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JT. Ramsay: People need to get past ‘Rocky’ to see what Philadelphia really has to offer

Introducing the Why I Love Philly campaign from Young Involved Philadelphia and Indy Hall. Tell the world why you love where you live by tweeting #whyilovephilly.

JT. Ramsay didn’t grow up in Philly like his father. Yet…

He has a fun, internet-based job with a big media company in Center City. He has a wife. He has a kid. He roots for both Philly baseball teams. And he owns a home in Philadelphia — no, not in the region, but in that Port Fishington neighborhood east of Frankford, north of Fishtown and south of Port Richmond.

For all the Exit Interview series insights, it was high time to note why somebody with a graduate degree from a Manhattan university would be toting a 19-month-old to the Memphis Taproom.
Ramsay, 33, Comcast’s Chief Blogger, seemed like a logical place to start.

Phillie fan JT. Ramsay (photo by Matt Godfrey, courtesy of the Fishtown Star)

What brought you back to Philly after graduate work at the New School for Social Research?
I moved back from NYC in 2003 after spending nearly a year job hunting after getting my M.A. The dotcom bubble really spooked investors who might’ve dumped more cash into the organizations in which I was interested. Not sure if there’s a lesson to be learned, but a bad job market is a bad job market. What makes it worse is living in a place where your cost of living is significantly higher than the place you left.

Was there a specific event or moment when you realized you wanted to make this your home?

“I love Philadelphia because it has everything New York does, but you can afford to live here.”

When I first moved back I was restless. Not only was I woefully underemployed as a video store clerk, I also felt that Philly lacked the sort of entertainment I enjoyed in NYC.
But that changed. Fast. Once Sean Agnew and R5 Productions put Philly on the map, I didn’t find myself searching Pollstar wondering why Deerhoof would never play here. It’s a little thing, but it meant a great deal to me at the time.

I also realized that so much of my life was here. My girlfriend lived here — we married in 2005 and St. Joseph’s University would call us Hawkmates if we told the alumni organization — and I just found it so much easier to have her support as I struggled to find gainful employment. What’s great about Philadelphia is that rents in nice neighborhoods are reasonable, and they certainly were before the housing market took off.

When someone visits from out of town, what are the first places and events you show them?

Philly cred: JT. Ramsay
Comcast Chief Blogger
Pennsport now Port Fishington resident “or Flatiron or Cione to our neighbors”
St. Joseph’s University graduate, 2000
Grew up in Boyertown, Berks County
Father grew up at 61st and Girard — “Fled Philly for a tour in Vietnam in the early ’60s. He thought that would be safer. He was way ahead of the curve on the whole ‘brain drain’ thing.”

I have to say I don’t go out of my way to play tour guide when friends come to town. I’d sooner just venture out with them and let them see the city through the eyes of someone who lives here, rather than the superficial tourist treatment. Love our city’s history, but don’t think it’s essential that everyone get the 15 minute tour of Independence Mall with a cheesesteak on top.

A friend of mine was in town recently and we went to see Yo La Tengo at the Troc. I’ve been going to see shows there since I was 15. Places like that are special and they maybe don’t get enough shine in the national press, but it doesn’t make them any less special. There are lots of great spots like that. People need to get past ‘Rocky’ to see what Philadelphia really has to offer. Don’t just run up the Art Museum steps, go inside and look around.

When you are out of the region, how do you describe Philadelphia?

When I’m out on the road, I describe Philadelphia as home. I feel comfortable wherever I am. I started a family here in the city. I love taking my 19 month old to Memphis Taproom and to Phillies games. I feel welcome wherever I go. It’s a feeling that’s hard to beat.

…One of the best things about living in Philadelphia is that you’re close to so many wonderful places to visit that are just an hour or two away.

In a (tweet) sentence, why do you love Philadelphia?

I love Philadelphia because it has everything New York does, but you can afford to live here.

Companies: Comcast / St. Joseph’s University

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