The Phoenix Files

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The story should never ever be the story.

Something posted here or in print should tell you about what’s going on that affects our lives – our own, and those of our neighbors. When that story itself becomes the subject, it can rob the story’s issues of their significance; it gives primary place to something that should be secondary.

Monday’s headline “Holy Ghost excommunicates woman” did that, and Phoenixville took far too long Monday to get beyond the headline to the way-more-than-one issue in the story.

But that’s just to put a working journalist’s slant to a point already made, and made very well, in a public comment on the story Monday from an unexpected source. See the 7:07 pm express from Spring City, at

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Friday, September 19, 2008

Letter to The Parents of Students of Phoenixville District

Thursday, September 18, 2008


On Wednesday, September 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Pennsylvani house District 157 candidates Guy Chiarrocchi and Paul Drucker will meet in a Townhall-style session with the public, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Franklin Commons, 400 Franklin Avenue, Phoenixville.

The session has been organized by, which will
live-stream and tape the event. The event is being hosted by Marian
and David Moskowitz, at their Franklin Commons facility.

The session will be moderated by Dr. Lou Beccaria, CEO of the
Phoenixville Community Health Foundation.

We are anxious to have the candidates respond to the wide range of
issues of concern to all 157th District voters.

Please send us questions for the candidates on issues of concern
to you.

Your questions and those of others will be collated by staff, and on the evening of the event they will
be posed to candidates by a community member selected to do so.

We’re anxious to have a spirited evening addressing the issues facing
Harrisburg. Plan to attend – but send your questions now, to

Email you questions to

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monster Self-Defense

I was looking up information about "Mad Men" on the American Movie Classics website and meanwhile found a fun little video called the "Monster Self-Defense Test."

AMC did some filming in Phoenixville at BlobFest this summer. One of the cable channel's science fiction department staffers polled a number of festival-goers about how they would defend themselves against various movie monsters.

Not too surprisingly, all the respondents knew
that the Blob can be defeated by cold, specifically by CO2 fire extinguishers.
However, they would have fared less well against various other creatures including zombies and gremlins.

If you'd like to test your own monster preparedness, or just see if you can spot any friends or celebrities in the video, check it out.

You can find it by clicking around at the main AMC site,, or if you're impatient, just go straight to

Enjoy, and stay safe!

-- Patricia Matson

Monday, September 15, 2008

Barry Cassidy's Report From Council

Friday, September 12, 2008

Slip and Fall WHAT?

Politics is serious business.
Not that it isn’t just plain good fun sometimes. Even ol’ Abe looked backward and forward once, in a letter to a friend during some of the darkest moments of the Civil War and wrote, “…and then we’ll have some fun at this once again.”
Dour John Adams could be caught at times relishing the fray, and even producing a chuckle once in a long while — though never admitting so, of course, in any letter back to Abigail.
If you watch carefully, you’ll even see laughter in Borough Council meetings. Honest. But you don’t have to trust me on that. Ask Tom Mitchell.
I like having fun covering politics.
But that fun happens along the way toward some pretty serious goals. Politics, after all, is where we ask the very biggest questions about who we should be and what we should do, together.
Guy Ciarrocchi, Republican candidate for the Pennsylvania House 157th District, is serious about politics. Paul Drucker, his opponent, is serious about politics.
That is to say that we here in this district have the very great benefit of having two serious candidates with serious proposals between which to choose in this election. We are fortunate.
But the recent entry of an opponent-bashing exercise from the Ciarrocchi campaign against the Drucker campaign, an exercise that's supposed to make you laugh and shake your head in disbelief, is not serious. It does not comport with what we know about the candidate the exercise is trying to support.
But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that’s it’s just not funny.
Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Visiting the Battleship New Jersey

This past Sunday, I went with the Feulner family to visit the Battleship New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey.
Phyllis Feulner and I won tickets to go aboard the Battleship from our journey to the NBC-10 "10!" Show in July. Since we each were given a pair of tickets, I mentioned to Phyllis that it'd be gre
at if we could take her hubby Keith and daughter Brittany along for the ride.
We left Phoenixville around 12:30 p.m. and made our way to New Jersey within an hour, considering the Eagles traffic as well. There was one brief gaper delay, but we survived.
Prior to going aboard the Battleship, we stopped at the gift shop to do a little
browsing. Brittany got herself a t-shirt, while I was thinking about getting a dog tag. That was until I was informed that they weren't making any because they ran out of tags. Oh well!
So after placing all of the cell phones on vibrate, we walked down the pier towards the Battleship. Once we walked up the stairwell, we crossed over the gangplank and were greeted by an officer.
Remembering my days in the service, I saluted the officer and respectfully requested permission for the Feulner family to come aboard ship.
After a return salute and acceptance, we followed the mandatory red line on the floor to which would lead us on our own tour.
We went throughout the entire Battleship, as I pointed out some of the stuff I encountered while I was in the Navy. The triple stack beds, the mess decks, the walkways and corridors - it brought back a lot of memories. It was nice to share my experiences with the Feulners, as they were interested in hearing about that time in my life.
I remembered having to strip and wax several corridors in my lifetime, and the awful slider hamburgers and bug juice that was served in the mess decks.
We took plenty of pictures and had a lot of laughs. Okay, we broke away from following the red line a few times, and only got caught once. I'm sure the officers were glad to see us go, just like they were when I left the service back in the 80s.
It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and we'd highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the military and ships.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Pitbullishness and politics

Gov. Sarah Palin did her job in St. Paul Wednesday evening. It was a narrow assignment.

