Eulogy closes

Eulogy Belgian Tavern in Old City, Philadelphia closed suddenly:

After shutting down for what was to be a week’s renovations, Mike Naessens has chosen to close Eulogy Belgian Tavern for good after 15 years at 136 Chestnut St. in Old City. In short, he’s concerned for his safety.

Over a two-year span, Naessans said Friday, three employees at the bar — known for its collection of 400 beers and its quirky decor — became caught up in drug or criminal charges and either walked off the job or were fired. Naessans said he worked with prosecutors on all three cases, which he said prompted threats from the people involved and no police protection.

Naessans said one employee, fired after submitting a false résumé, was growing marijuana in Kensington. Naessans filed an affidavit in the case detailing the threats he said he received. A second employee, who Naessans said also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was fired and charged after stealing checks from Eulogy. Most recently, Naessans said. a female employee who was a heroin user stole nearly $5,000 and Naessans’ gun from the bar. The employee and her boyfriend were released on bail, Naessans said.

“I just got tired of this,” he said. “More and more, people you try to get in for interviews, you can tell they’re on something, and it’s just not worth it anymore. You’ve got a vetting process, but not too many people are applying as it is, and when you do get them in, your sense is it’s going to be a problem, but you need a warm body, and then, sure enough, it causes chaos.”

Naessens, a certified public accountant, said he had moved out of state and would return to the finance world.

Eulogy was a great place; the second of two of my favorite Old City taverns that have closed in the past few years. I always enjoyed grabbing the second floor table at Eulogy near the coffin with plastic skeleton and nursing a few good beers with friends. Memento mori.

Penn State News on ‘Student Broadcasting’ historical marker

I shared the news last week that Penn State had placed an historical marker on campus for “Student Broadcasting.” Penn State News has an official feature up on the marker’s placement, along with a short video overview of student broadcasting’s 1912-present history:

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New historical marker celebrates ‘Student Broadcasting’
John Patishnock
August 14, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK — For more than a century, Penn State has pioneered broadcasting college radio, and now there’s a new historical marker to share that story with the many visitors, students, faculty and staff on the University Park campus.

Located outside of Sparks Building along Pattee Mall, the newly installed “Student Broadcasting” historical marker touts that “Penn State has been a leader in broadcasting college radio since the Class Gift of 1912 enabled early national experiments.”

Originally called WPSC, the University’s on-campus student radio station has changed names several times, with generations of students making an impact. Currently, The LION 90.7 FM (WKPS) is headquartered inside the HUB-Robeson Center and boasts new studio space that was part of the building’s expansion a few years ago.

The Penn State Media Alumni Interest Group — one of more than 300 Alumni Association affiliate groups — spearheaded having the marker installed and plans to follow up with a ceremony during Homecoming on Nov. 11.

“It’s an honor that fresh generations of Penn Staters will be able to encounter the spirit of past times through this historical marker,” said Tom Shakely, president of the Penn State Media Alumni Interest Group. “Penn Staters were broadcasting experimentally before the world wars that defined the 20th century, and they were covering Nittany Lion football games as early as the Hugo Bezdek years.

“Later, Penn Staters broadcast Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 speech in Rec Hall. On Sept. 11, 2001, Penn Staters broadcast live from Ground Zero. These are just a few vignettes from an incredible history. While it’s a fact that student broadcasting has always been made possible by technology, its true power has always been in empowering the human voice.”

‘History of Penn State’ course fills up

I wrote in May about Penn State’s “HIST 197- History of Penn State” course that debuts this fall semester. Penn State News featured the course’s creation at that time:

“The History of Penn State” grew out of discussions with several Penn State alumni who serve on the board of the Nittany Valley Society (NVS), which works to “cultivate appreciation for the history, customs, and spirit of the Nittany Valley.”  NVS Board member Steve Garguilo, 2009 alumnus in information sciences and technology, provided financial support for the course through the Stephen D. Garguilo Nittany Valley Society University History Endowment.

“This course has been a long time coming,” notes Michael Milligan, Penn State senior lecturer in history, who created and will be teaching the course. “Using Penn State as the backdrop, I want students to be able to analyze and interpret significant developments not only in American higher education, but in American history as well.”

