Philadelphia/New Jersey Trip

July 11, 2002 to July 14, 2002

Thursday, July 11

I left Rochester about 8:30 in the morning and the trip down was mostly uneventful. I took the route ... well, this is what it looked like on MapsOnUs. I hit quite a bit of truck traffic through the hills of Pennsylvania after almost exactly 9 in the morning and since it was a weekday. I got in around 3 and got settled in at the Best Western Independence Park Inn (235 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA.) I went to The Khyber (56 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA) and talked with the bartender, Chris. He said the music scene is pretty good in Philly but the place gets crazy sometimes. On the weekend everybody and their brother comes in from the suburbs--they're all very pretty but also totally obnoxious. Anyway, the bar is kinda like Monty's Krown and the Bug Jar combined. It's got a bar area right when you walk in and there's two entrances to the music room which is wider and longer by a bit. The sound doesn't carry between the two rooms very well which is good.

Khyber bar in Philadelphia
Outside the Khyber
Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia
The curvy front of the Morimoto restaurant doesn't look right near the older buildings

I left around 4 and headed toward Morimoto (723 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA.) I got there around 4:30 and took a couple pictures. The assistant manager was concerned because I was using a tripod--fearing that I was from a media outlet. I assured him otherwise--I can't show the pictures because the architecture inside is like a work of art and probably copyrighted ... at least I assume so considering how uptight they are. Anyway, I got myself a bunch of sushi rolls and nigiri from the sushi bar and a junmai ginjo morimoto sake (their middle of three sakes) and a sakura which that I couldn't believe tasted even okay because it was a mix of junmai morimoto sake and cointreau with a splash of lime and cranberry juices (don't you think the cointreau would just beat up the sake and it would taste awful?). Everything was excellent--even the squid nigiri was good, despite that I really don't like squid nigiri.

I left there around 6:30 and went to the Trocadero (1003 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA) but they were closed. Apparently they're more of a venue than a bar so I headed back to the hotel for some more casual clothes. I grabbed the low-light lens for the camera and the tripod and headed out. I went to Tin Angel at Serrano (20 South 2nd, Philadelphia, PA) but they weren't technically open yet when I stopped in. Later it'd be $10 when the band started--some acoustic soloist guy. I stopped at The Khyber (56 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA) and had a Flying Fish Farmer's Ale (which is kinda local). I met Lisa the bartender and Lara and Dave at the bar. Lara said she's friends with some of the people in the improv troupe over at Dos. I asked Lisa about other places to go and she said to check out Sugar Mom's (225 Church St., Philadelphia, PA) around the corner so I headed over there for a while.

I got a Yuengling Porter (another local brew) and played pool with this guy named Steven and beat him twice ... I felt a little bad because I was playing pretty hard although he was doing well holding his own. Anyway, Sugar Mom's has sort of a carnival theme. They're in the basement of an old (duh) building and you can see the brick support columns in the pictures ... it's sort of eerie thinking that it's those brick things holding up the building. Anyway, they've got the word "PLAYLAND" sort-of overlapped on itself on the top of the stairs ... the letters are those raised letters with lightbulbs inside like you'd see at a carnival. The bar itself has a bunch of carnival-themed stuff. In the back of the place there's a couple bumper cars ... one of which was occupied by a couple that were being very friendly and laughing a lot. I didn't inquire. There's some video games in another corner, including Space Invaders and the Elvira pinball game. I headed out around 9:30.

inside Sugar Mom's in Philadelphia
Some guy regards the camera from afar in Sugar Mom's.
inside Sugar Mom's in Philadelphia
The apathetic bar goers ignore both the camera and the carnival theme of Sugar Mom's.
a new improv troupe in Philadelphia
The girl from the new troupe (on the left) is supposed to be in a porcupine suit while the others react. Comedy ensues.
Next Line Improv Troupe in Philadelphia
Members of the more mature Next Line Improv Troupe do something funny.

I had to hurry a bit to get to Dos at Pizzeria Uno (509 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA) to see the improv troupe. Get it ... Uno ... Dos. Clever little owner. The comedy hadn't started yet when I got there. I got a Yuengling Lager which was pretty good. Anyway, the troupe is called Next Line Comedy and were pretty funny. First up, though, was some new troupe who was just starting out then Next Line came on and did their own stuff. The "Chicago-style long form" stuff they're doing was funny but I like the shorter stuff better. Basically you give them a word, they do some stories related to the word, then they do some sketches based loosely on the stories.

