#80: Tired Philadelphia Stereotypes

I'm a sucker for click-bait. I don't deny this. But even I can only read, "BUT, SANTA CLAUS AND SNOWBALLS!" and the inevitable, "WHINE WHINE BUT THEY STABBED SOMEONE TO DEATH AT A DODGERS GAME!" so many times before I want to deactivate my Facebook account and throw my laptop into the river. People write the same two articles about Philadelphia over and over again, and it's so fucking boring. I mean really, what the fuck do I care about what some irrelevant sportswriter in Chicago or New York is saying about us? For real, if their career path has led them to whatever prestigious post includes writing about a decades-old legend (which is really all it amounts to at this point) about a snowball fight with Santy Claus, joke's on them. Yet for some reason we continue to pander to the posting of trite stereotypes, whether it be an attack on the character of the city, or an alleged tribute to its quirks.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes they get it right. Unfortunately. But usually they just write stuff like:

"Youse guys talk weird!" Are you kidding? Do you know what slang is? What about dialect? Did you know some people pronounce it Worsh-ing-ton? HOW FUCKING WEIRD IS THAT. Some languages possess dialects so varied that a speaker of one might not be able to understand the speaker of another. Within the same country. Yet "wooder" seems to be turning your brain to mush.

"Philadelphians have attitudes." Ya wanna know who's got an attitude? Entitled pricks in fancy cars who think they can say what they want. Kids whose parents don't discipline them. Pretty much everyone this side of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line has an attitude. Yankees are rude motherfuckers. Philadelphians, for some reason, are just really proud of it.

"They're obsessed with Rocky and cheesesteaks." Nope. You're mistaking us for tourists and food establishments throughout the country trying to cash in on the Philly brand.

"Sports fans blah blah blah." There are out-of-control sports fans all over the WORLD (well, maybe not in Florida). We're pussies compared to soccer fans in Brazil. But again, for some reason we are just more proud than anyone else that we are steadfast supporters of a bunch of random out-of-towners who won the genetic lottery and have an affinity for diamond stud earrings.

"Brotherly Love. Ha! So ironic!" We can thank Billy Penn for that one. I bet most non-Philadelphians (and probably some locals) don't even realize that's actually the literal translation of the name of the city. It's not our fault our founder was a dreamer, so please find a new joke.

I guess I'm not as perturbed by these perceived stereotypes as I am Philadelphians themselves buying into it all. We're the fucking birthplace of America, and people would rather we be known to the world as Home of the Tastykake. So I've decided to make my own list of Philly fun facts that I believe to be a truer account of the Philadelphia spirit.
  1. Philadelphians are really great at block parties. We may not be known for our class, but if you haven't picked up on it by now, let me tell you that doesn't seem to bother most people. Some Miller Lite, a few hot dogs, maybe an unplugged fire hydrant, and the local DJ is all a group of neighbors really needs to let loose. I think it's completely reasonable to assume there's one person on every block with a collection of POLICE sawhorses in his garage for just the occasion.

  2. Philadelphians really like union halls. And what's not to like? They're roomy, the bartenders are usually pretty heavy-handed, and should a fist fight break out at your cousin's wedding reception, you know the FOP is just around the corner.

  3. The Philadelphia Parking Authority is a piece of shit. This is one thing the media got right. They're a bunch of corrupt, incompetent, heartless bastards. I've literally never met a friendly meter maid. They all stank of that renown Philly attitude.

  4. A lot of people think Philadelphia Cream Cheese is made in Philly. WRONG. Google it. Just another instance of enterprising folks cashing in on our reputation.

  5. The Gallery sounds way fancier than it is. It's hard to say whether or not it's as bad as Walmart, but I guess at least not all Walmarts smell like urine. But mostly, the Gallery is just a gypsy bazaar masquerading as a modern mall in the bowels of Market East. Stay away.

  6. Philly girls don't mess around when it comes to their hair. In a city that's always bustling, who has time to fuss with unruly hair? A simple solution we've found - to some known as the Kensington Facelift - is to use a technique very similar to papier-mâché to adhere every last strand to your scalp for an all-day hold.

  7. There's a cop in every family. Have you ever played 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon? In Philly, we play 2 Degrees of the PPD.

  8. Despite what you might glean from most tourist pamphlets touting cheesesteaks as the local delicacy, Philadelphia is home to quite a lot of fine cuisine. We're a diverse major American city, of course we have awesome food here. But the city's best kept secret isn't something you'll find on Yelp. I'm talking about death-defying soft pretzel vendors that stand in the middle of Roosevelt Boulevard and sell them for next to nothing. I don't know if it's the extra little something from the grime on his hands, or the rush of excitement trying to complete the transaction before the light turns green, but you won't find these babies anywhere else in the world.

