Hosting a very special Seinfeld quiz in a couple of weeks…on Festivus night, December 23rd. We’re going to have a ton of fun, with all Seinfeld questions, snacks such as Junior Mints and pretzels, and the guys from ComedySportz doing a Festivus improv between rounds. This is going to be the most fun holiday party you attend this year, guaranteed. For more info, go to the Facebook page. To buy tickets, click here.
What I’m enjoying: Maploco. Stumbled across this website this week. It lets you post every state you’ve ever visited. My rules for visiting: must have had a meal there and either shopped or seen a cultural attraction. Zooming through at 65 MPH doesn’t count (I’ve driven through Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, but have never “visited”.) I’ve been lucky enough to take two cross country trips in my life (humblebrag), which certainly helped knock a lot of states off the list. Of states I’ve enjoyed visiting the most, I think I’d have to say Colorado, California, and Maine. Well besides Hawaii, which is pretty much 50x better than any other state in the country.
What I’m watching: Like everyone else on earth, I’m watching the Irishman. I enjoyed it. The epilogue didn’t need to be 50 minutes, but otherwise I thought it was very good. If you’re like most people and don’t have 3.5 hours to sit down and watch a movie, I found the above breakdown quite useful. I’ve also thought Pacino was a bit overrated, but I have to say that I really enjoyed him as Hoffa. I thought Sheeran should have been played by someone younger than DeNiro but it didn’t bother me too much. And I thought Scorcese was great. This is when he’s at his best, telling a slow, sprawling story. The details were a ton of fun. You could look at the screen and tell by the fashion, furniture, etc. what year it was. That was really a highlight of the film. If you enjoyed the movie, you should ABSOLUTELY listen to our interview with George Anastasia.
What I’m Listening to:The Dropout, a podcast about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, is absolutely riveting. I watched a documentary about this, and it was actually kind of boring. But this podcast by ABC News is terrific. Just amazing what a huge scam she was running, and how many people got duped because they wanted to believe in it. In the words of Public Enemy, Don’t Believe the Hype, and it was all hype. An insane amount of it. But no product.
Random Thing I Really Like: The “upcoming shows” bulletin board at Franky Bradley’s. Just walked by it on my way to the store the other day, and really enjoyed looking at it. A well done, colorful and sexy collage.
What I’m Listening To: Philly artist Son Little has been on my radar for a little while now, and I’m thinking about checking him out next week at the World Cafe Live. Not even sure how to categorize his music. Sort of an indie/soul/R&B/ rock mix. Mostly originals (check out Alice and O Mother), but his occasional covers show off the breadth of his influences. Check out his Zeppelin cover here, and a Drake cover here. Great stuff, great voice. Been listening to it all morning.
Where I’m Eating: I tried out Chinese Restaurant (Tai Jiang) this week, and it may be the least pretentious restaurant in Philadelphia. It’s basically three small tables and a handful of stools in front of a tiny counter. The menu is a piece of paper taped to the wall. The only sound in the room was the iphone of the guy sitting behind me watching a show in Chinese. I ordered the steamed dumplings, and in literally 5 seconds they were in front of me, piping hot. And really good. Got a piping hot bowl of wonton soup too. All for $6.50. The cuisine served is from the Fujian province, and the tiny spot is reminiscent (apparently) of restaurants in Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian. I then watched this vid and learned more about Fuzhou, a place I had never known existed until this week. This is not just a “Chinese Restaurant”, it’s a portal into a place I’ll probably never get to visit. But thanks to the people running this restaurant, I’ll get to try to cuisine every bit as authentic as that served in Fuzhou. For a mere $6.50. How awesome is that?
Where I’m Shopping: Last week the fam and I took a short road trip to Media. Fun little spot to hang out in for a few hours. One of the highlights was a walk through Deals, a large general store on West State Street. Took me back to being a kid and hanging out at Connie’s Corner, the old general store in Nassawadox that shut down in the early 80s. The creaky floor, the overwhelming size of the place, the old school toys all took me back to a time when I was my son’s age. He decided to get a ball that you could mold into different shapes but which when you were done would also resort back into being a ball. He had a lot of fun with until it exploded in the car. But even the exploding ball couldn’t spoil the trip down memory lane I got by walking through Deals. Neat place.
