So it’s 5:30 on Friday night, 93 and muggy, I’m walking out of work on Walnut Street towards the AIA Bookstore on Arch Street before it closes at 6:00 and eventually Standard Tap in Northern Liberties for a beer and burger. I’m NOT a vegan– I fucking ordered ox tripe once.

So I’m walking up 16th between Market and Chestnut Streets, past some empty, dust-covered former offices where someone has written I WISH MY WIFE WAS THIS FILTHY in dust, when a woman flags me down despite my Walkman and lack of eye contact to ask, “Excuse me, do you know where Chancellor Street is?”

Me: “It’s a small side street– it’s around here– what hundred block?”

Her: “I’m supposed to pick up a Zipcar at 17th & Chancellor– I know where 17th is–”

Other guy who overhears her: “Chancellor Street’s right around here.”

Me: “It’s either between Market and Chestnut or Chestnut and Walnut– I think Market and Chestnut.”

Him: “Wait, maybe this IS Chancellor Street.”

(All three of us look for a street sign. There isn’t one.)

Her: “How would I get there from here?”

Me and him: “Walk up that way, take a right on Chestnut, walk up to 17th, look down and take a right if you see it between Chestnut and Market.”

We both wish her good luck as I walk away and almost crush a dead butterfly in the middle of the sidewalk.

I stop, open my messenger bag, remove some papers and use them to sweep the dead butterfly towards where the scaffolding beneath some decrepit office building ends. A scruffy black man watches me, shakes his head at first and notes philosophically, “It’s daid.”

I keep walking past City Hall, outside of which, somehow, it occurs to me that the horse statues on the north end of the building are…well…anatomically correct. Whoa, horsey!!

I walk as far as 12th Street before I remember the AIA Bookstore is actually between 12th and 13th a block north, so I walk up and head back down towards 13th where, of course, the AIA Bookstore is dark at 5:40 and the door is locked. But wait! A girl working there points from the other side of the glass for me to walk around through the lobby of the main building, and presumably enter the bookstore from there. Which I do– only to realize that the bookstore is in fact closed, for what appears to be some sort of lecture occurring one room over and already packed with tragic hipsters & Trustafarians. Philadelphia!!!

So I keep walking towards Chinatown, where I stop at Wawa for a cheddar stick (the totality of which seems singularly Philadelphia in unnameable ways) and a diet green tea, then end up walking about another six blocks before I can find an actual trash can for the cheese wrapper.

(Theory: Philadelphia may perhaps be notorious for its large and frequent amounts of trash dumped randomly wherever people walk because there are NO FUCKING TRASH CANS ANYWHERE. Worth studying further.)

En route, I pass a Chinese restaurant whose owner apparently thought dead deep-fried duck carcasses hanging on hooks from your front window might not be enough to draw in the customers, so, fuck, why not surround them with sneakers? Shockingly, the restaurant was empty!

The rest of the walk was typically uneventful– a quick detour through the Asian market on Spring Garden, where I bought a $4 tin of decaf Pilon (not to be confused with them or him) but perhaps wisely opted out of the Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, then up 2nd Street past where ex-Sixer Dikembe Mutombo wants someone to sex him (see below), at the red light where Akon sang from someone’s car, “I wanna fuck you, fuck you…”— and the evening was wrapped up within two hours, merely double my walk from Walnut Street.

It wasn’t even worth my annual check to see whether the decaf machine at the Foodery is working on my way out.

(Me, c. August 2009: “The decaf’s not working?”

Guy working at Foodery: “Nah, it’s broken. We’re getting it fixed at some point.”


Me, c. August 2010: “Decaf’s still broken?”

Guy working at Foodery: “Yeah—”

Me: “Is it being fixed?”

Guy working at Foodery (shaking his head): “Nawww–“)

Philadelphia, whose mayor shares a name with British slang for an insane person, a city so twisted and backwards it gave David Lynch ideas.

Also noted for future reference: Chancellor Street is between Walnut and Locust Streets. So there’s that.