Soon I will be leaving Philly for an unknown amount of time, so I wanted to take the time to share the things I love about the city.
1.) When I smoke in my yard late at night my backyard neighbor often leans out of his back window and smokes a cigarette – we never talk but I love him.
2.) I have been starting fires in my yard for years and never had a problem, but I’m certain it’s illegal. Both in North and South Philly.
3.) On the right night you can walk a mile in Philadelphia without passing another person.
4.) Citywides, not for any cliched reason – but because they can be used for drinking games like Jeopardy. Plus I was poor for a long time & citywides are the most economical way to get drunk at a bar.
5.) The “anger” and “attitude” that people think Philadelphians have is just a sense of self respect. You can’t just say anything to anyone, you have to be smart and respectful if you don’t want problems. This is a city where people are simply trying their hardest, and when someone is trying their hardest and bullshit arises, they’ll tell you.
6.) The mob mentality, if many Philadelphians don’t feel respected a mob will occur. Just ask that Oat milk company that tried to advertise using street art. We got mad at Oat Milk!
7.) DoorDash will bring me a Geno’s Steak in 25 minutes. And I know cheesesteak purists will hate it, but at 2am a Geno’s Steak is a meal fit for a king and to have it delivered to my home is a privilege.
8.) The Skyline and evaluating the bullshit it symbolically lights up for.
9.) Getting mad at bikers when I’m a pedestrian and getting mad at pedestrians when I’m a biker.
10.) Knowing someone who knows someone everywhere I go.
11.) Meeting and befriending my neighbors, shoutout to Ece and Barbara.
12.) Bribing taxis to take me home for cheaper than Uber quoted me by telling them to “not run the meter.”
13.) The palpable positivity when the Eagles are performing well.
14.) Walking from South Philly to Center City in less than 30 minutes.
15.) The rappers. Philadelphia is finding its sound sonically. Rappers like D4M Sloan are fusing jersey club and drill, Ant Brown & Fis Banga are rapping to motivate the youth, Armani White is going to be a star once “Billie” drops, and the list goes on. Philly’s rap scene has a harsh underbelly that’s tied to local gangs formed by blocks rather than sets, who are essentially killing each other over the streets they were raised on – even though they are only on those blocks because of a legacy of racist housing policy in America. Every rapper or kid under 20 that’s killed can be added to the death toll of red-lining and segregation in America leading back to the New Deal. Stream Philly artists like 10days, Drewboy, Maasha, lbs., ACF Leem, and SeemSOS. No one on Earth knows more about the current Philly rap scene and I cherish that. Shoutout to ShaneZ, TurntUpMir, Tierra Whack, Prezz Carter, Emyne, Unjustified, Kuf Knotz, and SimXSantana. Also, Prestige and the Friends of Friends crew – who are the nicest rap videographers in the city!
16.) Psycho-analyzing what exactly Rittenhouse Michael Jackson is doing, but not having the balls as a journalist to ask him because I don’t want to ruin my idea of him.
17.) Scoffing at the upper class as they eat at Parc and Devon.
18.) Yelling at the crowd outside of The Kimmel Center to keep them scared of the city.
19.) Not knowing when the Broad Street Line is coming or why certain entrances are blocked off.
20.) Doing yoga or just falling asleep in Wharton Park.
21.) Showing someone Cira Greene for the first time.
22.) Going somewhere before it’s ruined (like Cira Greene).
23.) Being close to New York and DC, as well as the shore and the mountains. Philadelphia is sincerely the best city to travel from – if only national public transit was more efficient.
24.) Getting yelled at and knowing it doesn’t matter.
25.) Berating out of town fans.
26.) People are ashamed of their cocaine use in Philly, unlike in other cities where it’s half the nightlife identity. It’s rare to see little coke shelves in Philly nightlife bathroom stalls, whereas in New York or London – they’re standard.
27.) Having three stadiums directly across from each other.
28.) How Tasty Toast has my order ready 5 minutes after I call.
29.) The wholesome folks who fish at the Navy Yard Pier far from any loudness.
30.) Community Fridges. Before 2019 there were no community fridges in Philly, now in 2022 there are 30+. They popped up as a response to food deserts during COVID when people really needed food.
31.) Having a bittersweet relationship with Xfinity Live – hating it on days I don’t have a ticket to a game, but demanding we go there after a game I attend.
32.) Exposing pockets of wrongdoing in this incredibly corrupt city.
