Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Leapfrogging trains again I went north from DC to Connecticut and then south to Philadelphia. New York was dark on the way north, but coming south again reveals that the area between Penn Station and Newark is the most hideous, rust-encrusted, embogged, scraped down and pushed back part of America I have seen thus far.
Arriving in Philly I emerged from the oil-and-dust decor of the Amtrak dungeons into the crazy Odeon largesse that is Union Station in its local permutation. Descending back into the underworld I took a filthy subway downtown, arising once again into pleasant sunlit grandeur. Philadelphia is the home of Olde Americana, the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, and a vast array of officials who don't know their ass from their elbows. I was directed in precisely the wrong direction more than once, and perpendicular to my goal multiple times. Americans, at the outset of a conversation, select either 'confident' or 'obtuse' and stick with it, knowledge and truth notwithstanding.
As this was a day trip--I travel tonight towards Miami Beach--I was lugging my shoulder bag around. Sometimes I'm able to check it at a museum and pick it up later in the day, but the City of Brotherly Love was having none of it. The 'Information Center' sent me to the Holiday Inn, who sent me to the Omni; who sent me to Best Western; who declared all things impossible in all instances. This is a country where motorcyclists regularly ride with no helmet, automatic weapons may be freely purchased, schizophrenics stride the streets with megaphones; yet asking someone to store a bag of clothes, in a room specifically designed for that purpose, is illegal.

Obama fever was in the air. Every other street corner had supporters offering me a voter registration card. "Help Save Our Country!" exhorted one woman. "It's your destiny, my brother!" said a black guy with a shock of grey hair. After a while I stopped trying to explain I couldn't vote, and just flashed my NZ passport.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WHilst in Miami, leg it to Cuba via the Bahamas. It's time you slummed it with the chicas, amigo