The Saturday Five

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.

The Friday Five…On a Saturday!

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.

The Friday Five for January 31st

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.

The Friday Five

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.

The Friday Five

What I’m Reading: I read this piece by a guy currently in Philly who was a member of Robert E Lee’s fraternity. Interesting piece. There is certainly a cult of personality around Lee in Virginia. I was taught all that nonsense: what a gentleman he was, all these absurd fables about how kind he was to blacks and sweet to the ladies.

What I’m Listening To: Been playing around with playlists on Spotify. Created this one for quizzo this week: All Philly performers.

What I’m Eating: A couple of weeks ago, some folks from Small Oven came by the quiz at Dock Street. TBH, I didn’t even know the place existed before that. But it’s a shared space with Porco’s and I was there at lunch so I tried the Spicy Porker. Nice space, very good sandwich. Great addition to the Washington Ave corridor.

Where I’m Drinking: Went with the fam to The Post last weekend. It seems to be more of a college hangout, but I got to say, it was an awesome place to take my kid. They’ve got Pop a Shot, they’ve got Skeeball, they’ve got air hockey. And really good Happy Hour specials. (It’s also the place we interviewed John Bolaris a few months ago. If you haven’t heard that one, you have to. Him talking about what happened in Miami is incredible.)

Where I’m Taking in the View: Don’t have to go far for this one. Finally made it up to Cira Green. Beautiful. Already talking to them about possibly doing some events there this spring.

Thanks for tuning in! Be sure to join me on twitter and be sure to listen to Philly’s best podcast, the Philly Blunt. For more great places to eat, drink, and visit in the area, check out previous Friday Fives here.

The Friday Five

COOL AS HELL THING WE DID THIS WEEK:

Took my kid to iFly in King of Prussia. Awesome! Just unreal seeing your kid flying.

WHAT I’M READING: This article on “shit-life syndrome” and how the Dems are completely oblivious to it. Desperate people want answers to their problems, they could give a shit about Russia or the Ukraine or any of the things that twitter obsesses over on any given day. The Dems (other than Bernie) continue to base their campaign on assuaging the hurt feelings of middle class coastal whites while ignoring people who need help.

Shit-life syndrome is not another fictitious illness conjured up by the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex to sell psychotropic drugs. It is a reality created by corporatist rulers and their lackey politicians—pretending to care about their minimum-wage-slave constituents, who are trying to survive on 99¢ boxed macaroni and cheese prepared in carcinogenic water, courtesy of DuPont or some other such low-life leviathan.

The thing that the article gets wrong is that Bernie fans gave up on him because he backed Clinton in 2016. That’s absurd. Nobody but the most radical leftists dropped off the Bernie train because he did that.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO: Some of the hottest rappers out right now (not including pop mumble bullshit) are from, of all places, Buffalo. Griselda is a group and a record company that was signed by Eminem’s Shady records. As Stereogum says: This music is firmly and proudly out of step with right-now rap music. Reminds me quite a bit of 90s era Wu Tang, and this video was directed by another 90s legend, Hype Williams. NSFW. I also really dig this song they did with the legendary DJ Premier.

WHERE I’M EATING:

Two places: Loco Pez recently opened in my hood at 20th and Bainbridge. Good food, good drink, and love the interior. They also have a great happy hour deal: half off nachos, and they’ve got damn good nachos…even better, that happy hour extends to the weekend, as they have a 1 to 3 pm happy hour on weekends. Also, Banh Mi Cali on the corner or 9th and Arch. No frills, no thrills, just a damn good banh mi.

COOL QUIZ I HOSTED THIS WEEK:

Did one for the Phillies front office in the Diamond Club at CBP. Pretty sweet. If you dig the Friday Five, be sure to follow me on twitter. Thanks!

The Friday Five for December 20th

What Podcast You Should Be Listening to: The Philly Blunt! Our interview with Jerry Blavat, the Geator with the Heater, is live! And oh man is it good. His story about Chuck Berry is worth the price of admission alone. Such an honor to sit down with such a true Philly legend, and he absolutely did not disappoint. Dick Clark, Sammy Davis Jr., Angelo Bruno: he’s got stories about all of them and they’re all terrific.

What Music You Should Be Listening to: John Morrison has been writing some solid pieces for WXPN for awhile, but lately he’s been making some new moves: He now hosts a monthly hip-hop show on WXPN called Culture Cypher. His podcast, Serious Rap S**t, just got picked up by iheartradio. And he was nice enough to put together this Youtube mix of his favorite rap songs of 2019. Some great stuff in here: check out Cam’ron’s Losin Weight, Gangstarr and J Cole Family Loyalty, and Danny Brown Best Life. You can follow John on twitter here.

Where I’m Eating: Had breakfast with Chip Chantry earlier this week at the Melrose Diner. I really want to start going there regularly. It has everything a good diner should: friendly older ladies as servers, a nice mix of people from all walks of life, and damn solid food (I had the feta and spinach omelette and was feeling a little frisky so I had them add tomato.)

What I’m reading: This article about what a heaping load of bullshit online advertising is was fascinating.

