Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, March 17, 2014


This Sunday, I had the immense pleasure of touring a bit of downtown Philadelphia with the inimitable BigMikeyOcho, a good friend and fellow blogger from the Knights of Mercy and Beyond the Veil (New York Chapter). In case you've missed him in the past, Ocho is the proprietor of Casual Aggro.

Ocho made the mistake of taking me past Philadelphia's Hard Rock Cafe, which became our first stop. I have enamel pins from every HRC I've visited—from Frankfurt, Germany to Seoul, South Korea—and this was no exception. I also couldn't pass up getting a gift for Grandbaby Scooter, and Ocho was gracious enough to model some so Scooter could help me decide. (We went with a onesie.)
I'm not sure it will fit.
Ocho was intent on making sure I had an authentic Philly cheesesteak, and he knew just where to get one, Reading Terminal Market. I let him order so he could get the details right, and it was delicious! The Market was very crowded, and we fought for a place to sit amongst the many eateries. While we ate, we were entertained by the passing people and the passable lounge singer using karaoke recordings.
Ocho!Rowan's Bowler!
After we finished our cheesesteaks, we grabbed some zeppoli from a bakery in the Market, then headed for the main event: Independence Hall.
Hey, someone took a bite out of this one.
Tickets are required, but available at no cost from the Independence Visitor Center nearby. They come with specific tour times; which is great, because the guides give great perspective on the events that shaped the fledgling United States of America. We had some time to eat our zeppoli before the tour, and then tour the nearby portrait gallery housed in the "Second Bank of the U.S." building. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, Ocho misplaced the tickets. Luckily, the Bowler hat came to the rescue, as the National Park rangers at the gallery radioed to the ones at Independence Hall to be on the lookout for a towering bear with a black Derby, and his sidekick.
See? My hat reaches the second floor windows!
The left-hand picture of the belfry (which used to house the Liberty Bell) was suggested by Ocho ,who said—and I quote—"It would make an excellent screenshot."
Frankly, it is awe-inspiring.Nicolas Cage was up there once.
Al Cavalari is a volunteer tour guide at Independence Hall. And he was absolutely amazing at telling the story of the cradle of the Republic. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and voted upon by delegates from each state right there in that room. The chair on the dais is the one George Washington actually sat in throughout that hot summer of 1787 as the Constitutional Convention hammered out the compromises that—while sometimes flawed, looking back—meant the difference between the various States going their separate ways, or forming "a more perfect Union."
This guy. Wow!
For the first time in many visits, Ocho had the chance to go upstairs. (It was my first time, too, though I've been here far less often.) This was a room with many uses. The colonial governor of Pennsylvania (whose office adjoined it) held official dinners here. During the War for American Independence, the occupying British used this room as a POW hospital, where many American soldiers finally lost their individual battles. Later, fugitive slaves were tried here on the spot where I am taking this photograph, directly above the room where Thomas Jefferson had declared "that all men are created equal," but also where a very necessary compromise meant that those slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person. The steps we've taken to live up to Jefferson's lofty ideal have been slow, representing much of our nation's history, and continuing in the present day.
This room runs the length of the second floor.
After that amazing journey, we swung back though the Liberty Bell pavilion. "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (Leviticus 25:10) is inscribed on this symbol of freedom. And Ocho and I finally got a picture together. But it wasn't the last, as Ocho discovered the magic of the Bowler.
A wonderful piece of history.I think he should get one of his own.

All aboard the Doom Train!
Finally, we come to the end of the trip (at least before my phone died). I gotta say, the subway station we chose to wait for the train in kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies. Those who've explored the Manhattan Exclusion Zone in TSW will understand why.
Much like TSW, this subway contains an in-universe reference to the blog author.
I did get a chance to meet Ocho's lovely wife and have dinner with the two of them at an excellent establishment known as The Pop Shop
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.


  1. Haha! My wife said it wasn't really a zeppoli. It was an imitation one as it contained more than ricotta. It was just different than those she was use to. Eh, it was still good.

    It was a pleasure meeting you, and I'm glad I was able to show you a bit of the area. As I said, it would be criminal to come to Philly and not get an authentic cheesesteak. And of course, who doesn't appreciate seeing the exact spot our Constitution and Declaration of Independence were hammered out? That tangible connection with history is awesome, and I don't get there nearly as often as I should. Thanks for joining me this time. :)

    1. Thank you! I had a great time. I looked up zeppoli on Wikipedia in order to make sure I spelled it right, and what we had seems to be a regional variant (much as there are many different donuts). But the chocolate pieces and cannoli-style filling are specifically mentioned.

  2. Replies
    1. It was so awesome. I love history and I love this country, flaws and all.

  3. This is awesome! Why do all the bloggers live in America? *sobs*
    (Okay, maybe not all, but a LOT do.)

    Sounds like you had a great time! :D

    1. Lemme see: Kadomi lives in Germany, Syl lives in Switzerland. A bunch of folks live in the UK. . . :)

    2. Jup , actually probably a third of ppl on my blogroll are European, they just love to hide! ;)

      Awesome pics by you two, looks like you had lots of fun! :) blogger meets ftw - one day I may come to haunt you all yet!