Friday, May 19, 2006

Some people stand in the darkness

[Philly Skyline: G-Ho]

I'm such a slacker. But, I have an excuse--I've been moving. Yup, moving, the universally dreaded activity that a poll ranked as the second most stressful/traumatic life experience, right behind the death of a loved one. I call personal bullshit on this one, because I think moving is way more stressful. I didn't even cry when Antonio Fargas died, which is generally impressive considering that he's not even dead yet.

Anyway, it's been quite a change of scenery for me. For the last four years, I've lived in Olney, which is I believe is Lenape Indian for "land of inconveniently planned city blocks." I had a great time and all, but I just got sick of having to get in the car and drive somewhere when I got a hankering for a Whatchamacallit at three in the morning.

The area where I lived was overwhelming residental, despite it being just a few blocks off Broad Street. There were corner stores and takeout places and all that good stuff, but they weren't immediately accessible and most closed early. And yes, I did drive to the Sunoco A-Plus at three in the morning on a quasi-daily basis to purchase Whatchamacallits/other preservative-laden snacks.

For nostalgia's sake, I'd like to share five things I'll miss about the old hood, and five things that I'm definitely grateful to be rid of forever.



1. It only took me two minutes to walk to work. Now, it doesn't take me any time, but that's just because I don't have a job.

2. The resourceful, streetsmart cat who chilled outside my house every day. I'd give her Friskies sometimes, but it really wasn't necessary, as she swindled every person on my block to feed her daily. I named her Fran; I'd like to say I named her after Fran Dunphy, but it's really just after this bully character I remembered from
Pete and Pete.

3. The super-sweet Asian lady who ran the lunch truck across the street from my house. Runner-up: The super-sweet Asian lady at the Cold Beer.

4. The Goldburns, my elderly neighbors who served as non-stop sources of entertainment. Mrs. Goldburn was extremely active, and worked a part-time job at the Willow Grove Mall. Mr. Goldburn's daily regimen, however, included sitting on his porch, informing me that he was "hanging tough," asking Michelle/various female friends if he could photograph them in a garden, and addressing Fran as "Pretty Kitty" in his vaguely Carribean accent.

5. Having a driveway. Shit was on a 45-degree angle, but at least it was off-street.


1. Extremely well-dressed, well-coiffed young dudes acting as though I'm required to give them a dollar at the gas station just because I'm not black. You've got Dunks, some nice watch and you're driving a luxury sedan, and I'm supposed to give
you a dollar? Fuckouttahere!

2. At least four times a week, I'd hear this random guy yelling up to the window of his female acquaintance, who was either named
Thea or Sophia. Dude would seriously scream her name for at least five to ten minutes straight. There was no set time for the name-yelling, either; sometimes it'd be seven in the morning, and other times it'd be midnight. I always wondered why this guy didn't just knock on Thea/Sophia's door, or just invest in a motherfucking cellphone.

3. Ms. Anderson (aka Ramona), my
other next-door neighbor who was a complete fucking headcase. Not only was she a packrat, a shut-in and a paranoid schizo, I also saw her in her bra one time when she walked outside in broad daylight without a shirt on. I ain't been right since. While most conventional bras have one clasp on the back, hers had four. That was the day I swore off women forever. Also, one time she knocked on my door at 2:30 in the morning, asking if I could open a can of Wolfgang Puck brand soup for her.

4. Being the Goldburn's indentured servant. Somehow, they roped me into this elaborate, unpaid yardwork schedule, which featured such tasks as raking his two million leaves and cutting the grass on his 2x2 lawn with an
electric push mower. This shit plugged in.

5. Brian, the
drunk/gardener drunk gardener on my block. One time, he was "weeding" out in front of my house for five bucks, and he started pulling up plants and flowers. I told him to stop, to which he responded, "I was only testing you." Oh, of course. Two summers ago, dude used to come by my house bearing bootleg DVDs, offering to lend them to me if I could spot him money to "buy his niece a hot dog." In one particularly memorable incident, he tried to force a beat-up VHS copy of
Glory on me. I was all like, "Brian, Glory came out in 1989," to which he replied, "Yeah, y'all seen Glory?" I was the only person there at the time.


Now, I live in a neighborhood that I'm not even sure what to call. The generally accepted moniker is "Graduate Hospital," but near neighbors and outsiders alike don't seem to feel this too much. I've seen it referred to as Southwest Center City, South of South Street (or "So-So"), the 30th Ward, and Northwest South Philly, which is the absolute worst of 'em all.

This area always seems to come up in snooze-worthy gentrification arguments (the g-word is so hot right now), but I don't let it get to me. Honestly, I've observed how different people from different backgrounds interact, and it's great. No one's bitching at each other about cultural square-peg-round-hole bullshit, and no one is moaning about the potential of rising rents (they're definitely not rising anytime soon, anyway, as the "expensive" properties are still in the fledgling stages of development). I really just see it for what it is--a nice place with nice people. Regardless of what the new hood's called, it's fucking great and I love it. This G-Ho Photo Essay sums all that up well.

I've been randomly catching a bunch of crossover sitcoms lately. You know, like when Urkel came on Full House? The hook was that he was DJ's black friend's cousin; of course, after the episode, said black friend was never seen again. Uncle Jesse was ethnic enough for the Tanner household, I guess. Drew also caught the Boy Meets World/Singled Out crossover where Eric (who seems to have pulled a Mark Hamill and become a prolific voice actor) lies and says he's an Ivy Leaguer. Anyone else have any memorable crossovers to point out? I've been racking my brain trying to think of more, but they're just not coming.

Somehow, Michelle and I ended up talking about David Charvet the other day (hence the inspiration for this post's title). She admitted that she found him extremely sexy when she was 10. Hussy. Anyway, I was extremely surprised to read that Dave is a wildly successful pop icon in his native France, and is currently collaborating with Seal on a duet. Go Charvet.

The People's Champ (and Ice-T!) is getting his own VH1 show. Here's hoping they go the Flavor of Love route and avoid ruthlessly exploiting his celebrity for cheapened laughs. Wait, did I say Flavor of Love? I meant...yeah, I meant Flavor of Love.

OKP ish: Blitz and The Slackers. My downstairs neighbor told me that ?uesto lives behind us, and that he drives a burgundy Honda Element. I'm officially sounding the 'fro alarm in a few.

This is apparently Lohan's foreal MySpace. I find it hard to believe just on general principle, but she's got some pretty incriminating photos. Almost too incriminating...

The cousin Ainna quit her swank IT job to pursue a career as a sushi chef. That's cool as hell. She's keeping track of it here (note to self: blogroll).

Lastly, thanks to Josh for linking up the singlemost depressing blog of all time. It's a cool idea--people reveal their innermost secrets by sending in anonymous visual art pieces. I guess I underestimated just how heartbreaking people's innermost secrets can be. See for reference these Mother's Day submissions: [1] [2] [3] [4] Now, go put on some Elliott Smith, fill up the tub, and place the toaster on the ledge. Yes, you. Needle in the haaaayyyyyy...


anti-shave said...

Thanks for the link, Drew! I got some crazy-blurry photos of you getting your diploma at your graduation!

Benny said...

Regarding 2b: you're obviously missing the romance here. Ask your gardener friend about A Streetcar Named Desire. :-)

kibby said...

Hahha-- You seriously have no idea how much you are going to miss Brian. For real. I miss him lots, because now I don't have anyone to call me "Spyce" (that's how i always imagined it being spelled). Honestly though, I miss Nathan much more, if only for his astute observations like "Dick can't get hard without a pussy!"

Awesome-- and i love graduate hospital. It's by far my favorite neighborhood in Philly. I wish I lived there again!

Anonymous said...

hey bruddah. i enjoyed reading this, especially the part about the neighbor with multiple bra claps...eeee. good luck on your interview next week, mom actually told me to pray for you before i went to bed last night.