Why Philly Matters: Return to Sender

Like an illicit affair, the city gets into your blood, and can still drive you crazy years after you’ve left it. In a love (hate) letter to the town that launched her career, LISA DePAULO proves that while you can take the girl out of Philly …

Because in Philadelphia, even if you’re an asshole, you’re our asshole. A few people come to mind here, but not Bobby or Leonard. (You say one bad word about Bobby or Leonard and I’ll cut yer fuckin’ nuts off! See, I’m still a Philly girl at heart.)

Because you know who you are.
You know it’s okay to boo Santa Claus and Sarah Palin (sorry, Santa) and eat sausage and peppers for breakfast, and you think the Mummers Parade is a fine way to spend New Year’s Day.

Because nothing impresses you. Only in Philadelphia can culture finally arrive — in the form of an LED screen in the lobby of the Comcast building (whoop-de-do) — and even that pisses you off. What, it isn’t as good as the Rocky statue? As the floral arrangements at the Pennsylvania Burial Company? (Though I did always love the betting numbers in carnations.)

Because even though you have an inferiority complex, you still think you’re superior. Case in point: Remember 9/11? I remember sitting in my Manhattan apartment and thinking, Oh, dear God. This really is the end of the world. Philadelphia … was fretting over the Betsy Ross House. The Betsy Ross House! Did you guys really think Mohamed Atta was gonna take out the Betsy Ross House??!

Because of Neil Stein.
Have I mentioned Neil Stein? Okay, quick story. My first day at Philly Mag (omg, that was 1987! Before we even had omg), my then-editor told me my first assignment was to “call up this guy Neil Stein” and go visit every raw bar in Philadelphia for “Best of Philly.” I remember being dazzled by Neil from the moment he picked me up in some fancy car that probably wasn’t paid for. Twelve hours and one bad clam later (at the Chart House, what a horrible place that was), I knew that I a) would be sick for two days; and b) had met the coolest dude in town. (It was all downhill from there.) A few years later, I had to go to a dive bar in Bristol to re-enact the crime of two murderers and needed to take someone with me. I took Neil. Who better to segue seamlessly from the bar at Le Bec-Fin to a redneck bar in Bristol? He protected me. That’s my Neil.