When the notion that God himself hates your city becomes not really an insult to much as an oft-repeated truism coming off a seemly unending series of sports heartbreaks (don’t kid yourself, this Cavs season isn’t gonna end well), it’s hard not to be sad, but also more than a little angry about that sadness. Hell, their football stadium is now rightfully known as the Factory of Sadness, thanks to a hilarious video that is also, well quite angry.
And sure, the downtrodden sports fan thing is everyone’s shorthand go-to for Cleveland, but it’s also so powerful quite specifically BECAUSE Clevelanders have so very much to be angry about, and yet the passionately followed local teams fail time and time again to assuage that anger, even just a little bit, just for one glorious day. All the Great Lakes Christmas Ale in the world can’t make that right. As a result, there’s a pronounced edge to Clevelanders. As Bone Thugs put it: “Cleveland is the city where we come from, so run run”. Also, Bone Thugs should have had a way bigger career. Another thing to be angry about!
Has there ever been a more ironic nickname for a city than Philly’s Brotherly Love moniker? Or perhaps that is fitting, as brothers tend to show their love by beating the shit out of each other repeatedly.
The biggest challenge in writing about Philly and its anger issues was where to begin (though you should start by reading this). Perhaps with the infamous sports fans, including the most recent despicableness, in which Flyers fans threw bracelets honoring their owner who’d recently died of bladder cancer onto the ice at a game to the point where the announcer had to yell at them. Or past transgressions, like the fan who intentionally threw up on an 11 year-old-girl at Phillies game in 2010, or the ones who loudly cheered when Michael Irvin sustained a career ending neck injury in 1999, or their penchant for throwing batteries (at J.D. Drew) and snowballs (at Santa and pretty much everyone else).
It goes well beyond boorish fandom. Some of the elements are similar to Boston -- the insecurity when comparing themselves to NY that manifests itself as over-the-top bravado; the penchant for street festivals devolving into public urine and vomit competitions; an accent that sounds like someone threw a chainsaw into a trash fire filled with gravel, etc.
But Philly is its own unique beast. Many years ago, I was standing outside a bar in Boston with my buddy Casey. Case asked a guy wearing a skullie cap if he could bum a cigarette. The guy eyed him up and down while blowing smoke out the side of his mouth.
“Where you from?” he asked.
“Here,” Casey said, somewhat uneasily. “Boston.”
“Well,” the guy said, smiling in a twisted way. “I’m from somewhere better than youseee.”
Despite recognizing that he was now an unwilling participant in a rhetorical set-up, Casey played along: "Where?"
“Philly,” our man said, in a challenging proud voice. His eyes had a little bit of crazy in them. He looked like a combination of a wounded animal and Johnny Ringo in Tombstone when he finally decides he’s got to face off against Doc Holliday. He stood staring at Casey for a good 10 seconds, then flicked his cigarette at his feet and walked away.
Just then, the bouncer, who'd been watching this whole thing take place, let out a low whistle and spoke all of the truth.
"Man," he said. "In Philly, you just come out angry."