Maury Z. Levy

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Pete Rose: The Playboy Interview

In Playboy magazine and the Playboy Guides (1979-1989) on June 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm

pete-rose-jockey

Twenty-some years ago, Peter Edward Rose was just another tough kid growing up in the river wards of Cincinnati. He was a tough kid who liked girls and fast and fancy cars and baseball. Today, at the age of 38, not much has changed about Pete Rose. The girls have turned to women and fast cars are getting more expensive. But Rose, who makes his living–and a very good one, at that–playing baseball, is still tough. And he is still very much a kid.

Rose may play with different toys now–a $4000 fur coat, an $8000 gold-and-diamond watch and a $44,000 car that goes 130 miles an hour–but he hasn’t really changed. Baseball has. The game has become big business and he has grabbed more than his share of the big bucks that go along with it. At an age when the major decision facing most players is whether to become a car salesman or to open a taproom, Rose was faced with the enviable task of choosing from among a slew of major-league teams offering him millions of dollars for starters. And Rose, who had never played a home baseball game outside Cincinnati, picked the Philadelphia Phillies, who would pay him at least $3,200,000 over four years.

But how, many asked, could Rose be worth the money? Well, he packs ball parks. And while, as a technician, he really can’t be ranked up there with the Dave Parkers, the Rod Carews and the Jim Rices, Rose has one very important thing going for him. He has become perhaps the most famous white sports star in the world.

Just last year, a world far beyond baseball watched as Rose look on the seemingly unbreakable record of Yankee great Joe DiMaggio–who hit safely in 56 straight games. In a streak that started in mid-June, Rose scratched, clawed, hustled and bunted his way to one plateau after another. On July 31, 1978, he set a National League mark of 44 straight games. The streak would stop there, but Pete Rose would go on to a White House visit with Jimmy Carter, a highly heralded tour of Japan and commercial deals that would make him millions. And while Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium was only a line drive away from his boyhood home, Rose had come a long way.

Rose is the son of a bank employee. His father’s passion for sports rubbed off easily on him. Too small to make it as a football player, he concentrated on baseball. He played hard and tough, but he never had a great deal of natural talent. Luckily, he knew somebody in the business. His uncle was a minor-league scout for his hometown team, the Reds. He talked them into giving the kid a tryout. Rose was impressive enough to be signed to a minor-league contract. He spent three years riding the battered buses of thefarm teams. The Reds finally called him up in 1963.

That’s when baseball people really started to take notice of this hard-nosed kid who ran to first on a base on balls, the hustling hot-shot who, instead of sliding, dove headfirst into bases. They noticed him enough to vote him Rookie of the Year. Read the rest of this entry »

Poor Butterfly: The Muhammad Ali Story

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on June 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

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[Maury Z. Levy: author’s note: In 1975, Muhammad Ali had been the king of the world for a long time. He was always surrounded by press people fighting for interviews. He talked a lot, but never let anyone get really close to him. Then a strange thing happened. He lost a fight to Joe Frazier. Reporters did a 180 and started following Frazier. Ali was alone. He wasn’t used to that. So, I got a call one morning from Ali’s press guy. He said Ali liked a Philadelphia magazine cover story I’d done on hockey flash Derek Sanderson. He said Ali wanted me to come up to his Deer Lake, PA training camp and spend a couple hours with him. The couple hours turned into a couple days. I got to train with him, I got unlimited access to him. Here’s the story…]

THE FORMER CASSIUS CLAY remembers when he was “just another nigger.” “It started back in Louisville. That’s where I was born. I was riding a bus one day. Didn’t have no Cadillacs yet. I was riding this bus and I was reading in this newspaper about Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson. This was just when I had decided to turn professional, right after I won the Olympic gold medal in Rome. I was sure I could beat either one of them if I had the chance. But I was just as sure that I wouldn’t get the chance because nobody had ever heard of me. So I sat there thinking. How was I ever going to get a shot at the title? Well, it was right on that bus I decided. If I ever wanted to get noticed, I’d have to start talking it up. I’d have to do better than that. I’d have to start screaming and yelling and acting like some kind of a nut.

“You see, I figured if I did that, pretty soon people would get tired of hearing from me and they’d be insisting that I put my fists where my mouth was and fight who­ever the champ was. They’d watch me fight. And I would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. That saying has stuck with me to this day—float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

“I started off pretty slow because I had to sort of feel my way around, find out what the folks, the reporters especially, wanted to hear. I told this one reporter I was going to knock this boy down in the sixth round, and he printed it and then I did it. That’s the first time I said I am the greatest. I figured if I didn’t say it, nobody else was going to say it for me.

“First the people were saying, ‘What’s that bigmouth talking about?’ But I kept fighting and talking and pretty soon people were saying I was the greatest. And I just said, ‘I told you so, didn’t I?’

“Now where do you think I’d be right now if I didn’t use all that shouting and hollering to get the public to notice me? Do you think I’d be sitting here in some $250,000 house in Cherry Hill? Hell, no. I’d be back down there in Louisville washing cars or running some elevator and saying ‘yes suh’ and ‘no suh’ and knowing my place. Instead of that, I’m the highest-paid athlete in the world and I’m the greatest fighter in the world. And that’s just the way I planned it.”

Like all things with Muhammad Ali, the former Cassius Clay, the explanation is a little oversimplified. But it’s very basically true. People around Philadelphia tend to take Ali for granted. Maybe it’s because he’s lived around here for the past five or six years, because he’s trained and done most of his talking around here. People just tend to see him as part of the local color. You lose perspective.   Read the rest of this entry »

Dead End at Toms River: A Bizarre Murder Mystery

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980), Uncategorized on February 2, 2011 at 9:41 am

A BLOODY INQUEST INTO THE MUTILATION CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY
By Maury Z. Levy

ON SUNDAY THE TURKEY BUZZARDS flew low to the pines. You could hear their wings flapping a few hundred 
yards away as they swooped down into the garbage that 
hid in the trees. They are big, lazy birds, the turkey 
buzzards.

They were not an unusual sight to the people who lived 
in the dirty white cottages on Oakwood Drive or to the 
people in the wooden piney shacks on Crescent Avenue. 
Oakwood is a straight arrow off Route 571, a dead-end 
turn from the Phillips 66 station. Crescent is a big loop 
from 571. You pass the shacks first, the ones with the 
Russian names out front in this strange settlement called 
Rova Farms, where the people are peasants who live off 
the land, eating from little vegetable gardens fertilized by 
the dust of the road that passes a few feet from their 
doors.

It’s a very insular community that revolves around the 
big church around the corner on the Cassville-Freehold 
Road, a stately structure topped with big golden onion 
domes. Behind the church is a nice clean cemetery where 
the Russian peasants have buried their dead for almost 
100 years.

You can see the tips of the golden onions from the 
point where Oakwood and Crescent run into each other 
and end. There are traces of a crude dirt road leading off 
that intersection into a hole in the woods. It’s a street 
with no name, a road that’s the width of one car, if you’re 
crazy enough to try to drive it. It’s murder on your wheels.

You curve past old beer cans and rubbish and you wind 
around the giant worn-out truck tires to the blond wood 
Emerson television set with the busted picture tube that 
sits two blocks back in the middle of the road that goes 
nowhere. Dead end.

These woods have been the dumping ground for a lot of things. The trees are very tall and very thick. So most 
people didn’t give a second thought to the turkey buzzards. 
Maybe an early season hunter had left his prey to rot or 
maybe there was something edible in the roadside trash.

But by Wednesday in what had been a very hot and 
humid week, things began to get a little strange. The 
humidity put a heavy lock on the air and a terrible smell 
started coming from the woods. The radio dispatch room 
in the Jackson Township police station got a couple calls 
about it. They sent a man out in a car. He drove up 
Crescent and down Oakwood. He smelled it too.

ON SATURDAY Steve Soltys brought the family down 
from Jersey City. Soltys finished work at 5:00 and came 
home and changed to get the blood off his clothes. He and 
Helene put the two kids and the dog in the car and drove 
to their summer cottage on Oakwood Drive, about eight 
miles west of Lakewood and a short holler from Toms 
River, the Ocean County seat.

