Tuesday, September 07, 2004

BATTLE OF THE DAVES: An Email Exchange (aka A Tale of Two Cities)

Friday Sept 3

Davey Philly -
I'll have to keep this first salvo of Philly observations fairly short - not for a lack of Philly Phodder, mind you, but because I'm heading to Fenway to see Pedro plow down the Rangers. Maybe I should slow down for you: Fenway is a BASEBALL PARK, Pedro is a BASEBALL PITCHER and the Rangers are BASEBALL (sort of) Wild Card Contender. After two days in the City of Brotherly Cheesesteaks, I'm well aware that Ben Franklin's Town is none too enamored with its underachieving bunch of Phillies.

Initially, I would have thought that might make for some compelling talk radio (oxymoron aside). It doesn't, clearly. If 610-AM WIP is the best your city has to offer for alleged talk radio, then your city should be ashamed. I've heard more intelligent discussions among the dogs at young Percy the Dog's canine play groups.

How on earth can I be expected to take a station seriously if they run an ad urging listeners to come see Temple Owls football and billing it as "Big Time College Football?" If Temple's "big time" that must make a school like Lehigh purely NFL-caliber. Big Time? How about Big Shame?

Beyond the false advertising, it's virtually impossible to distinguish the inmates (callers) from the prison guards (hosts). In two days of admittedly limited listening (WXPN-FM is by far the wiser listening option), I heard aspiring brain surgeons call in to inform listeners of how nice the new Phillies stadium (ignoring the bums playing on the field) and one guy, Mike the Cowboys Fan, who lamely tried to espouse his belief that Dallas is better than Philadelphia. The hosts at that particular midday time offered stirring rebuttals to the tune of "yeah, right" and "no sir." I'd never wanted to hear the gruff voice of Fred Smerlas more in my life. And Smerlas is mostly intolerable, at best.

It would appear that Philly sports talk radio has one thing Boston sports radio blatantly lacks: numerous African-American callers (which I infer from the twang of their voice, which may admittedly be a flawed means of audience measure, but I'm comfortable in the assumption. The demographics prove it.) But it wouldn't matter if the get-a-lifers were pink, teal or aqua - they're sorely unprepared to be speaking on anything broadcast to more than one human soul.

And then there's Howard Eskin. Holy crap - is this guy doing the college radio late shift at St. Joe's or major market sports talk? I lasted about 90 seconds with with his grating radio vibrations. He was - I'm not making this up, Boston talk radio listeners - saying something about tennis at about 4:55 on a Wednesday afternoon. If tennis has ever, ever, come up on WEEI, it would have only been to make fun of Bud Collins bow tie, I assure you. I know Boston's provincial and mainly a three-major-sports Pro town, but the next time there's lively tennis debate on talk radio it will be the very FIRST time in broadcast history.

Seeking solace from the radio, I managed a few strong minutes of TV viewing with the "Philadelphia Daily News Live"show. Whoa! What a collection of wits this show featured on Wednesday. I'll get more into in my next correspondence to you, but at one point there were approximately 87 panelists bombarding a Phillies September call-up with questions solely conceived in an effort to elicit some type of headline-making response. Desperation, thy name is Philly Baseball Writers. It was so comical at one point that when one panelist said to the subject, Ryan Howard, "Ryan, This is Paul Domowitch in the studio," it would have been well within Howard's right to as "How man damn people you got in that studio?" Not even the mostly-steady Dei Lynam could steer this ship into safety. Each stiff on set was stiffer than the next and when self-loving Dave Jones got on camera to talk Penn State football, there was more dead-air than a morgue.

All right - that's enough for now, but man, I got to tell you: that town of yours has more not-ready-for-prime-time players than a decade's worth of Saturday Night Live.
On the other hand, I had a 1 a.m. veggie mock steak and cheese at Larry's on Hawk Hill that may have been created by the Food Gods themselves.
Looking forward to hearing how much you enjoyed 'EEI. And maybe the chowdah?
Be well,
Davey Boston

Monday Sept. 6

Well, first of all, I must say, thanks your filling me in on the details of what Fenway Park is, who Pedro Martinez is, and what the sport of baseball is. As a Massachusetts native, I found these news flashes amazingly informative. Almost as much as a Pete would-somebody-please-find-his-darned-chair Sheppard 20/20 segment. And of course, Fenway is just down the street from my alma mater Northeastern. But again, thank you for the condescending attitude. I forgot how much I miss New England.

Yes, I will admit, WIP leaves much to be desired. I suppose that's what happens when the lone sports radio station has a monopoly on the market. Glad to see what competition has done in raising the bar between 850 WEEI and 1510 The Zzzzzzzzz (somebody wake me up now)-one. As far as "big time" college football is concerned, it's well known that this is Penn State country. If you want big time college ball, then this is your city.

So glad you have such a high-minded view of other city's residents. Inmates? Prison guards? And a few sentence later, a covert attack on African-Americans (and in your mind, those probably go together with the previous questions). Amazing how you can tell the race of a caller with the "twang of their voice." I guess you're more comfortable with the ramblings of Dan from Quincy. And you want "stirring rebuttals"? I just loved the exchanges going on with Dale and Neumy on Friday. Apparently, the only members of Sox Nation that could get on the line were fans who foolishly thought the third base coach should be fired. Stirring, riveting listening, I tell you.

So, it doesn't sound like you were thrilled with Daily News Live, eh? Well, from what I've seen on Boston's current offerings, I know you must have really missed Bob why-can't-Philly-get-broadcasters-like-that Lobel. Enjoy it the next time he rambles on with that Dan putting-my-kids-through-college-with-the-same-tired-curse-nonsense Shaugnessy.

