Scourge and Transparency

The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia

Another Excursion

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Returning to Philly for New Year’s Eve seemed like a fun idea. I thought I’d get two birds stoned at once by dropping by NYC as well on my way back.  I kept pushing off my exact departure to the City of Brotherly Love as I engrossed myself in the bittersweet holiday spirit that accompanies visiting family in one’s hometown. It was one of those Christmases where one is able to surround one’s self for days on end in Yuletide cheer and then immediately be in loathsome moments of fierce family argument. No matter how hard you try to bite your tongue, pace your drinking and organize festivities who knows what’s going to come out of your mouth or into your body?

But enough about Jesus Christ let’s talk about the Devil’s birthday: New Years Eve. When I made it south of the border I was immediately disappointed that I would not be able to pick up any good cheap drugs. In spite of this upset I swallowed my pride and settled for some of those prescription anti-ADD uppers that seem to be so popular in the states. Every Canuck is overwhelmed by the many indulgences Uncle Sam has to offer. Not only are bars more abundant with better happy hour deals but there are also restaurants that often have cheaper and richer foods on every corner of the home of the brave. Thus, if I wasn’t go to get high I was certainly going to get fat.

Cheese-steak sandwiches tend to be more tourist attractions than an actually Philly delicacy, however I’ve had some of the best goddamn food of my life in that fair city. I checked out this deli I visited in the summer previous and shoved my face full of a concoction of hearty bread, salty cold cuts and bitter vegetables that almost gave me a boner. When I was leaving the establishment one of the patrons added the phrase “Be Safe” to his New Years’ greeting and this wasn’t the first time I’d heard those two words in Pennsylvania. I thought it odd that both the gangster Latino that sat next to me on the bus through New Jersey and the first person to sell me a six-pack of Pabst left me with the farewell “Happy New Year and Be Safe, yo!” As if they were trying to warn of some impending Philadelphia danger that I as a foreigner would naively walk into.  

My friends and I spent the count down to 2012 at a local bar and then made our way to a party. After drinking most of the day and helping myself to free liquor at the house party my awareness of what surrounded me was very much limited. The next thing I new I had my local friend’s house key in my pocket and was now only with people I had presumably met that very evening. At the same time I was hitting rails with a young lady on my lap and drinking champagne at a beautiful modern condo. I didn’t know how I got there but I was certainly enjoying myself. The girl on top of me asked if I wanted anything and I inquired if she knew how I could buy any of the stuff we were doing. She asked how much I wanted to spend – $40 seemed relatively not too high of an amount – and we followed some people up stairs. After a few lines for her and me in someone’s bedroom I went to make my way for the door yet was stopped and told to take the rest of “my shit” with me.  I had assumed my two twenties would have already been depleted but saw that I was still apparently and shockingly the father of a solid white ball the circumference of a quarter!

Needless to say one thing led to another and I awoke next to the lass I had met the night before. Her friends and me had a delicious gluttonous breakfast at a local establishment and drank our way to the Mummers Parade. I didn’t know what the fuck all those people were doing in those costumes and still have no idea what to make of everyone drunk out of their minds on the street. At one point I saw a guy driving a float take a swig out of 60oz bottle of liquor.  After 24 hours of heavy drinking, heaving eating and some fooling around I exchanged information with my femme fatale then met with my buddy on the other side of town before leaving for the Big Apple.

I only had about two days to kill in NYC and a lot of Charlie. I spent most of the time bumming around Greenwich Village and Soho always a little high as I went from bar to bar. I felt a lot like Lou Reed and was listening to The Velvet Underground in accordance.  In fact, as I was waiting to have dinner with someone I met in the East Village I noticed outside a used bookstore a beautiful coffee table book on the godfathers of protopunk themselves that I instinctively purchased. It would seem that events don’t always happen as one would expect but they can go be as exciting as they are regretful and there’s often a little irony thrown in.

In the end I probably cleaned off my credit cards only a few hours before crossing the border. I had met some beautiful random people, had some half-expected and very much yearned for experiences and got my fill of harmful vices – in other words: just another excursion. 

Written by shanedantimo

April 14, 2013 at 7:38 am

The Winds Of Shit

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Some summers ago I decided to take a short trip to some coastal cities I hadn’t visited before. I had scheduled to see Philadelphia first, with a layover in Baltimore, followed by a couple nights in Boston and maybe one night in Portland or somewhere. Most likely I would have a few days leftover to make it back to my cousin’s wedding in Southern Ontario. I also needed to reach Ottawa to pick up my only reasonable suit, bring it the 6-hour plus trip to Hamilton and have it dry-cleaned as well as make myself presentable in other regards. I had two weeks to do this all, which was plenty of time – most things considered. What I hadn’t considered was eventually not giving a shit about anything except the most basic responsibilities, coming into contact with some very interesting folks and a hurricane.

