Maury Z. Levy

Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia magazine’

Poor Butterfly: The Muhammad Ali Story

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

1827506GI31_E34575401

[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 »

Advertisements

The Magic Bus: All Aboard The Oxford Circle Shuttle

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980), Uncategorized on June 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

By Maury Z. Levy

IT WAS RAINING NOW. It was Monday morning and the thick gray air was chilly and damp and it was raining now. The skies had been holding it in for a week and now they had 
burst open to soak the streets and break the promise of 
an early summer. People walked along quickly under black umbrellas with their collars up and their faces down and 
automobiles with snow tires still on made a whirring sound as they moved up Susquehanna Avenue, heading 
for the Mansion and the Park, never stopping.

For a week, it had been summer again. For a week, the 
kids with bandanas around their heads roamed the streets in shirtsleeves, while men stood together on corners and 
drank the contents of brown paper bags and women in 
housedresses pushed strollers up and down 17th Street looking for bargains.

For a week, the desperation of North Philadelphia was no longer quiet. For one great week of Indian spring North Philadelphia was alive and ticking with anticipation of the warmth ahead and some memories of some heat behind.

But the Monday morning rain put things back to normal. It was trash day and the beginning of another week.

The flat-red pushcart of the 15th Street Junk Shop 
made its way up French Street toward 17th. The man behind it was old and black and he was wearing a dark 
plastic raincoat with the hood up over his head and the drawstring knotted around his chin so that all that could 
be seen were the slits of eyes that stalked the curbside cans for salvage.

He pushed his way between the cars parked on one  side of the narrow street of ancient brownstones. It was the side of the street with the signs that read “NO PARKING 
MONDAY 7 AM TO 7 PM-PARK OTHER SIDE.” It was 7:20 
a.m. and French Street was asleep.

Bucking traffic, he turned right on 17th and pushed past 
the cozy old James L. Claghorn Elementary School. The rain made the gray 84-year-old building wetgray.

Claghorn takes up less than a third of the block. It is 
surrounded by a big black iron fence that comes to within a few feet of the tiny building. Pressing against one side 
of the fence—in what is supposed to be a schoolyard—is a black iron pole that holds a slightly bent basketball 
backboard. There isn’t even enough room in the yard for a half-court game and even less room to hang the blame, because back in 1884 outdoor sports were not exactly national pastimes.

Claghorn sticks out—an ancient school in a procession of old stores. The building was supposed to be torn down 
back in 1944, when it had reached its 60th birthday, but 
that was a war year and people had more important 
things to do than break up little old schools. Somehow it 
never got back on the demolition list and so for the past 
24 years Claghorn has been living on borrowed time.

Across the street from Claghorn is a luncheonette, the 
hub of what little activity there is at 7:30 on a Monday 
morning. There is a bus stop on the corner there and a 
handful of people were huddled in the doorway of the 
luncheonette to avoid the downpour and wait for their 
bus.

It was 7:40 now and the bus hadn’t come yet and the 
doorway was filled to capacity. As they craned their necks 
to watch for the bus, none of the people in the doorway 
seemed to take notice of the scattering of kids who 
made their way down 17th Street toward Claghorn, 
soggy brown lunch bags firmly in hand. 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 »

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.

The Selling of Mike Schmidt

In Business Philadelphia on September 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

How the Phillies’ all-time home run hero ended up being king of the hoagies.

By Maury Z. Levy

THE CHEERING HAS BEEN OVER FOR OVER A YEAR now. And the booing, that callous cacophony that alternately drove him to his best and drove him to the brink, is but a bitter memory. Now, out here in the real world where fair trade weighs heavier than foul balls, it is time for Mike Schmidt to wake up and smell the onions. Mike Schmidt, one of the best baseball players who ever lived, one of the greatest natural athletes in the history of sport, has had old number 20 retired, thank you very much, and is now selling hoagies in Richboro.

There is something about that that makes Mike Schmidt proud and something that makes him angry. Bo Jackson, who sells Nikes out the
wazoo, will never hit as many home runs as Mike Schmidt, but he’s on television every three minutes. Geez, even Tim McCarver, a nice guy but an average baseball player, beat Mike Schmidt out for a job as a color analyst on network TV. Tim McCarver couldn’t hold Schmidt’s bat when they played together in that championship season, but Tim McCarver, who does shtick, who tells bad jokes, who makes corny puns, is at network now.

