old (2010), Uncategorized

philadelphia, day two

When I was last in New York City, my friend Dave said to me, “You’re not a tourist, you’re a traveler,” and since then I’ve clung to that description. So whenever I’ve traveled since — which, to be fair, hasn’t been much (the extent to which I’ve done so before the past three days has been to Milwaukee and Madison) — I keep that in mind. It’s less important to me to hit all of the tourist attractions and more important for me to get a feel of the city, so that when/if I return, I’ll have a good idea of how to get around, what little places to seek out again, and what worked/didn’t work the last time.

From Wendy Bryan, iheartguts.com

That being said, today W. and I headed to the Mütter Museum, which had a banner up front saying “disturbingly informative” — and it was. The temporary exhibit was about presidential assassinations, including the preserved arm of the man who attacked John Wilkes Booth after Lincoln was shot. There were hundreds of skulls, tumors, oddities, and just plain weird things.

In the gift shop, W. bought B. another microbe to add to their growing collection — we’d found Acidophilus at the historical museum in Madison when we were there over the Fourth of July, and today W. got a White Blood Cell. Also in the gift shop: I found this wonderful menstrual cycle poster. I’m going to frame it and hang it in my bathroom, underneath which I’ll install a shelf with medical specimen jars filled with tampons. Whee!

From there, we walked over to City Hall, since I wanted to see Claes Oldenburg’s Clothespin sculpture as well as the iconic LOVE installation in Love Park. While there, W. rolled up his short legs and I hiked up my skirts so we could play in the shallow fountain and cool off. After stopping off for a couple of slushies, we walked over to Daniel Martinez’s Your Move, a collection of huge game pieces, including those from Sorry!, Parcheesi, chess, and dominoes. It was tremendously uncomfortable walking around in the hot, hot sun — seriously, it was 95 degrees here today! — but it was also worth the little pleasures.

After Your Move, we made our way on the subway — where they still have tokens! which are just adorable! — to Society Hill, where we ate dinner at National Mechanics, where I had the best veggie burger I’ve ever eaten — apologies to NYC’s Sugar Cafe, which previously held this title. The service was kick-ass, too, and they adjusted W.’s order to include fries instead of soup without even a minor attitude. Yay!

Next, we made our way to The Book Trader to waste a half-hour before the movie we were seeing — The Girl Who Played with Fire — started at the Landmark Ritz Five. I found a copy of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina for $1.85, and W. found Jon Stewart’s America for the same price — two used books for $4, tax included. We hurried over to the theatre and settled in for the show; W. ended up a bit unsettled by the sex scene in the movie (it was a bit graphic), but overall the movie was a good one. From there, we took the #57 bus back to South Philly to settle in for the night.

This isn’t much different of a day than one I’d have in Chicago, meaning that even though we saw different things, we didn’t go out of our way to Play Tourist. That being said, tomorrow we are going to take in many of the historical sights — Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’ house, etc. — because, well, we’re in a city with some of the most notable historical monuments, so why wouldn’t we?

Overall, it feels exactly as it should, being in a robust city with a diverse population that’s about half the size of Chicago. We have one more full day left here, as we’re leaving Friday around 4pm for Boston, and we’ll keep taking it easy and try not to kill each other. 🙂