While the family unpacked, Soltys let the collie out. 
But Yukee started charging through the woods after rabbits. Steve Soltys, 34, had to run out and get him. He got 
close enough to see the dog had something in his mouth. 
It wasn’t a rabbit. He came up closer and it looked like 
an arm, it had fingers and everything. First he thought it 
was part of a doll. And then he saw the fingernails. They 
were long and well-manicured and were covered with very 
bright red polish. It was a human arm. Read the rest of this entry »

The Coming of Age of Mark Moskowitz: The Bar Mitzvah Story Your Rabbi Doesn’t Want You to Read

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on February 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

By Maury Z. Levy

“BAR MITZVAH,” the rabbi shouted, “is not a verb.” Eddie Golden, who is the leader of Eddie Golden and his Band of Gold, is blowing his horn so loud into the microphone that the rabbi can hardly hear himself, which is an important thing for rabbis since they are usually the only ones who listen.

The people behind him are dancing a freylach, which is something like a hora, which is something like insanity. To do this you need at least 20 people holding hands in a circle going at top speed in different directions around a 70-year-old grandmother doing a Russian Cossack dance on the floor.

Bubby Katz, in her strapless, floor-length, scarlet gown by Eva Melnick, head of Eva Melnick Creations, is shaking a leg or two. “Let’s hear it for Bubby Katz!” Eddie Golden yells. The cousins cheer.

“Bar Mitzvah,” the rabbi shouts, “is a noun. You do not get Bar Mitzvahed. You become a Bar Mitzvah, or you
celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. You do not get Bar Mitzvahed.”

“Hey, get a load of the rabbi here,” Uncle Meyer says. “Hey, Lil, look at this. He got all fapitzed. Look at this 
suit, Lil, it’s just like our Eric’s. Where’s Eric? Eric, the rabbi’s wearing your suit. Where’d you get it, 
Rabbi? You got it at Diamond’s, right? That’s where we 
got Eric’s. Where the hell is that kid? Lil, where’s Eric? I want the rabbi to see his suit.”

“I think he’s in the bathroom,” Aunt Lil says.”I think he’s throwing up.”

“Damn kid. It’s not even his Bar Mitzvah. I’d better go 
find him. Here, Rabbi, have a Seven and Seven. Lil, talk to the rabbi until I get back.”

“I don’t think we’ve met formally, Rabbi. I’m Lil 
Moskowitz, Mark’s aunt. And that was my husband Meyer 
Moskowitz, Mark’s uncle. We both enjoyed your speech 
today at the Temple, especially when you talked about teaching Jewish heritage to these young kids today, Rabbi. 
You don’t know how important that is.

“When we were their age our parents taught us what 
it was to be a Jew. They taught us all the important things about the religion—like how it was a sin to go out 
with Gentiles. But these kids today, you think they 
listen? My own Eric even. Rabbi, last month my Eric 
brought home a girl to us. Rabbi, I’m ashamed to tell you 
this, her name was Carmella. Carmella! Can you believe 
it, Rabbi? You try to teach a kid about Judaism. What would you do, Rabbi?”

Meyer is back. “Lil, I’m gonna kill that kid. I swear I’m gonna kill him. Eric, I tell him, stay away from the bar. You know your stomach. Don’t look for trouble. Drink ginger ale. But no, three whiskey sours he has and now it’s all over his goddamn suit and we’re goin’ home. Lil, I’ll kill him, I swear I will. Oh, excuse us, Rabbi. Something’s come up. We’ve got to go. Nice meeting you,
I’m sure.”

“THE AGE OF THE Bar Mitzvah has varied a little through the centuries,” the rabbi tells a Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Steve Carlton Story

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on January 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

By Maury Z. Levy

THERE WAS NO REAL SENSE in splitting hairs over it. The decision to get rid of the moustache was made by a very distinguished committee. Danny Ozark, the new 
manager of the Phillies, told him he’d rather see him without it. He told him this to his face. He said he just didn’t 
care for moustaches on ballplayers but that, of course, he wouldn’t demand that he shave. It’s hard to demand anything from the best pitcher in baseball, from the man who was voted the professional athlete of the year, from a guy who makes $165,000 to start. You can only suggest.