And Lenny Dykstra, who’s had a good year or two as a baseball player, but is a pig of a man, will make more than Mike Schmidt ever made. And he will show up on David Letterman. And he will, like former felon Pete Rose, have kids across America sliding head first and getting dirty and learning how to spit and curse and dribble down their shirts.

But what about Mike Schmidt? What about the man with all the Gold Gloves? What about the man who hit more home runs than almost anyone else on the planet? What about everybody’s All-American? Tomorrow, he will be in the Hall of Fame. Today, he is selling hoagies in Richboro. He just doesn’t understand it. Then again, maybe he does.

“I DON’T LIKE COMPARISONS,” SCHMIDT SAYS.
”But I would think that my career speaks for itself. My image speaks for itself. My track record speaks for itself. My honesty, integrity, family life, all the things I’ve ever stood for and accomplished in my career are marketable.

“Occasionally, I get a little jealous that I’m not as easily marketable as an Andre Agassi, because he’s not married, he wears that off-the-wall shit, and he can do whatever he wants. There are a lot of people who can get away with doing things that make me a little jealous, things that I never did or can’t do now to help market myself.

“I’m marketable to Dean Witter and to banks and things like that. I’m marketable for the honest family man in me. And I have the local milk commercials and the Chevy spots. But I’m not a rebel. I’m not a guy who came back from drug addiction. I’m not a guy that people are lined up to write a book about because I spent two years in prison. Read the rest of this entry »

Lynne Abraham is the Best Man We’ve Got!

In Philadelphia Magazine (1970-1980) on September 16, 2009 at 1:39 am

Philly DA

SHE WAS VERY DEFINITELY DEAD. There was a bullet in her back. It had been there for two weeks. Today she died. Two cops brought her in from the hospital. They had been trying to keep her alive since they found her shot in a speakeasy with a Saturday Night Special. They carried her in on a stretcher and dumped her down on a tray. A man with a Polaroid camera hurried around to take pictures. They would go in the official morgue file, probably under a number because no one knew her name.

She was a dark black woman who looked like she was in her 40s. She was built big. When she was alive, she had very large breasts. Now that the life fluids were out of them, they were just large sacks drooping down both sides of her chest. The assistant medical examiner, trying to get a look at a scar on her side, pushed the right breast up and over back onto the chest, packing it firm with his hands so it would stay in place, the same way the guy behind the delicatessen counter makes a cold roast beef sandwich.

He rolled her over on her side and saw the hole in her back. “There’s our bullet,” he said, sticking his finger in the hole to try to get it out. “Son of a bitch won’t move.”

Lynne Abraham stepped closer. “Let me try it,” she said. She took off her lumber jacket and tossed it on the table. She tucked her Temple University T-shirt into her straight-legged jeans and went to work. Between the two of them, they got the bullet out. Lynne Abraham stepped back to get a paper towel. Some of the blood that now covered her index finger had dripped down on her white sneakers with the pointy toes.

It was a beautiful Sunday outside the morgue. The sun was strong and it was getting downright balmy. It was a nice day for a bike ride in the park. But the executive director of the Redevelopment Authority preferred spending her Sunday living with the dead. It was just force of habit. It wasn’t so long ago that she spent a good deal of time down here, as a top assistant district attorney in the homicide division. She would come down and watch autopsies. And since she had some background in forensic medicine, she might even help in some of them. Sometimes she found out more than the medical examiner. She always found out more than the cops.

She’d go from the morgue to the crime scene and dig up her own witnesses, collect her own evidence and prepare a closed case. It was her style, and she just can’t shake it.

A couple of hours ago, she was reading over proposals for the redevelopment of Washington Square West. Now she is walking in the refrigerator, a giant cold storage cabinet for unburied dead people on aluminum tables. She walks down the aisle and rolls them out like cheese trays, examining the wounds, figuring out the angle of entry of the bullet. She doesn’t want to get stale on this stuff. She is, after all, a political appointee. And she knows very well that one day she could be shipped right back to the DA’s office quicker than you could say Frank Rizzo.   Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: