Illness, North Philly and the Museum

Once a virus has had its way with you, you can’t help but wonder who else you will have infected. As soon as the weekend started, my virus sidestepped and allowed Michele to come down with the Lergi, forcing us to miss the early morning bird counting event that she had been looking forward to for a month. There aren’t many things that can encourage bats out of bed on a Saturday morning but a bird count, in a wildlife center is one of them. This virus is harsh.

So, with her laid up in bed, I decided to go out on my own. The weather was beautiful and, as a newly enrolled wage-slave, I have to plan my free time very carefully. So, I decided to go to the Philadelphia museum of art, because it’s really rather cool. We’ve been there before when our lovely friend Kathleen was a curator but we didn’t really get a chance to check it out and so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.

The bus down to the museum is the 32. I’d been warned that it goes through North Philly which, to the initiated, means “no mans land”. It transpired that the journey was really enjoyable and included some quite beautiful scenery, until we reached the dreadscape of North Philly. No signposts were required, it was obviously and blatantly a “bad area.” I genuinely found it upsetting to see a part of town that, despite its obviously beautiful architecture, had been let to fall apart by…whoever. The streets were full of trash, and many of the houses were either burned out, falling apart, or just missing. London’s got some shitty areas, but not like this. This had obviously been left to rot, and the way people I’ve met speak about it, it’s apparent that it was willful. And that, in my opinion, is disgraceful. The people who live there would be well justified in losing any sense of value for their area, because it is so obvious that no-one cares about it.

Now, one argument regularly applied to places like this is that the people have let their town go to shit, and they therefore deserve it. But that just doesn’t work for me. If you’re poor, and live in a poor area that no-one seems to care about, what are you going to do about it ? If you put a kid in a pigsty, he’ll grow up like a pig. The city of Philadelphia needs to help this part of town out and I think it’s disgusting that it’s been cynically left to rot for so long. Especially when you consider that Philly has some of the highest wage taxes in the whole of the US. Thankfully Michael Nutter begins his mayorship tomorrow and so perhaps he’ll be less corrupt and put some money where it’s needed. That last sentence was brought to you by “triumph of optimism over experience labs inc.”

Anyway the museum experience was wonderful. The building itself is worth a visit, even if it’s just to see the steps that Rocky ran up, or to see see every generation of tourist try to follow in his footsteps. But once inside it’s a treat! Unlike the spectacular galleries in London, you have to pay for admission (Londoners – go and visit your galleries tomorrow you ungrateful bastards) but if you have the wherewithal it’s well worth it. There was a lot there that interested me but it was the 19th century artists and impressionists that, as usual, I was drawn to. Right. It’s getting late and this blog is getting too big. So I’ll bang on about Monet another night.

Goodnight, and bollocks to Mick Huckabee.


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