One of Us: David Morse

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … David Bowditch Morse, after Nathaniel Bowditch, the father of modern navigation. He was a relative from the 1800s and a remarkable guy.

I am a … father, husband and son, most importantly. More obviously, an actor.

I live … in Chestnut Hill. We’ve been here for quite a while — since 1994. It’s lovely. Read more »

One of Us: Herb Lusk

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My full name is … Reverend Doctor Herbert Hoover Lusk II. But since I met the Pope in September, my friends are jokingly calling me the Archbishop of North Broad.

I am … the proud pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church at 700 North Broad Street.

My childhood was spent in … Memphis, and I left when I was 13, the year Dr. King was assassinated. Mother sent me to Monterey, California, to keep me out of mischief.

When I was 12 years old … I wanted to grow up to be a pro football player and a preacher of the Gospel, and because of God’s favor, I was able to do both.

I came to Philadelphia … in 1976, drafted by Dick Vermeil to be on the Eagles.

The most memorable game I ever played … was 1977, against the Giants. I registered over 100 yards and two touchdowns, and I became the first NFL player to score and then kneel in the end zone and pray.

I met my wife … in my father’s church, 38 years ago. The best place to find a wonderful lady is in church.

If you’re having me for dinner, please make … some oxtails and rice. If you’re gonna do fish, let it be salmon, poached. Just don’t make eggs. I’m allergic. I mean, you can use a little to hold a crabcake together.

If the TV is on, I’m probably watching … news. I usually take a 30-minute dose of CNN and another 30-minute dose of Fox News. I like hearing both sides of the argument.

The best movie ever made about church … has got to be Sister Act.

When I look at the kids of Philadelphia today … I see a serious crisis in education. Without proper education, the children will be stuck in poverty, crime and aimlessness.

I decided to be a preacher … because it was the best way for me to effect change in the lives of people, particularly those who are easily forgotten. In the African-American community, a pastor is more than just a guy who preaches. He’s a psychologist, sociologist, counselor.

The next presidential election is … confusing.

When I met the Pope in Philadelphia … I was extremely impressed with his humanity. And his willingness to admit that he’s a man. A great man, a holy man — but in the end, he’s still a man.

I didn’t walk in October’s Million Man March … because of the man at the top of it, Louis Farrakhan. He is a well-intended man who has the potential to help but an even greater potential to mislead. As my daddy always told me, a fish stinks from the head.

The first concert I ever went to was … James Brown, Memphis, 1967. It was unbelievable. J.B. was the best.

One bad habit I can’t break … is sleeping just five hours. I’m never going to sleep more than that. People sleep too much. It’s overrated.

My favorite character in the Bible is … Shamgar, who is said to have delivered Israel with an ox goad. He started where he was, used what he had, and did what he could. Most people seem to think that their location speaks to their destination. He didn’t allow that to happen.

I hope my tombstone reads … “Here lies a man who did everything he could to make the world a better place.”

Published as “One of Us” in the December 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Jim Beasley Jr.: The (Literally) High-Flying Attorney

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is Jim Beasley, or JBJ, as everybody calls me. It’s short for Jim Beasley Jr.

I am a teenager trapped in a 48-year-old body.

I grew up in a tornado in Villanova. Four dogs, my dad, two sisters. A million things all at the same time. Now I live in a tornado in West Chester.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a fighter pilot. But I went to Penn for medicine. I wanted to be a geneticist.

My most famous client was Taylor Swift. I represented her for a breach-of-contract for an airplane that she bought. Read more »

One of Us: Bart Blatstein, Developer

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Bart Blatstein. But that’s not my legal name. Bart is short for Barton, but I haven’t used Barton since first grade, for obvious reasons.

I am a … real estate developer with few hobbies. My golf game is so bad that my hobby is real estate development. I’m the worst golfer at my golf club. They all laugh at me.

I bought my first property … on May 15, 1978 — a very small three-story rowhouse shell in Queen Village. It was the result of me not getting into medical school. I had to pursue something.

I live in … Montgomery County, but we’re moving back to Philly next year. We’re empty nesters, and it’s time to transition. Read more »

One of Us: Seth Williams, Philadelphia District Attorney

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Rufus Seth Broussard Williams. It’s a mouthful.

I go by “Seth” because … my parents always called me that. And “Rufus Doofus” is a tough one on the playground.

I grew up in … Cobbs Creek, West Philadelphia.

My relationship status is … divorced.

I started working … at age 11, packing bags at the A&P on Baltimore Avenue right outside Philadelphia.

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer when … medical school proved to be impossible. I got a medical discharge from West Point, because I was allergic to math and science. Read more »

One of Us: Eric Bazilian of the Hooters

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Eric Bazilian, which is apparently really hard to spell. I’ve gotten every imaginable permutation.

I am … a guy in a band.

I was born … at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, at 1:37 a.m. on July 21, 1953. I have four generations of connections to Penn: my grandfather, parents, me and my daughter went there, and my son is starting in the fall.

I live in … Wayne. And often in my car.

