Brian Howard has been covering Philadelphia since 1992, when his first byline appeared in the La Salle Collegian. Since then he’s been editor-in-chief of City Paper, GRID and the tragically short-lived Cowbell. Currently editing Book Business magazine, Brian is a zealous supporter of local cycling, local beer, local music and the local baseball team.
Like most people, when I first saw it, I thought it looked like bullshit—these things always look like complete bullshit—so I ignored it. I even laughed a little at other people who were posting it. “Hah, another thought virus clogging up the series of tubes,” I thought smugly to myself. I looked away from Facebook to do some work.
The end is most definitely nigh. Andrew Walter Reid, the large, ruddy man who’s led our dear Iggles lo these last 14 years—barring a swift reversal of fortune—is likely serving in his last season as a head football coach in this town. Recent developments on the gridiron notwithstanding (this season has gotten ugly and quick), the near certainty of Reid’s departure at the end of the season, if not sooner, will be sad indeed.
There are football reasons, of course, to be sad, not the least of which have been an unprecedented tenure at the franchise’s helm (his 14 seasons doubles Dick Vermeil’s run), and unmatched success (at present, he holds the best winning percentage of anyone who’s coached more than one Eagles game). But in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-world of the National Football League (in which he has done a lot for Philadelphia for a long time), Reid appears to have lost his team and the fanbase. In this day and age that’s a one-way ticket to color-commentator-ville (despite this being the season Reid also lost his son, a tragedy for which some were keen to give him a Mulligan).
But to be honest, I don’t really give a damn about the football. To quote a friend’s recent Facebook status, “Every Saturday and Sunday I’m reminded that the rest of the world didn’t lose interest in football when I did.” The thing about Reid is that for a man known for short, cliched answers at post-game press conferences, he's left a sizeable impression (get the fat joke out of your system now) on this town’s collective psyche. In fact, it’s safe to say he’s one of the five most influential—for non-sport reasons—pro coaches or execs to pass through these parts in recent years. Let's take a look:
Like much of the Delaware Valley, I spent most of Monday obsessively checking my basement for water, securing any potential projectiles near my house, oh, and watching hours and hours of Hurricane Sandy-related weather porn.
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he told the New York Times. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
These are the kinds of things people who ride bicycles in the city are quite accustomed to hearing. They’re also the kinds of things people who write about bicycles in Philly get quite a bit of as well.
Back in May and June, lots of folks were up in a huff (I may have been one of them) about a bike lane pilot project on 10th Street. With the decision looming about whether to make the lane permanent, stakeholders in Chinatown and near Jefferson Hospital maintained stances that the lane was causing traffic issues. Meanwhile, cycling advocates felt that City Council’s proposed method of ameliorating this issue—granting itself veto power over new bike lanes—added unnecessary bureaucracy while endangering future extensions of the city’s bike lane network.
Last week, we looked at the city’s brand-new Philly 311 app, a clever bit of high-tech public service designed to make it easier for citizens to report issues, get answers and, ultimately, make those using it better, more informed, more engaged citizens. Along with it being useful and educational (I now know exactly who’s responsible for dead cat removal), it’s even, dare we say, fun to eavesdrop on the collective grumbling of the populace.