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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/19/17

Postcard from the End of America: Pennsport in Philadelphia

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Shamrock Pub in Pennsport, 2017
Shamrock Pub in Pennsport, 2017
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Drive-in theaters are practically extinct, diners are dying, but go-go bars are still common in working class neighborhoods across America. It's wholesome afterwork entertainment for the sweating man.

When I was a housepainter over twenty years ago, our crew would hit The Office in Center City or Penn's Port Pub, on Christopher Columbus Boulevard. After a long, hot day of scraping paint or standing on a 40-foot ladder, it was somewhat soothing to see lovelies pole dancing.

Yesterday, I went with Felix Giordano to Penn's Port Pub to rekindle some old memories and, well, long lost sensations. "This may bring a dead man to life," Felix joked before we walked in. He's 71, and I just turned 54.

Yes, the doors to a movie theater also separate real life from fantasy, but entering a go-go bar, you're really descending into your simmering, frustrated id. Of course, it's bizarre to stare so hard at someone's orifices, with all your clothes on, in public. Being in a go-go bar is akin to witnessing a public execution.

In the early afternoon, there were only six aging, contemplative gents in there. We chose a reasonable vantage point and ordered two Yuenglings.

Within a hundred yards, there were also Club Risque' and Show & Tel, but they're gentlemen's clubs, and Felix and I just don't patronize such snobbish and exorbitant establishments. Once, a Club Risque' dancer did ask Felix for directions outside Wal-Mart, "She was stunning. I couldn't believe such a beautiful woman would ask me for directions!"

All the Christopher Columbus Boulevard big box stores, Wal-Mart, Target, Ikea, Staples, Home Depot, Lowe's and Best Buy, have destroyed most Pennsport mom and pops, but what are you going to do? Small businesses gone, the city tried to build casinos in Pennsport, but locals blocked the plan.

There are often beggars standing in the median on Christopher Columbus. Sometimes, you'll even see a homeless person sleep within sight of the Penn's Port Pub.

The SS United States is docked in Pennsport. Since its last vogage in 1969, all schemes to convert it to a casino, hotel, cruise ship, troop transporter or naval hospital have failed. The largest ocean liner to ever been built in the US, it molders and rusts on the Delaware River.

At Penn's Port Pub, they show all and don't bother with pasties, and it's generally assumed that's because it's a cops' go-go bar. Pennsport is still heavily Irish.

The Mummers are big here. They rehearse all year long for New Year's Day, when they can finally wear sequins, colored feathers and/or some outrageous, custom-made dress. Strutting down Broad Street, they strum a banjo, blow on a saxophone or twirl a gay umbrella.

As a blonde lady jiggled, writhed, hung upside down or spread, a man stared at his smart phone. There were two televisions on, but with the sound off. On a cooking show, seafood was being seasoned. Felix recognized an older black man at the end of the bar as the cook, "He's good. They have good food here."

Trawling for tips, the ladies will walk on the bar, so be prepared for one to wiggle her assets over your plate of chicken wings.

As dark-haired Damiana squatted in front of my placid, resigned face, I confided, "Me and this guy haven't been here in twenty years. I don't think you were working then."

"No, I wasn't," she giggled.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.


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