But, first a bad thing. The traffic here - at least in certain parts - is horrid. Trans-L.A. horrid. I got off the freeway (676?) near downtown Philly at the Broad Street exit. Admittedly, that was a wrong turn: instead of going "West," I should have gone "East." However, it was just northwest of where I wanted to go: from 16th St. to 4th St., and down less than eight blocks. It took me almost 45 minutes to get where I was going and find a parking space. Yes, you read that right: it took 45 fucking minutes to go less than 2 miles. A couple days before, I had been heading south on the 476 (?), and it was completely clogged. Even the 405 or the 110 move, if slowly.
That said, the area with the cobblestone streets was fairly easy to drive through, and I was able to find parking there twice.
Philly has several attractive old buildings, but, when I drove to Fairmount Park and saw the Art Museum, I almost, well, let's just say I was pretty impressed. That area of Philly makes L.A. look like a pile of puke. Seriously, we've got the Griffith Park Observatory, and we've got, well, OK, so we don't have too many impressive public edifices.
Fairmount Park is an oasis of greenery and water; supposedly at night the upper classes light their boat houses so that the plebes might enjoy the spectacle, but I wasn't there at that time. The general area is very green and much better looking than anything in Larchmont or Hancock Park.
Based on beta supplied by the kind lady at the visitor center, I visited the Wissahickon area of the park. Thankfully, the road to the park went down to a little canyon, making up for the flatness of Philly when I started biking up the road in search of rocks to climb. I didn't find any, but they're supposedly in the area. I got to the top of the road - probably not far from Philly's highpoint - and cruised back down. Is this all there is vis-a-vis the gain of elevation? Unfortunately so. But, it was quite green and pretty.
The next day I took the touron tour of Independence Hall.
Unfortunately, I was strangely unmoved by the Liberty Bell and the tour of Independence Hall; I didn't even bother to take out the camera. In contrast, I was truly interested in Lincoln's desk. While I'm more interested in the Revolutionary than the Civil War, perhaps it's because in some ways I'm an Illinoisan and in no way am I a Philadelphian.
But, a large part of it is has something to do with the presentation and the presence of other tourons. The new section with the Bell is, well, horrible. It's like one of the most treasured symbols of our country has been placed in a shopping mall.
There it sits on a concrete stand against several windows overlooking Independence Hall. Couldn't they have created something either more modern, or less? Is this really the most realistic setting for a bell? Aren't bells in, like, bell towers or something? Couldn't they have at least tried to recreate a more bell tower-like atmosphere?
That and my fellow tourons immediately whipping out their disposable cameras to take shots of each other with the bell in the background was quite offputting.
Independence Hall wasn't much better; perhaps if I'd had more time to let it sink in, or perhaps if there had been fewer fellow tourons present I might have been as impressed as I should have been.
For many there, the biggest news was that Nicholas Cage was filming a Disney film in the area. They were doing something in the bell tower. That's the same one that members of the general public can only visit once per year and by paying $30. But, that's OK, because in this film Nic saves the U.S. by finding a map to buried treasure written on the back of the Declaration of Independence or something like that, so it's good publicity for the nation.
I didn't see Nic, but those of us in line for the Independence Hall tour gawked at his stunt double who rushed past us in an apparent attempt not to be noticed.
Later, in one of my various turn-arounds and get-losts, I got off the 95 at Allegheny I guess in the area of the docks. I immediately felt a bit at home, although I also kept a good watch on my wallet. I got called "hon" by the lady at the gas station. It appeared to be a mostly white, working-class neighborhood filled with a few Polish shops. I felt a bit of deja vu.
Unfortunately, I missed South Philly; rumor or speculation has it that Lonewacko might have found himself a nice, non-big-haired, non-connected Janeane type there.
On the way out of town, I ran into a guy from South Philly selling roses roadside. Apparently, there are jobs Americans will do, and, as he told me, there are plenty of native Philadelphians to do them. Those who told you otherwise are, well, lying as usual.
Even further south, I stopped at the Claymont, Delaware Boston Market. Their cornbread was kept in a warmed serving tray, and was warm enough to melt butter.
BloggingAcrossAmerica · Wed, 10/15/2003 - 17:31 · Importance: 1