Monday, September 27, 2010

One Book, One Philadelphia

Happy Banned Books Week!

Philadelphia, proud home of the Free Library! I live right by a branch of the Free Library and I've check out like twelve books within the past month and a half, which is fabulous. One annual even that the Free Library does is called One Book, One Philadelphia. One book (clearly) is selected each year, the general population is encouraged to read it, and a number of lectures and events are hosted by the library. The most awesome part about this is that there are billboards! Along the highway! Billboards saying, "Let's all read this book! Because Books are Awesome!" Also, I love the idea of a whole bunch of people who don't even know each other, all reading the same thing at the same time.

Anyway, I'm like a zillion months behind the actual events of One Book, One Philadelphia, but I don't really care. As part of my personal Banned Books Week celebration I'm reading Marjane Satrapi's The Complete Persepolis.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Continued Adventures of Mum's Labor Day Weekend in Philly

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is a mosaic folk art extravaganza on South Street. Artist Isaiah Zagar spent twelve years making the Magic Gardens; excavating tunnels, sculpting walls, and installing sculptures, tiles, mirrors, bicycle wheels, and glass bottles. I had never been here before (though I'd walked by it, and by the many murals Zagar has done around South Street), but I was curious, and though Mum would get a kick out of it.

After exploring the mosaic-crazy, we headed down to Jim's Steaks, for the Philly Cheesesteak Experience. Which must involve Cheese Wiz.

This is half of Mum's. Clearly she opted for the peppers as well as the Cheese Wiz.

I did have another destination in mind for after the cheesesteaks, but since it was more eating, I made us walk all over Old City first. While walking we passed this sign, celebrating the press that printed Thomas Paine's "Common Sense." The press was no longer: the sign was next to a little parking lot.

After stoping at the Visitors' Center at Independence Hall for a new Philly map for Mum (Cordier Cat hid the first Philly map under the chair), we headed to Elfreth's Alley. The entire alley is a National Historic Landmark District. The earliest houses date to 1702, and the street has been a residential neighborhood since that time.

The houses were so little! There was one for rent and I totally wanted it to be mine!

After winding our way through the eastern half of Center City, we made it to our final destination for they day: the Franklin Fountain! A fabulously old-timey soda fountain with a sweet tin ceiling, we beat this line full of loud children and sulky college students.

After ice cream, we walked the 20-odd blocks back to my little apartment. Mum fed Cordie Cat more treats, and we got Indian take-out and relaxed our tired feet for the rest of the day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Paintings at the PMA, and Prisons Too!

Mum had specifically requested that we pay a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. So we did. Though I insisted that we walk from my neighborhood up to the PMA, along the portion of the Schukyll River Trail that runs through Center City Philadelphia, along the eastern bank of the Schukyll River.

This was the last weekend for the big summer blockbuster 'Late Renoir' show. We had no interested in seeing the show. I knew the lines would be awful (observe below) and as Mum said, "Surely they'll still have one up in the regular galleries. They wouldn't have put all of them in the show." We were both right.

Downtown form the Art Museum steps. Check out that line! That's for general admission! Thank heavens we got there early - no wait for us!

After the usual PMA stuff, we headed over to the new Perelman Building annex to check out the special exhibit on the recent conservation of Thomas Eakin's "The Gross Clinic." The photo below was taken by NY Times staff, and features the painting, the senior paintings conservator, and the current Mellon Fellow. (fyi that paintings conservator is kind of a genius - he gave us a tour/lecture as part of our paintings block at school. Genius.) I'm kind of apathetic about the Times, but they did a nice article on the story behind the Gross Clinic project. Really though, come to Philly, see the painting and the excellent video about the project, and then we'll get cheesesteaks.

Then I made poor Mum go with me to the Eastern State Penitentiary. The Penitentiary was opened in 1829, abandoned in 1971, and reopened to tours in 1993. It is kept in a ruined state, with work being done to ensure that further destruction does not occur, not to bring it back to its original appearance.

The Penitentiary does what I understand to be a fantastic haunted house each fall. Doubting this would be something that Mum and I would like and figuring that it would probably be creepy enough in Ordinary Time, this seemed a good opportunity to check out it's peeling paint and crumbling plaster without having creepy costumed people leap out at us.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market is awesome, and as the website tells us, the Best, Freshest, and Liveliest Public Market since 1893. The market is located on the bottom of the old Reading Railroad Terminal's former train shed.

Old-Timey Philadelphia always had markets, so many so that they crowded together along the old-timey main street (High Street) from the Delaware River one mile into the city! High Street was renamed Market Street. In 1859 everyone decided that open-air markets were unsanitary: the street markets were closed and two indoor markets opened. These, the Franklin and Farmer's Markets, would become the Reading Terminal Market.

Sure, you can buy produce and bread and fresh fish and just-made sausages. The Amish sell jams and milk and the most awesome sticky rolls ever. But! There are also ready-to-eat food stalls!

Hot roast pork sandwiches from DiNic's stall.

This was ridiculously good.

Outside the market building, with treats from Bassetts Ice Cream.

After the ice cream, we tooled around Chinatown and picked up some stuff for the Little Brother.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summertime Visitor!

Guess who came to spend the long Labour Day Weekend (Friday afternoon - Tuesday morning) in Philly?