I mean to respond to something mentioned that was brought to my attention by RunningMom, but later on this week.
West Philly is not really my hang out. It’s just some place I used to work in and then live in when I was involved with someone. I still get my haircut there even though it’s now completely out of my way and occasionally I will catch a movie outside of the University of Pennsylvania. They have a terrific theatre, but it’s become popular with the locals and so depending on the film, you will see many of the wrong sorts of people; don’t pretend to be shocked, you know I’m a snob when it comes to film and if you’re reading this you probably are one too.
I remember I would sometimes go to a speakeasy in West Philly after the regular bars would close. It was on Sansom St and in someone’s basement. You would have to line up outside and they would let you in small group by small group as they figured out how much room they had left inside. The place was always packed with people, well actually men trying to get their "last chance" groove on for the night one way or the other. Some nights it was so crowded and filled with smoke, I would start to cry because my eyes burned so badly, and I smoke. How I miss those days.
I had an Ex who would criticize me for sometimes slipping into a West Philly accent or speech pattern and he may or may not have been right, I don’t know. But what I do know is that sometimes I will subconsciously mimic the way people speak in order for to fit in wherever I am. In other words there is a little piece of Philadelphia in me and I am sure then, that there was a little piece of Philadelphia in John Pryor.
A few months ago I wrote something about the piece ABC News had done on Killadelphia. That was the term they had used to explain how doctors were using techniques that they were learning in Philadelphia to save lives from gunshot wounds and other traumas and taking those skills to the Middle East to do the same there. Dr. John Pryor was one of those physicians from (HUP) the Hospital University of Pennsylvania who saved lives in West Philly and then saved them in Iraq. Dr. Pryor lost his life on Christmas Day 2008 in Mosul during a mortar attack in a safe zone.
The year before, Pryor had written something for the Washington Post:
“In Iraq, ironically, I found myself drawing on my experience as a civilian trauma surgeon each time ‘mascals,’ or ‘mass casualty situations,’ would overrun the combat hospital…As nine or 10 patients from a firefight rolled in, I sometimes caught myself saying, ‘Just like another Friday night in West Philadelphia,'...”
I am sure that Philadelphia will miss John Pryor in many more ways than one. But I also wonder, how many more people will die in Iraq and how many more will die in West Philly because he is no longer there to save them.
This monstrosity of a war must stop.