Myth: “Take the Schuylkill Expressway. You’ll get there faster, and you won’t have to sit in much traffic.”
Reality: The Schuylkill Expressway is not the quickest way to get anywhere, mainly because chances are you will sit in some traffic.
Sunday to Saturday, any time of day…you’re running a risk taking Interstate 76, also known as the Schuylkill Expressway. Poor and outdated design many decades ago, inability to expand roadway, extremely dangerous merge points, and sheer volume all contribute to what is usually an aggravating driving experience. It’s true that I-Seventy Sucks will you pretty much anywhere you need to go in Philly, or hook you up to Route 1 if you need to get into North Philly or the Northeast. However, the term ”expressway”, as anyone who has ever traveled the road will tell you, is for ironic purposes only. One would be better off finding alternative routes to get places in the city.
Myth: “The only way to order a cheesesteak is to say the cheese you want, followed by wit/witout.”
Reality: Anybody who orders their cheesesteak this way is either a tourist, a tool, or both.
First and foremost, cheesesteaks are good but not THAT good; not good enough that I think it’s what Philadelphia cuisine should be boiled to. Regardless, it drives me crazy when I hear people who are self-professed cheesesteak experts say, ”I like my steak whiz wit!!” The whole idea of saying the cheese followed by wit/witout is a game developed by those two overrated tourist traps on 9th and Passyunk. Anyone who says that sounds really stupid, mainly because they think they’re just being authentic. Here’s how Philadelphians, or anybody who doesn’t speak Neanderthal orders a cheesesteak: “Hi, could I please get a cheesesteak with (insert cheese here) and (insert onions, mushrooms, etc. here). Oh yeah, and whiz is disgusting. Most good cheesesteak places can make it taste good without cheating.
Myth: “Villanova is a great university in Philadelphia”
Reality: Villanova is a great university in Radnor Township, which is in Delaware County. Despite what Villanova students say, they go to school in Delaware County, not Philadelphia.
No need to beat a dead horse with a long, drawn-out explanation. Knock it off, Villanova. The students in real Philadelphia universities such as Temple, Drexel, UPenn, La Salle, St Joe’s, Philly U, etc. are getting annoyed. You’re the equivalent of that annoying little kid in the neighborhood who always wants to play ball with the big kids, gets told no, and watches them play through the fence while crying on the inside.
Myth: “Philadelphians are always angry all the time.”
Reality: Okay, maybe we’re a little more angry than people in other cities, but we’re also honest about it, and things in general.
We have our share of assholes, but so does every city. The difference is that our assholes get more attention than others. I don’t think Philadelphians are angry, I just think they’re very honest. Some of the nicest, most personable, and friendly people I’ve ever met in my life have been right here in Philly. It takes a special way of carrying oneself in order to avoid the rudeness that we’re supposedly known for. One cannot be phony, they must be honest themselves, and anyone who wants to go around acting like a condescending dickhead gets what they deserve. All that said, Philadelphians can do some incomprehensible things from time to time, and the city is finally starting to shed its image of being xenophobic and afraid to change the status quo in regards to a lot of things. The status quo is good with some things, bad for others. Here’s hoping that Philadelphia will continue to move forward, instead of constantly reaching into the past for something that just isn’t there any more.
Myth: “Philadelphia fans are the worst fans in all of sports. They booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs.”
Reality: Fuck yes we booed Santa Claus and threw snowballs at him. He deserved it.
Trolls on internet message boards, announcers of teams that aren’t in Philadelphia, and pretty much everyone at ESPN: please read what I’m about to say. Philadelphia fans have their share of bad behavior, but other cities have had their issues too. The Santa Claus story just won’t die, and it needs to because the whole thing was ridiculous even in 1969. The Eagles were terrible that year, the only saving grace was that they’d get to draft OJ Simpson with the first pick. Then the Eagles started winning, and gave up the ability to draft him. Add in the fact that “coach for life” Joe Kuharich had alienated the fans, and you got a recipe for disaster. The Santa Claus at the Christmas pageant during halftime of the game that fateful day was sloppily dressed, drunk, and was just not a good Santa. The guy who was booed and tormented said he thought it was funny, and he would have done the same thing.
