Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Better View

A view of inclusiveness in Fishtown

Fishtown's community newspaper, the Spirit, asked if I'd like to contribute pictures for their photo issue this week. It, for me, depends on what I see and how it inspires me to photograph something. It was on the last two days that I got inspired.
It started with the photos of the last vestiges of railroad tracks and my encounter with Vice TV. These photos appeared in my previous blog post. There were a few other pictures that weren't relevant to the story. You'll see them here.
The next day was spent at Penn Treaty Park for Shakespeare in the Park, "The Tempest." Other noteworthy things were going on in the park that day too. Take a look and a better view.
By the Fishtown Market
 Mini flee market at Columbia and Wildey
Xhale smoke shop on Girard Ave
The Hawk was a few steps away from Xhale. This guy was a good sport and all for what I was doing.
Aztec Dance in Philadelphia, Cenzontle Cuicatl, celebrated its 5th Anniversary in Penn Treaty Park.
These young ladies celebrated Quinceanera or "Sweet Fifteen"- a traditional celebration in many different Hispanic cultures.
The happy newlyweds.
 Another Quinceanera celebration.
Shakespeare's, "The Tempest", performed in the evening shade by the river's edge.
It was a day of rich heritage, old and new traditions and of the arts "by deeds of peace".

words and pictures by roman blazic_all rights reserved

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Filming in Fishtown II

Vice TV or is it The Vice Channel

The original focus of my photo shoot was to find the last vestige of railroad tracks in Fishtown of its industrial past. The first trace was found on the corner of York and Thompson Street.

I quickly realized that the best place to have a closer look was on Beach Street near Penn Treaty Park. This street has been paved over but, sure enough, I found many remnants of railroad tracks. It is also possible that more remnants could remain in the area along Front and Laurel Street.

I noticed a film crew in action a short distance from the park. A sound engineer was hurrying along with additional equipment.  I, upon asking what the shoot was about, was told that the filming was for Vice TV. 
I moved closer and behind the production and shot some pictures. A not to be named person approached me and asked that I not take anymore pictures. This created an opening for me to ask some direct questions. We eventually had a conversation about what was going on. 
We formed an understanding and agreement not for me to name names or reveal any topic or the depth of the conversation. This is know as a verbal agreement or as I refer to it as a gentleman's agreement. Breaking such an agreement could result in an unlikely but possible legal action but clearly can result in an ethical matter.
It's important to note that any such offer whether it be verbal or in written form that clearly lacks an understanding and/or agreement voids any possible legal action and ethical matters. 
It's always best to be honorable to the rule of law and ethics.

words and pictures by roman blazic_all rights reserved   

Monday, July 20, 2015

On July 20th

It's not a lifestyle choice. I was born like this.

The Sabian Symbol for your birthday is a Greek muse weighing new born twins in golden scales. Your intuition drives you to find the true value in things, which allows you to weigh and present alternatives internally. Even if your personal revelations sometimes alter from that of society, trust your intuition. (Geez! Does anybody really believe in this stuff?)

On This Day
1951 - King Abdullah I of Jordan is assassinated by a Palestinian while attending Friday prayers in Jerusalem. (it wasn't my fault)
1956 - US performs atmospheric nuclear Test at Bikini Island. (my mom told me the snow was radioactive)
1960 - USSR recovered 2 dogs; 1st living organisms to return from space. (it's been said that I deserve that honor)
1964 - 1st surfin' record to go #1-Jan & Dean's "Surf City" (and I had my first drink in a Tiki Bar)
1965 - NY Yankee pitcher Mel Stottlemyre hits an inside-the-park grand slam. (while I had to deal with the same number of giant zits on my face)
1968 - Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" becomes 1st heavy metal song to hit charts, it comes in at #117 (I stunned everyone because I could whistle the drum solo)
1976 - US Viking 1 lands on Mars at Chryse Planitia, 1st Martian landing. (oh yea! Well, I was there several times before that on the Astro Plain)
1989 - 93°F, highest overnight low ever recorded in Phoenix Arizona. (what a night that was and no weed)
1993 - Fire in the press box at Altanta Fulton County Stadium. (and I wondered why CNN went off the air. Still no weed.)
2001 - The London Stock Exchange goes public. (I cashed in and bought gold. Scotland Yard is still looking for me.)
2005 - Canada becomes the 4th country to permit same sex marriage. (while in the USA masterbation remained illegal in seven states) was unaware that Episode ll The Annoying Middle Class would be published the next day. (I remain endearing to all these folks.)
2015 - I'm still having more fun than most kids my age.

