Philly And Back

This week we traveled to Philadelphia to attend the grand opening of the brand new CBS 3 Hi-Def studios there and to do The CBS Evening News atop the famous "Rocky Steps" of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

It was a rich full day, and part of the fun was traveling there and back by train. We took the new Acela down and the regular Amtrak back to New York. It'd been a while since I traveled somewhere by train, and I had forgotten what a pleasant way it is to go.

Even at Acela speeds the scenery goes by your window in a way that lets you relate to the countryside in human terms and human scale as opposed to, in a jet, looking down at the patchwork of earth 30,000 feet below.

I think I like the train. The seats are big and comfortable and there are amenities. It's as if we got on a grand private airplane and taxied all the way to Philadelphia. No seat belts, no instructions about exits, no mention of "in the event of an emergency landing," no gate holds, and no ten hours in "runway limbo." And best of all we were on the ground. I don't have a fear of flying, but I am definitely not a fanatic about it. The train was terrific. Bravo, Amtrak.

Then we did The CBS Evening News from the top of the famous Art Museum steps. Suddenly I was having my "Rocky" moment. I understood what all the jumping around was all about when Stallone got there in his movies. It is impossible to stand there and not hear the strains of "Gonna Fly Now" (The "Rocky" theme) playing for you this time. The climb up is daunting, but the view is breathtaking. Two "Philadelphia Inquirer" Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, Michael Vitez and Tom Gralish have even written a book called "Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps" which celebrates some the people who have re-created that scene for themselves and what it meant to them. As Stallone sums it up in a forward to the book, "You can't borrow Superman's cape. You can't use the Jedi laser sword. But the steps are there. The steps are accessible. And standing up there, you kind of have a piece of the 'Rocky' pie." Incidentally, Michael Vitez and I were at the University of Virginia together and were fellow reporters on the school newspaper, "The Cavalier Daily". Hi, Mike!

A statue of Stallone as "Rocky" briefly occupied the spot where we did the telecast, but it touched off such a fierce battle as to what was "art" and what wasn't that it was twice banished to the Wachovia Spectrum in South Philadelphia. The statue has only recently been returned -- sort of. It isn't at the top of the steps any more, but at the bottom and off to the right side of the museum in a grassy area. And yet it remains one of the favorite tourist attractions in Philadelphia rivaling even the Liberty Bell. But best of all, for me, was that I got to be where Rocky couldn't go any more. "Yo, Adrian!!!!"

We then went over to the new state-of-the-art broadcast center that had recently been built from the ground up for CBS 3 and its sister station, the CW Philly. There I met the Mayor and the Governor of Pennsylvania whom I have interviewed on a number of occasions as well as a lot of great people at CBS 3. It's an extraordinary station in an extraordinary city bursting with civic pride.

The trip back was on a conventional regional train. It wasn't quite as elegant as the Acela, but just right for a much needed nap to the soothing clickety-clack of the rails as opposed to a jet engine's roar.