015

On this day, Philadelphia became the first city in the United States to be designated as a World Heritage City. Philly has joined 266 cities with this honor, including Paris, Florence, Prague and St. Petersburg.  The City of Brotherly Love, so named by William Penn, who used the Greek words for love (phileo) and brother (adelphos), has earned its nickname: abolitionists, animal rights and Aids activism and origins of ACLU. Philadelphians are active protestors.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and each has their own charm. An exploration into any one of the city’s 18 districts, visitors can find ethnic food, bike paths, hiking trails, historical streets and buildings, entertainment facilities, parks, sport’s arenas, cultural events and eclectic shopping. The visitor will not have to travel far to find a mural to admire.

In celebration of this wonderful accomplishment of our city, I’ve posted my favorite photographs of our hometown.

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Forbidden Drive Photo Credit J. R. Blackwell

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From the sailing ship, Amistad, on the Delaware River

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Sculling on the Schuylkill River

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Benjamin Franklin Bridge

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View along South Street

 

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Dilworth Plaza in front of City Hall in the Summertime

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Water Works on the Schuylkill River

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Boathouse Row

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Side Street off of Filter Square

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Penn’s Landing

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Waterfall at Schuylkill River

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Schuylkill River Park

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One of the 3,000 Murals across the City

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View from the Market-Frankfort El

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