This is what Paul Owens, the second member of the 
three-man committee for the resolution of the moustache, did in his office at Veterans Stadium while he was packing 
up to go to spring training. Owens is the general manager of the team. Last year he was field manager for a while too, after they finally got rid of the Italian guy. Owens is looking over a pile of publicity pictures to help decide what will be used in this year’s yearbook. There are some with the moustache and some without. He separates them 
into two piles.

“I think we’ll be safest going with these,” he said, holding up the clean-shaven shots. “Now don’t quote me on that. I mean, he doesn’t know about this yet. He’s still 
got the moustache, you know.”

The third and deciding vote came from a 46-year-old 
schoolteacher from Buena Park, California. Larue Harcourt is president of the Athletes Financial Services Inc., a company of some 35 highly trained professionals who help make such momentous decisions. Larue Harcourt would 
like to see him take off the moustache because at this very 
moment he is working on getting him lined up with a big 
sponsor to do a shaving commercial. The marketing men 
have decided that people prefer to buy shave cream and 
razors from people who shave their whole face. There 
are just a couple inches more credibility in it.

The selling of Steve Carlton will call for a flawless product. There’ll be no trouble selling him locally. But the national picture is too fuzzy. Joe Namath could have a 
moustache because he’s a bachelor who plays for a winning team. On those counts, Carlton has two strikes 
against him.

The only one who had no real say in the moustache matter was Steve Carlton himself, in spite of the fact 
that it was his lip. But Carlton really didn’t care that much. “I don’t like to think about those things,” he said. “I just 
want to go out there and pitch and win. The moustache is only a distraction. I hate distractions. I can always grow a moustache. I can’t always win 30 games.”

Last year, Steve Carlton won 27 games for the Phillies, which came out to almost half of what the whole team won. It is indeed something to win 27 games for a team 
that ends up in dead last place with the worst record in baseball. Steve Carlton came out of last season like a perfectly cut 27-carat diamond in a setting of zircon 
baguettes.

He won the Cy Young Award, which meant he was the 
best pitcher in the league. And he won the Hickok Belt, which meant he was the best athlete in the country. He became quite an item. This shy guy who’d spent the first 
six years of his major league career in St. Louis, piling up 
a not-so-overwhelming 77-62 record, needed only a few weeks after his trade to Philadelphia to show that he was 
going to be the biggest thing to hit this town since Robin 
Roberts. Read the rest of this entry »

Jimmy Stewart: The Interview

In Video Review on January 23, 2011 at 10:02 am

AMERICA’S FAVORITE ACTOR TALKS CANDIDLY ABOUT KNOCKING HOLLYWOOD ON ITS EAR AND GARBO ON HER ASS

He is silver now, but no less golden. At 78, James Maitland Stewart looks back fondly on a career of some 80 feature movies. He’s played cowboys and con­gressmen, baseball players and bandleaders, ranchers and runamucks. And through it all, this Princeton graduate who stumbled into Hollywood by way of summer stock has had a special air of innocence and elegance that has made him, without a doubt, America’s favorite actor.

His craft, most often seen on the late show in recent years, is now being preserved for the ages on home video. MCA, which released the long-awaited Hitchcock series a while back, just came out with five more Stewart classics: The Glenn Miller Story, The Rare Breed, Bend of the River, Winchester ’73 and Thunder Bay.

As Stewart relaxed in a comfortable armchair in his Beverly Hills home, surrounded by almost as many awards as memories, editor Maury Z. Levy talked with him about his life and loves, his tapes and times.

LEVY: You, quite obviously, have a VCR in your home. Do you use it a lot for taping?

STEWART: Well, um, actually, no. You see, so many of the old movies I’m interested in are on so damn late at  night, and I just can’t keep awake anymore. But taping them from television—I just don’t find that a good thing to do. Especially, you know, if it’s a picture that I’m in. I just find the quality so gull-darn awful. The movie’s scratchy, the sound is bad. That’s why I think this new idea of prerecorded home video is so great. They go and do the taping and the cassette work at the studio, and they do it directly from the film master. I’ve seen some of the stuff and it’s absolutely crystal clear, and the sound is great.

LEVY: And that’s why you’ve let them release so many of your films on home video.

STEWART: Yes, well, that’s right. They just make the whole thing so, well, so attractive. Also, you don’t have to wait until two in the morning to see it. You can just invite people in whenever you want. Throw a little party, you know, and still get to bed at a respectable hour.

