Buzz Bissinger Banned His Book Friday Night Lights Before Iowa Did

Plus, ticket sales for WrestleMania 40 in Philly go absolutely bonkers.

buzz bissingers, whose book friday night lights has been banned in iowa

Author Buzz Bissinger, whose book Friday Night Lights has been banned in Iowa, at a 2023 book event (Public domain via Flickr)

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Buzz Bissinger Banned Friday Night Lights Before Iowa Did

Friday Night Lights is, of course, the best-selling book by Philly writer extraordinaire Buzz Bissinger that led to the hit TV show, all of which made Bissinger quite wealthy, which, of course led to Bissinger’s infamous spending habits. Now, Bissinger and the book have just surfaced in the news again after an Iowa school district banned Friday Night Lights because some AI program told them to do so.

Yes. A school district banned Friday Night Lights, a book about a high school football team in Texas, because a computer suggested said ban. That same computer told the school district in Iowa to ban such lofty titles as The Color Purple and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

“I’m flattered to be in the same company [as those other books],” Bissinger recently told a reporter. “It’s also symbolic of how we don’t read anymore. Let’s go to AI. Pathetic. Yeah, absolutely pathetic, and infuriating and dangerous. Because who knows what other school districts will do in Iowa or around the country … America is a wonderful, great country. And one of the reasons it’s a wonderful, great country is that people have the right to choose. This is not Nazi Germany. This is similar, and I hate that comparison. It is similar to the book-burnings in Nazi Germany.”

The funny thing is, Bissinger actually self-banned Friday Night Lights from his writing courses at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s right. A kid signs up for a course taught by the author of Friday Night Lights at this Ivy League institution, and Bissinger won’t even teach the book.

Here’s what he told me in an interview last year:

I used to use Friday Night Lights in my course at Penn, but a student went to counseling because the N-word is in the opening paragraph of the book. It wasn’t gratuitous. I had to use that word. Not all writing is meant to be comfortable. But this went all the way up to the dean of students. Guess what? I am never, ever using Friday Night Lights in my class again. I have eliminated it from my syllabus. I have, essentially, banned my own book from Penn. It’s just not worth it.

He also had this to say:

Students are in a whole different atmosphere of “woke.” And being a teacher is a performance, in part. I have to perform to keep them awake and engaged. Otherwise, they’re just sitting there listening to me babble and looking at me like I’m a corpse. But I do worry about getting “canceled.” There is a tendency of schools to protect their students rather than their professors.

Ori Feibush vs. a City Councilmember (Again)

You may remember South Philly developer Ori Feibush’s battles and lawsuits with City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson. If not, go here for a primer. Seven years after that all ended, Feibush is now going after another local politician in court: City Council President Darrell Clarke. Feibush just sued Clarke for $2 million for actions he allegedly took that delayed a Feibush apartment building project at 1201 West Girard Avenue.

“Clarke abused his power to intentionally interfere with plaintiffs’ as-of-right permit and thereby inflicted financial harm,” reads the suit. Clarke also allegedly “impeded [Feibush’s] ability to develop a property … Council President Clarke’s willful misconduct has caused plaintiffs to incur millions of dollars in damages.”

The Inquirer has more on the Feibush lawsuit here.

Wowzers, WrestleMania!

As I told you last week, the 40th edition of WrestleMania is taking place right here in Philadelphia in April at Lincoln Financial Field, and tickets (some of which cost as much as $10,000) to the two-day event went on sale on Friday. I wasn’t expecting to say much more about WrestleMania until, well, never. (Sorry, not much of a WWE fan.) But then came this Associated Press story revealing that promoters have already sold 90,000 (yes, 90,000!) tickets to WrestleMania 40. And they already topped the all-time gross sales of $21.6 million, which was for WrestleMania 39 earlier this year. Something tells me my editor is going to suddenly deem me Philly Mag’s official WrestleMania correspondent. Yay me!

By the Numbers: The Food & Drink Edition

54: Number of self-service taps of beer, wine and other spirited beverages at the just-opened Tapster on 16th and Sansom. No thanks. I’ll stick with my bartender. One thing we don’t need in this world is more robots.

17,600: Approximate number of votes cast in the latest Herr’s #FlavoredbyPhilly potato chip contest. The chip contenders: Corropolese Italian Bakery & Deli’s Tomato Pie, John’s Roast Pork’s Roast Pork Sandwich, and Mike’s BBQ’s Korean BBQ Wings. The winner: Corropolese Italian Bakery & Deli’s Tomato Pie. In case you want a potato chip that tastes like tomato pie.

4: Stars that Philly Mag restaurant critic Jason Sheehan just awarded to West Chester’s Ground Provisions, the latest project from the team behind Center City vegan phenomenon Vedge. I don’t remember the last time our picky eater awarded four stars to anyone. So it sounds like a trip to West Chester might be in order.

600: Miles from Philadelphia intrepid Billy Penn reporter Asha Prihar traveled to try “Philly cheesesteaks” at the Indiana State Fair.