Every Friday, I share local places I’ve eaten, great things I’ve read, the best watering holes I’ve visited and great local music I’ve been listening to. Sign up for the JGT mailing list to get them direct to your inbox. In the meantime, check out a couple of this week’s five below.Continue reading “Friday Five: February 12, 2021”
Every Friday, I share local places I’ve eaten, great things I’ve read, the best watering holes I’ve visited and great local music I’ve been listening to. Sign up for the JGT mailing list to get them direct to your inbox. In the meantime, check out a couple of this week’s five below.
Where I’m Eating This Week: I’ve told you before that we ride or die with Xiandu Thai, but we decided to broaden our horizons this past week with JJ Thai on 20th and Chestnut. It was a damn good call. Delicious dumplings, rockin’ red curry, and poppin’ Pad Thai. Yeah “poppin” was a bit of a stretch to make the alliteraion work. I KNOW. But seriously, these guys are great. Highly recommend.
What I’m Watching This Week: The Challenger exploding was, for people my age, the end of our innocence. It was a horrifying episode where our worlds turned upside down. Challenger: The Final Flight gives us the backstory of that ill-fated voyage. How NASA had recently gotten much more diverse, how they added a teacher because they needed to improve their PR, and most consequently, how a late night phone call sealed the shuttle’s fate. It’s a heartbreaking look at an American tragedy the impact of which can only be compared, in my mind, to 9/11. Well worth a watch.
What I’m Listening To: I really can’t get enough of Griselda these days. The Buffalo group of Bennie the Butcher, Conway the Machine, and Westside Gunn brings a 1990s Wu-Tang griminess to hip-hop that’s been missing. Conway recently did an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The second song has a few bars about George Floyd that are particularly poignant:
I just saw a video on the news I couldn’t believe
Another racist cop kill a n***a and get to leave
He’s screaming “I can’t breath!” cop ignoring all his pleas
Hands in his pocket leaning on his neck with his knees
Cracker invent the laws that’s why the system is flawed
Cops kill black people on camera and don’t get charged
We ain’t taking no more and we ain’t just pressing record
Can’t watch you kill my brother, you gonna have to kill us all
What I’m Reading This Week: Did you realize that two members of ZZ Topp more or less started as members of a fake Zombies band? In other words, promoters acted as if the band was the Zombies, a British prog rock band. In fact it was a bogus band, a few kids from Texas that learned to play Zombies songs and then pretended they were British. Quizzo player Tiffany alerted me to this one. It’s a bizarre story.
What Interesting Person I Met This Week: This week I had the opportunity to chat with author Yaron Weitzman, who recently wrote a book about the Sixers “Process” called Tanking to the Top. Really fun to talk about the Process, because as we’re living through it there’s all these crazy things happening, but it’s really not until now that I think we can look back and say, “Holy shit! That was INSANE!” From Hinkie to Markelle Fultz to Burnergate, Yaron got the inside scoop on all of it, and Reef and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him about it. Oh, and remember: shop Shibe, and take 15% off with checkout code “quizzo”.
Alright if you’ve got any suggestions for what I should eat, drink, listen to, or watch, shoot me a line on twitter (you can also see where I’ve been retweeting the funniest tweets like crazy after Trump got COVID). And be sure to join the JGT Quizzo page on Facebook as well. See ya soon!
What I’m Watching: As I told my teams this week, I went deep down a Milli Vanilli wormhole recently, and the highlight of it was this interview that Fab Morvan did a couple of years ago with VladTV. I distinctly remember this as a kid, I mean this story was HUGE. I feel like it was the biggest story between the Challenger exploding and OJ going on the run, that’s how big it was. And Fab and Rob got completely dumped on, and were totally unfairly scapegoated, and the people behind the scenes got away scot free. Rob sadly never recovered. He spiraled into a full blown drug addict and died in 1998. Fab seems like a really chill dude. I’m damn impressed with how he overcame becoming a joke and emerged with his dignity intact. You can follow Fab on Instagram here.
What I’m Listening to: I started listening to some German pop this past week (why not?) and really ended up digging this German rapper/singer named Julian Philipp David, better known as JPD. Reminds me of a German Mac Miller. Check out his song Elena and his song Kapital. I have NO CLUE what he’s saying but that’s the magic of music: good tunes are good tunes. Period. And these sound great.
