USA Today Somehow Misses South Street on Biggest Tourist Traps List
The Rocky statue, too. Meanwhile, Cherelle Parker accuses Republicans of dirty tricks.
Check phillymag.com each morning Monday through Friday for the latest edition of Philly Today. And if you have a news tip for our hardworking Philly Mag reporters, please direct it here. You can also use that form to send us reader mail. We love reader mail!
USA Today Somehow Misses South Street on World’s Biggest Tourist Traps List
USA Today publishes a ton of lists, most of which I purposefully ignore. I’ll never forgive them for the time that they put frigging Manayunk on their Best Small Town Cultural Scene list, somehow not realizing that Manayunk is actually just a neighborhood in one of the largest cities in North America and that it’s really not a cultural destination in any way, shape or form.
But I did take notice yesterday when somebody sent me USA Today’s latest list: The Top 100 Biggest Tourist Traps Worldwide. I quickly opened the list and scoured it for Philadelphia. Nada. In fact, Pennsylvania’s not in there at all. This suggests to me that the editors never visited Western Pennsylvania’s Big Mac Museum. It’s actually just another shitty McDonald’s with a Big Mac Statue and a few posters explaining the timeline of the company. That has to be the biggest tourist trap in all of Pennsylvania. I drove way too far out of my way on a recent trip only to be let down by that place. But, hey, we did get some french fries.
Here in Philadelphia, I think you could make the case that the Rocky statue is one of the world’s biggest tourist traps — and certainly one of Philadelphia’s. It is, after all, just a movie prop. And it’s not like the Rocky statue is from the original Rocky movie, which beat out All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver, and Network for the Oscar. The Rocky statue was a prop from Rocky III, which, in spite of giving the world “The Eye of the Tiger,” was no Rocky. Yet people battle horrific parking conditions in that area only to stand in frequently long lines to get a picture with the prop at the bottom of the Art Museum steps, the vast majority of them never bothering to actually walk up those steps and enter the world-class museum. But I digress.
The one Philadelphia destination that inarguably belongs on the world’s biggest tourist traps list is South Street. I am, of course, talking about the touristy eastern section of South Street, say, from 8th Street to Front Street, as opposed to the less touristy western portion, which contains such gems as Magic Gardens and Bob & Barbara’s, which has the longest-running drag show in Philadelphia.
I actually ranked Philadelphia’s worst tourist traps way back in 2015, and East South Street had the dubious distinction of coming out on top. Here’s what I had to say then:
No major Philadelphia commercial corridor has been allowed to go down the tubes in the recent past quite as much as this confluence of unruly crowds, cheaply made crap, sex shops, and bars filled with sloppy drunks and the badly dressed. Think I’m exaggerating? Head down there on any weekend night after 8 p.m. and tell me I’m wrong.
Since then, the situation has only gotten worse. Far worse. And the only thing that might outnumber the lousy bars are the vape shops. I’m not the only one who has major issues with South Street. My esteemed colleague Ashley Primis, who lives near South Street in Queen Village, spent thousands of words lamenting the avenue’s many issues in this 2018 feature.
Meanwhile, I’ve been to Penang Hill in Malaysia, which the USA Today editors inexplicably rank as the ninth worst tourist trap in the world, as well as a number of other so-called tourist traps, and all I can say is, they’ve got nothing on East South Street.
USA Today simultaneously published two similar lists that Philadelphia and Pennsylvania did make. On USA Today‘s list of the Most Overrated Attractions Worldwide, the Liberty Bell sits at number 47. Elsewhere on the list is Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum. Hard disagree on that one.
And on the Most Overpriced Attractions Worldwide list, Hershey Park is number 25, the Franklin Institute is number 58. And Longwood Gardens? 79. I disagree that any of those places isn’t fairly priced.
Interestingly, not a single place in New Jersey wound up on any of the lists. Apparently they’ve never been to the Ocean City boardwalk.
There’s a flier floating around on social media stating that Democratic mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker will participate in a town hall on Wednesday night with her Republican opponent, David Oh. This came as a surprise to those of us who pay attention to such things, because Parker has thus far refused to commit to doing any such events with Oh, leading to comparisons to Donald Trump refusing to debate any of his Republican rivals.
But it turns out Parker won’t be anywhere near that event on Wednesday. According to a statement released by her campaign, the flier is a fake and a “political dirty trick” whose only purpose was to “deceive and mislead voters for political gain.” Cool, Cherelle, but, c’mon—debate the guy.
