Soooo… the Philadelphia Orchestra played the bowl at Clark Park last weekend. Throughout the summer, local bigwig corporations sponsor these free neighborhood concerts, which never fail to bring out hordes of neighbors with old blankets, lawnchairs, and pic-a-nic baskets. My neighborhood is no different… but it is so very unique.

before the grand event, i trotted over to my friends ben, ben (yes, two different bens), and meagan’s to make goodies for the picnic. we had standard sandwiches, but also veggie/feta pitas and trader joe’s finest… dark chocolate covered raisins (soooooo tasty!). with an old table cloth and a worn bedsheet, we made our 10-minute way to the park. g o r g e o u s weather out… couldn’t have asked for better.

we got there, set up camp on a slope (Clark Park features a large, natural bowl, perfect for outdoor performances of many sorts. i think it used to be a pond, way back when). then things got interesting….

we quickly noticed we were in a pack of smokers. not a biggie, but a l,ittle unusual in the nearly smoke-free city that philly is becoming. then we realized that the guy behind us was burning incense. and we wondered what sort of scent this might be intended to cover. hmmm…

looking around, of course, we counted not a few folks devouring harry’s latest adventures while the band played on (who can blame them?? i’ll be joining their ranks soon – am forcing myself through book 6 again before indulging). there was a band of punk/anarchists who started heckling the bank sponsor representative as soon as he was introduced. poor fella – i’m not a fan of big corporate America, either, but they were actually doing a good thing by sponsoring accessibility to the arts. lots and lots of dogs wandered through (when there’s not an orchestra playing, that particular part of the park is the dog run – careful where you sit.) but i gotta attempt to describe more of the human demographic, though, as that was the truly interesting bit…

it was a beautiful cross-section of the folks who inhabit our neck of the woods. i’ve already mentioned the anarchists… they’re commonly identified visually by black-based clothing, multiple (and creative) tattoos, and patch-covered bike messenger bags, often in black-and-some-other-color designs. there were the neo-hippies… girls wearing funky european shoes and loose sundresses, funky plastic-rimmed glasses and slightly-askew hairstyles, guys who wear skinny thrift-store jean cutoffs and chuck taylors with a faded plaid button-down. there are original hippies, too — see above for incense guy. there are international families, often living in philly for a few years while one or both spouses complete doctoral degrees at the university of pennsylvania. some of these families are Muslim, and the women are covered to varying degrees with either vibrantly colored hijab and abaya or solid black versions of both. then there are young families, where one or both spouses graduated drexel engineering programs or wharton business school and just never left the area. they push hip strollers and feed their kids organic baby carrots while they drink a nice bottle of red wine with their stone-ground wheat crackers and sheep’s milk manchego.

then there’s the random assortment of single college graduates, most of whom have banded together in pairs or trios to occupy the rental properties that fill the area… most of us are transitioning from college student to husband/wife/father/mother – or, at least, we hope we are. we look a like a little bit of everyone above. my crowd was eating the food of the yuppies, dressing a little like the hippies, and scrapping together picnic supplies as though we had just arrived in the city. it was marvelous.