On Saturday I held a going away party at my apartment so that my NYC friends could see me off. One of my freegan friends, Annie, knowing that I had extra bus tickets to Philly and Baltimore, asked whether I had found someone to ride with me.
Negative. She would consider coming with me on Monday morning.
I stayed up late on Sunday, sending emails to over a hundred venues, promoters, and couch surfers. I knew that I wouldn’t have reliable internet on the road, so time was of the essence. I went to bed around 4am with my alarm set for 8:05. Though I was more than happy to have her ride with me to Philly, I did not at all appreciate Annie's calling me at 8:02 to make sure I was up and at ‘em. Not before the alarm! I desperately climbed back into bed for one more minutes’ sleep.
I hastily dressed, collected my gear, posed for some “before” pics, skipped breakfast, and made my way for the Megabus pickup location near Penn Station. There I met Annie, who had just walked over a hundred blocks to get there, and made the line to board the 9:45 double-decker bus to Philly (it should go without saying that we took our seats on the top deck…)
I called our Couch Surfing host, Chris, at noon. Almost on the dot.
“We’re approaching the station at Market and sixth.”
He came to meet us and walked us over to his China town apartment. We dropped our things and enjoyed some Amish yogurt with granola, dried cranberries, and flax seed – delicious and nutritious! Yum! – but it wasn’t long before we were headed out to see the city. Annie and I arrived at Rittenhouse Square Park around 2:30. This was where many local couch surfers had advised me to try busking. I couldn’t thank them enough for the tip!
Many people were very complimentary and generous. One woman reminisced about meeting a young Bob Dylan at Judson Memorial Church – a venue I played at in June to show my solidarity with the immigrant community – back before all the ritz and glamour. I remind her of Dylan, she said, which is a good thing because such a voice of dissent is so necessary in times such as these. I happen to agree, which is why I’m on this tour, whose namesake is an original poem about the disturbing power of peaceful resistance – tongue-in-cheek though it may be. Other Philadelphians may also be in agreement, as I earned over sixty bucks in four hours’ time!
We tried to meet up with the North Philly FNB group which is supposed to meet at 7p in front of the library. In typical anarcho-punk fashion, they were over 45 minutes late. I love these kids, don’t get me wrong; but anarchism – and liberty in general – will never work unless/until people begin to take responsibility for themselves and their community. Hopefully these kids will learn that sooner than later!
Still hungry, we walked toward the Blue Line station to catch a ride to a bar called the Fire, where there was an open-mic event scheduled for the night. We ran into a Christian group from a church called Beacon (?) who was serving the homeless. Grilled cheese sandwiches were the closest they got to vegetarian so Annie and I each grabbed one. We arrived at the Fire around 8:30 and I signed up for the 11:15 time slot.
When the event started at nine, Annie and I were the only attendees in the room. But as the hours passed, the room grew quite full. The first five or six performers were solo or duo singer-songwriter-type groups with guitars. I would fit right in!...
Except that the two acts that went immediately before me were gangsta rap crews. The irony was not the least bit lost on me as I took to the stage.
“Hello… I am… a white guy with a guitar.”
I did get some laughs, but also noticed that within thirty seconds the room suddenly looked quite brighter. I played my three songs, which were extremely well-received. Everyone was really supportive, one couple bought a CD and another guy asked whether I would be playing Atlanta – yes – and insisted – somewhat drunkenly – that I stay with him. Turns out he also plays in a band which I’ve been scheduled to play with in Atlanta. He was only visiting Philly to see a friend of his perform at the open mic. I’m playing with his band in Atlanta. But we met in Philly. I think the world is much smaller than we give it credit for.
We left the bar after midnight and were accosted as we approached our train station, “I’m going to steal your guitar!” … “Just kidding, gosh, don’t be so serious.” She was clearly drunk. I watched her apprehensively as she walked away, having shouting matches with large, potentially violent men. This was clearly not the safest of neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the last train passes through this station at 12:15 and we had missed it. We opted to wait for the “night owl” bus which would be making the same stops as the train.
Shortly after arriving back at Chris’ apartment, Annie began cooking up some Qinwaaaa… lol. I have no idea how to spell that word. But you know what I’m talking about. It was a little too salty, but I was so hungry I didn’t pay it too much mind. By around 4p I was sound asleep again. I woke up this morning around noon.
I have some awesome evening-time plans, but I’ll let you know about those after they’ve happened! Right now I’m at the public library and my time is running out on the computer. So I’m going to jet.
Please pray for me as I continue my travels to Baltimore tomorrow!