What Else I’m Listening To: We travel from Germany to Camden, and had the honor of chatting with local trumpeter Arnetta Johnson. She talked to us about going from Camden to Berklee, about performing at halftime of the Super Bowl with Beyonce (!), and how the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have influenced her playing. As for her music, she calls what she does “disruptive jazz”. You can hear some of it here. And if you’re reading this on Friday, you can see and her tonight at the Philly Music Festival.
Awesome Place I Apparently Helped “Burglarize” This Week: As you guys know, we’ve raised a lot of money for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign since March. Cheri Honkala is an absolute boss, and she keeps hundreds of people from starving, and keeps a roof over the heads of so many of the city’s families. She’s also a royal pain in City Hall’s ass. This is from a 1997 article in City Limits:
After the city spent millions to build a new convention center next door to a soup kitchen, Cheri led a group of homeless welfare recipients who bedded down for the night on the center’s polished marble floors, Later, she and a gang of homeless people camped out a city housing official’s front lawn. That same year, Cheri issued an arrest warrant for the governor, saying he had committed crimes against the poor. And just recently Cheri had been seen chasing the mayor down a City Hall corridor, engaging him in a rousing shouting match as press photographers snapped away.
Needless to say, the Powers That Be hate her. They proved that once again last Sunday. A small gathering at St Edward’s Church, owned by a shell corp that owes over $89k in back taxes, resulted in Cheri being arrested and charged with two felonies, including “Burglary” which is of course laughable. It’s an abandoned church. What was she going to steal? Pews? You can read about this nonsense here. Great piece by Max Marin. Speaking of which, Billy Penn does a great daily newsletter that I highly suggest everyone read (unlike the pitiful joke that the Inky newsletter is).
Where I’m Shopping: Went for a run one day and stumbled across this amazing thrift/art store in Brewerytown, Search and Rescue Dry Goods. There are few things I like better than thrift stores that follow no rhyme or reason, just an owner who has an eye for…cool shit. And this is one of them. Highly recommend checking it out. 3101 West Glenwood.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO: We interviewed Greg Seltzer for the Philly Blunt this week. Great interview, super interesting dude. In addition to being a lawyer at Ballard Spahr, he and his wife run the Philly Music Fest. Needless to say, this year it will be virtual.
Greg’s an audiophile, so he refused to do the event if it wasn’t going to sound first class. The guys over at Ardmore Music Hall agreed. And the lineup is great. I had heard of a few (Mt. Joy, Clap Your Hands, The Districts) but I had never heard Langhorne Slim. Man, was I missing out. Hailing from Bucks County, this dude is FANTASTIC. Been listening to songs like this nonstop for the last 24 hours. Just bought one of his albums off of Bandcamp (which as I told you guys before does much better by the artists than streaming platforms). Looking forward to checking out more of his music, and really excited to tune into the Music Fest next week. Now more than ever, folks, support local artists!
WHAT I’M WATCHING: Watched two documentaries this week on Netflix, and I definitely recommend both. One is Capital in the 21st Century, based on a book by Thomas Piketty. It basically argues that if we don’t revamp our version of capitalism to one that aids more people than just the top 1%, we’re headed for a period of non-stop strife and revolution. Heavy stuff. It also dovetailed nicely with the other doc I watched, the Social Dilemma. Holy shit, it’s amazing how terrible Facebook, Google, and Twitter are for our society. I kind of knew that in an abstract sense but this really points out exactly why. It’s another example of simply not being able to afford to continue on our current course.
WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK AT QUIZZO: That a member of one of our quizzo teams has a Hanson tattoo. We will not be divulging any more information about the team or player, but we do ask that you keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK: Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago today, and this Daily mail article from last month is worth a read. Somewhat sensationalistic, but it really sounds like Jimi’s friends were more worried about being caught with drugs than they were about him dying. But on this anniversary of his death, let’s celebrate his life too. Here’s a funky jam on the Dick Cavett Show. One of our foremost geniuses of the 20th century. Just sucks that we lost him so young.
WHERE I’M EATING THIS WEEK: Chip Chantry turned me on to this Indonesian restaurant, Jembatan 5, near the Italian Market. Two things you GOTTA get: the coconut shrimp and the stir fried flat noodle. Absolutely fantastic. Highly recommend. And the prices are extremely reasonable. Owned by a family that moved here from Jakarta over 20 years ago. Now more than ever, folks: support local restaurants.
Where should I eat, drink, read and listen to in the coming week? Let me know on twitter.
