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Walking Broad: Looking for the Heart of Brotherly Love Hardcover – July 31, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
After living in New York for 25 years, writer Buschel returned to his native Philadelphia to explore the city from the perspective of a place of enchantment from his youth: Broad Street, a 13-mile stretch starting near the northern su-burbs and running through the squalor of North Philly to City Hall and along the theaters and hotels of Center City down to Little Italy. Block by block, mile by mile, Buschel explores how the street—and by extension the city itself—has changed since his youth, presenting fascinating glimpses of current Broad Street residents in action, such as the owner of a fast-food joint that serves hoagies and cheesesteaks. But Buschel also argues that nothing has really changed about the city's soul: to be a Philadelphian is to be perpetually mildly depressed and almost happy to be so, which affects everything from the city's politics (a steady diet of civic shame and invective) to sports (fans love to complain). This painfully honest and blunt memoir reveals how Buschel's love-hate relationship with the city is inextricably connected to his painful Broad Street youth: the death of his father when Buschel was three, his troubled relationship with his hard-working and hard-drinking mother and the abuse he suffered after being sent at age seven to a city boarding school for orphans. (Aug.)
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"This is great fun -- jaunty, highly engaging. Very Philly....And we all have family members like this, shadowy memories lost in time forever. Okay, it made me wistful."
-- Tim Whitaker, editor, Philadelphia Weekly
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I was there when Sally Starr and Gene London ruled TV, when Jerry Blavet and WFIL ruled the music scene, when Richie Allen became Dick Allen, when Rizzo was a character in "Doonesbury", when Rocky was installed at the Art Museum, and when the Phillies won the World Series; ah, good times. Then Wilson Goode bombed MOVE, I graduated from college, and left for New York. It was time to move for me, too.
Any Philadelphian who was in the city in the 60s, 70s, and 80s will recognize the Philly Bruce Buschel remembers and discovers in this book, but Buschel and his brother are funnier than I and my friends could ever be. His transliteration of the Philly accent is pitch-perfect (Chapter 3), and he gets the defiant "We're not NY and we're not DC and we don't care" addytood of the natives just right (every chapter).
I visited Philly in 2005 and was surprised that it finally did something with the waterfront. The historic area is unequal in its treasures (don't miss Elfreth Alley!) and will raise a lump in your throat with pride at what happened here. Sterile Veteran's Stadium has been razed and the Phillies now lose in a wonderful new old-fashioned stadium. Visit!
But read this book before you go. You'll learn how people in Philly coped with living amid reminders that your hometown used to be the most important place in the colonies, but lost something somewhere for some reason. You learn to ignore the bad and shrug off the absurd, and the only thing that really matters is where the best cheesesteak is made. That's Philly, to me.
Buschel writes well and easily shares his opinions and insights.
A great read. Even non-Philadelphians can get something out of it.
Most recent customer reviews
like many philadelphians who left long ago but still pridefully cling to their orginating identity,...Read more