The most famous song I’m known for is … “One of Us,” hands down. I wrote it to impress my girlfriend, now my wife. I happened to be working with Joan Osborne at the time, and she wound up singing it. She was born to sing that song, and the song was born to give her a career. Read more »

One of Us: Ramona Africa, MOVE Member

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Ramona Africa. My mother named me Ramona, and Africa comes from my membership in MOVE. It symbolizes the origin of life, which is, of course, Africa.

I am a … committed revolutionary, which is not synonymous with violence in any way. It’s a commitment to putting things right.

I grew up in … West Philadelphia. I’ve lived in Philadelphia all my life. Now I live in Southwest Philadelphia.

My neighbors … love us. My brothers and sisters do work for them. We’re good neighbors. We cut their grass. We shovel their walkways. Read more »

One of Us: Dom Streater, Fashion Designer

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Dom Streater. It’s short for Dominique. Growing up, I had myriad nicknames: Domo, Domino, Domino Brown Sugar, Dom. And Dom was the one that stuck.

I am a … fashion and textile designer.

My childhood home was at … 58th and Chestnut in West Philadelphia.

These days, I live in … Francisville. At least, I think that’s what it’s called. There are new names for these neighborhoods every day. But I’m near 15th and Poplar.

My most closely guarded beauty secret is … coconut oil. I use it all over. It’s like nature’s miracle. Read more »

One of Us: Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Yannick Nézet-Séguin, since I was 16. I was born Yannick Séguin, but I decided to legally add my mother’s last name, Nézet, because we were the only family in North America with that name. And my mother is the only child of her family, so I wanted to make a future for that very strange name. People assume I am Egyptian or Hungarian or Turkish, but it is very plainly Celtic French.

My friends call me … Yannick. I was desperate when I was younger to get friends to call me Yan or Nick. But I never got anyone to do it.

I am a … lover of life.

I grew up in … Montréal, in the city and very close to everything — so much so that I never bothered to take driving lessons. I still don’t have a driver’s license. A conductor but not a driver.

My secret junk food obsession is … poutine. But the problem is, I am lactose-intolerant. So when I have those cheese curds and poutine, I assume the consequences.

The thing most people don’t understand about my job … is how much psychology is involved. I have a mysterious job to begin with, but everything has to do with using the right amount of psychology and diplomacy.

Read more »

One of Us: Patti LaBelle

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Patti LaBelle. I was born Patricia Louise Holte. Patti LaBelle came from Harold B. Robinson, a car dealer in Philadelphia, who was our manager at the time. He gave me the name. It means “beautiful.”

I live in … Wynnewood. I’ve lived here for about 30 years. It’s okay, you can tell people that. Let them come and find me.

I grew up in … Southwest Philadelphia, at 5819 Washington Avenue. Kenny Gamble and I used to hang out at my mother’s home. We were finding ourselves.

My mother always taught me … to be nice to others and to maintain my innocence. Don’t go out there all trashy and the wrong way, so that people wouldn’t perceive me as a hooker.

The prettiest place in Philadelphia … is Kelly Drive, where those little houses are. I don’t drive, so someone takes me there. I never wanted to drive. I tried once and I ran into a tree.

My secret junk-food craving … is Cheetos, hot and spicy.

When people call me a diva … they may be correct. I’ve paid the dues, as have Gladys, Aretha, Barbra and Bette. So it doesn’t bother me. It bothers me when they call some of the newcomers divas who should never deserve it. I’ve been a diva for about 30 years.

If you’re coming to my house for dinner … expect to eat like a pig. I wrote three cookbooks, and I just released a line of hot sauces, marinades and barbecue sauces at Walmarts across the country. I love to cook. I make special crabcakes and fried corn. Fried porgies. Mmm.

My favorite song I’ve ever recorded … is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s so positive. I sang it for Coretta Scott King and her children, and it was beautiful. I promise you, I felt like I was flying, levitating.

To stay in shape … I walk my dog, Mr. Cuddles, my shih tzu. And I walk in my pool. I can’t swim. Otis Redding tried to teach me when we were touring years ago. He said, “Just let go.” Well, I let go, and I almost drowned him.

For my 70th birthday in May … I ate crabs in my backyard.

The thing many people get wrong about me … is that I’m soft and easy to trick, a pushover. But don’t get it twisted: I see everything that people are trying to do.

If you really want to annoy me … chew crunchy hard pretzels loudly. It drives me crazy. People who chew lettuce or pretzels and don’t even hear
themselves—it grosses me out. I can’t take it.

On Friday nights … I watch Shark Tank. And then I watch TCM movies on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night.

If you’re pouring me a drink, make it … iced tea. Diet. I used to drink red wine like crazy, but I stopped eight months ago, cold turkey. I never got high off of it, and I said, why am I putting all of these calories into my beautiful body? But now and then, if I have a bushel of crabs, I’ll have one beer: a Sapporo.

The biggest problem with the music industry today … is that they let all these sorry acts through.

The first concert I ever went to was … Diana Ross. Kenny and I went together.

My hair has always been … a wig. Onstage, at least. They are easy.

My relationship status is … empty. I’m not looking. He will find me. I’m not looking, honey. No looking for Miss Patti. But I’m open. Very much so.

Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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