Where I’m eating: Goldie. I lost a little piece of my heart when Mama’s Vegetarian closed. Their falafel was fantastic, and the place had that kind of authentic vibe that some places can just create without an interior designer or “theme”. So I put it out on twitter yesterday: where should I get falafel this week? Ryan Godfrey on twitter said Goldie. Great call, the falafel was delicious. And now everyone is telling me I gotta go back for the tehina shake.
What I’m Listening to: American Scandal, a podcast about John D. Rockefeller and the remarkable woman who helped destroy his empire, Ida Tarbell. Also remarkable (and kind of depressing) that I remembered learning plenty about Rockefeller growing up, but never learning anything about the trailblazing woman who had the guts to face off with the most powerful man in America.
What I’m Watching: Tread. It’s a documentary on Netflix about a welder in Colorado who absolutely lost his shit, built an insane tank/bulldozer, and started destroying his entire town. It’s starts pretty slow, but boy does it pick up down the stretch.
What I’m Reading: Every year on 9/11, I read the same thing: this story by Michael Wright of being on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center, and his miraculous escape. I read it every year, and it never stops being one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read. Heartbreaking, horrifying, and inspiring all at once.
What Town I’m Digging: Took a quick trip up to Clinton, NJ last weekend (about 90 minutes north of Philly). Cute little downtown, and wandered around the famous Red Mill there. Came around a corner, and boom! There was a band playing one of my favorite songs, Dublin Blues by Guy Clark, with a spectacular backdrop. Having not really heard live music since March, it hit me like a cool summer breeze. Sat (socially distanced of course), drank some wine, and listened to some damn good music provided by AJ Croix and the Devil’s Right Hand Band.
Where should I eat and drink this coming week? What should I read/watch/listen to? Let me know on twitter.
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.
Skyline View I Love: It just doesn’t get any better than the view from Matthias Baldwin Park. Just a perfect, unobstructed view of our awesome skyline.
Organization I’m Excited About: There’s such a torrent of bad news coming at us these days, it’s easy to overlook the tons of good that is going on as well. One of the groups doing a lot of good is I Will Breathe. They’re organizing community clean ups, marches, and ceasefire hoops tourneys. I attended one last Sturday, and it was really well done. I’d encourage all of you to follow them and support their mission. On a personal level, I used to coach their founder, Nasir Bell, many moons ago, and to see him become such a conscientious young man fills me with a ton of pride.
What I’m Listening To: A couple of months ago, we had Kate Nyx on the Philly Blunt, and once I started listening to her music, I was hooked. Her 2015 album, Sage and Silver Bullets, is absolutely incredible. Her songwriting is sublime. I can’t recommend her enough. If you wanna support a local artist, grab some of her music off of bandcamp. (And as a general observation from talking to some music artists, Bandcamp takes WAY better care of artists than apple music, spotify, etc)
Where I Love Hanging Out: That tree in Rittenhouse, on the northwest side, with the branches that are perfect for a 6 year old to climb, and some great shade to enjoy a cup of coffee.
What YOU Should be Listening to: You should be listening to the interview we did a few weeks ago with lawyer and activist Michael Coard. Seriously. It’s one of the best we’ve ever done, and he’s a really great dude. We talked about some heavy topics at a crazy time, and yet we had a lot of fun talking about them.
“I love it when I see by racist exposed. And by that I mean by that is now I know who you are. I’m really not concerned with them being racist, I just want to be sure that they don’t have positions that can affect me. If you’re a poor white at a trailer park, you can say the n-word all day long. If you’re the governor, or the Mayor, or the CEO of some big bank, I want to know that. I’m concerned about racists who can impose that racism negatively upon black people. If y’all have your little racist crew and y’all doing y’all thing up in the mountains go ahead, more power to you.
That’s why many people say that black people can’t be racist, only white people can be racists. And they say that, and I say it, because white people have the power. I can call a white boy a racist name all day long, but as a systemic thing, I can’t hold him back. But if I’m a white guy with a suit and tie who runs a bank, runs a school, runs a city, I can hold people down. A black person can be prejudiced, a black person can be discriminatory, a black person can be an asshole, but a black person can’t be a racist.”
Instagram Account I’m Digging This Week: Suffer_Decay_Damnation. The pictures on here are some of my favorite in Philly. The skyline in the midst of lightning storms, ruins porn, Philly icons. It’s all there, such a great follow.
