An Interview With Jason Mulgrew, Author of "Everything Is Wrong With Me"

An Interview With Jason Mulgrew, Author of "Everything Is Wrong With Me"

Jason Mulgrew is a South Philadelphia native who grew up idolizing Michael Jack Schmidt. Perhaps most famous for running a fireworks distribution empire, he also happens to be a fellow alum of Boston College who has blog. His new book is titled Everything Is Wrong with Me: A Memoir of an American Childhood Gone, Well, Wrong. The book, much like his blog, is quite hilarious. He was kind enough to answer a few of our questions, mostly about the Dead and Philly sports venues.

Enrico: You’re a Philly guy,
you went to a local Prep school, you graduated from Boston College,
and you have a blog, yet you give off the impression you’re not pulling
tail left and right.  What gives? 

Jason: You’re telling me that
spending my adolescent years going through puberty surrounded by 200
dudes, being a fat guy from South Philly with a beard and attending
a college stocked with New England-bred upper class girls who prefer
the J. Crew/lacrosse player type, and having an internet diary means
I should be getting laid more?  Really?  Please tell me you’re
kidding me, because I know that shit ain’t working for you. 

And if you’re not kidding,
I’m really going to flip out.  We just might have to move on.       

Perhaps my favorite anecdote
from your book was the story of your parents first
“encounter” or what you want to call it back in the 70’s. 
In short, they first encountered each other during the Mummer’s Parade
while your dad was doing his best drunken strut while unknowingly bleeding
from a stab wound.  That’s pretty much the best
“how did you meet” story I’ve ever heard.  I secretly wanted
to meet a gorgeous girl during the Phillies World Series parade in 2008,
fall in love, and subsequently marry her.  That way when people
ask the “how did you meet?” question, we’d have a killer answer. 
So, I guess my question is, how can you top your parents’ story? 
Give us a situation where you meet some lovely lady, fall in love, and
get married that tops your parents’ tale.   

First, I think that my dad
was aware that he had been stabbed and was bleeding; he just was too
drunk to care.  And you’re right, that’s pretty much the best
“How did you meet?” story ever.  And in the case of my parents,
there’s actual photographic proof!  Which, of course, you’ll
have to buy the book to see. 

(Well, I guess you could technically
just pick up the book, look at the picture, and then put it down and
walk away.  But you’d have to read the chapter to get the whole
story.)     

I don’t know if I – or
really, anyone – will be able to top theirs.  I can say that
a few years ago, my roommate and I used a drug delivery service in NYC
(just for pot, don’t worry).  It was amazing, quick and efficient
– you’d call, tell them what you wanted, and 45 minutes later, a
guy would show up with your pot.  Awesome.  It was a sad,
sad day for us when it was eventually busted.   

But anyway, there were only
two guys who ever showed up at our place to drop off the pot: a pretty
jacked Latino dude who didn’t speak at all and was in and out in under
ten seconds and this dirty-ass skinny Wook who’d want to come in,
have a beer, smoke, hang out, whatever.  And my roommate and I
never knew which one it would be, so each time we opened the door, it
was a surprise.  We were always hoping for the scary Latino dude,
because, even though he was more likely to murder us, at least he didn’t
want to hang out.       

But the roommate and I had
a joke that maybe one day we’d open the door to receive our pot and
instead of the Latino guy or the Wook, there’d be the gorgeous girl
– this smoking hot hippie chick with long flowing hair and an ample
bosom, standing there, an eighth or quarter of pot in her hand, and
that’s it – you get the classic “love at first sight” montage
where she brushes her hair behind her shoulder in slow-motion and “Dream
Weaver” starts playing and bam, you’re in love.    

So maybe something like that
could come close to my parents’ story: this hot girl delivers my pot,
we strike up a conversation, spend our first date smoking up, eating
Pringles and watching “The Big Lebowski”, and we eventually marry,
almost certainly on a farm, to the wedding song like “Wagon Wheel”
by OCMS.  Then, years later, when we’re sitting at a wedding
table full of strangers and one of them asks, “So how did you guys
meet?” I could say, “It’s a funny story, actually – she used
to work for my drug dealer.  Well, I guess technically she used
to be my drug dealer, since I gave her cash and she gave me drugs,
but, really, I’m not a lawyer. We now have little two girls, Star
and Star As Well, and a third child on the way.”   

You’re an annual Mummer
with the Froggy Carr brigade.  Those are the really, really drunk
ones, is that correct?  Also, what do you think you’ll ever become
an official member are?   

I think it would be fair
to categorize Froggy Carr as the “really, really drunks ones”, yes. 
For this and other reasons, I’ve been going out with Froggy Carr since
I was about two.     

As for being a member, I don’t
know.  As I explain the book, almost anyone can go out with Froggy
Carr or other Comics in the Mummers Parade, but only a select few become
members of the club.  Maybe if the book sells a ton of copies,
they’ll let me in.  I certainly hope so – I have a crippling
need for acceptance and approval.  By the way, how am I doing so
far?  If you don’t like it, we can start over.  I’m sorry.       

