Monday, September 27, 2010

Slice of Villiany

On my way home from work yesterday I got an idea: I would film my bike ride home for my Dad to give him a little slice of my Philadelphian life. It'd be great! I'd start it in the sketchy area I work in (look Dad, broken glass and barbed wire!), go through the middle of the city (Love Park! City Hall!), then the quaint, quiet neighborhoods (The Gayborhood! Antique Row! The Italian Market!), and end at home sweet home: trash strewn South Philly. 

I immediately gave up on filming in "unpleasant" (to be diplomatic) North Philly because I needed both hands to navigate broken bottles and dodge careless pedestrians and cars. But at City Hall I pulled out my phonecorder and started making magic. This "magic", however, was short lived. In fact before I could record a single note from the gospel concert that was taking place across from me, a wail of sirens stole the stage. Fire truck after fire truck sped by and the distinct scent of burning plastic filled the air. I looked up and the entire block was blanketed in swirling gray smoke.

Topless teenage dudes skated down Market St. toward the source of the smoke, shirts tied around their faces. I, using my hand as a nose guard (btw- this does not work in the LEAST), did the same (well, biked.) In hindsight this was a bad idea as running AT fire is, well, DUMB, but I did take this video:


What astounded me- I mean, beyond black smoke billowing out of a high rise in the middle of Center City, was that the firemen were in uniform, knocking open hydrants, and attaching thick burlap bag textured hoses to them. It didn't seem real. Fire hydrants serve a purpose other than sprinklers for city kids in the summer? They're not just for cartoon dogs to pee on? Or to annoy people looking for parking?
I'm constantly marveling at the odd age we live in- futuristic in so many ways yet crippled by the most primitive problems. We have iPads but NYC is falling apart over bedbugs. We have global positioning systems but when buildings catch on fire we scramble around with ramshackle tubes blindly shooting water at them.

After I finished my bout of voyeurism, I hopped back on my bike and rode a few blocks before I remembered my "Slices of Life Collection" for my Dad. I pulled out my phone and started recording as I left the Gayborhood and headed into Antique Row. But it was not meant to be. Tragedy struck again.


What happened, in case you didn't piece it all together, was that cab broadsided another car in an intersection behind me (which is the loud crash you hear.) The hit car then spun out of control onto the sidewalk, taking out newspaper boxes and a bike rack (with bikes. You can hear me lamenting this loss in the video.) The cab driver tried to drive off, but was missing the front half of his car so he stopped, leaking fluid and smoke all over 10th St. In the video you hear me ask the driver if he's ok, then walk off like a dickhead. What you don't see in the video is that he looks fucking furious, grabbing his steering wheel, staring straight ahead. He did not respond to me at all. When I got up to the bikes, people from the local Japanese restaurant were outside shouting (I'm assuming those were their bikes) and a crowd had started to form around the sidewalk car, which was completely smashed in on the driver's side. The driver was stumbling around in a daze, holding his chest. I left when the ambulence came.

Not for nothin', but I'm really glad I didn't go through that intersection 10 seconds later.

After the crash, I gave up on filming my ride. I gave up riding completely. During the 2 miles I walked home, my mind raced with supernatural possibilities. Did my Blackberry, which can't even receive picture mail, cause disasters when the video option was used? Or was it able, despite freezing up when I play brickbreaker, to tap into some latent power I have?

I got home and told Dave about my possible super-villainy and/or other worldly phone, and he shared a slice of his Philadelphian day with me, which I will now share with you. Meet the folks of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, a non profit faith-based group based in Upper Darby (juuuust outside Philly.) These gentlemen may appear to gothic pirates, but they are not. They're a very loud, very vocal, very hateful, very homophobic black power group. Perhaps they have more than that going on but due to their fixation on the word "faggot" and such catchy slogans such as, "All white men are peophiles!" Dave wasn't able to catch it. As you can see, their opinions are not appreciated by everyone.

Home sweet home. I don't know how I'm going to live without it.