A son’s love letter to his father

This week in North Philly Notes, Andy Jasner, editor of Phil Jasner “On the Case” recalls his father’s work and work ethic.  
I always knew Phil Jasner worked hard.
I always knew he took great pride in outworking the competition.
Even I didn’t know he worked this hard.
What am I referencing?
Compiling Phil Jasner: On The Case, a labor of love which took several years, was no small task. I knew that from the beginning. When you’re in six — count ‘em, six – Halls of Fames, you’ve obviously put countless hours into perfecting your craft.
Phil Jasner On the Case_smGoing through thousands and thousands and even more thousands of articles over a four decade-plus career, I truly saw the work that Jasner, aka Dad, put in every single day.
When you’re a kid growing up, you don’t pay attention to what your parents are going through at work. You’re not supposed to worry about things like that. It’s about being a kid, playing basketball, baseball, or whatever sport it may be, going to school, hanging out with your friends, etc.
Reading through Dad’s volume of copy was a gargantuan task and an amazingly fulfilling one.
There was the day Dad tried to prove that Julius Erving could fly (check out the article in the book). That was just one of about six stories in the Philadelphia Daily News alone, totaling more than 12,000 words. One day! In the world of Twitter that we all now live in, that was so telling about the type of work ethic Dad embodied 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
Dad didn’t have a job. He never went to work.
Dad lived his dream every day. How many people can say that? Not many, I imagine.
Sure, there were tough days when flights were delayed, baggage was lost and even a story or two was deleted by accident.
JasnerandSon

Andy Jasner, left, with his father, Phil Jasner at the 1996 NBA Finals

But in the big picture, Dad simply lived a dream. Even though that dream was tragically cut short on Dec. 3, 2010 at the young age of 68, Dad’s readers were never shortchanged. His work shined through on the newspaper pages and on the Internet. The passion and pride was on display in every article.

You could feel Dad’s passion when reading through the articles. I felt that way when compiling the book, which was quite therapeutic and necessary to continue a legacy for years and years.
The hard work will be in print forever. It deserves to be. Dad will never be forgotten and neither will his hard work.
It sure will be etched in my memory forever. Readers of Phil Jasner“On The Case” will certainly feel the same way. How can they not?
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Temple University Press’ Annual Holiday Sale

This week in North Philly Notes, we prepare for the holidays by promoting our annual Holiday Sale December 7-8 from 11am-2pm in the Diamond Club Lobby, (lower level of Mitten Hall at Temple University)

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Celebrating University Press Week

November 6-11 is University Press Week. Since 2012, we have celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

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Today’s theme: Libraries and Librarians helping us all #LookItUP

What do libraries and librarians do to promote facts and scholarship. How do University Presses assist in this?

University of Missouri Press A look at how the Special Collections archives and certain librarians helped the author and press with Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, Poems.

University Press of Florida Pat Leach, Library Director at Lincoln City Libraries, comments on a perfectly ordinary thing—conversation about books.

University of Georgia Press How libraries serve as a bastion of facts and real information against the onslaught of Fake News.

University of Alabama Press Highlights their on-campus library system. Below is a conversation with Tom Wilson, Associate Dean for Research and Technology.

Celebrating University Press Week!

November 6-11 is University Press Week. Since 2012, we have celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

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Today’s theme: Producing the books that matter

Focuses on production, editorial, and design, and how these elements are vital in helping books succeed in the world and getting the broadest possible exposure.

University of Kansas Press Focuses on the relationship between the editorial and production departments, and how they intereact to create books.

University of California Press Blogs about “ASA, Interdisciplinary Associations, and American Studies Now” Much of the most exciting contemporary work in American Studies refuses the distinction between politics and culture—focusing on historical cultures of power and protest on the one hand, or the political importance of cultural practices on the other. The titles in recently-launched series American Studies Now cover these political and cultural intersections while such teachable moments are at the center of public conversation.

Georgetown University Press We sit down with our Editorial, Production, and Design department to highlight a few elements of book production in scholarly publishing that our readers might not know about.

UBC Press A post on the challenges and rewards of working closely with an author to develop a book for a general rather than a scholarly audience.

University of Michigan Press  An interview with the author of Academic Ableism

Fordham University Press  Author, David Goodwin, talks about the production of his book,  Left Bank of the Hudson, that published this fall.

Yale University Press A blog piece featuring an episode of our podcast we recorded on the making of the Voynich Manuscript.

MIT Press We’ll take a look back at a biography of our colophon designer, Muriel Cooper and look at her influence on our current designers.

A view of Public History in the light of recent events in Charlottesville

This week in North Philly Notes, in response to the Charlottesville Syllabus, which details books and articles about confederate statues and other related issues, we showcase our public history title, Presenting the Past.

In recent years, history has been increasingly popularized through television docudramas, history museums, paperback historical novels, grassroots community history projects, and other public representations of historical knowledge. This collection of lively and accessible essays is the first examination of the rapidly growing field called “public history.” Based in part on articles written for the Radical History Review, these eighteen original essays take a sometimes irreverent look at how history is presented to the public in such diverse settings as children’s books, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Statue of Liberty.

presenting the pastPresenting the Past is organized into three areas which consider the role of mass media (“Packaging the Past”), the affects of applied history (“Professionalizing the Past”) and the importance of grassroots efforts to shape historical consciousness (“Politicizing the Past”). The first section examines the large-scale production and dissemination of popular history by mass culture. The contributors criticize many of these Hollywood and Madison Avenue productions that promote historical amnesia or affirm dominant values and institutions.

