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  December 25, 2008 Issue                                       

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Local Life

Pulitzer Prize ‘like winning Super Bowl’
Hiller keeps writing powerful best-sellers


Acclaimed author Buzz Bissinger and his wife Lisa have lived near the Morris Arboretum for the past three years. Bissinger, seen here in front of Starbucks on the 8500 block of Germantown Avenue, wrote Friday Night Lights, which was made into a feature film and a TV series, among his other books.

He’s from New York City originally and grew up a die-hard Yankees fan, but since his book Three Nights in August (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), he’s taken to the Cardinals. Yet, through his life and work, author and Chestnut Hill resident Buzz Bissinger is most linked to the city of Philadelphia. Bissinger and his wife Lisa have lived near the Morris Arboretum for the past three years, having moved from Mt. Airy. His twin boys, Jerry and Zachary, are in their 20s, and he has a teenage son named Caleb.

Now 54, Bissinger grew up on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. It was a time when newspapers abounded, and each member of his family had a preferred daily.  Various newspapers were always strewn about the apartment. “I fell in love with the feel and touch of the paper.” Aside from an uncle who had been at Life magazine, journalism was not part of the family pedigree. Still, it was something he wanted to do from a very early age.

In 1972, he entered the University of Pennsylvania and eventually became sports editor for the Daily Pennsylvanian. He remembers happily spending most of his time within Penn’s campus and “didn’t know Philadelphia at all.” But Bissinger was destined to become intimately familiar with the city. After stints with the Ledger Star in Norfolk and The St. Louis Pioneer Press in St. Louis, he returned to Philadelphia in 1981 to work for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

For Christmas, what is a wife’s best friend? Duh!

You may have to bother Santa Claus for gifts for children, but when it comes to wives, one gift will never fail to please, according to Rob Slack, and there is no point in waiting for it to come down the chimney.

As a husband relatively new to married life, I have been watching the holiday ads carefully to figure out how to buy for my wife. The goal, I realize, is not merely to satisfy the basic requirements of gift-giving. An uninspired husband-to-wife gift, I have learned, is a recipe for marital disaster. Give her a three-speed mixer or a vacuum cleaner on Christmas, and you’re likely to be sleeping on your cousin Jim’s couch by Valentine’s Day. The stakes are extremely high.

So I have been watching the TV ads closely and taking studious notes. I have learned that your wife should be more than pleased with your gift; she should be overwhelmed by it. If she responds with mere gratitude or contentment, you’re in trouble. Hope you signed a pre-nuptial agreement in that case. Instead, when she opens her gift, her eyes should sparkle, and her entire being should melt with otherworldly delight.

There is only one known object guaranteed to create such gift-giving shock and awe: Diamonds. Women, it seems, crave diamonds the way men crave women. For this reason, diamonds are a man’s best friend. This, at least, is what those endless holiday jewelry ads seem to suggest.


The Paperia: 25 years of success in Chestnut Hill

Husband and wife George and Marsi Breslau, from left, are seen here with staff members Ben Barbash, Linn Vaghters and Beth Marsh at Paperia, 8521 Germantown Ave., which the Breslaus have operated for 25 years. (Photo by Erin Vertreace)

Husband and wife George and Marsi Breslau were a bit at odds with each  other when deciding what type of stationery store to open in 1983.

George, with a chain-store background, had grand visions of franchising; Marsi, on the other hand, wanted more of a ‘boutique’y’ look —  a place that was neat and clean and that had a well-rounded selection of contemporary products. Marsi won out, and when The Paperia opened its doors at 8521 Germantown Ave., it took only a few months for the store to be in the black.

Twenty-five years later, with a second store in the historic Suburban Square shopping area located in Ardmore, The Paperia continues to thrive by offering a unique, relevant merchandise mix and good old-fashioned service.