it's a conspiracy by roman blazic_so write your own stuff

An Oasis

Lutheran Settlement House Garden

I found refuge in this garden on the corner of Frankford Avenue and Master Street in Fishtown. This beautiful urban garden was the perfect place to reign in a creative explosion and find much needed focus. My focus did shift towards what was so pleasantly in front of me. Creativity can be like an affliction of mass confusion until it is given a focus.
The tall standing Sun Flowers lead the way to the lower standing flowers. The benches and picnic table allowed me to sit and take it all in. It also helped opened up conversation among others who also found refuge from routine or what ever the circumstance.

Jennifer is one of Fishtown's more recent neighbors. She's originally from upstate New York and moved here following her dreams and friends. She was so easy to talk with and if you meet her you'll find the same. Welcome to Fishtown.

And then there was Deirdra.
There's a variety of ways to spell her name but it's all pronounced the same. Deirdra was walking towards Girard Avenue when we both made eye contact, a smile and then a hello. She mentioned how she enjoyed passing this garden on the way to Joe's Steaks on the corner of Frankford and Girard Avenue. She said she likes to eat lunch there. I told her that I was taking pictures of the garden and asked if I could take her picture. She replied, "No, no, no.""I don't look good in pictures." I told her that it would be a nice picture with the sun flowers standing behind her. Deirdra turned and looked at the flowers and said that would be nice. She then said, "When that's done, why don't you come to lunch with me." "My treat." I respectfully declined her offer by telling her I was just about ready to head back home. Deirdra looked me straight in the eye and said, "I don't like eating alone." It's more fun when you have some company." I couldn't refuse her and so we walked together to Joe's Steaks and had lunch. 
Everyone at Joe's greeted her because she's so easy to remember. Deirdra wouldn't have any of it when I said that I'd pay for my own food. She said, "Don't do that." "I don't want you to remind me of my children." "They always do that." All I could say was "OK but I pay the tip." She paused and thought for a moment and then said, "That's OK then."
We both had a tasty chicken cheese sandwich and a glass of coke. Time passed as she told about her late husband and how she was proud that all her children were doing well for themselves. Deirdra also told me that she was 92 years old. This women can walk as fast as any one of us. I had her slow down because that pace could up and bite me sooner or later in the day. 
We must have spend nearly an hour together at the steak shop before we parted ways. Maybe the name of this story should have been, My Lunch with Deirdra.

true story and photos by roman blazic_all rights reserved before and after lunch

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fishtown Zoning Meetings: Part Two