In “Professionalizing the Past,” the authors show how non-university based professional historians have also affected popular historical consciousness through their work in museums, historic preservation, corporations, and government agencies. Finally, the book considers what has been labeled “people’s history”—oral history projects, slide shows, films, and local exhibits—and assesses its attempts to reach such diverse constituents as workers, ethnic groups, women, and gays.

Of essential interest to students of history, Presenting the Past also explains to the general reader how Americans have come to view themselves, their ancestors, and their heritage through the influence of mass media, popular culture, and “public history.”

Temple University Press books and pets

This week in North Philly Notes, we present a slideshow of Temple University Press books and pets!

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A Slumlord Bent on Displacing tenants and a DC Law that (Sort of) Stands in its Way

This week in North Philly Notes, Carolyn Gallaher, author of The Politics of Staying Put explains how the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is operating in Washington, DC. 

Cities are fashionable again.  After decades of disinvestment, people are coming back.  Washington DC is a case in point.  Between 1950 and 2000 the city’s population shrunk by 29%; however, in the next decade it grew 10%, from 572,059 to 632,323. Although population growth slowed after 2012, the city still added another 23,000 residents in the next two years.  Most economists think the city would have grown even more if not for the rising costs associated with living in the city.

Given these trends, it’s fair to ask why big cities like Washington, DC still have slumlords.  In the era of urban decline (roughly between 1960 and 2000) slumlords typically let their properties deteriorate because they couldn’t make a return on investments in them.  Today, returns on investments in rental accommodations are very likely, if not guaranteed.  Enter the modern slumlord.  No longer an individual or a family, the modern slumlord is often a real estate investment group, and for them disinvestment is a strategy for ensuring a larger return.  Instead of repairing and refurbishing an old building and earning modest returns, you tear it down, replace it with luxury apartments, and charge rents to match.  The only things standing in your way are tenants.  So, you stop making repairs and hope they’ll move out.

The residents in Congress Heights, a complex in the Anacostia neighborhood, know all about this strategy.  They’ve lived it for several years.  Their landlord, Sanford Capital, doesn’t make repairs anymore.  The company’s tenants live with sporadic heat, faulty plumbing, a bedbug infestation, rodents, and a basement with raw sewage and standing water when it rains.  People often pack up and leave when things get this bad, but a number of the tenants in Congress Heights are holding on.  Some of the complex’s longtime residents are elderly and can’t imagine living anywhere else.  Others don’t want to leave their friends and neighbors because they all look out for one another.  And, everyone is poor and worried about finding someplace else as affordable as where they live now.  They are right to worry.  The Congress Heights neighborhood is near a metro (subway) station and is, in developer speak, “ripe for redevelopment.”  A recent study by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) also suggests there aren’t many affordable apartments left in the city.  Since 2002 the city lost nearly half of its affordable apartment units (defined in the study as units renting for $800 or less).

The District of Columbia has a law, the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), which should have prevented things from getting so bad at Congress Heights.  The city council introduced TOPA in 1981 in response to a spate of condo conversions in fast-gentrifying neighborhoods near downtown.  The goal of the law was to help tenants stay in place when their landlords decided to sell or convert to condominium.  TOPA states that when a landlord sells a rental apartment building, tenants are allowed to refuse the sale and purchase the building instead for the same price. Tenants are also allowed to purchase their building if a landlord wants to demolish it for redevelopment.  Tenants usually work with a developer (for-profit or non-profit) to purchase their building.  They can then choose whether to convert their building to condo or co-op or keep it rental.

By law landlords are supposed to inform their tenants when they contract a sale or submit formal plans for demolition with the city.  In practice, however, landlords often subvert these guidelines, and at various points in recent history the city agency responsible for regulating the TOPA process has abetted them.

The landlord at Congress Heights, Sanford Capital, applied for and received permission to demolish the buildings in early 2015 and the tenants have still not received a formal TOPA notice.  In the meantime, the city’s Attorney General, Karl Racine, recently sued the landlords and will ask the court to put the building into temporary receivership so a different owner can make repairs.  The city is also considering forcing Sanford Capital to issue its tenants a TOPA notice. In short, the law that didn’t work to protect the people it was supposed to protect may still be their last hope for staying put.

Staying Put_061615.jpgIn my new book The Politics of Staying Put: Condo Conversion and Tenant Right-to-Buy in Washington DC, I assess TOPA’s success at helping tenants stay put.  As the Congress Heights case suggest, the law is imperfect.  Legislators need to specify fuzzy language, close some obvious loopholes, and demand city regulators actually provide oversight of the process.  But, I also found that many tenants have made TOPA work for them.  Most importantly, successful tenants associations have used TOPA to stay put—no mean feat in a fast gentrifying city.  Successful tenants associations have also participated in the benefits of reinvestment, whether as new owners building equity or as renters who can demand building wide improvements and continued low rents from their development partners.

The bigger battle, though, isn’t fixing TOPA. The law was never designed to be a stand-alone solution.  TOPA cannot, for example, ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing, police slumlords, or reign in the city’s pay-to-play approach with developers.  In fact, the city’s Zoning Commission approved Sanford’s plans for redeveloping the land where the Congress Heights apartment complex sits even after the city’s Department of Human Services and its Department of Housing and Community Development received hundreds of complaints about significant code violations in Sanford owned properties.  In these neoliberal times, cities don’t want to assume responsibilities for their low income residents (or increasingly, their middle income ones), but they will have to if they want to ensure their cities don’t become exclusive enclaves for the wealthy.  Otherwise, cities risk becoming a version of the 1980s era suburbs they long bemoaned.

 

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