LEVY: But will this mean the end of movie theaters?

STEWART: I’ll tell you something there. For some of them, it might not be such a bad idea. Now I’m talking about those little 300-seat houses with the bad projection and the bad sound. I think it’s very disturbing what they let these things get down to. But I do hear that some folks are building bigger and better picture houses. I know there are several being built right here in Los Angeles. And, in other places around this great country, they’re reopening some grand old houses that have been closed for a long time. The owners were smart enough not to have them torn down, because they just had a feeling that the movie audience that used to be would come back.

LEVY: And will they?

STEWART: I think so. I think we might see a nice mix. People will watch the videocassettes one or maybe two nights a Read the rest of this entry »

The Sex Chapter

In Gym Psych: The Insider's Guide to Health Clubs on January 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

[From the book Gym Psych: the Insider’s Guide to Health Clubs, by Maury Z. Levy and Jay Shafran (Fawcett Columbine, 1986)]

They used to call it the broad jump. In 1968, at the Olympics in Mexico City, U.S. jumper Bob Beamon shattered the existing world record with a leap of twenty-nine feet two and one-half inches. Some seventeen years later, the rest of the world is still trying to come close. What was Beamon’s secret? How did he prepare himself the night before the big jump? With sex. Beamon had intercourse the night before. Hell, he screwed his brains out. He was very cool about the whole thing. Afterward, he admitted the sex, and his only comment was, “What do I do now?” Oh, a cigarette usually does the trick, Bob.

There’s always been some mystery, if not confusion,
about sex and sports. Different athletes handled it in
different ways. Muhammad Ali always stayed celibate for
six weeks before a fight. Did it help? Ali thought so. And
it’s hard to argue with his record. But for those of you,
men and women alike, who are more concerned fighting
the battle of the bulge than the heavyweight champ­ionship, there are some things you should know about
sex and athletics.

Sex isn’t all that taxing. Intercourse, even at its most
passionate, burns up about 250 calories an hour. And
unless you’re going for a world record in the sack, it’s
unlikely that you’ll lose more than twenty-five calories,
since the average lovemaking session lasts about five
minutes. (Did you ever wonder who times these things?
And where do they hide?)

To put those twenty-five calories into a gym perspec­tive, you’ll burn off about twice that in your preworkout
warm-up and stretch. For those of you not yet in the gym,
it takes about twenty-five calories to walk up a flight of
stairs. So if your bedroom is on the second floor, you’re
burning just as much energy going as you are coming. So
to speak.

Some athletes fear that sex will ruin their con­centration. Actually, just the opposite might be true. Sex,
like exercise, is a good way of venting stress—of losing a
lot of pent-up negative energy.

You have to know something about how the body works
to understand this. The adrenaline flow, the heightened
blood pressure—the same biological process that gets you
pumped up for sports—also gets you pumped up for sex.

This is where the brain comes in. The brain plays traffic
cop. Once the juices start to flow, the brain sends them to
the areas involved in the specific activity. And since the
body can only concentrate fully on one stimulus at a time,
you’re unlikely to see a man get an erection doing a bench
press.

This bodily flow of one-way traffic also explains why
after what seems like an exhausting workout, most people
still have lots of energy for sex. In fact, while getting those
juices flowing without draining the vital organs, the
workout now becomes a very interesting and very
effective form of foreplay. And there is data, dating back to
Kinsey, that shows the sex drive and sexual frequency of
an athlete exceeds those of the general population.

Lately, there’s been some speculation about internal
stimuli. You might have picked up on this if you watched
the Olympic marathon. Some of the runners interviewed
talked about a mysterious “natural high” that comes over
them at a certain point in the race. Some said it was like a
cocaine high—you just sort of float along, aware of things
outside your body, but Read the rest of this entry »

Andrea Mitchell: A Nose for News, a Face for Radio

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on January 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

By Maury Z. Levy

The other reporters, the ones without the pencils in their hands, the ones without the questions in their heads,were gobbling up the $100-a-plate meal like it was real food. Andrea Mitchell, who was covering this Democratic dinner for both KYW radio and KYW television, was the only one not eating. It’s not that she wasn’t hungry. It’s just that she’s a 
stickler for facts. And she just won’t
swallow a lie, even the smallest one.

