The Decade That Was- the Twenty-Teens

I want to go back to 2010 and tell myself about this decade- the 2010 version of me would be way more excited and shocked. An Eagles championship? Donald Trump as President? No way. It was a decade where we managed to repeatedly top ourselves, where we took the momentum humanity built up in 2008 and 2009, and kind of squander it on stupid, trivial, and hilarious things. But well, it was still probably the most comfortable time to be alive in our history.

To celebrate the end of our decade, I wanted to give you my personal list of the most memorable events. Admittedly, you should not read this list “in order,” and you should read it from the perspective of my personal biases. Hopefully though, you just enjoy it.

  1. The Eagles win Super Bowl 52. I go to the parade. I never thought I’d see the day. When the football hit the ground and the clock struck zero on Super Bowl 52, I think I was mostly in shock. It really didn’t set in for me that the Eagles until about 30 minutes later when my uncle came out the garage leaving and said to me “well I guess you got one, Rich.” (He’s a Vikings fan) I put my beer down then and realized the Eagles had won the Super Bowl. The parade was just pure euphoria and celebration, and something I’m really glad I went and saw, as I didn’t get to go to the 2008 Phillies parade because it was so close to the election (I did go to a game though). The Eagles won the Super Bowl. It really happened! And they did it with Nick Foles. I honestly can say I said keep the faith when he took over. I also have to acknowledge that I said in 2013 that Foles would never lead a title run. Oh well, glad I was wrong.
  2. Hurricane Sandy pounds New Jersey while I’m running Central Jersey for Senator Menendez’s 2012 re-election. Sometimes you’ve done everything right, but fate has other plans. Sometimes by fate, we mean a hurricane. Senator Menendez ran a masterful campaign in 2012, and ended up with the largest victory in New Jersey since Bill Bradley’s 1984 win, but we still had a real moment of doubt late in the 2012 race. Superstorm Sandy crashed into New Jersey in late October, leaving unprecedented damage and suffering in it’s wake. I will never get the things I saw as I first drove back into Long Branch out of my mind. It was horrible. Once the situation stabilized, we had to put back together a get-out-the-vote program in the face of destruction, and it was a challenge. We succeeded though. And New Jersey has recovered quite nicely, thank you.
  3. The Rolling Stones do a U.S. Tour in 2019 that I go see with my family in the Meadowlands. Back in 1994, I saw my first concert at Giants Stadium- The Rolling Stones, with the Counting Crows as the warm-up band. A quarter century later, I was across the Meadowlands lot, seeing the Stones again. While you could see their ages, they sounded great. This time my mom and sister joined us (my mom was pregnant with her in ’94, opening up a ticket for me). My aunt even joined us, along with her neighbor. I knew a lot more of the songs this time too.
  4. I attend President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address on 1/21/2013. On Monday, January 21st, 2013, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, held his second public swearing-in. It was not held on the 20th, though he was sworn in that day, because it was Sunday. President Obama delivered the most progressive, uplifting inaugural address in American history that day, in the bitter cold. Thanks to long-time friend John Callahan randomly walking into me on the Hill, I got to upgrade to a red ticket. It was a memorable day.
  5. Bryce Harper signs a record breaking deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. For months, Philadelphia talk radio debated it- was Philly good enough to land the biggest star in his sport? (Not necessarily the best player, but…) Then I got the text from my Dad, while sitting in Saxby’s in Bethlehem. Then the Score App alert. Then I read the reports. Thirteen year. $330 million. Philly got the guy I wanted.
  6. The 2016 Election and my time in Northeast North Carolina for Hillary Clinton. I spent a big chunk of my adult life trying to elect Hillary Clinton, even laying the groundwork to get on for 2016, and it all culminated in Elizabeth City, NC, in a hotel room, watching Donald Trump give his victory speech. In between I got to see unforgettably beautiful beaches in the Outer Banks, work with local pastors to turn out the vote, see Klan members rallying, and staff a Chelsea Clinton event. A lot of people involved in 2016 express regrets, and I guess I wish we had won, but I wouldn’t give back the experience. I saw some amazing stuff on that campaign, and I wouldn’t have any other way.
  7. My cousin and I go see Jay Z’s final show opening the Barclays Center, with special guest Beyoncé. Jay Z may or may not be the greatest rapper of all-time, but he is certainly it’s first billionaire and biggest star. He played a role in moving the Nets to his native Brooklyn, and his reward was playing a Springsteen-esque run of shows to open the new arena. My cousin Evan and I went to the final night, and his special guest that night was his wife Beyoncé. The show was amazing, and paid homage to Brooklyn’s amazing hip-hop history. I’m really glad I bought those tickets from my friend Melissa.