Local Instagram I’m Following: PHLBucketlist has a ton of great photos of things to do in the area. Dunno who curates it but whoever does takes some really terrific photos.

Alright, hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holiday. If you’re doing some last minute shopping, be sure to hit us up at Shibe Sports. Got lots of great unique and local gear still in stock. And be sure to follow me on twitter. We’ve got some big things planned for 2020, so stay tuned!

If you’ve missed previous Friday Fives and want some good stuff to read, eat, drink, and listen to, go here.

The Friday Five

Best Way to See Christmas Lights: Did the Founding Footsteps Christmas Lights show this past Sunday, and oh man was it great. A BYO trip through Philly with live Christmas music, it’s a great way to look at the city in a whole different way. There’s a fun Christmas pop-up bar to start off. Then it’s all aboard, and you head to South Smedley Street to see the lights there. Off to the Miracle on 13th Street, past the City Hall lights, and over to the Art Museum, where you get to check out the enormous tree. Just a really fun tour, and the guy who runs it, Tim, is an awesome dude. This isn’t some big corporate monolith going through the motions. This is a Philly owned and operated business sharing their love of the city, and it comes through in the tour. Highly recommend. You can get tickets here.

Where I’m grabbing pizza: Is it my favorite pizza in town? No. Is it always service with a smile? No. But there’s still something special about Lorenzo’s. The comically large slices, the number of people there with bloodshot eyes, the communal sense of everyone eating around the same counter. When I first moved here, I was a regular…I was dead broke, and $2 was a good price for a meal. The price has gone all the way up to $4.50 over the past 18 years, but it’s still a good deal.

Underrated Christmas Lights: The old Lit Brothers building on Market street has one of the most underrated light shows in town.

What I’m Listening To: Slow Burn, a podcast by Slate. They did a great one about Watergate a couple of years ago. They came back this year with a solid one on Biggie and Tupac.

What Local Legend I Got to Hang Out This Week: The Geator with the Heater, the Boss With the Hot Sauce. Jerry Blavat sat down with the Philly Blunt on Thursday night (if you don’t know who he is, you should read this excellent 2008 Philly Mag piece on him). Oh man, it was so much fun. His stories about Chuck Berry, Sammy Davis, and Angelo Bruno were incredible. Episode drops next week. In the meantime, be sure to listen to our interview with DJ Rich Medina.

The Friday Five for December 6th

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 reading: Read a couple of awesome long reads this week. This GQ article about conditions atop Mount Everest is absolutely nuts. Basically anybody with a few bucks can climb to the top, no questions asked. Meanwhile, this NJ.com article about a 1990 high school football game that devastated a coach and the star QB is absolutely terrific…and involves the Eagles offensive coordinator. The video above is also by NJ.com and accompanies the piece.

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.

See ya next week. In the meantime, follow me on twitter.

The Friday Five

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.

Piping hot steamed dumpings at Chinese Restaurant.

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.

My wife and what was left of the exploding ball.
Photo courtesy of Billy Penn.

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.

If you enjoyed the Friday Five, click like below and be sure to follow me on twitter where I’m always blabbing about this shit, not only on Fridays.

The Friday Five for November 15th

So Long Sal.

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?

Until next week, be sure to follow me on twitter and Instagram. And be sure to check out our podcast, the Philly Blunt.

The Friday Five

Where I’m drinking: Pub and Kitchen. The lighting is perfect, the drinks are solid, and Donnie is one of my favorite bartenders in the city. Last night he turnd me on to Last Call, a terrific book that just came out and features several Philly cocktail bars. We interviewed former P&K chef Jonny Mac a couple of months ago on the Blunt, which you should check out.

What I’m reading: this excellent article about Robert E. Lee and how the school Washington and Lee is grappling with his legacy in the wake of Charlottesville. This is a really smart piece. Beautifully done. I’ve got my own opinions about Robert E. Lee, but I’ll have to save them for a longer piece. (Short story: not a fan).

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.

Pic of the Ben Franklin taken by me last weekend behind Sugarhouse.

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.

What I’m watching: I watch educational stuff with my kid each morning before school and unfortunately he’s obsessed with spiders, which I hate. This week we watched some nut job open black widow egg sacks. This shit is horrifying. You shouldn’t watch it.

The Friday Five

Not as much locally to talk about this week, as I spent a long weekend in Richmond, but still some fun stuff to talk about:

What I’m Watching: Just watched Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Highly recommend. Love movies about people who aren’t the most talented or most gifted, but simply the most determined, and if there was any one word that described Rudy Ray Moore, it was “determined”. Reminded me of another Rudy. And the acting is terrific. Eddie Murphy is at his best, and Wesley Snipes is just terrific.

