Philadelphia is an actual city, in these United States of America, that exists more or less on the same plane of reality as everything else. I have been there myself many times, I have friends and coworkers who live there quite happily, I saw a crowd boo The Promise Ring at TLA there when I was in college, at a Halloween show, seemingly just because The Promise Ring seemed too happy; every summer, my family goes to the part of the Jersey Shore that people from Philadelphia go to. I know that it is real, and yet if I am being honest, I have long had my doubts.
That is because, despite having spent time there and despite the fact that all of the above and the important role the city has played in U.S. history from the Constitutional Convention to Creed would be a pretty elaborate prank to pull on me, I still find Philadelphia kind of…unlikely. That a major American city could produce so many different videos over so many years of walleyed drunk men saying things like “he’s it baby, he’s our baby,” about Jeff Garcia or various iterations of Jeff Garcia-grade athletes, to newscasters—and that footage like that would make up such a vital part of that major American city’s news broadcasts—frankly seems like a bit much. But because it really is true, and because the Philadelphia Phillies have made an unlikely run to the National League Championship Series, and because it had been too long since we’d discussed Baywatch on the podcast, we had Philadelphia ambassador and Defector visual editor on the podcast this week to talk about just what the hell is even going on there.
No one does any of those things better than Dan, and he did his best to explain his impossible city and its implausible baseball team. There are some things that cannot be explained, of course, but in this case most of those had to do with the Baywatch discussion in the episode’s second half. The Phillies, and their run to the doorstep of the World Series, and the fact that sometimes this sort of thing just happens for/to not-that-great teams—all of that doesn’t really make sense, either, but it is also a thing that happens. As with so much other Philadelphia stuff, it exists in the space between what is real and feels unreal, and is all the more valuable for that. If we were perhaps unusually harsh on the critics who see the Phillies’ strange run as a failure of the postseason, it was because all three of us value these stupid things when we luck into them, and also because it is fun to goof on Joe Scarborough.
To describe the back half of the program as “freewheeling” would be accurate, but insufficient. A thing that happens during McQuade episodes is that they tend to get louder as they go on, as all three of us get more and more into it. By the time we got to the point of the episode in which all three of us were doing Macho Man Randy Savage voices at the same time, we were well and truly there. And that was before we had even opened the Funbag, which led us to discuss sandwiches that are too messy to eat in front of people you care about, and the Canadian version of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A.,” and Fred Durst’s strangely understated endgame. There were frequent detours back to Philadelphia along the way, both in our shared consideration of Mickey Morandini and Dan’s recollections of the various moments from Philadelphia nightly news history. It could not have been otherwise. Real or not, we are all of us being drawn at every moment back to Philadelphia.
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