  8. The Sixers “Process.” From 2013-14 through 2016-17 season, Philadelphia basketball fans were treated to something called “the Process”- and it wasn’t much of Joel Embiid playing. The team put forward a controversially bad roster that lost a ton of games and amassed four top three picks over four seasons in the draft. The 2015-16 team was so bad that they won 10 games- one better than the all-time worst 82 game NBA team. All that losing eventually got the NBA to step in and force GM Sam Hinkie our the door, but not until after laying the framework for the current team that has won over 50 games the last two seasons, while winning two playoff series. It was a weird time.
  9. Moving to Omaha for Joe Biden and the 2020 Iowa Caucus. There’s not much to write here. I got here on Friday, for what should be the first significant chapter of the next decade. Once again in the Iowa Caucus mix, trying to elect the next President. So far, it’s pretty cool.
  10. The 2011 Phillies break the team record for wins, lose in the NLDS to the Cardinals. They were the best team in franchise history, with three top five Cy Young finishers, and 102 wins. If they had only thrown a game in the Atlanta series to finish the series (or two?), the damn stinkin’ Cardinals never get in. Roy Halladay doesn’t lose his last great start 1-0. Utley doesn’t miss a game tying homer by a foot. And maybe we never watch Ryan Howard struggling in pain on the ground, with a torn achilles, as the season ends. Or maybe we do. We’ll never really know. A Summer of autopilot wins, fueled by an unbeatable pitching staff, the season was still a lot of fun. Maybe it was just too good to be true.
  11. Going to see The Rolling Stones on their 2015 tour at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. In 2015, the Stones decided to eschew the big markets like New York and Philly, and do a North American tour that hit the mid-sized cities. So I bought tickets for their Pittsburgh show for my Dad and I as a Father’s Day gift. We sat in the far end zone and watched the most famous rock band in the world play for hours against the backdrop of Mount Washington. One of the most memorable moments at any concert I’ve ever seen came when the Penn State Women’s choir came out and did “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with the Stones. The whole show was incredible though, and I’m kind of glad I saw it in Pittsburgh.
  12. Moving to Charlotte to work for the North Carolina Democrats on the 2018 Mid-Terms. As I contemplated what I wanted to do after a disappointing 2018 primary, it took me until August to decide I wanted to do another campaign. When I did, I started considering multiple states. Then I got a call about coming back to North Carolina, to Charlotte. Just like 2016, I was being asked to “fix” a problematic region. Part of me still thinks I should have said no. The other part of me (the majority) is glad I did it. Charlotte is an up and coming, exciting place. The city looks cool, has cool stuff to do, is politically changing, and lacks nothing in culture or food. The campaigns we worked on were exciting, and we flipped all of our state legislative targets. It’s also a job that has the distinction of having the only election ever officially stolen that I was involved in (NC-9’s Congressional result was officially thrown out because the Republicans tampered with paper ballots). The experience was 90% amazing. Two or three people did make it exhausting though. I met some awesome people though, from my supporter housing, to my organizers, and the locals. I’d recommend Charlotte to anyone.
  13. The 2010 Flyers lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks, setting off the worst decade in team history. Who would have thought that a fairly young hockey team losing in the Stanley Cup Finals to start the decade would be a sign of failure to come? The Flyers Cinderella run in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs came to an end in game six at the Wells-Fargo Center on a weird goal that didn’t seem possible when watching on TV. The assumption then was that the Flyers would be back plenty. Instead the team would be blown up in under 24 months, and they wouldn’t make it past the second round more than twice the rest of the decade. It’s a shame, because I do think a Flyers parade down Broad Street would be the most bizarre, happy, and satisfying event humanly possible.
  14. I turned 30. Milestone birthdays are less awesome after 21. On May 11th, 2013 though, I still turned 30. My family and I had dinner in Manhattan, then they dropped me at CHT when we got back. I hung out there then all night and drank one or two good ones.
  15. Seeing the Foo Fighters at Citi Field in 2015. In the post 1970’s world, Dave Grohl is a top five rock star. I don’t say that lightly, but it’s true. In 2015, his Foo Fighters decided to go on touring, even with his broken leg. What ensued was a great tour, one where we stood twenty or thirty yards from him in the Queens outfield and watched him put on an amazing show. The Foo Fighters, over two decades later, continue to put on an amazing show. On that Summer night, we saw one of their best.
