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Part of my first awareness of what is now known as The Rail Park came by way of a friend who, some years back, told me that they’d been going up there for the express purpose of having sex. I was vaguely aware of the area, the part of town that some still call The Eraserhood (though it seems like once again, Philly’s real estate community will cudgel us into eventually calling the neighborhood whatever they wish), and I believe my first concern for my friend was not so much about being discovered or mugged or whatever, but instead: ticks. In my mind, the lush and wild growth up on this section of disused railway was on the same level as, say, a deep forest somewhere in the Poconos. And in a way, just over the fence of what is currently the end of The Rail Park’s current parcel, it still is.
Once I got past my general concern about lyme disease, it was easy to see the attraction, and hell yeah, valor in what my friend was getting up to up there: Making love against the ruins. There’s a lot of us still roaming these streets of Philadelphia for whom this has been the primary philosophical mode all along, even if we periodically have to remind ourselves that this is, in fact, what we’re supposed to be trying to be doing. This has been on my mind lately, as I’ve been spending a lot of time in that part of town (not having sex). Though development there, like so many other neighborhoods, continues at breakneck pace, the Eraserhood is still so much more green and deep and mysterious than is often acknowledged. It isn’t quite “nature,” but it isn’t not, either.
A few weeks ago, I found myself up on The Rail Park in the blazing midday sun on a weekday afternoon. In full sun, on the right day, if you close your eyes, it can almost feel like the beach up there. The traffic turns into wave sounds, the pebbles reflect up like sand, and if you close your eyes for a second (not too long, it’s still the Eraserhood, baby), all your cares can roll away. On Friday, The Rail Park will celebrate its first anniversary, and there’ll be an attendant party over at The Patio. The folks behind it all have a lot to celebrate, and the way I see it, my friend does, too: The Rail Park, even in its youth still, has grace and style and serves a higher purpose. It is a premiere example of what good can come from making love against the ruins.
-- Joey Sweeney
The SoLow Festival is what you’d get if you combined the plucky twin strands of both the Fringe Festival and Philly’s penchant for house shows. As you read this, it’s getting underway, with large performances in tiny rooms all over town. (Through June 23.)
Sounds Of Liberation was a supergroup of Philly’s black avant-garde jazz scene of the early 1970s, and thanks to Brewerytown Beats, they are all over again, both on vinyl and in the flesh, as they reunite to play this show with the Sun Ra Arkestra, celebrating bandleader Marshall Allen’s 95th (!) birthday. Though a younger reader might scan that as a whole lotta OLD, trust that this is music more free than a whole night in airplane mode. (Thursday)
Partying: It may or may not be the done thing anymore, but you can bet that sooner or later, you will probably want to again. Buy low and sell high with Club Congress at Warehouse On Watts(Thursday), which features a flyer that inspires attendance on its merit alone, to say nothing of the promise of there being a Roland 909 in the DJ booth percolating all night long; if you prefer another flavor, let’s say “indie dance party, go ahead and get your Electric Feels with Vacationer at Underground Arts (Friday).
And finally, if all of this sounds like just a little too much for you, join Philly’s premiere Hawaiian country band, Slowey & The Boats, for their record release BBQ at Dawson Street Pub. Their latest, Beneath An Amber Moon, is the exact kind breezy delight that’ll make you forget whatever it is that needs forgetting. And that’s a lot. (Sunday)