He’s drinking cucumber lemonade. He looks a bit like Michael Rappaport, red hair and all, but with Eraserhead’s hairstyle. He wears rather tight jean shorts and a black tank top. Heavily freckled. Tall. About six-foot-three. He is Brian Dwyer, the 27-year-old part-owner of and spokesman for the world’s first ever Pizza Museum, called Pizza Brain (Brain being Brian’s nickname when he used to work at Trader Joe’s). Read more »
JGT: Weston, where are you from?
JGT: When did you move to Philadelphia?
Weston: 2004. Before that, I was in Boston for four years.
JGT: Do you miss Jamaica?
Weston: Sometimes when it’s cold.
The Hilton on City Line Avenue is nice, but the flower picture in the first floor hallway next to the Renaissance Room is terribly askew. Such are the things you notice when you have been waiting for someone for 45 minutes in a hotel lobby. Though I was by that point convinced that there had been some sort of miscommunication, I didn’t leave. Just in case Scoop Jardine came walking through the doors, as I had been told he would do at 3 p.m., I continued looking at the paintings in the City Line Hilton hallways. Read more »
It all started in the summer of 1793, when the city came down with yellow fever and all of the rich folks got the hell out of dodge and went to the beach. Here we are, 230 years later, and not much has changed, other than the fact that yellow fever has been replaced by stray bullets and that rich people have been joined by meatheads.
So everyone’s headed to the Jersey Shore for the summer, and there you are, like Charlie in Scent of a Woman, watching them go somewhere fun over break while you have to house-sit some drunk blind guy. Philadelphia is your drunk blind guy, and you’re none too pleased about this assignment. But remember: There are few people more interesting than drunk blind guys. Time to get your “I may not have money but I’ve got moxie” game face on. Here, some kickass summer activities you can enjoy despite the fact that you can’t afford beachfront at Avalon and aren’t really a Baird man. Read more »
The Silhouettes: “Get a Job”
In 1957, a doo-wop group in Philadelphia called the Silhouettes recorded a song called “Get a Job” at the Robinson Recording Studios in Philadelphia. Like “Ice Ice Baby” many years later, “Get a Job” was actually a B-side that DJs preferred to the single. The song caught fire on local radio, and the group eventually performed the song on American Bandstand (which, at the time, was recorded in Philly). The song was soon a national sensation, selling more than three million copies and shooting to the #1 spot on the Billboard pop chart. Sadly, like many performers of that era, the Silhouettes were completely taken advantage of by the record companies, and they made almost nothing off of the song. Finally, after years of fighting in court, in 1987, songwriter and group member Rick Lewis won his case, and received some of the money he deserved from writing one of the most memorable hits of the doo-wop era. (You can read more about the Silhouettes here.) Read more »
I went to a flea market on Sunday, and picked up some almanacs created by the old Philadelphia Record newspaper in the 1880s and ’90s. Needless to say, these things are chock-full of excellent advice that can still be used today. Let’s look at some of the handy tips found in these books. (All quotes are absolutely word for word from the book, no matter how crazy it sounds.)
Let’s say that your child has developed an earache, and you are preparing to pour some milk down the child’s ear. Not so fast!
Care of Child’s Ears. Never put milk, fat or any oily substances into the ear for relief of pain, for they soon become rancid.
Too late. I already put lard in my child’s ear and now a bug has flown into it and gotten stuck. What to do now? Read more »
A lot of ethically questionable things going on in the Philly sports world lately, from Philly fans cheering when Joakim Noah got hurt to, uh, Philly fans cheering when Jayson Werth got hurt, so it’s a great time to check the mail bag. And by “mail bag,” I mean “questions I’ve written to myself and will attach fake names to.” I’ve brought along a special guest to help me answer the questions: Jason Weitzel, who runs the excellent Philles blog, Beerleaguer. Let’s get to our first question.
JaMarcus from Jenkintown asks: “Is there a code of conduct that sports fans should follow when watching a live event, and have people’s morals gotten worse at sporting events in the past couple of decades?” Read more »
Many local rappers have lately been paying homage to the city’s iconic locales. Here are a few of my favorites.
