The Friday Five

Place I’m Loving: We’ve been spending a lot of time at Fairmount Park this summer, and it’s been WONDERFUL. Diverse crowds, everyone in a good mood, plenty of room to socially distance and let our kid run and play, that weird wonderful Philly vibe (ie random horse rides next to pickup basketball games), and so many spots have great views of the city.

What I’m Reading: One of my favorite things in the world is the rivalry between Puma and Adidas. Long story short: two brothers in a German town ran a shoe company together, they fell out during WWII, and each started his own company, with a factory on opposite sides of a river in the same town. This from a great 2009 Guardian article on the story:

The enmity has divided the town ever since, determining which pubs its 23,000 citizens drank in, the butchers they frequented, who cut their gravestone and which football team they supported.

“There was a time when you’d have risked the wrath of colleagues and family if, as an employee of one company, you married the employee of the other,” says Klaus-Peter Gäbelein of the local Heritage Association. “Even religion and politics were part of the heady mix. Puma was seen as Catholic and politically conservative, Adidas as Protestant and Social Democratic.

What I’m Listening To: Summer may be ending, but this song called Water Ice by Reef and Ethel Cee is hawwwwt. Love the piano loop. Also, if you want to support local artists by buying their music, do so on Bandcamp. They take really good care of indie artists, unlike pretty much all of the streaming platforms.

What I’m Drinking: Finally broke down and tried my first Frose on Thursday night. Went to Lou Bird’s for it. Really good. Another thing I’ve really grown to enjoy this summer: sitting under an umbrella, having a drink while it rains. Just really relaxing. Highly recommend.

Random Thing I Just Learned About: Chip turned me onto this last weekend…Bobby Darin (above) rapping about getting roughed up by cops in South Philly. Yeah it sounds insane but, but, well, that’s why I like it. The song is Me and Mr. Hohner, and it’s off the extremely funky album Songs from the Big Sur, which is a collection of songs from his two “hippie” albums, as they’re known. I did a little digging, and there’s a fascinating backstory:

“(Robert) Kennedy’s assassination left Darin deeply shaken, and combined with the emotional fallout from his divorce and the discovery that the woman he thought all his life was his sister was actually his mother — not to mention his looming anxiety over the permanent cardiac damage that had resulted from a childhood bout with rheumatic fever — it sent him into a deep existential crisis. He dealt with it by going into seclusion, moving into a 14-foot trailer in Big Sur and cutting off most lines of communication with the outside world. When he returned to Vegas, performing under the name “Bob Darin,” he’d traded in his tux and toupee for all-denim outfits and a mustache, playing a new batch of material that he was writing in Big Sur.”

The result was some great music (I encourage you to listen to the whole album) that went over poorly because crowds wanted to hear him play Splish Splash. Darin claimed to be happy and at peace, but he still needed to find work. So he called his friend Dick Clark and asked for advice. Clark told him he was going through an identity crisis. “Go back and put on the tuxedo and go to work,” Clark told him. “Do what the people expect of you.  They don’t want to see a balding hippie sitting on a stage in Las Vegas.” And so Darin put the tux back on, started doing the classic material, and would remain in demand until his ongoing heart problems slowed him down and, sadly, killed him at age 37 in 1973.