Sunday, January 31, 2010

Read All About It

A story I wrote about a weekly Blues Jam in a Stockholm club appears on The City Traveler Web site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

EagleBank Bowl was 30 Years in the Making for the Temple Football Program

For those of us who are fans of the Temple University football program our lives for the past 20 years have been mired in a web of frustration, doom, despair, hopelessness, shock, heartbreak and depression.

We know the agony of defeat better than anyone. The regular beatings and lopsided loses the football team took were one thing. But over the years Temple has lost games in spectacular fashion in ways no one could anticipate—from opponents completing last-second “Hail Mary” passes for touchdowns, to Temple turnovers with seconds left in the game that either killed final drives near the end zone or became winning scores for the opponent. Missed extra points, field goals, you name it it’s been done.

Not this year. Five years after head coach Al Golden (left) took over the struggling program things changed. After losing the first two games of the season (the first loss, again, in spectacular fashion), Temple won the next nine games before losing their finale. The 9-3 record earned them a bid to the Dec. 29 EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C., against a big-conference marquee opponent, UCLA.

It certainly wasn’t the most prestigious bowl game. First, the game was held in aging, even decrepit RFK stadium, which used to serve as the home of the Washington Redskins. Second, it was in D.C. as opposed to some sunny location in the west or south. But it was close enough to Philly to allow an estimated 20,000 Temple fans to attend the game, understandably far outnumbering the team from the West Coast. Philly and the World were among those fans using the game as an excuse to stay through the New Year in our favorite local city.

To top it off Washington was hit by serious cold spell. At the 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon kickoff it was about 30 degrees. By the end of the game it was below 20 degrees and it felt colder.

Despite these inconveniences, the atmosphere at the game was electric. By opening kickoff the place the Temple side of the stands was wild and by the end of the second half when Temple took a 21-7 lead, the building was shaking. But the joy ended there. UCLA was able to kick a field goal on the last play of the second quarter and in the second half its defense totally shut down the Temple offense. UCLA came back to win the game 30-21.

Lead photo: Temple players celebrate after a completion to tight end Steve Maneri for the first touchdown of the game. Below, is a video of Matt Brown scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. The muffled noises you hear are the sounds of people clapping with their gloves on.

There was disappointment but there was joy. Temple’s first bowl game in 30 years was a success. The fans came and they participated with their energy and their cash, which made EagleBank Bowl officials happy. The total turnout wasn’t as strong as hoped, again because of it being held on a week night and the difficulty of many UCLA fans making the trip from the West Coast, but Temple and its fans held up its end.

Washington, a very tourist-friendly city, and the bowl game sponsors were excellent hosts, which have us looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Frank Gehry’s Bilbao in Cleveland

From the Peter B. Lewis Building Web site.

Driving through the Case Western Reserve University campus in Cleveland the day after Christmas, we pass manicured lawns, bare trees and traditional brick and stone buildings. Sure signs that we have entered a serious place of higher learning. Then it appears. Twisted metal formed in a weave-like basket pattern that both rise out of the building and fall all around it in layers. Red brick walls and windows bend and curve as they fold into the building’s metallic shell. The structural elements move in ways that seem impossible, or at least eerie, as if the building has a life of its own. It is the architectural equivalent of a searing electric guitar solo in the middle of a chamber concert recital.

This is the work of Frank Gehry, the famed architect whose style is among the most recognizable in the world today. The Peter B. Lewis Building is the headquarters of Case Western’s Weatherhead School of Management. The five-story, 150,000-square-foot building is a smaller version of his most acclaimed works, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Since we happened upon the building during the holidays it was closed and we couldn’t get inside. But based on photographs from the school’s Web site, the theme of the curved elements are also in use inside, only with the use of softer materials, such as wood.

On its Web site, Weatherhead describes the $61.7 million building as reflecting the “spirit” of its “innovative approach” to business education. “It redefines the way a business school should look, just as Weatherhead redefines the way management education should be taught.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cleveland’s Heritage and Culture is on Display Daily in the West Side Market

Cleveland’s West Side Market is more than a place for area residents to buy good food. It is part of the city’s identity and history. It reflects the ethnic fabric of the region and serves as a meeting place for friends, families and visitors looking for an authentic experience in the city by the lake.

The 45,000 square-foot yellow brick complex on West 25th and Lorain streets is a stunning piece of architecture, designed by the firm of Hubbell & Benes in 1912. The exterior includes a 137-foot copper roofed clock tower that can be seen for miles, cementing the building’s landmark status, and tall vaulted windows at each end let in plenty of sunlight.

While the outside is nice, the action is inside the main building. Below a magnificent 44-foot vaulted tile ceiling are approximately 100 stands selling meats, dairy, bread, poultry, seafood, cheese and anything else imaginable. The vendors truly represent the ethnic diversity of the Cleveland area. The strongest influence is of German, Polish and Eastern European descent. Butchers display all types of smoked and raw sausages; perogies and sauerkraut are readily available; and one doesn't have to look hard to find Hungarian kuchens.

Other ethnic purveyors do not get a short thrift here as homemade pastas share space with Mexican and Cambodian take-out vendors, and traditional Middle Eastern fare. While tradition runs strong, there’s a nod to the way people eat today. Several stalls serve artisan products such as fresh baked breads, cheese, and locally roasted coffee. For example, one stall, Reilly’s, places a modern twist to traditional Irish comfort food. The business produces refined versions of meat pies, Cornish pasties, sausage rolls and traditional Irish pastries.

There’s a restaurant in the building, West Side Market CafĂ©, but the only dining area for those using take take-out stands is bench seating on the second floor overlooking the action.

Outside of the main building is a partially exposed produce arcade (again with a vaulted tile ceiling) that wraps around the side and the rear of the main building. It holds approximately 80 stalls. Here, the food isn’t as exciting. It obviously all comes from the same distribution center and is similar to what appears on supermarket shelves. But the environment is far from a sterile supermarket experience.

While the current building has been in place since 1912, the idea of a market on West 25th and Lorain was planned in 1840 when two city residents, Josiah Barber and Richard Lord, donated a tract of land with the stipulation that it would be a public market site. Through the years other residents gifted land in the same area that allowed the market to expand.

Today, the market is accessible by rail and bus. A large, free parking lot across the street makes it easy for drivers to fill up their cars.

Below are more images of the market:

Cleveland's West Side Market is on 26th and Lorain streets. It's open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Starting the New Year Right

Philly and the World has been slow getting started this new year and I apologize. I am planning stories on visits to Cleveland and Washington, D.C. during the holidays. In the meantime, since it’s never too late to begin the new year in good form, I will share this immensely popular 76-minute speech titled, Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008).

Pausch’s story and his lecture are quite well known by now. He was diagnosed with a terminal pancreatic cancer on Sept. 19, 2006, an underwent Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) on the same day, which was unsuccessful in halting the spread of the disease. He was told in August 2007 that he would have three to six months of good health.

In addition to the lecture, he co-authored the book, The Last Lecture. Below is the uplifting, entertaining and inspiring lecture he gave on Sept. 18, 2007.

I would like to thank freelance writer Cathleen McCarthy of The City Traveler for turning me onto this.