"First, before we go in, does anyone have any gum in their mouth?"
"No", we muttered half heartedly.
"Because if you do, you need to spit it out of your mouth right now and throw it in this trashbin!"
That is how my visit started on America's oldest residential street. And this, I tell you sisters and brothers, in the city of brotherly love. I spent only 36 hours in Philadelphia and I am already sick of that motto. Imagine how the poor devils feel who have to live with it day in and out, in addition to seeing the fetching mug of Ben Franklin on every local product and print ad! It's enough to make an over zealous, under talented, former drama student tour guide want to reach her hand into a visiting mouth and rip the gum right out.
But unlike the Big Apple, I imagine the city of cheese steaks has had nothing lately so embarassing as the dorm-style artist bohemian housing article recently brought to light in the paper of record. I am not sure what is more awful, that people are so crazy to sink to living in such grim reproductions of 'art community', or that it is outed to the world in a paper as far removed from that scene as the Times. Ouch. I wonder how long it will take before reality show scouts come calling at the doors of the dueling McKibbin lofts buildings.
Which prompts the next question: how deep does one have to live to not be vacuous? Not below sea-level deep, but more like, how much does a person have to be of a scholarly nature to not live in the trendy now? I ask this because I feel that many of the local peeps I encountered in the city of brother and sisterly love had less of an interest in trend for a keeping-up sake, like us Big Apple eaters, and more time to read stories about explorers who risked life and frost bitten limb in the mid 1800's Arctic Ocean. My analysis is far from scientific and regrettably un-scholarly, but my quick turn of Philadelphia events left me thinking that living away from the too fast motion grid of NYC isn't such a bad thing.
For instance, my first experimental proof: I didn't see any couples simultaneously talking on their cell phones. When two humans in direct proximity to feel-up contact, are instead conversing with intangible, unseen others, that is a sure sign that the world is spinning out of control. I did not see any examples of that in my highly controlled, scientific assessment (total disclosure: my assessment included many hours of observation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, so perhaps my research data is skewed, because everyone knows talking on cell phones is frowned upon in museums).
Second experimental proof: we ate at a fabulous Burmese restaurant that had not bothered to change their cuisine category to Myanmar. Refusing to keep up with rapidly changing military dictatorship governments is a sure sign of inner strength.
Information that I should NOT include in my survey (if I were soley trying to prove my hypothesis instead of being utterly open with you, the lovely free-form radio listening public): most people I spoke with knew Santogold personally or her life story (born and raised in Philly). Granted one of them was in a great record store, but this info proves that our brotherly and sisterly lovers know a cool, contempo moment when it has direct and positive effect on them (instead of just knowing the status of R Kelly's child pornography trial).
And for my last piece of evidence, I offer the American Philosophical Society Museum. Housed in a plain building, without so much as a proper sign, this museum offered the largest proof that humans without subscriptions to People magazine can get a lot accomplished in the course of a day. Granted, much of this accomplishment was made before the invention of even the standard telephone, but I am still in awe of the gorgeous watercolors that Titian Peale brought back from his voyages to Antartica. I know the horrors of trying to do artwork while traveling, not to mention when the temperature is so low it makes water color highly viscous. And when was the last time the artifacts you brought back from your travels were the origins of the Smithsonian?
Am I being too hard on us global warming makers? Perhaps this New England Patriots spying debacle has stretched me too thin? I think DJ Icepack being invited to a 7-year-old birthday party with the promise of Ely Manning in attendance did it. Or maybe the impending steam railroad, and subsequent ramifications of Britain's Industrial Revolution in Masterpiece Theatre's Cranford has me vexed. I am confident that it has nothing to do with Lily Allen's blonde do, or her mystery man.
I've got it! Seven plus years of George W. has left me feeling like a hung over frat boy cramming Cliff notes! When we dump that obsolescent train wreck I will feel a lot smarter.