33.) Working alongside gang members and dudes who are mobbed up in the service industry that have better work ethic than most of my “professional” colleagues.
34.) Feuding with local idiots on the internet.
35.) Running Lee’s Hoagies out of Philly city limits.
36.) The Philly Goat Project eating Christmas trees in January.
37.) White cheese dip as a side with fries, not hurt from Chickies & Pete’s, but also the Philadium, Maggie’s, and Cav’s Headhouse. Most cities don’t even have Kraft Whiz, but rather give you Costco or Aramark Cheddar Cheese sauce. A refined palette can taste the difference.
38.) There is no expectation that anything will work.
39.) The DIY scene. These are the hippest, strangest, coolest, and kindest party people in Philadelphia. Hashland, Keenanfromlimbo, 215 Fashion Mag, Valenciaga, coolaidhippy, and that whole crew are starting a movement that I will continue to tap in with. They throw amazing parties that emphasize inclusion and safety, they’re not a part of a fad or any outside movement. They’re original and inspiring.
40.) Randomly passing through an M. Night Shyamalan set on 22nd Street after a night out.
41.) My friends. I’ve been blessed with a fruitful social life and I’ve befriended people from all walks of life. Most of my best friends live within 20 minutes of me and the others are in Langhorne or Yardley. Without my friends none of this really matters. I only work so that I can have money and I only want money so I can spend it with my friends.
42.) Philadelphia is so far behind other cities that there is room for exponential growth from silly goofs like myself who have unearned confidence.
43.) We never have to worry about Republican politicians winning major roles in local office, until David Oh runs for Mayor.
44.) Everybody hates Jim Kenney.
45.) The wonderful memories I have everywhere I go. Memories are often conflicting. I equate the Parkway with the Eagles Super Bowl Parade, the countless Made In Americas I’ve worked, and the JTD Homeless Encampment. On Christian St. I remember my ex’s apartment and the beer store where quadruplets who were all born on the same exact day as me work. Falling in love, then having my heart broken. It’ll be nice to escape the constant reminder of these moments, both so I can grow and also so they feel fresh again.
46.) Pissing on mattresses at the Mummers Day parade because there always seems to be a lot of trashed mattresses on that day. My guess is that people are getting mattresses for Christmas and then throw out their mattresses after the holidays wind down, resulting in a surplus of piss soaked mattresses on 1/1. Or so many people are getting blacked out drunk and pissing the bed on New Years Eve that mattresses are covered in pee before theyre even thrown out.
47.) The characters like Rittenhouse Michael Jackson, Philly Jesus, Philly Elmo, Jason Kelce, Joe Cox, Li from Hop Sing Laundromat, OG Law and the guy with the parrot who sells beer at the Phillies game.
48.) Wawa cheesy pretzels.
49.) The fact that reactionary South Philly Italians defended a Target with baseball bats during the BLM protests is so ironic and funny to me. Imagine protecting a chain that directly extracts wealth from your community. However, that’s where the values of the American are – they need their bread and circuses or else none of their daily suffering is worth it.
50.) When the 76ers theme song starts to play.
51.) Living where my mother and her family grew up.
52.) The 7 and 17 bus taking me to and from Center City for $2.
53.) The quality and variety of food in our stadiums.
54.) When Temple students leave North Philly in the Summer, and Jehovah’s Witnesses make their pilgrimage to the Liacouras Center.
55.) Drinking in public on the walk to the first bar.
56.) The triangle park at South Street & 23rd Street – it’s one of the most quaint little spots in the city. Perfect movie-esque setting.
57.) Sidecar Bar & Grill where I currently post up and read and work. The staff has been so kind and welcoming to me. I’m a regular there, I’m friends with management, friends with staff, I’m on the WiFi, and I made their IG profile picture. $5 wings at happy hour, $9 burger and a beer, and all types of citywides. I love Sidecar. Shoutout to Celeste, Bengal, Luis, Sam, and the team!
58.) Everyday is not a fashion show in Philadelphia. I do not feel the need to impress anyone – which is not how life is in NY, LA, or London. Sweatpants and basketball shorts are allowed and encouraged.
59.) The walks I’ve taken a thousand times. Meandering down 22nd street in South Philly or walking from Berks St to Cecil B and back.
60.) Flavored blunts. New York doesn’t have my favorite blunt, which is an Irish Fusion Dutch.
61.) Peeing in my yard.
62.) There’s always parking in my neighborhood and the PPA don’t come where I live.
