September 25th, 2012
Yesterday was a seriously Philadelphian day. I’m leaving an idyllic Rittenhouse studio that I snatched up after over a year in a Fishtown house where I reluctantly co-habitated with two in-your-face cats. At the time, I was working at a restaurant in Center City and started to resent the rainy bike rides and creepy train commutes. I decided to take the plunge and go for that metropolitan lease that would make me feel like Carrie Bradshaw living on the Upper West Side. It was a year of decadence. Strolling through Rittenhouse Square in the morning to get a bourgeois coffee and many late nights of blurry-eyed walks home from the Gayborhood. But eventually, even that started to lose its charm. The availability of deliciously expensive eats just outside my door drained my bank account. So when I spotted a three-bedroom house in South Philadelphia for $800 that was gutted and polished, the idea of renting for under $300 got me really pumped.
Yesterday we got keys. And after I met a potential third roommate in the Square and chatted for a half hour, I hustled to the PW office to get a little work done (my laptop’s busted and Springboard quotes $117.27 just to run a diagnostic test) and then get a certified check cut at BofA and hop on the blue line to Spring Garden. Underground at the City Hall stop, I waited in line as some ratchet punk argued with the woman in the booth for a solid five minutes. I only had two singles and a line formed. As I waited, a dude approached me trying to take my two dollars to offer a token – he was hungry, he said. Usually, in most situations like that, I try to just say “I’m sorry” quietly. But this time, when that happened, he called me a “fucking faggot.” Felt really good. Oddly enough, a copule minutes later, he came back to plead, “C’mon, man, I got a token right here, you can go right through.” I took his damn token and shook my head all the way on to the train.
Thankfully, an hour later, my roommate and I were in a U-Haul listening to the radio. The classic rock station gave us “Ramble On.” But after years of not riding in cars, or driving them, I knew I wanted to hear what the Philly hip-hop stations were bumping. It turns out, they’re playing na lot of the same shit over and over again. Hopping between Power99 and Hot107, we heard “Amen,” by Meek Mill, and those G.O.O.D. Music songs “Mercy” and “Clique” about five or so times in three trips. I realized something: these songs are pretty simple, especially Meek’s. Pick a theme, create chantable phrases like “Preach,” “Amen,” and “Swerve” and you’ve got a radio hit.
But the cherry on top of this hip-hop fest was my first hearing of this gem by a mysterious hip-hop mess, seemingly entitled “Instagram That Hoe” but could also be “Instagram That Ass”? Endless Google searches yield very little – it’s probably a freestyle by Legendary featuring Keychainz. But whatever it is, it was trippin’. Nevertheless, Instagram is slowly making its way into hip-hop lexicon and it just feels sad. Even though Tribe Called Quest was rapping about pagers in the ’80s, raps about smart phones sound dumb.
Finally, moving down to deep South Philly, our bars are changing. And American Sardine Bar’s got a good-looking jukebox: Guided By Voices, The Walkmen, Wire, Ramones, just loads of loud and angry rock. Not very pop or current (often desirable) and there’s no digital interface; it’s a blessing that this city’s still got some legit COMPACT DISC jukeboxes. ASB’s will get plenty of my dollars.
Finally, I was awoken by the blaring, sweet sounds of a car off of Snyder this morning pumping this gem: