Please allow me to tenuously connect some scattered thoughts. They’re buzzing around like bees but we’ll see if they all return to the same hive.
Recently my husband/craft show roadie/tireless supporter drove us through Philly the back way–avoiding highways because I’m phobic–to arrive at the craft fair venue, a new “park” by Spruce Street harbor on the Delaware River. I was one of several vendors of fine crafts, our tables set up along a walkway in the park.
Often lately we find ourselves driving through the ugly parts of Philly to get to someplace where you really want to be. And again, as we drove, I was thinking about the many millions spent and being spent on transforming every tiny bit of space along the Parkway to another cute little park, the walking/biking trail from the Art Museum all the way to the next county, the modernish fountains/skate rink by City Hall, the movie screens and built-in benches also by City Hall, and here — Spruce Street Harbor Park with its conversation pits, rentable hammocks, giant chessboard, and high-end microbrewery and gourmet concessions.
Endless playgrounds for the hipsters and coolest millennials. Better court those sophisticates, the Philadelphians we want to be our face.
As we drive through the rest of the city, outside center city and the waterfront, outside the several seemingly random spots selected for gentrification, we notice that the other parts of our fair city literally haven’t changed as long as we can remember. We realize that the neighborhoods where our parents and aunts and uncles lived haven’t changed since our parents grew up there, going on 100 years ago. Not a thing has been updated, renovated, or improved–at least not in the neighborhoods not recently designated for a better class of residents. The only change is the steady decay.
Step into yesteryear! Vintage styles are untouched! But streets badly need repair. Homes are dilapidated. Infrastructure needs updating.
That’s most of the city. Most of the city gets nothing, decade after decade, while we spend fortunes tempting the pretty young people to endlessly amuse themselves. Kick back in this city park like it’s your private space, lounge, drink, play. It’s the cool place to be!
Because what smart and cool person doesn’t want to spend his entire Sunday in a rented hammock hanging in a public park 15 feet from a busy highway and forty feet from a dock? Who doesn’t want to throw on just a slip which was lying on the floor, tie a denim jacket around her waist and sally forth to show off her I-don’t-care in public?
City planners encourage public drunkenness and lounge culture. There were people with beers in hand when we set up in the morning, who were still wandering, beers in hand, when we packed up. To pose in their warmed-over sad punk gear, to shock with their most shocking! outfits, and to validate their subversive! cultural identities. What freaking fun.
Who doesn’t want to wander around a tiny park all day, drunk, pawing and mangling vendors’ handiwork, not buying, and walking on?
Me: Ma’am, like the sign says, they’re ALL blank books. No need to bend open and flip through every single page of every book. You’re not going to find any secret messages in there. I would like to sell them to someone as though they’re new.
And after, on the park venue Facebook page — the petulance! I didn’t think much about the several people who asked me, essentially, is this all of it? until I read these comments:
Yeah was nonsense wasn’t even a flea market more like 6 or 7 tables of nonsense
Such a waste not even good this year we need the old punk rock seen back no clothes nothing smh
It was about 8 vendors and a crowd full of the opposite of punk. Completely lame
The darling objects of city planning are supposed to be the cutting edge. The sophisticates. The thinkers, our leaders of the future. Instead they are objects–objects to be pandered to, to be courted. They were lazy, dumb, rude, oblivious, pushy, entitled, and narcissistic. And cheap— I sell more in one hour at high-end craft events in the burbs than I did in five hours at this place-to-be.
The whole day left me sad and angry. Worst vending experience ever.