Visit to my Alma Mater & Philadelphia

I went to school outside Philadelphia at Swarthmore College (founded in 1864 by Quakers and one of the first co-educational colleges). One never leaves Swarthmore, because wherever you are in the world, you’ll bump into a “Swattie”. Its a small liberal arts college–one of the best–and its alumni range wide and far, typically go on do civic-minded things.

Parrish Hall via Friends Historical Society
Parrish Postcard via Friends Historical Society

I was invited back to lecture on mass media and politics,  and to share my thoughts on what it takes to be leader. I told the students that a) I was too young to lecture them and b) leadership is determined by your choices, c) your choices should be guided by our own moral compass. My moral compass has swung wildly sometimes, like all men learning to be adults. I still make mistakes, but I’ve become grounded lately, as I begin to realize what it means to live for others. Leadership, is making choices that serve others first. The best moment of the lecture came when I informed the students that the Smithsonian has decided to archive every single tweet every made for all time…and to be careful what they post online. You should have seen their eyes as it dawned on them, that perhaps they had made some poor choices at one point. I assured them that digital media never really dies, but that they could make better choices now that they were informed, that their responsibility (born from the privilege of an education) was to make choices based on their moral compass going forward.

While on campus I stopped in at alumni relations and viewed some of the artifacts of a bygone era. This “S” letter sweater stood out.

These were the old mailboxes in Parrish Hall. Many a student (and me) had nightmares about these stacks and stacks of mailboxes–terrifying dreams of needing to get something out and being locked out.

While in Philadelphia, I stopped by Art in the Age of Mechanical Production.

I had heard they were making their own hooch, so hit their Old City store just before closing. While they couldn’t sell me their Root and Snap liquors (both organic), I had a little tasting. Root is an antique spirit, made from birch bark, wintergreen and other wild roots and herbs in the 1700s. It became the basis of “root beer,” but started out as “root tea”, a spirit.

“Snap” is brilliant too–tastes exactly like an original gingersnap cookie, made from blackstrap molasses and ginger. “Lebkuchen”, the original Pennsylvania Dutch cookie is one of my favorite treats so you can bet is going to be in a cocktail at my holiday party next weekend.

As soon as I got home, I had to whip up a cocktail. I went simple…1 1/2 ounces Snap, 1 1/2 ounces Hudson Manhattan Rye Whisky, ice, shaken and served straight-up. I call it the Hudson Valley Cold Snap.

I also picked up a dope Gitman Bros. flannel. It was heartening to come across Art in the Age, and to see that nearby Sugarcube had survived the recession. I used to live right there on 3rd street across from these shops in a loft. Hoagies, Yuengling beer, Yards beer, the Northern Liberties, La Colombe coffeehouse, Reading Terminal Market, Rittenhouse Square, the Devil’s Pocket, the Roots, Ortlieb’s Jazz House, the Italian Market, Haverford girls, the Mainline. Good times.  I’m looking forward to going back.

Advertisements

One thought on “Visit to my Alma Mater & Philadelphia

  1. Dad

    Ortlieb’s, I hear, has closed…I’m not certain about that or any of the others. If it has it’s another great loss to Philadelphia and the jazz world. I know this though…man is it heartening to read your writing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s