Philadelphia: Love Notes to the City
Don't you just love it when you come across something that is so authentic and genuine that you immediately fall in love with it? Enter PhillyLoveNotes.com by Emma Fried-Cassorla. Her readers write in every day to share what they love about Philadelphia. We know why we picked Philly as our next city, but we'd thought it best to give you a taste from those who know the city the best. So, we asked Emma if we could republish a few to share with you. The following "love notes" are on loan to us and hand-picked especially for our Eventup readers. They represent the authentic relationship its residences have with their beloved city, Philadelphia, and depict the unique alleyways and activities only found in the city of brotherly love.
Love Note #17: Leigh Goldenberg and Aaron Bauman South Philly
Dear South Philly,
You are better known for your cheesesteaks and every-man-for-himself parking wars than for aesthetically pleasing greenery. But we’ve found those trees and places to plant. In the Capitolo Community Garden, we’ve grown enough red peppers to season our pasta for years, pounds of asparagus, fistfuls of arugula, oodles of herbs. We’ve met neighbors that represent all the types of people that make South Philly home – long-time residents, new families, English/Spanish/Chinese/Japanese speakers.
Often on our way to and from home, we pass Paolone Park. We never call this park by its name, but rather “Park Block,” a little haven of community two blocks from our house. We covet their barbecues with inflatable pools and live music, and sneak a walk past the landscaped greenery whenever we have spare time or babysit someone’s dog.
Leigh and Aaron
Love Note #20: Martha Fried-Cassorla Elfreth's Alley
My love note: It might be a bit unusual to like a place which is pretty touristy. However, when you are there, especially in the early evening, and you walk down the cobblestoned street and look at the houses, you can picture yourself living in nineteenth or even eighteenth century America. Perhaps it brings out the Luddite in me – but I like the feeling of a complete lack of technology and a sense that everything that was created there had to be created by hand with simple tools. I’d love to time-travel back to 1776 and live on that street!
Love Note #34: Kishwer Kikaas Dutch Eating Place
My love note: Comfort food to me means rich, stick-to-your arteries Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. Until the age of 16, I grew up surrounded by a vibrant community of Mennonites (the Amish community’s more liberal brethren) who brought pans of delectable cream-and-butter-laden casseroles to every church event. So whenever I’m in need of a pick-me-up meal, I make my way straight to the Dutch Eating Place, where more often than not, I can find one of my Mennonite friends waitressing. At this point, I am generally struck with nostalgia and order the apple dumpling served with fresh cream, a typical Pennsylvania Dutch dessert that I recall my friends’ grandmothers preparing many a time. For those unfamiliar with the dumpling, it is basically a blob of dough stuffed with apples, cinnamon and sugar — and baked. Delicious. And if it’s too early for apple dumplings, there’s always blueberry pancakes. Or apple cinnamon french toast. Or scrapple.
Love Note #97: Seth DiLorenzo Bartram's Gardens
Dear Bartram’s Garden,
I imagine that since the time of your 18th century birth you have been a refuge from the cacophony of the city. The crunch of leaves under your feet, the songs of birds aloft, and the zephyrs whispering through the air all speak to the horticultural opus that you are.
You don’t charge people to access your grounds; rather, you invite us. A small museum-house presents the formal welcome, but your party is in the backyard. An enormous beech greets me at the rear of the house and beckons me to explore the paths that meander through a collection of well-tended and well-labeled plant life (yes I can learn the names of all the trees! It’s great in the winter when all I can see are buds and bark).
As you guide my walk, I am tempted to spend a little more time on the thoughts I just had a few seconds ago – to twiddle with them and play with them a little longer. There is no rush, only serenity. Sometimes I choose to follow your calls to the water – I follow a path through a thicket of rhododendron and reeds abutting the Schuylkill that shields the visitors from the river’s less romantic offerings – an oily and desolate beach decorated by the entrails of industry. There I can see plastic buoys, metal tanks, and dilapidated buildings in the distance. It’s beautiful in a truly Philadelphian way…tranquil and inspiring albeit post-apocalyptic.
Your grounds are huge (and not completely wooded)! It behooves me to spend more time with you. Further southwest, you have leased space for community gardens and a farm. Children play on swing sets while their parents harvest kale and tomatoes. People read on a grassy knoll while turkeys do turkey things across from the gardeners. You are a very intriguing and engrossing place, Bartram’s Garden, and I am very happy to have met you.