  16. Serving as Field Director for Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman in NJ-12 during the 2014 mid-term. One of the great honors in my professional career was serving as Field Director for Bonnie Watson Coleman. Not only was she a long time leader in New Jersey politics, she made history as the Garden State’s first African-American woman in Congress, and she’s done nothing but make me proud in the seat. The team I worked with was great, the locals were ready to fight for her, and the win was impressive. I’m really proud I was a part of that.
  17. Spring Training 2011 in Clearwater. To say there were high hopes for the 2011 Phillies is an understatement. I went to Clearwater for the first time that year, as my dad and I were moving furniture in for our friends and season ticket holding neighbors. I remember getting all worked up at the first game because Cliff Lee looked rusty, and everyone around me laughing that I even cared. Spring training is leisurely and fun, for the players and fans. That took me a bit to get.
  18. The Eagles beat the Bears in the 2018 NFL Playoffs (in 2019) on the “double doink.” I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if I was sure the Eagles would win or not. After winning the Super Bowl, anything seemed possible, but the Bears had been a better team all year, and were home. So I went up to CHT, took a seat middle bar, and watched as the whole game came down to one kick, which hit the goal post not once, but twice. There’s a great video of me leaping out of my seat when it happened.
  19. Seeing Springsteen at Citizens Bank Park on Labor Day 2012. Bbbbbbbrrrrrrruuuuuuccccceeeee! The guy doesn’t even have a warm-up act. The world owes Jersey a thank you for this one. My friend Erica and I were in centerfield, watching Bruce from just a few feet away. The man is a legend.
  20. Meeting Bill Clinton in 2013. Despite working for Hillary twice, and being at events with both her and Bill, I had never been in a private audience with either before. My friend David Fried changed that. He had worked in the Clinton White House, so President Clinton came over to do a fundraiser for his Rockland County Executive run. Since I worked for David, he got me a minute to take a picture and talk to the Nation’s 42nd President. He’s still the only President I’ve ever met.
  21. Grandma turned 90. I’m not a big fan of milestones, but my grandmother turned 90 in 2018. For that matter, her sister did in 2015 too. I can’t imagine living that long, can you?
  22. The 2010 Phillies have baseball’s best record, fall in the NLCS to the Giants. After winning the 2008 World Series and 2009 National League title, the 2010 Phillies won a league best 97 games. Unfortunately there wouldn’t be a third straight Fall Classic in Philly. The season was a lot of fun, with Roy Halladay throwing a perfect game and playoff no-hitter on the way to his second Cy Young. Ultimately they lost the NLCS in six games to San Francisco.
  23. Managing the PA House Majority Leader through the nightmare 2010 mid-terms in PA Coal Country. In 2008, I was at the PAHDCC as Field Director the last time Pennsylvania Democrats won a majority in either house of the legislature. In 2010, my reward was managing the House Majority Leader’s very difficult re-election. The re-alignment that has made Luzerne County “red” had already begun in the southern part of the county, with much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric we are hearing today. It was a tough year to be a Democrat, particularly in the Coal region, especially if you were on the wrong side of former Congressman Lou Barletta, and evening more so if you had any problems politically of your own. We would go on to lose Congressman Kanjorski, the Leader’s seat, and the Speaker’s seat at once. Even so, the experience of leading a $900,000 race, dealing with statewide stakeholders, and leading an operation on the ground of that size was worth it. I am eternally grateful to Todd Eachus for taking the chance on me.
  24. Roy Halladay arrives in Philly, makes history, dies, and is elected to Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame. Roy “Doc” Halladay came into Philadelphia like a tornado. His first two years could be the greatest the franchise ever saw. He threw a perfect game, a playoff no-hitter, won a Cy Young, and finished second for another. While his last two seasons were injury plagued, he did manage to win his 200th game. After retirement, he was taken too soon from us in an airplane crash in Florida. In 2019, he was elected to Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame.
  25. Seeing the Dropkick Murphys at Terminal 5 in New York City. If you ever get the opportunity to see the Dropkick Murphys live, do it. If you ever get the chance to go to Terminal Five for a concert, do it. If you get to do both together, and just days before St. Patrick’s Day, do it. Other than the “Flyers suck” chant, Cousin Michael and I had a great time (that didn’t bother him). From the crowd kicking bad peoples’ asses to great, high energy music, the show was awesome.
  26. My sister graduates from Temple University. Eleven years after me, my younger sister graduated from Temple University. At least I know I’m not the only smart kid in the household.
  27. Spring Training 2019 in Clearwater. My second trip to Clearwater of the decade checked off all the boxes. Harper shirsey, check. Time on the beach, check. Three baseball games, check. Seeing some prospects in minor league camp, check. Great food, check. It was a really awesome trip.
