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GENO’S SAYS: SPEAK ENGLISH

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 31, 2006 12:01 AM

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If you know Philadelphia, you know Geno’s. Best cheesesteaks in the world. Reader Willie S. sends word via the Philly Inquirer that Joey Vento, the grandson of Italian-born immigrants who owns Geno’s, is taking a stand for assimilation and against illegal immigration. The Inquirer does its best to knock down Vento, but his blunt Philly style overrides the paper’s wishy-washy open-borders slant:

How do you say cheesesteak with in Spanish?

Joseph Vento, the owner of Geno’s Steaks, doesn’t know. And he doesn’t care.

Just read the laminated signs, festooned with American eagles, at his South Philadelphia cheesesteak emporium: This is America. When Ordering, Speak English.

Vento’s political statement – from a man whose Italian-born grandparents spoke only broken English – captures the anger and discontent felt by many Americans about illegal immigrants…

…The Ventos rarely left their South Philadelphia neighborhood. Now, in a way, the neighborhood has left the couple’s descendants. Geno’s sits at Ninth and Passyunk, the hub of Little Italy turned home to thousands of Mexicans.

Some try to order a cheesesteak. And it bugs Vento if they can’t ask for American cheese, provolone or the classic – Cheez Whiz – without pointing.

“If you can’t tell me what you want, I can’t serve you,” he said. “It’s up to you. If you can’t read, if you can’t say the word cheese, how can I communicate with you – and why should I have to bend?

“I got a business to run.”

Vento, who lives in Shamong, put up the signs when the immigration debate seized national headlines six months ago.

With Geno’s Steaks tattooed on his arm, Vento is used to publicizing things, especially what’s on his mind. Speak English signs also poster his Hummer. He has driven through South Philadelphia blaring through the SUV’s P.A. system denunciations of neighborhood business owners who hire illegal immigrants.

“I say what everybody’s thinking but is afraid to say,” Vento said.

Oh, man, I have half a mind to drive up for a “cheesesteak with” [“cheese wit,'” as they say] at Geno’s right now.

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Mmmmm.

***

Flashback…John Kerry demonstrates how not to eat a cheesesteak:

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If Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential aspirations melt like a dollop of Cheez Whiz in the sun, the trouble may well be traced to an incident in South Philadelphia on Monday.

There, the Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat’s Steaks and ordered a cheesesteak — with Swiss cheese. If that weren’t bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich — another serious faux pas.

“It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia,” predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? “In Philadelphia, that’s an alternative lifestyle,” LaBan explained.

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