A NOVEL MUSIC TOUR,
DAYS 83-86 (thereabouts): Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I wish I could’ve enjoyed the City of Brotherly Love. The Homeland of the Fresh Prince. The Namesake of Bruce Springstreen’s Mid-90s Come Back Hit.
Unfortunately, on our way there we stopped in Valley Forge and on the bus, I came down with some random, ghost dysentery, phantom food poisoning/stomach bug, where i cannot get warm even in direct sunlight. It lasts for days and I spend our stay in Doylestown in chills, nausea and…well, I’ll end there. We park at one of Sharisse’s relatives’ in a lovely Home Alone kind of neighborhood. They open their doors to us with large brunches, neighbors coming by bringing Lee & Sharisse gifts, a white dog named Buffy and a low-ceilinged sitting room full of books on Shakespeare. I spend much of our stay sweating through my pillow at night, rolling around in delicious kind of fever dreams (you know the ones where you think you’ve hit on the truth of human existence) with a barf bag nearby and in the day, eating only tangerines and chicken broth while keeping within sprint distance to the bathrooms. Everyone catches up on laundry, exercise and work, visits into town and I sit under a tall, beautiful tree in the front yard, in the sunlight, reading a little chapbook on Abraham Lincoln and Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.
From page 253.
"Hamlet rarely means what he says or says what he means [so] he anticipates Nietzche’s dictum that we find words only for what is already dead in our hearts, so there’s always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking."
Amen to that, Mr. Bloom!
From Doylestown at least, there’s no straight highway to Philadelphia. It takes us an hour just to get to one and, when we finally do, it shoots us straight into South Philly and we get cheesesteak at Tony Lukes, right underneath a freeway overpass where we park the car by a chain link fence that separates the diners from the mounds of clothes and abandoned shopping carts left behind by the drifters. Long lines of brick houses standing high, straight and packed close like matchsticks. Kids running from school with their backpacks huge on their little bodies around old bums, on door stoops, drinking beer bottles in broad light of day and, we notice,about every other block or so, people washing and detailing their cars right there on the street, hoods open, in congress under the hot sun.
I forced half a philly cheesesteak down because, stomach virus or not, I’ll be damned if I don’t eat a philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia. 30 minutes later my stomach hates me for this defiant act and I take a queasy walk with the gang around the historical downtown of Philadelphia. Men in white wigs and tri-cornered hats ride horse-drawn carriages, click their reins and spout cheerful little monologues about the birth of our nation. Indeed, there is a kind of awe walking around the courtyards, pillars and cobble streets where Ben Franklin founded a college, and where America’s forefathers engaged in the massive intellectual tug of war that yanked it’s way to one side, all those ideas and discourses tumbling atop each other in a heap known as the Declaration of Independence - the greatest middle finger ever flipped in western civilization. I say “greatest,” in that it is akin to Woody Allen waltzing into a jail yard and declaring the convicts a bunch of pansies, unfit to lick his loafers. And…getting away with it.
I mean, read this thing! Taking King George to task!
(they should have put a strong word in there for BBC iPlayer’s lack of availability in the U.S. How much abuse can this here colonist take??)