The Learning Process

I was a late comer in attending zoning meetings. Much of the reasoning had to do with my own dim view of the process. It's a process that, to me, gives the community very little say as to what and how much can be built. "Building by right" completely eliminates any say or concerns of the community.  The only thing left is whether the community approves or disapproves any variances that developers seek. It also seemed to me that the community seldom disapproved the alleged hardships that the developers create themselves time after time. This in turn could make it too easy for developers to appeal a rejection but even more so to sway the community to vote in their favor.
The best example is density and the ever increasing street congestion created in part by that more elusive parking space. The developers seize this opportunity to seek variances for off street parking. The logic is that they are caring for the community concern and, bless their hearts, are willing to provide a solution.
Am I the only one who sees this situation like a dog chasing its own tail?
Over development creates density problems, so therefore, more variances are needed which in the end creates more density problems, so therefore, more variances are needed which in the end creates more density problems, so therefore, I hope to god you can see the point.
Over development has created a legitimate zoning problem that could  get worst than what it is now. This, dog chasing its own tail, can best be illustrated by the recently  proposed project on York and Gordan Street. (no news about the outcome of the developers appeal to the Zoning Board)
I was surprised, through my own lack of knowledge, that the type of construction and materials used were not a zoning concern. The zoning meeting moderator was quick to point that out. The question, however, was given a satisfactory answer. The moderator started out the next zoning meeting I attended by making the same point. I took an educational approach to ask the same question  about the type construction and materials to be utilized. There were others who also spoke up to ask the same and similar questions then and at other meetings.
It was the good grace of the moderator not to intervene in such a manner as before and now has left it to the developer to answer or not. Now, in my opinion, that's a good example of being neutral.
Now I'll illustrate why these questions are so important for more than myself.
The new houses on Crease and Belgrade Street that face their back on Frankford Avenue are apparently already warping and rotting away in maybe ten years or less.  The entire outer wall had to be ripped out and replaced. This same problem exists with other houses in that row. I now wonder if there are interior problems too.
Another property at a different location that was built around the same time appeared to have similar problems but I don't have photo documentation. To be fair, I state it as an impression but will not state it as fact.
It now seems that new construction is including more brick facade work. This brick work doesn't necessarily extend to the entire outer surface. It makes me wonder just how much added protection it will actually provide against the elements to prevent similar warping and/or rotting. Water and moister will always find its path. Time will tell if it's a real concern or not. Let's hope for the best.
My position remains in exclusive favor for brick and mortar or CBS construction because it is well proven enduring construction materials. Why not if people are purchasing a home for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Why not, in my opinion, expect the best?

Here are the pictures and please remember that all that glitters is not gold.

2015-07-17 a different view and other outer wall covering
Excellent art on that row that now sadly seems to represent a rotting Fish.

opinion POV and photos by roman blazic_all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fishtown Zoning Meetings: part one


A ten year Tax Abatement in the full context of any point of view is very relevant to new housing and business construction. Denying that it is not one of the highly exploited construction driving forces would be very short sighted. The continued building and demolition of the characteristic of Fishtown, as well as other neighborhoods, is steadily progressing, in my opinion,  the incentive for overly inflated stated property value and profit.
 I oppose this, specifically Fishtown in part, by the fact that people are being duped into thinking or may have bought a house alleged to be in Fishtown. This can be illustrated based by the understanding of neighbors from house listings. This includes exaggerated claims on the map of Fishtown.
The best local, in my opinion, view and understanding of this commentary is found in a published article in the Spirit Community Newspaper by K. Andrew Deffely on July 7, 2015: (Watch) Blurred Lines: A Discussion on Disputed Boundaries and That Awful “Port Fishington” Nonsense. ( )
It is sad that Fishtown does not have any established community organization who's founding documented purpose did not include activism for the whole characteristic of Fishtown, most  notable, preservation. It's not difficult to realistically imagine what such a focus with all its many talented members could do compared to what a handful of dedicated people accomplished in regard to St Laurentius' church. This  also includes other unofficial  historic or historically designated structures, landmarks and public land aside from The Friends of Penn Treaty Park
This, in particular, should never be viewed as a fault or short coming of the Fishtown Neighbors Association and other surrounding registered civic organizations . It is a new multiple neighborhood awareness that recently surfaced with clarity. It is something that the neighbors need to strongly advocate for their civic organizations to incorporate into their designated purpose.
Neighbors, most of all, need to involve themselves into these civic organizations to make it happen and keep it efficiently happening  as an on-going effort.
Without it, neighborhoods such as Fishtown, surrender their community strength and are at the whim of profit motive developers. This, in my view, also includes refusing most, if not all, construction variances or alleged hardships that are created by the developers by unanimously forcing them to build by right.
My gravest concern is that older residents seeming tend not to participate and that the younger ones lack patience and foresight to exercise proactive inclusive judgement when improving the appearance and characteristic of the community.

