Thursday, June 30, 2011


I think the streets of Philadelphia are a good place to go once you’ve cashed in your last check. I was trying to take a picture of town hall and all the sudden some guy was asking me all these questions about my camera. “how much something like that cost you?” the crazy guy said. He walked along with me for a while and tried to convince me that he was some sort of aspiring photographer.
He left me right before I was going to bolt across the street through traffic. I’ve had some weird experiences with nutcases in the past to tell you the truth. I was sort of lost with a buddy in Toronto one night and he decided to ask some guy for directions. Well, the guy turned out to be a real maniac. He followed us through an exchange and I got the picture that he was gonna pull a blade on us after we got out of the subway, so I came up with a good plan to shake free of the guy. At the next stop we didn’t get out, I counted the seconds between the door opening and closing. The stop after that we waited, haha, till the last second, and then we sprung out the doors. We turned back and the crazy guy was glaring at us. His eyes were sunken like death at the bottom of the sea. We ran for a while to make sure he didn’t double back and find us and then walked twenty city blocks to get back to the house where we were staying.
But in Philadelphia I was alone. I took the brunt of some ladies anger while waiting in line for a ticket to the airport. “Don’t you look at me like that. Camera ‘round your neck. Take your own picture. You look scary enough. Havn’t shaved in a week. Yeah, you’ll scare yourself looking at your picture.” I sort of knew that in the city people don’t really look at anyone else very often and I was sort of looking at everyone at once. I had my camera out and she could feel it. People had been parting for me like the red sea all day. When I lifted the camera to my eye it was like Moses raising the staff. Somehow the crowd could feel the limitation of my scope, shifting themselves quickly out of my camera’s line of sight. Some ducked. One lady working in a magazine booth on the street starting hissing after I shot her picture. “Oh no. No, no, no. You can’t take pictures here,” she said. I used moves taught to me by the good people of Philadelphia and ducked quickly out of view.
The streets of Philadelphia are one part grandeur and one part detritus. There’s basically a highway that divides the whole thing sort of like how the Mason-Dixon line divided the North and South. You don’t really want to step past the line. Entire buildings and blocks abandoned, and there were people haunting the cracks of the cement that seemed like husks of people themselves. Oddly, they were almost the only ones that ever looked back at me in the city. People have a lot to lose looking back at you I guess. You might become someone to them. They might become someone to you. Easier to look away. Easier to keep quiet and keep walking. But then again, I was silent when the Philadelphia people started talking. I was afraid of them in a way. It seemed like they were using their words as some sort of bait. I didn’t want to set the thing going.

1 comment:

  1. oh, ralph, don't you know? pussy should never walk the streets of philadelphia alone :(


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