  9. Philadelphians never get over high school. I'll be the first to admit my four years at NAHS hold a special place in the forefront of my memory not likely to fade any time soon. In a major metropolis such as this one, resources and opportunities are so plentiful that unless you're trying to be the next break-out country star, you don't need to go far to find what you're looking for (just ask Taylor Swift). In such an intimately sized city, that means running into the same people over and over again. And it also means judging people by their alma mater way into your 20s.

  10. Most people here can't actually spell Schuylkill, don't let them fool you.

#79: When People Needlessly Turn on Red

Have I bitched about this yet? It's hard to believe it if I haven't. I think there should be a special Turn On Red permit given only to people who meet a certain standard, i.e. possess at least one fucking brain cell. The idea here is to be able to keep traffic moving if the way is clear. IF I HAD TO SLAM ON MY BRAKES TO AVOID HITTING YOU, THE WAY WAS NOT CLEAR. You do not have a green arrow. You do not have a yield sign. What you have is at best the equivalent of a stop sign. It is most aptly described as A FUCKING RED LIGHT, so fucking stop. Your green light is literally seconds away.

If you can't tell whether or not you have enough time to pull out, just don't. I'll never forget when a few years ago my friend (we'll call her Eunice) was driving us somewhere, and she had to make a right turn into traffic. There was a long line of cars followed by a gap, and behind that another line of cars on approach. The gap was just long enough to squeeze in comfortably as long as you didn't hesitate. Eunice was a little gun shy and didn't tromp on it, so she missed her chance. Except - wait a second, Eunice isn't as timid as we thought! She held her foot above the gas pedal, teetering like a little girl in a game of double dutch waiting for the perfect moment to jump in, and at the very last possible second gunned it, barely avoiding a collision with the oncoming herd. Facepalm City. (I'd also like to state for the record, I think Eunice is really pretty and smart and funny and has great fashion sense and makes bangin' scrambled eggs. Oh and sorry I threw a shoe at you that one time.)

I understand better than most the urge to strike while the iron is hot to avoid getting stuck behind a slowpoke. However the majority of the time, I am the only other car on the road when someone makes the brilliant decision to pop out in front of me and then won't even do the speed limit. SERIOUSLY? It makes me feel like my entire body is going to explode, and I have to force myself to imagine that a 90-year-old lady is behind the wheel to keep the road rage at bay.

Surely not everyone's got the moxie of a race car driver, but you're not merging on to a highway here, folks. Just remove all judgement from the picture and wait your fucking turn. At least think about it? Thanks.

p.s. Love you, Eunice. Glad we made it out alive that day.

#78: When People Bitch That Radio Stations Start Playing Christmas Music Too Early

Yo, I think Black Friday is a skid mark on the cultural portrait of America, and my love for Christmastime notwithstanding, I believe the holiday as we know it is pretty much meaningless. Yadayada Jesus, blah blah giving spirit, whatever it means to you doesn't hold a candle to the sleeper hold consumerism has on the world this time of year. But I'll be damned if a little Christmas music doesn't put an instant pep in my step, regardless of what month we're in.

Wah wah, they play the same songs over and over! Since when is that a new trend? Q102's playlist is 10 songs long and they get away with that all year long. Are you really telling me a little Christmas music overload is any worse than finding a Justin Bieber song on three stations at the same time?

Not to mention, a lot of contemporary holiday music is secular and has fuck all to do with Christmas. If you really break it down, most of the songs are about wishing you had someone to screw in front of a fireplace. That shit applies year round. All they do is add jingle bells to pop songs and call it 'Christmas music.'

That said, Christmas music might be my favorite genre of music, period. Some of my favorite songs are Christmas tunes, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how stupid it is to limit their playtime to the month of December. Movies like Christmas Vacation and Home Alone are fun to watch during any season. Because they're hilarious. Because they're classic. Miracle on 34th Street was released in MAY. Is it so ludicrous that someone might want to listen to a catchy Christmas song in November? I think not.

I'll concede that there is a lot of terrible stuff hitting the airwaves this month. I personally wish there was a way to completely erase "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" from existence, and I know a lot of people who'd rather be deaf than be forced to listen to "Christmas Shoes" or another cover of "Last Christmas." No doubt about it, there are some stinkers. But that is not a phenomenon limited to the holiday genre.

And before you get all 'but not everyone celebrates Christmas!' I'd like to remind everyone that "White Christmas" happens to be one of the best-selling singles of all time (and was written by a Jewish bro no less). Music transcends religion, and if you don't believe that I hope you drop your iPod into a sewer grate.

People that enjoy Christmas music do so for the artistic merit as well as the warm fuzzies associated with the season. Toy drives. Hot chocolate. Snow days. Is it so bad to want those things at Halloween? Or at the beach in August? We should feed the needy and spoil the orphaned 365 days a year. It's your own fault if you've let greedy retailers ruin this time of year for you. Grow your fucking hearts a little and pour some more rum into your egg nog. Or maybe you should just think about finding someone to nail you by the fireplace.

