10/30/2004: "Guide to Philly Part II (Part the Second: Oh, the places you'll go)"
Those of you who plan on attending the Dave Blood memorial concerts and
spending some time in the Quaker City need to do two things. First: if you
haven't already, make sure that you read the part one of this guide.
Second: get used to hearing words like "largest", "first", "only", and
As always, links lead to pics, maps and info.
Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown
[Click here for map.]
OK, let's start with where the memorial concerts will be taking place -
The Troc (Short for Trocadero). The Troc is located in Chinatown on the
north side of Arch Street between 10th and 11th Streets (Just around the
corner from the Chinese Arch)
Directly across the street from the Troc is Joseph Poon's Asian Fusion
Restaurant. Joe Poon is walking benevolence society (he's adopted seven
kids) who not only runs one of the city's best restaurants, but also gives
tours of Chinatown…and he taught me how to make a palm tree out of a carrot
and a pepper.
If you find yourself traveling north on 10th Street in order to get to the
Troc, keep an eye out for a church that sits on the east side of 10th
between Chestnut and Market Streets. The church sits on a spot that, during
the 18th century, was once a field. It was in that field where Ben Franklin
and his (illegitimate) son conducted their famous electrical experiment.
Franklin chose this site because he happened to own the only house nearby.
Today, I live in that house.
We are a part of a Rizzo Nation
[Click here for map.]
If you leave the Troc and walk west on Arch and the turn south on 11th and
walk for about a half of a block, you'll come to Filbert Street. OK, start
walking west on Filbert (Past the court house) until it turns into JFK Blvd
. and runs into Broad Street. Now, look up. Holy shit.
That thing that looks like a Moorish temple is, in fact, a temple - a
Masonic temple. You might think that you're alive, but - if you've never
been inside of this place - you're just a walking hunk of meat.
Well, since you can walk, walk west, across Broad Street. You'll now notice
a large, gray statue. It's called Government of the People and it's
by Jacques Lipchitz. Another of his sculptures (Prometheus Strangling
the Vulture) rests outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The late Frank Rizzo hated Government of the People, and said that
it looked like someone had dumped a load of plaster. Coincidently (or maybe
not), Rizzo's statue (sans nightstick) is located only a few yards away.
The fact that the two most famous Philadelphians are Ben Franklin and Frank
Rizzo stands as a stark testament to the city's schizophrenic nature.
If you look in the same direction that Frank's looking, you'll see City
Hall - the largest masonry building in the world. And, yes, that
includes the Great Pyramid. It's topped off by the largest statue
atop any building in the world, too. If it's raining (which it does here
three days a week) run three blocks northwest to the corner of 17th and
Arch and watch the statue of Billy Penn whiz on Broad Street.You'll be
glad you did.
If you get a chance to tour, or even just look around, City Hall, you'll be
glad you did that too. Brace yourself for some truly original architecture.
It's as if Dr. Suess and Gomez Adams had been put in charge of a public
works project and paid, upfront, with peyote. Fish heads emerge from walls
and snakes serve as door handles. And then there are the bugs…
Once you've had your fill of City Hall, walk cross 15th Street at JFK Blvd.
and you'll find yourself in Love Park (Which would explain that LOVE
statue. By the way, Philly has more public art than any other city in the
world.). Love Park used to be famous as the best place in the world to
skateboard. Confused by young people participating in a non-violent
activity and eager to drive the X-Games out of Philly, our Mayor had the
park remolded to be much less skater friendly. This may be why our last
Mayor was known as "America's Mayor" and our current Mayor is known as
Like Paris, only better
[Click here for map.]
Crane your neck around the LOVE statue and look to the northwest. No,
that's not the Champs d'Elise; it's the Ben Franklin Parkway. If you walk
northwest along it's northwestern side, you'll encounter the Free Library
of Philadelphia at 19th and Vine.
Somewhere in the Library is a stuffed raven that was once the pet of
Charles Dickens and inspired Edgar Allen to pen his classic poem (And also
inspired Edgar Allen Twain's not-so-classic poem Flippin' the Bird).
Just around the corner from the Free Library (on 20th Street) is one of
the best book stores in the city - the Book Corner.
If you keep walking northwest along the Parkway, it won't be long before
you find yourself looking at the Thinker. Yes, THE Thinker. Not
only does Philly have the statue, we have an entire Rodin Museum. Taking
in his Gates of Hell is worth the trip alone.
Consider a trip to the Rodin Museum as a warm up for the Philadelphia
Museum of Art, which no one should leave Philadelphia without
visiting. All I ask is that you don't run up the steps and do that gawdamn
Rocky dance. Be sure to catch the museum's amour and Duchamp collections.
Once you're done touring the museum (which should only take a few hours to
and entire day), go behind the museum where you'll see a gazebo sitting
atop a cliff. Go check out the view.
Congratulations, you may now go to Fergie's (see part one) and get drunk.
Odds and Ends
A Nightmare on 22nd Street
Something is wrong with 22nd Street. Sure My Thai and Doobie's (see part
one) are located on 22nd Street, but so is the Mutter Museum (Your one-stop
-shop for corpses and skulls is housed at 19 South 22nd Street).
Also on 22nd Street (around 22nd and Locust) is the former home of Dr.
Specter (you can still see the "S" on the garage door). Back in the
Eighties, the good doctor decided to send some human heads (No, he didn't
kill anybody. The heads were for anatomical research) through the US mail.
So Doc S. packed the heads in individual paint cans and sent them off.
Somewhere around Kansas City, one of the paint cans burst open, spilling
its grisley contents onto a Midwestern post office's floor. Busted.
And now, from the corner of 22nd and South comes the Tale of the Killer
Up the Mighty River and Down the Rushing Glen, We Dare Not Go a'
Hunting, for Fear of Little Men
While in Philly (particularly in Olde City), keep your eyes peeled for
quaint, cobblestone streets. Since I first moved to Philly, over 20 years
ago, I've always wanted to live on one of these quiet, little streets. Be
careful what you whish for…The cobblestone covers an ancient sewage system.
Trust me, you don't wanna see (or smell) my basement after a bad storm.
On one of these tiny street, I won't tell you which one - you'll have to
find it for yourself - is the ubber-creepy Mask and Wig Club.
Oh, and don't live Philly without picking up a copy of the Independent. The
Philly Independent just may be the greatest paper in the world (and only
accepts submission from teh best writers).
Well, that's it for part two. In the third, and final, installment I'll
tell you everything you need to know about University City, Fairmount Park,
and the majestic splendor that is South Street.