As we were putting together this issue, I broke bread with three people who — I realize now — all had a hand in the thematic link running through these pages.
The first was Pat Croce, no stranger to this magazine. He told wide-eyed tales of his pirate-like life of adventure, including how he recently tried to save a drowning man in dangerous Key West waters after a WaveRunner collision. Croce’s voice got low and emotional when he got to the part about how the guy hung on as long as he could before dying in the hospital later that night. Next was author Camille Paglia, who rarely paused for breath as she hurtled from one obsession to another, from the movie The Philadelphia Story (see page 92 for more), to the sustenance she gets from poetry, to the way PC is still running amok on Ivy League campuses. Finally, there was a lunch with Adam Moss, the editor of New York magazine, in which we compared notes on how best to get the spirit — the ethos, sights, sounds and smells — of our very different cities jumping off our pages.
Three separate conversations, but one constant: a palpable sense of passion. I found myself bemoaning that we live in “cool” times, that often the kind of enthusiasm I felt from my three friends is deemed outmoded or naïve. Which brings us to this issue; quite by accident, it can be read as an endorsement of those messages I received from Croce et al. Passion runs through these pages. There’s staff writer Andy Putz’s compelling tale of parking magnate Joe Zuritsky’s love for an exotic fish, and State Senator Vince Fumo losing himself in LEGOS — yes, LEGOS. There’s pro soccer star Adam Bruckner’s obsessive quest to solve a murder; there’s hip-hopper ?uestlove’s commitment to musical purity in the face of commercial pressures. There’s word-of-mouth guru Mark Hughes’s enthusiasm for all things market-oriented, and in our cover package on BYOBs, there’s the single-minded commitment of restaurateurs like Narberth’s John Mims (page 77), whose Carmine’s Creole Cafe has invigorated the Main Line dining scene. In all these cases — in this and every other issue — we bring you accomplished actors on our public stage who embody the old proverb “Genius is nothing more than inflamed enthusiasm,” and who have quite consciously resisted the temptation to succumb to that age-old malady, the “can’t-do” Philly mind-set. (The 35-year non-development of Penn’s Landing and a stellar ballpark not located in Center City both stand as monuments to said Can’t-Do Malaise.)
I believe, as English novelist E.M. Forster wrote, “One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested.” My passion, like Moss’s in New York, is to bring other people’s passions to life for you. This is not a “cool” city; we’re a hot-blooded people, as evidenced by any 700-level Eagles fan. This magazine will always tell hard truths, will always hold a mirror up and exhort the power set to do better. But we also hope to move and inspire by reflecting back to you the most committed, dynamic and, yes, passionate among us. Enjoy.