Sunday, October 31, 2010

Uncle Buddy

My Mother's Uncle Buddy passed away this week. His name wasn't really Buddy since I don't think anyone has "Buddy" for a given name, but for Uncle Buddy, it fit. Uncle Buddy was real "hows yous doing" South Philly guy.

The funeral followed the time honored South Philly pattern of a viewing at Nunzio Carter's, a Mass at a neighborhood church, a burial at either Holy Cross (if the deceased could get in there) or Saints Peter and Paul and finally a luncheon at Popi's at 20th and Oregon.

So typical is this pattern that I had a friend from work following a parallel funeral along a similar path the same day.

I was a little late to the viewing and ended up at the back of the funeral procession. I would come to regret this later.

The Mass was held at Saint Monica's and Saint Monica's is one of those South Philadelphia gems that no one outside of the parish even knows is there. The interior of the church is just beautiful with it's paintings, statues and stained glass. It had been a long time since I had been in there and honestly forgotten how beautiful it was.

After the Mass came the procession from the South Philly church to suburban Burial plot. We had a line of 20 or so cars which wound it's way through the streets of South Philly, past Uncle Buddy's house and onto the Platt bridge. Once our little procession got outside of the tiny streets of South Philly, things got dicey. It was at the intersection of Penrose and Pattison that we had our first incident. We were crossing against red in the right  lane and a truck with out of state plates made the turn into Penrose and merged right on into the procession to honking and flashing lights.

He eventually merged out, but that was only the beginning of the fun. The higher expressway speeds meant that our little procession tried to keep up with one another. And keeping up at the back of the line meant rushing to catch up only to nearly run into the back of Cousin Terry.

It went like that from the Platt bridge, across I-95 by the airport and then north on the Blue Route.In the back of the line we speed up and then jammed on the brakes. Sped up, jam the brakes. Sped up, jam the brakes. We accordioned like that for nearly 8 miles.

Riding the right lane also meant that we cut off the exits of the expressways we traveled. At one point a older lady merged on to the highway right into the middle of the procession and stayed there. Cousin Terry and I frantically passed her with flashing lights and beeping horns because she clearly didn't have the same fanaticism about staying with the hearse as we did.

We broke the cardinal about "leave no man behind" when we left those three cars with the old lady between us but we didn't care because we knew that without that hearse we clearly lost our right to pass through red traffic lights and would end up being late or lost.

When we arrived at the plot, we clearly had lost some composure with all the frantic driving.

The ride back to Popi's in South Philly was less exciting with only excitement happening when cousin Joni cut across three planes of traffic to make the exit for US 1. Only know this because she did it right in front of me. At first I was a little miffed until I realized it was her.

I'm thinking that I want to be buried in Wildwood just to have last laugh about everyone making that crazy trip for two hours.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Promise

I spent my 21st Anniversary night watching The Promise on HBO.

The Chancellor had joined a group of ladies that go to the theater once a month and it just so happened the Thursday of our Anniversary was the first night of their group.

This was OK by me. I would have rather spent the night celebrating but I was looking forward to the documentary that was premiering that night. Besides, here is what we usually do.

I watched it again last night front to back. 

The documentary covers the period of January 1976 through the release of Darkness On The Edge of Town, a period where Springsteen disappeared. I had disappeared at about the same time as I went in the Navy in July of that year. Born to Run was still a big deal as I graduated high school in 76 but soon I remember thinking what ever happened to Bruce Springsteen.

Now I know.

He spent 18 months yelling "Stick! Stick! Stick!" in the studio as Max Weinberg kept hitting the drum and Bruce heard the stick.

If you're a fan, it's worth catching on HBO.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Oct 7, 2010

Looking out over Philly from Citizens Bank Park last night seemed dream-like in the 3rd inning last night. Rain must have been falling over center city and the low hanging clouds made the buildings appear smeared, like you couldn't quite focus on them. Like they weren't real.

Later, I was sure it was dream. Like I didn't really see what I had just seen.

It was raining in the dream. Not hard, but just enough to be annoying.

As always, I had my camera strapped to my belt. I never go anywhere without my camera but there would be no pictures from the dream. It's always that way in dreams, your mind makes some excuse to define the reality. In this case, I had a camera and fresh batteries but had some how forgotten load a memory card. It was like I had integrated the alarm clock into the dream somehow.

By the sixth Inning it was becoming true. I may be watching a no hitter. In the payoffs. It wasn't going to be a perfect game because of a walk in fifth but there were an awful lot of zeros up there. The crowd was getting superstitious. We were loud, but no one would dare say "He's going for a no hitter".  A group of young guys a few rows ahead of us were putting a single index finger to their lips to motion "Shhhh".

By the seventh we were screaming at every strike. We were waving our little red and white helicopters and urging Roy Halladay to continue.

In the eighth we were signaling the number of outs remaining with our fingers  like they were some sort of secret passcode. Five. four then three.

In the ninth, the noise was deafening. It was primal scream therapy for 46,411. Girls were dancing and everyone was high fiving except now we were doing it with the number of outs extended on our fingers.

Two, then one.

Then there was a moment when I swore I heard 46 thousand people suck all the air in the ball park into their lungs at once. The ball was hit, it dribbled away fair Ruiz scrambled after it, slid to his knees and threw it to first.


He had done it.

This is tough to admit, but I cried a little. There was just something that struck me about the players, working together through 162 games, now participating in game number 163 and history, hugging each other.

After it was over no one wanted to leave. Groups took pictures to prove they were there. I couldn't of course because of the missing memory card, but we had a least one working camera in the crew.

I hope to get those pictures at least.