Big Daddy Graham is a renowned stand-up comedian and overnight personality on SportsRadio 94WIP. Check out his new podcast, Big Daddy’s Classic Rock Throwdown, at BigDaddyGraham.com.
I have a Twitter and a Facebook account. I not only use both mediums to let my readers and listeners know where I’m performing and whatnot, I enjoy seeking my followers’ help when I’m looking for an entertaining topic for my podcast or talk show. I’ll throw out a question like, “What’s the best soul song ever to come out of the Philly area?” Between both those accounts, I’ll get a couple hundred responses and I’ll often get more than a few song titles that I might not have remembered myself. It’s fun.
Although I prefer actually making a real phone call (remember them?), there is a time and a place for a text message. They’re less intrusive. I must admit, however, that sometimes I’ll catch myself getting wrapped up sending and receiving text messages as long as Lord of the Rings and I’ll say to myself, “Why aren’t we just talking?”
Then of course there is email. Email itself is now so old that teenagers will look at you with a blank expression if you say, “OK, send me an email and I’ll check it out.” Huh? And God forbid you have an AOL account. You might as well have a tattoo on your forehead that announces “I’m 90 years old.”
So I’m down with the social media peeps. I’m with it. I’m cool. I’m hip to the scene. I’m tech savvy. True that. Mos def.
There’s just one little problem: I dig getting mail. With my overnight shift at 94WIP, I don’t get up until 2 p.m., and the first thing I do is march outside in my robe to the mailbox like Tony Soprano getting the paper. I love mail.
There’s something about the physicality of it. I realize that the majority of it is bills and junk mail, particularly at election time. When are politicians going to get that I don’t care one iota what their spouses and kids look like? But I’ve been a mail guy forever and there’s no stopping now.
I subscribe to nine different magazines and seven of them are weekly. Now, I have had a lifelong love affair with the magazine since browsing through them at Nurthern’s barbershop awaiting my haircut. But I think there’s another reason why I read magazines that a therapist would have a field day with. Getting something in the mail makes me feel connected to the real world. Like someone out there is still thinking about me. It’s almost sad. For Pete’s sake, I pay these publishing houses to send their magazines to me. So I practically have a stroke when someone actually sends me a postcard or a real letter.
You can imagine that I absolutely freak at Christmas time. Mail! Real mail! Cards with hand written addresses on the envelope. They start coming in around Dec. 10 and a few even trickle in after Christmas.
My thing for Christmas cards started when I was a boy. It was my assignment to tape the cards to our fake fireplace. That’s right. A fake fireplace. You just leaned it against a wall and put graduation photos and such on top of it and some fake logs lit with a light bulb in the well. I was 7 before I discovered this and I flipped out on my mother, all flustered trying to figure out how Santa was going to get in the house. You think I might have noticed the logs lit with a light bulb.
I loved hanging those cards. It meant the big day was around the corner. Any card with Santa on it was fantastic. One year a friend of my mother’s sent a rather risqué card and even at 7 years old it gave me a little thrill. Mysteriously, that card disappeared when I went to glance at it again the next day. Nowadays, my wife and daughters decorate the house for the holidays and they do a terrific job at it. When I ask what it is I can do to help, they generally tell me to go upstairs to my bedroom, close the door, and stay out of the way.
But not when it comes to hanging the cards. That has remained my job and now I hang them over a real fireplace. And I have taken it a step further. When it comes time to take the cards down, I keep the cards that I find worthy enough to make my Christmas Card Hall of Fame. Funny cards. Cards with a particular beauty about them. Handmade cards are almost always kept. My man, comic and musician (and Jersey Shore resident), Spins Nitely has been making his own cards for 31 years and I have every one of them. Spins himself doesn’t have them all.
That last line leads me to this. I keep any family portrait photo card. Or even a photo of a married couple without any kids. Being that I have been saving them for 30 years, do you realize how many holiday portrait cards I have that feature spouses long-divorced? Then I start getting portrait cards from the divorced couple with their new families. It’s actually very funny. Maybe not to them, but to me it is. I have instructed my wife and kids that when I shuffle off to the comedy club in the sky, they can mail all those cards back to somebody connected with those photos and I bet they will get a hoot out of them, also.
The hoarder in me just can’t stop now that I have been doing it this long. And because I am in the media and work so many different night clubs on top of it, I get over a hundred cards a season and I figure, not counting portrait cards, I keep about 10 a year. I used to actually hang the Hall of Fame Cards in a separate room, but now there’s so many I place them in extra large Whitman chocolate boxes and lay them on the side of my fireplace. People really get a kick out of them when we go through them together when they visit my home for the holidays.
Then there are the cards I receive from my friends who live down the Shore year-round. Inevitably, they always have a Santa Claus in some beach scene. Santa on a lifeguard stand. Santa on a surfboard. Santa riding a bike. Santa checking beach tags. You know what I do with those cards? I hang them in my house down the Shore. It’s a nice touch. (I told you, I’m an insane hoarder.)
So I’m giving you a chance to not only place a card in the Hall of Fame, I will award a pair of tickets to the show posted below to the reader who sends me a cool card. Mail them to 94WIP, Big Daddy Graham, 400 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pa., 19106. Good luck and happy holidays!
TWO FUNNY PHILLY GUYS starring Big Daddy Graham and Joe Conklin returns to the Broadway Theatre in Pitman for its sixth-straight Valentine’s Day weekend on Saturday, Feb. 15.
Visit BigDaddyGraham.com for tickets. And check out Big Daddy’s Classic Rock Throwdown podcast at WildfireRadio.com every Thursday at 8 p.m.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 9 (December, 2014).
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