ARTIST: Reef the Lost Cauze SONG: “Philly Cousins” VENUES: Broad Street Line, FDR Park
We start with my favorite rapper in Philadelphia, Reef the Lost Cauze. Charisma, talent, intelligence, sense of humor, this guy has got it all except a large ego. Super nice dude. If you want to feel good about supporting a local artist, then by all means, follow Reef. Read more »
One thing that’s fun about history is that there is an alternate history that invisibly runs alongside of it, the history of things that never were. Today we look at plans that were on the table that would have changed the future of Philadelphia forever, some for the better and some for the worse.
1. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1986, Philly was one of the six finalists for the HOF. Mayor Wilson Goode and other city bigwigs wined and dined the HOF Committee. A crowd of hundreds rallied at City Hall. As for sites? According to a 1986 Daily News column, “Among the Philadelphia sites under consideration … are: the Port of History museum at Penn’s Landing; the vacant Civic Center museum at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard; and the site of the new Performing Arts Center, at Broad and Locust streets.”
Of course, Cleveland was already out to a huge lead when Philly got serious about bidding. By the time they pitched, it was too late. Cleveland just made between $15 million and $20 million last weekend at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Meanwhile, this past weekend at Penn’s Landing, the Tri-County Paranormal Research Society led an investigation aboard a ship called the Olympia. I am not making that up.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame might have completely changed the future of the waterfront, which is still just a steaming pile of nonsense. Perhaps it would have kicked off a boom down by the river, and even better, maybe that dumb building that looks like an ugly ship would have never been built.
Then again, the results could have been disastrous. According to Peter Woodall of Hidden City Philly: “The Rock and Roll Hall could have turned the waterfront into a mutant version of Xfinity LIve!!! It’s true that San Fran turned its ferry terminal building into the coolest (and most expensive) farmers’ market in the world, but hey, that’s San Fran. Our waterfront is just one step closer to Jersey.”
2. Phillies Moving to Jersey. Hard to believe, but in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the possibility of the Phillies moving to South Jersey was very real. Phils owner Bob Carpenter was tired of playing games at an old and decrepit Connie Mack Stadium, and every time he proposed a place to build a new park, it got shot down. Furthermore, he was losing a fortune due to Philadelphia’s blue laws. Frustrated, he said that he would look into moving the team to New Jersey, where he wouldn’t face such obstacles. Upon hearing that, Jersey State Senator Joseph Cowgill introduced a bill to build a stadium in Jersey. Carpenter went so far as to buy a large plot of land in Cherry Hill (next to some property he already owned right beside the Garden State Park Racetrack). With the A’s having left in 1954, the city would have gone from two pro baseball teams to zero in 10 years.
This would have been a bad move for the Phils—the Racetrack went down in a spectacular fire in April 1977 that resulted in two deaths. If it had destroyed the proposed ballpark, the Phillies may have had to play that entire season on the road. The team was only 41-40 on the road that year, so you have to figure they would have missed the playoffs. Then again, if they missed the playoffs that would have prevented Phillies fans from having to live through Black Friday. Nonetheless, a team in Jersey would have proven to be quite a dilemma for Phillies fans, as they would have to choose between finding a new team in some foreign city or rooting for a team in New Jersey. There’s no easy answer to that one.
3. American Commerce Center. If not for the economic downturn in 2008, the tallest building in the U.S. would be located right here in Philadelphia. Construction on the American Commerce Center was supposed to start at 1800 Arch in 2009. It would have been over 1,500 feet tall and would have transformed the Philadelphia skyline. Get a glimpse of this skyscraping future starting at 1:45 in this proposal video:
All it needed was an anchor tenant for the ball to start rolling. They couldn’t find one. Finally, the owners sold the property and the plan died. According to philaphilia:
This is the biggest dangling-carrot skyscraper proposal the city has ever seen. Though other supertalls have been proposed over the decades, most of them never got passed the first sketch. This one was painstakingly planned down to the last detail and got all its ducks in a row before the shitbag economy killed it. This is unequivocally the saddest dead-ass proposal the city has ever seen. The saddest.
