Throwing snowballs at Santa
This played out story is constantly used by lazy announcers and journalists who want to talk about our surly sports fans. It happened almost fifty years ago, yet it’s the story that just won’t die. What never gets mentioned is the context of the event: Fans were promised a real Christmas halftime show, and instead got a drunken Santa that was plucked from the stands. They were also looking forward to drafting a phenom out of USC named OJ Simpson, that is until the Eagles did something crazy and actually won a game, which meant they no longer had the top pick in the draft. Fans were pissed, and had enough. Since then, fans in other cities have thrown snowballs too to far less fanfare. Ours just happened to be aimed at a drunken Santa. There are much better examples that one can use to lambaste the Philly sports fans such as…
Shooting a flare gun at Veterans Stadium
In 1997, the Eagles were playing a Monday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers, and things were not going well. After three quarters of poor play and questionable calls by the referees, one fan did the unexpected and fired a flare gun across the field with the flare landing in some empty seats in the 700 level of Veterans Stadium. Miraculously, nobody was hurt and I remember watching the game with my dad and laughing along with him as Al Michaels sounded like he was about to shit his pants. This is underrated because not only is it never brought up, but it also came at the height of when Eagles fans were under intense scrutiny for the shenanegans that occurred in the 700 level, and when “Eagles Court” was established in the basement of the Vet to serve as a deterrent for unruly fan behavior. It’s also more recent than the Santa incident.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s so great about Northern Liberties (aka BroLibs). The Piazza is an eye-sore, and while there are good places to eat/drink in this neighborhood, there are good places to eat/drink everywhere in the city. Furthermore, the whole neighborhood strikes me as fake. There’s an overall vibe there that the only things that matter in the city occur only in Northern Liberties, and that nowhere else matters. Add in the fact that ugly homes are being constructed everywhere there is open space and the fact that real estate agents are getting very creative with the neighborhood limits in order to cash in on the Northern Liberties cash-cow and it all just comes off as very artificial to a person such as myself who remembers when that neighborhood was a shithole. Sure, it looks nice, but there’s nothing I can’t do in Northern Liberties that I could do other places in the city and not have to smell the stank of pretension.
I think Bridesburg gets a bad rap. Sure, the chemical plant makes it smell weird and is probably going to give me some lung damage. However, I think Bridesburg is kind of cool. First and foremost, the people there are as real as it gets and also very friendly; no pretentiousness whatsoever. Also, Renzi’s Pizza is some of the best I have ever had anywhere in this city. There are a couple other good places to eat as well. You won’t find fine dining or hipster spots in Bridesburg, but that’s fine because I don’t think people would want to go to them anyway. Bridesburg is a proud community that is an after-thought for many, and it’s a good place to be.
Getting drunk in Manayunk
I’m still pretty amazed when people tell me they’re going bar-hopping in Manayunk. When does it start being fun? Unless you live there, you have to take a regional rail train to get there. Or, you have to drive and finding parking anywhere in Manayunk is a nightmare. Then, you get to hang out in places where the guys act obnoxiously like they’re in a frat house basement to get attention, and the ladies do lame things so people pay attention to them. Manayunk is actually pretty nice the majority of time, but Friday and Saturday nights are when Main Street is saturated with every douche from the suburbs who wants to party in Philly, but doesn’t feel like going to Center City for some reason. I once dated a girl who lived in Manayunk. She shared a pretty nice house with 4 other girls she went to college with. Every single Friday and Saturday they would go to the same bars, share the same stories, do the same obnoxious things. Every time I joined them, I’d see the same douchebag guys throwing the same lame pick-up lines at anybody who would look at them. Please tell me when getting drunk in Manayunk starts being worth it.
Getting drunk on a stoop
Sitting on a stoop (porch) with a case of beer or a mixed drink of some sort, enjoying the conversation with your friends, people-watching, and being outside is severely underrated. It’s cheaper, you don’t have to deal with annoying people, and the end result is still the same. Not only that, but you can actually hear what someone talking to you is actually saying. I understand that a lot of people who go out to crowded bars like attention, but trust me, when you get older you realize that seeking attention and approval from strangers who almost always end up being shitty people isn’t any way to live, and really, those people usually suck. However, you’ll really cherish those times where you and your friends get closer and form bonds with each other. Sitting on a stoop provides a chance for that kind of rapport. Standing around in a crowded and noisy bar trying to avoid elbows to the face doesn’t provide those opportunities. Lastly, on those warm summer nights you can watch the kids play in the street and get all those comfy feelings of nostalgia from your youth, before life got all shitty and complicated.
