What If Friends Happened in Philadelphia?

friends-in-philly-01-Title-Screen-940x540

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the Friends finale, which I remember watching on the night I moved back on with my parents after a failed attempt at dormitory living. Surrounded by a mini-fridge, garbage bags full of West Chester University gear and a crate of Early Childhood Education textbooks that I would later sell on eBay, I bid adieu to Ross, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe.

I wept when Chandler and Monica had their twins. I wept when Ross and Rachel reunited (SPOILER ALERT: She got off the plane), and I wept when Joey and Phoebe bought a chick and a duck for Monica and Chandler. It sounds silly but I was so sad to be losing these characters who I’d come to think of as, well, friends.

Throughout my life — and thanks to the glorious world of syndicated television — these six characters had been constants through high school break-ups, fights with my best girl friends and the beginning of college. They gave me glimpse at what adulthood had to offer — and made me excited about my future (which I presumed would include enormous apartments, endless coffee shop hangs and a lot of baby Ts). I grew up watching them grow up and Friends remains one of the most comforting shows to me. (Thank goodness for the seemingly endless loop of reruns playing on TBS every day.)

The older I get, the more relatable I find Friends. Unlike other zeitgeisty shows like Sex and the City and Dawson’s Creek, which feel dated and immature, Friends is a show that only becomes more relevant to me as I grow older and find myself in situations similar to the characters. Of course, the only problem is that the gang is in New York while I squander my days away in Philadelphia.

What would my beloved friends do in Philadelphia? I have a few thoughts …

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When Is It OK to Talk on SEPTA?
The SEPTA Rules of Engagement.

Photo | Joel Mathis

Photo | Joel Mathis

Over the weekend, the New York Times wrote about a recent study that says that people who talk to each other on public transit have a more enjoyable experience than those who keep to themselves.Professors Michael Norton and Elizabeth W. Dunn posit this theory: “The great thing about strangers is that we tend to put on our happy face when we meet them, reserving our crankier side for the people we know and love.”

Obviously, these researchers have never met the people of SEPTA.

We’re not talking about the people on “People of SEPTA,”the disgraceful website that exploits the city’s disenfranchised public transit riders for cheap internet giggles. We’re talking about the average, everyday rider of SEPTA buses, trains and trolleys. Some are angry, some are sweet, some are terrifyingly unhinged. But the one thing they all have in common: They do not want to talk to you.

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Main Line Drugpocalypse the Result of Ecstasy Vortex?

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Place your bets now, sports fans. The smart money is on “vortex” for 2014.

For what, you ask? Oh, only the most important award of all: the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year! Last year’s winner, “because,” — as in “because science” — beat out such zeitgeist-y dialectical elements as “selfie,” “twerk” and “Obamacare” to take home the top honor.

This year — though we’re a mere third of the way through it — has brought all manner of vortexes into our lives and our newsfeeds: The Polar Vortex froze our noses (as well as our fingers, our toes and our stink bugs.) The Pollen Vortex is about to make Claritin the most sought-after drug on the market.

We can’t escape the vortexes of 2014 — but maybe we should try.

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The Martyrdom of Mothers Must End

Did you buy your mom a Mothers’ Day card yet? It’s probably been on your mind since Monday when American Greeting dropped this heavy-handed reminder right into your Facebook Newsfeed.

The ad, created by Boston agency Mullen, features real-life job applicants interviewing via Skype for “the world’s toughest job.” They’re reminded of a series of bonkers-sounding requirements, like having to be able to stand for 135 hours a week with no breaks and holding a degree in medicine, finance and the culinary arts.

Of course, the big reveal is that the world’s toughest job is — wait for it — being a mom. Cue the groans from cynics everywhere and the squeals of delight from the easily impressed.

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Mike Jerrick Is the Future of Philadelphia’s Digital District

Picture yourself walking toward City Hall. Traffic zooms past you and as you stroll down Market Street, you dodge rushed business people texting and walking clumsily. The first thought that runs through your mind: Gosh, I wish this felt more like Times Square!

