From the Editor: February 2007

“YOU KNOW WHAT THIS TOWN NEEDS?” the voice on the other end of the telephone line asked. “It needs people who don’t take themselves so damn seriously.”

It took me a moment to place the voice: mayoral candidate Michael Nutter, who doesn’t often come across in the media as a class clown. Nutter was calling to propose the shot you see on this page, in response to our cover line last month that asked, “Does Michael Nutter Have the Balls to Be Mayor?”

“I can palm two basketballs,” Nutter told me, laughing. “You can run a shot of ‘Michael Nutter and his balls.’” He said his wife might also want to send a letter to the editor, attesting to his testicular bona fides. (We’re still waiting for that one, Mike.)

We took him up on his offer. In part, that’s because I’ve never met a stunt I didn’t like. But also, even if it was a Nutter staffer in charge of self-deprecation who came up with the photo idea, Mike is right: We need serious people running for office who don’t take themselves too seriously.

One thing we’re serious about — one of the few things, perhaps — is the future of this city. And we’re committed to weighing in on matters of civic importance. That’s one reason why, each month, we’re writing about Nutter and his competitors in our mayoral sweepstakes. Last month, it was Jason Fagone’s wonderful piece on Nutter. This month, there’s Dan P. Lee’s look at Bob Brady, on page 104. Pieces on Chaka Fattah and Dwight Evans will follow in future issues. (We profiled Tom Knox in the December 2005 issue, and we wrote about John Dougherty’s mayoral hopes last July.) On our website,, you can read these pieces as they appear, plus find articles from our archives about all the candidates. In May, timed to the Democratic primary on the 15th, we’ll endorse one of the candidates. But it will be more of a challenge than an endorsement. We’re going to lay out an agenda for the next mayor and pledge to be all up in his business if he doesn’t follow through on the matters that matter to all of Philadelphia — and not just the oligarchy of insiders that has had its way here for far too long.

THE LIST OF ALUMNI OF THIS MAGAZINE who have gone on to make their mark nationally is staggering, and it’s always a special thrill to publish old friends. Two months ago, it was three-time National Magazine Award finalist and GQ correspondent Andrew Corsello, holding forth on Rocky and Sylvester Stallone. This month, it’s another former staff writer, two-time National Magazine Award finalist Max Potter, executive editor at 5280, Denver’s terrific city magazine. Potter, a Philly native, hooked up with a buddy from St. Joe’s Prep in the Iraqi war zone. In a piece about the nature of friendship that also offers a glimpse into the daunting challenge of our military mission, Potter forces us to reexamine the hope for Iraq that’s seemingly now been lost. Potter is a terrific reporter and storyteller, even if the photo of him in the tank on page 95 is eerily reminiscent of Michael Dukakis in ’88.

EACH MONTH, WE GATHER AS A STAFF to self-critique the latest issue of the magazine. After four years of this, we’re pretty tired of hearing ourselves. That’s where you come in. This month, we’d like to invite four readers to come to our office for lunch with the staff — provided said readers pull no punches when it comes to criticizing us. We want to know what works for you in our pages, and what you want in your city magazine that you’re not getting. If you’re interested, e-mail me at and tell me why we should buy you lunch.