nick's of time

Old City. (Sigh)

How did the birthplace of our city (and of our country, for that matter) devolve into such a glammed-up, thugged-out club-and-lounge wasteland? While the warehouse-cum-condo district of the neighborhood’s northern end is an exciting mix of galleries and theaters (with a subterranean bar thrown in for good measure), the area to the south is, for the most part, a nauseating meld of pomp and arrogance under the cover of Kenneth Cole and trendy lighting.

I rarely find myself in the area for anything other than the Ritz or Mexican Post, but while passing through to Temple’s gallery on North 2nd Street one afternoon last winter, I was surprised to discover Nick’s Roast Beef, a welcome dose of blue-collar, Philly reality.

Nick’s is one of those bizarre Center City establishments whose clientele seems to come from anywhere BUT Center City. The wood paneling and rampant Eagles paraphernalia scream South Philly, not Old City. It has a real working-class toughness to it, but also a welcoming atmosphere that’s open to all.

Make no mistake about it: the food at Nick’s isn’t great, per se, but is elevated by the surroundings in an ironic sort of way. While upstairs at 32 Degrees, the model wannabes sip cosmos on plush chairs by candlelight, the rest of us are downstairs in a cloud of smoke, hunched over the bar in the glow of sports on TV.

That said, the food isn’t bad by any stretch. The Roast Beef Italiano is a hearty portion of beef, provolone and spinach sautéed in garlic and oil, piled high on a long Italian roll and toasted, making it more like a grinder than the traditional French Dip. Distancing itself from neighboring Cuba Libre and Continental even further, Nick’s serves up the sandwich with individual plastic take-away cups of horseradish and hot peppers.

Nick’s also has pretty decent fries served up plain or with cheese, Old Bay seasoning, or gravy. They’re that perfect type of steak fry that’s more salty baked potato than greasy fried stick (not that anything about Nick’s indicates that this was a choice made with healthy eating in mind).

So next time you’re pushed into the street by the fabulous herds and nearly crushed by a tinted, 6-ton Hummer, duck into Nick’s for some so-so food and a comforting escape from the typical Old City scene.

gamble's plan

Kenny Gamble’s efforts to turn Philadelphia into the home of rhythm and blues could dovetail with other economic development work he’s done below South Street.

His hope of building a Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame at the lower end of Avenue of the Arts fits with work to create a South Street Entertainment District, restoration of the Royal Theater at 1504 South and the redevelopment work of Universal Cos., the nonprofit Gamble heads.

Last week, Gamble talked about the first part in the effort, luring the headquarters of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation from New York to Philadelphia. He also announced plans for a Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame and annual R&B Festival. At the same time, Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor John F. Street support the projects.

The city has a tremendous music heritage, said Gamble. It would be a great business opportunity to capitalize on the music. There are cities doing that with a lot less than Philadelphia.

Gamble, 61, is part of that heritage. His Philadelphia International Records garnered 170 gold or platinum hits. In recent years, he has redeveloped the once-blighted blocks where he grew up west of South Street and west of Broad Street, also known as Avenue of the Arts.

Universal Cos., which is based at 15th and Catharine streets, has developed some $100 million worth of property, including 450 housing units, and 300,000 square feet of commercial space. Universal has been instrumental in starting a charter school and in work force development.

It’s been a sea change down here, said Patricia Wilson Aden, a Universal official.

The R&B Hall of Fame would form what could be called the elbow of two areas of development — the arts and cultural organizations at the southern end of the Avenue of the Arts and redevelopment work by Universal.

A keystone in the effort is the R&B Foundation, a nonprofit with an annual budget of $1.1 million. In addition to providing support for aging R&B artists, the foundation also produces the yearly Pioneer Awards recognizing the best R&B artists of the year.

By being set in Philadelphia, it would also mean having the awards show here in June 2006, possibly at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Gamble said. Having the foundation and awards here may also create spin-off business, including record production, recording studios and other ventures.

