"THE PHILADELPHIA STORY" begins at the birth of our Republic, and continues on to this week's Democratic National Convention (with a certain popular Hollywood movie along the way). With Mo Rocca -- let's explore:
"Everyone in Philadelphia, and everyone who visits Philadelphia, wants their picture with Rocky," said Ed Rendell, a former Philly mayor and, later, governor of Pennsylvania.
You couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic civic booster.
Rendell brought Rocca to one of Philadelphia's major tourist draws: the Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
"Do the steps help keep Philadelphians slim and trim?" Rocca asked.
"No. Because it's mostly people from out of town who run the steps."
And from the top of those steps you can look over George Washington's shoulder to where the country was born.
"The revolution was a revolution of ideas," said Rendell. "Those ideas were formulated and debated here."
Visitors swarm the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. And at the National Constitution Center, they get up-close-and-personal with the founding fathers (or their statues, at least).
"Ben Franklin is extremely popular," Rendell said. "He used to have the famous Franklin glasses on. But the tourists kept touching the Franklin glasses so much that they broke the glasses. We tried, I think, three pairs and finally gave up."
"You just gave him Lasik," Rocca noted.
"That's how often he gets touched compared to the other statues."
It's seems that everywhere you turn in Philadelphia, history is just around the corner.
Elfreth's Alley is the oldest continually-inhabited street in America. But that's just one of Philadelphia's many distinctions.
This city's also has America's first hospital; its first library; its first stock exchange; and its first art museum.
But history, not to mention geography, has not always been kind to Philadelphia, which was the nation's capital from 1790 to 1800.
Governor Rendell, who was actually born in New York, was asked what he notices about Philadelphia that Philadelphians may not notice about themselves.
"The city has a little bit of an inferiority complex," he replied. "In Colonial times we were the most sophisticated, most important city in the country. Now we're 100 miles south of the financial capital of the world, and 150 miles north of the political capital. So it makes Philadelphians a little defensive ... they sort of feel a little inferior."
Joe Queenan, an essayist and somewhat grumpy native son, notes that while we associate the founding fathers with Philadelphia, most of them aren't from Philadelphia.
"There's the Philly that's the cradle of American democracy," Rocca said, "and then there's the Philly that has what Ed Rendell calls an inferiority complex."
"I wouldn't so much call it an inferiority complex, as it has a chip on its shoulder," Queenan said.
About what? "The rest of the world."
The "rest of the world" has a long history of laughing at the city. W.C. Fields reputedly said, "I once spent a year in Philadelphia. I think it was on a Sunday."
And then there are the long-suffering fans of the city's football team, the Eagles, which last won the championship back in 1960.
Last year, Eagles' fans were named by Sports Illustrated as the most hated in the NFL.
After all, they're the ones who, on a truly legendary day at Franklin Field, launched a snowball attack against Santa Claus.
Rendell was there on that day in 1968: "Well, the Santa that the Eagles had hired got sick," he recalled. "So they had to look for a substitute Santa. And they went in the stands and saw this guy in a Santa suit, they asked him to do it.
"He wasn't a great Santa. And then they brought this poor substitute Santa out and they pelted him. I think he got barely halfway around the sled before he said, 'No mas.'"
When asked why that story is so well known, Queenan replied, "Because people like any story that trashes Philadelphia. And most people in Philadelphia would just say that Santa deserved it."
Clearly, Philadelphia has its standards!
Which brings us to cheesesteak.
"The key to the cheesesteak is Cheez Whiz," Rendell said. "Because you want the cheese to get into the nooks and crannies of the steak."
He recalled an epic mis-step by John Kerry when he ran for president: "John Kerry came in and ordered a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese. Unheard of. He would have been better skipping the cheesesteak entirely."
There's a right way to EAT it, too, even when while wearing a very nice suit. "It can be done!" Rendell said. "But you have to lean forward at all times. It's actually called a Philadelphia lean."
"Is it like a slouch? Or is it from the hips?" Rocca asked.
"No, no. You lean from the hips. You lean forward. Very important."
"It's probably good for your digestion a little bit, too. Right?"
"I don't know about that!"
Rendell is not just an etiquette expert. As the chairman of the Democratic Convention's host committee, he's working to reclaim Philadelphia's glory.
"I came up with the slogan, 'Let's make history again,' alluding to the fact that history was made at the first convention in the United States with the Continental Congress. And I was alluding to the fact that we would probably nominate the first woman candidate to be president. Let's make history again!"
"And if it were Bernie, it would be the first Jewish president."
"No, actually, I was thinking of the first socialist president!"
Philadelphia is actually the Greek word for "Brotherly Love," hence its traditional slogan, "City of Brotherly Love." It was named in 1681 by its founder, William Penn, who still presides from atop City Hall.
Three-hundred-and-thirty-five years later, Philadelphia is still defining itself.
Queenan said, "I saw a sign, it was an advertisement for Philadelphia, and it said, 'With love, from Philadelphia.' That is so un-Philadelphia!
"They used to have a campaign here, 'Philadelphia, the city that loves you back.' It's just not a loveable place. It's not a place that's warm. It's a place that, like, take it or leave it. And in fact, we would prefer that you leave it."
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