Uber PA’s general manager calls PPA ‘a broken system’

Uber PA’s general manager calls PPA ‘a broken system’

Last year, Raymond Reyes, a 25 year veteran in the army, retired. Searching for something new to hold him over he was first introduced to Uber when visiting his brother in New York City when he was traveling from the JFK airport. He recalled his story earlier at a Uber press conference in response to the targeting of ridesharing by the Philadelphia Parking Association (PPA). Mostly brought to light after yesterday’s Philadelphia Daily News article. “I realized that for me, driving for Uber would be the perfect way to get out of the house to see the city and meet new people,” Reyes said. Reyes signed up to join the popular ridesharing service and everything seemed to be going well, he said, until one day in Center City he received a trick request. Two riders, wearing plain clothes, jumped into the back seat making Reyes suspicious. The riders, Reyes said, were seemingly staging a conversation that centered around bashing the PPA and making sure Reyes...
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A Conversation with Black Hood’s Duane Swierczynski

A Conversation with Black Hood’s Duane Swierczynski

Not sure if comic book fans know, but we have our very own superhero set here in Philly! How exciting is that? I’m disappointed in myself for not perusing the shelves of my local comic book stores a little better. And I hope I do not get punished by the staff of Geekadelphia for such a thing. The Black Hood is Philly’s answer to the comic book vigilante problem that we currently do not have. Although we have been visited by some of the more famous of super heroes, Superman did stop here in Philly for a “Cheese Steak sandwich” at one point. The Punisher stopped by once as well, and Thomas Elliot (Hush from Batman) resided in Philly for a time. Duane Swierczynski, the current writer for the Black Hood series, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about what he has planned next for the hero Philadelphians deserve and what got him interested in the comic book...
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Butkovitz unveils plans for potential drone usage

Butkovitz unveils plans for potential drone usage

As part of an ongoing effort to explore how technology can be utilized to improve government function, City Controller Alan Butkovitz announced Wednesday that the city has been using drones to inspect dangerous buildings in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Butkovitz and his team selected four locations around the city to test the drone's capacity to make visual inspections. The drone was utilized to gain a broader view of collapsing buildings in Hunting Park, West Philadelphia, Point Breeze and South Philadelphia on Manton Street. “Our latest project joins our record of technology initiatives since I first took office 10 years ago, including transparency over campaign finance reporting through our website and developing a mobile application that allows citizens to report fraud directly to our office,” Butkovitz said. “The immediate advantage of utilizing a drone was realized with the ability to cover more ground in less time, making the process more efficient and effective. We found a visual inspection of one block consisting of 56...
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Councilman wants kids on hoverboards to wear helmets, knee pads

Councilman wants kids on hoverboards to wear helmets, knee pads

Councilman William Greenlee wants to do something about the young users of the popular electric scooter balance board, nicknamed the hoverboard. Greenlee introduced the legislation Thursday and is hopeful that it will get passed. If successful, the bill would require parents to pay a $25 fine if their children are not wearing any type of protection when riding on the hoverboard. “It is pretty simple, children 12 and under must wear protective equipment which includes helmet, wrist pads, elbow pads and knee pads,” Greenlee said. “The reason for this, there’s been lots and lots of reports of injuries on hoverboards, adults and children, and we think it’s particularly important to protect younger children and these things are very popular. They were maybe the top Christmas gift this past year and you know there are clearly problems.” The hoverboard has become very popular among millennials, despite being banned in certain places and catching on fire on some occasions. Some hoverboards have even been the...
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Who is Philly’s first digital director?

Who is Philly’s first digital director?

Under Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, the city of Philadelphia has its first digital director. Stephanie Waters, the former digital director for Kenney’s campaign, officially took the reins of her new title just last week. She’s still getting used to her new position, learning the ins and outs of City Hall — and getting use to working with a PC after using Mac computers for so long. So far, she says, other City Hallers have been very helpful. As digital director, Waters is primarily tasked with assisting Kenney on his social media accounts, but she’ll also be a resource to other departments within City Hall that lack a social media presence. “I saw the opportunity in government to be able to engage with citizens as incredibly important and a really valuable way that we could improve what was currently happening on the existing social accounts,” Waters said. “It wasn’t a role that existed before and I thought that if we showed that we were...
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Radio Times at the movies: “Star Wars” and “Creed”

Radio Times at the movies: “Star Wars” and “Creed”

