On Monday, the Boston Globe ran a column by Kevin Cullen about Philadelphia and Philadelphians. It wasn't what you think.
"Philadelphia doesn't suck," he wrote. "I love Philly and I love Philadelphians."
"Some of my best friends are from or live in Philly."
I thought of Lucy holding the football and we're Charlie Brown approaching for the kick. I kept reading, expecting the pigskin to be pulled back for us to fall, but Cullen went high road, taking a pass on totally expected city bashing. His fulsome praise shimmered online like spun gold.
Until a mere two days later. That's when Cullen cheaseled (a combination of chicken and weasel), and wrote what he called "the longest clarification ever printed in the Boston Globe."
Clarification is one word for it. U-turn and reverse course are others. So is craven.
In Cullen's follow-up column, all hacked up hairballs and lame excuses, he dropped his Philly friends like a greased dish in the face of two streams of reaction from readers.
The first was from mentally deficient Beantowners who accused him of "treachery and duplicity" (his words) and switching sides because he had the temerity and poor taste to profess his love for Philadelphia (which proved illusory).
The second stream came from Philadelphia fans, from "whack jobs who thought I was giving them carte blanche to get loaded and act like jerks," Cullen wrote.
But the first column made clear the beer-can-pitching, expletive-spewing, police-horse-punching element are not the Philadelphians for whom Cullen had expressed affection. All it took were some complaints to make him cave? Boston Strong?
And to think I had just finished a return compliment to Boston a couple of hours before his second column was posted.
You know what? I'm going to show you what I wrote anyway — and I won't reverse myself if someone kvetches.
The last time I was in Boston, Bunker Hill was closed, without benefit of a government shutdown. I passed by Fenway Park, but the Red Sox were not at home. (I would have liked to hear "Sweet Caroline" in the 8th.) I cruised Boston Common, ate at Faneuil Hall, bought a souvenir cap at the USS Constitution.
I was in Boston in 1975 when I covered the reenactment of the 200th anniversary of the battle at nearby Concord, where "once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard 'round the world," as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote. (They have Ralph Waldo Emerson, we have Meek Mill.)
Like Philly, Boston is high on education, and, yeah, Harvard's a bigger deal than Penn, and Beantown's clam and corn chowder is an outstanding dish. Boston terriers are cuter than Philly's pit bulls.
Maybe because of the Brahmin influence, Bostonians are polite. (This is a columnist's theory.) So are Quaker-influenced Philadelphians (away from the stadiums).
So Boston to us is kind of like a little nephew with 673,000 population to our 1.5 million. A fun stat (more for Boston than us): In the four major sports, Boston has 34 championships to Philly's 17.
Bostonians talk more funny than we do. We like that.
But we don't like the Patriots, and you have to ask how much they like Boston when they don't even use the city's name and they play in Foxboro. The Pats have a deserved reputation as cheats — including wrongfully video-recording other teams, drug use, and under-inflating footballs. Why do you want to cheer for them? Do they deserve you?