Sunday, November 23, 2008

Philadelphia, the world takes it, in case you think no one reads your blog, fancy architecture, and benches

It's amazing how getting up just one hour earlier than usual can completely destroy me, then rushing to the train station and I'm early which is almost a surprise but not so comforting because at Penn Station you have to sit on the floor, I mean if you're not standing and staring at the arrivals screen until you become part of the horde into gate six or wherever. I like the huge neon sign welcoming the world to Trenton, New Jersey: we make it, the world takes it, but actually that's not what it says but what it means, kind of, except probably more value on the taking, yes taking while still the emphasis on making.

My last few tours I haven't spent much time in Philadelphia because it's always towards the end and I'm trying to stay in as few places as possible, this time I get to Giovanni's Room and everyone is welcoming, especially Ed who runs the store and I’ve decided to read something different this time, since I'm getting bored of the same excerpts I know so well. It's an interesting mixture of excerpts, probably more serious And a bit darker than some but I like the arc around incest especially. The crowd is probably more mixed here than anywhere else, especially in terms of gender and age, since there are a fair number of fags, and a fair number of fags over 40 but also the younger queers I expect and I recognize a few people from previous readings. I like the way the audience goes in different directions in this old house converted into store, or two houses actually, and gets bigger as the reading starts. Readings at Giovanni's Room are always at 5:30 pm, so it's hard not to be late, I mean for everyone else as well as me. There's a good mix of questions, first very specific to the text which I always like I think those always give me insight into my own process, and a few questions about my influences, and then the questions about direct action and, yes, Proposition 8 protests. After the reading, Ed gives me a book as a gift and I ask him how the store is doing -- it's not doing well, which is sad because it's one of the few queer bookstores that actually feels like a resource, and Ed owns the building so they don't have the pressure of rent, so that means they must really not be doing well financially so maybe this is my subtle hint to go in there if you're in Philadelphia and looking for new books and of course I can think of at least one you could start with...

After the reading, Heather, who I met in Chicago, coordinates the journey to a nearby vegan restaurant, which turns out to be a bit expensive for most people I think but everyone's maybe trying to be polite about it, but guess what? There's another section right next door that's way cheaper, so that's where we go and it's fun talking more intimately about activism and struggle and I like that several people tell me they read my blog and that's even how they heard about the reading -- just in case you ever think no one reads your blog, they both say, which is of course what I'm always thinking I mean not always but sometimes so it's nice to hear. And Michael drove all the way from State College, Pennsylvania -- three hours, I think -- and right after the reading he says it was worth it, yay! On the way to his car for a ride back to the train station, we discover some fancy new architecture and then I'm drinking two bottles of water in the train station while waiting again, here at least there are benches.

4 comments:

Michael Faris said...

It was worth the trip! It was great to hear you read and get to meet you. And dinner was fantastic and delicious, and thanks for the wonderful memories! Best of luck on the rest of your trip!

Sex Et Veritas said...

Thank you for this post. I didn't know about the bookstore, but will order something from them to help support (I don't live in Philly.)

james said...

oh yes, rent vs own. In Lexington VA, the next door building owner offered to sell us the 12000 square foot building first before they put it on the market. 475000 dollars. No way... keep on renting the 4000 square foot space for the bookstore. Support an independent bookstore wherever they are. I ordered Pulling Taffy when I was in Hamilton Montana, I do not remember the name of the store, but it was small and in the old section of town.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Michael, thank YOU -- and keep in touch!

Sex Et Veritas, what a lovely idea!

James, yes yes real estate is trauma, for sure -- although I think Ed bought the buildings where Giovanni's Room is located when it was actually cheap -- or at least that's what I'm assuming...

Love --
mattilda