Where I’m drinking: My son had a karate demonstration in Mount Airy last weekend, and as a fan of historic taverns, afterwards we just had to grab a quick drink down the street at McMenamin’s. (Well, my wife and I did. My son didn’t. He’s 6.) It is a refreshingly diverse bar, just as Mount Airy is a refreshingly diverse neighborhood. And the area is just far enough away from the city to lose a little bit of the city’s edge. You can feel it…people let their guard down a bit out there. Conversation spilled from table to table. Just a really warm, friendly place. I suspect it also has that homey, comfortable feel because it’s been owned by the same family since 1936. I came away feeling the same way that Danya Henninger did about the place a couple of years ago: I left McMenamin’s not just happy that I grabbed a beer, but thinking about what life would be like out there permanently.
Where I’m Eating, Part 2: This place hardly needs any more hype, everybody know how insanely good it is, but my God: the roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe at DiNic’s at Reading Terminal might be what I’d want for my last meal. I had one this week and it truly made my day. Warren Zevon famously said, “Enjoy every sandwich”, so follow his advice and go to Dinic’s. Perfection.
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Good news, gang. We’re gonna give it another shot at O’Neals, but with a new host. The Legendary WID is going to start hosting quizzo on Tuesdays at O’Neals! One of Philly’s most beloved comics will be there Tuesday at 8 pm…asking JGT questions. Starts on November 19th. Hope you can make it. Should be fun!
Wentz isn’t the first 6’5″ 235 pound QB who wore #11 to go early in the NFL Draft. There was another stud QB by the name Drew Bledsoe, and after being taken first in the 1993 draft he helped lead the Patriots back from irrelevance to perennial contender. When he got injured in 2001, the Patriots were forced to turn to an unheralded backup by the name of Tom Brady. That backup would of course lead them to the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl victory. After that win the Patriots decided to roll with the unheralded youngster, despite the fact that Bledsoe was a three time Pro Bowler and had been signed to a ten year, $105 million contract earlier in the year.
Even though Brady led them to a Super Bowl, there were some that still thought he was a nobody who had been surrounded by a good team. In fact, consensus was that he was kept and Bledsoe shipped entirely due to money (the eventual GOAT was being paid a comical $300k at the time, while Bledsoe had just signed that “franchise QB” contract).
In hindsight, there is of course no doubt that the Patriots made the right move. Brady has become, well, Brady. But at the time there were plenty who thought they should have stayed with the prototypical QB, not the guy who just won the Super Bowl. As Bob Halloran wrote right before that Super Bowl win, “I liken Brady to a sneeze guard at the salad bar. It’s functional, it serves a purpose, and seems like a great idea, but is it really necessary?”
The analogy isn’t perfect (Bledsoe was older than Wentz, and Foles is quite a bit older than Brady was at the time). But the Eagles did find themselves at a similar crossroads. Do you stick with the QB prototype, the guy you took with your early first round pick (Bledsoe was a #1 overall pick, Wentz #2)? Or do you ride with the castoff who had been doubted by everybody, who didn’t have the tools of the larger QB but who had won you a freaking Super Bowl? The Patriots surprised many when they stuck with Brady, who despite one good year did not seemed to be destined for greatness. By trading Bledsoe, they received a first round pick (they would pick Ty Warren, a starter on two more Super Bowl winners).
And so the Eagles were faced a similar decision: go with the stud they spent a bunch of draft capital on (Wentz) or the plucky journeyman WHO OH BY THE WAY WON THEM THEIR FIRST SUPER BOWL. The return for trading a guy like Wentz would have been huge. They got nothing in return for Foles. They did the safe thing. They did the thing that common sense told them to do. And in fact, the Philadelphia fan base for the most part went along with the decision. After all, until he got hurt in 2017, Wentz seemed well on his way to an MVP. He was also younger than Foles.
Wentz came back in 2018 and looked shaky, seemed a bit off his game, but the fan base attributed it to rust. Once he went down for the year and Foles came in again, the team seemed to come to life, and if not for an Alshon Jeffery drop, may have returned to the Super Bowl. Perhaps thankfully for the Eagles front office (can you imagine if Nick had led them to a second Super Bowl and then they let him walk?) Jeffery dropped that ball. It closed the door on the Nick Foles era. To add an exclamation point, the Eagles signed Wentz for $103 million (interestingly, just $2 million less than the Patriots showered on Bledsoe before dropping him) this past offseason. It was decided. It made sense.
And here we are, with a 5-5 team that can best be described as “mediocre”, with holes all over the place. That’s not all Wentz’s fault, of course. Until a few weeks ago the defense was awful, and the loss of DeSean Jackson has been devastating, as the team has zero speed at WR. Foles, meanwhile, went down to Jacksonville and somewhat ironically has now found himself as the incumbent with fans calling for the plucky upstart. So it goes in the NFL.
