Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

IDboston: “How Much Does He Know?”


A Boston intellectual

A Boston intellectual

We spend a lot of time in this space talking about the differences between the East Coast and the West Coast, which are very different culturally in so many ways. However, by grouping the East Coast together as one, that’s not to say that Miami is the same as DC is the same as New York is the same as Boston. So in an effort to begin to shed some light on the differences found within the East Coast, we wanted to share with you a quote from none other than Mark Twain, when writing a memoir about Boston:

In New York they ask “how much money does he have?” In Philadelphia, they ask, “who were his parents?” In Boston they ask, “how much does he know?”

Boston indeed boasts a highly intellectual culture, as renowned universities are an integral part of the city’s fabric. Besides Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which are known around the world, 54 other universities call the city home.

The perfect irony for April Fool’s Day…

A popular Cambridge haunt

A popular Cambridge haunt

Harvard's hallowed halls

Harvard’s hallowed halls

Browsing a book sale downtown

Browsing a book sale downtown


IDphilly: The Sibling Looking to Fit In


Philly's Independence Hall

Philly’s Independence Hall

Welcome to Philly. You know, Philly. Philly? Like, Philadelphia? You mean that place where the Founding Fathers signed those documents that started the modern day United States of America? That place where they make really greasy fake steak sandwiches with cheese sauce that for some reason are famous? Ah, but of course….Philly!

Poor Philadelphia. Located anywhere else, it may in fact be considered a great city—an esteemed tourist attraction garnering attention from far and wide. I mean, surely it has more to offer than places like Dallas or Houston, right? And yet Philly often finds itself  playing the role of red-headed stepchild…occasionally paid attention to only because you can’t avoid it, but typically shunned in favor of the taller, prettier, more charming siblings.

If Philadelphia were in Texas, its image would be a lot different. Unfortunately, it rests just about 90 miles (150 kilometers) from New York City to the north, and about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Washington, D.C. to the south. As a result, it is often overlooked, because it has the same grime and grit that plagues some of its more well-known neighbors, but without quite as much charm.

Philly has a nice art museum (Rocky steps, anyone?). And some world-class universities (UPenn is among the world’s best). It has luscious green parks, a strong sporting tradition, and eclectic ethnic neighborhoods. A walk through the traditional Italian section of Philly south of downtown (which is bigger than NYC’s Little Italy if you’re keeping track), will send you back to the early 1900s, when an estimated 600,000 Italians called this place home.

Unfortunately, as nice as some of these things are, they aren’t differentiated enough from what Big Brother 90 miles to the north has to offer. Art museums? Check. World class universities? Check. Green parks, sports and eclectic, melting pot neighborhoods? Check. As for the more famous Little Brother to the south, well, Philly was once the Capitol of the United States, but that was before it was a global superpower. So only DC has been able to bill itself the “most powerful city in the world.” (perhaps for a few more years, anyway).

And while NYC and DC have their share of problems with crime, occasionally corrupt governments, and the like, well….these things happen just as much in Philly.

As the fourth-largest city in the U.S., trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Philly is surely deserving of a bigger name than it currently has. Perhaps we should just pack it up and ship it Midwest, and then you may see Philly popping up on some more tourist agendas :).

The world's symbol for liberty: The Liberty Bell!

The world’s symbol for liberty: The Liberty Bell!

Philly skyline (image credit: TripAdvisor)

Philly skyline (image credit: TripAdvisor)


IDusa: Going Old (Film) School to Differentiate East from West


When I travel abroad, I come across people all the time, all over the world who want to visit the United States. I’m frequently asked where I think they should visit, and I almost always answer their question with a question: what kind of scene are you looking for?

See, I love the East and I love the West. (I can’t say the same about the South or the Midwest, but that’s another story for another day). But they are distinctly different, from the people to the landscape to the overall culture. When I was reading a few message boards to see what other people had thought about the difference, the funniest summary I read was this:

The East Coast is John Travolta’s character (Vinnie Barbarino) in Welcome Back, Kotter,  a popular late eighties sitcom. The West Coast is Sean Penn’s character (Jeff Spicoli) in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a 1982 teen comedy film.

I found it quite interesting to explore this further, so I’ve pulled both characters’ description from Wikipedia for your enjoyment. Do you think it is accurate?