Oh wait.

No one has ever thought that in the entire history of Philadelphia.

But if a new proposal goes through, Philadelphia might just be one Naked Cowboy and a fancy New Year’s Eve party away from the bright lights of Midtown Manhattan.

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Is “Hon” the New “Ma’am”?

“How many do you have, hon?” the sales associate at the Express in Liberty Place asked me last week. The week before that, a young woman on the 13th Street El platform asked, “Hon, can you break a ten?” Before that, it was a former student who thanked me for my feedback on her work and then said, “See you tomorrow, hon!”

For the last year, I’ve been getting “hon”-ed down all over Philadelphia — and not from the usual suspects, but from women who are definitely younger than me. And quite honestly, I’m baffled.

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10 People Dumber Than Damon Feldman

As human beings, there are some things we should just know in 2014: The earth is round. Fire is hot. Ryan Gosling is sexy. This also applies to major news stories, particularly ones that remain the spotlight for months and months.

I mention this because earlier this week local celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman, who recently came under fire for booking George Zimmerman, revealed that he was not aware of Zimmerman’s controversial past. He said, “When I learned everything, it was so bad. I only heard the verdict.”

This is bafflingly stupid. You would have to be living on Mars, in a cave, with your fingers in your ears to have missed even the most basic facts about the Trayvon Martin murder, which permeated news coverage for months.

Alas, Feldman—though astonishingly dimwitted—is not the dumbest person to have ever made headlines. Here, 10 people who are dumber than Damon Feldman, including three local contenders.

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Purse Snatching Doesn’t Mean Philly Women Need Male Protection

CrimeScene

“Where are our men? Why are they not protecting us?”  Tyema Sanchez recently told the Daily News. “Men are failing us. I feel as though we are not being protected.”

And just like that: My brain exploded all over my desk.

Not really. But you catch my drift. I am not picking up what Sanchez is laying down.

But, first: Let’s back up a bit. Women — and men — in Philadelphia are being shot, and sometimes killed, over handbags. It’s exactly the kind of senseless, screwed up, innocent-victim type of crime that makes suburbanites wring their hands and shout about the atrocities of living in a big city. It’s bad for the victims and it’s bad for the city.

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Commuter Etiquette: The 10 Commandments of Sloppy Weather SEPTA Riding

Photo | Joel Mathis

Photo | Joel Mathis

Philadelphia might lead the nation’s big cities when it comes to bike commuting, but this winter it feels like every single person in the city is cramming onto a SEPTA vehicle at rush hour. This winter’s holy-shit-it’s-cold temps and this week’s storm smörgåsbord are forcing cyclists, walkers and other non-transit-taking commuters to reconsider their options for getting around. Good for SEPTA revenues; bad for those of us who regularly commute by bus and train.

As annoying as meandering tourists and as lacking in self-awareness as toddlers, these people have taken over SEPTA without any regard for the rules of the ride. I now find myself wistful for the days when rowdy teenagers and well-rehearsed beggars were the people I ignored on the way to work. Here, a rundown of the unspoken commandments of commuting:

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10 Places Pope Francis Should Visit When He Comes to Philadelphia in 2015

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

File this under sentences I never expected to type: I’m really excited that Pope Francis is definitely, probably, maybe visiting Philadelphia in 2015! I never thought I’d care about a papal presence in my own city, but  Francis’s sorta-liberal views about homosexuality and  penchant for selfies, has endeared him to cynics across the world—including recovering Catholics like me. (Not to mention big-time media outlets like Gawker who called him “Cool Pope Francis” and Rolling Stone who put him on the cover of their upcoming February issue.)

A pope hasn’t visited Philadelphia since 1979 when John Paul II came to town. Since the current pontiff is notably hipper than his staunchy predecessors (see: selfies), we owe it to him to show him a good time in our humble metropolis. Here, 10 must-visit Philadelphia sites that Pope Francis should definitely, probably, maybe see.

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