BY KELLIE C. MURPHY Rebelling against the machine comes naturally to Skwire. Born in Newport, R.I., he grew up during the Reagan years and became an early frequenter of the local punk rock music scene, learning how to rage with political groups like the Dead Kennedys and MDC. He moved to Philly in 1999 to pursue his musical ambitions and settled in Kingsessing, one of the oldest settlements in the city. He says the area was the perfect fit, because he wanted homeownership and a yard—without going broke.
Skwire realizes how out of place he looks in his predominately black neighborhood. He remembers when he first moved in and his plumber warned him to put bars on the windows, because, “when they know you’re here, they’ll come.” But nobody ever came, and this average-looking white dude shifted comfortably from interloper to a tried-and-true member of the community. He’s even on the block watch. The neighborhood provides plenty of inspiration for the blog, like the colorful entry he posted about a “giant living asterisk” as a metaphor for the sight of children dispersing from gunfire on the Kingsessing basketball court. That’s why Skwire takes the budget cuts so personally; he believes they disproportionately affect Philly’s most at-risk residents.
Seven out of the 11 libraries scheduled to close are in high-crime police districts. Skwire worries that vulnerable members of the community—kids, seniors, the disabled—will have to pass through danger zones in order to get to the nearest library. That’s why the mayor and a growing cast of characters are now featured daily on Brendan Calling, where Skwire challenges Nutter and Siobhan Reardon, the director of Free Library of Philadelphia, to make that same walk one evening without police escort.
“That’s the thing that’s blowing the top off my head now,” he fumes. “The Daily News reported a few weeks ago that the Eagles have owed the city $8 million since 1985. They were supposed to pay up in 2001, but they’ve chosen to tie it up in court believing the city will just give up. But if you go to the community relations page of the Eagles’ website,” Skwire says, “you’ll see nothing but how they support literacy with their bookmobile. That’s great, but you owe us $8 million! Nothing against the bookmobile, but that’s nothing compared to keeping a dozen libraries open.”
Skwire is uncomfortable being the subject of an article. After all, he considers himself nothing more than a “pissed-off guy from the neighborhood who complains a lot on a blog.” But he says if the story helps get the word out, it’s fine with him. He speculates that due to a lack of time and resources, the papers and TV news outlets are “dropping the ball” on the issue of Sunoco and the Eagles debt, and says all citizens should pitch in.
“The Daily News has printed one single editorial about this. To the best of my knowledge, the Inquirer has said nothing (I’d be happy to be corrected). I’ve been trolling philly.com’s sports pages calling attention to the Eagles’ debt, and every day my polite comments are deleted by the administrators. Anyone seen today’s Daily News? Front and back covers celebrating the Eagles, including a picture of Andy Reid with the headline ‘We Owe You Run.’ Yeah, you owe us something all right, and it’s substantially more than bad puns in honor of a corporate deadbeat that’s benefited so much from the city.” As for The Philadelphia Inquirer’s role in covering the Eagles, Skwire writes, “Why Is the Inky Covering a Corporate Deadbeat Team?” MORE
EXPLAINER: The Libraries, The Eagles & The Missing $8 Million
[Dir. by SCOTT COLAN]
[Photos by MICHAEL PERSICO courtesy of Philadelphia Weekly]