Spirit Newspaper – June 17, 2015

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    June 17, 2015 Vol. 12 No. 24

    VISIT OUR NEW SITE: SpiritNews.Org - Hyperlocal, Done Differently

    see FISH on page 4

    Port Richmond Resident AOH/LAOH Member


    patricia m. dugan

    215-634-23552662 EAST ALLEGHENY AVENUE

    Multi-Legal Services for Mature AdultsWILLS ESTATES ELDER LAW ISSUES

    by Andrew Mark Corkery

    Art galleries, coffee shops and street art. Commu-nity gardens, street food festivals and First Fridays. Start-up tech companies, converted warehouses and creative spaces. You may think theses elements de-scribe the vibrant commu-nity of Fishtown, but not in this case. What Im actually describing is a community similar to our Riverward, only this one is more than 3,000 miles and an ocean away in London, United Kingdom. In this A Fish Out of Wa-ter series, well take a look at this far away neighbor-hood called Shoreditch, see what similarities we can find between it and Fishtown and maybe even learn a thing or two from

    A Fish Out of Water: Spirit Reporter Discovers Another Fishtown

    Across the Pond

    that communitys develop-mental process. But why compare these two communities? Are they really that similar? According to Fishtown resident Nadia James, they are. I actually just came here visiting a friend and never really considered [living in] Philadelphia at all, James said. But I came to Fish-town because it specifically reminded me of where I used to live in Londonan area called Shoreditch. James had lived in Lon-don for a couple of years, but a desire to start her own business led her back home to North Jersey where she launched her content marketing consul-tancy firm, Griot Digital. Not long after starting up, James found a new home

    in Fishtown because it possessed the same creative business environment she loved back in Shoreditch. Today James serves cus-tomers like Rutgers Uni-versity, SemperCon and Practice Unite from her office space located at 2424 Studios. Shoreditch and Fish-town share commonalities throughout their respective histories. Both communi-ties have a long, storied past of being working class neighborhoods. Charles Booth, in his 1902 book Life and Labour of the People in London, described Shoreditch by saying, The character of the whole locality is work-ing class. The UK blog Book Snobs say Shoreditchs working class roots re-main an element of the

    communitys vibrant na-ture today. Kenneth W. Milano, a local historian who has published six books on Fishtown and other sur-rounding neighborhoods, characterizes the River-wards roots in similar terms. Its always been a work-ing-class community, Mi-lano said. You have fami-lies from the 1730s that are still living here. I think it goes to show the character of the people of Fishtown and the attachment to their community. [It is] a 275 year-old working-class neighborhood. Conrad Benner, an artist and street photographer, grew up in Fishtown and his family still lives in the community. Benner re-members how his father

    installed fire alarms for a living and his mother worked at a bank. Together his parents bought their house in the neighborhood during 1970s. Accord-ing to Benner, his family will never leave Fishtown; their attachment to the community has become a large part of who they are as people. When I was growing up I really loved it, Ben-ner said. I mean, it was definitely rough around the edges, like most American cities at that time, but for the most part [the neigh-borhoods residents] were great, loving people. Even with these proud working-class traditions and demographics, Fish-town and Shoreditch are also linked by their well-documented past of em-

    bracing artistic culture in the community. Its not widely known that the first theaters of London were built in Shoreditch. The first of these play-houses was simply and apt-ly called The Theatre, built in 1576. Shoreditch is also partly responsible for breathing inspiration into the man who many would come to regard as one of the greatest playwrights the world has ever known: William Shakespeare. He came to the area as an ac-tor during the 1590s and lived in the community. He wrote a few characters into his plays based on people he had met while living there. Some of his earliest works were even performed regularly in

    Despite being thousands of miles away, Fishtown (left) and the English neighborhood of Shoreditch (right) share several uncanny likenesses. /Photos of Riverwards by Joshua Albert, photos from Shoreditch courtesy Jason McGlad and Kirsty Allison. For full image credits, please refer to the free digital edition of Making Something Out Of Nothing


    see LOCAL LENS on next page

    by Thom Nickels

    THE LOCAL LENS with Thom NickelsThom Nickels

    is a Philadelphia-

    based author/journalist/

    poet, film critic and

    feature writer for

    The Spirit Newspapers.

