ON THE RADIO...
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||The Truth About Philadelphia
Glenn Holsten Lead-in:
So much of our focus these days seems to be on our "show and tell" city … but there’s another side to Philadelphia that I find much more real, much more inspiring, and much more dramatic…
I’m making a film that explores and honors the drama of everyday life in the city of neighbors from all over – South, West, North Philly, from Manayunk, Olney, the Great Big Northeast…
Everyday people – cops, teachers, students, block captains, fast food workers, preachers, government employees, crossing guards, retiree – people whose voices are rarely heard.
I asked them – 50 of them – the same twenty questions about living in the city, and the elements of drama they face everyday – conflict, plot, themes, characters, heroes, villains, hopes, fears … all in search of the truth about Philadelphia.
What is the truth about Philadelphia?
Well that's pretty heavy. That's a pretty heavy statement. The Truth About Philadelphia I would say that the truth about Philadelphia it still is it is a city of brotherly love.
The Truth About Philadelphia? How to keep your sanity. It's -- that's the only think could name The Truth About Philadelphia. The title would be How to Keep Your Sanity, because of the red tape, and the boon doggle, and the B.S. that you get from basic -- basically City Officials, License and Inspections, the Water Department, the Gas Department, and everything else.
Brotherly doesn't exist here. You know that's a big joke. When industry left here the people stayed. Everything is closed down. All the big industry we had in this city is gone. Okay? Deteriorated buildings, all the neighborhoods around it, they just rot away, you know? People's minds rot, you know, they bitter, they don't know who to blame. Like the fighter in the ring that, uh, went back to his corner all bloodied up and his handler said, uh, don't worry about a thing, he's laying a hand on you. He said, well you better watch that damn referee because somebody is beatin the hell out of me, okay? Same thing here. Most people who are in this condition, they don't know who's kicking 'em, who's beatin 'em, who's keeping 'em down, you know?
You know, there's a lot of feeling that there are people who mastermind the city and I really feel that the truth about Philadelphia is, is that there are a lot of people who are struggling against, umm, these masterminds of, of how the city runs and that they're doing it in strong ways. But the voices that are reflected necessarily in the media or you know, on TV or in the city halls are not the voices of these people. So,struggle, I think, in a very positive way is, is a big truth about Philadelphia.
I think it's up to our City leaders to tell the truth; T R U T H, tell the truth. And take your job seriously, as a public servant. And we, as citizens, have to make ourselves more educated as to whom we're putting in office. It's, it's a two-way street.
I think the truth about Philadelphia is we, we, we really need to stop kidding ourselves. We need to get up, get on it, and ask to what we want. Uh, and see to it that we get what we want. Sometimes, uh, and I don't, I don't want to be a beggar. I don't feel as though I should have to beg because I think that if everybody put into a City to help support a City, then certainly there should be benefits for everybody to reap, positive benefits. And I think that it's enough people in the City of Philadelphia. It's enough jobs in the City of Philadelphia for this to come to pass. Uh, I look at certain areas of Philadelphia and I almost cry. The area where I moved from when I moved here, looks like a war zone now.
In terms of thinking about the truth of Philadelphia, which Philadelphia becomes the first question for me? You know, I'm impressed that you've, you're speaking to an out gay man (LAUGH), because we make up a, a, a large portion of the City as well. Umm, and yet we've become invisible just like, I think, the poor in Philadelphia sometimes become invisible. And the elderly become invisible.
As a Latino male, I, I feel that this City, umm, is, is, has been divided, more like in the -- in the white and black. And then like, every other ethnicity sort of like doesn't count, or it's not accountable. Umm, so I would probably try to bring that out, you know, how it's not just black and white, you know, there's many of us that are here and -- and -- and we're trying to make a difference and we're not being recognized.
I would, I would, umm, make a, a, a film about, uh, new people who come to Philadelphia. After all, Philadelphia is a place that always newcomers. I would make a film about a life of a newcomer in Philadelphia and how they adjust themself into the -- and then become themself to a, a Philadelphian. Yeah, I'd probably do that, yeah.
The biggest truth in Philadelphia is the truth of the revolution. And it's about freedom and liberty. So that, that spirit of liberty is really the driving force behind Philadelphia. That's the thing that will never die.
If I was going to make a film, uh, about the truth about Philadelphia, I guess it would be about a City that's rich in history, uh, but the attitudes of some of the people in that City tend to contradict its name sake, which is the City of Brotherly Love.
I think people say that Philadelphia is a city of brotherly love, but it's more or less a bunch of words. And it has, uh, very little, uh, substance to it, uh, there's not a very, I, I think there's hardly any, umm, understanding William Penn and, uh, and his dream And that would be his umm, spiritual component, you know, being a Quaker. I guess at the base of every problem there's a person whether he's successful or not successful. Whether he's rich or poor. There's a person. The worst human being has a spiritual component he's most unaware of his…the truth about himself. If you don't introduce them to the truth…that's there's two aspects to our being, than you're going to have them functioning from one aspect only and that is going to be from the human standpoint of view and it's going to let me eat you up before you eat me up.
And, what, what else I would address in a film about the truth, what is it, about the truth about Philadelphia, I, it would be about the wonderful people in this city who try to make their neighborhoods a better place to live, and are fighting against every obstacle that could come down the path. I mean, this incredible group of people who are, they're pushing a boulder up the mountain. I mean, it's like there's, umm, when I was working at Norris Square, they told me this phrase in Spanish, which, if I say it, I'll brutalize it. But, it, it means the tail of the cow. And they said, "this is what we've been getting from everybody. It's the tail of the cow. Will you help us? Will you do a mural? You know…
I'm sitting with my daughter last night, but she's my baby. She's eighteen years old, but she's my baby. And I tell her, Ursi, if you were make a movie I need help in this… The Truth About Philadelphia. She goes, Mom, drugs, cops and the filthiness. It's dirty. Philadelphia is a dirty area. Well at least here in the Fairhill Section. It's dirty. And I looked at her and I go that's true, you know, I should have thought of that. I was stuck and I wanted to say something honest. And, umm, she goes, Mom, that's the truth.
Well these are three wishes I have at this time. I would want a, each community to have a resource center. I would want every public school, in this city, to open its doors until 10:00 at night. And to be peopled by individuals who want to be there, who want to share. Because there are so many people who have skills and can share them. Why not? Let's give people a place to go. And we're not going to have graffiti. Then we're not going to have anger and rage. Then we're not going to have alienation. Because people will have a purpose. Give people a purpose, give them something to work at, and you will alleviate 90% of the ilks that beset our communities. I am telling you the truth.