Econsult Corp., a University City consultant commissioned by Universal, is studying the music industry’s local economic impact and the feasibility of a hall of fame.

Fund raising for the hall is in the early stages, with possible seed money from the state and tax breaks from the city.

The biggest challenge [in Philadelphia] is always dollars, said Joe Zuritsky, the chairman and CEO of Parkway Corp. He was part of a recent fact-finding mission to Cleveland and Memphis to see music-related development in those cities. But the governor has proven that when he wants to do something, he can get it done. And Kenny’s approach of getting the group here from New York makes sense. It’s going to take a lot of organizational work, research, qualified experts. It’s going to take years.

love the web, and it’ll love you back

The Internet has made it increasingly easy to find friends, and more importantly, dates. You have them bookmarked I’m sure: My Space, Friendster, Xanga, and the red-hot The Facebook. They are infesting the computers of college students everywhere, and with good reason.

Communication has never been easier

love the web, and it’ll love you back

The Internet has made it increasingly easy to find friends, and more importantly, dates. You have them bookmarked I’m sure: My Space, Friendster, Xanga, and the red-hot The Facebook. They are infesting the computers of college students everywhere, and with good reason.

Communication has never been easier – and no I’m not discussing digital mobility and online translators, rather the simplest phrases:

“Hello.”

“My name is…”

“What’s your name?”

“Are you single?”

We’ve just transcended to a new plane of initial conversation – one with no inhibitions and ultimate confidence. Giddy up.

By taking away such minor details such as actually going out and physically meeting people, these websites provide the courage you need to talk to anyone. It’s simple. Search through the site, find a cute face or common interest, email or instant message them, and bada-bing – you’re sociable.

The system has plenty of benefits. It’s less stressful than a face- to- face encounter and if you mess up, you can simply block the other person and restart your search. No harm done. Also, one picture is all you need. No constant smiling or neat appearance day in and day out; you can meet new people while wearing a bathrobe and eating Cocoa Puffs. On top of that, that annoying task of learning what the other person likes is obsolete in this new dating world; all of his or her interests are listed in a neat column for you to browse. It’s the easy life.

And there’s no shame in it because practically every one else is doing it too. People basically advertise themselves, even listing whether or not they’re single, what they’re looking for, and where they live. It’s like a stalker’s paradise, but with buddy icons.

On that note, be careful what you get into. If you think something’s odd on the other side of the computer, then take a minute and evaluate. You don’t want to fall prey to a 48-year-old Megan’s Law listee or an 86-year-old woman who’s chatting it up between hands of Bridge. And if someone proposes after 35 minutes of conversation, take a step away from the computer and go play outside.

But for the most part, it’s harmless fun that can lead to more harmless (and physical) fun. You never know, you might meet your soul mate during a search for Jurassic Park fans.

If you haven’t tried it, and are looking for a kick (or are extremely desperate), surf one of these sites and find a new friend or two. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is a way to kill time between papers, and it could actually be fun. So expand your horizons and start clicking.

Friendster – www.friendster.com -Create a profile and connect with your friends’ friends, their friends, and their friends. It’s simple and still popular.

Xanga – www.xanga.com -It’s like an online running diary. Just be careful what you write.

My Space – www.myspace.com -A combination of Frienster and Xanga, it serves as a journal and a connection to your friends’ journals.

The Facebook – www.thefacebook.com -This is sizzling. Search by school, hometown, graduation date, high school, etc. It shows connections and can even be linked to your cell phone.

expanding temple

Temple University has launched $400 million in construction projects to be completed over the next five years on its main campus. It’s an effort by the school to remain competitive and move away from its reputation as a commuter school.

Temple continues to grow in its surrounding neighborhood and remains one of the city’s key economic development drivers.

The capital program comes as the state school lingered in the shadow of the University of Pennsylvania, which spent $1 billion over the last decade on a variety of construction projects aimed at attracting and retaining the best students and professors. Penn’s work also helped improve the safety and appearance of University City in West Philadelphia.

