Philadelphia Visions: 4

In Philadelphia on October 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Philadelphia 024

Philadelphians have mastered cynicism as a kind of art. Their humor is always jaded and barbed. The local cuisine is greasy and colorless. Philadelphians love to flaunt words like “trashy” and “crackwhore” and “weird” — words that alienate people and destroy reputations in a single sentence. Shock-value is key.

When we visited Penn’s Landing — a major historical landmark and draw for tourists — I saw that every inch of the stone ballustrade was covered in graffiti. But what elegant graffiti! The wall was defaced with such varied script, such mysterious names and references. These weren’t just kids acting out; this vandalism was meant to be read, as proclamations and cryptic poetry. Nobody “was here” or offered a “good time.” These words were soaked in symbolism, transcribed in deft penmanship.

I could have read these glyphs all day, but Philadelphia waits for no aesthete. A light rain fell, and we had places to go. We left the graffiti to the ages.


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