Zack Pelta-Heller

Zack Pelta-Heller is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. He holds an MFA from The New School.

Recent Articles

Johnny Come Lately

Last Monday, people began lining up outside of the All Saints Church in Pasadena, California at 1:30 PM to see John Edwards -- who wasn't scheduled to appear until the evening. When the church couldn't fit all 700 audience members into the same room as Edwards, guests willingly watched telecasts that were set up in two other rooms. "It had the feeling of a campaign event," Parish Administrator Christina Honchell told me. "There was a feeling of celebration in the air because of the change in Congress." That evening, Edwards appeared at ease wearing jeans and an open-collared shirt. After speaking briefly about his new book, Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives , Edwards opened the floor for questions, which ranged from the economy to health care to, inevitably, the war in Iraq. The crowd reached a fever pitch when Susan Russell, an All Saints priest, asked what hope there could be for parents who preach peace in wartime but whose children are fighting in Iraq. (Russell's own son is...

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS My family popped the champagne when CNN announced Casey �s victory. My mother-in-law said in her toast that never in her life did she imagine voting for someone who is anti-choice. I was surrounded by a room full of overjoyed feminists and dogs -- my mother-in-law had such strong animosity toward Santorum because of the despicable comments he made equating homosexuality to bestiality that she recently founded PISS (Pets Insulted by Senator Santorum). No one at the party hesitated in voting for Casey today, and yet as soon as CNN cut to a break, they began discussing whether Casey would vote the party line on reproductive rights issues. I guess when the champagne is flowing and things are looking good for the Democrats at the moment, it�s easy to get optimistic. If we really wanted to get ahead of ourselves, however, we wouldn�t just be talking about how Santorum�s loss brings the Democrats one Senate seat closer to control. We�d also be thinking of 2008, and how...

TURN OUT ALREADY!...

TURN OUT ALREADY! I walked over to the Philadelphia DNC headquarters at Broad and Walnut just now, hoping to tap into the voter vibe. The Center City streets were packed with people on their way to lunch, but I didn�t see a single flier or button. The office itself was deserted save for one worker, who was talking on the phone in the back room while he chain-smoked cigarettes. He looked like a union stalwart in his thick denim shirt hovering over the polling locations page in the newspaper; I imagined him to be a big fan of Congressman Bob Brady , who rose to prominence through the carpenters� and teachers� union and who now represents Pennsylvania�s 1st District. When he got off the phone, he gave me a hoarse laugh when I asked if anyone else was coming in to volunteer. �I�m the only one here today answering phones,� he said. �About a hundred people been calling; you�d be surprised how many don�t know where to go even though they got their cards.� My own polling place at a nearby...

PHILADELPHIANS AGAINST SANTORUM.

PHILADELPHIANS AGAINST SANTORUM. Sunday afternoon, I shadowed a few lifelong activists who were canvassing for Philadelphians Against Santorum (PAS). We met on a South Philly street corner, where PAS armed us with an arsenal of fliers highlighting the fundamental differences between Casey and Santorum. PAS is geared toward getting a minimum of 60 percent of Philadelphians to vote against the Republican incumbent. Their logo is an angry cartoon of William Penn with �Philadelphians Against Santorum� scrawled across his chest along with a Liberty Bell. PAS has been canvassing various Philadelphia neighborhoods for the last two months straight, as Bob Casey �s lead has grown to double digits. They target Democrats and unaffiliated voters whom they suspect might not make it to the polls. With any luck, one PAS staffer told me, a canvasser will average 25 knocks an hour and hold 6-8 conversations with voters. �We�re potentially sitting on a third of the votes needed to get rid of Santorum...

PHILADELPHIA, PA --

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- At lunchtime today, hundreds gathered in Philadelphia�s Love Park to support Pennsylvania Democrats. The crowd huddled in the cold, clutching their �Ricky the Rat� signs that depicted a smug Santorum with whiskers, buck teeth, and mouse ears. �He�s a rat,� said one red-cheeked activist, �for making $165,000 a year and not supporting minimum wage changes.� Local labor leaders quickly got the crowd fired up by chanting �Hey hey! Ho ho! Rick Santorum�s got to go!� Governor Ed Rendell �s bus pulled up to the busy Center City intersection with a veritable Dream Team of politicians aboard. The stirring piano intro from Van Halen�s �Right Now� came on over the loudspeakers, as Chakah Fatah, Patrick Murphy, Ed Rendell, Bob Casey , and keynote speaker John Edwards took the stage. If the polls are any indication of what�s in store for Tuesday, of course, both Casey and Rendell are shoo-ins. When Bob Casey took the stage, hundreds of �Casey for Senate� signs went up into the...

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