Temple’s projects are part of the vision of President David Adamany, who took the helm in 2000 and mapped out plans to upgrade the North Philadelphia school’s classroom and research facilities as part of its desire to draw top-notch students and educators. The school has seen enrollment swell to all-time high of 34,000 students and the number of applications for its freshman class increase. For the 4,000 first-year slots it has available, the school receives 17,000 applications. Its average SAT scores have gone up by 100 points.

We are becoming much more selective, said Clay Armbrister, senior vice president for administration. The Temple that many got into many years ago is much more difficult to get into now.

The projects include a new $75 million Tyler School of Art and a $67 million addition to the Fox School of Business and Management. Some of its other projects bolster the school’s science and research capabilities. To that end, a new $150 million medical school is being planned, along with construction of a $16 million technology center. The school also anticipates another round of capital work in the next few years renovating its principal science lab buildings, which total 495,000 square feet, and its other research and wet lab space.

Temple University Health System will announce next week details for new administrative headquarters to house 700 employees off campus.

The projects are part of a bigger shift for the school, tied to its desire to transform itself from a historic commuter school to a more residential university, said Greg Rost, Adamany’s chief of staff.

Over the last five years, Temple has doubled the number of students living on campus to 8,000. It aspires to increase that figure, despite a continuing shortage of campus and just-off-campus housing.

Temple is having a spillover effect in its North Broad Street community by spurring investment by private developers.

We firmly believe in market forces, Rost said. We’ve created the market and, so far, private developers have responded.

Since 2002, three private developers, Philadelphia Management Co., Beech Community Development Corp. of Philadelphia and American Campus Communities Inc. of Denver, have invested $108 million to convert five nearby properties totaling 1.3 million square feet into apartment buildings that house 1,966 students. Two of those buildings, Oxford Village at North 15th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and University Village at 1701 N. 10th St., opened last August.

Other developers are taking an interest in the area as well. Cambridge Management of Haverford and Lindy Property Management of Jenkintown have plans to invest $10 million to rehabilitate two structures referred to as the former York Houses at 5325 Old York Road, which were once used by the Philadelphia Geriatric Center. They plan to create apartments for students and young professionals.

In addition, Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments intends to redevelop what was commonly known as the Jump Street project. The $55 million project calls for an 800-bed apartment complex, movie theater, restaurant and stores.

It makes a great statement that the university and private investment are going into the area, Armbrister said. I can only hope that means great things for the region.

single in the city

The stroke of midnight on February the 14th and suddenly you’re mired in a 24-hour state of self-pity and gloom. Why not flip the frown around and enjoy the single greatest day for singles.

You read correctly: Valentine’s Day rocks for singles.

Mostly, singles are looking at this holiday all wrong: single equals sad, and those with boyfriends and girlfriends are enjoying pure euphoria. Well, I beg to differ. Being in a relationship does not guarantee happiness. In fact, having a significant other means you’re bound to be in more tiffs, you’re constantly apologizing, and you always have to consider someone else before you do anything.

Instead of thinking of the holiday as a day to celebrate relationships, try thinking of it as a 24-hour ceasefire with chocolate. And drop the sad act. What’s there to be sad about? The fact that you won’t drop $200 on a promise ring? The worry that one slip on your part will be brought up in every argument for the next four years? No, there is nothing to be down-and-out about; these are reasons to smile.

Couples are practically forced to go out, spend money and to buy each other useless gifts. But us singles, we’re free as birds. We can do whatever we wish.

Take me for instance. For Valentine’s weekend I’ll spend Saturday in Atlantic City, Sunday at Shampoo, and on Monday I’ll be rallying for dedicated SEPTA funding in Harrisburg. And if I want to go to New York City instead of the Shore, it’s my spur of the moment decision. Or if I’m up for Chrome on Sunday, I’ll make my choice with no one holding me back. I’ll stay out as late as I want, wherever I want, with whomever I want.

