Philly Rocks

1 08 2016

philly

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” ~ William Penn (Founder of Philadelphia)

balloonsI saw a great story on the local news. The piece was about the beginning of the massive cleanup following the Democratic convention, held here in Philadelphia last week. An aside in the story was this unnamed worker popping thousands of balloons that had dropped from the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center just hours before. It was funny, but brought to mind the huge multitude of things that had to be done right to make this event a success in my city.

I remember last year when Pope Francis was climbing the steps of his plane, getting ready to leave after his short visit here. He turned and waved at the top of the steps, then entered the plane. When the door closed I had a good feeling about his time in my city. I also felt a palpable sense of relief… that everyone was safe and that my city represented itself very positively.

Philadelphia has a somewhat not-so-glorious reputation… mostly due to passion for our local sports teams based on decades old stories highlighting the actions of a few assholes. That same percentage of ass-holiness exists in other cities, but the stories seem to linger in the perception of our city. Seriously, if another SportsCenter anchorperson talks about us throwing snowballs as Santa, I may throw a lamp at my TV. (Inner monologue is noting the irony, “Your not making your case, John…”)

LOVEBut Philadelphia was named, founded and designed by William Penn. The name he gave his city combined the Greek words for love (phileo) and brother (adelphos), and gave us this enduring nickname: the City of Brotherly Love. And honestly… I have felt that here my entire life. Yes… we have had our issues: race riots and the MOVE fires, organized crime, etc… but no more than anywhere else in the world.

Last week the media was highlighting more negatives than positives, but that drives their ratings. They also grabbed the cliche stories… Rocky, pretzels and cheesesteaks, or Bill Cosby were shown ad nauseum! Credit was repeatedly given to the convention organizers, the current and former mayor and staffs, and other muckety-mucks. But I took pride in my fellow citizens who welcomed visitors, our shops and fantastic restaurants that served them, and our awesome police force that protected everyone. Just like the Papal visit, I had an overwhelming sense of relief when the DNC ended. I have many friends who are police officers and I was so grateful that they all came home safe, and represented us so well. Even if we don’t agree with the positions of a party, the reasons for a protest, or inflammatory rhetoric… the Philly people who serve will defend those rights and positions, and dedicate themselves to their safety.

All the best of the best… even the balloon buster. It’s in our DNA… the people of Philadelphia embrace the thoughts of brotherly love, liberty and freedom more than any other city.

Because it all started here, bitches! DROPS MIC!

“And I may leave this place tomorrow, but my soul is here to stay. In the town that rocked the nation, Philadelphia, PA!” ~ Beat-up Guitar by The Hooters (Philly’s Own)

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B-Musings – Simple Minds Edition

30 12 2014

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  And a small homage to 80’s New Wave in my last post of 2014.

DoryDon’t You (Forget About Me) – On March 8th of this year, a Boeing 777-200ER airplane carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared without a trace less than an hour after take-off from Kuala Lampur International Airport in Malaysia. Ten months later, investigators still have no clue where the plane could be or what happened. It is stunning that, given the technology we possess, a 209 foot long aircraft weighing over 304,000 pounds cannot be found. More stunning is that the entire incident is gone from our minds. Be honest!! You had completely forgotten until the AirAsia flight did the same disappearing act earlier this week.

It’s a misconception that “you can never have too much of a good thing”. The continual bombardment of information and media is finally causing sensory overload! I guess we have too many other things to think and talk about – work, family, racial unrest, the sad state of your favorite sports teams, or last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Boise.

Are we at cranial capacity? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” But don’t worry… I googled the words “information” and “overload”, and found thousands of websites!

Eagles-fans-paper-bagsGlittering Prize – Speaking of the sad state of sports… CODE BLUE, PHILADELPHIA!! Get the paddles out!! The Phillies are beginning a garage sale, the Flyers are the poster boys for inconsistency, the Sixers are in the dumper, and my Union is starting over for the third time in five years. It’s clear now that hopes for Eagles success is a mirage – Damn you, Chip Kelly for getting our hopes up with your dynamic offense!

So it will be a long wait for a trophy in Philly, fair weather fans. My hat is doffed to those that don’t jump off the bandwagon, supporting their teams in good times and bad. You few, you know who you are…

Alive and Kicking – Speaking of the Real Housewives… has television ever been better? (You may need to take a few minutes to recover from that sentence… but stay with me.) I watch a lot of TV, but I only have a few shows that I watch regularly. Most of my viewing time is spent on sports, soccer in particular. Lately, I’ve been checking out new programs recommended by friends… State of Affairs, Madame Secretary, House of Cards and others. Because of a recent deal with the devil (*cough* Comcast) I now have HBO and Showtime. So I’ve been binge watching some shows over the holidays – Homeland, True Detective, Silicon Valley, etc. This got me thinking about the quality of television these days. Again I ask… has television ever been better? I can’t remember a time when there were so many outstanding programs to choose from – more than anyone has time to watch.

