If nothing else, Fishtown resident Joe Quigley is a man who speaks his mind.
It’s something the 27-year-old does regularly with a sort of crass clarity on his blog, www.PhillyNeighbor.com. And now, he’s launched a new endeavor — his own horror novel, Holdout.
Quigley said the site started as something of an inside joke, but has grown steadily in popularity. He believes the site is gaining traction because it addresses issues that confront river wards residents every day.
“I basically write what I’m thinking,” he said. “It’s just how me and my buddies talk.”
Quigley, who posts under the pseudonym “Chip” on PhillyNeighbor, said the blog is an attempt to show solidarity with other residents and that with the site — where he posts derogatively about “Kenzos” and “junkies” — he hopes to show that not every Kensington resident fits the community stereotype.
“It’s a ‘we are all in it together’ type of deal,” he said.
He draws a clear line, noting that, when he talks about “Kenzos,” he doesn’t simply mean people from Kensington.
Instead, he writes, it’s “The guy with the yellow stains on his remaining teeth (tooth?). Those dudes at the bar the other night wearing identical collared polo shirts who kept playing “Diamond Girl” on the jukebox. Your friend from the neighborhood with shamrock tats on his neck …”
“Anybody from Kensington knows people like that,” Quigley said. “Heck, I’m kind of like that.”
But, Quigley said, his comments come from a very real place.
When he makes fun of drug addicts and people selling prescription pills, Quigley said, he knows people in the neighborhood whose lives are impacted every day by those issues. It’s a problem so evident that in some local circles, people see it as an “accepted thing,” he said.
“I’ve had friends die from overdoses and who have been locked up for selling prescription pills,” said Quigley. “It’s almost an accepted thing, not to most people in the ‘hood, but, to some people for sure.”
He also takes aim at “hipsters” — what he stereotypes as affluent young people moving into the community that have an affinity for fixed-gear bicycles and skin-tight jeans.
“They can take a punch,” he joked.
The whole site is a tongue-in-cheek endeavor that, Quigley said, now receives hundreds of visits a day, and it all started as a joke with friends.
Yet, success with the website has been tricky, he said, because often, readers protest the insults and jokes.
Indeed, the profane rants are far from politically correct, bordering on juvenile street talk. Quigley, for example, has not taken note of the public service announcement decrying the use of “retard” as a distasteful insult.
But Quigley said he believes the crass, dirty humor of the site also helps him deliver a message to readers who connect with that type of humor.
“It gives me a chance to inject an idea to people who wouldn’t think about it otherwise,” he said. “I would love if everybody read it. But, when I’m writing, I write for the people I know.”
With a successful web venture under his belt, the graduate of Northeast Catholic has tapped into his knowledge of the community with Holdout, which tells the tale of a zombie attack in the neighborhood.
“I’m a zombie fan,” said a grinning Quigley. “People are badasses around here. If that really happened, I really think some of the knuckleheads around here would be able to hold their own.”
The self-published novel follows a family on Dauphin Street as the members try to survive the zombie apocalypse. Quigley said that, through the course of the novel, a father and son who own a warehouse on the Delaware River in Fishtown find a commune of survivors and hole up in the warehouse to survive the zombie onslaught.
“It’s not really written in the same voice as PhillyNeighbor,” said Quigley. “But, if you’re from around here, you’d recognize a lot of stuff [in the book] from around the neighborhood.”
He said it would be a good read for the chilly nights to prepare for this year’s Halloween, because, while he hopes it’s scary, it isn’t simply a gory tale of disgusting zombies making meals out of friendly Philadelphians.
“It’s more about a family than just the monsters popping out at you,” Quigley said. “But, there’s that, too.”
The book, he said, suffered a more than yearlong road to publication as a deal he had fell through and Quigley eventually decided to simply take the reins and print the book himself.
The book is available in print or as an E-Book, with links for purchase on Quigley’s PhillyNeighbor.com.
Also, for anyone concerned, there is something of a happy outcome to Quigley’s book.
“There’s a rainbow, it’s a small rainbow, but there is one,” he said.
Reporter Hayden Mitman can be reached at 215-354-3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org