We're going to miss U.S. Rep. Bob Brady when he leaves the House.
Wait, we need to revise and extend our remarks: We're not going to miss the fact that Philadelphia's highest-ranking congressman and Democratic Party boss doesn't seem to care about policy. Or, for that matter, rampant corruption in his party. But Brady's habit of talking bluntly about how politics really works? And wearing track suits everywhere? And calling millennials "millenniums"? Oh, yeah, we'll miss that.
If Brady didn't exist, Clout would have to invent him. He's the embodiment of everything hysterical, depressing, and downright bizarre about the city's political system. Here are seven of the weirdest, funniest, Clout-iest, and most quintessentially Philadelphia things our congressman has done during his decades-long career:
The time Brady made national news for stealing the pope’s water
You knew this would top the list. During his U.S. trip in 2015, Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress. Afterward, Brady swiped a glass of water that was at the pope's side — and bragged about it. "How many people do you know that drank out of the same glass as the pope?" he asked. Not everyone was into it, though: Images — slightly unnerving images, some said, of Brady feeding his pals the water — flooded the internet. Stephen Colbert also made a joke about Brady's sin. Brady's response to the haters? "F– Stephen Colbert."
The time Brady tried to become a reality TV star
Brady almost shared a job title with the Kardashians. Camera crews, supervised by former Daily News editor Larry Platt, followed Brady on the job in 2013 for a potential reality TV show. Netflix expressed interest, and there was even a snappy name for the idea: "The Last Boss." Sadly for America, it didn't pan out. "I don't even know why I did it," Brady said. "But it was fun."
The time Brady ignored the president’s call to help fix an old lady’s toilet
It's a story that Brady loves to tell: In the 1990s, one of his constituents had a problem. A toilet problem. This old lady's toilet problem was so bad, in fact, she was in tears. As Brady was about to send repairmen to her house, he got a call: It was President Bill Clinton. But he didn't take it, the apocryphal tale goes, because "Mrs. Martucci's toilet was as important to her as Clinton's problem was to him."
The time Brady said ‘Mummers is cultures!’
When Brady ran for mayor in 2007, he visited City Paper's editorial board. As he was making the case for the alt-weekly's endorsement, he reportedly said, "Mummers is cultures!" Sure it is … in Pennsport, maybe.
The time Brady admitted the FBI’s investigation of Street wasn’t a racist GOP plot
You remember the 2003 mayor's race: A bug was found in Mayor John Street's office, and Republican Sam Katz briefly looked like he might win. That changed, though, after Street and his allies argued that the FBI investigation was a racist plot by the GOP. (Street, of course, won.) Well, it was all a lie. Brady admitted as much to Philadelphia Magazine later: "Nah, I was just spinning the s–. And it worked."
The time Brady taught DNC honchos the ‘cheesesteak lean’
It was 2014, and Brady desperately wanted to bring the Democratic National Convention to Philadelphia. So what did he do to impress the selection committee when it toured the city? Along with taking them to the usual spots — Independence Hall and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — he planned to teach them how to scarf down a cheesesteak without getting whiz on your shirt: You stand up, tuck in your tie, and lean. "I'll make sure they lean," he assured us before the tour. "You can't eat a cheesesteak sitting down."
The time Brady showed up to his own retirement announcement in an Eagles T
When Brady revealed at a ward leaders' meeting that he would not run for reelection — where else would America's last big-city boss break the news? — he wasn't wearing his Sunday best. Unless your Super Bowl Sunday best is a thing, that is. Brady sported a black, long-sleeve Eagles shirt and matching pants. On most politicians, the outfit would have looked like a cheap attempt to pass as a regular Joe. But not Brady. This is a man who lives in the South Philly tuxedo.
Convicted politician Rick Mariano announces run to replace Brady: ‘I need a job!’
This column is dedicated to the most absurd moments in Brady's career. But there are somber highlights, too: Take the time Brady helped talk then-City Councilman Rick Mariano down from City Hall's observation deck. Mariano was waiting for an indictment; some thought he might hurt himself.
Mariano lived, and went to prison for bribery. Now, in a life comes full circle moment, Mariano is talking about throwing his hat in the ring for Brady's seat.
In fact, Mariano declared his candidacy on Facebook on Wednesday night: "I want to take this opportunity to let everyone knows [everything from here on out is as he wrote it] that I am running for Congress in a the First Congressional District!" he wrote. "Please vote for me I need a job !" But when we got Mariano on the phone Thursday, it didn't sound like a sure thing: He said he "personally would like to see a woman" win.
Still, he's thinking about running to bring attention to the challenges faced by ex-cons. Oh, and to get a paycheck: "My slogan is: I need a job."
If Mariano runs, though, he will actually be the second convicted politician in the race. Willie Singletary, the former Traffic Court judge who went to the slammer for lying to the feds, is campaigning, too. But, Mariano pointed out, he served about five years in prison. Singletary only did 20 months. "I could do that standing on my head," quipped Mariano.
Did this new congressional campaign just commit ad plagiarism?
Hours after Brady revealed that his days of representing the First Congressional District were numbered, a pastor named L. Kevin Johnson officially jumped into the race to succeed him.
Johnson kicked off his campaign with a sleek, compelling ad: Made by some of the same people behind Randy "Ironstache" Bryce's viral spot, it told Johnson's rags-to-pulpit story. It also featured lots of archetypal Philadelphia scenery to pull at locals' heartstrings.
The only problem: It looked familiar. Actually, familiar isn't a strong-enough word: Eight scenes in Johnson's video are identical to those in Rich Negrin's 2017 campaign ad for Philly DA. The same shot of City Hall. The same row homes. The same Pee Wee football team.
Is this a case of political plagiarism?
Well, no. But a case of political laziness? Probably. Hilltop Solutions, which is advising Johnson's campaign, said that both Negrin's and Johnson's spots were produced by WIN, Hilltop's sister company. A spokesman with the Johnson campaign declined further comment,
If we were you, Johnson, we'd ask for a double-down discount.
Staff writers Chris Brennan and Claudia Vargas contributed to this column.