TVYinYangBut Lucy and Ricky can relax… it’s not exactly the Golden Age of Television revisited. The yin to this yang resides in places like the Bravo network, and with the Kardashians, the Real Housewives franchises and the bottom feeding Honey Boo Boo! It was recently pointed out to me that mindless programs are sometimes needed in this world. After a tough day of work and the minute to minute inundation of information, it may be therapeutic to switch off and watch Bruce Jenner spiralling towards womanhood. And after two minutes of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I do feel sooooo much better about myself.

The Chinese philosophy of opposite forces actually being complimentary may apply – like light causing shadows to exist. Is television excellence is balanced by shit reality programming? I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Sanctify Yourself – Speaking of unrest… I was sitting in my office early this morning playing shuffled songs from my iTunes list. “Sanctify Yourself” by the Simple Minds came on, and listening to the lyrics inspired me and helped add some much-needed order to this blog post. The 1985 song is about taking responsibility for your actions, and being positive in the things you put forth into the world.

What a fine message, given what is going on in our world today…

“Is this the age of the thunder and rage?
Can you feel the ground move ’round your feet?
If you take one step closer, it’ll lead to another.
The crossroad above is where we meet.
I shout out for shelter, I need you for something.
The whole world is out, they’re all on the street.
Control yourself, love is all you need.
Control yourself, in your eyes.
Sanctify yourself!”

Sanctify each other in 2015. Happy New Year to all… Peace and Love. Enjoy the music…

 





Uno Love

20 06 2014

Franklin-Mills-email_sliced_01

Prepare thyself for a rambling, pointless blog post…

I live near Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, a very large shopping establishment that was originally billed as an outlet location when it opened in 1989. The mall has space for 200 stores inside with big anchors like Dave and Busters, JC Penney, Burlington Coat Factory, and a brand spanking new Super Walmart is coming soon. (That is way too many adjectives to describe a Walmart!)

There are several stand alone eateries on the property – all the fast food places are represented, and if you strategically position yourself you can see three Chinese buffets.  One constant since the beginning was Pizzeria Uno.

I could never figure out how Uno survived all of these years. One could walk in at any time and never have to wait for a table, and the place was virtually deserted by 9:00pm on weekends. It must have been something about the location, tucked all the way in the corner of the property, way off the beaten track. But Uno’s was a solid choice for food and drink, and it was always good to get in and out so quickly. Plus they have a great bar!

20120721-105830So I was sad today when I got an email telling me that the Franklin Mills Uno had closed. Yes… I’m on the mailing list… pathetic! I usually don’t get sentimental about things like this, but for some reason I am. Lots of kids in the neighborhood got their first jobs at Uno’s. It was always a good spot for lunch or drinks. I took my kids there many times, and had quite a few after work cocktails and laughs.

The email just said they closed. I guess they had a 25 year lease, and I can’t imagine they made any money here. The email suggested that I go to the Neshaminy Mall location… screw that!!

Anyway… to the good times.

I’m done rambling now. Have a great weekend, my friends,





B-Musings – Don’t Eat Yellow Snow Edition

24 03 2014

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  Why?  Because I can, and I have a blog!

michael-vick-jury“V” Is For Vicious – Michael Vick is leaving Philadelphia in the same manner in which he arrived… Quietly, with humility and class. Before all of the animal lovers start fashioning a noose in my neck size, I submit that I understand what he did was horrendous. But my position has always been to forgive because he paid his debt to society, and since his release has worked hard to raise awareness for animal rights and many other great causes.

I’ve never understood the vicious attacks by some people. I’ve wondered why they have such passion to protect animals, and be so willing to forgive and forget transgressions – or crimes – committed against humans by so many professional athletes. Yep… I’m talking to you – Kobe Bryant, PacMan Jones, Ben Roethlisberger… You too, Riley Cooper.

I will say without embarrassment… I’m a Mike Vick fan, and not for what he does on the field.

Lost – It looks like the fate of Malaysian Flight 370 is clear… it crashed in the Indian Ocean and there are no survivors. It’s stunning to many that it has taken over two weeks to make that determination. Still, after all this time the cause remains a mystery – possibilities including terrorism, sabotage, catastrophic mechanical failure or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.

