News flash: My name is pretty common. Also, I learned a place in Philadelphia I want to go to, post-pandemic. Plus, 7 other things worth your time.

Technical problems this morning—in that I “technically” didn’t schedule the newsletter correctly. Sorry for the delay!


“The FedEx guy asked if it was a fraud-type situation because so many boxes were coming to a residential house.”

—Matt Hernandez, coach of the Alonso High Ravens girls’ flag football team, Florida state champions, after Nike sent him bags stuffed with free jerseys, cleats, and other equipment for his players. It’s part of a corporate effort to build up the competitive profile of flag football.

First round’s on me

When all this is over, I learned about a bar I want to go to: Billy Murphy’s Irish Saloon, in Philadelphia.

It came to my my attention when some folks tagged me on Twitter, assuming (given my name) that I had something to do with it. This was after it was named one of 250 small businesses (and counting) sharing millions in private Covid relief aid, from a charitable fund organized by Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports.

"We've been in this business close to 44 years come June, so my heart and soul is in it," said the bar’s owner, Patricia Murphy. (Patricia Murphy also happens to be my mom’s name, so that’s fitting for the way this story is going.)

It’s rare that I’ve actually met another Bill Murphy, besides my dad, for whom I’m named.

This despite the fact that “Bill” is short for “William,” which has been the fifth-most common first name for boys over the last 100 years in the U.S. Also, “Murphy” hovers in the top 50 or so last names (“surnames” for my overseas readers).

That has led to more than a few mixups, however.

First time I tried to get a mortgage, I was living in Boston, which I think has the highest number of Bill Murphys per capita in the U.S., and my credit got tangled up with a few other Murphs. That was fun to untangle in a hurry. (We all answer to “Murph,” by the way.)

Then, there was the time an IRS revenue officer showed up on my doorstep, excited to say that he’d spent months tracking me down. By his story, I’d skipped town in Florida and run away to Chicago before landing in Jersey City. Now, I was going to have to pay hundreds of thousands in back taxes and penalties.

Sad for him, but good for me, I’ve never lived in Florida, only visited Chicago, and did not owe the IRS. I quickly proved (via my driver’s license, date of birth, and earnest demeanor) that he had the wrong Bill Murphy.

Oh, and I almost forgot this one, but I was once recruited by a DC law firm based on the partners’ mistaken assumption that I was the son of William H. Murphy, a well-known Baltimore attorney. He once played himself on The Wire.

However, that Billy Murphy is Black, and I’m not. This made for an awkward interview, since I didn’t know at the start why they were interested. Meanwhile, they didn’t want to admit the mistake; they hoped to recruit me because they thought I could bring them some of Baltimore Billy Murphy’s business.

We already had lunch reservations, though, so I got a good meal and a story out of it.

Back to Philadelphia. Patrcia Murphy (the bar owner, not my mom) lost her husband, the eponymous Billy Murphy, in 2011, at the too-young age of 62. I read up on him for this article, and he sounds like he was a really cool guy.

The Philadelphia Murphys bought their bar in 1977 — Patricia sold her car for the down payment — and renamed it after Billy. Regulars call it “The Saloonery” for short.

They went through some tough times at the start, but eventually they made a go of it. As of a few years ago, when the Philadelphia Inquirer did a profile on the place, their son Michael had taken over much of the day-to-day business.

“He made everyone feel welcome in here,” Patricia said, talking about her husband. “You could be a multimillionaire or a blue-collar roofer, and he would introduce you, and you would start finding things in common. He made everyone really relaxed and comfortable. … [I]f you want to come in and sit by yourself and not be bothered, bad place to be. Because somebody's going to talk to you.”

It sounds like a fun spot. I’m glad it’s getting some help.

As it happens, when my wife and I started dating back in 2012, I was living in Washington while she lived in Jersey City, just west of the river from Manhattan.

That put us about four hours from each other, so I’d come up here or she’d go down there. We always said we should meet in the middle in Philadelphia sometime—but honestly, we got married pretty quickly, and I moved to NJ to be with her, so we never made it to Philadelphia.

But I’m going to push now for that to be our next little trip. Training wheels for travel, let’s say, once Covid is less of a thing.

If anyone else wants to meet us at The Saloonery, first round is on me.

7 other things worth your time

  • Daily impeachment update: Much of what happened Tuesday had to do with a 16-minute video of the Capitol assault that Democrats presented, some of which hadn’t been seen before. There were some harrowing scenes, including video of U.S. senators running just ahead of the mob. (NBC News, YouTube, Washington Post)

  • Separately, the Post did an analysis of who was arrested after the insurrection, and found that nearly 60 percent had significant financial troubles, such as “bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes,” a much higher rate than the general public. “The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Trump supporters — many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories — were willing to participate in an attack…” (The Washington Post, $)

  • Officials in the Biden administration are slowly trying to dampen expectations regarding Covid, suggesting it could be Thanksgiving before enough people have been vaccinated in the U.S. to reach herd immunity. Obviously I hope that’s overly cautious, and we also have to note that offering a pessimistic outlook now can only help the administration politically if things return to some semblance of normal, sooner. (Daily Beast)

  • OK, there was the journalistic equivalent Wednesday of an epic poem, at least on the kerfuffle beat, about whether the Dallas Mavericks will play the national anthem at games going forward. Owner Mark Cuban said they wouldn’t, lots of people objected, then the NBA said they will. Twelve hours later, I guess we’re back where we started. (CNN)

  • Two men and a woman were rescued from a deserted island between Florida and Cuba, after surviving on coconuts for 33 days, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Among the surprises here, at least for me, is the fact that there are still deserted islands off the coast of Florida. (Sun-Sentinel)

  • Today in video mishaps… A professor at a university in Singapore, teaching virtually as so many are, learned the hard way to make sure that he has the “mute” button off, after giving an entire two-hour lecture that none of his class could hear. Students said they tried getting his attention on the video chat, and some called his cell phone, but he drove on, oblivious, learning about the issue only when he asked for questions at the end of his lecture. (Yahoo News, with video)

  • A group of extras walked off the set of a new HBO series about high school, once they learned that their scene in a science class would require them to actually dissect real cats. Cadavers, of course, but they still didn’t like the idea. (Variety)

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