Curses of Brotherly Love

by John Weinblatt

           In honor of Donovan McNabb’s 30th birthday on this November 25th day, I’d like to point out some of the notable curses that have stricken our fine city of brotherly love. Some are real, some are made up, but all of them are very, very potent. You must heed these warnings, lest one day you find yourself tied to a hobo, floating blindfolded down the Schuylkill River.

           Most recently, our beloved quarterback, Donovan McNabb, has been afflicted by the unstoppable Madden Curse. This curse stipulates that any player featured on the cover of a Madden NFL video game will be either injured or else perform miserably during the next football season. Allegedly, nine players have now but struck by the Madden Curse, making it the most devastating video-game-induced curse since Ms. Pac-man became fatally allergic to both cherries and large yellow circles. The Madden Curse is so powerful that 2 servings of Chunky Soup every day (“to fill you up right”) could not even slow the inevitable decline of a young athlete in his prime. To this day, on which Donovan ages from a lithe twenty-something to an injury-prone 30-year-old, the Madden Curse is as robust as ever.

           Probably the most significant curse to have affected Philadelphia is the Curse of William Penn. Also known as the Curse of “Billy” Penn, this plight should not be mistaken for the terrible herpes outbreak of 1701, spread by the young and lascivious William Penn, Jr. Anyway, Philadelphia’s City Hall was completed in 1901, with a large bronze statue of William Penn atop its tower. Since that time, there had been a gentleman’s agreement that no building in Philadelphia should ever rise taller than this statue. Sadly, some jerk, probably from New York, decided that it would be a wise idea to build the One Liberty Place skyscraper. Constructed in 1987, One Liberty Place is nearly 400 feet taller than City Hall, providing ample leeway from which to take a figurative shit on the face of our state’s proud founder. This significance of this audacious monstrosity was felt only two months later, when the Philadelphia Flyers were defeated in the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals. Since that fateful year, no major sports team has won a championship in Philadelphia. On certain cold and dreary nights, I cry myself to sleep knowing that I will never experience a sports championship in this fair city of mine.

           One of the little known curses to work its dirty voodoo upon the city of Philadelphia is the Curse of the Angry Amish. This curse dates back to 1985, when a young Amish boy witnessed the murder of a Philadelphia police officer by one of his fellow cops. To protect the boy, a police detective hid on a farm in Lancaster County and eventually fell in love with the boy’s widowed mother. When crooked cops learned of his whereabouts and came to hunt him down, the detective employed the help of his Amish hosts to kill or subdue all of his would-be murderers. His task complete, the detective abandoned his Amish lover and her family to return to a life of sin and debauchery in the den of iniquity that is Philadelphia. He refused to stay and help restore a semblance of tranquility to a town that was once free of the evils of guns, violence, and electricity. To this day, the Curse of the Angry Amish lives on, as the Pennsylvania Dutch continue to supply us with wooden crafts of poor quality and agricultural produce infected by a number of diseases and insects.

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