Home Sweet Northeast for the Holiday

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My trip home for Thanksgiving is barely a trip. Many people have a longer commute to work, and plenty would travel farther for pizza. But because I’m from the Northeast — where moving to another parish or, God forbid, a different Wawa precinct, is taboo — a 35-minute drive counts as something of a homecoming.

And — I-95 construction be damned — it feels good to go home.

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Five Things Philly Needs to Fix Before Pope Francis Gets Here

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It’s not every day that the pope puts Philadelphia on his itinerary.

In what seems like an epic win for a city that treats newscasters as A-listers and almost imploded when Miley Cyrus stumbled around for a couple of weeks, Pope Francis has officially confirmed his September 2015 trip, a three-day visit that coincides with the World Meeting of Families (I’ll assume the Weymouths’ invitation is in the mail).

Mayor Nutter has stated the obvious, calling preparations for the visit a “massive undertaking” that will require a “tremendous amount of coordination.”

Officials are all over the usual: coordinating security, transportation and hotel accommodations for an influx of tourists that could momentarily double the city’s population. Which is great, but I can’t help but wonder who — in the words of my Catholic grandmother — will be responsible for “covering up our sins.”

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Now That Amy Schumer Can Say Pussy on Comedy Central …

shutterstock_84519679-AMY-SCHUMER-400There’s no elegant way to say this, so I’m going to let Jessi Klein do the honors.

We can say pussy now!” the head writer and executive producer of Inside Amy Schumer announced over the weekend during a panel discussion for the New York Comedy Festival. “Can we talk about that? It was a great moment in U.S. history.”

Obviously, she was being funny here, but the crowd certainly approved. And while it won’t go down in any history books, the show’s fight to say the word “pussy” on Comedy Central did get quite the round of Internet applause and a firm endorsement from Lady Twitter.

As you probably know if you’ve spent more than a half hour watching Comedy Central, they drop the word “dick” pretty liberally for comedic effect. And this didn’t seem right to Schumer and her team, who — in addition to being advocates for equality and free speech and other noble notions — didn’t want to interrupt a sketch about meerkat pussies with a clunky “bleep.”

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Feminism Isn’t Dead. It’s Just Confused.

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For as much as I enjoy dropping the F-word proper (and I do — no one has ever accused me of being a lady), I have to admit that the other F-word — feminism — has been giving me trouble.

In an article titled “Is Feminism Dead?” for Philadelphia magazine’s Conversation Issue, Sandy Hingston recently sat down with two Philadelphia millennials to gauge how they felt about the word.

The answer, of course, is no – feminism is not dead. Beyonce does not stand in front of banners bearing dead words, or even sickly words. But is feminism confused? Judging from Hingston’s enlightening conversation — as well as pretty much every smart, reasoned discussion on the topic that invites a diverse group of women — feminism is having something of an identity crisis in 2014.

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On Lena Dunham Sexual Abuse Controversy, Truth Revolt Has a Point

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A discussion about Lena Dunham has a way of sending everyone to their respective, petty corners.

Feminists over here. Those who are offended by imperfect nakedness, over there with Mr. Stern. Jealous writers who didn’t get a sweet advance on the book they haven’t written, right this way please (it’s getting crowded over here — watch the elbows). Casual fans who just want to relax and watch Girls? You’re a little well-adjusted for this group, but sure, there’s one corner left.

In fact, “discussion” is a generous word. Peruse the comments section of any article about the writer, director and Girls creator, and you’re in for a nasty blend of misogyny and body shaming that, frankly, we don’t hurl at Seth Rogen every time he bares his flabby ass in an unnecessary movie about rich white kids.

And so when the (extremely) right-leaning website Truth Revolt published an article last week accusing Dunham of sexual abuse, I have to admit I was all but programmed at this point to take her side. But the thing is, they make a pretty good case — after you get through the pop-up ads reading “How Leftism Violates All 10 Commandments.” Read more »

Who Says Halloween Is Just for Kids (and People With ’Em)?

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I started to worry about Halloween a couple years ago.

Right around the time when my hallowed hangover started to creep into November 2nd, my friends started staying home because they couldn’t find a sitter. Just as 10 p.m. began to sound a little late to head out to a costume party, my Facebook feed blew up with pictures of tiny humans in tiny pumpkin costumes.