My first nights in Philadelphia were stereotypical. I did the regular tourist site-seeing: Ben Franklin’s grave, Constitutional Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (basically everything one would do on a vacation to that city except the Old City Hall and the Liberty Bell).  My first of two nights in town there was a movie night in the hostel and I enjoyed some wine and watched an entertaining contemporary sci-fi of which the name escapes me. It should also be noted that I had a black 500 ml reusable water bottle that I filled with whiskey to sip that evening and continuously throughout my journeys.

I had learned some tricks of the trade on a voyage the summer previous. From going coast-to-coast I knew I only needed to take with me the absolute essentials and everything had to be as light as possible. The backpack was crucial as well as a flask to hide booze, a single pair of pants and little regards for socks or soap for they were easily left behind. My dollar store water bottle would prove to be a security blanket I would carry with me to various corners of the continent despite haphazardly misplacing it on several occasions.

The morning after a pub-crawl in Philadelphia I couldn’t find my flask but it turned up in the lost-and-found of the hostel with a few sips of whisky left in it. My second day there took me to the museum and outside its famous doors looking at the cityscape I got that sense of euphoria one gets when they’ve realized the distance they’ve travelled, where they’ve been and where they are. However no one can ever predict where they’ll be.

After some serious drinking and a disappointing cheese steak sandwich I moved on to Baltimore. I had heard many things about the city many of which turned out to be true from simply walking from the bus station underneath bridges to get to the hostel. On the other hand much of place was quite elegant. Like many US towns it’s just the wrong corner or the wrong area that is the real cesspool. I had booked one night here but when I saw that travel to an Orioles game had been organized by the hostel for the next evening I decided to cancel my bookings in Boston, stay two nights in Baltimore and go on to one or two nights somewhere else before moving back Up North. This change of planning made all the difference.

Little did I knew that Hurricane Irene was making her way up the coast in the coming days and would cause transportation between metropolitan areas to be halted indefinitely. For the next four mornings I would wake up partially still drunk quickly bathe, pack and run down stairs seconds before checkout to find out that no buses were leaving the area. I would then immediately re-check in to a different bed, rest and then drink again.

The evening that the storm hit the city had everyone hauled up in the hostel. Many Europeans hoped to spend their holiday in cities more glamorous than Baltimore and were morose do be stuck inside because of the weather. I had, however, filled my flask with brandy even though this hostel had a strict no alcohol policy.  I noticed in the crowded common room another young fellow pouring a bottle covered in a bag into a coffee mug. He offered me some of his wine but I informed I had my own and suggested before the weather got really bad we go out to grab some liquor to sneak back and drink the storm away. With the incredibly low prices of US booze we could easily get ourselves drunk and cheer up the other travellers with offerings of rye and coke. In spite of our generosity we were the only ones to really hit the bottle and were eventually blackout wasted.

The next morning I awoke in bed fully clothed with shoes on and completely soaking wet. When I came down stairs to find my partner in crime he explained that after getting busted with the forbidden liquor we took to the streets to try and find a bar open during the hurricane. While we were lucky enough to find such an establishment we were much too drunk on our return home to find our place of lodging despite being within a block of it. The umbrellas were blown away, the clothes completely drenched and the only person we found to come out with us for a drink turned out to be completely off his cracker. This dude, whom we left at the bar because of his queerness, came back wildly drunk and threatened to kill all non-American lodgers by waking them up with a flashlight in the wee hours. He was eventually asked to leave the hostel the next morning over-shadowing my friend and mine’s disregard for the rules. When we finally returned from getting lost in the hurricane him and me broke into the storage room the staff had put our confiscated substance in. We were then caught red-handed drinking from the bottle in a locked closet. This is all very much a blur. My fellow alcoholic with the wine in a mug remembers it better than I. He turned out to be from Philadelphia of all places and was in Baltimore on business.

The next day my new buddy and I went to another Orioles game and up in the nosebleed seats we discussed drug use. He informed me that he knew where to meet Charlie back in Philly and asked if I wanted to crash on his couch for a few nights. By this time I was long over due to race to Ottawa and pick up my formal clothing, get back to Hamilton, have the clothes dry-cleaned and get myself a haircut with barely enough time to make it to the wedding. But looking down at the baseball diamond after a few tallboys of Miller Lite and a hurricane behind me it seemed like the absolute right thing to do: go back to Philly, sleep on a stranger’s couch and do some drugs.

In the end the couch turned out to be a floor, doing drugs turned out to be a serious binge, and my second stay in Philly acquainted me with the city of brotherly love that I came to know in the many trips back to that fine town in the months to come. On top of all this I spent my final night of this epic journey in a shady hostel in Harlem NYC smoking a lot weed with some middle-aged women. Finally I barely made it to the wedding with a Zeller’s suit on, a large beard and not really a hangover but in constant state of alcohol abuse. 

 

Written by shanedantimo

February 15, 2013 at 11:37 pm