“You didn’t like your chicken cordon bleu?” the waiter asked as he lifted her still full plate from the table.

“This,” she said, “is not cordon 
bleu. This is an inedible lump of chicken on a slice of canned ham camouflaged with cold gravy.”

Anyway, she was too busy running the dinner to eat. She picked up a copy of the program and skimmed down to the end. Teddy Kennedy wasn’t scheduled to speak until 9:15, which probably meant he wouldn’t get on until at least 10:15.

“No way,” Andi Mitchell said. “If 
he doesn’t get on by 9, I’ve got to let 
the film crew go. And we’re not going to have anything for the 11 o’clock 
news.”

She pushed her way up to the head 
table on the very large Civic Center 
floor. On the stage, at the right, the 
entertainment was going full blast. Some people in costumes were singing selections from The King and I, which seemed appropriate enough. She shoved her way down the 
crowded front aisle, the one that was full of security guards. One of the guards told her to stop and go the other way. She ignored him. The next 
guard grabbed her by the arm and 
told her a little less gently. “Mr. Camiel,” he said, “doesn’t want anybody in this aisle. You’ll have to go back to the press table. You’ll have to 
go the other way.”

She looked him dead in the eyes. “No,” she said, “I’m going this way.”

Before push got to shove, Bill Green
jumped down from the head table 
and called the goons off. He asked Andi Mitchell what the matter was. She told him about her deadline. “You people do this thing,” she said, “for the publicity. What good is it if 
you don’t get any?”

“I know it’s asinine, Andi,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can do 
about it.”

“Sure you can,” she said, “go tell 
your buddy Camiel he’s screwing up 
my television feed. Go tell him people won’t even know Teddy Kennedy was in town tonight if he doesn’t get this thing moving.”

Bill Green shrugged his shoulders and said he would try. He went over to Pete Camiel, the city’s Democratic 
boss, and started talking. First Camiel was shaking his head “no.” Then Green pointed to Andi Mitchell down there in the front row, where she shouldn’t have been, and Camiel stopped shaking. He quickly started talking to some other people at the table, including Teddy Kennedy. And then, when the music stopped, Pete Camiel went up to the podium to make an announcement. Andi Mitchell signaled her film crew. “I think we’ve got it,” she said.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Pete Camiel said, “there has been a change in the program. As you know, Senator Kennedy was scheduled to be our final speaker. But the Senator has 
just informed me that he has another commitment tonight. And so, we are changing the program to make him
our first speaker.”

The crowd cheered. Andi Mitchell smiled. Teddy Kennedy didn’t have 
 Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Savitch: ‘Please Don’t Send Me Panties!’

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on January 20, 2011 at 11:44 am

 

By Maury Z. Levy

Saturday is pink, which is only fitting. She is standing there in the middle of the newsroom, Jessica Savitch, somewhere in between Orien Reid and Al Meltzer, and she is flashing her panties.

Maybe this is not the most professional thing to do. Mort Crim doesn’t go around showing his jockey shorts in public. But then Jessica Savitch is still pretty young, 26, and pretty green—they fix that up with makeup.

The panties are a gift from an admirer in Allentown. There are a lot of them, admirers. There is even a whole Jessica Savitch fan club, people who do nothing but live for weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 on Channel 3 to watch her anchor the local news, people who sit there all week through four newscasts a day hoping to catch a glimpse of her reporting on a fire.

It has become a cult, almost. Jessica Savitch, in about a year and a half here, has probably gained the biggest following of any local female television person since Pixanne left. She did leave, didn’t she? Or maybe she’s doing Gene London’s show.

Anyway, she is holding up the panties, the different-colored ones that came in the plain brown wrapper, she is holding them up, all seven pair of 
them, and reading off the days of the week embroidered on them, which she already knew by heart. Don’t let that blonde hair fool you.

There is a card, a big one, that came with the gift. The guy from Allentown paid two and a half bucks for it. It’s your basic Hallmark foldout, but he’s written his own messages on it in pencil: “How would you like to spend a weekend at a ski resort with me? I love you much. I am very interested in marrying you.”

