The cross streets of 9th & Passyunk are no stranger to long lines and big crowds. I often pass by and am witness to everything from local radio station promotional events to short film productions shooting the scene of their movie where the main character confesses his love to a girl with a mouthful of cheese fries. (Check it out, the movie is called "My Heart Beats for Cow Meats", starring Keirnan Culkin. Just kidding, that movie doesn't exist, thankfully.)
Sometimes the gatherings outside of Geno's are of a more serious fare, and coax other South Philadelphians to come out and voice their opinions. Most famously, Anti Mumia protests and a book signing by fallen policemanDaniel Faulkner's wife Maureen Faulkner for her book entitled "Murdered by Mumia" back in 2007. That, combined with Geno's food ordering policy, may lead some to believe that they are not afraid of drawing social and racial lines.
Needless to say Geno's is very outspoken about certain issues; certain issues usually meaning race issues. And last week was no different.
Geno's, in conjunction with everyone's favorite 1210 AM radio, held an event outside of their neon adorned establishment to raise money for the Republican governor of Arizona to fight the Federal Government's lawsuit against Arizona and it's SB1070 immigration law. Buy a cheesesteak, help keep the law alive.
The Geno's side was a spattering of American Flags and "No Amnesty" signs.
Across the street, there was a very different message.
Now as we all know, both sides are allowed to voice their opinions, and that is not something to take issue with. What is, however, is how one or both sides can display their complete ignorance and digress into pure hatred and aggression against the other.
This is the point where 1210 am began blaring "My Country Tis of Thee" and all of the Geno's event supporters turned their backs on the "Un-American" protesters across the street. A truly touching display of angry white people coming together and pulling the "Patriot" card. Way to go guys!
You might be saying, but where's the hate you speak of? Read on.
My favorite part of the event was the "teach your kid to be a bigot" segment. This is where grown men, and some women, began spouting homophobic slurs at the SB1070 protesters. Have a look.
The gentleman in the front being told to step back by the police officer was especially poetic, calling one of the protesters on the other side a "faggot". Well it turns out the man across the street was actually in fact gay, and having probably heard that slur his entire life, reacted with "I am gay!" between laughs. The angry man's response? "Then why don't you come over here and suck my dick!" and proceeded to grab his crotch and partially unzip his pants.
Oh, and did anyone notice the 8-year-old boy directly behind him hoisted on his father's shoulders? Becasue apparently no one there did. Not even the father.
See him now? All the way to the right, American flag in hand? Yea, about 30 seconds after the aforementioned exchange, that little boy started yelling "faggot" across the street, the whole time waving the flag and sitting atop his beaming father's shoulders. A prouder dad I've never seen.
This is indeed something to take issue with. The fact that the kid has no idea what is truly happening, only that his 'team' is made up of the good guys and it's fun to call people names on the 'bad' side.
And this is what it became. A bunch of pointed name calling and ignorant bigotry. That's not to say that everyone on the Geno's side was acting that way. Not at all. I spoke with several rational behaving individuals that were able to hold a conversation without demeaning me personally or verbally assaulting me while demanding I declare what side I was on.
In fact, there were maybe ten people of the whole lot that were really the outspoken aggressors. BUT, this does not answer the question as to why the rational people didn't speak up and attempt to control the unbridled hatred of their group, and say, 'hey how about we stick to the issue at hand here and stop with the homophobic rants'.
The problem all stems from the "Patriot card" I mentioned before. It's this initial defense that supporters of the law revert to; a simplified stance, applied by conservatives during any issue that deals with country. That is to say, if you disagree with, for example in this case, potential racial profiling, then you are not American and you hate this country. It's a pretty solid argument, however hollow, in that it easily dismisses the opposing argument and those who support it. We're the ones with the flags and the USA music, so you must be the other guys that are threatening our well being.
The SB 1070 protesters were not without their eggers-on, enjoying poking fun right back at the Geno's camp. Having stood there though, I did not hear anything quite on par with an 8-year-old shouting faggot. Most of the retorts, although antagonizing in tone, were playful twists on the blind ignorance being thrown at them.
All that aside, this sign was pretty damn funny.
In case you can't enlarge the photo, it reads, "Wiz + Wit AREN'T English words!"
I think even some people on the Geno's side had to laugh at that one.
All in all, it was refreshing to see about 400 people so adamantly split on an issue, passionately shouting it out in my neighborhood, even if most of it resulted in playground name calling.
Oh and in case you forgot:
In the end, one thing is for sure. If anything will keep Illegal Aliens out of this country, it'll be GENO's cheesesteaks.
I took these around Easter and as of a week ago, this window is still decorated as so, only the purple "He is Risen" has faded to a pale lavender. But this isn't a new concept in South Philly. Ney, there are several blocks, yes entire BLOCKS, that leave up, for example, their Christmas decor year round. But can we simply chalk this up to sheer laziness? Yes. Yes we can.
So who knows, Christ may still be rising over and over well through Thanksgiving. But then again, the American flag decals in this window have been up since Easter as well, so maybe leaving this window display up until July 4th was the plan all along. I mean what's more American than Jesus Christ?....You're right, Ab machines, but Jesus is a close second! (but I think we can all agree that Jesus used an Ab machine)
That being said, come on people! It's lazy and irresponsible enough not picking up your dog's shit-piles, and not throwing your trash in a trash can while in our streets, so please don't let it spill over into our front windows.
I live in South Philadelphia, and although times may get tough, work might be crappy, or it may smell like unbagged dog feces everywhere I walk, I can always depend on my neighborhood's elaborate window displays to cheer me up. Here are some of those window pane wonders...