Carli Lloyd’s Rise to Rio

Photograph by Steve Boyle

Photograph by Steve Boyle

It’s the first heat wave of the year, and soccer supernova Carli Lloyd is on fire for the wrong reason: Her air conditioner broke last night. “Figures, right?” she says. “It wasn’t bad sleeping, but I really hope we get it fixed.” Her cousin is stopping by her house in Mount Laurel for a visit, and Lloyd had to break the news that they’re in store for a rather steamy hangout. It’s not quite noon on this Friday in June, and she’s here at Freedom Park in Medford with another, slightly greater concern — she’s about to test her right knee for the first time since falling to the turf with a grade one MCL sprain two months ago. None of the moms and dads and kids circling the playground nearby notice that the nation’s Olympic gold-medal hopes could crumble if Lloyd cuts left or right and something goes awry. In fact, no one notices Lloyd at all, even though she’s not just the top women’s soccer player in the country — last year, the Delran native (along with Argentine legend Lionel Messi) was crowned best in the world.

Lloyd begins with some straight-ahead sprints across a beach volleyball court, and soon she’s soaked in sweat and straining for oxygen. Soccer players train for stamina, to keep them gliding back and forth across the pitch for 90-plus minutes. Dashing in the heat like Usain Bolt, after weeks of nothing but light jogging, is taking a toll.

“Oh, man,” she says between breaths. “I’m not used to this.”

Lloyd’s longtime trainer, James Galanis, watches and offers steady encouragement. “Nearly done,” he says, hair slicked back above his shades. As for the climbing temperature: “One of those things you can’t control. So you can’t worry about it.”

To say Lloyd is riding a hot streak into the Rio games this month is like saying Joel Embiid likes a Shirley Temple every now and then. Her superhuman performance in last summer’s World Cup resulted in six goals, with a hat trick to beat Japan in the finals. To put that in perspective, it’s uncommon for an entire team to score three goals in a soccer game. Lloyd accomplished that herself, including a jaw-dropping rainbow shot from midfield, when the stakes were highest. Parades, galas and the talk-show circuit followed, as did the title of number one on the planet at what she does. Now it’s time, beginning in Brazil, to prove she’s worthy of the accolades.

Lloyd is also driven by something bigger, something that began in South Jersey, where she still lives and still trains with Galanis. She’s a success story that could only happen here — the product of a rabid soccer culture and a unique bond with her trainer/coach. Galanis, a Melbourne native who still speaks with a heavy accent and punctuates sentences with “mate,” gambled on a young college player with talent to burn but a toughness deficit. Today, Lloyd stands with titans like Carl Lewis and Franco Harris as one of the best athletes ever to hail from South Jersey. And if Galanis didn’t happen to vacation in Greece when his star pupil was 10 years old, no one would know her name. Read more »

Joltin’ Joey DeMalavez: The Real Life Rocky

Photograph by Steve Boyle

Photograph by Steve Boyle

The Joltin’ Jabs gym on Sansom Street is just a few blocks away from Rittenhouse Square, but be forewarned, ye who enter — you won’t be pampered, coddled or comforted. You will sweat, and you will suffer.

The man responsible for your pain is sitting across from me on a folding chair, surrounded by heavy bags and speed bags hung from the ceiling — the tools of his trade. Joey DeMalavez — former pro boxer, current Philadelphia trainer du jour, future shoo-in for reality-TV stardom — wears red track pants, a white knit cap on his shaved head, and a Joltin’ Jabs long-sleeve shirt that doesn’t hide his ample biceps or the tattoos that run up his neck and down to his wrists. There’s a skull on his right hand, an open Bible with a heart on the left one, and a bold letter on each finger that together spell out JOLTIN’ JABS.

after the jump »

The Surprise Louis C.K. Sets: Here’s What You Missed Last Night

By David Shankbone - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19241576

Louis C.K. Photo | David Shankbone via Creative Commons.

Trim and dapper in a dark suit and bright tie, Louis C.K. looked surprisingly businesslike for a guy testing out new material last night at Helium. The club had announced a little after 1 p.m. yesterday that C.K. — arguably the biggest star in the comedy galaxy at the moment — would be that evening’s surprise headliner. Within minutes, a line stretched down Sansom Street and around the corner; hours later, a second show was added, and both were sellouts. Word from those leaving the 8 p.m. set was that he was polished, smooth, hilarious — less like a stand-up sweating it out at the comedy gym and more like he’d been doing these bits for years.

