Tuesday, October 27, 2015

come on-a my house

I had a very weird experience at a Waffle House almost 20 years ago. It was so weird — so very surreal — that I shied away from the iconic restaurant chain on countless family road trips over the years. Somewhere along the southern portion of Interstate 95, my family (Me, Mrs. P and our young son) had stopped for the evening at a midway point on our drive to Walt Disney World in central Florida. After one night's stay at one of the many motels that dot the off-ramps of the interstate, I loaded the car with our luggage and we set out for the last leg of our journey. Just across the access road from our evening's accommodations was a small, narrow, yellow-topped building adorned with a single line of sans serif type identifying the place as "WAFFLE HOUSE" — plain and simple. Seeing the establishment, I thought I'd grab a couple of cups of coffee for me and the Mrs. to perk us up for the next 300 or so miles. Mrs. P set our son up with a pre-pack bowl of cereal on his molded plastic car tray (that doubled as a play surface for a variety of "Thomas the Tank Engine" toy trains when he wasn't eating) and I popped in to the Waffle House.

It was as though I had stepped into The Twilight Zone. A hunched row of coverall-clad men lined the gold-flecked Formica counter. Some had heavy ceramic mugs poised at their mouths. Others shoveled forkfuls of breakfast into their maws, while still others worked their jaws to chew and digest what they had already eaten. On the other side of the counter, a large man wrapped in a grease-stained apron was bent over a smoking, open grill. His meaty fist clenched a metal spatula that he used to poke and prod a massive pile of hash-browned potatoes. No one said a word. The only sound was made by the spatula clinking against the griddle. (I expected the cook to turn around and reveal himself to be Rod Serling.) I stood by the counter waiting to be noticed. A waitress approached. Her stringy hair was pulled up and tucked under a droopy doily holding the mess in place. She wore a stained apron that matched that of the cook. (Perhaps it was the official Waffle House uniform.)

"Wut kin I getcha?," she asked with a tone that implied she was doing me a favor.

"Two cups of coffee to go, please.," I requested.

She looked at me as though I just spoke to her in a rare Swahili dialect. "Wuuuut?," she lolled in a lazy Southern drawl. I repeated my order, this time more slowly, trying to enunciate each word. She shook her head and fumbled under the counter for a minute. When she brought her hand back into view, her fingers were laced through the handles of two off-white ceramic mugs.

"We got theeese.," she said, gesturing at the mugs with her head, "We ain't go no other kinda cups."

"You don't have a cardboard cup with a lid?," I asked incredulously.

"Nuh-uh.," she replied as she frowned and shook her head. "Jes' theeese." She was interrupted by a ringing telephone which now took her full attention.. She lifted the receiver and asked, "Huh-lo?" A tinny, electronic voice chattered something unintelligible through the connection. The waitress dropped her hand holding the phone to her side and she hollered something unintelligible toward a man seated at the counter munching on a twisted strip of bacon. Still chewing, the man rose from his seat, dragged himself over to the waitress and took the phone from her hand. He spoke a stream of garbled words that were thick and muddled in Southern vernacular. I swear I could not understand a single word this guy was saying. When he had finished his conversation, he stared at the phone as though he had never seen nor held anything like it in his life. He pushed the brim of his mesh trucker hat back and said, "This phone don't got no hang up button on it. How do I hang it up if'n it don't got th' button?," he said mournfully. He examined the phone more closely, turning it over to various angles and narrowing his eyes as if to discover a secret hidden switch or lever.

Totally spooked by the entire scenario presented before me, I offered my thanks to the waitress and backed away towards to the door. I jumped back into the passenger's side of my car and asked my wife to just find a Dunkin Donuts, relating the otherworldly episode as she drove.

And that was it. That was the only time I ever set foot in a Waffle House. We have driven to Florida numerous times over the years, and we have passed many, many Waffle Houses (there is one at nearly every single exit on I-95 between Philadelphia and Orlando), but we have always turned our noses up at them as a meal option.