PYT, the burger establishment inside the Piazza at Schmidt’s in BroLibs/Faux HipsterTown reminds me of a guy I went to high school with. For a while, he was popular and well-liked, but he was kind of a dick to people. Once people started to get tired of that, he started doing outrageous things to get attention. Whether it was getting a mohawk, wearing offensive clothing, or just doing random weirdo shit, it just came off as desperate and never changed the fact that the reason why people stopped being friends with him was because he was a dick to people. PYT is that guy from high school. For a while, they were a pretty good and fun burger establishment. Then, they started getting up their own ass thinking they were the only place that could possibly serve a hamburger in Philadelphia. So, they started creating the most insane concoctions they could think of in order to get the attention of local and national media, and “foodies” (god, I hate that term). The funny thing is that almost every crazy burger that PYT comes up with follows the same formula: 1. Give it a creative name, 2. Use something besides bread for buns (lasagna, Tastykakes, hot pockets, etc.) and deep-fry it, 3. Add a burger and fixins to it, 4. Charge 12-16 dollars for it, 5. Photograph it in such a way that it doesn’t look nearly as disgusting as it actually is, 6. Sit back and suck its own dick as people in the media and people in Philly act like this isn’t the same recycled idea over and over again. PYT strikes me as desperate, and I find that off-putting.
Any place that isn’t PYT
With PYT commanding so much attention, there are so many other places in Philadelphia that serve an amazing burger for the same price (maybe cheaper!) than PYT, and don’t feel the need to resort to recycled gimmicks in the process. Sure, they like when someone gives them praise, but they don’t do things for the sake of getting people to pay attention to them. They remember what’s important: providing good, delicious food and quality service (another area where PYT struggles). Royal Tavern, 500 Degrees, Village Whiskey, Good Dog, Goat’s Hollow, the list goes on and on. Stop buying into the nonsense PYT shoves down your throat and seek out places that do a lot more with a lot less. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.
Also known as the abandoned coal pier, this place is a pretty cool place to spend a few hours. It’s nice and quiet, and it’s a pretty sweet space. That said, it’s not a great place to see dope graffiti as some believe. Most of the graffiti there is ruined by toys or just lame kids with spray-paint. Nothing that is done at the pier lives very long. While there is some good stuff there, it’s few and far between.
The graffiti in Northeast Philadelphia is not as visible as it is in other areas of the city, but it’s definitely there. If you know where to look for it, you will not be disappointed. Some of the best places to see some high-quality, dope graffiti are in Northeast Philly, provided you know where they are!
Philadelphia Eagles games
I used to love to see the Philadelphia Eagles play, both at The Vet and The Linc. However, when I sat back and thought about it, the experience wasn’t as fun anymore. It’s expensive—like, really expensive to see a NFL game. On top of that, there are so many commercial timeouts and most of your time is spent sitting in the stands bullshitting and watching the players stand around doing nothing. It says something that a lot of the NFL experience revolves around the tailgate and whether the team won or lost, with everything that occurred between those moments glossed over. I get that there is high-demand for Eagles tickets and that they charge that much because they can. I can’t get mad at that. However, football to me is more fun to watch on TV. You can flip between games, you get all the different angles and replays, and you’re not spending a ton of money either.
Philadelphia Union games
A couple years ago, my friend Becky (rest in peace) and I went to a Philadelphia Union game, and it was really fun! I’ll be honest, I don’t know anything about soccer and its rules. However, Union games are cheaper, it’s a much more intimate experience in that you get to sit closer to the action, their hardcore fans (The Sons of Ben) are really fun and entertaining to watch, and unlike football, the action is continuous. If/when a goal is scored by the hometown squad, the place goes crazy. The building of PPL Park on the waterfront in Chester at the base of the Commodore Barry Bridge has not revitalized that area like once thought. However, the Union do a lot of good for the city of Chester and it’s a really fun way to spend a night.
