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Allen Iverson may no longer be in town, but I am (if only temporarily). I took the train down from New York this afternoon. As the train pushed past Newark, New Jersey, the sunlight filtered through the clouds, giving the world a tan, light blue, gray, and dull orange palette. By converntional standards, there's not a lot to see on this journey, wetlands and wastelands, often overlapping, but my eyes love wastelands. I like seeing ramshackle warehouses covered with grafitti. I wish I had a grafitti decoder ring.

The train pulls into the back side of Philadelphia, so you can see the old row houses. The 30th street Amtrak station is a cathedral.

The place where I'm staying has an old Steinway in the parlor, more or less in tune until you get an octave or so above middle C. After that, forget about it.

So I go out and explore the neighborhood and get something to eat. If you're short on patience, and don't like to walk, you don't want to be my companion as I look for a place to eat in a new city. I walk and walk and look and contemplate and weigh. I can understand why it takes my daughter a half an hour to choose a flavor of ice cream. I settled on a place on 18th street that had a lounge on one side and an old fashioned lunch counter on the other. I could sit at the counter and be attended to by a trio of 50ish-60ish women, one with a strong Greek accent. I had onion soup; I've had a yearning for onion soup for ages.

So while I'm walking around, a young guy walks up to me and asks, "You got any .. (unintelligible)?"
"You got any (unintelligible)?"
"I don't understand what you're saying."
"You got any weed?"
"Sorry, man."

Being mistaken for a drug dealer only hours after first setting foot in the city, I guess it's like having tourists come up to you in Paris and ask you, in halting French, for directions.

I like the vibe here, not quite the electric charge of NYC, but pleasant



October 2017



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