Here's a little something for all you grinches as we kick off the 'official' season. Enjoy!

#77: When Couples Fight In Front of You

Well, let me back up - because to be honest, when it's strangers in public, it's kind of awesome. It's like having front row seats to Springer. If I'm not blatantly staring, I'm at least getting as close as possible to make sure I hear everything.

But back on point, I believe there is a special place in hell reserved specifically for people who fight with their significant others while in the company of friends/family/coworkers/really anyone that can't pretend they don't know them.

Way to be a dick. Really, thank you for making me incredibly uncomfortable. I guess I'll just sip my beer and play a round of Candy Crush while I wait for you to settle your quarrel. Because yeah, that's totally why I came out tonight. Fuck good company and fun times. This is WAY better.

Sometimes you can flee to the bar or bathroom, or try to force awkward conversation with another innocent bystander, but usually you're not so lucky and find yourself trapped alone with them at a dinner table or in a car with no escape. But don't worry - you will soon find that sweet release when you are suffocated by the girth of the enormous elephant that wasn't exactly designed to fit into confined spaces.


Honestly, aren't you embarrassed? Are you 5? You really can't wait until you get back to the car to have it out? You're so inconsiderate that you don't think twice about subjecting those around you to your inane bickering? I am not the cause of your marital strife, so I shouldn't have to endure the same bullshit you're putting each other through right now.


#76: The Lame Way in Which A Cappella is Represented to the Internets/10 Signs You're an A Cappella Has-Been

Recently, a cappella has been thrust into the limelight after spending most of its existence on the fringe of conventional collegiate pastimes, naught but a novelty to those aware of its presence. I believe we can attribute a cappella's exponential rise in mainstream popularity mostly, if not wholly, to Glee. That show was every a cappella singer's wet dream come true. "Oh my god! That's me! I do that!" Well, sorta. Add lots of beautiful people to incredible productions and now 'everyone' loves a cappella. Well, sorta.

Since the show's inception, a slew of a cappella inspired projects followed, and what's developed is this bubbly superficial image of Greek-life-meets-theater that has swallowed what's left of the drunken, inappropriate, nerdy collegiate subculture. I recently read this aca-article and almost fell asleep in the middle of it. It was a trite, humorless, and inaccurate representation of an activity that consumed 50% of the time I should have spent studying.

I joined my a cappella group almost a decade ago, before it was cool (how hipster of me), and so I wanted to add my own authentic take in hopes of providing some real insight. I now offer what I believe to be a more relatable account for us aca-pioneers. Stand strong, and remember your syllables.

10 Signs You're an A Cappella Has-Been:
1.) Sometimes a song will come on the radio that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. And no, I'm not talking about Cher. I'm talking about that song you sang for four semesters because you needed to fluff your repertoire. The arrangement was wicked boring and should probably have never been covered a cappella. By the 400th performance, everyone hated it so much that it sounded like shit, even though we knew it so well we could probably sing it backwards. Hearing it today induces a migraine and you can't change the station fast enough. 
2.) You saw Pitch Perfect and were like, "Ugh, it wasn't like that at allllll," throughout the entire film, but you still loved the movie and wished it was like that. 
3.) You can hardly bear to watch The Sing-Off because of the crippling envy welling up inside of you. And anyway, who the fuck are all these old people? A cappella is best left to the co-eds. Didn't these producers learn anything from Facebook?
4.) Seriously. Just about overnight, the quality and accessibility of recording technology improved like billionty-fold. These kids can record the whole damn concert in HD on their fucking iPhones and have it uploaded to Youtube before the after party. In our day, sometimes someone was lucky enough to get a 60-second clip of singing so muffled it sounded like they were at a rock concert in a huge arena before the battery on their digital camera died (LOL remember when people still had those?). Literally like a year later this all changed. WTF. 
5.) You fight with yourself over whether or not you should try to start your own group now, but then you're like, "It was hard enough to get people to attend concerts when they only had to walk four blocks to get there and knew there'd be an after party where they were bound to hook up. What could I possibly offer them now?" 
6.) Ugh. Glee. Such bittersweet feelings. You are so awesome, but you're not quite a cappella. And now there's a whole generation of college students that think you are. 
7.) You can't decide if you love or hate all those one-man a cappella groups on Youtube. But you watch every single one. 
8.) You never stopped arranging music for this imaginary group that you think will use it someday. But hey, without anyone else's opinion to worry about now, you're free to arrange all those obscure '80s songs your fellow members would veto back in the day.  
9.) You can't decide if you're thrilled or annoyed when the current crop at your alma mater sounds awesome. I mean shit, you leave the group, and they don't fall apart. The FUCK. 
10.) You watch videos of your old performances, and you're just like, "Man, this was the shit. Some people will just never get it." We were the fucking Illuminati of student orgs.