As that last Eagles drive fizzled out last night, thanks in part to some awful Wentz passes, I started to think about how much he reminded me of Bledsoe; same size, same contract, same top draft pick loaded with physical tools, same bittersweet feeling of holding a clipboard due to injury while a less physically gifted QB led the team to their first Super Bowl. The Patriots took the cheaper route, the road less travelled, and their return was a clutch guy with fewer physical tools but who found a way to win. The Eagles stuck with the big money guy. The Patriots made one of the best decisions in sports history. The verdict is still out on the Eagles decision, and it’s totally unfair and premature to judge it too harshly after 10 games. (And let’s be honest, there was no chance that Foles was ever going to turn into Tom Brady.)
But as I watch this team flounder on offense week after week, as leaks continue to come out saying that Eagles players liked Foles better, as I think about what the return for Wentz in a trade would have gotten us while still leaving a damn good QB behind center, as I think about how Foles seemed to play his best late in close games, I can’t help but wonder if they made the right choice.
Where I’m eating: Decided to try Middle Child this week. Got the So Long Sal. It’s an Italian hoagie, basically, and a few bucks more than your typical hoagie spot ($11.75 plus tax). But man oh man is it terrific! One of the best hoagies I’ve had in some time. Highly recommend.
What I’m Watching: Did you watch The Devil Next Door yet? If not, drop everything and watch it now! But set aside a few hours…once you start you’re not going to want to stop this one, and it’s a 5-part series. It’s about John Demyanyuk, a rather common diesel engine mechanic in Cleveland who oh by the way just might have been Ivan the Terrible, one of the most horrific Nazi monsters to ever live. The twists and turns start early, and by the end you’re like, “You couldn’t write fiction like this, because it would be too unbelievable.”
Where I’m Grabbing Coffee: The Italian Market is quite possibly my favorite “wander aimlessly” spot in the city. Sometimes I buy stuff in the market, sometimes I don’t, but there are few better places in the city to people watch. And both Gleaners and Anthony’s are perfect for people watching. Just great big windows to look out on the people who make the Italian Market such a magical place.
What I’m listening to:Marty Smith, who is a bigwig at ESPN these days, is sort of my Sam Wainwright. We were the two hotshots of sports journalism at Radford University in the late 90s, and he’s on ESPN every day while I’d like to remind you that beers are a buck off during quizzo. (Not complaining, my life is great and I’m really happy for Marty, who’s a solid dude, but I suspect most of us have a Sam Wainwright.)
Anyways, Marty hosts a regular podcast called Marty Smith’s America, and this past week he had an incredible guest on the show. Charles Csuri was an all-American at Ohio State who went off to WW2 right after graduating college. He earned the Bronze Star in the Battle of the Bulge. When he returned home, he went to work on computers, which were in their infancy. He became a game changer in that field, and is now known as the Father of Computer animation. The interview is terrific…he talks about playing football in the 40s, the horrors of war, and his work with computers. But what grabs you is that this guy, who has had such a remarkable life, is so incredibly humble. In an age of bombasity, it’s really refreshing that one of the few people who’s really DONE IT, JACK, is so refreshingly humble. Great interview.
Where I’m Drinking: On the rare occasions I’m upstairs at Tattooed Mom’s, I think, “How am I not here more often?” It’s basically everything you want when you wanna grab a drink in the city. Hip, urbane, but not pretentious. The walls are covered in graffiti, but not because it’s the “look”…it happened organically, and it changes constantly. They host art shows, raise money for charity, have great beers on tap. What’s not to love?
Who I Became a Big Fan of This Week: A local photog named Shawn X. This dude has two Philly based instagram accounts and they’re both awesome. One is called Mediumsizedports, and is essentially headshots of various Philadelphians, most of them in black and white. It’s just beautiful. His other page, Mediumsizeddeal, is mostly cityscapes. Much more colorful than the other page, and just some really terrific shots.
Where I hiked with my kid this week: Believe it or not, down by Sugarhouse…well I guess they’re calling it Rivers or whatever now. A really pretty walk by the river.
Excited to enter a new era of JGT Quizzo, as we kick off our inaugural quiz at Dock Street South (2112 Washington Avenue). Action starts tonight at 8 pm. Hope to see you there! This week’s schedule is below:
Oh-ho-ho my goodness. Looks like you've reached the home of Philadelphia's only true man of leisure, Johnny Goodtimes. On this site you'll find the results of my weekly quizzoes, I'll show you some of the strangest and most interesting spots on the web, and you can read my rants and praise for this city, the people in it, and the sports teams that play here