Until today.

Last Saturday, Mrs. Pincus and I embarked on another drive to Florida, again with our son — now 28 years old — and his girlfriend. Recently, I had seen some social media posts from a few touring bands (specifically President Obama favorite Low Cut Connie and national pastime rockers The Baseball Project) featuring late-night stops at Waffle House, with its kitschy, Americana charm on full display. As we made our way down the interstate, I suggested we stop for dinner (breakfast served anytime and what's more fun than breakfast for dinner!) at a Waffle House. According to our GPS and Google maps, we had many nearby locations from which to choose. I was rebuffed. As a matter of fact, I was triple rebuffed. I was willing to give Waffle House a shot at redemption, but I was out-voted and we pulled into a Sonic Drive-In near Walterboro, South Carolina. Now, I'm okay with Sonic, but, I really wanted Waffle house.

After a week at the Walt Disney World Resort and not a mention of Waffle House, we packed up the car for the ride home. We decided to call it a night at a creepy little Quality Inn in Lumberton, North Carolina. Surrounding ours and the other hotels, our food options included Subway, Cracker Barrel, McDonald's and Waffle House. My fellow travelers opted to order a pizza from a local Domino's. My suggestion of Waffle House was not even acknowledged.

Early this morning, we decided to forgo the complimentary breakfast to a.) get the hell away from the strange atmosphere of the Lumberton Quality Inn* and b.) get out on the homeward-bound road. Once again, I suggested Waffle House and, once again, I was dismissed.

We headed north and, approximately fifty miles from our morning starting point, we all began to feel a little hungry. We briefly drove through the desolate and sketchy-looking town of Dunn, quickly making our way back to the highway. Approaching Benson, we exited I-95 and immediately found ourselves staring at — you guessed it! — a Waffle House. Mrs. P turned to my boy and his girl crammed into the back seat of my RAV 4 and plaintively offered up Waffle House with a "let's just pacify Dad" tone in her voice. I detected a collective sigh of defeat as they nodded in reluctant agreement. We parked next to a big, maroon Harley and entered the joint, my son muttering "Are you happy now?," as he walked past me in the parking lot.

Where the magic happens.
We were greeted at the door by a smiling young man in a "Waffle House" cap and bow tie, who proudly and warmly afforded a toothy "Good Morning." We seated ourselves at the counter and scanned the colorful laminated menus. A cheerful waitress, whose name tag identified her as "Jaz," provided some of the best coffee I ever had. We each placed our order and watched with fascination as the well-rehearsed assembly line pumped out platter after platter with automated factory-like efficiency. Each person at the grill was tasked with a specific job. One guy manned the five smoking waffle irons. One guy oversaw four multi-slice toasters. One young lady flattened sizzling sausage patties and bacon strips. Another guy prepared the much-storied hash browns, meticulously adding each of the famous supplemental ingredients. The last guy had six frying pans simultaneously cooking eggs. It was truly a spectacle!

Scattered, smothered, covered, peppered.
My coffee was refilled by the smiling greeter after nearly every sip I took. Soon, Jaz flicked our platters to us like she was dealing cards in blackjack. They were welcoming, traditional American breakfasts and they were beautiful! I got two eggs — sunny-side up — a couple slices of buttered toast and a side of world-famous hash browns that were "scattered, smothered, covered and peppered." That's Waffle House lingo for "spread across the grill with onions, cheese and jalapeno peppers." I enhanced the dish with some of their own brand (the humorously named Casa de Waffle) of picante sauce from a fully-stocked condiment caddy, along with a few spicy splashes of Tabasco and I was in business. Everything was de-lish-ous! My travelling party was enjoying their choices as well. We ate and watched the grill-side "entertainment." Several staff members (including the happy crew at the grill) asked how we were enjoying our meal and, of course, my coffee cup was filled again and again. It was comfort food at its best, we didn't want to leave.

