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

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:

Matt Read showing Flyers he’s done his homework

Matt Read showing Flyers he’s done his homework

To Matt Read’s credit, his hockey education never stopped.

Through a second straight subpar season with a murky summer ahead, Read realized he had to change, even on the cusp of his 30th birthday.

It was in late April when the much-maligned winger met with head coach Dave Hakstol and turned in his homework, almost like a student-teacher conference to address troubled grades.

Read vowed he had learned.

Now, nearly six months later, he’s off to the best start of his six-year career.

“He has always been a hard-working guy,” Hakstol said Thursday. “He is a guy that is doing things with a lot of confidence. For me, it started with Reader back in late August. He was in here working early, getting ready, getting prepared and he has carried that through everything he has done so far this year.”

What he has done is rip off a team-high four goals in four games, attacking the net at will and with an undeniable bravado. Really, it’s a Matt Read we haven’t seen before. On Thursday night in the Flyers’ 3-2 home-opening loss, he took a bouncing puck at the blue line, careened towards the net on a sharp, decisive angle and buried his fourth goal with skilled stick work.

“For myself, I’m just trying to play with speed and get to the net,” he said. “I had all the speed and kind of beat the goalie to the back post.”

Last season, the bottom-six forward needed 26 games to score four goals. The year prior, it took 54 games.

So Read studied. What exactly did he grasp?

“Even my linemates, we talk about that if we’re in the offensive zone, we’ve got to get somebody in the blue paint there,” Read said Thursday. “I don’t know the stat, but I think it’s near 90 percent of all goals are within 10 feet of the net. So if you want to score goals, you’ve got to get in that area.”

This offseason, Read looked in the mirror and, with some self-evaluation, knew what had to be done.

“I think that’s something the last two years, I kind of faded away from, I was a perimeter player,” he said. “It’s easy to be a perimeter player if you’re going to be making plays and stuff like that. But if you want to score goals, you’ve got to get into those tough areas, be nasty around the net and battle for loose pucks.”

A new outlook has brought renewed confidence. It’s fair to question whether over the last two seasons if Read ever makes the play he made Thursday. He also knows it’s early and more can be accomplished.

“I feel good out there right now,” Read said. “Hopefully I continue to have good health, keep working out and being strong on my feet. A lot of it has to do with confidence. If you’re shy or not having the confidence, you probably won’t go to that far post.

“I know for myself in the last two years, I know I’ve got to be better. Even going into last year, I knew I had to be better and I did as much I could in the offseason to have a good season and I guess it didn’t go my way, or over the course of the season, it took its toll.”

Read amassed 11 goals and 15 assists in 79 games. The 26 points were a personal low for a full season. Those figures didn’t sit well with Read and general manager Ron Hextall noticed.

“You know what, Reader came in early before camp, he's absolutely worked his tail off,” Hextall said Wednesday. “He understood that he hadn't been as good a player as he should have been last year. He understood it, he took it upon himself, put in a great summer, came in early, got himself in great shape, and he's a hungry hockey player right now and he's been back to where he was.”

When signed by the Flyers in 2011 out of Bemidji State University, it was uncertain where Read projected. Over the past two seasons, he’s fallen to a fourth-line role and was even healthy-scratched last season. More buzz surrounding his status within the organization heated up entering training camp as the Flyers made additions and Travis Konecny blossomed.

Thus far, however, Read has won himself a promotion to the third line because of his early success. He played only 16 power-play seconds Thursday, but if goals keep coming and the Flyers produce more 1-for-7 results on the man advantage, maybe Hakstol increases the 30-year-old’s minutes there, as well.

“When Matt Read is playing like he can play,” Hextall said, “he's a helluva player.”

Not a bad student, too.

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

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Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

Playoff soccer is returning to Chester for the first time in five years, and while fans prep for the Union’s first postseason games since 2011, there is no shortage of seating options for Union tickets on the primary market.

Perhaps most importantly, fans won’t have to break the bank to be on hand as the Union compete for their first MLS Cup in franchise history. Union field level seats are available for both the team’s final home regular season game against the New York Red Bulls and the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 30 should they advance past the knockout round.

The team’s official website lists feet-on-the-pitch seating starting from $155 per ticket for this weekend’s game against the Red Bulls. The first-place Red Bulls head to Talen Energy Stadium with a first-round bye secured, but Union head coach Jim Curtin expects them to bring the pressure with them on Sunday. Fans can look on up close – and for relatively cheap - as the Union look to hand the Eastern Conference leaders their final loss of the regular season.

The Union will take on either New York City FC or Toronto FC in the knockout round either next Wednesday or Thursday. Pending a victory on the road, they’ll return to Talen Energy Stadium to host an Eastern Conference Semifinal game on October 30. Field level seating is still widely available for the team’s first home playoff game since 2011 and start from $178 per ticket.

2016 marks the franchise’s second MLS Cup Playoffs berth in its seven-year existence. They clinched a first-round bye in 2011 but fell to the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 aggregate in the Conference Semifinals. The Union bring a much different vibe into the playoffs this season, however, after a formidable stretch from September on nearly drowned their postseason hopes. The team won its last game on August 27 against Sporting Kansas City, losing four games and drawing in two others since. 

Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is a sense of renewment that will carry them into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Records are cast aside and the slate is wiped clean, beginning a new path on the long and often tumultuous road to a national championship.