When I woke up this morning the blues was walking ’round my bed – no wait a minute, this isn’t the music blog. For some reason I was thinking about riding the commuter train down the “main line” int Philadelphia when I was in high school and visiting all the head shops on Sansome Street. I would buy one Sher Bidi cigarette, horrible brown conical things tied together with a bit of string that would make a Gauloises seem mild, and smoke the thing while I walked from one shop to another. There were incense sticks burning and day-glo posters of Jimi Hendrix on the wall and strings of beads for sale next to drug smoking paraphernalia. Ravi Shankar records were always playing in those shops.
I would meet my friends at the Cathay Garden restaurant where we would each order something different and put it all in the middle of the table so we could sample all the different flavors. General Tso’s chicken was my standard order, now my daughter orders the same thing from China House but that is just a little hole in the wall at the shopping center. Cathay Garden was magnificent.
At night we would go to the Electric Factory for a concert. It was a big old industrial building that was turned into a concert hall with the addition of a makeshift stage , some sound gear and stage lights and a few black lights strategically placed for a psychedelic effect. We sat on the concrete floor only a few feet away from Frank Zappa, sneering at our effete bourgeois selves from the stage. My brother told me he was afraid Frank was going to spit on him.
One Friday night, late, after the Electric Factory, I walked with my friend, Pete, to the Grayhound bus station and boarded the dog for Ocean City, New Jersey. We spent a week at his family’s seaside cottage there. We met two sisters there who were each six feet tall and had a wonderful time on the boardwalk and in the town. That was convenient for me because I was already six foot three. The sisters were embarrassed to be seen with boys that were shorter than them and almost everyone was. I don’t remember that we went onto the beach itself at all.
Would I even consider letting my teenage children wander the streets of Philadelphia or Baltimore alone? They have never asked me. It’s a different world today, that’s certain.
I lost count, but there are probably seven things about me in this meandering post, which was originally intended to be a response to a meme from DCA. I’d like to pass it on, without directions to JohnC, Penfold and Windows to Russia. But then guys don’t do memes.