You idolized Michael
Jack growing up, yet were admittedly a truly pathetic baseball player
(.013 career batting average).  You share plenty of tales in the
book about the obstacles in life that were challenging that perhaps
helped shape you as a person. Yet you seem to take being the worst little
league player ever in stride.  I think being such a shitty little
league player would damage me for life.  Thoughts? 

Little League was about
so much more than actually playing baseball.  It was about making
friends, eating sugary snacks, and, in the case of my team, learning
about and discussing masturbation.  I’ve also always approached
life with the general feeling that if at first you don’t succeed,
you should probably move on right away to something else you might be
better at.  So when I realized that I sucked at baseball, I sort
of shrugged it off and focused on hanging out with the other terrible
guys on the team and cracking jokes with them.  

See?  There’s a lesson
here.  When life gives you lemons, drop the shit out of those lemons
and go play video games or something.      

You talk about getting
the chance to see the Grateful Dead at the Spectrum as a 12-year-old. 
That must have been pretty surreal, obviously.  How was Jerry that
night?  Anything else you remember about the evening?  Any
other great Spectrum memories?   

Overall, that was a memorable
night, featuring a lot of “firsts”: first time I saw the Dead, first
time I saw a boob (that’s another teaser for the book), first time
I did or inhaled or whatever a nitrous balloon.  This last one
is especially surprising – I was doing nitrous balloons in the parking
lot of a Dead show when I was 12 or 13, but I didn’t even drink until
I was 18 or 19.  As for Jerry, I remember he was much fatter than
I thought he’d be and also very stationary.  But they did “Loose
Lucy” and “He’s Gone”, which were then and still are two of
my favorites. (Here's the full setlist)

And other Spectrum memories…I
saw the Phantoms win the Calder Cup there in 1998.  I wasn’t
a huge Phantoms fan, but to be present when a Philly team won a championship
was pretty awesome, something I wouldn’t get to see until ten years
later, when a buddy happened upon an extra ticket to Game Five. 
I was in Vegas at the time, but booked the first flight out in the morning
to Philly to catch the game.  Spectacular.   

But back to the Spectrum…I
saw my first ever concert there, which was Paula Abdul, with Color Me
Badd opening.  The Dead was my second concert, two years later. 
A lot happened in those two years, obviously.    

Having grown up on Two
Street, you lived in the shadows of the Vet for much of your life. 
Got a good Vet story?  Perhaps an adventure in the 700 level that
you’d like to share? 
 

Ah, yes.  Aside from
the obvious – about a billion Phillies’ games on $4 general admission
tickets – I do remember that on at least one occasion my buddies and
I snuck into the Vet to run the football field.  That was awesome. 
I’m sure I didn’t make it the whole 100 yards – or even 20 –
but it was still awesome nonetheless.   

And I remember one particular
football game when I must have been 7 or 8.  I was there with my
dad, sitting in the 700 level, and there was this guy in our section,
Bill.  All of the sudden during the game, apropos of nothing, the
people in the section would start chanting, “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!”
and Bill would come barreling down the aisle to the front of the section,
and do something between a Truffle Shuffle and a cheer, and everyone
would just erupt, roaring and cheering along with him.  He did
this a bunch of times, and then once when he was racing down the steps
to do it again, right toward the bottom, he totally bit it – just
fell flat on his face, hard.  And when he fell, everyone got quiet
and hushed, but then Bill just jumped right up and yelled and everyone
else yelled and it was quite a special moment, one of those “only
in Philly” moments – or only in the 700 level moments, I guess.

Thanks to Jason for a fun Q&A. Buy his book Everything Is Wrong with Me: A Memoir of an American Childhood Gone, Well, Wrong. You can also meet him at his book signing at Barnes and Noble on 18th and Walnut on Thursday, April 8, at 6 p.m.

There's also a small section in the book dedicated to this song:

Robert Covington, Sixers show 'swagger' without Joel Embiid in comeback win

Robert Covington, Sixers show 'swagger' without Joel Embiid in comeback win

BOX SCORE

The Sixers began the season looking lost without Joel Embiid. Now they are finding ways to win when he is not on the court. 

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion in the second half of Friday’s 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers (see story). He was sidelined for the decisive 8:50 of the game (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers trailed, 81-78, when he subbed out for the second time because of the injury, and outscored the Trail Blazers, 15-11, from that point on.

So how was this team that battled with inconsistency and reliance on Embiid able to pull out a comeback win punctuated in the final seconds? Ask the Sixers and they’ll give varying answers, a sign they are getting the job done in multiple ways and aren’t relying on just one key to success.

The most glaring difference was the hero of the game. Robert Covington drained two three-pointers in the final 40 seconds. His trey from Dario Saric with 38.2 remaining cut the Trail Blazers' lead to just one, 91-90. With 4.5 to go, he nailed the game-winning three from T.J. McConnell to give the Sixers their eighth victory in 10 games (see feature highlight).