    A long time ago, I came into contact with a number of fortune-telling families. Sometimes Id go into their little Tarot card reading shops and see what the future had in store for me. My first experience with mystics occurred when I was a student in Baltimore. Strolling down East Balti-more Street one evening, I spotted a shop and decided to have my palm read for two dollars. The ablaze-with-neon, curtained-off room was no larger than a broom closet. The woman there held my palm and told me that I needed in-stant karmic cleansing. She suggested that I take three coins and throw them into the Baltimore harbor, only I had to do this with my back to the water and throw the coins over my shoulderas coins are thrown into Romes Trevi Fountain. I walked down to the dark and gloomy harbor and did as the for-tuneteller advised. The day after the in-stant karmic cleansing, my landlord told me that

    he was selling his house and that I needed to find another place to live. One year later, in Boston, I was walking downtown when I passed another soothsayer. An old woman in a headscarf winked at me and asked if I wanted a life-reading for three dol-larsit was a tremendous-ly hot day, and the only thing I wanted to do was get out of the sun. I went inside the little, curtained-off room, sat down, and watched as she shuffled some cards. Behind yet an-other curtained-off area, I could hear children. In fact, I no sooner heard a childs voice than I saw a little, round face with large, brown eyes peeking up at me from underneath another hanging curtain. The woman there told me I had many obstacles in life: Many people were jealous of me and there was a curse on my fam-ily going back to the 14th Century. The 14th Cen-tury is a long time ago, so I asked her why I should be responsible for the antics of a diabolical ancestor. The woman offered a solution: For an extra five

    dollars, she would burn a special candle in her secret temple. That candle would be lit in my honor and melt the wax walls of the family curse. She lit the candle and then held her hand out for the money. This was followed by her husbands appearance from behind another curtained off area; after this, a number of doe-eyed children flooded the room. What was hap-pening? After questioning the family, I discovered that they needed eggs. They hadnt had breakfast and they wanted scrambled eggs. Ill get you eggs, I said

    to the woman. I knew that eggs were cheaper than five dollars so I volunteered to walk to a nearby gro-cery store and buy them a dozen. They thought my offer was a con and didnt expect me to returnbut I got them the eggs, and we parted on a civil note. I stayed away from for-tunetellers for a long time after that, although one time in Center City I went undercover as a reporter and had my future read at a number of shops. In almost every case I was told that people were jealous of me and that there was a family curse that I had to melt.

    I thought that wall was melted, I said. The walls come back, just like bedbugs, the for-tuneteller said. An oracle on 11th Street told me that my father had had an affair with a young woman neighbor when I was a teenager (not true). Another one near the Ital-ian Market frightened me when she put her hands over mine in a healing embrace, then told me to keep very still as a shock of electricity shot from her hands into mine. Was this witchcraft? How did she do it? Another mystic in the Italian Market told me to mark May 16th on my calendar. Mindful of the date, I was doing my laun-dry in the laundry room of the apartment where I was living and on that date met a guy who would later become my best friend. I still remind of him of this fortune today. When I spent five days in Florence, Italy several years ago, I used to go out at night and hang around the Piazza del Dumo near the great cathedral, Santa Maria del Flore. The area was a melting pot of Mo-roccan and North African visitors and immigrantssome selling trinkets like wooden toy trains and leather goods, others sit-ting on the cathedral steps smoking their peculiar brand of tobacco. Piazza del Dumo was a busy place. Lovers openly displayed their affection for one another on the cathedral steps, only these displays went a lot fur-ther than the conventional French kiss. People lingered in doorways, said hello to strangers, and drank wine in the moonlight. There were no surprise visits by police officers to tell people to keep moving. Un-like Rittenhouse Square, Piazza del Dumo did not close after midnight. In the middle of the night, an old woman was busy reading tarot cards. She was doing her readings in Italian and the line of people wanting readings was very long. She was obviously a famous local. Watching her go from cli-ent to client, I had intense thoughts of Philadelphia writer Charles Godfrey Lelanda spiritual de-scendant of the infamous occultist, Aleister Crow-ley. Leland began to write books about Italian witches when he first visited Flor-ence. In one book, Leland talks about meeting a fa-mous local reader named Maddalena. It occurred to me that perhaps Leland had met the queen of Ital-ian witches in Piazza del Dumo. Lelands time with the