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The History of the Philly Boo

TheScore_01-940-540

Mark Gail/MCT/Getty Images

As the clock wound down in the second quarter of the Eagles game against the middling Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the visitors had already piled on four touchdowns. All signs — particularly the Birds’ defense, which resembled matadors and turnstiles — pointed to a rout. In the wake of a heartbreaker loss to the lousy Miami Dolphins the week before here at home, a letdown against the Bucs had season-ending implications. The fans knew this. Which is why, as the players jogged off the field at halftime, a shower of boos rained down. These weren’t your garden-variety “We’re not happy” boos. This was a deafening, guttural roar. A seismic display of frustration. A tsunami of “You suck.” Read more »

How Ron Jaworski Helped Change the Way We Watch Football

Jaws goes over the X’s and O’s in his office at NFL Films. Photograph by Jared Castaldi

Jaws goes over the X’s and O’s in his office at NFL Films. Photograph by Jared Castaldi

Outside of Canton, there may be no greater shrine to the legacy of professional football than the headquarters of NFL Films, hidden away on a nearly invisible road in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The entrance to the house that Ed and Steve Sabol built is lined with archival photographs, game-worn helmets and, in the lobby alone, 71 gleaming Emmy statues, with scores more scattered throughout the winding halls. It’s a Tuesday during the season, and as usual, Ron Jaworski sits at his desk on the second floor. In sharp contrast to the glitz elsewhere, the walls of Jaworski’s lair are adorned with only a few relics from his playing days — snapshots, a locker nameplate, a couple pigskins on a shelf. There are five other guys in here, most hunched over computer screens, logging game film or unearthing obscure stats. It feels sort of like a locker room, with furniture from IKEA. For Jaworski — the first quarterback to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl, 35 years ago — that’s just fine. He’s a married father of three who settled in South Jersey when he joined the Birds and never left. But this is his natural habitat. Read more »

The New Philadelphia Fillmore: Reviewed

Photo by HughE Dillon

Photo by HughE Dillon

Say this for Hall & Oates—they are nothing if not punctual. Last night’s curtain-raising show at the new Fillmore Philadelphia was set to start at 8pm, and I was still exploring the new venue when Michael Nutter introduced the hometown duo on stage. But no one in the sold-out crowd was there for the mayor, and really, the night felt more like a grand opening featuring a special musical guest than a Hall & Oates concert. The music was what you’d expect from two guys in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, who both gave requisite props to their hometown. But the star of the show was the Fillmore itself.

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Is Josh Innes Destroying Philly Sports Radio?

Photograph by Jonathan Pushnik

Photograph by Jonathan Pushnik

The following is a typical day on the air with Josh Innes, the new afternoon-drive host on 94 WIP, Philadelphia sports-talk radio’s long-running leader. If you don’t like sports radio — or sports, period — bear with me for a minute. The Josh Innes Show rarely goes where you’d expect.

It’s late July in the station’s studio overlooking 4th and Market, and Innes is praising Jonathan Papelbon, the crotch-grabbing closer the Phillies just traded, to almost no one’s dismay. Innes says he appreciated Pap’s big-mouthed jackassery, especially in a town where “there’s nobody interesting who plays sports.” His co-hosts — Spike Eskin, WIP’s program director and son of Howard, and ex-Eagles lineman Hollis Thomas — disagree that the pitcher’s honesty about his lousy team was a good thing. Spike tries to run the old “Would you tell your girlfriend her new dress looks horrible?” scenario. Read more »

Satantic Rock Band Ghost on Getting Postponed By “Frankie”

Courtesy of BB Gun Press

Courtesy of BB Gun Press

Move over, Francis—there’s another Papa headed to town. One of the more bizarre subplots surrounding the papal visit involves the costumed Swedish rockers Ghost, who were forced to move their scheduled concert at Union Transfer from tonight to this Tuesday. That didn’t sit well with the band, whose skull-faced frontman, Papa Emeritus III, dresses in black pontiff robes and sings tunes with titles like “Satan Prayer” and “Deus In Absentia.” One of Ghost’s guitarists—a Nameless Ghoul, as each masked instrumentalist is known—called from their gig in Pittsburgh to discuss (in an exceedingly polite manner) how their live show is like mass, his love of certain Philly institutions, and a most unholy competition between the band and “Frankie.”

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