Fire department captain appreciates our supportThank you very much for your editorial last week regarding the brownouts in the Philadelphia Fire Department (Respect our firefighters).As a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department for 35 years, it is extremely rare to see anything in writing from the media here in Philly which depicts us firefighters in a positive light.As far as I’m concerned, it seems very obvious that the two major papers (The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News) are pretty much controlled by City Hall, which I think is pathetic.These brownouts are no different than Russian roulette. The city is taking a chance that a fire does not occur in a company’s particular local area on any given day.Although nobody can say with absolute certainty that some of the fire deaths that have occurred when brownouts were in force would not have resulted with the same outcome, there have been a few where many of us firefighters feel there could have been a chance to save the lives of some of these people.I believe that the city of Philadelphia treats its firefighters like second-class citizens. I also believe that the public, in general, does not really care about us either. The one time I do know that they care about us is when they need us, whether it’s for a medical emergency, fire in their home, natural gas leak, or whatever the case may be.Once again, thank you for your support. It is appreciated.Robert BowmanCaptain, Engine 58Bustleton Avenue and Hendrix Street
Too often, city officials and judges believe the best way to handle a problem is to first pretend it doesn’t exist, then pretend to do something about it, then, only if absolutely necessary, do something about it. Now, two firemen from Northeast Philadelphia are dead, and it appears their blood is on the hands of local government.The horrific five-alarm blaze at a vacant warehouse in Kensington that killed Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney Monday morning likely would not have happened had the city and court system been proactive, not reactive. The Langhorne-based company that owned the empty warehouse, on the 1800 block of E. York St., owes back taxes and unpaid water bills. That’s bad enough, but the building reportedly had been visited by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections a half-dozen times since November and had been broken into, even after the city sealed it up.Something’s terribly wrong with this picture. Too many Philadelphia neighborhoods have abandoned warehouses that are tragedies just waiting to happen.If city officials and the courts, from Mayor Michael Nutter and president judges on down the ladder, had any courage, they would have made sure that buildings like the one that collapsed on Lt. Neary and Firefighter Sweeney were torn down years ago.Like so many other segments of government, vigorous enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy on tax deadbeats and absentee landlords — of hazardous residential AND commercial properties — is doable but rarely done. Had the city and courts not dilly-dallied, two Northeast families and the entire family known as the Philadelphia Fire Department would not be in tears today. ••Send letters to: email@example.com
The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo) is a low-key, French-language film that will go unnoticed by many movie watchers (especially ones that ignore any and all foreign films with subtitles).Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie offers some intrigue, excitement and glimpse of compassion in humanity.While the bike serves a central purpose in the movie (and the kid certainly spends a lot of time on the bike or talking about it) the film is about much more.Written and directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the movie focuses on troubled young Cyril (newcomer Thomas Doret in his first movie role), whose father Guy (Jérémie Renier) has recently abandoned him without a goodbye, a note or anything at all.Cyril goes on a hunt to find his bicycle, thinking it will lead him back to his father. By chance, he meets a hairdresser named Samantha (Cécile de France) who finds his bicycle and agrees to become his weekend guardian (he spends the weekdays at an orphanage).Under Samantha’s weekend watches, Cyril goes on a series of misadventures and rebellions involving his bicycle, finding his father (who wants no place in his life) and hanging out with a bad influence, drug-dealing teenager. He tests Samantha’s patience every step of the way, but still, she’s determined to see the good in Cyril and help him out, thus becoming a loving, consistent force in his young life.There are some dark layers to the story. The rejection Cyril receives from his father on multiple occasions is hard to watch, but it makes things more compelling, knowing the kid’s emotional turmoil. Cyril’s brief foray into criminal mischief also adds some needed tension.This is the first flick from the Dardenne brothers that I have seen, but they have also written and directed better known movies including L’Enfant and Rosetta. The Kid with a Bike never truly wows me, but I did find it easy to stay fully engaged in what’s happening at all times. The movie dives right into Cyril trying to track down both his father and bicycle from the opening moments, immediately grabbing the audience.The dramatic scenes are strong, and there are some heartwarming moments such as Samantha’s draw to the young man. Sure, it is inexplicable and almost unbelievable that a strange woman would take to a child she doesn’t know so quickly, but it works.Her simple acts of kindness toward Cyril remind the audience that some goodness still remains in people.Doret was quite the natural for his first big screen performance. I felt like his emotions were real, and he was tasked with portraying everything from rage to disappointment to peace.There is a nail-biter of a moment toward the end, and it’s hard to predict which way the story will go. That’s different from a lot of Hollywood movies where one can predict the ending way before it happens. ••Movie Grade: B
— Mail carrier makes a first-class delivery in Somerton
The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo) is a low-key, French-language film that will go unnoticed by many movie watchers (especially ones that ignore any and all foreign films with subtitles).