63.) Being at a bar full of Sixers fans.
64.) A sunny saunter down South Street on a Spring day.
65.) Volunteering and supporting We Love Philly, a truly incredible educational non-profit. Working with Carlos Aponte and the We Love Philly kids has softened my edges a fair amount and taught me to be less cynical. What I love most about We Love Philly and Carlos is that they always accepted me for me and I never feel pressured to change.
66.) Watching friend progress. I’ve worked at bars and restaurants with people who now own businesses and are chasing their dreams. Philadelphia is abundant with opportunity and people hungry enough to take advantage of that opportunity.
67.) The offensive and harsh graffiti.
68.) The far less offensive and often very sweet public art scene.
69.) Being able to Uber a someone to my house for $12 at 2am.
70.) Cheap weed from reliable plugs.
71.) City Hall in the Winter and Kelly Drive in the Summer.
72.) Living with my best friend, living across the street from one of my best friends, having another best friend 2 blocks away, another that’s 5 blocks away, then another 12 blocks away.
73.) Playing pickup every Monday at Palumbo Park.
74.) Living in a city with a sense of history and purpose. Feeling like I’m part of a larger narrative.
75.) Being close to my family. My family had every right to doubt me and my career and my choices, but they never did. I love my family more than I ever really express, because that’s none of anyone’s business. But it’d be absurd not to mention how much I love my family in a list of 100 things I love. However, I did wait til’ number 75 to make them sweat.
76.) The number of local politicians that are in or have been in corruption trials.
77.) My corner store. I go there daily for blunts and beverages, then develop a relationship with the owners. On 3/17/2021 they allowed me to build a “corner store corner library” on an empty shelf – which then grew into a book distribution project of mine where I gave away 1,050+ books throughout the city for free. Melinda, the owners/operator is an angel and it’s been a pleasure to read to her kids and make a connection worth keeping. Community has always been important to me, growing up in the suburbs everyone felt so estranged. But in my little neighborhood I’ve got all these people who I care about whom I would’ve otherwise never spoken to. Also, a funny note is – the shelf where I put my books was empty because people would steal frequently from that shelf, now the community is allowed to take anything they want from that shelf.
78.) Always feeling comfortable. There is nowhere in Philly I feel out of place. As Meek Mill said “ain’t a neighborhood in Philly that I can’t go.” Which I find important because young white transplants like myself usually stick to the same 2-3 white-coded spaces: Garage in Fishtown, bars on Sansom St, Ladder 15, and occasionally Fairmount. If that’s your Philly experience, you’re probably a little racist or at the very least non-adventurous.
79.) Those editors who gave me a chance, shoutout to Hal at Pattinson Ave, Alex at Grid Magazine, Julie at Green Philly, Kerith Gabriel, and Danya at Billy Penn – without y’all I wouldn’t have a career. Similarly the mentors of mine who believed in me when I didn’t have much faith in myself like Kurt Laufer, Drew Gobrecht, and Sherri Hope Culver. I know I’m not the easiest to work with and I’m truly a work in progress – but these people taught me valuable lessons and made me employable.
80.) Fighting with the city’s PR people.
81.) Watching people from the suburbs talk about how Philly is a horrible war zone while simultaneously relying on the city to maintain a social life that goes beyond the 4 restaurants and 2 bars within 15 minutes of their house.
82.) The lack of rats compared to other cities. Say what you want about Phily’s cleanliness – but rats are a rarity.
83.) Philadelphia has the best sandwiches in America. Not just cheesesteaks, but hoagies, chicken cutlet sandwiches, roast pork, and everything in between. Philadelphia is THE Sandwich City.
84.) The general incompetence of the City has made me zen. There is no reason to expect your trash to be picked up on time, of course there’s a pothole the size of a curb, and why wouldn’t that road be closed? You cannot disappoint me. Philadelphia trusted a college student to handle the COVID vaccine distribution and then blamed him after they were the idiots who hired him. In a completely incompetent city, minor competence is a glowing and beyond impressive. Anyone who does anything correctly is damn near a superhero in Philly.
85.) The concert venues in Philly are top-notch. Union Transfer, the Viaduct, the Pharmacy, warehouse shows, Kung Fu Necktie, Milkboy, Legendary Dobbs, and the Rec Philly stage are some of the best small concert venues I’ve ever attended. However, I would rather eat a sneaker than see a show at the Wells Fargo Center or the Liacouras Center, which are two of the worst venues to see a show. (unless you’re on the floor)
86.) Late nights on rooftops.