  Guest: Peak Johnson, Joe Turner, Jake Blumgart, Frank Kubach, Terrence Lewis Today Radio Times goes to the movies. We’ll start off with the most anticipated film of the year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which opened last night. Marty talks with two diehard Star Wars fans — PEAK JOHNSON, a Philadelphia writer who contributes to The Huffington Post, Newsworks.org, and Geekadelphia and JOE TURNER, the co-owner of Atomic City Comic in Philadelphia. Then, the new “Rocky” film, “Creed,” returns to the city of brotherly love featuring locations all around the city. Marty talks with JAKE BLUMGART, a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia who has written about the movie’s depiction of poverty in Philadelphia. We’ll also hear from FRANK KUBACH, the owner of Front Street Gym in Kensington where scenes for the movie were shot and TERRENCE LEWIS, a trainer at Front Street Gym and a former heavyweight fighter about the Rocky movies and Philadelphia’s boxing culture -...
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Geek of the Week: Rebecca Barber, Ultrarunner and Founder of the Rocky 50K

Geek of the Week: Rebecca Barber, Ultrarunner and Founder of the Rocky 50K

It was just two years ago that Philadelphia’s own Rocky 50k run made its debut. What started as a joke by Philadelphia Magazine writer Dan McQuade has quickly evolved into a yearly tradition for hundreds of runners from across the country. (There was even a baby named in its honor!) Created by ultra-runner Rebecca Barber, the serpentine course is mapped out at 50 kilometers long — that’s a little over 31 miles — starting in South Philly, weaving through the Italian Market, through North Philadelphia, along the Schuylkill River banks, and finally finishing on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Categorized as a “Fat Ass” race, this ultra marathon is technically a low key affair, characterized by the phrase “no fees, no awards, no aid, no wimps.” There are no qualifying times, no registration hoops to jump through. Just show up and run — whether you hop on the course for a few miles, or tackle the whole thing. So what would possess someone to run 31...
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At 17, Drexel Student Pushes Ahead

At 17, Drexel Student Pushes Ahead

When Zakiya James attended Woodrow Wilson High School in her native city of Washington D.C., she quickly exhausted the curriculum that was being offered to her there. Zakiya, 14 at the time, was not being challenged and her mother, Shawna Malone, could see that. Malone attempted to enroll her daughter into higher-level courses at Woodrow, but the administration was not open to the idea. Malone was told by counselors that she should be glad that Zakiya was making A's and didn't need to be in more challenging classes. Their thought, Malone said, was that more challenging classes could result in lower grades. Having attended Wilson herself, Malone knew that Zakiya was becoming bored and if she was not pushed more, she would become lazy and disinterested in school. "It made me realize that if I was really going to be concerned about my daughter's education, that I would have to take matters into my own hands," Malone said. "So when the school wasn't...
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Q&A with Illustrator & Designer Hilary Sedgwick About “Hip Hop Illies”

Q&A with Illustrator & Designer Hilary Sedgwick About “Hip Hop Illies”

  Hilary Sedgwick created Hip Hop Illies with a core concept in mind; she wanted the personal project to be about Hip Hop but to also focus on different themes down the line. Manifesting from another project, Sedgwick first started Illies with an illustration of Biggie Smalls. She liked the drawing so much that she decided to turn it into something more. Peak Johnson: When did you first become interested in Hip Hop? Hilary Sedgwick: I think the most memorable albums from when I was younger was Dr. Dre and I was a massive fan of the Wu-Tang Clan. There’s been so many categories and I think for some people there’s only one kind of hip-hop, especially now. You look at all of the different genres and it’s kind of interesting because it’s such a melting pot. PJ: Can you tell me a little about Hip Hop Illies? HS: It was a personal project that kind of started from a project that I was a part...
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Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Kevin Wilkins remembers the summer day long ago when he stared down a member of The Valley, a notorious gang that inhabited the streets of North Philadelphia in the '60s and '70s. He was around 16 at the time. The gang tested him and his peers from his North Philly neighborhood by beating them. It was a way to see if they were truly tough enough for the life ahead. Wilkins remembered his beating not being too bad. With shadows of his previous life written into his body -- a tattoo of a panther on his right arm, a lion on his left -- the former gang member does not wish to reveal his true name. I first met Wilkins a few years ago at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, an extension of the nonprofit Project HOME. Wilkins was a frequent visitor, stopping by to collect fliers about upcoming programs. North Philadelphia, where Wilkins and I both live, has gone through...
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