Let’s be real about this, the point of brunch is to eat a late-morning/early afternoon meal in the hopes of eradicating a hangover. It’s always weird to me to see people waiting outside for over an hour to get to one of the better brunch spots in the city like Green Eggs Café, for example. Back in my heavy drinking days, the last thing I wanted to do on the day of a hangover was wait around on a sidewalk for other equally hungover people to eat their food. It’s my opinion that brunch spots are overrated and over-priced considering the actual point of brunch is to help with a hangover and possibly drink more if they offer bloody marys or mimosas.
South Philly diners
I can’t say enough about how much I love the diners in South Philly. Oregon Diner, Melrose Diner, Brunic’s Luncheonette, the list goes on. Not only do these places offer equally delicious and greasy food to help with the hangover, they also offer more seating and you won’t spend as much. You won’t be able to get your alcoholic morning beverage, but do you really need to be drinking more after what you did the night prior?
Art museum stairs
I get it, they were featured in Rocky and offer one of the best views in all of Philly. That said, those stairs are not very steep and it’s something everyone has done at least once. When it comes to stairways in Philly, there are better ones to be climbed. Besides, stop going there for the damn stairs and go in to check out the art. We have one of the best art museums in the world, real shit!
Not only are the stairs that connect Manayunk to the Roxborough ridge intimidating as shit, they’re also really steep. If you want a work out, pretend you’re Rocky on those jawns.
I love a good cheesesteak from one of my favorite places, but when you think about it, a good cheesesteak can be made at home provided one buys the right ingredients. Therefore, I don’t think there is anything remarkably special about them. One just has to buy a good and crusty Italian roll (e.g. Sarcone’s), some good quality steak and some cheese.
Roast pork sandwiches
I could possibly make a roast pork sandwich at home if I tried hard enough. My mother makes excellent ones, by the way. However, it’s much more difficult than making a cheesesteak and the places that do roast pork right (e.g. John’s Roast Pork, Tony Luke’s, DiNic’s) do masterful work preparing the greens (broccoli rabe or spinach) and seasoning the pork just right so it’s sitting there in the au jus ready to be devoured. I have found good cheesesteaks everywhere—from the shadiest corner store in North Philly to a touristy establishment in Old City. A good roast pork is harder to find, and in my opinion, more delicious.
Driving in Philadelphia
Driving in Philadelphia is a nightmare. There are huge dents in the road everywhere with no cones or caution barriers set up, there are assholes double-parked everywhere, the streets are (understandably) very narrow, and no one has insurance. So, when some driver in Philadelphia has a stick up his/her ass because you’re not driving fast enough for their liking and they do something reckless—hitting your car in the process, you can pretty much count on that person not stopping to give you their insurance information because chances are they don’t have any. I couldn’t tell you how many fender-benders and side-swipes I’ve had in Philadelphia, but I could tell you how many of those people actually stopped: one, and that one person ended up just paying me $150 to fix my side mirror and NOT tell my insurance. For our friends who commute into Philadelphia every day from points outward, you already know: I-95, Route 1, I-76—all terrible.
Give SEPTA credit, they are trying to make their service better. It’ll never be as good as what’s in NYC or DC because we don’t have federal money going into our public transit like those cities do, however they have done a lot of things to try and make their services better. The app for the iPhone is fantastic and very useful. They have a whole Twitter page set up for addressing rider concerns/complaints. SEPTA has also (finally) started offering 24/7 service on the Broad Street Line and the Market-Frankford Line on weekends. Not to be forgotten, the regional rail and high speed lines cover a nice amount of ground and will get you where you need to go. People turn up their nose at SEPTA, but I think a lot of it is undeserved. Matter of fact, lets just keep it a bean. Most of the time when people bitch about SEPTA it’s because they know they should have left earlier for where they had to go, and they don’t want to accept responsibility for their own fuck up, so they blame the easy target. SEPTA saves me more headaches than it causes. My transpass is one of my most valued possessions because it gets me everywhere I need to go when driving is too much of a hassle for me to be bothered with. Kudos, SEPTA. I see you trying to improve the experiences for your riders and I appreciate that.