I’d just like to talk for a little bit about how much I love Pennsylvania. When I was six, we moved away from Erie, PA to South Bend, Indiana and I literally laughed to keep from crying in front of my kindergarten class.
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are inspiringly disparate cities. They’re yin and yang in almost every possible way: Pittsburgh is working class; the girls, to borrow Everett True’s description of those in late-80’s Seattle, would just as soon throw a glass at your head as screw you, it’s all punk rock and noise, and there’s a wildness belied by the straight-edged blue collar general image. Philadelphia is aesthetic: it’s the number one city in America for public art (which means murals). It houses, in addition to the big five D-1 universities, the University of the Arts, where instructs the greatest living writer, in my opinion, Camille Paglia, a humanly-interested “feminist” zealous about feminist reform to embody an increased understanding of women’s own sexual power. Also, the girls are often giggly, curious and gorgeous, willing to talk, no matter how beautiful they are. And in Philly, there’s an underlying tranquility, at least downtown, belied by the general image: downtown, even at night, would be a great place to trip on acid. It’s eclectic, and generally very friendly, a new adventure, a new pair of backpackers Greyhounding across the country, around every corner.
New Yorkers, even Jerseyites from “north” Jersey, condescend Philly, quick to say they’re from near “The City.” But, half of them can’t even take the life there, so they move away… anyway, they don’t know what they’re missing.
On the drive through Pennsylvania, you pass two towns that are near to each other: Clarion and Dubois. The drive, by the way, is beautiful and mountainous, but not too spread out or barren like it is out west. Anyway, I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of these two phonetic bodies: “Clarion” and “Dubois”; taken their root words, they’re like an angel/devil dichotomy, or Apollo and Dionysus, as Camille Paglia might say. Clarity and dubiousness: they’re like love and marriage: one exciting and ever-changing, the other necessary and uniform, governed. People don’t go to Pennsylvania in order to avoid danger, or struggle. They go there because they love things.