Favorite Person I Met This Week: Without question, it was Bamm Rose. A brilliant stripper/activist, she spoke with us on the Blunt on Wednesday night, and talked about the current conditions of strip clubs, and the changes she’d like to see when we emerge from the pandemic. She also discussed her events in which she turns the tables on colonialism by walking white men down the street on all fours like dogs (!) Trust me, this is a fascinating interview.
Who I’m Inspired By: I went to the PPEHRC Rally on Monday (you can read about it here on WHYY). Several mothers got up in front of the crowd and told their stories of losing their sons. It was heartbreaking, a reminder of the reality of our gun violence. These aren’t just names in the papers. They’re sons, they’re mothers getting the worst phone call of their lives, they’re communities being torn apart, they’re brothers and sisters facing a lifetime of PTSD. It’s a reminder of the strength of the human spirit that these mothers are willing to tell a story that must break their heart every time they tell it. And it’s a reminder that while we’re disgusted and outraged by what garbage Trump is, we live in a city that’s 90% Democrat and incapable of solving the very real problems that face our city. Follow PPEHRC here.
What I’m Listening To: The Speck in the Sea. This is the reading of a Times article from 2014, about a fisherman who fell into the sea, and miraculously kept himself alive while awaiting rescue. It’s a great listen.
What Mystery I’m Following: This one on reddit, about a guy who found an old blank cassette tape in a neighbors trash. He listened, and the band sounded really good. So he’s trying to find out if anyone knows anything about them. It would be really cool if he found out what band made the tape 35 years ago. Give them a listen and see if the lead singers voice rings any bells.
I had a nice little roll going with the Friday Five until everything went to hell in March. I think it’s time to bring it back. Here’s what I’m doing, reading, and where I’m eating these days.
- We got named Philly’s Best Podcast by Philly Mag in their latest edition! Pretty heady stuff. It’s been a labor of love for the past two years and I’m really, really proud of what we’ve created. If you haven’t listened, you should. Our interview with Terrill Haigler, aka _yafavtrashman last week was terrific. And legendary lawyer Chuck Peruto was really good too. Be sure to follow us on Instgram and Facebook.
- Bought The Regulars a few weeks ago, and oh man is it awesome. It’s by Sarah Stolfa, who was a bartender at Philly’s legendary dive bar McGlinchey’s. She decided to take photos of the regulars as they sat at the bar. The pictures are beautiful, and the writing is terrific too.
- In the old days, you had brunch at your favorite bar on the weekends. Nowadays, it’s all about grabbing a picnic lunch and heading to Fairmount. As for the lunch, we’ve been going to Woodrow’s for our hoagies lately, and they never disappoint. I’ve become a vegetarian for the most part, so I no longer get their Italian, which is awesome, but the shrimp Po Boy is fantastic. As for where to sit and eat? It’s REALLY tough to beat the view at Lemon Hill (below).
- Been really into Missing in Alaska podcast. Crazy story I had never heard before. In 1972, two Congressmen boarded a Cessna in Alaksa and were never seen again. It was believed that the plane went down in bad weather. But there’s a twist: a mobster would marry one of the men’s widows a year later. And in the 1990s, that mobster would state that the plane had been bombed. So the podcast tries to figure out what the truth is. I haven’t quite reached the end yet, and it drags a bit at times because it’s sooooo comprehensive, but it’s really interesting. You can read more about the case here.
- Reading a book about about William Dampier. One of the coolest people ever. Scientist, philosopher, oh yeah and pirate. He circumnavigated the globe three times, was court martialed, marooned, and introduced the words barbecue, avocado, and chopsticks to the english language. This is the book. Really good.
Alright, see ya next week. In the meantime, be sure to follow JGT Quizzo on Facebook.
Yeah, OK, maybe I need to give up the ghost. I just can’t find the time on Fridays to do this jawn. So maybe it’s best I move it to Saturday. Regardless, some good stuff in here.
Where I’m Eating: I did a pizza contest in 2006, and concluded that Tony’s Pizza was top 3 in the city. It had probably been a decade since I had been there last, so when I was in the neighborhood last weekend, I thought it would be a good move to swing by and grab a pie. I gotta say that the pizza is just as terrific as I remembered. Sauce on top of the cheese, perfect crust, crispy pepperoni. Only drawback was a picture of Trump on the wall. Ugh. But that’s just how good Tony’s is; most places I would just write off after seeing Trump on the wall, but at Tony’s I really have to consider my options.