Two things puzzle me… I’ve been more than slightly amused at the people who were envisioning a “Lost” scenario, that maybe something supernatural was at play. I’m sure today is extremely disappointing for those folks! And I find it interesting that the advanced technology we possess was completely useless. How can a 777 jet fly so long and far undetected, and then just disappear? I think that will be the bigger question for the coming months and years.

Most importantly, the news is relief for the families, but I can’t imagine they were still hopeful. Prayers for their loss.

vampire-lestatWelcome Back, Lestat – In 1976 I read “Interview With The Vampire” by Anne Rice, the book that introduced the character of Lestat de Lioncourt. I proceeded to devour the sequels, and I’m sure that dog-eared copies are in a box somewhere in my house. Those books fascinated me because they were the first to treat the vampire as sympathetic character, not necessarily dark and evil. After the “Vampire Chronicles”, Rice went off in many directions… witchcraft, mummies, Christianity, etc. She even revisited erotic novels written under a different name. But she never achieved the success that the vampire genre gave her.

I’ve always liked Anne Rice. She is opinionated, outspoken and fearless. In 2012 – oddly enough, on Valentine’s Day – I was privileged to see in her talk about her career and her latest book “The Wolf Gift”. (A great read, by the way…) The event was fantastic. Rice was engaging, answering audience questions, and clearly grateful for the success she has realized and for the fans who adore her. She was very complimentary of the recent interpretation of vampires by Stephanie Meyer and Charlaine Harris, and happy that these “new” vampires keep the genre alive.

When she announced on Facebook last week that her next book will be “Prince Lestat” I was thrilled! I’m looking forward to crawling back into the plush world that she consistently creates around her rich characters. Simply put, I can’t wait.

“I was the vampire Lestat again. I was back in action. New Orleans was once again my hunting ground.” Bon appetite…

Snow Love – I’m sure that all of my Philadelphia neighbors and friends are pooping their pants about another snow storm gracing us this week. I just came across this fun fact: The most snow ever recorded in a 24 hour period in the USA occurred at Silver Lake, Colorado in 1921 and was 76 inches of snow.

We’ve gotten about 55 inches this entire winter. So quit yer bitchin’!

As usual, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave me a comment, or click on the links to the ASPCA…





It’s Time To Ban Fighting In Hockey

20 01 2014

hanson_brothers“I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Rule 46.1 of the Official Rules of the National Hockey League states, “A fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the Linesmen to intervene and separate the combatants.”

Wow… That’s six pages of the rule book – close to 2,500 words – to address fighting… three times more space than any other subject.  Just think of the trees that would be saved if the rule was reduced to two words – NO FIGHTING.

I used to be a tremendous hockey fan. I watched it, played it, lived and breathed it. I remember fondly the glory years of my Philadelphia Flyers in the early seventies, and I still revere those players and teams. I went to as many games as I could, and even went in on season tickets with some friends for a few years. If my 54 year old knees could take the motion, I would love to lace up the skates just one more time. The sport of hockey is one of the best in the world, and the speed and talent of the players right now is the best it’s ever been.

Last Saturday night, the Flyers were locked in a classic back and forth struggle with the Islanders. I was glad to be watching a great contest, marred only by a few fights that benefitted neither team and played no part in the outcome of the game. Later that night I was treated to video “highlights” of a game in Vancouver, where every player on the ice began to fight as soon as the puck was dropped to start the game. It was a sickening display, with players and coaches showing the complete lack of respect they have for the game and the fans – and each other. The event proved once again why hockey will continue to be a minor sport in the landscape.

I’ve had many conversations on this topic and have listened to all of the arguments, like “fighting exists to police the game.” The off-kilter logic is that if you take fighting out the frequency of cheap shots levelled against skilled players will increase. College hockey is the perfect argument against this belief… it’s a great product with hard, clean hitting. Like other contact sports it can get a little chippy, but there is no evidence to support the increase in cheap shots because the players can’t fight.

The best argument against fighting in the NHL is – ironically – the Stanley Cup playoffs. With so much on the line, fighting completely disappears in the playoffs. Coincidently, the team “goons” also disappear during the postseason. What’s left is possibly the greatest sporting event in the world… high pressure, high talent, high skill hockey. Isn’t it logical that without fighting and the “enforcers” needed to be the policeman, each team would be full of skill players? What a game that would be…

1381928743000-boyle-stretcherAll major sports in the world are looking at reducing injuries, especially to the head. Concussions are a big conversation in every league, including the NHL. Hockey helmets are better and safer, and mouth guards are specifically designed to help reduce concussions. Does it make sense that after all of these safeguards, players are allowed to punch each other in the head? Maybe an NFL type lawsuit or two will get someone to think about a connection between fighting and head injuries.