Back in May, more than half of the course’s 49 seats were still open. Sometime in July, the course filled up. Now, there’s a wait list with 10 students on it. I expect that waitlist to grow. Here’s a screenshot from Penn State’s course catalogue:

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I’m not sure when, but I’m still planning to sit in on a class at some point in September. I hope the popularity of this first-time offering results not only in it becoming a permanent part of Penn State’s course catalogue, but that it means more sections will be offered in the future.

Liberty Bell Shrine

I was in Allentown last month, and stepped out of Bell Hall after a good dinner and walked a bit with friends before noticing the “Liberty Bell Shrine” basically next door.

Because we were solidly into the evening, Liberty Bell Shrine was locked for the night on this stretch of the main stretch of Allentown that doesn’t seem particularly lively after dark—at least not in community-building and confidence-inspiring ways. Still, it was great to run into this place. The historical plaques I snapped tell the story to some degree, and one of them was placed by the Sons of the American Revolution a while ago.

The Liberty Bell, a symbol of the nascent fight for independence during the American Revolution, was brought to Allentown at some point during the war for safekeeping. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember the fear was that the British would seize upon it to melt it down for ammunition as much as for the practical purpose of destroying a symbol of colonial rebellion.

Little chapters of our great, common history.

Real towns and suburban myths

Rachel Quednau at Strong Towns writes:

Myth #1: The suburbs exist because that’s the way people want to live. The only reason we have the suburban style of development with its large homes, three car garages, big box stores and wide, fast-moving streets, is because people prefer that sort of living, right?

Busted: The suburbs exist because that’s the style of development that has been regulated into existence and funded by governments across the nation. …

Myth #2: Sprawl is the biggest problem with the suburbs. If we just stopped building so many one-story buildings and winding suburban roads, we’d be fine.

Busted: The problem is a development pattern that is financially insolvent. …

Myth #3: Suburban residents are paying for the cost of their lifestyle. However we feel about culs de sac and strip malls, we can at least agree that the people who live in suburban areas are paying for that way of life, so what’s the big deal?

Busted: Across the country, we see that urban areas subsidize suburban living to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. …

Myth #4: We can turn the suburbs into financially productive places if we just try our hardest.

Busted: No. There’s too much suburban development for this to ever happen.

There’s much more in what Rachel writes that I haven’t excerpted, and is worth checking out especially if the “Busted” answers don’t make sense. I’ve written before on this: A public square is built for people, Conservatives oppose ugliness, The perfect town, Suburbs are mostly disposable, and What suburbs do.

A common sense staircase

Josh K. Elliott writes:

A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards.

Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …

Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours.

Astl’s wife, Gail Rutherford, says the stairs have already been a big help to people who routinely take that route through the park. “I’ve seen so many people fall over that rocky path that was there to begin with,” she said. “It’s a huge improvement over what was there.” …

Coun. Justin Di Ciano, who represents Astl’s area, said the spot seems safer with stairs than without them, so he’s asked his staff to leave them for now while plans are made for a city-approved upgrade that won’t cost too much.

“I think we all need to have a bit of common sense here,” he said.

Every aspect of this story is great, maybe most of all because it is subsidiarity in practice—accomplishing good things on the lowest possible level and without needless intervention or interference from higher levels of authority.

Councilman Di Ciano’s plea for having “a bit of common sense” seems strange to me, since Adi Astl’s decision to solve a pressing problem in an immediate, neighborly, and cheap way seems like the most common sense thing imagineable.

Arts Fest Mount Nittany hike

It was a beautiful Arts Fest weekend, probably my favorite in more than a decade of visiting. I don’t make it back to Happy Valley every Arts Fest, but when I do I try to make the most of it. This year that meant a hike up Mount Nittany with family.

The view from the Mike Lynch Overlook over downtown State College and Penn State’s campus is simply incredible. I snapped the photo above as we took a breather after the hike up. And I snapped the photo below as we walked along Mount Nittany’s ridge.

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Finding sand crunch with the soil and debris of the Mountain as you walk along is a strange thing. I never remember the sandy soil of Mount Nittany, and so am always surprised by it. Growing up with the sandy shores of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Ocean City, New Jersey conditioned me to expect this sort of terrain at the ocean’s edge. It’s fun to find it in such an unexpected place.