A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation with a few ladies and the topic turned to boots. One of them said she had gotten hers at Macy’s in Springfield Mall. The conversation kept flowing. The other one said she had purchased her pair at Macy’s Philadelphia and everyone stopped talking and looked down to check them out. One lady said, “Oh, they have a great boot selection there.” Another added, “I was hoping to get in there for some holiday shopping.” The conversation then evolved into a discussion of all everyone’s favorite discount, unique or hip places to shop in the city.
What is it about anything in Philly that suddenly upgrades the store, the restaurant or the concert , play or film venue to another whole level? Sentences like, “We saw that movie at The Ritz” or “I saw that play at The Academy” make us pay a little more attention to the conversation.
Even though most of us live only 10-30 minutes outside of Philly in the burbs, we always make our trip eastward into “a special destination,” a little more glamorous , compared to if we go to something 10-30 minutes westward, further into suburbia. If we go to a restaurant “in the city,” we probably get a little more dressed up than going to a local suburban restaurant. The same goes for a show “in the city” or even a shopping trip “in the city.”
Even my friends and relatives who grew up in the city, once they moved out to the suburbs, begin to treat the city as something special, giving more weight to any event within its borders.
Whatever is going on in the city, from a new exhibit opening at the Franklin Institute or at the Constitution Center, to a concert at the Wells Fargo or the Mann Center, we hear about it in all directions. Often, it feels as if everyone in the world is there but us. It seems people just love to talk about the exciting things they’ve done in the city because most events are so extraordinary and spectacular. Our friends will surely tell us they’ve been to The Walnut Street Theater to see a show, but they may forget to mention they’ve been to one of our community playhouses, even though they most likely enjoyed both.
Let’s face it, I , too, get revved up anytime I get an opportunity to go into the city anywhere, from South Philly to Center City to Fishtown or Manayunk. There’s just something hipper, more edgy and more glamourous and sophisticated about going to an event, restaurant or venue “in the city.” It gets your Adrenaline
flowing. Look how many people load the trains, heading for a destination other than a job. When the Eagles are playing, the Flower Show comes to town or The Boss is in concert at Citizens Bank Park, people flock to the city in droves. We have a lot of great things happening in our Delco neighborhoods, but let’s face it, the truly amazing stuff—like a visit from the Pope, usually only happens in the big city.
This past week, I trekked into Center City twice. I went to view the Art Museum of Philadelphia’s new exhibit, “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism 1910-1950,” which was just as breathtaking as I imagined. On display until January 8, the large exhibit takes a new and long overdue look at an extraordinary moment in the history of Mexican art, exploring the rich and fascinating story of a period of remarkable change. The landmark exhibition features a wide range of images, from portable murals and large and small paintings to prints and photographs, books and broadsheets. Just like every time I go to the Art Museum of Philadelphia, I get sucked into its beauty and extravagance and wonder why I don’t go there more often. If you like the great talents of Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo and David Alfaro Siqueiros, then you will thoroughly enjoy this exhibit. So make the effort and go!
While getting my culture on this week, I also went to dinner in the city at Capital Grille Friday night and then to see the Philly POPS at the Kimmel Center. Under the direction of Michael Krajewski, the POPS, the largest stand -alone pops orchestra in the United States, presented a special show, “Elvis, The King’s Songbook.” Again, the talent was unbelievable! Special guests were Allison Blackwell (Her voice was nothing short of amazing) and Dave Bennett, a multi-instrument phenomenon who seriously could have had a solo show he was so incredibly good. This show was so great, that it inspired me to get my tickets to the Philly POPS Christmas show coming up. We are so lucky to have them in “our city.” There is nothing quite like going into Philly at Christmastime to see the POPS, the department store displays, the Comcast Center’s high-resolution LED display, Christmas Village at Love Park and the old Wanamaker light show that’s now at that same center city Macy’s I mentioned earlier. This is a tradition many of us had with our parents or grandparents when we were children and we want to perpetuate with our own offspring.
Big cities like Philly are crowded, challenging, noisy, and competitive, but they are also a hub of energy, and the latest and greatest in culture, art, food and entertainment. There’s always a cool concert, a huge new festival or a trendy new restaurant that you just “have to” try. The pace moves so quickly in the city and there’s so much to continually discover, you just have to get energized and excited!
I just received a copy of the new book, “100 Things To Do In Philadelphia Before You Die,” by Irene Levy Baker (www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com). When I picked up the book to read, I was thinking there weren’t going to be too many things left for me to put on my bucket list. Surprisingly, there were quite a few places listed that I still have to check out. I had never even heard about some before . Did you know there’s a shoe museum in Philly or a Fabric Workshop & Museum? I didn’t. Plus, there’s a whole lot more in this gem of a book that I need to now go discover. Although the book includes the tried-and-true for most of us, it also talks about some hidden little treasures that I know I want to eventually check out. Levy-Baker will be doing a book talk/signing in the Sycamore Room at Swarthmore College’s Inn/Community Store on October 29 from 3 to 4 p.m. If you have any Philly-related toursim questions for her, this would be a chance to get them answered straight from a reliable source.
I don’t know about you, but when I travel and people ask me where I’m from, I say “Philadelphia.” I know this is common to most of us because I’ve seen people around town donning t-shirts that say, “Delaware County, claiming we're from Philly since 1789.” Technically, I know that I live in the Philly suburb of Delco, but “Philly” just seems like the better answer to let a stranger from out-of-town know what I am all about. You can’t accurately explain Delco, but if I say I’m from Philly, they’ll know I like cheesesteaks, scrapple and soft pretzels, cheer on the Phillies, and can be an impromptu amateur tour guide at the Italian Market, the Reading Terminal and several other sites around town. And don’t even get me started about how much I love the Mummers!
Yes, so while I am proud to wear my “Miss Delco” hat on a daily basis, I also like to sport my “Philly hat” at least once a week to take advantage of our proximity to the city and all it has to offer. After all these years, going into Philly still gets my heart pumping and puts a little more pep into my step, and I can guarantee that I’m not the only city-loving suburbanite who feels that way. On that happy note, although I have a ton of stuff coming up in Delco to which I am looking forward, I also cannot wait to make my plans to attend the 6ABC Thanksgiving Day Parade, get my Mamma Mia tickets for the Merriam Theater in December and pick up my annual Flyers Santa Sack! I can’t help it— I live a stone's throw from "the city," so I'm taking advantage of some of the Phantastic Philly Phun like I always do. . Shouldn't we all?