Where I Hate But My Kid Loves: Ok, so I don’t hate it, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled to hit up the Insectarium last weekend. My kid is a die hard fan of snakes, spiders, and scorpions and I gotta say they’re pretty much my three least favorite things on earth. So being in a room surrounded by them all was his version of heaven and my version of hell. But if you like that kind of thing, then the Insectarium is great. And the butterfly sanctuary was more my speed. Really cool, and they occasionally have a beer garden in there, which sounds cool.
What I’m listening to: I’m a fan of Philly rapper Vinnie Paz, so needless to say, I’m listening to his new album. It’s pretty solid. I especially loved the song Spilled Milk, which is about how his father didn’t stop smoking when the doctors told him to, and ended up dying when Vinnie was young. This is when he’s at his best, when he’s talking about the heartbreak he’s been through.
10 years old they told me my father dead
What the f**k was going through my father’s head
He ain’t think his youngins need his father
Had 10 million chances to change but didn’t bother
It’s like he didn’t love me enough to live
Or too selfish to make an adjustment for his kids
And you ain’t think you dyin’ would divide us
And you ain’t think a 10 year old boy needed guidance
Ain’t nobody talkin’ just bottle it up inside us
And shit can turn ugly when there’s no-one there to guide us
It’s all good, I still love you, I forgive you
But that ain’t gonna be something my son is gonna live through
He ain’t gonna lose me the way that I lost you
Because doing that to him is just something I couldn’t do
What Legend I got to Meet This Week: On Monday, the Philly Blunt crew sat down with Cornbread the Legend. For those who don’t know, Cornbread is credited as the first graffiti artist of the modern era. We talked about him tagging an elephant, how hip hop culture started in Philly, and how he was able to end his drug addiction after over 15 years. Great interview…drops on Monday.
What Ridiculous Project I Worked on this Week: Put together this ridiculous video with Reef the Lost Cauze for Shibe Sports. Pretty funny.
Yes, I’m a day late. Couldn’t get it into yesterday’s schedule. But better late than never, here’s the Friday Five:
Where I’m Watching Basketball: At the Cathedral of College Basketball, of course. We are beyond blessed to live in a city that has a venue like the Palestra. Most field houses like this one have long since passed on for cookie cutter “modern” arenas, but this architectural marvel lives on. I watched Penn-Harvard there last week. Not a bad seat in the house.
Family Tradition I Love: At Super Bowl III, my dad and his roommate Ron decided to bet a 6-pack on the Super Bowl (my dad took the Colts, and lost to Broadway Joe). The next year, they did it again. And then, after college, they decided to travel to each others homes for the Super Bowl. Then the two got married and had kids, but decided even then to keep getting together for the Super Bowl, despite living 4 hours apart. So it became a part of our childhood, knowing that the Super Bowl was as much a holiday as Christmas or Thanksgiving. And on and on its gone, through their kids becoming adults, getting married, through tragedy and triumph. This past weekend we did it all again. What a wonderful tradition and what a wonderful weekend.
Where I’m Grabbing a Beer: Is there a better place to be on a Friday than Bob n Barbara’s? The lineup of the Crowd Pleasers has changed over the years, but the music still sounds as funky as ever and it puts everyone in there in a good mood. Just a magical, magical place.
What I’m Listening To: Kind of digging this new joint from G. Love and Special Sauce.
What I’m Reading: Like many, I’ve struggled to come to grips with the death of Kobe Bryant (I actually met he and Vanessa many years ago, and like everyone else, am just overwhelmed when I think about what she’s going through). I am still working on writing something about it. But I also struggle to come to grips with his legacy in light of what happened in Colorado. I think this article does a really fair job of talking about it.
Cool Thing I Did This Week: I’m going to be hosting a podcast with Billy Penn twice a month, and we recorded our first one on Thursday at WHYY studios. A lot of fun and great to meet their writers. Pretty cool! Should launch on Monday. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter. Not only is it a great recap of everything happening locally, it will also contain the podcast on Monday.
Podcast I’m Listening To: I’m a bit late to the party, but Chip Chantry turned me onto this one: S-town, about the bizarre goings on in a small town in Alabama. A reporter goes down there to investigate a murder, and ends up being a part of something else. I like it not only because it’s so well done, but because it reminds me a bit of where I grew up. A small town in the middle of nowhere, with enough interesting characters to make Twin Peaks look like Ozzie and Harriet.
What I’m Watching: Don Montrey, a member of Comedy Sportz who performed at our World Cafe Live Seinfeld quiz, posted this and I was kind of amazed by it. It’s called an Ames window, and it’s a hell of an optical illusion. It reminds us that what we see isn’t always what’s actually happening, and that sometimes our expectations guide our brains more than our eyes do.
Music I’m Listening To: I love this song by Brother Ali so much. It’s an impossibly beautiful song about a topic that we very rarely hear in music: love for self. Brother Ali is a rarity in hip-hop: an albino Muslim who is legally blind. In the song, he talks about reasons that he should be bitter, but instead is joyous. It’s wonderful.
Ayo, dependin’ on the day, and dependin’ on what I ate
I’m anywhere from twenty to thirty-five pounds overweight
I got red eyes and one of them’s lazy
And they both squint when the sun shines so I look crazy
I’m albino, man, I know I’m pink and pale
And I’m hairy as hell, everywhere but fingernails
I shave a cranium that ain’t quite shaped right
Face type, shiny, I stay up and write late nights
My wardrobe is jeans and faded shirts
A mixture of what I like and what I wear to work
I’m not mean and got a neck full of razor bumps
I’m not the classic profile of what the ladies want
You might think I’m depressed as can be
But when I look in the mirror I see sexy-ass me
And if that’s somethin that you can’t respect then that’s peace
My life’s better without you, actually
To everyone out there, who’s a little different
I say damn a magazine, these is God’s fingerprints
You can call me ugly but can’t take nothing from me
I am what I am, doctor, you ain’t gotta love me
Cool Thing That Happened This Week: Not only was Bowlizzo a huge success (we sold out all eight lanes and had a ton of fun), but something kind of cool happened. 15 years ago, I joined the Big Brothers program. On Sunday my little brother, now a graduate of Temple, brought his friends out for the event. It was his first ever quizzo. Pretty neat.
Where I’m Drinking: Congrats to Fergie, who just opened the GOAT on 19th and Sansom. I went by last night for Opening Night and it’s what Fergie does so well: no “concept”, just a place where people like to drink and talk. There wasn’t a huge crowd by the time I got there at 11 after Bards quizzo, but here’s the thing I found fascinating: people weren’t on their phones. Everybody in there was talking to someone else. And Fergie’s is the same way. In a world where we all walk around like zombies with a screen n front of our eyes, it’s no small feat.
It’s located in the same location as a notoriously bizarre bar that was there forever. I told Fergie, “It’s nice but it’s no Oh! Shea’s.” Without missing a beat, he said, “And you’re nice but you’re no Irish John.”
If you’ve never heard our interview with Fergie on the Blunt, do yourself a favor and listen now.
What I’m Listening To: Speaking of the Blunt, most of you know that Reef the Lost Cauze is my partner on that podcast, but he’s also one the best rappers in Philly. He recently released a new song, and it’s fantastic. He’s also appearing on stage on Sunday with Blackalicious at Ardmore Music Hall in what’s going to be a hell of a show. If you’ve never heard their song Alphabet Aerobics, do so now. It’s one of the most amazing rap songs ever made. I saw them at the TLA 15 years ago, and they were incredible.
If you wanna hear more from Reef, he earlier this week sat down on another podcast and talked about why he’s stopped touring, how having a daughter has changed him, and the inspiration he took from our recent Blunt interview with Joan Myers Brown. Good stuff.
Where I’m Grabbing Coffee: The Italian Market is my favorite neighborhood in the city. It really is the best of who we are: the energy, the diversity, rough around the edges but a lot of heart. My favorite Italian restaurant in the city (Villa Di Roma) and my favorite Mexican restaurant (Blue Corn) are side by side. You can delicious cheese from DiBruno’s and delicious gravy from Superior Ravioli. And it also has two of the best coffee shops in the city. Gleaners is the funkier of the two, and has one of the best people watching windows in the city. Anthony’s is a bit cleaner cut, but that’s not a dig at all. And I love the history: it’s a 4th generation family business.
What Weird Statue I Like: That bike robot one in front of Johnny Brendas.
Where My Favorite Mannequin Is: Meglio Furs. South Broad. God I freaking love that window. I don’t know what it is, I just love a window display that looks the same as it did when the place closed like 20 years ago. Some Twilight Zone shit.