Didn't expect to see us this morning, did you? Welcome to the first weekend edition of the Inquirer Morning Newsletter. From now on we'll be hitting up your inbox each Sunday morning, too — though at a much more leisurely time. (Hey, everyone likes to sleep in.)

Here's what to expect: a quick look at the week ahead, a behind-the-scenes peek at our reporters' work, and recommendations galore, from concerts and books to restaurants and reads. Consider it the more laid-back cousin of our weekday briefing.

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The week ahead

  • Batten the hatches and ready your umbrellas: Tropical Storm Florence is coming to the East Coast. Charted as a major hurricane, she's expected to hit the Carolinas later this week and could bring strong winds and rain to the Philly region.
  • Philly's annual arts explosion, Fringe Festival, continues this week throughout the city with acts ranging from traditional theatre to a LOVE Park tour and "ShakesBEER Roulette" in Manayunk.
  • Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown, and the Philadelphia region's first all-kosher supermarket has opened just in time for the Jewish high holiday.
  • Following this week's explosive hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday, Sept. 13 on the nomination of President Trump's contentious Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.
  • The Phillies play the Washington Nationals this week, and it's a series they need to win if they still plan on going from worst to first in the National League East.
  • Elton John, Ozzie Osbourne, and Drake will all be in town this week (though, sadly, not together), getting their respective grooves on.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Amy Rosenberg

Contestants leave the stage following the opening of the first preliminary night of the Miss America 2019 competition at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, September 5, 2018.
Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer
Contestants leave the stage following the opening of the first preliminary night of the Miss America 2019 competition at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, September 5, 2018.

Each week we'll go behind the scenes with one of our reporters to learn how they reported their latest story and the challenges they faced along the way. In this week's edition, we catch up with reporter Amy Rosenberg, who has been closely following the Miss America Organization's tumultuous year. The drama has only continued leading up to the competition, which will be televised tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC. Grab your popcorn, folks.

Your latest story focuses on the absence of the swimsuit competition from this year's Miss America event, but you've been covering the organization for quite some time. What about these recent stories has surprised you the most?

Miss America has always provided a lot of drama. I've covered the story primarily as it relates to Atlantic City, initially when it left Atlantic City and people were really upset, and, more recently, when it returned to find out that people had mostly stopped caring locally. The question of whether public money should be used to prop up the pageant on the theory that it somehow helps Atlantic City seems important. Its place in Atlantic City's ongoing saga seems smaller every day.

When it comes to "she said/she said" allegations like those between the current Miss America Cara Mund and Gretchen Carlson, the organization's board chairwoman, how do you work to uncover what's really going on behind the scenes?

The Miss America community is leakier than the White House at this point. There are people sending reporters leaked letters from Miss America, contacts to former Miss Americas and state directors, people sending Twitter messages and on and on. There's a robust social media community where a lot of things get aired out.

The controversy surrounding this nationally-televised event hasn't abated, especially after a "Gretchen Sucks" sash was found on the statue of Miss America outside Boardwalk Hall this week. What's the atmosphere been like leading up to tonight's crowning?  

It's been a strange week. The sash and some "So Fake" posters mocking Gretchen Carlson raised the possibility of some kind of disruption during Sunday's telecast, which would be weird, but interesting. Preliminaries were – to be honest – kind of dull without the swimsuit competition and without the runway, the two things that most tied the pageant to Atlantic City. Let's face it, modeling the event on a group job interview might not make for the best television. I'm making a last minute prediction of Miss Indiana, a self-described "average-sized" woman who cried tears of joy when the swimsuit portion was eliminated. She won a talent preliminary, so what's stopping her?

Why is this ongoing tension important in the grand scheme of the contest?

That's a very good question. I'm not sure it is at all important, and I struggle with that reality with every story! Who cares?! Miss America is fun and weird and it's interesting that it has survived this long and has spawned off weird reality children like The Bachelor and The Pageant. But it started as a PR stunt to get people to come to Atlantic City after Labor Day and is enjoyed by people who participate, and it's been fun to live tweet the competition. Beyond that, I don't think it will ever make it in the relevancy game. And, as I said, Atlantic City does not even care that much anymore. They don't gain too much business from it, and deals where they were supposed to be featured on programs like Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve have fallen through.

Contact Amy Rosenberg at Arosenberg@philly.com or on Twitter @amysrosenberg.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Never forget, @chuckseye. 🦅 (You can read more about the Birds' Philly Special sequel here.)

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we'll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

#CuriousPhilly: Have a question about your community? Ask us!

What have you always wondered about the greater Philadelphia region? Send us a question you'd like answered through Curious Philly, our new question-and-response forum that connects our readers with our journalists. Try us, no question is too big or small.

Our readers' latest question: How can the city spend taxpayer money on a trash and recycling enforcement agency at a time when city schools are fighting for scraps?
The answer:  The agency is actually a program called SWEEP, and according to the deputy streets commissioner of sanitation, the program ends up paying for itself.

What we’re…

  • Eating: Little Baby's, Philly's odd-ball dessert maker, is celebrating the opening of its Center City storefront with vegan, CBD oil-infused chocolate ice cream. While you're there, you can also sample scoops of pizza, Earl Grey Sriracha, smoked cinnamon, absinthe poppy, and Irish potato flavors. Yum?
  • Drinking: Espresso and gelato come together to create a caffeinated love story for the ages in affogato, and we dig it.
  • Watching: Boyz II Men's Nathan Morris is taking a break from singing hit songs to create hit houses, flipping Homez II Better Homez.
  • Listening to: The Philadelphia Orchestra launches its 2018-19 season this week, featuring the works of a record number of female composers.

Comment of the week

I have always thought that from the beginning it was a what is right in this world kind of experience. However, and I still hope that is the case, this episode of life is baffling even to the most care giving, down on your luck, heart warming, lived happily ever after enthusiasts that boggles the mind. I have no answers, just wanted a good outcome to a feel-good story. So many twists and turns and to this one that seems to have an as yet undocumented, criminal, intention it is heartbreaking. I don't know the inner workings of said people but let's get to the bottom of the pit. A lot of people who wanted to help and did need an explanation. Jnett, on the decision by a judge to
— halt a lawsuit against the couple who raised $400,000 for Johnny Bobbitt.

Your Daily Dose of | Freedom

Hundreds of bicyclists participated in the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride. Not surprisingly, many biked around in their birthday suits.