If the NHL bans fighting, it will still exist just like in other sports. Maybe more in hockey. But the game will be better. I think that it’s only a matter of time before that happens, and I hope it isn’t because of a major injury.

Some people say they like the games because of the fights. I’ll submit that those same people will still love the game without the fighting. They’ll probably love it even more.





Investment Advice

1 07 2013

17 - 2002 NFC - Buccaneers @ Eagles“If you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down.” ~ Gin Blossoms

Simply put, I’m a big sports fan.   Soccer is my passion, but I still love all of my Philly teams – Iggles, Flyboys, Phightins, and even the Sixers.  Well… Maybe not the Sixers.

I’m no expert, but I have a very good knowledge and understanding of major American sports, plus a working ESPN grasp of the not-so-major sports as well.  For example, when the mood strikes I…

  • … sometimes stay up late and watch Australian Rules Football. G’Day!!
  • … had a great time at Parx Derby Day in 2012.
  • … watch college baseball.  Mostly because I like to hear the aluminum bats pinging.
  • … want to learn about cricket.  I see it on Sky Sports (English SportsCenter), and would love to understand the rules.  It’s one of those sports where I say, “Shit… I could do that!”

I still love my Philly teams, but I don’t have that all-consuming fire anymore.  Not so many years ago I was living and dying by game results and playoff wins and losses.  Success gave me satisfaction, but defeats made me moody.  As the years went by, the ups and downs became too extreme.  Everything changed on Sunday, January 19, 2003, when Ronde Barber intercepted Donovan McNabb pass, and ran it back for a 92-yard touchdown interception return to clinch a Super Bowl trip for the Buccaneers.  That precise moment… over 66,000 people at Veterans Stadium and millions of fans watching at home had their hearts broken.  Including me, in my living room, decked out in my Eagles green.

This was definitely our year.  The best Eagles team, destined to win the Super Bowl.  It was a given.  Hmmm… not so much.  I was down for weeks.  F#%&in’ Ronde Barber!!  To this day, I still shudder when I see the video of that play.  But after a few weeks of surliness, I had a realization.  This consuming investment in my beloved sports teams had to stop.  It wasn’t going to get any better, because my team was not going to win every game every year.  I decided then that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t do it anymore.

A similar epiphany happened about 15 years earlier, when I realized that I was not going to be a great golfer.  After a particularly sad chip shot, I threw my club into a tree.  Because obviously, the club was faulty!!  When It came down to earth in two pieces I realized that I might be missing the better part of the golf experience… fun.  I gave up my ambitions of the PGA Tour after that incident.

Today, there are just too many games in sports to sustain meaningful fan support.  NFL owners want the expand the schedule, the Stanley Cup playoffs make the regular season meaningless, and don’t even get me started about the close to 200 hundred games World Series participants could play in one year.  Soccer isn’t immune, with plenty of extra tournaments for club and country.

In soccer, any team can beat any other team, on any day. Whatever the level, top tier versus semipro. That was never more evident than this year, with a giant killing in the FA Cup final. If the unthinkable happens the supporters may cry and curse, but recover quickly… because there is another game coming up fast, and the team needs them.

I love soccer, and regret that I discovered it so late in life.  One of the reasons I’ve embraced the beautiful game is the supporters culture.  I can hear you haters out there, revving up your hooligan stories.  I’ll stipulate that these idiots do exist, but in no greater percentage than in any other sport.

sons-of-benI’m a member of the Sons of Ben, the organization that supports the Philadelphia Union.  I take pride in what the group stands for… support the team.  No matter what.  From the SoB Code of Conduct… “Sons of Ben are in the stadium to support the Union. If you’re here to support the team, you’re welcome in the Sons of Ben. If you’re here to make trouble for yourself or for the fans around you, you aren’t welcome.”  And obey the four rules… Don’t be a Racist.  Don’t Be a Thug.  Don’t Be an Idiot.  DO Support the Team.  Simple as that.  I like it.

Sure, I’m gutted if the Union lose a match.  Or if Manchester United loses.  Or if the USA National team loses.  Or the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies… even the Sixers.  I’m bitching and booing loud, because it’s my right.  But the next day I’m over it.  I’m up and ready, and psyched for the next opportunity to support MY team.  For them, not against them.  It’s my thing.

Because I’m a sports fan.

**** Sons of Ben photo courtesy of SonsofBenMovie.com.  Click on the picture to see a larger version… I’m in the back right corner!  Ronde Barber photo courtesy of Satan and his minions.