They party very seriously in Philly—after all, they once rang a bell so hard they broke the shit out of that poorly smelted piece of crap. But, like Founding Father George Washington crossing the Delaware to lead a surprise attack on Christmas Eve, Philadelphia’s charms sneak up on you when you least expect it and slit your throat in the night as you dream of all the presents you will never get to open.
It’s the Philly way, baby, and this week we can’t wait to share it with people of all political persuasions—provided they’re Democrats.
Philadelphia is a stroll through Rittenhouse, a lope around city hall, a spirited D-battery toss at Santa Claus when the Flyers lose, dropping pennies at Franklin’s grave, stealing back those pennies when you’re running short on Tastykake money, and taking a swan pedal boat at Penn’s Landing to gaze across the river at the lovely murder capital of the nation. (We see you, Camden!)
What I’m saying is: It’s a complex place with some incredibly fascinating, if sometimes oddly divisive, landmarks that are not always immediately apparent to DNC-type tourists. As I discovered while working at Philly’s acclaimed InterAct Theatre Company, there’s more to this city than just running up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and seeing how many Rembrandts you can punch before security escorts you out.
For example, just across from the gorgeous Constitution Center at the entrance to Liberty Bell Center—and on the excavated remains of George Washington’s erstwhile home—you can watch a pretty rough reenactory video about the terrible lives of the first president’s slaves who were dragged here in the heat of 1776. They were then dragged back to the South for one day every few months so they wouldn’t count as officially “freed,” as was supposed to happen to slaves in our fair city, making a mockery of our values and the Elton John song “Philadelphia Freedom.”
So I welcome you, soon-to-be-nominee Hillary, to see a city I’ve come to love through the forthright eyes of one of its great residents: Benjamin Franklin. But unfortunately he’s very dead—and based on his impersonators, wasn’t that much fun to be around in the first place.
So instead, see it through the eyes of the second-most famous residents of Philly: the gang from Paddy’s Pub.
(Cue Always Sunny in Philadelphia theme music.)
Frank’s Philly: THE MUTTER MUSEUM OF MEDICAL HISTORY
Welcome to the freakshow, freedom hater. No visit to Philly is complete without medical oddities. Human remains by the barrel—some actually inside a barrel. Where else can you catch slices of Einstein’s brain next to an enormous human colon—40 gleaming wet pounds of it? Or the liver of famous Siamese twins Cheng and Eng? Just don’t try to drink any of the wet specimens (over 1,300 closely-monitored odd human bits in jars) as they frown on that these days—thanks, Obama.
Then go somewhere else incredibly creepy/magical—Eastern State Penitentiary! Bring the hubby: Its legendary inmates include the real “Slick” Willie – bank robber (and escape artist) William Francis Sutton.
Dennis’ Philly: THE MOSHULU at Penn’s Landing
Flat-out stolen from Germany during WWI—because everyone hates Germans, am I right? There’s some foreign policy for you! The largest remaining Windjammer, it’s a shimmering pile of four-masted throwback floating awesome. Renamed in the Seneca language by another First Lady—Edith Wilson—it means “one who fears nothing.” How sexy is that? And the eating establishment inside (the only restaurant currently housed on a tall ship) makes it a sexy place to take sexy delegates for a sexy night out. After a particularly sexy evening below decks, even the biggest Bernie or Bust-er wouldn’t be able to say no to you… you know… because of the implication.
Also, you can’t go wrong with Philly’s Jewish Sports Hall of Fame: (surprisingly, not the world’s smallest museum)—just this year they inducted Ira Meyers!
Mac’s Philly: GENO’S STEAKS
You cultivating mass? Then you have to go to city stalwart and grease merchant Geno’s Steaks. Bullying is important in politics and in getting your food at Geno’s. Be bullied into ordering by the rules, which means getting “one wiz, wit’”—with cheese wiz and fried onions. And if you want a side dish of what life might be like if Trump gets elected, take in the “This is America, when ordering, Speak English” sign. Then get your Philly hunch on—that’s the stance you take so you don’t dribble down your Tommy Bahama shirt… or Madame Nominee pantsuit.
Need more mass? The Basement at the Bellevue Food Court is somehow both awkward and amazing: In general with the the Hyatt at the Bellevue complex, the property gets classier the higher you rise, so it’s grub in the basement, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co. on the ground floor, and cocktails and seafood at XIX on the roof of the Bellevue Hotel (19 floors up).
It’s quite elegant and I am banned from it.
Still not full? Eat your way through the READING TERMINAL MARKET, a confined space of food vendors and Amish soap shops. Shove your way in so you can throw rocks at the model trains.
Charlie’s Philly: IMPORTANT HISTORY
Wild card, bitches! You definitely have to pay some respects to our important landmarks. Come up Fairmount and treasure the fact that from this angle the statue of William Penn on top of City Hall looks like he’s about to take a leak all over the neighboring Masonic Hall. I mean… that’s history. And City Hall Plaza is just a great place to dress up like Green Man and catch some Philadelphia feels. Speaking of freedom and greatness, make sure to high five the statue of former Mayor Rizzo across the street.
Dee’s Philly: GET YOUR DRINK ON
You’re coming to town means one amazing thing for locals—we can use an obscure legal loophole through archaic blue laws to serve alcohol in town ’till 4 am. So grab your personal Artemis (or whatever you call your “friend” you keep around to make you look good) and go to Bleu Martini. It’s a great place, if you’re planning to finally order something without the word “bomb” in the title. Cosmos for all!
And for a secret place to rendezvous with a very presidential mister, try the dark and well-worn “speakeasy” Hop Sing Laundromat—it’s one of those places where they know how to actually make fancy ethnic drinks like “Mojitos”. Tell the bouncer I sent you, and wear your good shoes. It’s simple math: Sneakers = no drinky.
Also, while there, try not to use the word “drinky.”
Oh, and don’t forget to hit Mac’s Tavern, partially owned by the actors behind Always Sunny’s Mac and Dee, Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney, who found real-life love making the show because Philly’s all about romance.
That and the Mummers Parades: If you don’t know what Mummers are, picture your drunkest friends broke into both a craft store and a music shop one night and then went sequins happy and practiced something “really special” all night… and now they really want to show you what they’ve been working on. They’re special and all Philly! Gotta love this town.
In case you didn’t guess, Jason Lindner lives and works in the City of Brotherly Love.