  28. The Sixers lose to the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Conference Semi-Finals on “quadruple-doink.” I didn’t have high hopes at the start of the 2019 Eastern Conference semi-finals, as the Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard has absolutely dominated the Sixers for a while. Looking back though, the Sixers could have put them away in game four, up 2-1 and at home, leading with five minutes to go. Instead the series went the bitter distance, with Kawhi hitting a last second shot, after it had bounced off the rim four times. I really hate that weird man.
  29. Cliff Lee chooses Philadelphia. Merry Cliffmas. Just days before Christmas, Cliff Lee turned down more raw dollars in New York, and a return to Texas, to join the Phillies. His return set off pride across the region, as free agency’s big fish said he wanted to be in Philly.
  30. The Phantoms move to Allentown. The crown jewel of Allentown’s re-development was the PPL Center, and the arena was viable because the Flyers were willing to move their AHL affiliate, the Phantoms, to Allentown. For local sports fans, it’s been great. Even for folks who like concerts, it’s been great. Hockey live is incredible to watch, and Phantoms games have been fun.
  31. My second Iowa stint in 2014. It seems like every five or six years, I end up in the Hawkeye state, somehow. In 2014, I ended up in Waterloo for the second time for my friend Anesa’s Congressional run in the 1st District. Despite her credentials as a refugee and State Representative, we lost the money war badly, and had to try to run a very grassroots campaign. Cobbling together the votes of labor members, the Bosnian community, and people in Black Hawk County, we managed a decent showing. I met some really amazing people on that campaign.
  32. The 2010 Sixers make the playoffs, I see them lose game three to LeBron’s Heat. It was almost a joke when my uncle and I said we’d get a ten game season ticket plan for the Sixers in 2009-10. It ended up that we had playoff tickets for games three and four. He took game four and took his boys, I took game three. I took Pfen and Matty Panto, and we sat upstairs. The Sixers lead throughout, but lost at the end. The next day they won their lone game of the series. Of course we didn’t renew the tickets, and the Sixers went back to the playoffs and beat the Bulls in the first round.
  33. My parents turned 60. There’s not too much to this. In 2017 and 2018, my parents kicked off the New Year by turning 60. It wasn’t something we over celebrated, but it was significant.
  34. Working the first ACA push in 2014 for OFA. In the Spring of 2014 I was hired on by OFA NJ. It was my second Obama job, and I was just thrilled at the opportunity. While I worked on climate action and gun violence prevention, the main issue that got me worked up was the Affordable Care Act roll out in North Jersey. Getting people access to health insurance they hadn’t had was life changing. I’m grateful for the opportunity.
  35. Moving to DC for SEIU in 2011. When you work in politics, you expect to eventually have to live in DC. In 2011, I faced that reality. While I today love being in DC, my 28 year old self hated everything about DC. It was too expensive. It felt segregated. It really isn’t a “sports town.” I struggle to connect with “Beltways” and “Ivies.” Mostly though, if I’m honest, I was holding it up against New York and Philadelphia, which wasn’t fair. I also hated my job and the mentally abusive boss we all hated. And it just wasn’t Easton. If I lived there today, I’d be fine. But that was not fun. Don’t get me wrong, there were great moments like the night Bin Laden got killed, or when I met up with friends and went to a July 4th weekend Pirates-Nats game, or even just my weekly dinners with the crew- those moments saved it.
  36. “Chip Ball” fails in Philly. When the Eagles hired Chip Kelly, I called it a mistake. It certainly didn’t fail on that front. It took the supposed genius three years to decimate the Eagles roster and get fired. He gave away superstars, wrecked the team’s media relations, disrespected players, and managed to prove once again that “time of possession” actually matters in football. By the end, people questioned even if he was a racist. At least he was terrible enough that the team didn’t have to trade up as far to get Carson Wentz. He’s tanked San Francisco and UCLA since leaving.
  37. Cousin Evan graduates college, moves off to “the big city.” In May of 2014, my cousin Evan graduated from Millersville University. This is an achievement in his life, but what he’s done since is even better. After a stint interning at Lafayette College’s Athletic Department, he moved off to Jersey City, got a job in marketing, and has been doing well ever since. Today he’s working at an agency on the Boston Brewing Company, and doing quite well. He had a good decade.
  38. The 2017 Election in the Lehigh Valley. After the disappointment of 2016, the 2017 election felt like a new day. After a brief stint in New Jersey, I ended up at home in the Lehigh Valley, running several campaigns at once. In the end I ended up with a couple of County Executives, two statewide judges, and a bunch of new council people. It was way more rewarding to win at home, especially in the Trump era.
