I think it’s been dead for awhile now, but it was never more apparent for me than when I make my monthly voyage from Pennsyltucky back to the old neighborhood.
And no, it’s not just because every other corner has a gastropub (what the fuck are those anyway) and you can’t order a drink at a bar without first looking at an extensive menu of craft beers, beers with strange names that I cannot pronounce.
The sign that old school Fishtown is dead? Easy: In the last two years I’ve seen very few neighborhood kids sitting out on the corner.
Oh, I know. Hanging on the corner is supposed to be a bad thing. All types of negative connotations there, right? That’s where kids get into fights, where they drink beer, where they smoke a joint for the first time.
Yeah, that’s where all the fun shit of your youth happens.
I visited Fishtown last month. While walking over to the Port Richmond Thriftway (still a shit hole) I saw two rough-looking teenagers strutting toward me. One had a hoodie pulled up, even though it was humid as hell. The other one was glaring at everyone, including me, as he mumbled something about how they should get a case of beer later.
Good Christ, I wanted to hug the little motherfuckers (though they were both larger than my Hobbit-like self and likely could have kicked my ass). These were neighborhood kids, just like me and my Fishtowner and Kenzo buddies growing up. I looked at the little shit heads, who were sharing a cigarette and thinking they looked just so fucking bad ass, and I said to myself, holy shit, has not every F-Towner, Kenzo and Port Richmond kid not, at some point, acted just like this?
But then I walked back to my mother’s house and didn’t see one kid hanging on the street. No teenagers with a case of beer hidden in an alleyway. No sixteen year olds talking shit, getting ready for a fist fight.
My fondest memories growing up in and around Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond are when me and my shit head buddies did all this wonderful crap. We got into trouble, we looked for girls, we walked aimlessly around the neighborhood.
Kids in Fishtown don’t seem to be doing much of this anymore. In ten years that neighborhood won’t have anymore neighborhood guys nor any neighborhood girls, just a bunch of sheltered yuppie spawn who were too busy on their fucking I-Pads to get into a street fight during their formative years.
So, I think of those two kids I saw in the Thriftway parking lot. I love you, you troublemaking little fuckers. Just don’t sell oxies in front of my mom’s house.