What I Learned This Week: That Ballad of a Thin Man by Bob Dylan was one of the main theme songs of the Black Panthers. From an article on Red Bull Music Academy: The song’s lyrics, which describe a man who enjoys watching circus geek shows, struck a chord with (Huey P.) Newton. He saw the titular character, Mr. Jones, as an upper class white man who indulged in exploring the black ghetto on Sunday afternoons to check out the prostitutes and inhabitants of the decaying community. The fictional Mr. Jones was a voyeur of sorts, and got off on watching what Newton called a freak show...According to Newton, the circus freaks mentioned in the song, including the sword swallower and the one-eye midget, represent the disadvantaged ghetto residents who aren’t interested in serving as entertainment for Mr. Jones. They instead demand payment for a trick or some food or drink. Otherwise, they’d like Mr. Jones to shove off and go home.

What I’m Reading: Great 1985 Esquire piece on Dr J. Interesting dude, and a great article. Can’t imagine too many elite athletes today discussing the tenets of religion with a reporter.

But it wasn’t until our discussion in his office, during a laborious spiel of mine concerning the duty of the seeker to examine the varieties of religious experience, that Julius began to get pissed.

“I just can’t agree,” he said, “because even if you do manage to synthesize all these systems, what good is it going to do you? Even if you’re the smartest man on earth, even if you’re Albert Einstein, you’ll still only have a thimbleful of all the knowledge in the world. Where does that lead you? Digging and grinding on this unbelievable quest? Is there happiness in that? So it comes down to making concessions … down to knowing you’re not the wisest or the smartest, not the ultimate of anything, but knowing too that you have this powerful need to grasp something meaningful, something purposeful … you want a way, a way that makes sense for you, that you can embrace.”

The guy who wrote it, Marc Jacobson, would 15 years later do a piece on Franck Lucas that would be the inspiration for American Gangster. Also worth a read.

The lychee martini at Xiandu.

Where I’m eating and drinking: Xiandu Thai. I’ve really come to love this place over the past few months. My move is to get their for pickup before 7, have a Happy Hour cocktail while I wait for my takeout, and then come home a conquering hero with terrific Thai food. Get the lychee martini! This past time I got the the drunken noodles and the pineapple fried rice, but no matter what I get there it’s great. It’s my favorite Thai place in Philly.

Goofy Little Project I’m Working On: I started this awhile back, took a long break, and just started back on it. I’m a huge fan of the book Travels in Philadelphia by Christopher Morley (you can read the entire book online, though I’d suggest you get a physical copy if you really like it.) I decided awhile back to start an instagram page where I went back to places he wrote about in the late 1910s for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger and take pictures of them 100 years later. Kind of fun to see what’s changed and what’s the same after this much time.

The Friday Five: What to Eat, Drink, and Listen to in Philly

Carving a pumpkin at Craft Hall.

What I’m listening to: Ok so let’s get the nepotism out of the way; the artist known as Reef the Lost Cauze is one of my best friends in Philly. He’s the kind of guy that everyone who knows him considers one of their best friends. He’s just got that kind of energy where to know the guy is to love him. But before I knew him as a friend, I knew his music, and I truly thought him to be right up there with Black Thought among Philly MCs. He still occupies that rare air, and his latest album was his masterpiece. The Majestic is an album of heartbreak, anguish, but most of all, love. Check out this song about his second born son that he performed on XPN. He also just released a new video this week, and it’s another tour de force about family. It’s a song about his grandparents, and it pulls you in right off the bat with the blues guitar riff and the first few lines:

Well the old man is dead, his wife is in a home
And just like that my childhood is gone
Forever never seems that long until you're grown
Never thought you'd pass away I assumed you were made of stone

It’s a beautiful paean to two of the most important people in his life, and will have you thinking about your grandparents as well. It’ll also have you interested in his album. You should listen to it, then buy it. Support local artists, but even moreso, support a classic album.

What else you should be listening to: You should be listening to the latest edition of the Philly Blunt, this one with legendary Philly mob writer George Anastasia. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the Philly Mob, this is an excellent opportunity. He tells all and holds back nothing, talking about Skinny Joey, Frank Bruno, and why the mob isn’t as powerful as it was 40 years ago. If you enjoy the interview, do us a solid and leave us a 5-star rating on itunes. And remember: “vice is commerce”.

Where I’m eating: The Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House in Chinatown is a damn gem. Had the chicken stir fry this time and it was out of this world. Had soup the last time I was there and it was great as well. Can’t recommend this spot enough.

Where I’m getting coffee/tea: Stumbled across Bloomsday this past week while walking through Headhouse Square, and wow! What a space! It’s a wine bar as well, but I was there in the afternoon and I haven’t quite reached the point of drinking wine at 2 pm on a random Wednesday. So I got a Macha Latte (because I’m a fancy boy) and enjoyed the hell out of the scenery. Really cool space. Can’t wait to go back for wine.

Maccha Latte at Bloomsday.

Where I’m Getting a Beer: Holy shit, have you guys been to the Craft Hall yet? You probably have, because judging by the crowd there on a rainy Sunday I was the only one who didn’t know about it. It. Is. Awesome. Packed on a Sunday afternoon, and extremely kid friendly, it has a playground and on Sunday had pumpkin carving. Could have killed a whole day there if I didn’t have a damn family. Just kidding! My wife and kid loved it too, and we had to pull ourselves away. It’s in the old Yards Brewery space right next to Sugarhouse.