    Italian witches changed his life. Born in 1824 to direct descendants of the first set-tlers of New England, Le-lands boyhood was a mix-ture of privileged wealth and an obsession with the mystical. He loved folk magic and walking in the woodswhere he claimed that he heard words in the songs of birds, and even in the sound of running wa-ter. At 18, he wrote his first book, Hermes Trismegis-tus: His Divine Pyman-der. The book was later published and became an inspiration for a variety of hermetic writings. Leland graduated from Princeton in 1845. After graduation he studied in Munich, Germany before traveling in Europe. In his book, Memoirs, he writes about the physical impression he made as a young man: At this time I was a trifle over six feet two in height, and had then and for some time after so fair a red and white complexion, that the young ladies in Phila-delphia four years later teased me by spreading the report that I used rouge and white paint! I was not as yet filled out, but held myself straightly, and was fairly proportioned. After Lelands post-grad-uate European travels, he returned to Philadelphia to begin a career in journal-ism where he wrote for, and edited, a number of news-papers and magazines, including The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, The Phila-delphia Press and Vanity Fair. During the Civil War he enlisted in the Union Army but his experiences on the battlefield were limited. He moved to England in 1870 where his mystic inclinations and fluency in several languages helped him to immerse himself in fortuneteller society, study-ing their culture to such an extent that in time he came to be accepted as one of their own. In Florence, his friendship with Maddalena led to his discovery of a number of witch cults with roots going back to ancient times. From the time he was a toddler, Leland had been well schooled in the world of spirits. In Memoirs he writes about the haunt-ed feeling many felt in Philadelphias Washington Square: Washington Square, opposite our house, had been in the olden time a Potters Field, where all the victims of the yellow fever pestilence had been interred. Now it had be-come a beautiful little park, but there were legends




    by Kenneth Lipp

    Congratulations, River-wards, youre where the action is. The housing market in Fishtown is booming and the blush of renewal is coloring

    The Politics are Hyperlocaleven some of the darkest corners of Kensington. There is opportunity for a sustained renaissance. Theres loads of money to be made, and everyone wants in on it. You lucky Philadelphians on The

    Spirits beat are in the core of vibrant new life. Youve been reading the election coverage here, a partnership with the news website I run with my co-editor Dustin Slaugh-ter, Phillydeclaration.org. The Spirit and the Decla-ration are terribly keen on the partnership, so were testing an expan-sion of it. Ill be writing regularly in web posts and print articles as The Spirits Associate Editor for Metro/Politics. Youll see more feature cover-age from the Declaration in print Wednesdays in the Riverwards, and as we gauge the temperature, well explore a deeper collaboration. Youve heard, Im sure, the adage that all poli-tics is local, often cred-ited to former Demo-cratic House Speaker Tip ONeill, but in fact coined by the Associated Presss Washington bureau chief Byron Price some 50 years before ONeill had the chance. Price, who was also director of the US Office of Censorship during the Second World War, wrote in 1932 in his column Politics at Ran-dom, all politics is local in the last analysis. This political column will be hyperlocal, like The Spirit. This and another couple of truisms, about real es-tatelocation, location, location and they arent making any more of itmake useful guideposts for the political coverage you can expect here. Councilmanic preroga-tive is a sacred cow of Philly governance that gives District Council-members nearly total control over land devel-opment in their districts. The power is not one written into law, but an ar-chaic customary practice exercised without excep-tion in Phillys chambers, each Councilmember deferring to the other regarding land inside the others administrative jurisdictions. Either the SugarHouse Casin...