On the heels of complaining about the current state of South Street and also its future, I had a nice flashback experience last night.
First, the rant. On a recent post on Philebrity.com about the drama surrounding the approval of two riverfront casino properties here in Philly, I commented:
of course, while everyone’s attention is on the River Invasion, has anyone else noticed just how many businesses are closed on South Street? Sure, the big boys like Tower, KCF, MickyD’s stand out - but look deeper … there are so many gaps of empty storefronts that the strip is beginning to look like the smile of a Kensington crackwhore… having lived off South street since 1981, I’m well aware that it ain’t what it used to be … and perhaps the strip has to truly die in order to be reborn, but if political timing plays out - my guess it will be reborn just as one/both of these casino projects opens their doors… South Street will be ready for the taking, since the vacancies just continue to mount each month… how it is reborn is a mystery … personally, i think the business district shot themselves in the foot years back with their cap on the number of liquor licenses on the strip … which is one reason why the 'hippest street in town' has become nothing more than the home to sneaker stores and tacky bling shops.
The fact is when I walk home from the west side of Center City I sometimes take South Street down and I see just how vacant it has become. Some moments gently remind me of the empty charm the street had when I first moved down here twenty-five years ago. But the reality is the emptiness is not just vacant storefronts; the street is void of personality. There's no spirit on the strip.
Last night however, I experienced a Christmas Miracle. I attended the Crash Bang Boom Xmas party (Crash Bang Boom being the phoniex that rose from the ashes of Zipperhead!).
It was held on the 2nd floor of Lickety Split, which is a basic pizza slice shop on the street level but they have begun to put some thought in the bar on the 2nd floor ... last night it was full of punks of all ages! Young guns and old guard combined to drink holiday cheer surrounded by friends and a sea of loud fun punk music! The highlight was when my friend Chris took his acoustic guitar and hopped on the postage-stamp stage, sat on a stool and belted out emotional covers of classic songs from The Undertones, The Buzzcocks, and more!
As I squeezed myself into a corner to gaze out over the scene - complete with foot-high mohawks and lots of smiles - I realized that the spirit of South Street wasn't connected to a building or a business. The spirit of South Street was within its family. These people were the spirit of South Street and for one magical night I felt like I was transported back in time to 1983 and I enjoyed every fuckin' moment!
Merry Christmas :)