I headed back to The Khyber around 11 and saw part of The Natural History who were pretty good but kinda electric groove-rockish which isn't really my thing. I tried taking pictures of the bar but the bouncer said he didn't want me to do so--it was okay to snap the band but not the bar. I had started on a Hop Devil but had Lisa hold it while I went back to the hotel to drop off the camera. When I got back I actually met the bouncer--whose name is also Jason. I talked with some girl who really liked the last two bands. I hung out to see LaGuardia and they were similar to The Natural History, only tighter.

After the bands, cooler people showed up. I talked with Stephanie who's in a band called Empty something-or-other. I think. Anyway, she said they were going to be touring in the fall so I gave her info about my website so she could find venues in the Rochester area. I also talked with Maria who is a lyricist/writer about the finer points of using words and our favorite lyricists. I'm sure you're all quite captivated by my own writing as you read this.

The Natural History playing at the Khyber in Philadelphia
The Natural History plays music at the Khyber.
inside the Khyber in Philadelphia
I managed to get a picture of the entryways between the music room and the bar.

Toward closing time, I was talking to Jason who bought me a shot. I met his friends T. J. and Emily. T.J. had been to the Bug Jar about 5 years ago when he was following a band around ... I don't think he played in the band but he was affiliated with them somehow. Anyway, the three of us hung out until we got chased out around 2:30. Jason told me about the Mütter Museum at College of Physicians (19 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia, PA.) It's a museum of pathology--diseases and congenital disorders with some real bodies and some models. He also said to check out the Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant (1516 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA) because I remind him of Brendan who works there (T. J. agreed.)

Friday, July 12

I got up around 9:15 and threw some clothes on just to go down and get some continental breakfast ... I'm paying for it, right? I headed out and got some iced coffee at Old City Coffee (221 Church St., Philadelphia, PA) right by Sugar Mom's. It was pretty good and pretty cheap. I called Phil and he said that Peri and Matt were coming in to Philly so I talked with them and agreed to meet at 1.

I walked 20 blocks to the Mütter Museum at College of Physicians (19 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia, PA.) It was pretty cool ... they had a big exhibit on pathogens and a collection of real bodies and models of various diseases. One of the weirdest things was this enlarged colon from this guy that looked like it must have weighed a hundred pounds. Too bad you can't take pictures. Anyway, I left around 12:30 and it took an hour to walk there so I took a taxi back to the hotel. Boy was that fun ... kinda like an amusement park ride.

Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall from the middle of Market Street around noon on a Friday.
some of the skyscrapers in Philadelphia
Fortunately I was using fast film and got a decent picture of some of the skyscrapers in Philadelphia during the cab ride.
Liberty Bell in Philadelphia
The Liberty Bell is in a protective structure in front of the building where it used to ring.
Syng inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia
It was odd to stand in front of the actual (supposedly) inkstand that was used to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Around 1 I headed out to 3rd and Chestnut and met up with Matt and Peri right away. We went to The Nile for lunch but the place was empty and we couldn't find anyone so we went to the Philadelphia Fish and Company instead. It was really good. After that we headed over to Independence Hall (Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA) to see the Liberty Bell and I got some pictures then Matt sat out while Peri and I explored the 1789 Congressional Building and saw the original printed copies of the Declaration of Independence, a draft copy of the Articles of Confederation and the signing station for the Declaration of Independence. The signing stand was pretty cool ... one of the park rangers had been going on about it but it really does make you feel kinda funny inside to actually stand in front of it.

I headed out to Phil and Beth's house in New Jersey after that. I got there around 7 and talked with them for a while. Matt and Peri were already there ... we all got to get into the pool for a bit. I haven't been in water in a while so it was kinda weird ... knowing when to hold your breath and such. We ordered some really great pizza from Vito's and when Mike and Tina showed up, we played one of Mike's games ... soething about molding clay so people will guess what you're making but neither too easily nor too hard. As it turned out, too hard is the safe bet. I think I ended last ... Rob showed up around 9:30 and they all went to bed around 11:30 so I headed back into the city.