The panties were nothing new. They send her gifts all the time, these people. One Christmas, some guy sent her five $100 bills and didn’t bother to sign the card. “I’ve enjoyed you all year,” he wrote, “and I just wanted to thank you. Please buy something nice 
for yourself.” Jessica Savitch gave the money to charity.

She says she doesn’t understand a lot of this, how she has become the sex symbol of the ’70s to a lot of people in Cherry Hill and Chestnut Hill and at least one guy from Allentown. She appreciates it and she resents it. Jessica Savitch, who has a very pretty face, is not just another pretty face. In 
fact, she’d even give you an argument on the pretty part.

“I’m a very flawed person,” she says. “I’ve got this lisp. People in television are not supposed to have a lisp. I have a very square jaw and my 
skin breaks out terribly and my hair 
just never lies flat and my front tooth 
is chipped.” She forgot to mention that her legs are skinny, which is why she never wears dresses.

But somehow the way it all falls together is enough to knock you over.

She didn’t always look this good.
She used to purposely tone down her 
act, because if she came on too much like the blonde bombshell, people would only talk. They’d say she got 
her job by flicking her eyelashes or dating the program director. The raps are nothing new. She’s got a lot of things going against anybody recognizing the real talents she has—the brains, the imagination, the drive, the on-camera presence in a medium that has been dominated by men.

“I had no one to emulate,” she 
says. “Who did I have to try to be 
like? Walter Cronkite? John Facenda? Read the rest of this entry »

The Best of Philly. And the Worst: In the Beginning

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on January 24, 2010 at 10:53 am

By Maury Z. Levy

God couldn’t be here tonight, so we’ve taken this opportunity to fill in for Him. This of course is the ultimate arrogance, presenting a list of the best and worst of anything. Who are we, you might ask, to make such judgments? Well, this list represents the input of a lot of 
people.

The job of compiling it was not unlike building the Holland Tunnel. We had our share of casualties. People washed away in a foamy sea of milkshakes. People whose 
clothes were torn to shreds by bad cleaners. People who had their ears pierced three and four times. People who had their hair cut beyond recognition.

We did all of this for you, of course. And we certainly hope you appreciate it. We’ve saved you the trouble of trying every greasy spoon in town the next time you’re in the mood for a pizza or a steak sandwich. We’d like to thank the people who make Maalox for making this all 
possible.

We’ve saved you the trouble of shopping around for clothes or standing on the wrong corner waiting for a cab. And we offer you the best place to pick up a backgammon 
game. And the best place to pick up a secretary. And a lot more.

We surely don’t expect you to agree with all of our choices. Of course you’ll have your own expert opinions on a lot of these items. And you’ll think your opinions are 
better than ours. Well, you’re certainly entitled to that. That’s why they make ice milk.

FOOD

Ice cream

Best: Bassett’s in the Reading Terminal Market has the purest flavorings and the highest butterfat content around. Great if you love ice cream. A little hairy if you’ve got a heart condition.

Worst: Greenwood Dairies on Route I just north of Penndel. Used to be a pig’s paradise. Somehow, they’ve eliminated the paradise part.

Soft pretzels

Best: Twist and Bake at 2 1/2 North 13th Street has them big and hot and fresh and cheap. Worst: Spectrum after a 76ers game. They’re small and cold and expensive. And lonely.

Steak sandwiches

Best: Pat’s in South Philly. If the peppers arc still good enough for the Mummers, then some things never change.

Worst: Pat’s in the Northeast. You can take the name out of South Philly, but the quality just doesn’t travel well. Even the bread’s soggy.

Pizza

Best: Fonzo’s at 48th and Chestnut, in the heart of ethnic West Philly. Crust is crisp and consistent. Ask Dom to give you the works. Tell him Jack McKinney sent you.

Worst: Shakey’s. Tastes like an American cheese sandwich with ketchup.

Steak

Best: Arthur’s on Walnut Street, an obvious choice that’s 
tough to top.

Worst: Emerson’s Ltd. in the Plymouth Meeting Mall. 
They’re not called limited for nothing. No matter how you 
order it, it seems to come out the same. Burned.

Chocolate cake

Best: Rindelaub’s on 18th Street. You don’t have to be Aryan to enjoy the moist sweetness of the German delight.

