I’m in a digital divide PSA on SEPTA subway trains

wink-septa-keyspot

The digital divide will continue to grow as job attainment becomes more web-based and those who fail to access the digital revolution. That’s the central message of a public service announcement campaign from the KEYSPOT initiative from the City of Philadelphia, and, as an issue I care deeply about, I accepted the chance to be included in a photo shoot that has resulted in me landing on that advertising campaign on SEPTA subway cars.

First spotted by Gloria Bell.

Running with the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain during San Fermin

Begun centuries ago by children following the bulls that were being brought from encilliro through Pamplona’s old town to its bullring, last week on Thursday, July 12, 2012 I went Running with the Bullls, one of my original life goals (and one hell of a highlight of a great week in Spain).

Bullfights happen throughout Spain and Latin and South America, and I saw some of the gruesome act the ancient San Fermin festival in Pamplona, but only here, because of the distance between its stables and its ring does the most famed Running of the Bulls happen every year.

It was thrilling and nerve-wracking and crazed and really very quick — less than five minutes of real running and less than a minute of the bulls running by before running into the bullring. Check out some pretty fun video below.

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Watch a bullfight in Pamplona, Spain for San Fermin

The gruesome, centuries-old tradition of bullfighting was on display, as it is every year, during the annual San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. With friends, I managed to snag the fairly expensive tickets the night before I went running with the bulls.

Watch some preview videos below.

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Stand Up Comedy

One of the earliest items on my list was to perform stand up comedy. After a lot of hand wringing, I put the item on this year’s resolutions and finally followed through tonight.

Last week I signed up for a spot at the open mic night at Helium Comedy Club in Center City. As a first timer, I was given a three minute set and it went well enough that I didn’t even get the red light. See quick video below, reminding everyone that I’m just telling jokes.

There were some punch lines I was sure to avoid.

Wing Bowl 19: ‘This would only work in Philadelphia,’ says porn legend Ron Jeremey

People still filing into Wing Bowl 19.

It was about 7:30 a.m.when porn legend Ron Jeremy leaned into a microphone and told 15,000 people inside a basketball stadium everything anyone needed to know about the sleazy entertainment, competitive eating binge before us and its place of origin.

“This,” started ‘the Hedgehog,’ his signature long, greasy hair and mustache alive in the sea of Wing Bowl 19 Friday, Feb. 4, “would only work in Philadelphia.”

I arrived at the stadium district of South Philadelphia with a buddy some two hours earlier, slinging back Kenzingers on the walk from the subway to the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Sixers and Flyers. We were there to see our first competitive eating match — this a battle of several dozen eaters cleaning the meat off of hot buffalo wings — but the event has developed its own reputation for other kinds of excess: large-scale entourages entering on floats, strippers, porn stars, event promotions and marketing, flashing, drinking and its ilk.

Some see Wing Bowl, which was founded by a couple of sports talk shock jocks at 610 AM WIP, as perfectly Philadelphian in its regional flavor and for giving sex and sleaze to binge eating, a true carnival of excess. Of course, others just see it as the most boorish display in a city known for such depths. [The second Philly institutional event of the year for me.]

Whatever the case, it was an experience I’ve wanted to see first hand, and I thought I ought to pass on some of my experience.

Below, I share text message reports from that day, those that I sent and some I should have.

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Mummers Parade 2011: Reflections on marshalling with Hegeman String Band

A quick morning run through of the Hegeman String Band routine before heading to the 2011 Mummers Parade

The bus driver didn’t have a beer. At least that’s what I’d say if you asked me on the record.

It was just after 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day 2011, and I was squeezed between two other fellas dressed in black sharing a vinyl bench on a yellow school bus that was careening above Center City Philadelphia by way of I-676. The bus was full, half with other mostly 20-somethings in black and an older crowd in flamboyant and flowery costumes. Every inch of the bus that wasn’t stuffed with human was reserved for coolers of canned beer and, judging by the frequency of offerings, either a dozen or one-well-circled bottle of liquor.

I’m sure most of that made its way up to the bus driver, flashes of yellow street lights and a city skyline coloring his face in his wide bus rear view mirror, otherwise darkened by the cold, black winter night. I just can’t say what happened when it got there or what happened to all the bottles I had to turn away.

One was a blackberry rum.

I can’t remember the others because the singing was just too loud. I’d never sung along to so many songs I didn’t know. Their words, their meaning, their origins.

This was halftime of the 2011 Mummers Day Parade from the eyes of someone who was in it. Or, in my case, someone who was temporarily welcomed into the century-old Philadelphia tradition. A tradition so outrageous and beloved that only Philly could keep it so well unknown (despite small attempts to spread).

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Rodeo: Cowtown Rodeo in Cowtown, New Jersey

Tonight, I finally made it out to a rodeo. Though I had watched for years portions of events during the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show in Northwest Jersey where I grew up, I had never attended one in full.

With friends, I was excited to get the chance to watch a handful of different contests at the Cowtown Rodeo, the country’s oldest weekly rodeo show, as put on in Cowtown in Salem County, New Jersey.

Below, see video of some past barrel racing, one of the contests I saw in the 4,000-seat arena.

Hot air balloon ride

Out in Pottsville

Buy a house (the first home of my very own)

I closed on my first home: a worn, 1,110-square foot, three-bedroom rowhome in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Today, with my father (and my real estate agent Mike Johnston) by my side, I closed on my first home.

Broad Street Run: my first organized race

I finished today’s Broad Street Run, my first organized race ever.

I finished then 10 miles in more than 90 minutes. Not exactly lightning quick, but good for, of course, quicker than 10 minute miles over the run.

It is a great experience to be running along the damn -near straight and flat Broad Street 10 miles through the city of Philadelphia, through various neighborhoods, with fans lining up much of the way, and 30,000 people shouting at you and cheering you along the way.

My lessons? Pee early because the lines get crazy the closer to launch time.

Peep video kicking off the rainy race below.