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HitchBOT: Another Philly black eye?

For us natives, about the only thing more tiresome than watching video footage of some overweight guys in fried-onion-stained T-shirts flipping cheesesteak meat on national TV is listening to recycled clichés about the meanness of the Philadelphian.

That's one reason that we were particularly disturbed by news that HitchBOT — the enchanting hitchhiking Canadian robot that made its way across Europe unharmed and was on its way to San Francisco from Marblehead Mass. — met his demise in the Cradle of Liberty.

We might never hear the end of this.

Perhaps fittingly, his mutilated remains were found almost three months to the day of the death of one Frankie Olivo.

In a story that almost every sports fan in the country has heard at least 100 times, Olivo achieved his 15 minutes of unsolicited fame on Dec. 15, 1968, when, dressed as Santa Claus, he was booed and pelted with a hail of snowballs by fans attending the Eagles game at Franklin Field. Yes, the Eagles lost.

The city's already-battered image was on a roll.


Two years later, in 1970, Philadelphia unveiled an infamous slogan and slapped it on billboards: "Philadelphia isn't as bad as Philadelphians say it is." At the time, an arguable premise.

Philly has become a far-more attractive place in recent years; just look at what has happened to property values.

We recall being at a party years ago and asking a gentleman where he was from. We laughed when he said, "I'm from Kensington, but I hang out in Fishtown." Well, today, Fishtown — yes, Fishtown — is a red-hot neighborhood.
Millenials, and even some geezers, are loving Center City, and Old City, and Northern Liberties, and Fairmount, and Manayunk, and on and on.

Personally, we've never been comfortable with the "City of Brotherly Love" image. As much as we love our brothers, brotherly love is a rather complicated phenomenon; not necessarily the stuff of a good time.

Still, Philly remains a great place to visit, the Philadelphia Parking Authority notwithstanding, but we do not recommend hitchhiking.