All neighborhoods such as Fishtown need to rally, arouse for action, and join a common cause to officially preserve significant sites of its history and characteristic.
Here are some examples.

point of view opinion and photos by roman blazic_all rights reserved   

Monday, July 6, 2015

Adding Insult To Injury to the War Veterans

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This medical/psychiatric diagnosis has been troubling me for many years. It took a long time for me to figure out why I found it so disturbing. In short, it's the use of the word disorder. The dictionary, in part, defines this word: to disturb the regular or normal functions of. (fill in the blank) In this instance or example is the normal everyday functioning of people. More specific, the ability to function in a normal manner after experiencing the horror of war. That sounds simply put to quickly understand this resulting stress or PTSD.
It just rubs me the wrong way like an insult. There is no doubt in my mind that PTSD creates a strong disruption in what most of us would say is the norm. I thought about it and I don't think that's the right approach to define and understand the scope of this concern.
A behavioral base line was defined through some observatory measure of functioning in a civilian and military environment. I would assume that it also includes the mixture of both from a post military war experience. Some how that still doesn't satisfy the feeling that the word "disorder" rubs like an insult.
PTSD is a form of branding similar in nature as the Wounded Warrior. Look at your own thoughts and feelings after reading the last sentence. Would you think and feel the same way if the brand was Post Wounded Warrior Disorder? I'd bet that it would leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable but maybe not as uncomfortable as being among soldiers with PTSD.
Let me go even further to illustrate my point.
A war veteran meets with a therapist seeking help to resolve stress trauma. The veteran carefully describes symptoms of recurring nightmares, inability to sleep, anger, depression, guilt etc. The veteran boldly takes the step to describe the incident that shaped the trauma.
He was one of four soldiers in a humvee that was destroyed by a roadside bomb. He was the only one to survive from death, dismemberment and permanent injury. The veteran fell silent afterwards.
The therapist, in an act of empathy, tried to mirror the veteran's feelings. He expressed how the bombing was a selfish and unreasonable act resulting from the soldier who was driving the humvee. He expressed how that soldier was unfit to drive and obviously suffering from War Zone Road Safety Disorder.
That's how ridicules this sounds to me. It's the soldier with the disorder that manifest the disruption of the alleged norm. It's the branding that puts the weigh on the soldier to find resolve. Or is it just another way of denying the soldier the normal reaction/response to feelings of horror?
It's the branding that comes without the multiple-million dollar charity singing star, movie star, politician patriots. And don't forget to tell that soldier thank-you for their service.
Let's just call it Traumatic Stress and stop branding the soldier with Disorder. They've been through enough.

When you're near I feel your warmth
I can feel you breathe
Don't ask why I need to know I'm alive
Tether me I'm blind but see
I'm falling as I fly
Finding the place of the heart

pov and words and music by roman blazic_all rights reserved

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day order to form a more perfect union.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

April 25, 1978

I don't care much anymore
what people say or what they saw
There's no point to hesitate
I say let's escape

A breach of life in wasted time
passing through the swirling tide
How everyone, they must decide
I say it's my life

Do you, do you, do you want to act out tonight
Do you, do you, do you want to act out tonight
Take our whim to the center stage
Play it out 'till it's all been said
Do you, do you, want to act out tonight

I've grown too wise to feel ashamed
or play the fool and spread the blame
Now I'm living for the day
I say I'm on my way

The sun at day, the moon at night,
the mountain high, the valley wide,
the wind it moves but never seen
I say hold on to your dream

Do you, do you, do you want to act out tonight
Do you, do you, do you want to act out tonight
Take our whim to the center stage
Play it out 'till it's all been said
Do you, do you want to act out too
Do you, do you want to act out too
Do you, do you want to act out tonight

the above words and music by roman blazic_all rights reserved