Thursday, February 16, 2006

Philly's got an awful marketing director

This weekend I will return to the motherland to visit my parents, my grandmother, a friend, and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Currently, the museum is featuring a special exhibit on Benjamin Frankin to honor his 300th birthday. To help promote it, some genius created the following slogan:

Philly's Got Benergy.

I kid you not.

I first saw this colossal embarrassment while traveling on Boston's T. Surely, my fellow commuters noticed the look of shame on my face and immediately deduced that I come from the Philly area. I thank them for not publicly ridiculing me.

Recenlty, I realized this is the latest example of Philadelphia's inferiority to Boston, which would never conjure up something so patently lame. Boston's superiority may date back to our country's early days. Consider the comments of John Adams:

Philadelphia with all its Trade, and Wealth, and Regularity is not
Boston. The Morals of our People are much better, their Manners are more polite, and agreeable -- they are purer English. Our Language is better, our Persons are handsomer, our Spirit is greater, our Laws are wiser, our Religion is superiour, our Education is better. (Italics mine)
Not only is the slogan eye-rolling, it's also grammatically horrid. Philly's Got...?!?! That's the sort of language that first graders are taught to not use. It should be "Philly Has Benergy."

It's as bad as the slogan that appeared on Pennsylvania license plates in the 1980s: "You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Become a pseudointellectual in five easy steps

Want to impress your friends with your intellectuality? Want to make them think you're educated and smart while putting in a minimal amount of effort? Then follow my easy five-step guide, and you, too, will be a pseudointellectual!

1. Read the New York Times Best Seller lists every week.

There really is no need to actually read any books to make others believe you are well-read. Chances are, they don't read either. So simply glance over the lists and just mention that The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman is still doing well and you're set.

2. Mention an Anthony Lane movie review in the New Yorker.

Lane is just about the biggest schmuck out there. But his critic cred is damn high, and he writes for the epitome of liberal elitism. Bonus points if you say that he can't escape the shadow of Pauline Kael.

3. Utter the phrase "the neoconservative assault on American foreign policy."

No one will know what the hell you're talking about. That's the goal. They will simply assume that YOU know what you're talking about and will not ask any questions. Trust me.

4. Occasionally listen to a Terry Gross interview on NPR's Fresh Air.

NPR is the one-stop source for pseudointellectuals. And Terry Gross is an NPR icon. It's the perfect combination. But if you're in a hurry, you need only paraphrase their website: "Did you hear Terry Gross's interview with bioethics expert Christopher Thomas Scott, who explores in his new book Stem Cell Now the possibilities of what some consider the greatest discovery since nuclear fusion: the isolation of embryonic stem cells for research?"

5. Take a gander at the MoMA website from time to time.

For example, right now you could engage a friend in the following conversation:

You: I'm going to New York this weekend to check out the John Szarkowski exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.

Friend: Who?

You: John Szarkowski. He is one of the most influential photography curators and critics of the twentieth century.

Friend: Oh. Really?

You: Yeah, he also took some stunning photos. Early on, most of his pictures were shot in his native Midwest. Later in his career, most of his photos were taken on his farm in upstate New York.

Friend: Wow. That's interesting.

I guarantee that this will be the end of the conversation. Your friend will be totally fooled.


So there you have it. But I must warn you. Do not try these tips around true intellectuals. You will quickly be discovered for the fraud that you are.