Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bit Bicth

Funny how things bubble to the top of your memory at times.   Even funnier when something strange turns out to be something you count as a missed opportunity.

I used to enjoy lunch with a friend Bob when I worked in Philadelphia back in the 90s.  I would get out of my office once a week, typically on a Friday and walk through the City to visit Bob and then we'd get to go to someplace and have lunch.  Sitting around some days at the Fountain at Logan Square with a brown bag we'd get a chance to people watch, enjoy the day and a brief respite from the normal work a day life.

Other days, we'd walk from Bob's office down to a restaurant somewhere in Center City Philadelphia and perhaps do a bit of sight seeing in the day.   Some days we'd be rushed and have to get back to the offices and others it would be a good day to linger perhaps a bit longer and stand outside and look at the City.   Philadelphia is not the largest city, nor the most beautiful, but it was home and it had a character unlike no other.

Philadelphia has been described by some as a city that is like an old sneaker.  It can be a bit ratty in spots, a bit dirty, but amazingly comfortable and you wouldn't trade it for the world once you get to know it.  A city of neighborhoods, each of which has its own character.  The people who live in Philadelphia do tend to treat it as something to be managed.  Philadelphia is a city that is being constantly used, and reused, but always done in such a fashion that the character seems to remain the same.   The Olde City neighborhood for example is one where Betsy Ross would be quite comfortable in today.  Chestnut Hill looked like an English Country Town from the late 1800s.

Things get repaired and changed, but for the most part they're done in such a way that the character of the neighborhood doesn't look any different than it has 10 years before.   This character means that if you have a building in front you're going to patch the concrete and paint the rest but it will probably be the same colors as before.

Philadelphians do have a habit of being quite outspoken.  Get to know us first, and make the effort because we're not making the first step.  Won't happen.   I have seen that in the bars and public areas, and for the most part the only other place that I experienced a similar character was in Paris when I visited.   I spoke French, but badly, and they went out of their way to help me along.   A little French went a long way.

Back to Bob and his building... We would get back to his office and one day I noticed that there was a bit of graffiti in the fresh concrete in front.  It said "Bit Bicth".   I read that and scratched my head and then realized that the fool who decided to vandalize the property wanted to be rude and started to spell a mild obscenity, stopped, then wrote it wrongly without erasing the first "Bit". 

When I pointed that "Bit" out to Bob, it became a great joke pointing out the stupidity of vandalism and the vandals who damage property.   To this day, almost 20 years later, I still remember the legend of the Bit Bicth.

The only thing that I missed was a chance to bring a piece of paper to it and take a rubbing with some charcoal.   The idea of having my own "Bit Bicth" from the sidewalk in front of the old Rosenbluth building would have been amusing as person after person would look at it, scratch their head and say "Ok, what's the deal with that!".  I missed the chance because I have been told that it had gotten chewed up and replaced by some fresh concrete just before I moved to Florida.

Now you all have your own Bit Bicth.  You've read it and you can't Unread it.

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