Her job was to energize a hall full, a party full, of campaign workers to do their jobs.

The generic form of the job comes with a standard-issue license for rhetorical freedom. Hers came with a license of the double-oh variety. Whatever it takes to get them on their feet, get them moved and moving.

Overstatement required; cleverness rewarded. Wave the flag. Slice and dice, slam the opposition with a two-by-four. If gets real busy Thursday morning, so be it.

That's all OK if you've got just that party audience to speak to. They know what the speech is about. They know why the rhetoric is what it is.

Trouble comes when the audience is expanded to include, you know, like voters. That's a different audience, with different political needs; the rhetoric that works inside the hall doesn't play the same outside. (Even the delegates knew that: listen to the did-she-really-say-that-and-should-I-laugh hesitations following Palin's hardest lines about Democrats.)

We see the same problem in local campaigns here; getting out the two-bys may satisfy the tastes of party regulars, but is greeted with, at very best, a collective public shrug from the rest of us – if it doesn't just drive us to inattention, to distraction and away from the polls.

So, fellas (I'm talking to the candidates, where it is all fellas for us here now, for this cycle), watch it. The sly line, the suggestive question, about your opponent constructed over a breakfast strategy conference, that cutting line that makes your team feel good, just might not be what will get us to vote good.

And please remember when a debate is not a debate, and just who suggested the occasion.

Posted by

G.E. "Skip" Lawrence

Matt Talks with Dirk Quinn of The Dirk Quinn Band

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Into the Eye of the Storm (8/30-31/08)

Captain Jim Fox, an EMT with Phoenixville Fire Department’s West End ambulance, and Lt. Brian Zimmerman, a paramedic, arrived in Louisiana with EMT Rich Ressel and Paramedic Keith Ledger on Saturday evening.
With little time to rest, Fox and Zimmerman were sent to southern Louisiana to help evacuate critical care patients from hospital near Metairie. Working with the National Guard from Texas and Massachusetts, and military personnel from Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey as well as members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Phoenixville EMS providers prepared and loaded patients into military planes for transport to safe zones outside the area projected to be hit by Hurricane Gustav.
“We’ve never had to work with the military before,” Fox said. “This was definitely a learning experience.”
Aircraft to transport those critically ill patients landed at Lakefront Airport.
From the National Defence and Canadian Forces:
The Government of Canada, in response to a request from the United States Government, deployed a CC-177 Globemaster transport aircraft to Louisiana today to assist with the evacuation of people from areas under threat by Hurricane Gustav.
Designated Operation UNIFY, a CC-177 Globemaster, deployed under the provisions of the Civil Assistance Plan from CFB Trenton, Ont, to Lakefront, Louisiana to assist with American evacuation efforts. CF aeromedical personnel were also onboard the aircraft to assist with any medical issues.
“The Canadian Forces have a wide variety of equipment, vehicles, and expertise that can be used to offer assistance to those in need,” said Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk. “Whether it’s helping Canadians here at home, our neighbours to the south, or people in distress across the globe, the Canadian Forces stand ready to support the Government of Canada's efforts in promoting safety and security.”
The crew started work at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. At 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Fox and Zimmerman were finally on their way back to Tent City, their base camp located at the Louisiana State University’s Agricultural Center.
The weather was sticky and humid. The streets of New Orleans, which are normally teeming with life, were empty.
“Today it was a ghost town,” Fox said. “You see a couple of people here and there, but otherwise it’s deserted. They did a good job with the evacuations, but I’m sure people are hiding out in their homes.”
As Fox and Zimmerman evacuated their patients, Ressel and Ledger worked alongside other members of the Pennsylvania Strike Team to tear down Tent City and move everything indoors in preparation for Gustav’s onslaught.
“Once the hurricane hits, we will be on lock down,” said Fox. “No one is leaving the building until it passes.”
With enough equipment and food to last them 72 hours, the crew is well prepared to deal with the storm, but tomorrow brings the surprise factor.
“Obviously we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Fox said. “All we know at this point is that the projected path of the storm shows it’s going to be right over top of us.

Into the Eye of the Storm (9/1/08)
Gustav made landfall today as a Category 2 hurricane. Despite the downgrade, the storm brought torrential rainfalls and winds that gusted up to ** mph.
The crew was on lock down, unable to leave the building until the worst of the storm had passed. Their temporary headquarters, a new hurricane-proof building on the LSU campus, is located about 185 miles from where Gustav made landfall and housed about 500 EMS providers from Pennsylvania.
In an adjacent building, more than 1,000 evacuees rode out the hurricane.
Late tonight, Gustav had been downgraded again, this time to tropical storm status. Still the heavy rain and high winds wreaked havoc. The crew listened from inside the building as winds howled and rain pounded, but they are thankful; it was nowhere near as bad as expected. Though the worst is over, bad weather persists.
There is no air conditioning, and the temperatures inside the building have soared.
“We’re in a room with 500 people on cots,” Fox said. “It’s hot and muggy, but we’re making do.”
Tomorrow at 7 a.m., the crew will meet with FEMA representatives, and at 9 a.m., they will meet with the whole Pennsylvania Strike Team. After that, they will be deployed to work in a moveable military hospital to provide medical care to the evacuees.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Recommendations From Creep Industries 09.03.08

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