Wednesday, April 2, 2008

the streets of Philadelphia

It's hard to walk around Philadelphia without hearing Bruce Springsteen in your head.  But I don't think Bruce was singing about the quaint, beautiful streets in the historic district, like "Elfreth's Alley," built in the early 1700's, and others like it - rows of tiny perfect houses with very small doors.  

I stopped here to sightsee and visit my friend and former writing student Jess, a young writer and sculptor studying at art school.  She told me that where she lives, in the north of the city, it's very different from here, downtown.  "The poverty and hopelessness are overwhelming," she said.  The high school dropout rate for Latino students is more than 70%. The primaries are happening here right now, and many windows display posters of Obama with one word, "Hope," underneath.  I haven't seen a single one for Hilary.

There's a stunning Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Frida is particularly interesting to non-fiction writers because she is the painter equivalent of a memoirist; as some write, she painted her life in spectacular, graphic and, sometimes, excruciatingly honest detail. My heart went out to her in admiration and respect.  

And then, I came back to my room and plucked my eyebrows.


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