Tuesday, September 08, 2009

High Anxiety

Notes on Shtick
by John Lombardi

Since Fast Eddie Feldman has seen fit to advise Jim Foster and myself on how to write our columns, I figured I'd return the favor, a little belatedly. That's because he's begun operating like a northern snakehead now, filing practically all the posts on the blog, answering most of the comments too, circling back on his own instructions about avoiding national politics and pop culture and so on, instead of sticking to the crucial backstage news of CHCA goofiness that he finally admits the Local isn't providing . . .

For you non-fishermen out there, snakeheads are awful fish from Southeast Asia that somehow got into Florida waterways and ate all the other fish out of their streams, then wriggled into more streams -- crossing land to do it, and sometimes dying in the attempt! -- just because they were frenzy-eaters, like running blues. Hogs, really, "chozzers" I'm told it's pronounced in Yiddish, though FEF may correct me as a mere goy who has no business using Jewish idiom . . .

In all candor I should report that I paid for Eddie's roundtrip air-ticket from Berkeley last winter, when I thought there was still a chance to fight the Exec Committee's slow strangulation of the Local. The remnants of the old Lawrence Walsh/Ron Recko gang were all worked up about the Jimmy Pack firing and the move to get rid of the Local's "Editor" -- even though I kept writing that he'd copped out shortly after heroically criticizing the Spring 2008 election. I thought Ed might juice him up again if he was around, yelling and sweating in the old Jerry Rubin/Ira Einhorn (pre-murder conviction) mode. It didn't work out that way.

There was a strong movement involving the most conservative folks in the CHCA, the CHBA, and, it developed as the winter slogged into pre-election spring, a concerted effort by Richard Snowden to unify the "pro-business", anti-journalism crowd -- who'd felt since my day (in 2000-1), that any sort of imaginative reporting should be shunned the way the sparrow shuns the hawk -- "negative" writing, all that blood, barking dogs, yechhh . . .

The provincialism of Chestnut Hill still amazes me sometimes. The sheer old-fashioned pettiness, love of gossip, religiosity -- though nearly all the old ladies whom I called "the Lloydettes" are gone now: Marie Jones, Helen Moak, Nancy Hubby and Mary Anna Ross (Cowper I believe she was called, in the end?) . . . blaming the ills of the Hill on rabble like me, Fast Eddie, Recko -- ethnics coming in and trying to change the old White Mischief colonial traditions of pointlessly long board meetings, Local Management meetings (as they were then called), and all the other uncoordinated groups treading on each others' toes, changing regimes annually, so that no courses of action were sustainable -- dense numbers of dysfunctional suburbanites with unhappy home lives barking at each other for three and four hours at a shot, then heading for Campbell's to slosh some beer and bourbon over the whole mess and keep on trucking . . .

Market forces are what undid the Hill, people. The Germantown Avenue Bridge repair, which lasted for years, changing Montgomery County shopping patterns by interrupting old commuter habits of visiting the "Village" between the Top of the Hill and the flower market near the Mt. Airy line, for cheese, hardware, shoe repair, antiques, fine prints, dry cleaning, haircuts, Caruso's, lovely, 19th century strolls . . . Given the Malling of America & Philly taxes, real estate rental along the Avenue grew too steep for realistic profit-making, and psuedo-businessmen like Snowden, Sanjiv Jain and Rob Remus screwed things up further, leaving empty storefronts (for tax writeoffs) that are beginning to resemble the Yosemite Gold Rush ghost-towns of the Sierra Nevada. And there is racial liebesraum--pushing from Germantown proper and the North Philly ghetto, too, which some Hillers are too hypocritical to talk about . . .

But what saddens me is the journalistic waste. The Hill and surrounding communities are full of smart readers with taste and vision who aren't members of, say, Carolyn Hausserman's former cast-iron committees, or the CHCA at all. No one's addressing them. They're not listening to foolishness like the Local's happy reports about how swell everything is; or Fast Eddie's baroque shtick on Snowden's "master plan" to force everyone else out of the picture so that he can build condos in the Hill parking lots, or start soft coal strip-mining operations in Pastorius Park.

The Hill's ideal readers know that Snowden, for one, is no real threat. He's just a rich dilletante. What corporation would employ a guy who buys buildings as tax writeoffs on a permanent basis? What's the profit margin there, bro? But Ed knits & purls this conspiracy stuff -- adapted from Lloyd Wells's old obsessions, by the way -- like a vaudeville trouper. His themes are Snowden -- about whom he hopes to write a book, without, apparently, doing any real research (if he'd just read the old Inky series on S's Germantown misadventures before he even got to the Hill, FEF would realize how futile a project that is, saleswise) ; race -- though he always leaves crime out; and character assassination -- he was recently sadistic on Len Lear and Walter Sullivan, just because he thinks they're vulnerable. And smarmy sex -- to prove, I guess, what a naughty boy he is: here's what he had to say about Rob Remus in "Curiouser & Curiouser" in this space, August 30:

"So Rob, who once told a gay man that he wanted to insert a body part into his body [sic], now offers, then denies, access to his children to me for some reason. He dangled his kids in front of me for a reason I can't even imagine."

Sure you can, FEF. It's just sick shtick.

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Blogger Ed Feldman said...

Gosh John, all I did was suggest one local themed piece for each one concerning a non Hill item. Gee whiz.
What exactly would you like me to do?

Tue Sep 08, 01:26:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ed Feldman said...