Therefore, stop using this dumbass example to talk about how out of control we are. Or if you do, call attention to when other cities act stupid too. Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and New York all have their stories that get ignored. Let the story die. Besides, Santa deserved it.
Myth: “‘Streets of Philadelphia’ by Bruce Springsteen is one of the best songs ever written about Philadelphia and it makes me so happy to be from this area.”
Reality: “Streets of Philadelphia” has very little to do with the city itself. It’s actually about having AIDS, not being in Philadelphia.
It’s a good song, and a song I like. However, I don’t really understand why people tell me they drive across the Ben Franklin Bridge and they think of that song and how happy it makes them to be entering Philadelphia. “Streets of Philadelphia” is the Oscar-winning song that Bruce Springsteen wrote for the movie “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, about an AIDS-infected man who sues a high powered law firm in the city. The song is about how lonely Andrew (Hanks) feels after his last chance for legal representation (Washington) says that he wouldn’t see his case, at first. The whole movie is about challenging the commonly held beliefs at the time that people had about AIDS, and about how they were being made to feel like outcasts for having this horrific and deadly disease, sometimes through no fault of their own. The movie is terrific, and was pivotal in bringing issues of AIDS to the discussion of mainstream America.
However, “Philadelphia” could have taken place in any city…it just happened to take place here because it was based on a lawsuit that actually occurred here. The song is not about pride of being in or from Philadelphia. It’s about feeling lonely because of being shunned as a result of having AIDS at a time when no one truly understood the logistics of the disease. As an aside, see that movie if you haven’t because it’s really good.
Myth: “You have to drive the speed limit on Lincoln Drive, Kelly Drive, and Henry Drive. Those roads are dangerous!”
Reality: The only thing that makes those roads dangerous are the assholes who actually do drive the speed limit.
The speed limit on all those roads is 25mph. No one goes 25mph on those roads, mainly because there’s no reason to. It’s a good idea in theory, but if everyone else is going above the speed limit and there’s one slowpoke actually going 25….it creates a lot of angry people, lane changing, tailgating, etc. One would be better off just going above the speed limit like everyone else.
Myth: “Manayunk is so fun! I want to live there! Whoo!!!!!!”
Reality: Manayunk is full of douchebags and loses about 95% of its appeal after you graduate college.
I went out in Manayunk recently (I’m going to be 27 years-old in July) and I felt terribly out of place. Manayunk has a nice reputation as a good nightlife spot, but it’s only a good nightlife spot if you’re in college. Once you get older, one eventually realizes that going there for one of the many good restaurants isn’t even worth the hassle of getting there, finding parking, and dealing with drunken amateurs from St. Joe’s and Temple who can’t handle their liquor.
Myth: ”Everything about SEPTA is horrible. Typical Philadelphia can’t do anything right. New York and Washington DC have sooooo much better transit systems.”
Reality: SEPTA sucks sometimes, but it’s not completely their fault. Also, New York and DC and their federally funded transit systems can eat shit.
SEPTA has lots of grandiose plans that will never come to fruition such as expanding the Broad Street Line in NE Philly, providing rail service to Allentown, Reading, and Lancaster to name a few. Unfortunately these things will never happen because SEPTA constantly finds itself strapped for cash. An aging infrastructure means constant repairs to aging equipment and facilities. SEPTA tries, it really does. Some services more than others, obviously. They are still replacing the older trains on the regional rail with the newer, much nicer ones. They will also (supposedly) finally replace the paper/token ticketing system very soon. SEPTA will get you where you need to go if you know your way around its network. Most of the people who complain about how they’re always late should probably leave earlier if that’s such a big issue to them.
SEPTA has plenty of things to fix. Like many things in Philadelphia (cough…Philly International Airport), it was built for the city a long time ago, without accounting for what the city would eventually become in the 21st Century. But like the airport, there is slow but steady progress being made. The reason why DC and NYC have such efficient, technologically sound, and awesome public transit is because the federal government helps fund them due to the roles DC and NYC play in regards to our country’s politics and finances. Philly would be right there if we got the same help those cities got. Give SEPTA a break from time to time, they’re trying…sometimes.
Do you have any myth vs. reality that you’d like to share with us?