Is Philly Satire Proof?

The launch of the local version of The Onion

Today, the first Philly-based print edition of The Onion hit the streets.

You can only wish them luck—luck, a mental health checkup and more deep pockets than a billiards table.

Back before the world came apart at the seams and Jon Stewart had established himself as the King of Send-Up, I would sometimes read The Onion.

Not read, exactly; more like scan the headlines. The headlines were often clever, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

So just now, having not looked at their site since the days when there were bookstores, I checked out The Onion.

Could their headlines still elicit a chuckle given the apocalyptic state of our world?

First one to catch my eye:

“Greyhound Now Charging Customers $15 Fee To Vomit In Aisle”

Okay, that made me smile a bit, but pretty dated in these days of the Boltbus.

“CNN Anchor Interviews Al Jazeera Anchor Who Interviewed Libyan Rebels”

Not funny. Could have happened. Wait, did that happen?

“Confused Milwaukee Bucks Have No Idea What To Do After Rebounding Basketball”

Okay, that made me laugh. A niche audience for sure, but still.

Here’s the question, though: If it’s hard to lampoon us as a country in the Lohan-Sheen Age, how’s it going to be possible to satirize Philadelphia?

We’re already our own living, breathing satire.

Consider a few recent real-life news stories.

Milton Street, who served 26 months in prison and who has been a fixture in this city since the days when the Divine Lorraine was offering room service, may be Mayor Nutter’s only opponent in the upcoming mayor’s race.

“I was sent to prison to regroup, refocus and come out to do this,” he told the Metro about his run for mayor.

And you thought he was sent to prison because he didn’t pay taxes.

In the Daily News yesterday, we read that Joey Merlino, the punk mobster who single-handedly killed off any misplaced romance that may have been hanging around following the Godfather movies, is about to be sprung from the joint. This set off a frenzy of speculation in the People’s Paper over where the former don will rest his head when freed.

Florida, it appears, may be one possibility.

“You’re telling me that a hyena is going to become a vegetarian?” a retired Philadelphia police lieutenant told the DN.

Is that our kind of analogy or what?

And let’s not forget the magazine that operates this blog has an issue sitting on newsstands right now with the cover headline: ”Dear Baby Boomers, Just Die Already.”

Not retire. Not go to Florida. Not go somewhere far away and play your Bob Dylan records.


Why mince words?

Finally, there was the story about the local pizza-parlor owner who tried to sabotage his two competitors by leaving bags of mice in their restaurants.

Yesterday the Inquirer reported that a longtime patron of one of the victimized pizza parlors could barely contained his grin Tuesday when he strolled in and called out his order.

“Large pie, extra mice.”

Really, in this town, who needs satire?

Tim Whitaker (, is the executive director of Mighty Writers, a nonprofit program that inspires city kids to write.