When we finally finished every last crumb on our plates, I did my best to hold back a few "I told you so"s, as my family sheepishly admitted that Waffle House was a pretty good choice for this and future travels.

Oh, we'll be back all right. Maybe next time I'll even try the waffles.


*If you find yourself in the vicinity of Lumberton, North Carolina... first of all, I feel sorry for you, but, if you are seeking a place for an overnight stay, I'd avoid the Quality Inn. I would suggest any of the other hotels at the Exit 20 complex. The Days Inn and the Howard Johnson's both looked nice. Hell, the parking lot of the Burger King looked nice in comparison to the Quality Inn (a misnomer if I ever heard one).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

cool for cats

There are two kinds of people in the world — those who like cats and everyone else. I have had cats in my life ever since I was a little kid. One Saturday afternoon, my dad took me to the local SPCA to pick out a pet. I have always had a natural fear and dislike of dogs, so I gravitated towards the cages on the "cat side" of the building. I wandered in and out of the aisles that were stacked high with small, cage-front kennels each containing a tiny, mewing kitty — their small, fuzzy faces pressed to the thin bars. I smiled at each one, poking my finger through the openings between the metal shafts to touch their soft fur. One little cat, a dapper black and white tuxedo kitty, licked my finger and I was sold. "That's the one!," I announced to my father. He called an attendant over and forked over five dollars, for which we received two cans and one box of food, in addition to the cat itself. They placed the cat in a small, elaborately folded cardboard carrier and we made our way home in the car, the carrier perched on my lap, my fingers again, poking through the holes in the side of the cardboard. Later that evening, we purchased a litter box and a collar with little silver bells on it. I named our new cat "Tinker."

Tinker, as it turned out, was a vicious little shit. That whole "licking my finger" act at the SPCA was an obvious ploy just to get her sprung from the feline hoosegow. Once she got herself fully ensconced in the Pincus household, her true personality came out. She was nasty! She hissed and bit and scratched. She didn't like to be held and she didn't like to play. Who the hell needed a cat then? Luckily, after a year or so of this bullshit, my brother came home with a sweet little kitten with the nicest, most affectionate disposition. We named him "Jingle" and we were very happy. So was Tinker, because now everyone would leave her alone.

When I met my wife, she owned the first in a long line of cats with Grateful Dead-inspired names. "Cassidy" was a beautiful tabby with unusual markings and a disposition so foul, it made me long for bad temperament of Tinker. Cassidy, in addition to her standoffish attitude, liked to climb up on shelves and knock things off to watch them fall and shatter. Cassidy came with us to our newlywed apartment, where she was soon joined by "China*," a sweet-natured little creature that we affectionately called "Kidden." Kidden was the perfect "yin" to the acerbic "yang" that was Cassidy.

Over the many years, we owned many cats. We had as many as three at one time. That meant regular purchases of cat food and, in turn, regular cleaning and changing of cat litter. I remember a friend of mine called one evening to tell me of his recent scuba-diving excursion in the crystal blue waters of Cancun. I listened on the phone as he detailed the underwater sights and his exotic experiences. When he called, I was in the middle of taking the trash out. As he described the clear, azure depths and the colorful schools of fish, I looked down at my hands. One was gripping a bag of soiled disposable diapers from my son's room and the other was heavy with shit-spiked clumps of used cat litter. Was this what my life had been reduced to?

Having cats, while thoroughly enjoyable, can be a burden at times. We often arranged for someone to come over and feed them when we went away on vacations. We would leave detailed instructions for food distribution and procedure for cleaning the litter box (a job my father-in-law absolutely detested). Our cats broke numerous knick-knacks in our house. They threw up on carpets and beds and, at various times, pissed on the floor. But, don't get me wrong! They also played and purred and brought us a little bit of joy.

