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'Karens for Hire' will do your dirty work for you

Plus, cheers to Pennsylvania's longest-married couple.

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May 27, 2022
Inside this edition: Call Karen, name that tune, future food, slime spill, marathon marriage, stuff of nightmares, and a very busy weekend.

Billy Joel's "Allentown" is really about a different Pennsylvania city and was originally named for a community in New York. What are they?

(We'll have a real stumper in this space each week. You'll find the answer at the bottom, but don't miss all the good stuff in between.)

» One thing to know: That important Republican U.S. Senate race that still hasn't been called more than a week after the polls closed? It's officially headed for a recount that will last into June, the AP reports.

» One thing to share: The "cookie store of the future" is coming to Philly on the ground floor of Insomnia Cookies' new Center City headquarters. The Business Journal has the renderings.

» One thing to unsee: I'm haunted and I'm certain this stretch of I-70 is haunted after a truck crash spilled more than seven tons of hot dog filler there last week. Note: My weekend cookout is now canceled.

» One thing to smile about: Eighty years in, Martha and Chester Pish of Pottstown are Pennsylvania's longest-married couple. Their son is in his 70s and they got a shoutout from state lawmakers in Harrisburg. 
» One thing to read / one to watch: Kennywood's former Garfield's Nightmare ride got a look from Defunctland. Watch it here or read City Paper's summary of the "weird, horny history" it unearthed first.

» COVID-19 UPDATE: Keep up with our coronavirus tracker, or find where to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

» Doctors stifled as medical marijuana ads blanket Pa.

» An inside look at how Mastriano built a movement

» Court ruling could affect Pa.'s 2022 primary results

» Larger role sought for state AG in police killing probes
(Logo submitted)

An army of “Karens” is assembling in Pittsburgh to shoulder your next hassle.

From shifty car mechanics to arrogant airlines to outrageous Airbnbs, Karens for Hire will make the assertive phone calls and send strongly worded emails so you don’t have to. 

No consumer grievance is too petty. No hold music is too mind-numbing.

CEO Fallon Zecca and COO Chris Grimm say they’re turning Karenism into a force for good.

I talked to them about the new venture, how it works, what it costs, and what they won’t do. 

Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

PA Local: First question: Is this real? 

Zecca: Yes, this is very real. We launched a few months ago. 

PA Local: How do you know each other? 

Zecca: We’re partners. We’ve also had a couple of small business ventures together, mostly real estate stuff.  

PA Local: Are you 'Karens'?

Grimm: We’ve both had jobs before where we had to be that person — and not because we didn’t get, you know, enough ice in a drink. … This is about being assertive because you know something is wrong, like, 'You say your company does this but you’re doing that.' 

You need to get what you paid for and you need to be taken care of properly. Fair is fair. And I’m always looking for a good argument. 

PA Local: Are you rude? 

Grimm: We don’t go in there screaming. We’re not rude or condescending. We’re professional. We have a motto from that movie Road House: 'We’re nice until it’s time to not be nice.' 

Sometimes when we get pushback I’ll say 'Listen, you frustrated someone to the point that they’re now paying me to talk to you.'

PA Local: What won’t you do? 

Zecca: Nothing illegal. We’re not going to be hateful. 

Grimm: We’ve received some dark requests. 

PA Local: Can you tell me about them? 

Zecca: One person wanted us to make someone’s life miserable because that person slashed their tires or something and that was a no.

Grimm: Somebody wanted us to confront a person because of a lawn issue. A few people wanted us to act like intimidators, and we’re not here to create more problems. We might give them advice, like, have you ever just gone to the person and said: 'You know, this is why I can’t cut my grass every week, can you stop calling the cops?' Sometimes we’re just mediators.

If we’re getting revenge it’s against corporations by blasting them on social media. And if they lose clients because of that or someone decides to go to another auto dealership, I feel that’s fair.

PA Local: Do you have any legal training?

Grimm: We’re not attorneys and we don’t give legal advice, but we consult with attorneys.

Zecca: We’re upfront with people and tell them we’re sorry but we can’t help with this issue. 

PA Local: How much does the service cost? 

Zecca: Our average is around $50 but it depends on the size of the ask.

PA Local: How many 'Karens' are there in addition to you two?  

Grimm: We have, I guess you’d call it freelancers on staff, but we want to keep the number to ourselves because we think a little mystery works to our advantage when we’re going up against some of the larger places and companies. 

PA Local: Do any of the businesses you’re talking to think this is made up? 

Zecca: I sent an email for a client to a restaurant chain in Los Angeles (apparently word is getting out) and it came back in all caps reading 'Karens for Hire?!??! Geez Louise.'

Colin Deppen, Spotlight PA 

Dwarf ginseng at Prince Gallitzin State Park in Cambria County, via Don H. Have a pic you'd like the whole state to see? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania

» Friday, May 27: Kick off Memorial Day Weekend with the Philly POPS at Comcast NBCUniversal's Memorial Salute. Tickets are free. It's happening at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

» Friday, May 27: Cut a rug at Honky-Tonk Jukebox, Pittsburgh's monthly country music dance party. Performers include Molly Alphabet, Billy Price, Margot Jezerc, Jon Bindley, and more. Tickets are $20. 

» Friday, May 27: Hit the dance floor to celebrate the life and music of Selena at the "Forever Selena" tribute and dance party at Brooklyn Bowl's Philadelphia outpost. Tickets are $20 at the door.

» Saturday, May 28: Explore the area and learn the history of the highest point in Pennsylvania on a moderate, five- to six-mile hike around Mount Davis. The event is free. Registration is required.

» Saturday, May 28: Check out the goods at Harrisburg's 54th annual Artsfest, with wares from 150 juried artisans and craftspeople, live music, food trucks, a community glass mural project, and more.

» Saturday, May 28: See the quilted creations of 11 African American women from Mississippi and Alabama, including the famed Gee's Bend quilters, at the Everhart Museum in Scranton. Entry is $5.

» Saturday, May 28: Head off to Folk College, the weekend-long Huntingdon County festival with live music and workshops for musicians of all skill levels. Find concert ticket and dorm info here.

» Sunday, May 29: Take back the streets at OpenStreetsPGH. Thoroughfares in downtown Pittsburgh and the South Side will be shut down to traffic and opened to bikes, scooters, and feet.

» Monday, May 30: Watch one of the oldest Memorial Day parades in the country at Doylestown's 154th annual procession. PennLive has a list of parades happening across central Pennsylvania.
Billy Joel's "Allentown" was actually written about neighboring Bethlehem — home of the steel mills referenced throughout the 1982 release — and an earlier version of the song was named "Levittown" after a place on New York's Long Island, where Joel grew up.

Apparently Joel thought "Allentown" sounded more all-American than Bethlehem, telling Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton, "It’s like Jimmytown, Bobbytown, or Tommytown.'" 

More generic Pennsylvania options included Factoryville and the supremely low effort Townville, but he's an artist. 

Thanks for reading PA Local! We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? What do you want to see more of? Or, tell us your secret food recipes!
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