Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tough Town

I've tended not to talk about work much since taking the new job. Wuperior Soodcraft was a different story, causing me to wax rhapsodic on a regular basis. But the new job is fairly straightforward. Job is job. and there's probably not a lot interesting about my occasional gripes.

But I'm making an exception. Talking not so much about the the Place of Employ, but about the city that the Place of Employ calls home: Philadelphia.

Now, I built my career in New York City. Which is a tough town. You've gotta be bulletproof. There are some... uh... "strong personalities" in that town. And I ran into a lot, but there's a hell of a lot that I never dreamed of that I'm running into in Philadelphia.

For example, I present to my Board of Directors an idea we've cooked up that will geometrically expand the reach of our efforts without any significant increase in resources--which we don't have right now--and how do they respond?

"When I called the agency three weeks ago and talked to M. she was very disrespectful to me on the phone."

Not anomalous!

It keeps coming up.

"Did you know that three years ago he got drunk and made some really sexist comments at a party..."

"And there he was sucking face with the program officer from one of our funders..."

"I don't like her!"

It's all I hear! It's totally all about gossip and opinion!

I mean, not like that didn't go down in NYC. Especially in politics, it's all about gossip. (If you ever want the complete history of everybody who Rudolph W. Giuliani cheated on his wife Donna with while he was Mayor, buy me a Margarita sometime.)

But it doesn't determine anything. That's a matter of how smart, how effective, how persuasive, how creative, how innovative, or how much you manage to get done in a day.

But it's my experience that in Philadelphia, none of those are considerations. It's all about whether or not you like the person.

On my drive home from the Place of Employ tonight, I shared these observations with the Baron.

And the Baron concurred and elaborated.

By way of example, he described an acquaintance of his, a journalist of sorts, who lives for nothing more than being admitted gratis to soirées and openings where he gets to drink wine without paying for it.


For this guy, that's what it's all about: getting to drink wine without having to pay anything. And he'll be sure to mention you in his column. (Now, I'm not an expert in journalistic ethics...)

In a city of mediocrities, all you care about is getting smoke blown up your ass, and the best way to get some of that is to blow smoke up someone else's ass.

So... Like... Uh oh.


Well maybe not all is lost.

In the last hundred years, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has had exactly two mayors that weren't total useless hacks: Richardson Dillworth and Edward G. Rendell. Rendell, of course, is currently our Governor. During his time in City Hall, the city took off. Seemingly by force of will, Mayor Rendell turned the city around. Buzz Bissinger, the guy who wrote "Friday Night Lights," chronicled the mayoralty of Ed Rendell in his book "Prayer For The City."

And I'm gonna read it.

If Ed could plow through all the hacks in this town and get the job done, then maybe so can I.

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