Part Two: I report on Snowden because he is now the power behind the board. Those others you talked about being gone ....are gone.
I can't change Pete, nor can I blame someone who has to pay his bills.
As for the sadistic charge, assuming this is the John Lombardi whose stuff I have read before, I must call your attention to your comments on Pete, and say that I have had some second thought about my response to Len. His racist op-ed made me angry, but I may have gone a little to far. But I stand behind the facts and the vitriol that concern every other Hill figure I have ever written about.
I wouldn't defend myself like this to many people, but I owe you this respect. So, back to my original question-What the Fuck, John?

Tue Sep 08, 01:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

The Phila ZBA hearing on October 20 at 9:30 am to convert the parking lot behind 8400 Gtn Ave from private to public will enable new Snowden developments across the street and at the Magarity site to obtain variances that will be anti-near neighbor. Don't let it happen. Note that the applicant for the zoning change permit is Wendy Sue Kearn, a board member.

Wed Sep 09, 09:00:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

John Lombardi said:
What does "anti-near neighbor" mean, exactly, Jeremiade?

Thu Sep 10, 10:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Any development along the Avenue impacts the near neighbors in many ways from trash to transit. The zoning code theoretically protects the citizens from the impact by setting limitations and requirements on development. However, the CHCA has routinely traded these protections by supporting variances to gain design features they think would be nice. This practice has been documented in two studies done by CHCA. One was by an outside consultant and one by CHCA committee (Long Range Planning).

One practice is the reduction and/or elimination of parking requirements on the theory that sufficient parking is available elsewhere (like a public lot that used to be a private lot). Another anti near neighbor practice is the improper (and anti code) practice of blocking streets for unloading. In Chestnut Hill these things get approved in exchange for that special look for the facade. Green and pink would be nice...screw those NIMBY neighbors.

If you need more examples let me know. The exact meaning of "anti near neighbor" becomes obvious when the details of the next development are revealed.

Thu Sep 10, 11:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ed Feldman said...

J- Explain me pleeze-how does a change in lot status from private to public impact; 1.the community adversely, and 2.Snowden beneficially?

Thu Sep 10, 05:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

If it can be argued that sufficient parking is available elsewhere, that developer can get the requirements relaxed on a new development. That helps the developer and hurts the community.

Thu Sep 10, 10:22:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

You're still talking abstracts, J. Without defending Snowden, don't most communities pass variances as time and conditions change? That's what zoning committees do. Because Wendy Kearn's done some architectural work for S, the Snowden-as-Saddam crowd crows and cackles again, and the community's acrimonious rep shoots up some more. Which is worse for the Hill than so-called "negative reporting".

Folks in Mt. Airy have been calling CH "Molenut Hill" for years.

Fri Sep 11, 03:07:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremaide do you live in Chestnut Hill?

Sat Sep 12, 06:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Variances are not "passed". They are requests of the City for relief from complying with existing statutes in specific cases. What's interesting (and smelly) about this variance is that it isn't being requested by Acadia Realty Trust (the lot owner) but rather by CHCA people. There is no basis to approve this variance. The Zoning Code protects the residents. The CHCA does not.

Sat Sep 12, 10:46:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

OK, Ed. Stop posting as Anonymous to get my name and number. I told you before, we aren't dating anymore.

Sat Sep 12, 08:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ed Feldman said...

J-I have never signed on anonymously, and I already know your name, number, location, and what title you held. It is always a mistake to underestimate my sources. I have never outed you because you have never used anonymity to hide behind while waging personal attacks. While it's obvious we don't agree on politics writ large, we share enough knowledge of the CHCA to see it for what it is. In short, you are no asshole, so you needn't suspect or fear me.

Mon Sep 14, 04:31:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremaide, why don't you answer the questions? Where do you live?

Mon Sep 14, 08:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lost Boy said...

Where does Dina live?

Mon Sep 14, 11:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Anonymous, given that you hide by posting as anonymous, what makes you entitled to my address? Post your name and number and I'll call you with my address if I like you.

Tue Sep 15, 08:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

I know I'm really off Lombardi's original subject but I just watched Feldman's ten youtube "movies" including the "Fire on the Hill" series. Well done.

Just remember, if it wasn't for strip mining we'd have to pay lots more for electricity. Did they get soft coal from the COTIGA operation or anthracite. I think the former was used in steel making and that latter for electricity generation. Ed, have you resarched the Snowden/General Foods connection yet?

Wed Sep 16, 10:55:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Hill recived federal grant money for all of its parking lots. The board should be careful to not f-with that and then the CHA will have to repay all of that money. Beware, Zoning.

Where DOES Dina live?

Wed Sep 16, 11:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

So the spin is that the parking lot at 8400 Gtn Ave has to be public now (instead of private accessory use) is so that it can get paved with federal funds? The change of use permit application is dated 2/19/2008 and that was in response to a violation notice dated 9/10/2007. The timing doesn't seem to match up. Could this be the same old fraud path?

Thu Sep 17, 07:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ed Feldman said...

She's in the book. Geraldine Hitchcock-Wyndmoor Pa-but my sources say she's actually in Malvern now. That's a helluva drive to sit next to Richard-Ed

Thu Sep 17, 10:34:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CHPF recieved the federal grant money, not the CHCS. If you have any questions please call the CHPF.

Thu Sep 17, 02:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

The CH Parking Foundation does not pretend to represent residents of CH. We rightly look to the CHCA to take the proper course to defend the zoning that protects the residents.

Thu Sep 17, 11:12:00 PM EDT  

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