I got back to the hotel around 1 and headed down to the Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant (1516 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA.) I didn't realize it was at 1516 Sansom St. (i.e. 13 blocks away) so it took forever to walk there. I took Sansom Street most of the way which is basically an alley ... I didn't feel like it was such a good idea and I was pretty tense about watching my back. Anyway, I talked to the bartender who said there were two Brendan's that worked there and both of them shave their heads. He said he knew Jason from The Khyber as well. I got a Grog and hung out for a while, talking to a couple playing darts. The guy said that Philly is much more active in the winter than in the summer which was why it was so dead down at the bar.

I took a cab ride back to Market and 3rd because I knew it was probably too busy to get any further. I didn't make it to The Khyber before they closed so I just headed back to the hotel around 2:15. I watched a little TV and crashed.

Saturday, July 13

I got showered and headed downstairs for a bit of continental breakfast. I talked with Nikki, the server down there, who said that South St. would be a kicking party all night long. I headed down there first and it was like Monroe Avenue only with more stores and stuff. I stopped in this place called El Rey Sol (619 South St., Philadelphia, PA) and got a watermelon juice ... well, I ordered a cantelope juice but they gave me watermellon.

I headed back up north and decided to see if you can walk on the Ben Franklin Bridge (Rte. 676, Philadelphia, PA.) I found that you could so I walked halfway across it and took pictures. Well, first I got my nerve up to stand near the railing ... you know, heights and all. Anyway, the bridge was built in 1926 as the the Delaware River Port Authority Bridge, then the largest suspension bridge in the world. In 1956 it was renamed for Ben Franklin. It's 9,650 feet across--the main span is 1,750 feet. The towers are 380 feet tall and the bottom of the bridge is 135 feet above the water.

I got back to hotel by 1:30 and talked with the receptionist Jess. I hadn't had any lunch yet and it didn't look like I'd be hearing from Tina or Beth. Anyway, Jess suggested Jim's Steaks (400 South St., Philadelphia, PA) for cheesesteak--she said it was the third best in town right behind these two places across the street from one another on the other side of the city. I also asked about water ice and she said that Rita's Water Ice (235 South St., Philadelphia, PA -- right down from Jim's on South) is a great place to go.

Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia
Philadelphia looks kinda small from the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia
I waited a half hour for the stupid subway train to pass for this wholly unremarkable shot.
Deleware River from Penn's Landing in Philadelphia
In case you didn't know, this is the Deleware River from Penn's Landing

I headed down there but there was a line at Jim's so I went to The Blarney--South (328 South St., Philadelphia, PA) for a cheesesteak. It's an Irish place but their menu said their cheesesteak was "Voted #1" so I thought that was good enough for me. It was pretty good ... I think they used American cheese ... kind-of unimpressive, really. I went to Rita's after that and got a cherry water ice which was very good. I don't know if I've ever had Italian ice / water ice before ... if so it's been a while. I headed down to Penn's Landing (Front St., Philadelphia, PA) and took some pictures of the Deleware. I got back to the hotel and left around 4:30 and couldn't reach my friends so I walked all 22 blocks to Natural Goodness only to find their kitchen closed earlier in the day. I got one of those Odwalla shakes and stopped at Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant (1516 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA) but didn't get anything. I went to South Street via Broad. It's a very run-down neighborhood until you get to about 7th. I mean very very run down ... lots of buildings literally falling over. Due to the festivities later on, there were tons of cops around so I didn't feel too scared. I stopped at Rita's again and got a mixed berry water ice and walked back to the hotel.

I talked with Beth then left for their house around 7. When I got there I got to see Joe, Shaun, Cass, John, and Michelle. I got a bit more pool time then played Crazy Taxi on Shaun's Sega projected on the side of the house. I got back to the hotel around 1:15 and crashed.

Sunday, July 14

I got up around 7:45--later than I had hoped. I skipped the shower and just packed and checked out. I was on the road by about 8:15. It was raining in Philly as I left. I stopped a couple times along the way and got a speeding ticket on 390. I really hate those highways ... anyway, I got back around 2:30 and settled back into my old routine.