The bottom line: Valentine’s Day is the day for singles to flaunt their ability to choose in the faces of couples everywhere. When I strut down the street Monday night with a girl on each arm, I’ll make sure to pass by the window of the restaurant where a buddy of mind has taken his girlfriend. And I’ll be the one laughing.

Take a different perspective – Valentine’s Day is all about the single person’s right to choose. Don’t consider the 14th just another day in February, because it isn’t. It’s the day when everyone on the street and in the bars and clubs will be single. It’s a day when everyone is looking for a bit more fun than usual. It’s a day of freedom. Go out and celebrate.

The good people at Campus Philly have dedicated this week to being the source for anti-couple information for Valentine’s Day, with our Single in the City guide. We offer optimism, activities for singles, and much more to wash away your February 14th blues.

Explore. Learn. Smile. And have a happy Valentine’s Day.

*Special Single in the City Edition*

Ned Rauch-Mannino explains why V-Day is hot for singles

Jesse Smith shares some recipes for one.

Rhys Davies gives some tips on casual sex.

Jesse Smith finds restaurants welcoming to non-couples.

Sammy Davis explains how to dump someone.

Ned and Sammy offer 69 reasons to be single.

Chrissy Porretta faces single life after a long relationship.

brave new world

I thought it was going to be forever. He was a great guy: handsome, charming, ambitious – everything I’d always wanted. But the fairytale rarely lasts forever. A few weeks ago, our four-year relationship came to an end. Am I sad? Yes, of course I am. But everything happens for a reason, and life does go on.

If only my timing were as great as my outlook. With the wounds still raw, I am faced with the one day dreaded most in the single world-Valentine’s Day.

For the last four years I’ve looked forward to this holiday dedicated to couples. And now all I can think is, “Who ever though of Valentine’s Day anyway?” Even the sound of the word “Valentine” now makes me sick. To top off the misery, all my friends are can talk about is their exciting plans for the day, while I have nothing on my agenda.

So, what does a 23-year-old single woman do on Valentine’s Day? What does anyone do in this situation? I have given it some thought, and I am going to pass on some advice that may help you deal if you have the same problem I do. Together, maybe we can get through the 14th alone.

First of all, you have to deal with your friends. Even if it’s a lie, pretend it doesn’t bother you to hear about their big plans for the day. Show them that you’re A.O.K. with being single. They will respect your maturity and you’ll seem like a bigger person.

But more important than saving face while with friends, is helping ourselves get through the day. You could just curl up on the couch with chick flicks and ice cream, and feel sorry for yourself. Or you can take an alternate route.

Why not go out and have the time of your life? It may sound too simple to work, but it’s the only option. There are plenty of people in the same situation as you. So instead of dinner and romance or the couch and Hugh Grant movies, have some fun and excitement.

Go out to a party or a club – some even have specials for singles on Valentine’s Day. Take advantage of them. Hang out with all your single friends and spread the anti-relationship cheer. Think about it, everyone at the bar or clubs on Valentine’s Day will be single too! After introducing yourself to an array of single guys or girls, you won’t be feeling so sorry for yourself anymore.

While it may seem like the end of the world, it’s really just one day out of the year. So if you find yourself alone on Valentine’s Day after a string of V-Day’s with a significant other, relax, breathe easy, and take a new step into the single world with a smile. Because even though you can’t change what already happened, you do have a say in what happens next.

*Special Single in the City Edition*

Ned Rauch-Mannino explains why V-Day is hot for singles

Jesse Smith shares some recipes for one.

Rhys Davies gives some tips on casual sex.

Jesse Smith finds restaurants welcoming to non-couples.

Sammy Davis explains how to dump someone.

Ned and Sammy offer 69 reasons to be single.

Chrissy Porretta faces single life after a long relationship.

table for one

Who says you need a table for two on Valentine’s Day? It ain’t always easy being single, and the fact that many restaurants are so couples-centric doesn’t help. But here’s a list of the city’s best dining spots for solo acts. And who knows? At some of these places you stand a pretty good chance of earning a reprieve from single-dom (even if it’s just for a night).

