I am not a fan of Philadelphia Magazine.
It has nothing to do with the fact that a couple of years ago its editors ranked me as one of the 31 people in Philadelphia they wished would 'just shut up.' (I was number 10 on the list)
I actually used to love the magazine, but that was back in the 1970s and 1980s when they engaged in real, gritty journalism. I still remember Stephen Fried's piece on Gia, the tragic Philly model who died of AIDS, and profiles by Carol Saline on Dr. Snow the cocaine dealer. Lisa De Paulo was also a favorite, particularly when she got the goods on randy Ed Rendell in a piece back when he was American's Mayor.
Heck, they could have had my lifelong goodwill for doing two very flattering write-ups of my own father back in the day when he was known as the Jimmy Cagney of Federal Court.
But in the past decade and a half, the magazine has become the antithesis of what its name implies. It is now Suburbia Mag. There is not one authentically Philadelphian aspect about the articles, and it seems to target those who live in the 'burbs (who am I kidding...the Main Line) but who are desperately trying to be urban hipsters.
The people they profile are supposedly Philly royalty, but I have to tell you that if you asked anyone outside of a 200 mile radius of this city who these 'celebrities' are, they would have absolutely no idea (except, of course, for Ed Rendell who would be recognized on Mars.)
But...despite all of this....I still can't understand the criticisms of the piece they published this month on race relations in the city. The cover story by Robert Huber has caused such agida in the established media intelligentsia of Philadelphia that it has triggered at least two articles condemning it in the Daily News and the Inquirer, as well as friendly-fire attacks on its own website. The advertisers are probably the only ones who are thrilled at the turn of events.
I think that whenever anyone tries to have an honest discussion about race, even if we disagree with the modus operandi of the writer, it is a good thing. I don't see why using anonymous comments diminishes the value of the article, particularly since people tend to speak more freely when they are unaccountable for their opinions (just check out philly.com for confirmation)
And while you may not like the type of things that are being said in the article, and while you may think whites come off as extremely myopic, racist or stupid in the piece, at least the author is doing what President Obama invited him to do when the POTUS gave that speech in Philadelphia during his first campaign.
But don't worry. Next month Philly Mag will get back to the things it does best: profiling photogenic suburbanites with outsized egos.