Love Note #130: Lance Saunders Mummers
Dear Mummers Parade,
I’m not sure if you can hear me. This might be because you’re not a sentient being with an ability to recognize auditory vibrations and interpret them as coherent thought. Even if you were, it would still be hard to hear me amidst the blaring string band music, belching novelty horns, and boisterous, beer drinking parade goers. But hear me or not, I cannot deny my love for you, Mummers Parade.
You see, while most of the world celebrates the turning of a calendar year one evening premature, many wise city-dwellers curb their evening libations, knowing that true happiness and good will lay a few hours beyond midnight. And so every New Year’s morning, thousands of joy-seeking denizens don their warmest winter-wear and flock to Broad Street to partake in one of the most particularly Philadelphian of traditions.
You would be hard pressed to find any sign of pretension on Broad Street on this day. And this is what I find most endearing about you, Mummers Parade. Us Philadelphians are seriously proud of you. You are a uniquely bizarre spectacle, and you are our uniquely bizarre spectacle. Only in Philadelphia -a city with a serious second-fiddle complex- would you find so many people proudly dancing in the frigid winter air. They beam as they sip a beer or cling to a cup of hot chocolate, watching as hundreds of hard-working, blue-collar, South Philadelphians unironically strut by in outlandish, feathery costumes and colorful make-up. They cheers champagne with perfect strangers as the Mummers play their jaunty tunes on banjos and saxophones, and they step lightly on the sidewalks as grown men dressed as frogs, robots, and pirates do the same in the street under their intricately decorated parasols.
As the day marches on, so do you, Mummers Parade! Brigade after brigade struts past, and likewise, the merriment (and the inebriation) we all experience stumbles onward in the low winter sun. It is sometime in the early afternoon when this merriment becomes too overwhelming, and one’s legs simply cannot help themselves but strut along. This persists through the day and into the night. When the sun finally does set and the last of the Fancies have gone by, any amateur might assume the festival is complete. On the contrary! That street sweeper humming down Broad Street, brushing up a cacophonic medley of discarded bottles, cans, streamers, and noisemakers, only signifies intermission!
So after a short respite from the fun –usually involving pizza- a rendezvous at the Mummers Museum at 2nd and Washington commences part 2 of this bacchanal. And this is where you really let your metaphorical hair down, MP (can I call you MP?). Fueled by a mutual love of our city and any number of cheap cans of beer, celebrators from all over the city congregate under the amber glow of Pennsport’s streetlights to continue in this increasingly erratic procession. It is here where your most wonderful quality comes to light, MP, and the true nature of this reliably misunderstood city of working class people is revealed.
As the drastically-more-narrow-than-Broad-Street Two Street combines with a sea of now inebriated but jovial Mummer-ers, all facets of physical space combine and Mummers, audience, residents, bars, clubs, cats, dogs, etc. all become one large, all-inclusive party. As the Mummers continue their show southward, hordes of happy followers march alongside. There is no shortage of hospitality in South Philadelphia, as locals open their doors, expanding the carnival just a little bit wider. The sidewalks are no longer a boundary on Two Street, and every person one meets will be greeted with a warm smile and a cold drink. You are a real-life materialization of utter joy and happiness, MP, and that dazed and bewildered feeling of bliss is transferred to all of those in your presence.
I cannot say I’ve ever seen you end, Mummers Parade. No person has the strength to maintain this heightened level of ecstasy without eventually succumbing to a much needed -though much resisted- slumber. In my mind, you don’t ever end. You simply march on, passing through space and time as effervescent onlookers smile and strut alongside for all of eternity.
So thank you, Mummers Parade! Thank you for making Philadelphia on January 1st the best place to be in the world, and in the plane of all that exists. I love you, Mummers Parade.
Feeling inspired? I know we are. Where will you create your next memory in Philadelphia, start by viewing the many Philadelphia party venues on Eventup.
Emma is a Philly lover, biker, eater, reformed neuroscientist, twin, and traveller. She runs Philly Love Notes, which is a collection of love letters written to Philadelphia by its residents. For more information, or to submit your own love letter, visit www.phillylovenotes.com or email her at email@example.com