Worst: The Tastykake trio. It gets smaller as the prices get bigger.

Meal under $1

Best: Gino’s. If it’s good enough for the cops. . . .

Worst: Bain’s. They’ve tried to clean up their act, but it’s just not worth it.

Meal under $2

Best: Sabina’s in Port Richmond. The best Polish food around. No joke. Try the kielbasa.

Worst: Seafood Unlimited on South 20th Street. Don’t let the name fool you.

Meal over $25

Best: Le Bee Fin, the head of the class.

Worst: Cobblestones, unless you order steak.

Hoagies

Best: The unnamed luncheonette at 10th and Fitzwater. One of the few places around still using old original Italian ingredients. The ham’s enough to let you make a pig 
of yourself.

Worst: Blimpy’s. How onomatopoetic can you get?

Brunch

Best: Lautrec. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and the New York Times too.

Worst: The Marriott, where the creamed chipped beef wouldn’t exactly make you re-enlist. Orange juice is extra. So is warmth.

Cheesecake

Best: Aunt Sylvia’s, upstairs at 123 South 18th Street. It’s rich and creamy and light. A memorable experience that won’t lay on you for a week.

Worst: The yellow peril at Horn & Hardart, unless you’re 
a sawdust freak.

Candy

Best: Bayard’s on Route 70 in Cherry Hill. They roll their own, but it’s legal and fattening.

Worst: Fannie Mae, anywhere. Cheap in more ways than one. The box is tastier.

Milkshake

Best: The Cosmic Kitchen on Germantown Avenue. Only natural ingredients and fresh fruit are used. It’s called a smoothie. It’s also a cheapie.

Worst: Roy Rogers. Someone should teach them to pull 
the trigger on the mixing machines.

Coffee

Best: Taylor’s Country Store on Sansom Street. The kind you’d grind at home. And you can keep going back for 
more.

Worst: Any machine owned by ARA.

Scrapple

Best: Habersett’s, cooked at home.

Worst: Horn & Hardart again. Tastes like burned oatmeal.

Breakfast

Best: Ponzio’s on the Ellisburg Circle in Cherry Hill. Big, hot tasty portions. Quick and clean.

Worst: Dewey’s, where you’re bound to get a cold shoulder with your cold toast.

Deli

Best: The Famous at 4th and Bainbridge, where you can 
still get it while it’s hot. Fresh, not fatty. Corned beef is 
excellent. Your mouth could water driving by.

Worst: Day’s at 18th and Spruce. The cold cuts are certainly better than the 7-11. But you can’t say that for the 
price, the service and the portions.

Salad bar

Best: Wildflowers. it’s just unending. You even get assorted cheese, warm bread and tomatoes. Remember tomatoes?

Worst: Victoria Station on Route 202 in Valley Forge. It’s great if you’re a rabbit. Otherwise, the unrelenting lettuce wears a bit thin.

Cheese shop

Best: The Blueberry Barn on Main Street in Marlton, N.J. It’s hard to figure out what a place with such a selection is doing so far in the sticks, but the natives aren’t asking questions, just enjoying.

Worst: The deli counter at Pantry Pride.

Hamburgers

Best: H.A.Winston’s. Burgers with an accent (not MSG) 
of international flavor. A large menu goes well with the large portions.

Worst: Marbett’s on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden. Can you find the hidden hamburger in this sandwich?

Hot dog

Best: Deitz and Watson. Buy some and cook them at home. Those little men on the street corners are still Greek

Worst: At a Phillies’ game. They go well with a losing team.

French fries

Best: Zern’s in Gilbertsville (on Route 73 right past Boyertown). Made right in front of your eyes. Thick and rich and crisp. Served in a cone with vinegar or mayonnaise. A 
super tasty bargain.

Worst: The Paper Plate on 15th Street. A real fast food place, so fast they sometimes forget to cook them.

Crabs

Best: The Crab Shack, Wilmington. Great food. funky atmosphere.

Worst: Kelly’s on Ludlow Street. No crab like an old crab.

Onion soup

Best: Bistro Déjà Vu. Super-secret recipe. The only thing we can reveal is the Swiss cheese on top.

Worst: Pavio’s. Try to find the onions at three convenient locations.

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