In the East Corner…Vincent “Vinnie” Barbarino!

 A cocky Italian-American, and “unofficial official” leader and resident heartthrob of the Sweathogs (a group of underachieving friends). Barbarino’s prowess with women was a source of envy (and more often amusement) among his classmates. On occasion he would break out in song of his last name sung to the tune of The Regents’ classic, “Barbara Ann”. He was the first of the Sweathogs to move out on his own when he got a job as a hospital orderly. In the first episode of the series and fourth season, he has a girlfriend, Sally. Vinnie is Catholic (often quoting his mother as a saint), and as shown in “I’m Having Their Baby”, is a Star Trek fan. Little is known about Vinnie’s life at home other than his parents argue a lot (“Follow the Leader (part 2)”), his mother’s name is Margie (“The Great Debate”), and he shares a bed with his brother. The episode “Don’t Come Up And See Me Sometime” implied that Vinnie is the older of the two.

Vinnie’s catchphrases

  • “Up your nose with a rubber hose!”
(Barbarino was the first in the series to rank somebody. In later episodes, other body parts and objects whose names rhymed were incorporated into the rank. For example, “Up your gizzard with a rubber lizard!” was used by Washington in a later episode.) The so-called art of ranking was immortalized in song in 1976 performed by Gabe Kaplan. The song, “Up Your Nose”, did not get very far as it highly dated itself by making numerous contemporary references– CB Radios, The Gong Show, singing cat commercials, etc.).
  • “Wah-ha-ha-ha-howwww…”
(Whenever he becomes love-stricken)
  • “What?” “Where?” “Why?”
(Usually to feign ignorance when accused of something or asked to do something he’s not ready to do)
  • “I’m so con-fused!” (Usually over-dramatized)
  • “I’m Vinnie Barbarino!” (Also over-dramatized, usually when a girl snubs or spurns him)
East Coast: John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino?

East Coast: John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino?

In the West Corner…Jeff Spicoli!

 A a fictional character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. While he is a freshman in the book, he is a senior in the film. Spicoli is a surfer dude with no job who enjoys smoking marijuana. Penn’s performance is the first notable instance of the Southern California “surfer stoner” being portrayed on film (as culturally distinct from other “stoner” characters such as Pedro de Pacas (Cheech Marin), Man (Tommy Chong), Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) and Billy (Dennis Hopper)).

One of the first times the viewer sees Spicoli in the movie, he is late for Mr. Hand’s U.S. History class. According to one of his classmates, he has been “stoned since the third grade.” Throughout the film, Spicoli serves as the comic relief, usually opposite Mr. Hand in a series of amusing sketches. He was also late when he stayed in the food lines to get a bagel. When Mr. Hand asked him why he continually wastes his time, Jeff’s response was “I don’t know.” Mr. Hand then wrote those words on the board for all of his classes to see, with Spicoli seemingly appreciating the recognition.

He is always short of money and does not have a job. When Brad Hamilton asks him why he doesn’t have a job, Spicoli answers, “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, an’ I’m fine.” He purportedly received a guitar pick from Mick Jagger, whom he claims to have met after a Rolling Stones concert in Anaheim, California. His closest pals are two unnamed surfer dudes played by Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards. He is also friends with Ridgemont High’s star football player Charles Jefferson’s little brother, having played video games with him at the mall. When they were driving Charles’ car to a party, Jeff crashed the car and wrecked it. They made it look as if a rival school, Lincoln High, had done it. Jeff’s little brother, Curtis, thinks that he is stupid. He also owns a pair of turquoise colored Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, which he wears occasionally in Mr. Hand’s class.

On the day of the prom, Mr. Hand shows up at Spicoli’s house and tutors him as payback for having wasted 8 hours of his time during the school year. After the tutoring session, Jeff wonders if there’s a kid like him in Mr. Hand’s class every year. He also wonders if he’ll pass U.S. History. Mr. Hand tells him not to worry and that he’ll probably “squeak by.”

At the end of the movie, it is revealed that at some point in the future he saved Brooke Shields from drowning, and was rewarded with a large amount of money. He then blew it all by hiring Van Halen to play at his birthday party.

West Coast: Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli?

West Coast: Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli?