Chris Matthews on Growing Up Catholic in Philadelphia

The author at his First Communion. Courtesy of Chris Matthews

The author at his First Communion. Courtesy of Chris Matthews

I REMEMBER WHEN “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH” came to Hunting Park. It really happened. I Googled it. In 1950, the Barnum & Bailey Circus really did come to Philadelphia. It’s in the books.

Better yet, it’s all in my head. I remember the day Dad and Mom took us across from where we lived in that tiny second-floor apartment above the Italian grocery at Hunting Park Avenue and Broad Street. They did it twice: in the afternoon to walk along the gangway and see the lions and tigers in their cages, and that night to the center ring to see all those clowns come climbing out of that little car.

What’s truly wondrous is that Hunting Park is where we and everyone else in the neighborhood hung out. We’d go there on a summer evening to stroll among the old gazebo, the merry-go-round, and the stand where they sold those cartons of orange drink that afterward you could turn into actual cardboard megaphones.

All this was in those years our parents forever called “after the war,” as opposed to “before the war.” Or as Dad’s mom, Grandmom-in-Chestnut Hill, would always say when speaking of the distant past, “Oh, that was years and years ago.” Read more »

Fairmount Park Conservancy 8th Annual Centennial Celebration


More than 500 park supporters attended the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s 8th Annual Centennial Celebration held at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center last night. This year’s honorees included John Crowe, president and CEO of, Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed Corporations, for corporate leadership; Kathleen McGinty, chief of staff to Governor Tom Wolf and a longtime environmentalist, for civic leadership; and Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC (which includes a tree planted in his honor at Belmont Plateau), as the John Binswanger Park Champion. Crowe’s Saint-Gobain is one of the main sponsors of The Oval; it will kick off the summer season and commemorate the company’s 350th anniversary with a never-before-seen global exhibition, “Future Sensations,” which will make its only U.S. tour stop at The Oval from May 30th through June 6th.

Kristen Welker, NBC News White House Correspondent, was a great master of ceremonies, filling in for Andrea Mitchell, who was on the Hillary Clinton trail. Welker was grateful to be back in her hometown with her mother and among friends in the park where she played softball as a kid.

Photos from the Fairmount Park Conservancy Gala after the jump »

Chris Matthews and Ed Rendell Talk (and Talk) Politics

Chris Matthews and Ed Rendell. Photograph by Justin James Muir

Chris Matthews and Ed Rendell. Photograph by Justin James Muir

PM: When did you guys first meet?

ED: [laughs] I have no idea.

CHRIS: I just remember that he and Billy Green [then Philadelphia’s mayor] were trying to take my job away. This was back in 1980. I was speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. All the big-city guys ganged up on us.

ED: This was the Kennedy-Carter presidential primary. I was supporting Kennedy.

CHRIS: Teddy came to town, and he was eating Philly pretzels and meeting with the Cardinal. You could do that in those days. And Carter was in his Rose Garden because of the [Iranian] hostages. And I’m handling Philly. These guys rolled us over. Read more »

VIDEO: Chris Matthews Makes a Fat Joke About Chris Christie [Updated]

UPDATE: Now with video! Here’s the footage of the exchange.


The Huffington Post picks up a little exchange Philly Mag’s staff witnessed firsthand last night, when Editor Tom McGrath shared a stage with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during ThinkFest’s keynote.

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Tonight: Philadelphia’s Native Son Chris Matthews at the Rittenhouse


Unlike some celebrities that we pretend are from Philadelphia (Pink, Tina Fey, Taylor Swift), Hardball host Chris Matthews is from Philly proper: born in Nicetown, raised in Somerton. And as he told Philly Style magazine last year, he comes back pretty often — ““enough to keep up my accent,” he said.

That accent should be in ample evidence tonight when Matthews sits down with Philadelphia magazine Editor-in-Chief Tom McGrath for a keynote Q&A to kick off ThinkFest. Matthews is unpredictable, to say the least. So it should be interesting — especially considering cocktails come before the talk.

WHAT: Keynote Q&A with Chris Matthews
WHERE: Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 West Rittenhouse Square
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 7 (tonight!). Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and conversation start at 6:30 p.m. The interview starts at 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: Go here.

Chris Matthews on Christie: He Has “Blood” in Him


Yesterday, Chris Matthews summed up New Jersey–and America’s–love affair with Chris Christie thusly:

The Reagan Democrats are alive,” Matthews said. “They’re working class, middle class, mostly Catholics—I’m just saying, it’s a fact—ethnic people, people who came two or three generations ago. They tend to be very, very patriotic. And they like reality. They don’t like Al Gores. They don’t like people like [Michael] Dukakis. They want real people with blood in them. People that talk with attitude.”

Come to the Rittenhouse Hotel tonight to hear Matthews, the keynote speaker of Philly Mag’s ThinkFest. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a Q&A with Matthews and Philly Mag editor Tom McGrath.

ThinkFest Snapshot: Chris Matthews


We’re rounding up the reasons Philly Mag readers should not miss ThinkFest, our week-long event connecting the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in Philadelphia. 

Chris Matthews, Philadelphia native, best-selling author, host of MSNBC’s Hardball and this year’s ThinkFest keynoter, joins Philadelphia magazine Editor in Chief, Tom McGrath, for Q&A, cocktails and conversation.

Read more »