“That’s resilient Cov,” Nerlens Noel said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a good shot or a bad shot; he’ll pull it in your face. That’s the confidence he has and that’s the confidence we need him to have. He steps up and makes two big shots like that, that’s enough said. He won us that game.”

Critics have called out Covington’s up-and-down performance from three all season. (They’ve made their feelings known with loud boos at home games.) Covington shot 5 for 12 behind the arc on the night but his 2 for 3 performance in the fourth was what mattered most. 

“I am a fighter, that’s what I have been my whole life,” he said. “Just because fans are booing me at one point doesn't mean anything. I just keep working. I am not going to let that deteriorate my game. It goes in one ear and out the other.”

Without Embiid in the game, the Sixers had to rely on a total team effort. After he went to the bench, the final points were scored by a combination of Covington, Gerald Henderson, Noel, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and McConnell.

“Ball movement,” head coach Brett Brown said. “We had 25 assists out of 36 made baskets. It’s not like we’re going to give the ball to Damian Lillard (guard for the Blazers). That’s not who we are. Whatever we do, it has to be done by committee, by a group, by a team. It’s even more exposed when Joel isn’t in the game. They did that. Unlikely people ended up with the ball sometimes in unlikely spots. … You have to move the ball. That’s what the team has learned without Joel.” 

Several of the players on the court in critical moments were from the second unit. Since Brown locked in on his rotation, the reserves don’t have a drop-off in confidence from the starters. 

“It’s the mentality,” Covington said. “Everybody has that swagger about us right now because once Joel comes out, the next person steps in and fills that void. It’s a matter of that contagious feeling that trickles into the second unit that’s making us that much more valuable.”

Then there's always defense, the foundation of any solid NBA team and a focal point for the Sixers. Noel saw that as the difference-maker when subbing in and out. The Trail Blazers scored just two points in the final 1:56. 

"The second unit goes there and does a great job guarding the yard, not letting up easy baskets," Noel said. "The offensive side is fluid motion. Guys get shots, pick-and-roll, it opens up open threes for guys, driving lines, pump fakes, it’s a great unity."

Embiid liked what he saw from a distance. He will not travel with the team to their game on Saturday against the Hawks in Atlanta. 

"I’m just happy we’ve been closing out games, and the main thing I’m really happy [about] is they’ve been able to do it without me," he said. "That’s going to give us a lot of confidence when I’m missing back-to-backs. My teammates are going to have more confidence to come in and play the same way."

Joel Embiid feels 'great' after injury scare to left knee

Joel Embiid feels 'great' after injury scare to left knee

Of the nearly 20,000 people in the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, Joel Embiid was seemingly the least concerned when he came down and injured his left knee. 

Fans held their breath and the Sixers looked on anxiously as the standout big man got up in visible discomfort and limped off the court (see highlights). Embiid, however, wasn’t worried. 

“I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way,” he said after the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers (see Instant Replay). “I’m great. The knee’s fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good.”

Embiid ran off the court on his own, was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and was cleared to return to the game. He aggravated his knee again driving to the basket and this time, the team held him out to be careful.

“The review is that he hyperextended his left knee,” head coach Brett Brown said. “There was a minor tweak again, and for precautionary reasons only, the doctors did not allow him to return. There will be more information given as we know it. But quickly, that's what we know.”

Embiid understood the team’s decision to sideline him for the final 8:50 while the Sixers went on a comeback run (see feature highlight). He still finished the game with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double, five assists and four blocks in only 22 minutes.

“Obviously those guys, the front office, they care about my future, so they just shut it down,” Embiid said. “But I was fine.”

Embiid will not travel to Atlanta for Saturday’s game against the Hawks (pre-scheduled rest). He expects to be available for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Clippers. 

"You know how tough he is," Nerlens Noel said. "If it isn’t anything serious, he’ll be right back. At the end of the game, he was telling me was he was feeling great and there was no pain. He wanted to come back in the game … he’s a trooper. He always gives it his all and always plays hard."

Injuries to any player are worrisome, especially a franchise centerpiece with two years of rehab (foot) behind him. The Sixers have been methodical and cautious with his playing time. Embiid is on a 28-minute restriction and can play in only one game of a back-to-back series. 

The same player who is so closely watched, though, also plays with sky-high energy that doesn’t have a brake pedal. 

“You're concerned,” Brown said of seeing Embiid get injured. “It's clear to all of us that he plays with such reckless abandon. I think that we're all going to be seeing this and feeling this regularly. From flying into stands to stalking somebody in the open court to block a shot to the collision he often is in trying to draw fouls. That's just who he is. 

“I think that as he just plays more basketball and continues to grow, to not necessarily avoid those situations, just to perhaps manage them a little bit more. Right now, he's just a young guy that's just playing that doesn't know what he doesn't know and has a fearless approach underneath all that attitude.”

Fearless is an accurate description considering Embiid's trouble-free reaction to the awkward way his leg bent (he hadn’t seen a replay). 

“I kind of had that in college, too,” he said. “I think I’m flexible, so it’s supposed to happen.”