87.) Whenever the Bike Life kids ride by or a procession of ATV’s and dirt bikes popping wheelies come down the street.
88.) Memories of the Eagles Super Bowl Season. The entire playoff run, the NFC Championship, the Super Bowl week, the parade, and the general positivity throughout the city throughout that entire run.
89.) Doing absurd stunts like walking from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, demanding the Sixers change their mascot, and appearing in rap music videos. I said it before that Philly is a place of opportunity, but it sincerely breeds innovation and has allowed me to do everything I want to do. Never do I feel limited or painted into a corner, and often the city has embraced my shenanigans.
90.) Leaving no stone unturned and letting curiosity guide me into underground strip clubs, homeless encampments, inner circles of the rich and wealthy, and finding out that everyone is pretty much the same. In Philly it is easy to get to know people, because people are often so guarded and protected that when they meet a sincerely curious and engaged person they are more than happy to talk.
91.) The fact that I got to spend the best years of my life in the best place I’ve ever been.
92.) The Philly Plain Dealer Staff. A handful of amazing people have believed in the Philly Plain Dealer. Lindsay Hargrave has kept this website alive when I was simply too busy or mentally ill to post anything. Martin Sakansong is making a name for himself as a young journalist and learning the industry. Shealyn Kilroy, James Jackson, D-Rey, Ben, and Denise have lent their diverse and unique perspectives to this platform to write about the things they’re passionate about. This crew believed in me and I will work as hard as humanly possible to not let them down. I know this site has been a side project and it’s a long shot – but my entire life is a long shot, so hopefully in a few years when I return to Philly, the Plain Dealer is a viable business and a competitor in the market. Thank you for believing in me.
93.) Mutual Aid Groups and the city’s do-gooders. There are so many amazing people doing amazing work. The Block Gives Back, PHL Laundry, Homies Helping Homies, the aforementioned We Love Philly, Philabundance, protest organizers, the Stripper Strike, Stephanie Sena, the late Jennifer Bennetch, Jamal Johnson, SafeHub, and dozens of other groups/organizers are fighting for the regular people of Philadelphia, thanklessly. The groups listed above are doing everything from aiding sex workers, to providing Soccer camp for children, to feeding people in food desserts. I didn’t even know what mutual aid was until 2020, and since I’ve learned about it – I’ve met and witnessed the kindest people and behavior I’ve ever seen. If you need help, explore mutual aid. If you want to help, explore mutual aid.
94.) Chickies and Petes has been my favorite restaurant since I was 12 years old. It makes me sick, but I love it so much. I know it’s not even respectable to love Chickies as much as I do, but I do. I’m low class and I love myself.
95.) The weather. I love a temperate climate. I’ve been to a lot of places, and I simply prefer Philly’s weather – not too humid like the Florida or New Orleans, not to hot like LA or Arizona, not too grey like London – it’s just right in Philadelphia.
96.) Having pockets of the city that feel like home. I know I’m always welcome at JJ Bootleggers, I’m always on Federal Street, I can always go to Rec Philly or Katie, Ashton, or Brendan’s house when I’m down. Whenever something goes wrong, there’s somewhere I can go or someone I can call.
97.) Biking home on an Indego at 2am after seeing that Ubers cost $30 to go 2 miles.
98.) The internet people. There are hundreds of people whom I have never met in-person that I respect greatly. I have been communicating with people for years on Instagram and Twitter that I’ve never met in real life. Whether you’re a fellow journalist or just a person who likes me and my work, it’s been a pleasure to get to know your internet persona, and I wish you well.
99.) It’s where I became a man. I moved to Philly as a petulant, angry young man with little to no regard for myself or others. I’m leaving Philly as a less petulant, less angry man who cares deeply about others and is working to treat myself well. I’ve lived in Philadelphia for seven years, but it is my home – it’s where I found value in life, it’s where I found the will to live and it will always be my home.
100.) You. The readers. If you are the type of person that made it to number 100 and read 100 different things I’ve said – I love you. You have given me a career, you are the reason I am moving, you are the reason I am no longer cooking cheese steaks, waiting tables, or cleaning up barf. You are on a website that I created spending time reading my work – if it weren’t for you I’d be miserable. You are likely someone who follows me on twitter or has listened to my podcast and those things allowed me to become a legitimate journalist and producer, I owe you everything and I hope to not let you down.
This was an awesome read sir!