However, my favorite thing about cats is: if you want to play, they'll play. If you want to just sit, they are happy to find something to do themselves. With a cat, you can have a pet when you want to and they are fine with that as long as you and your thumbs are around to operate the can opener for feeding time. You can't say that for dogs. Dogs need constant attention and care, like a sick child.

When our last cat, Maggie**, died, my wife and I (mostly me) decided that we were through with pets. That was eight years ago and it was quite liberating. We gave away the remaining, unopened cans of cat food and bags of cat litter to friends who were still deep in the throes of pet-raising. Suddenly, we could come and go as we pleased — no longer concerned about rushing home to feed a cat or worse, cleaning up vomit. We could go away for an extended weekend without making a frantic phone call to get someone to look in on our cat. I still liked cats, I just didn't need to own one.

My son and his girlfriend bought a house recently. After unpacking the boxes and arranging the rooms and hanging the pictures, they did the next logical, domestic thing they could think of — they got a cat. It's a cute, playful little guy that my wife refers to as our "grandkitty." I find it funny that my son, who never changed a litter box in his life and only fed our cats a handful of times, is now tasked with the responsibility of full-time caregiver to his four-pawed roommate. And while I love to see that little guy (the cat, I mean), I am quite happy to be permanently retired from the cat business. Occasionally, my wife has suggested getting another cat, but I quickly remind her of how accustomed we have become to our freedom. 

Plus, we no longer have a box of shit in our house.


* short for "China Cat Sunflower"
** short for "Sugar Magnolia"

Sunday, October 11, 2015

my shit's fucked up

In 1857, Joseph Gayetty introduced the public to "Gayetty's Medicated Paper for the Water-Closet." Prior to Mr. Gayetty's invention, people used some of the most primitive, unsanitary and barbaric methods of... of... well, cleaning up after themselves after using the bathroom. I'll skip the gory details and say that Mr. Gayetty doesn't nearly get the credit he deserves. His name, in my opinion should be spoken with the same reverence as Benjamin Franklin and that lying, thieving, claim-jumping bastard Thomas Edison. Gayetty's folded sheets of aloe-enhanced disposable cloths were the standard in bathroom cleanliness, remaining relatively unchanged for nearly four decades. Obviously, it was a vast improvement from the previous way of taking care of business and the public was duly satisfied. 

We're on a roll now!
Just before the turn of the twentieth century, paper manufacturing brothers Clarence and Irwin Scott made a slight improvement on Gayetty's medicated paper. Instead of neatly folded stacks, the Scotts put 1000 perforated sheets on a continuous roll. Once again, the bathroom tissue industry was revolutionized. The Scotts made a fortune and a new market standard was achieved. Over the years, many attempted improvements were developed and introduced, but they never caught on and were dismissed as fads and novelties.

In early 2001, paper giant Kimberly-Clark (who, six years earlier had acquired competitor Scott Paper), decided that it would try to improve upon the unimprovable commodity of toilet paper, despite extensive market research telling them otherwise. Against better judgement, they launched a product called "Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes" in a very aggressive, nationwide campaign. They flooded every available advertising outlet — newspapers, television, magazines. They even got Jay Leno to give a live plug on the Tonight Show. Kimberly-Clark anticipated $150 million in sales the first year and America to change its collective approach to lavatory tidiness. Not surprisingly, it didn't pan out to the company's expectations. The $35 million media blitz was a bust, when a planned goodwill tour by a mobile restroom was cut short when the public's focus turned to personal safety rather than personal hygiene after the attacks on September 11th. However, Kimberly-Clark was determined to make this thing work goddammit! and production of Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes continued, although company executives revealed that "sales are so small they aren't financially material."* (Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes have since been reimagined and no longer come on a roll. They come in a tub and are known as Cottonelle Fresh. They are marketed the same as baby wipes. Sales are light.)

So, things stayed pretty much the same as they had been. People were satisfied with the post-number two cleaning process and all was good in the world. Other companies (oh, I'm looking at youNabisco!), not content with the unwavering success of their products, looked for unnecessary improvements, But, as far as the bathroom was concerned, it was business as usual.