Standard Tap, 901 N. Second St.
Good Dog, 224 S. 15th St.

Are you as offended by imitation vintage tees from chain stores as I am? Then do what I do and insist on the real thing. Although Standard Tap has been discovered by the in crowd, it is still a bastion of hot, inked, friendly folk, especially on weeknights. Featuring a rockin’ jukebox, tasty late-night eats, one of the best wine and beer lists in town, a killer brunch, and decent prices; you can even bring your canine companion to this laid-back bar.

Whether you’re with friends, your dog, or flying solo, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Most everything above also holds true for Good Dog, though I’m not sure if they do allow dogs, strangely.

Fox & Hound, 1501 Spruce St.

Are you wearing one of the aforementioned tees right now? Their pub grub might be mediocre, but the bazillion sportscasts and the casual mixed crowd lend Fox & Hound an atmosphere that is appealing to the college crowd. This is a great place to make a new friend watching a match of Celebrity Skeet Shoot or playing a game of Golden Tee. And rumor has it that on the weekends the place is full of convivial co-eds (in other words, friendly girls).

Loie, 128 S. 19th St.

Whether you need to blow your birthday money or show off a new coif, head to Loie to see and be seen. Oh, and also to have a great meal. Although the food and drinks might be a bit pricey for students, it’s worth a splurge. Thomas, the bartender’s cocktails are unequaled, and it’s conveniently close to Rittenhouse for an evening perambulation, if you get my drift.

Penang, 117 N. 10th St.

If a good rule of thumb is to judge an ethnic restaurant by the number of natives frequenting it, then Penang gets six stars (even though the POW camp-esque decor would only earn UN sanctions). Thankfully, the succulent food, lightning-fast service, and moderate prices make this a supreme spot for solo, duo, or group dining

cooking for one

Just because you’re home alone doesn’t mean you can’t be well fed.

They say college students should spend two to three hours studying per class hour. If that actually happens, subtract that time from your day. Now look at everything else. Between working to pay for school, commuting, watching VH1, and trying to get some, where can one find time to prepare a decent meal?

For singles, sometimes home-cooking doesn’t seem worth the effort of chipping that dried sauce off the pot. But if you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, you do at least have the time to cook for yourself and maybe some friends. So get off the couch, put down that cookie dough, and for god’s sake, put some pants on.

Cooking for one has many benefits: A home-cooked meal is undoubtedly much healthier than take-out; it just stands to reason that having a super-sized Mac-Whoppie Meal every night is bad. And who can afford that anyway- let alone one of those restaurants with the tinted windows and waterfalls?

Cooking is a Zen retreat that centers you, balances you, and improves grades

69 reasons to be single

At this point, you shouldn’t care that it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re not grounded with an old ball and chain. With all our suggestions, you should be out on the town covered in whipped cream with a ticklish European who doesn’t speak English very well.

But if you’re still not satisfied with your solitude, here is a list of the 69 greatest reasons to be single, in no particular order. Give them a read-over and any remaining blues should quickly disappear. Why the number 69? Well, it’s a very symmetrical number.

1. You can clean your place when you feel like it.
2. You can make eyes at anyone, anytime, anywhere.
3. Two words: Cheese log. Polish it off in one sitting without a comment from anyone.
4. You have your bed to yourself.
5. And without anyone taking your blankets.
6. Or snoring.
7. Better still, you can share your bed with anyone. Or anyones.
8. Think of all the places you aren’t forced to shave.
9. You’re not forced to hang out with anyone’s annoying friends.
10. And that means more time for your own friends.
11. And their sexy cousins.
12. You can sleep in, with no one to rush to the train at 7 a.m.
13. Your drawers are free of clothing that isn’t yours.
14. You’re no longer afraid to open the medicine cabinet.
15. Going commando? Don’t mind if I do.
16. No one is keeping you from the gym.
17. And no one is telling you to get to the gym.
18. Dawn of the Dead vs. The Notebook