GQ names Philadelphia "City of the Year"
Published: Dec 6, 2018
By Zach Baron, GQ
Suddenly, Philadelphia has become a model city, with a Super Bowl-winning (and Trump-defying) NFL team and a new radical political class. Oh, and Meek Mill is finally free. We asked some of our favorite locals why they're celebrating 2018.
To be from Philadelphia is to be accustomed to losing. We have a history of losing. You learn about it in school. Every year we'd make the trek out to Valley Forge, 24 miles northwest of the city, where George Washington's army sheltered in place after losing first downtown and then the neighborhood I grew up in, Germantown, in a series of terrible defeats. Winter hit in Valley Forge, and Washington lost thousands more men. We'd go into their freezing huts, which still stand, and imagine loss.
Later we were the nation's capital, until we weren't. Our baseball team, the Phillies, has the distinction of having lost more games than any other professional sports franchise in the country. This magazine called us the “meanest fans in America.” One of our stadiums had jails and judges in it. Until recently, our one victorious athlete was Rocky Balboa, who is a fictional character. But then a weird thing happened: We started winning. I don't just mean the Super Bowl, which, you may recall, the Eagles won on February 4, 2018, in a thrilling 41–33 victory over the New England Patriots, who came out onto the field to the song “Crazy Train” for some reason. We came out to Meek Mill's “Dreams and Nightmares.” Even my parents were saying: “Free Meek Mill.” Then, in April, Meek Mill was freed. The first thing he did was take a helicopter to a Philadelphia 76ers game to see Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid play, because Simmons and Embiid are fucking amazing.
Eagles players became activists, speaking out about the flawed criminal-justice system. Donald Trump disinvited the team from visiting the White House out of spite; our mayor, Jim Kenney, then called our president “a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size.” Our recently elected district attorney, Larry Krasner, is the most progressive D.A. in the entire country. Our restaurants now regularly grace *Bon Appétit'*s Best New Restaurants list. Will Smith joined Instagram and immediately became incredible at it. You don't have to sell your plasma or your soul to afford an apartment in the city. It just feels…different in Philadelphia these days. Downright victorious, even.