W A R N I N G !
I was pretty discreet and restrained in the first part of this blog entry, but the gauntlet has been thrown, the gloves are off and — pardon my all-too-obvious pun — the shit is about to hit the fan.

Now, all of a sudden, someone thinks humans have been shitting the wrong way and they are determined to correct our misguided elimination process. Look, no one has to be taught how to shit. Cavemen shit. Primitive tribes shit. Babies shit without instruction. As they get older, they only have to be taught where to shit, not how to shit. Shitting is an instinct, like breathing. It's something we just do. And if we didn't, we'd die. See? It is a lot like breathing.

I got an email from Bed Bath and Beyond the other day. I get emails from them frequently because I bought a box of Keurig K-Cups from them four years ago and now I'm stuck on their mailing list. Actually, they were the inspiration of a blog entry, so I don't unsubscribe in hopes I can be inspired/pissed off again. Bingo! Payoff! This particular email touted a product called "Squatty Potty," a footstool that, evidently, the human race should have been using all along because we have no idea how to shit. Really? Really? According to the ad, the shrewd entrepreneurs on the show Shark Tank loved this. I guess, as smart as they are, they don't know the correct way to shit either. So, now they're shitting correctly and making even more money by investing in a combination footstool/shitting aid. No wonder I'm not rich. 

I can understand a garden hose that coils itself up after the water is turned off as an improvement on the standard green hose we've been sold for for years. I certainly understand the need for a microwave oven that can cook food faster than that big, bulky oven that takes up so much floor space your the kitchen. Phones without cords  great! A GPS over a road map or stopping to ask directions absolutely! But, come on! Convincing me that, after thousands and thousands of years, someone has determined that people require a change in the way they shit? And that information doesn't come from the Surgeon General or some similar official? Instead, it comes from a couple of guys with a website, four rich investors with dollar signs in their eyes and a chain store that proudly accepts their own expired coupons?!?

You gotta be shittin' me!

*quote from an article in The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, October 8, 2015

angst in my pants

I have been going to concerts for forty years. Starting with my first show (Alice Cooper with special guest Suzi Quatro), concerts have been a pretty big deal. I saw most of them at Philadelphia's self-proclaimed "America's Showplace," The Spectrum, an 18,000 seat area with some of the worst, sound-killing acoustics you ever heard. It was a multi-purpose facility, home to the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers, much better suited for sporting events than concerts. I saw performances by Elton John, Jethro Tull, Queen, Fleetwood Mac and a dozen or so of the Grateful Dead's record-setting 53 shows. 

I saw a few shows at the smaller Tower Theater, a converted movie theater resurrected in the 70s as Philadelphia's answer to Bill Graham's famed Fillmore East. The Tower hosted acts that, while popular, couldn't possibly fill the massive Spectrum. I saw Warren Zevon, The Boomtown Rats and The Jerry Garcia Band there. Philadelphia also presented indoor shows at the sprawling, yet clunky, Civic Center and outdoor, festival-like shows at JFK Stadium,  the crumbling deathtrap, now the site of the 21,000-seat, schizophrenically-named* Wells Fargo Center.

I regularly attended concerts through my teens and they were exciting events. They were the culmination of weeks (sometimes months) of planning. There was coordination of purchasing tickets and securing transportation. There was decisions on what to wear and speculation and discussion about possible song selections. On the evening of the actual show, I'd be seated in a section that seemed to be miles from the action. Although it was thrilling and enjoyable, there was a noticeable, cold, untouchable distance between me and the band. Even when I sat in the third row and Queen's flamboyant Freddie Mercury tossed carnations in my direction, there was still an unseen barrier that kept me in my place and the the band in theirs... and never the twain shall meet.