Want to ride SEPTA for free? Get a job with the city. The city recently announced that all full-time, part-time and provisional employees — about 22,000 people — will now receive free rides on SEPTA. Drexel, Penn Medicine and Wawa offer similar benefits to some employees.
More Buzz About Buzz
Last week, I told you that a school district in Iowa had banned Friday Night Lights, the best-selling book by Philly scribe Buzz Bissinger, after some AI thing told it to do so. Well, after plenty of backlash, including from the author himself, the school board has reversed its decision. No word on how AI feels about the humans’ decision. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn into some HAL in 2001 scenario.
Too Hot to Handle
Remember the historic Philadelphia heat wave of 1993? I think that was the summer when local meteorologists started throwing around the term “the three H’s” ad nauseam, referring, of course, to “hazy, hot and humid.”
Monday was the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington and the famous speech MLK delivered there. Netflix used the occasion to release the trailer for its upcoming biopic Rustin, about civil rights and gay rights leader Bayard Rustin, the West Chester native who went on to become one of the main organizers of said march. Overbrook High School grad Colman Domingo, whom you might recognize from Fear the Walking Dead, Selma and Lincoln, has the starring role. Chris Rock co-stars. And the producers? None other than Barack and Michelle Obama.
You can see the trailer here. For the full thing, you’ll have to wait until November. And after that, Domingo stars as Albert “Mister” Johnson in the musical film adaptation of The Color Purple. Not too shabby!
And congrats to Jamila Robinson — the Inquirer‘s assistant managing editor for food and culture for the past three years — who just accepted the job as editor in chief at Bon Appétit. Robinson was instrumental in the decision to stop using a number-of-bells rating system in Craig LaBan’s restaurant reviews. Here’s what Inquirer editor Gabriel Escobar had to say about Robinson: “Her approach to covering food is as social as it is sociological. It goes beyond recipe making and recipe tasting and has led to some of our [paper’s] most ambitious projects.”
In less fun news, Jackass exile Bam Margera, awaiting trial on charges of assault, was just ordered by a Chester County judge to wear an ankle monitor capable of detecting alcohol, a nifty device I never knew existed. This comes after he was charged with public intoxication following an incident at the Radnor Hotel earlier this month.
By the Numbers
21%: Decrease in Philadelphia homicides so far this year, compared to the same time period last year. That’s certainly better news than it could be. But police still can’t seem to get a handle on auto theft and retail theft, both of which have skyrocketed.
3: Major power outages that have struck the Wildwood boardwalk area thus far this summer. The most recent such outage came on Saturday night, leaving people in the dark and stuck on rides at Morey’s Pier. No thanks.
And from the More-Homers? Sports Desk …
Taijuan Walker took the mound last night in the opening game of the Phils’ home series with the L.A. Angels and promptly whacked the leadoff batter with a pitch. Next up was Shohei Ohtani, who got a wooing from a big green admirer.
Alas, Ohtani wasn’t pitching because of his elbow woes, to Bryce Harper’s dismay. He singled, and another single by Luis Rengifo put the Angels up 1-0. Never fear: Trea Turner’s solo homer in the bottom half evened the score. There were two more Angel singles in the third, but no damage. Except for Turner, nobody was getting anything off Angels starter Lucas Giolito. In the fourth, L.A. went up 3-1 on two walks (one intentional), a double and a single, but guess what? A walk to Turner and a homer by Harper made it even again.
Bryce Harper is up to 8 home runs in August.
He had 5 total in May/June/July. pic.twitter.com/8bZZdFmm8N
— John Foley (@2008Philz) August 28, 2023
In the fifth, former Phil Mickey Moniak tripled (to boos) but was stranded there by a Walker strikeout. And then? A Jake Cave single and another Turner homer put us up 5-3.
Matt Strahm came in for Walker with two outs in the top of the sixth, and Aaron Loup replaced Giolito in the bottom half, in which Brandon Marsh singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 straight games — the longest of his career. Angel second baseman Brandon Drury got his third single of the night in the top of the seventh, Rengifo singled again, and Moniak brought Drury home with another single, ending Strahm’s no-earned-runs streak, not to mention his night. Jeff Hoffman came in and got the inning’s last two outs. It was Dominic Leone for Loup in the bottom half, and Gregory Soto for Hoffman in the eighth; he had a nice cover at first for the third Angel out.
Alec Bohm, who’s been cold of late, doubled to lead off the Phils’ eighth, and Marsh singled him in and then (barely) stole second, but Schwarbs made the third out at first. Kimbrel time! Three up, three down, no worries: a 6-4 Phils win. Next game is tonight, again a 6:40 start.
All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.