A Segment of Moribund Goodisville
By Jay Gertzman
I have had occasion to travel on SEPTA's Trenton line.
Between 30th St and Bridesburg the tracks pass through
several landscapes that relect what is left of mid
20th-century industrial Philly. The
buildings are waiting patiently in all their stoic
decay for a great photographer to give them immortality
before wind, heat, ice, cold, or bulldozers write finis.
Factories: some seem to have been recently painted, and
look fine until you find the shattered or missing windows.
On a siding stand freight cars that will never be
unloaded. Some outbuildings have been reduced to a
single crumbling wall. I think of the ghost of Blazer,
Fire in the Flesh,
as scurrying around behind one. The in-your-face grafitti
is fat, wavy, irrational, absolutely fucked. It might as
well be a language conceived on the moon, it is so foreign
to the iron-clad Fordism when those
buildings' assembly lines were in operation.
Row houses of course, still occupied, with the ones
on corners shaped like triangles if the
intersection of streets is angled . Once streetcar suburbs,
they suggest, with little touches, a dream of greater
status that the working class or office
workers aspired to. The shape of the tiled
roofs or bordered windows suggest a long-superceded
version of the American dream. But the general uniformity
would be perfect for families of thieves like those
The Burglar. Some
street corners are the best remaining models for where
the piano player worked, killed a bouncer in a fight,
and was protected from the cops by the
regulars. There's a mom-and-pop store or two,
not much taller than the guys who hung out there c.
1936 staring at the street corner blonde. The
buildings determine the horizons of guys like Ralph,
Dippy, and Lenore the fat blonde.
Vacant lots, mostly mud and discarded fast-food wrappers,
and, near Bridesburg, a gigantic scrap yard with
automobiles awaiting final compacting.
A high school with a roof gym, and a billboard. "God Bless
America, Our Troops, and Constitution." Now that's noir. I
wish I could read the code of the grafitti.
November 8 to 11