This year, it seems official: I’m in Halloween purgatory — I’m wise enough to know the true cost of an open bar, but still selfish enough to steal Reese’s Cups from your little pumpkins.

But while there are a lot of holidays I’ll surrender to my 20s (it was real, New Year’s), Halloween is not one of them. I grew up in the Northeast, where trick-or-treating was a competitive sport, where tightly packed row houses meant all the candy you could carry — and then a second helping after emptying your pillowcase at home.

So how to celebrate a proper Halloween when you’re not a kid anymore  —  and don’t have one? It’s easy, but there are some rules.

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Five Real Philly Housewives We Want to See on Bravo

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The strangest thing about “Real Housewives” — after the fact that we watch it, we watch it so hard — is that the franchise never set up shop here since debuting in 2006. For a show that lives and dies by its batshit quotient, you’d think they would have made Philadelphia home years ago.

That, however, might be about to change: As the Daily News’ Jenice Armstrong reports, producer Princess Ann Banton-Lofters — creator of the series’ gold-standard Atlanta version — has been in town scouting, for lack of a better word, talent.

Presumably, Bravo is poking around the Main Line and Rittenhouse for their usual mix of old money, new money and hopefully-results-in-jail-time money.

But that would be a mistake.

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5 New York Subway Pick-Up Tips That Will Never Work on SEPTA

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I can’t imagine what drove Brian Robinson to look for dates on the subway. In the age of Tinder and Match.com — when anything from a hook-up to a minivan is a click away — he prefers to meet women on New York’s subway.

In an aggressively weird profile in the New York Post, Robinson claims to have gone out with “about 500” women thanks to his “smooth” pick-up lines (which, in reality, seem to be plucked from Saved by the Bell drafts). He’s writing an advice book, How to Meet Women on the Subway, despite the fact that most reactions The Post witnessed during a ride-along were somewhere between almost pleasant and politely annoyed — although he did walk away with at least one business card.

Salon is not amused, and neither is Hollaback!, a nonprofit that works to end street harassment. I can see why, as Robinson — who mostly seems like a harmless nerd — comes off a little predatory when he says things like, “There’s always beautiful women down there — tons.”

But I live in Philadelphia, where I don’t have the luxury of being outraged by the Brian Robinsons of the world.

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The Harrisburg Porn Email Scandal, Translated by a Woman

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As a human with a computer, I expect people to mess around on the clock a bit. Amazon, Buzzfeed, Facebook, The Daily Puppy (just me? fair enough): I don’t care if my taxes are paying your salary – desk captives all deserve a little Internet candy.

Noticeably not on that list? Sending misogynistic, pornographic emails to your Harrisburg broworkers.

As an optimist with a naive streak and that pesky liberal tendency to enjoy learning, I’ll listen to arguments against equal pay — there are one or two I almost buy. And I like to think that there are at least some reasonable, benign explanations for the lack of women in leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies. The idea of a glass ceiling enforced by the men I’ve studied and worked with — many of whom have hired, promoted and supported me — isn’t, on most days, a satisfying answer.

And yet, the degrading emails sent and/or received by top state officials — including the former head of the Attorney General’s criminal law division, the State Police Commissioner and two members of Governor Corbett’s cabinet — makes me think otherwise.

These weren’t simply inappropriate for the workplace. “Inappropriate” is drinking too much at the Christmas party, pushing gift wrap for your kid’s fundraiser, microwaving salmon at 11:30 a.m. – annoying, sometimes worth a reprimand, but not threatening or humiliating.

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Is Philly’s (or Pittsburgh’s, or Scranton’s) Accent Really So Ugly?

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Bracket via Gawker

Today, I’m pretty proud to be from Pennsylvania.

Not just because we’re now well on our way to expanding the state’s inadequate hate-crime laws (although really, really nice job on that one, guys).  And not simply because we have the most charming autumn this side of a Norman Rockwell canvas (although holy hell, we do — adopt a friend in Berks County and go outside). Our adorable baby steps towards legalizing weed probably has something to do with it, but that’s not why I’m getting all warm and fuzzy today.

You see, three of our fair cities – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton – made it into the second round of Gawker’s “America’s Ugliest Accents Tournament.” The only state to have more than one accent nominated, we swiftly took down Memphis, Atlanta and New Orleans during the preliminary round in an impressive display of Yankee linguistic dominance.

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