So, I have a friend who is going to be attending Live8 Philly. He asks me,
Well, since people often seem to be asking me that question, I suppose I ought to post online.
For Live8 attendees, the Eastern State Penitentiary is an obvious choice. It marks the beginning of the quest for humane treatment of prisoners in the West. And yet it also provides a warning that good intentions are not enough. Even when the most wealthy and educated get together to work toward positive change, they can make harmful decisions. Enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard are necessary. One needs a balance of careful humility, a willingness to change's one's efforts when change is needed and a lot of dedication.
I highly recommend a visit to South Street, one of the more culture and subculturally-diverse parts of the city. A visit to Isaiah Zagar's marvelous murals is well worth the trip to South Street. If you have time, make some art in his garden.
Those looking to worship in a church might want to think about visiting the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. I visited once, and although I'm not used to big formal services, I was really blessed by the sincerity and thought-out wisdom of the sermon I heard from Phillip G. Ryken. The church has been around since 1828. The music is awesome; I know some of their musicians, and it's top notch, classical/high church stuff.
Although I highly disagree with Unitarians, those interested in the history of racial equality should definitely check out the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. The Unitarians, along with the Quakers, were the most outspoken group of social activists working for racial equality in the 19th century.
Speaking of which, the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum is open on Sundays.
Nearby is the Atwater Kent Museum. I love that place. This museum has always been my favorite museum in Philadelphia. They always have great exhibits.
Of course, if you're looking for art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is never a bad choice. It's huge. The artwork from all around the world is excellent, particularly the European religious art, Philadelphia collections, and collections of Asian art. Sadly, the Dali exhibit has moved on. Walking through the collections of the art and furnishings of Philadelphia's well-bred elite, I first fully understood the futility of living a life trying to gain, display, and hoard beautiful things. Having studied the horrible plight of thousands of Philadelphians, I was saddened to see the great lengths to which Philadelphia's rich would go to flaunt their wealth. But I also know that Philadelphia's elite were great philanthropists. Money from an individual only stretches so far, no matter how rich they are. Philadelphia's philanthropists attempted to build long-lasting organizations that could do good beyond their death. I think this is a good idea. Look up the paintings of Eakins.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is only a few blocks from the Eastern State Penitentiary. Of course, if you go to the Museum of Art, make sure you check out the Rodin Museum. It will give you a chance to see the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is my favorite part of Philadelphia because it displays the flags of many countries, including Guatemala!
My friend is a pacifist and will probably not visit the next location, but I would suggest a quick visit to the small museum of the First City Troop. From their website: "The First City Troop is the oldest continuously active military unit in service to the nation." They're still a cavalry unit, though they also train in tanks. The First City Troop did a lot of good for the city in the 19th century. As an item of local history, the First City Troop was the group of cavalry that set fire to the covered bridge across the Susquehanna during the days leading up to Gettysburg. The towns were never compensated for the loss of the bridge, despite federal law. And Pitts is right (as quoted in the article). The towns in that area, once considered fine enough for a possible location for the nation's capitol, have since become very economically depressed. (but I digress)
If you're looking for hidden narrative in the city, look for Implementation by Nick Montfort and Scott Rettberg. This novel, written by hypertext/experimental literature guys, exists as a bunch of stickers in unusual places. Look for rounded rectangular labels. The novel has been over for a few months, but you might be lucky and find some chapters.
(this one is just outside the library, on the big button art. I can't believe I missed it! I was right there, just a few months ago.)(I blogged Implementation during my last visit to Philly)
Fairmount Park is a nice place as well. It's Philadelphia's oldest park and one of the oldest public parks in the U.S..
If you go toward Broad Street or City Hall, make sure you visit the Wannamaker Organ. If you miss church, you still have a chance to hear beautiful music.
If you want some food, I'm not the best person to ask. I ate out of the grocery store. But Cosi is a good place to be if you want a sandwich and a good drink. The atmosphere is great -- and there's wireless internet.
Or, you can head over toward uPenn (where there is also a Cosi), enjoy walking on an Ivy League campus, and catch some Asian food (Thai, Indian, Chinese etc etc mmmm).
So, to my friend: enjoy Live8. I hope lots of money is raised, and that it will be used wisely. I wish I could be there with a blogger pass; I want to understand the people of my generation who care. I want to see what the future holds. Can entertainment capitalists do what the efforts of industrial capitalists have not yet accomplished?