I am sitting in George Washington’s Pew at the Christ Church in Philadelphia, and I feel a little unworthy.
I’d give you a picture, but the hotel I’m staying at, the Best Western in downtown Newark, NJ (motto: The Rectum of The World), has an Internet service that is a little slower than geologic time, and I’m damned tired of waiting for it to load. That, plus I received zero comments from yesterday’s post, so now I’m under the assumption that no one is listening anyway…
Jonathan is enjoying the tour, as am I, put on by Philadelphia Urban Adventures. Our guide is Jeremy, who majored in City Planning, and he has no job 2 years out of college, which I find amazing, because isn’t there always a HUGE demand for people who know where to put the next low income ghetto subsidized by you and I? But I like him, as he has an encyclopedic knowledge of this city.
I’m also amazed that i like this city so much, partially because I am a Cowboys fan, who are sworn enemies of the Eagles, but more because I thought the entire city consisted of troglodytes of the Rocky variety pummeling slabs of frozen meat for fun, and that just isn’t true. It’s a real city, with grit and dirt and crime, yes, but also with a vibrant arts scene, good infrastructure, beautiful Greek revival and Colonial architecture, and of course more history than you can absorb in one afternoon, especially when you’ve had a brewskie at the old City Tavern (reconstructed from the original in 1976), which I did.
Yet no trip to Philly is complete without a trip to Geno’s, where as usual Jonathan and I start our tour with food. We decide to split a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich, because we are watching our girlish figures, and then, after a brief pause, split another one. The sandwich has nice thick slices of spicy roast beef topped with onions. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just the beef (sliced not shredded), and the bread is fresh, not soggy, and now I understand what the big deal is about. This is a great, fast, hearty meal! $20, and worth it…:)
To get to Geno’s, we had to walk through the a low rise Italian section of town on 9th Street, which also goes through the Mexican, Ecuadoran, Peruvian Latin American Section, which also goes through the Vietnamese and Chinese section. There’s a kind of little United Nations going on right there, and it all blends well, with stalls selling fish (or fish heads), vegetables, special house sausages, home made spices, and even live chickens right out the door and onto the street, and everyone seems to get along and enjoy themselves in the process, and you get to enjoy or detest it all, from the wonderful aroma of fresh baked bread to the something incomprehensibly bad that we smelled from the poultry stall. But there’s a real ethnic mix here that works, and it is not for tourists, and it is real. I like it.
Before we meet Jeremy, we see the Liberty Bell, and of course it is mobbed with Chinese tourists, who are snapping photos like paparazzi. We grab a picture and note that there was an effort to repair the bell before it cracked. It’s definitely worth seeing, as it really did hang in Independence Hall and ring during the era when the Declaration was signed.
Jeremy first takes us to an 18th century Quaker church, which is like a normal Christian Church only it has no pastor or steeple, and really is pretty plain from the outside. William Penn was a famous Quaker, as was Richard Nixon, though I doubt they want to claim him, and they were widely known for their religious tolerance.
Next we go to Society Hill, and it is VERY nice indeed, as is reflected by the prices, which mean that you and I cannot live there, unless we rob banks or own them, which are equally repulsive professions, IMO. But the Colonials are handsome, and the Greek revival architecture of the First National Bank and first stock exchange are also quite nice.
There must be a traveller’s version of Murphy’s Law, because it seems every landmark I want to see is always under construction, and that is the case today with Independence Hall, but I can see the building’s outline quite well, and note that at one time the Legislative and Judicial bodies of the US managed to function out of a single building smaller than a football field, and at a budget that is less that the average college football coach’s salary.
We see quite a few other sites, such as Benjamin Franklin’s grave, who was yet another Renaissance man (did you know he even invented flippers?), and a whole slew of late 18th century buildings, but now it’s getting late so I must tell you that, to my sorrow, we only had a few hours in Philly and now I am writing to you from America’s Hemorrhoid, Newark. a giant pustule of a city without a single redeeming quality so far as I can see, and I am being charitable.
Jonathan and I are in a good hotel surrounded by hordes of freakish cretins, and to venture outside at night you should probably have a military escort and a good term life insurance policy, because the street is seething with criminals and rejects who are bent on their own destruction, like some scene from “Night of the Living Dead”, only at least those creatures had the decency to dress normally in rags instead like Hookers from Hell and their Pimps of Doom.
What can I say about this town that is good, except that it’s potholed streets and bombed out ghettos house the flotsam and jetsam that New York excretes like so much waste after an all night drinking binge and a few dozen hot Buffalo wings? Without Newark, this circus maximus, this flotilla of human garbage, would be permanently ensconced in New York, and the self styled Big Apple would be so much the worse for it. So, if you’re in New York, blow a kiss toward New Jersey…but don’t forget to hold your nose.
God, I can only hope this sin’t our fate as a country. it’s late again. I’ll see y’all tomorrow, when we visit Wall Street and the WTC site.