4. Eagles Move to Arizona. This one came extremely close to happening. By 1984, then Eagles owner Leonard Tose had blown all his money at the Atlantic City casinos. He agreed to sell 25 percent of the team to a Phoenix businessman named James Monaghan, then move the team to Arizona. The two men had a handshake deal, and Tose’s daughter (who worked for the team) was looking for preschools for her daughter in Phoenix. Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini was quoted as saying, “I have a very reliable source who says that that is going to happen. I’ll be very surprised if the move doesn’t take place.”
The Phoenix deal fell apart as Mayor Goode came up with an 11th hour deal to keep the team in town by adding numerous luxury boxes to the Vet. Of course, it might not have been a bad deal if they had moved. It would have eliminated the Norman Braman era, and you have to figure that a city as large as Philly would have gotten an expansion team soon. And when you consider the Eagles haven’t won a Super Bowl in the last 28 years, you have to wonder if perhaps the city would have had more luck with that expansion team. Paul Domowitch speculated on what might happened in a 2005 article.
Considering that Philadelphia was the nation’s fourth-largest television market at the time, and considering that the NFL’s network TV deal was almost up, the thinking was that the league would act quickly to replace the Eagles if they had left.
“I have to believe they would have gotten another team fairly quickly,” Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt said. “Philadelphia is an important market for this league. … The passion of the fans there for the Eagles is unique. It’s based on the history of the franchise. You can’t re-create that kind of thing.”
5. Island City. In 1907, Philadelphia decided that it wanted an amusement park to rival Coney Island. And it had the perfect spot: Petty’s Island. The small island between Philly and Camden was going to be home to an absolutely remarkable entertainment complex. According to Hidden City Philadelphia, “it would feature a thousand-room hotel, a casino, theater, and ballroom, a bathing beach and river amphitheater to reenact famous naval battles, a sports arena bigger than Franklin Field, and a 250-foot central tower with six revolving colored searchlights visible for miles.”
The architect for the project was to be the great Louis Sullivan, known as the “Father of Modernism.” Sullivan had fallen on hard times since the Panic of 1893, and this would have been his chance to regain his stature—and for Philly to get a world-class architect for a good price. Sullivan drew up his plans, and they were spectacular. Once again, this would have changed the face of Philly on the Delaware, 80 years before the Rock and Roll Museum would have done the same. But like the Hall of Fame, it never happened. Sullivan returned to a life of financial insecurity and alcoholism, and Petty’s Island took a turn for the worse as well. Instead of being home to Philly’s Coney Island, it’s home to some Citgo plants, meaning it’s more or less owned by Hugo Chavez. There are few “What might have beens” more painful than this one.
A few weeks ago, in “10 Phillies Facts Every Real Fan Should Know,” I reached back to the past, as far back as 1883 (for best nickname in team history: Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson). This week, I’ve got some interesting things you might not know about this year’s team.
1. Shane Victorino was a track star in high school. He once ran the 100-meter dash in 10.5 seconds and the 200 meters in 21.3 seconds, and won state gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters his senior year. Read more »
In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys unceremoniously fired Tom Landry and brought in Jimmy Johnson. After the move, I said to my dad, “Why would they hire a guy like Jimmy Johnson? He’s such an asshole.” My dad replied, “They’re not paying him to be a nice guy. They’re paying him to win ballgames.”
But in today’s sports world, it’s imperative that sports figures be both winners and nice guys. Otherwise, there is universal moral outrage (apologize to us, Tiger, for what you did to your wife. We bought Gatorade!) and righteous indignation (I can’t believe he got a DUI. He’s a football coach, for heaven’s sakes!). We’ve somehow established a strange notion that all sports figures are not only great athletes but also perfect human beings, and when they inevitably let us down (since they happen to be human beings) sportswriters and fans get to jump all over them, and thus get a chance to prove their moral superiority. Read more »