  39. Cousin Brad wins the Easton-Phillipsburg Thanksgiving Day MVP in 2012 with a record five touchdown passes. I have to admit, I didn’t see this coming. After a long night out the night before, and a few cold ones in the morning, I realized in the third quarter that my cousin was on his way to a record breaking day. He would throw five touchdown passes in his junior game, shattering the game record and winning the MVP. It’s not so much that I didn’t see him having a big game, I just didn’t think about having to find his brother and get us both on the field for pictures with the family after the big game. We made it, though I have to admit I was hurting. Evan ended up sleeping on the dog bed that afternoon.
  40. CHT closes, then re-opens better than ever. The College Hill Tavern is to me, as Cheers was to Norm. When it was sold to new owners, I was concerned for it’s future. The final night was a pretty good blowout, complete with some highway workers beating up a towny (we were pulling for the workers). Then there was some time with it closed. When the bar re-opened, it was nicer. The food was better. There were more TV’s. The new owners were cool. The place took a step up. And it’s still my bar of choice. All’s well that ends well.
  41. The end of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia, and MNF against the Panthers. Andy Reid is the winningest coach in Eagles history, but when he let Dawkins walk and McNabb was traded, he was on borrowed time. That borrowed time came to it’s end at the end of the 2012 season. Somewhere in the middle of that season I took my cousin Brad with me to Monday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers and watched the Nick Foles’ lead Birds take a beating. It was admittedly weird listening to the “Fire Andy” chants upstairs. I wonder if any of us realized what a joke would immediately follow him.
  42. Working the 2013 Rockland County Election. In 2013, it took me a while to find the right fit, but I eventually ended up in Rockland County, NY, a former home of my parents. I ended up back with my 2008 Hillary roommates, Sally and Michael. I ended up working for one of my favorite people, Judge David Fried, himself an alum of the Clinton White House. While we came up 200 votes of finally flipping that county courthouse, we had a blast. What a beautiful, fun place. I worked with some great people.
  43. My friends get married off. This was definitely the biggest decade of my life for weddings. Every year it felt like I had a couple. They were all a lot of fun. I even “officiated” one, two if you want to get technical, and was in one. I loved them all.
  44. I attended game two of the 2010 NLDS. As the decade began, playoff games in South Philadelphia felt like a given for the Phillies. This would be the only one I attended this decade. Roy Oswalt started, and the Phillies got a big win. They swept Cincinnati for the series.
  45. My sister attended Temple Law School. While she will graduate in the next decade, my sister decided to stay right on Broad Street and continue studying to be a lawyer the last 2.5 years. Soon she’ll be all done.
  46. Working the 2015 Philadelphia Mayoral race. Thanks to my friend Sally giving her friend Stu my resume, I ended up being Field Director for former Philadelphia DA Lynne Abraham’s Mayoral race. What a wild, strange ride that was. While Abraham remained popular throughout the race, her polling fell off the cliff when she, as the oldest candidate in the field, fainted during a publicly televised debate. I met some interesting people, ate some great food, and made good money. Can’t complain.
  47. My friends start having kids and stuff. Nothing is stranger than when you start seeing your childhood friends as parents. For many of my childhood friends, that happened this decade. It’s been pretty cool to watch.
  48. I win a couple elections, I lose one too. During this decade I managed to win a couple of elections, but lost one too. I was elected as Palmer Township Auditor in 2015. I also was elected to the Pennsylvania Democratic committee in 2014. Unfortunately I didn’t win a second term on the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, but I got more votes in 2018 than 2014- just all the Bethlehem folks won that time. Being a candidate is very different, and I did enjoy it.
  49. The 2019 Elections in the Lehigh Valley. The last year of this decade was a weird one for me professionally. I spent the early part of the year interviewing for national jobs, then ended up staying local anyway. I ended up working with nine campaigns, and we won all nine- four Allentown school board members, an Allentown councilwoman, the Mayor, and of course DA Morganelli (on turnout for judge of common pleas), Judge McCaffery (Superior Court, as scheduler), and newly-elected Northampton County Councilman Kerry Myers (as Manager). It was a damn good year.
  50. RIP Uncle George, Uncle Charlie, Uncle Stan, Aunt Mary, Bob Elliott, Bob Baxter, and everyone else we lost. We lost a lot of great people this decade, some very close to me. I’m going to miss all of them, and felt the need to recognize them here.

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