Every once in awhile, someone asks me how I go about coming up with topics for articles and blog posts. Since the fake, talking-to-college-kids answer (“I just observe the world around me, man”) is much more palatable than the real, depressing answer (criminal caffeine abuse and subhuman sleep deprivation), I never really considered trying to explain the process formally. And now it looks like I’ll never have to, thanks to a new doohickey from web marketing firm HubSpot that’s offered to do all my not-that-critical thinking for me.
The Blog Topic Generator, launched to complement other services offered by the automated marketing platform, almost comes off like a proper clowning of Internet content creation, spitting out a week’s worth of trite “ideas” using nothing more than a few nouns you’re asked to input. But it seems to be positioning itself as a legitimate tool, which means it behooves us to use it legitimately.
While it doesn’t spit out headlines in the infinitely useful “winning a game of Clue” or “babies + Beyoncé” formats, HubStop’s auto-offerings seem to be optimized for maximum web traction and your-mom-on-Facebook shareability. What better way to rack up ideas for the rest of May and test its mettle than to plug in a bunch of Philadelphia-centric terms and see what comes up? Here are 10 of my favorite results from my Philly-fixated time spent with the tool. All these posts are most likely coming to a bereft-of-creativity city blog near you within the hour — and I’ll probably be writing all of them.
My editor asked me to write this article as a companion piece to Victor Fiorillo’s Biggest Losers of 2013 article, and I must admit I’m a little stuck. First off, Victor recently caused a stranger to tell the news, “The world is still kind.” I haven’t reunited anyone with their stolen Christmas cards this year. That do-gooder gets to write the negative column and I have to do the positive one!
Still, a column is a column — and it shouldn’t be too hard to find a bunch of Big Winners from the city I love. I guess a winner is largely someone who creates a “good news” story about Philadelphia. I can do this. Let’s dive in.
Ensconced as we are in our echo chamber of Hall & Oates appreciation (where every day is Hall & Oates Appreciation Day) it’s easy to forget that not everybody shares our appreciation for the greatest blue eyed soul band of them all. Enter “The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle,” written by a libertarian political journalist who really likes writing articles called “The Great Something Swindle.”
I very much grew up listening to Hall & Oates. They were one of my mom’s favorite groups (mom rock?), and I distinctly remember their album H2o (featuring the inescapable hit “Maneater”) being on the turntable constantly following its release in December of 1982.
And some time after that — maybe because follow-up Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 failed to produce a Part 2 — I lost track of Hall & Oates, relegating them and the impression they’d once made on me to the recesses of my psyche.
I’m a huge Hall & Oates fan, but I always felt a little guilty that I wasn’t more interested in John Oates. When I was a kid and they were on MTV a lot, my eyes were inevitably drawn to Daryl Hall. He was so pretty in that pleasingly androgynous way, with his soft blond hair and tall frame. He seemed exotic to me, much like the tall blond girl in my class who was on the social register and was already preparing for her debutante ball in eighth grade. They were another species.
God, there is so much to say about the music video for Hall & Oates’s 1983 song “Family Man.” Cheesy graphics, horrible acting, dozens of random children, a TV dinner, and at least one baseball bat.
But first, a few words about the song*. It’s about a guy who resists a beautiful prostitute because… he’s a family man. If the ’70s gave us Taxi Driver, with its depiction of a seedy, exploitative sex trade, the ’80s gave us the glamorous, empowered hooker. “Family Man” was released in the same year as Risky Business, the year after Ron Howard’s Night Shift, and three years after Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo. Pretty Woman, which came out in 1990, marked the end of the era, and the end of the reversed power dynamic that defined its films.