When something puzzles me, I always try to find out why it is so. For example, I could understand if legislators from the western part of Pennsylvania were indifferent to Philadelphia, but why outright hostility?

I hear rumors a state representative from Elk County actually gets severe gas cramps every time he tries to say the word “Philadelphia.” I am OK with anyone from rural Pennsylvania getting gas cramps so long as they don’t add to air pollution. My problem is when their legislators won’t bother even to vote on whether we in our city can enact a cigarette tax to help fund our public schools.

You are probably wondering why Philadelphia has to depend on the permission of legislators who, if they had their druthers (what the hell are “druthers” anyway) wouldn’t set foot in this city if they were promised a night with one of the Daily News Sexiest Singles (OK, so maybe that’s a reach). Harrisburg has done such a great job of running Philadelphia schools that it is only fair that it tells us when to wipe our fannies and how much we can tax cigarettes. It leads me back to wondering about the source of the hostility of Pennsylvania legislators toward Philadelphia.

My crack research team (they depend on crack to do their research) found out that every one of these hostile legislators has eaten a bad cheesesteak at one time or another in their lives and holds a grudge against our city. My suggestion to them is to try a roast pork with provolone and long hots on a good roll, and then by all means, get over it.

A bunch of us were sitting around on the top deck of our swim club the other day discussing why drinking has always appealed to us a lot more than swimming. Someone mentioned the way tropical cocktails always seem to come with a tiny paper umbrella. That got us to thinking about the origin of the tiny umbrellas. I suggested that perhaps back in the day someone had been caught in a rainstorm while drinking a mai tai and reacted by hoisting an umbrella to protect the cocktail. Since it is not possible to honor that occasion by putting a regular sized umbrella in a cocktail, the practice of a tiny paper umbrella was born. The reaction around the rest of the table was if you served a large enough drink, you could certainly place a real umbrella in it. Several folks offered the opinion that the idea of serving larger drinks had its advantages over shrinking the size of the umbrella. We ended our conversation concluding that paper umbrellas in mai tais would remain one of the imponderables of life.

This led us to a discussion of fine dining. I like good food served in good restaurants. What I don’t crave is the server taking 10 minutes to narrate a story about the ingredients I am about to devour, all the while my fork is poised in midair. Call me crude, but I don’t care that the corn I am about to eat was grown in a small farm in Lancaster and delivered to the chef as I was entering the restaurant, or that the fish was flown in from the Mediterranean in business class. Lacking culture, I care not that the mashed potatoes are shaped like the Coliseum in Rome. Barbarian that I am, I just want the food to taste good and to be able to eat it while it is still hot. If I want the story behind the meal, I’ll visit the Food Network.

I am puzzled by the mayor’s indifference toward Councilman-at-Large James Kenney’s bill, passed by council, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Philadelphia. The mayor is taking longer to sign the measure into law than it takes to get bad cops off our police force. If signed into law, police would merely issue a $25 ticket for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and after the fine was paid, the charge would be expunged from the offender’s record. The benefits are obvious. Such a law would free up police to go after real criminals, it would also free up our jails (current law mandates custodial arrest-— handcuffs and a night in jail), and keep pot smokers from having a possibly life-changing criminal offense on their records. Some cynics would also point out that signing the bill into law also holds out the prospect of opening a new era in ticket fixing in Philadelphia for the well-connected. No one went so far as Republican Councilman Dennis O’Brien, who, in opposing the bill, claimed it would result in more assaults on police officers. He has obviously witnessed pot users assaulting chocolate brownies and is drawing irrelevant conclusions. Either that or he is still using the movie “Reefer Madness” on which to base his assumptions.

With it all, while the mayor dawdles and dreams of his next global adventure to promote Philadelphia business (I strongly suggest a Viking cruise), the police are busy arresting pot users and, no doubt, keeping us safe from running out of chocolate brownies.

Maybe the mayor’s opposition is rooted in Kenney being the originator of the bill? Either that or he likes brownies too much. 

Contact the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com.