My last day of work prior to vacation was August 5th and so this was the night we planned to leave for our adventure. I had work again on the 22nd and Bryan needed to return for Hellfest which started on the 19th. We had exactly 2 weeks. Our destination was simply: West. We wanted to see how far away from Jersey we could get in a week, leaving us one week to return. We'd gauge our turn-around date upon how far we got.
After about 2 weeks of being lectured by our friends/relatives/pets/town hobos, we were ready to go. I got out of work at 9:30 and leaving from Collingswood, New Jersey, we decided our first move forward would be to jump the turnstyle and take the train to Philadelphia.
A friend of ours works at a local goth club, Emerald City, and he said he could get us in for free. After the bouncers hastled us about our bags, they let us check them with the coats and we went inside. The only thing there to greet us was friends which we informed of our adventure and people native to Philly, who couldn't take us any further west. We did meet a man who went by DJ Gicky who told us all about the underground rave scene. We exchanged information with him and then moved forward. Apparently, this particular club goes EXTREMELY thug at aroud 2:30 and other than a guest appearance from Allen Iverson, there was nobody there to help us out. We decided it'd be best if we walked into Center City. After hanging out with some sleepy bums in LOVE park, we decided we'd check out South Street. A haven for freaks and outcasts in Philadelphia, there MUST be someone there to help us out on our voyage. No dice. Absolutely deserted, we decided it'd be best to get some shut-eye. The day was a bit of a disappointment but tomorrow would improve. It had to. We found our way to what looked to be the trash area for a comic book store which was fairly clean and blocked off by a big "No Parking" fence. We crashed there for a few hours.
After waking up, we wandered the streets a bit, stealing an outrageous amount of free samples from WholeFoods, the organic/hippie/healthfood store. When all the various punk shops seemed to be getting us nowhere. Things were looking incredibly bleak and we almost thought about heading back home. We spent an hour reading in Tower Records before it hit us how poorly we were using our time. We decided if we were looking for people heading west, we'd have to go to the exit of the Ben Franklin and catch people as they're getting on I-76, the local interstate.
We walked a bit and found a nice wide median to sit on next to a stoplight so we could give puppy-dog eyes to all the nice people as they waited at the light. We used my notebook and made a sign with WEST in big bold letters and then we waited. We waited for about an hour and a half. Most people ignored us as if we were homeless... well, permanantly homeless. We debated moving as a small red sedan pulled up to the stoplight.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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