My concert-going took a brief pause when my son was born. However, as he grew, and since music played such a major part in our lives, my wife and I took him to kid-friendly shows. We started with the venerable Trout Fishing in America, whose fun mix of folk-rock and silliness was the perfect jumping off point. We slowly graduated to the pop sounds of Canada's Barenaked Ladies and another Canadian quartet Moxy Fruvous. Soon, as he made his own musical discoveries, our boy was ready for the real adult world of concerts. We began to frequent an unassuming club in Philadelphia's western suburbs called The Point, which rose from the ashes of the legendary Main Point, early stomping grounds for Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Bruce Springsteen. It was a small venue, serving coffee and light snacks along with lesser-known, but powerful acts like Michael Penn and the mighty (though now defunct) Asylum Street Spankers. We also attended the Tin Angel, a tiny, narrow club in Philadelphia's historic Old City, where we witnessed performances by Graham Parker, Jill Sobule and an intimate set by one-time pop-darlings Fountains of Wayne. In later years, my son began working at a Philadelphia radio station that shares a building with a popular concert venue. I have lost count of the number of shows — by a wide variety of performers and genres — we have seen there.

The cool and most interesting aspect of my recent concert experiences is meeting the bands. That is something that was unheard of and just never ever happened when I was a kid. In these days of social media and more person-to-person connectivity, it is actually commonplace. (It sort of helps if you are related to someone that works in the media.) That invisible barricade between audience and performer has gotten thinner and thinner, sometimes to the point of nonexistence. Sure, it's still virtually impossible to have a "close up and personal" encounter with a Taylor Swift or some "flavor-of-the month" boy band, but most bands at smaller venues will offer a formal "meet-and-greet." Some like to mingle with the lingering crowds as they exit a show. If you're patient, some can be caught as they exit the venue themselves... and they are usually very friendly and appreciative. Meeting bands after a show has become such a common occurrence that it's almost taken as rude if a band doesn't put in a post-show appearance. Some bands have even learned to cash in on the "meet the fans" experience, but that's a despicable practice in my opinion.

Photo by Russell Mael, from
the back steps of the Electric Factory.
Ron Mael, my son and me are right up front.
A few nights ago, my son and I saw FFS, a so-called "supergroup" comprised of the chameleon-like Mael brothers — quirky Russell and enigmatic Ron — founders of the indescribable Sparks and Scottish art-rockers Franz Ferdinand. The pairing has produced one of the best albums of 2015, a self-titled release combining an original amalgam of the music and lyrics of both bands. Despite the age difference among the members (Franz Ferdinand are in their early 40s; Sparks are well into their AARP years), the collaboration works and it works well (no matter what that song says)! After the show, my son and I waited behind the venue by the tour bus, like a couple of giddy teenagers. Along with a gathering of about fifty die-hard fans, we braved the brisk night air as each member of the band filed through the crowd, shaking hands, signing albums and posing for pictures. It was a lot of fun and an experience that was approximately forty years in the making. 

But, I'm making up for lost time. 

*It has had no less than five names in its nineteen-year existence.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes

I have as much authority as the pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it. — George Carlin
Unless you have been in solitary confinement, or perhaps (ironically) deeply sequestered in an isolated religious sect, you know that Pope Francis visited the United States last week. Specifically, Washington, DC, New York City and, my hometown, Philadelphia. While I cannot speak for the other cites on the papal itinerary, I can attest to the preparations and subsequent atmosphere in Philadelphia.

As the summer concluded, Philadelphia began to slowly reveal plans for the pope's forty-seven hour stay in the city. An open-air mass was planned for Sunday afternoon, to be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with the famed Philadelphia Art Museum stepsserving as an altar. Projected attendance was estimated in the millions. That's right - millions! Shortly after the official announcement was made, banners (like the ones pictured above) began appearing on lamp posts through the city. As the late September date approached, SEPTA (the provider of public transportation in the City of Brotherly Love) announced extremely limited train station availability on the weekend of the pope's visit and monthly train passes would be invalid during that time period. Special passes would need to be purchased. City officials jumped on the "special restrictions" bandwagon, alerting everyone that a physical fence would be erected around an eight-block area of the Parkway, with metal detectors and other security devices to be put in place as well. A few days after those jarring announcements, a plan was divulged for clearing the streets of parked cars on a day-by-day, neighborhood-by-neighborhood schedule. Residents would have to pay an additional fee for off-site, remote parking of their "required-to-be-moved" vehicle. Traffic would be limited, and in turn, deliveries to businesses would be curtailed or altogether eliminated. It was as though the city had a job interview and was putting on its best suit to make a good impression.

The faithful - gumming up the works.
Tensions mounted and complaints increased as the pope's arrival grew nearer. But also, there was a noticeable electricity in the air. It was an historical event (religious aspect aside) and it would bring excitement to an awfully large amount of people (myself, however, not remotely included). Many people were angered by the inconvenience they'd experience, but in reality, it was just one day (Friday) that affected most people. Center-city dwellers, used to walking anyway, trekked around as usual. Those who had no interest just skipped town for an extended weekend. All in all, complaints and praise aside, the whole thing made the city look pretty good in the eyes of the rest of the country. We couldn't ask for more than that.

When lift plus thrust
is greater than load plus drag
I admit that I watched a certain amount of the festivities on television. I watched a little of the pope's speech at Independence Hall. I watched a bit of the mass at the historic Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. I watched less of the mass on the Parkway. The city looked great. The people looked happy. The local news went on a little too long and got a little too ecclesiastical, but they got the feelgood story they were after. But, I eventually got bored and turned the channel to a rerun of The Flying Nun. For a minute there, I wasn't sure if I had, indeed, changed the channel.

On Sunday night, the pope left and Philadelphia, basking in the afterglow of a job well done, slowly got itself back to normal. The local news was rife with pictures and video of the pope smiling and waving and kissing babies and laughing and waving some more. He exuded cheer and warmth and goodwill.

A few days later, the bane of a progressive-thinking modern society, Kim Davis — the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who defiantly denied same-sex couples legal marriage licences (just days after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states) because it contradicted her personal Apostolic Christian** beliefs — claimed to have met with Pope Francis during his brief stop in the nation's capital. She further claimed that the Pontiff alleged presented her with rosaries and encouraged her to "stay strong." (It should be noted that, at first, the Vatican denied this, then backpedaled and confirmed the meeting. In a blatant example of even more backpedaling, the Vatican also said that the pope met with a former student who "happens to be gay." See? The pope is still cool.... right? But, let's not forget that the Vatican still does shit like this.)

Suddenly, the population was up in arms. The new "cool pope" had disappointed! How could he take a step backward from his reformist views? His radical ideals?

Reformist views? Radical ideas? What? Are you kidding me? The guy's the leader of the Catholic Church — staunch opponents of divorce, birth control, abortion and homosexuality. Why does this sentiment come as a surprise? It's not like the surprise we got when we learned that Bill Cosby — wise and lovable ol' Dr. Huxtable — turned out to be a loathsome sexual predator. Of course that shocked us! It's not like the bombshell that hit us when O.J. Simpson was brought to trial for killing his ex-wife! He was a Heisman Trophy winner and wacky "Officer Nordberg" in the Naked Gun movie franchise, for goodness sake! We never saw that coming! But, really??? The spiritual leader of the Catholic religion, teacher of Catholic dogma and Catholic beliefs was actually proliferating those beliefs! Why is this shocking and, more to the point, why is this news? Remember when Pope Francis famously questioned "Who am I to judge?" Oh, I think we know.

Philadelphia got what it expected out of the pope's visit. And, if you think about it... I mean really think about it.... so did everyone else.


yeah, yeah - the same ones that Sylvester Stallone's punch-drunk boxer ran up 40 years ago. Fuck you, Sly, for ruining the dignity of one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in Philadelphia.

** not a Catholic