Fortunately, we both appear to agree on one thing: Howard Eskin is a moron and a nitwit (though not necessarily in that order). OK, make that two things. Larry's cheesesteaks are among the best to be found in the city. I should know, I used to live up the street from Hawk Hill. But the next time you're fortunate enough to be down this way again, you really should make a trip to South Philly and enjoy a steak from Geno's. Just remember: "a steak WIT" means you'd like fried onions. Heineken's are sold separately.

Looking forward to your next rebuttal.

- Dave M.

Monday Sept. 6 (later that night)

Dave Philly -
So much for Brotherly Love, eh? And I was just getting ready to ask if you wanted to meet at any one of your numerous Wawa stores and have some Wawa Java. Guess not. Maybe another time?

I understand. I'm sure it can can be hard to realize your adopted residence is a Big League town with Double A-caliber sports media. At least if you lived in a real hick college town, you'd have some worthwhile college ball talk. Living in a "big" city should have other rewards besides constant heartbreak, miserable sorrow and a bum on every corner. Those incessant tourism commercials with the Cultured Taxi Driver sure don't seem to represent the Philadelphians we saw. Most of the folks seem to be walk around the area as if they're trying figure out whether Mike Schmidt and Dr. J ever really happened.
But you do have the small things. Atlantic City is nearby. John Chaney is a living legend. And Donovan McNabb gives good quote.

It must also be so comforting to drive by the Philadelphia Park Racetrack on your way home and see the Smarty Jones sign. You guys will always have a horse that choked to hold your heads high about.
Rocky should be ashamed.

Before we go any further, it was a bit PhillyNasty of you to play the Race Card and attack my observation that Philly has more African American sports radio callers. I'm big enough and secure enough to know that, in general terms, whites and blacks have different speech patterns and yes, "twangs." If you don't differentiate between callers that's fine. The rest of the listening public is doing it for you, not to mentiuon advertisers and radio execs.
But it's all good - OUR Pats open Thursday, OUR Sox are generating enough readable stories to fill the Daily Snooze for a year and believe me when I say this: OUR Celts are almost back. (Okay, not even I could say that with a straight face. The Celts suck. They might suck for the foreseeable future. But we're on a roll and face it, the Sixers ain't in no great shakes either. Steve Mix isn't walking through that door and neither is OUR Connor Henry).

My visit to your fair city did include a trip to the gargantuan Manayunk Brewery where the Bohemian ale Scott's Shots drank was blonde and the lady named Cat from Austin, was a brunette. And what a fine brunette she was. Not only did this tall drink of water have two feline-related tattoos below the belt and above the thigh, she also took the SS business card and gave it a loving home between her sizable assets. What a woman!
Sadly though, the one representation of a true Philly woman I could find came from a 27-year-old off-duty cook named Dawn who, we were pleased to find out, was from the Northeast.
"Oh yeah," I asked. "Whereabouts? I'm from Boston."
"Not that Northeast - Cotman Ave in Philly."
Of course. Classy dame, this one. Her lone Boston experience came with her ex-fiance (smart man) when it snowed "like seven feet that week and, without offedning you, Bostonians are f'in j---offs."
No offense taken. You seem to be a good judge of such things.
"We stayed at the Red Roof in Framingham for 60 bucks a night," Dawn continued. "In Boston they're rude as s---. They hear your accent and they think they can screw you. In the city they wanted like $279 a night. I make that in a week. But the Red Roof? We had a huge room and two king size beds."
Wow! Why can't Boston have chicks like that? She can cook (fries, anyway) AND she has a mouth like a trucker. Philly rocks! Let's Hit the Roof!
Don't get us wrong - it was heartwarming to see th Philadelphia Inquirer run a 20-page high school football preview for last Thursday. I learned the top Pennsylvania prospect is Callahan Bright, a defensive tackle and that made me chuckle because in Boston, the only ones who think Callahan is Bright are the Right Wing 'EEI listener(s). Point is, I was impressed with the dedication to schoolboy sports.
Then again, when all you've really got is schoolboy sports, it makes sense to cover the crap out of it.
Listen, Dave Philly. I don't want to have this petty war over our two fine cities bring us apart. We're both just guys on the side of truth providing valuable services to our sister web sites. In fact, to show my gratitude I'll even give you a tip on a great restaurant out on the Main Line called Nectar - take the little Missus Dave Philly over there and spoil her a bit. Lord knows she's not getting any big thrills from your sports teams.

All my best,
Davey Boston

Tuesday Sept. 7

Dave S.,

Well, this certainly has been interesting. Hopefully next time we will be able to schedule this debate so that we can get more timely responses to each other. It's been a bit hectic here lately. The next time we try and schedule one of these things, I might not be very close to a Wawa.

I do find it curious for a Red Sox fan to criticize another city for enduring "constant heartbreak, miserable sorrow, and a bum on every corner." But I guess you haven't gotten away from your little seaside shanty and visited Downtown Crossing in awhile. As far as the whole Smarty Jones thing, that never happened. Let's just say I found it as riveting as that PGA tour that recently passed through Norton, MA (as in, pass the Nyquil).

As far as the "race card," I'd like to remind you that I was not the one who threw that card on the table. But I call 'em like I see 'em, and your remarks certainly didn't come across very well to this reader this side of I-95.

I am glad that you were able to enjoy some of the "finer things" of the city on your visit. And we can agree to not further ignite a "petty war over our two fine cities." Let's just stop throwing so much negative vibes this far south, shall we? If we're going to throw nasty vibes out there, can't we at least pick on a mutually agreeable metropolis that is worthy of such venom, such as the home of the 26-world time champion, New York Yankees?

Sincerely,
Dave M.
PSMW


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