Monday, February 23, 2015

Moving Day

They say tonight may very well be the coldest night in, like, a long time. Negative 11 will be the low. Not the wind chill, not what it "feels like," but actually, literally, legitimately, eleven. Degrees.

And what an appropriate night for this frozen absurdity.

A shot of Irish whiskey, Clontarff, for my last night living here in this luxury apartment in Westville Village. I've been here since October 2013. Wow. Time indeed does fly.

I signed an extra long lease to get an extra sweet deal on this spacious two bedroom two full bathroom 20 foot ceiling top floor nothing included parking costs penthouse. I was a different person back on that warm Autumn day when I signed up for it.

It was a steal, and let me just tell you, I've had many memories here, all of which amazing. Many things have changed since, and all for the better.

When I was much younger, I used to tell my father, after a fun birthday party, or a sleepover at a friend's, or a boy scout camping trip, that "I'm gonna miss this day, dad."

It would take me awhile, years even, to finally realize that there is no point in missing any day, because many even better days await.

I'm moving to a different neighborhood tomorrow. Two miles away. I told myself I'd never leave Westville. But yes Delaney's burned down and still ceases to exist. Yes I'm saying a bar determined where I prefer to live, yes I'm comfortable admitting that, but no, I'm not gonna sit around and wait for a place I had many great memories at to be once again erected. If it even does come back, well, it won't ever be the same.

And I'm cool with that. It is, to me, the past.

All that ever matters is, The Now.

My last night here in Westville Village is bittersweet.

But I'm looking forward to new memories, for far greater days are ahead.

Oh, and the $500 I'll be saving in monthly rent is pretty awesome too.


Friday, February 13, 2015

What's The Difference?

Well I didn't know then, but I do know now.


It was just under 15 years ago, the last time a political convention took place in Philly. It was the Republican convention. I know, because I was there. I worked a summer job, the first of many, in Center City. 1601 Market Street to be exact.

I asked my father, why, on my first day walking through the glass revolving doors, were there red white and blue banners hanging from the ceiling.

"It's the Republican Convention," he replied.

Like I knew what the hell that even meant.

For me, the Summer of 2000 would be amazing. My job was basically a courier. I got to hand deliver envelopes and very small packages to various law firms all day long. The most thinking required was to remember what street Wolf Block was on, or Schneider Harrison, or what stop on the El the Curtis Center was, or which food cart had the best cheesesteak (Louie's on 17th between Market and JFK Blvd., obviously). The best part, I got to walk around the streets of the Greatest City in the World and interact with the hottest secretaries ALL. DAY. LONG.

The soundtrack of this first summer experience was Dr. Dre's "What's The Difference." It was off probably one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. Just a few months prior in the hallways and bathrooms of Monsignor Bonner High School one Kevin Orsbourne was hawking the boot legs of said CD, The Chronic 2001.

I'm reminded of all this, because for the second time in recent history, a major political convention is once again taking place in my City of Brotherly Love.

This time though? It's the Democrats.

As a courier of important documents and packages and other shit back in that sweltering summer of 2000, I witnessed craziness. I saw people in the streets getting beat up by cops, arrested, cuffed, kicked. I saw civil disobedience. I saw police restraint, and I saw police brutality. We cracked jokes in the mail room about the dirty smelly protesters. All this meant to me, as a nearly 16-year old, was inconvenience. For my El ride was slightly longer. Or I had to take a longer walking route due to a picket line.

I didn't know, at the time, what the difference was, if any, between what was meant of the signs that read "Bush-Cheney" and the signs that read "Gore-Lieberman."

But if I knew then what I know now, I'd have said fuck it and drop kicked that package I was holding and jumped into that protesting mess.

Ignorance Confronted

Two days ago, I found myself laying back in a reclining chair, mouth wide open, with a man and a woman hovering over me, inches from my face.

It was definitely the only situation where this would be completely appropriate, for the man was my dentist, and the woman my hygienist.

About 15 minutes into this cavity filling extravaganza, the hygienist, an attractive older blonde lady with an Australian accent, had to go there AGAIN.

You see, the relationship between patient and dentist is, and should be, an extremely impersonal one. You go in, get out, and maybe make some small talk in between.

But this lady, for the second time, the first time being my biannual routine cleaning, made a casual racist comment.

Between the professional medical lingo her and the dentist had been making while working on my tooth, she slipped in...

"Ya know, Canada is going to be starting to deny Muslims entry into their country. That's very smart."

Now, in a bar setting, I'd have actually enjoyed schooling her.

I could've stated some facts, like how there's two kinds of Muslims in the world, and numerous sects. Or that 99% of them AREN'T terrorists. Or that in order to defeat the bad ones we're gonna need the good ones in on it and that talk like that won't help.

But sitting there, my numb jaw locked in the open position, I was powerless.

And she, no doubt, is entirely entitled to her opinions.

It wasn't necessarily the comment that bothered me. It was the fact that because myself, the doctor, and her happen to be white, she just assumed that I'm part of the club, the elite Good Ol' Boys & Girls Club, and that even if I may not totally agree with her, well hey, she can get away with it.

We have a big tent, us white people, yet many campers.

And ignorance must be confronted.

Sitting in that dentist chair, I wasn't even in the slightest position for any type of confronting, schooling, informing, etc.

But I'll tell you what I would've done, in fact, what I have done, to educate the ignorant. And it doesn't have to be harsh or even assertive.

I find that shaming works best.

A few months ago, I arrived home and parked in my normal spot in the parking garage. It was late.

A young Italian guy who lives on my floor who I've run into randomly was parking his Audi a few spots away at the same time. We both got out and headed for the elevator lobby. He smiled and nodded and held the door for me. I nodded back.

"How bout the entrance gate being broken again. This fucking place," he said.

I shook my head in disgust and agreement.

"Not that it's safe here anyway," he said. "Dude the other night, this time, I was walking to the elevator, some fucking nigger was walking right towards me. I pulled up my shirt, luckily had my gun in my waist band. The stupid fuck turned and ran away!"

I unlocked my mailbox to retrieve the mail, turned to him, and said...

"Yeah, my girlfriend's black."

It was at the perfect moment too, as the elevator beeped and its doors swung open.

I shot a quick glance at him as I brushed passed him to board the elevator.

He face was contorted in a mixture of embarrassment and confusion.

He slowly entered into the elevator with me, and we rode in the most hilariously awkward silence ever to our fourth floor.

After what probably seemed like hours to him, the doors opened and we got off. And as we turned in opposite directions to go down our respective hallways, I said...

"And you have a good night man."

He stopped in his tracks for a split second, said nothing, then quickly headed down the hallway.

And THAT is the best way to confront ignorance, racism, and downright stupidity.

Go ahead, try it. Hell, make it up, like I did. Tell 'em your wife is Muslim, or your adopted brother is black or your father's gay, whatever!

When you do this, it immediately puts the ball in their court, it's the perfect "Check, your move" scenario. And they have only two options: try and squirm out of it by some awkward explanation or say nothing.

My dental hygienist and this guy on my floor need to understand that the world is larger now, and getting more diverse by the second. You simply don't know who you're talking to.

You have the right to be a racist ass hole, but you do not have the right to not be shamed.

Friday, February 6, 2015

"You ever notice that the guys who do that, the Blairs, the Glasses, the Kelley's, they all start with something small, ya know. Just a little quote that they clean up. And then it's a whole anecdote. And pretty soon they're seeing some amazing shit. They're the lucky ones who just happen to be standing on the right street corner in Tel Aviv when the pizza joint blows up and the human head rolls down the street with the eyes still blinking!"  - Gus Haynes, The Wire