Sunday, December 10, 2006

Doing Stuff: Day 12, Latkepalooza/Philadelphia Paranormal and Ghost Hunters Meet-Up Group

Who doesn't enjoy fried potato pancakes?

The first day began with Ilana and I headed to the Gershwin Y, the de facto headquarters of Philadelphia's Jewish community for their annual LATKEPALOOZA. Latkepalooza is an all-afternoon event where some of Philly's best restaurants line up to cook latkes in the most creative and delicious ways. I never thought that I could have a vegetarian Chinese style latke until today, but I did.

But Latkepalooza isn't just about enjoying fried pancakes dipped in sour cream, it's also about love. When I was standing in line, I noticed an older couple wearing odd matching buttons which read "I met my bashert at the 2003 Latkepalooza." I inquired as to what a "bashert" was, never hearing that term before.

"It's Hebrew for soulmate," the woman said, with her partner next to her. The couple wasn't married, nor did they live together, but both were completely, totally and pathetically in love with each other.

"We met here in 2003. I came with my friend Al. She knew Al. Al and I were in line together and she came up and started talking to him. And then we started talking. And talking. And talking. I got her number at the end of the event, I called her the next day and we hooked up. It's been that way ever since. We were just meant to be, and we come to every Latkepalooza to celebrate," the guy said.

Latkepalooza also had its annoying side. The lines were long and the event was crowded. Ilana was waiting in line behind a guy who was doing an impromptu stand up comedy routine about latkes and divorce. The woman behind Ilana kept on sighing. "You have no idea how bad this guy is," the woman told me.

After Latkepalooza, I went on a solo mission to a meeting of area paranormal and metaphysical dabblers, held in the rear space of a low-rent grocery store on South Fourth Street.

I have tried hard so far to be nice and not condescending in my escapades. Some things deserve mockery -- the delusional vapidity of movie extras, the sheer lack of perspective of rich people -- but I have gone into this whole project with an open mind and an attempt to understand people and their interests. Hell, I was even pretty nice the evening I wore a suit of armor and went sword fighting with people who pretend to be knights.

But this event? I can't pretend to be nice. This was a whole new level of social retardation.

This event was planned by, an online service where people from various interests use the Internet as a conduit for folks to get together in real life. I was one of the first to arrive to the meeting place. One guy, who closely resembled a fat, sweaty version of Hitler, was sitting next to me. On the other side of the room was a quiet woman who was also a first-timer. Conversation started talking, with fettesverschwitztes Hitler leading us into a rambling discussion about the interpersonal relationships at play in the world of Philadelphia's paranormal experts.

"Did you read our forum at all? This one woman doesn't think we do anything. But Rich, he's the leader, he doesn't do anything unless it's based in scientific fact," this guy told me.

The guy continued to tell me about how a separate paranormal group broke off from the original group, but various metaphysical-subgroups have merged. Including one where he was the "assistant leader."

The room eventually filled to about 10. Joining us next was a mustachioed 20-something guy with a hooked up laptop, who was there representing the Philadelphia-area UFO hunters.

"My girlfriend owns a pug, so she found an online pug meeting group. I then decided to check to see if there was a UFO group. There was, so I started going to their meetings. Three months leader, I was running it."

A few other maniac-looking types came in, especially this one backwoods-looking family from South Jersey who claim their house has similarities to a vortex. Also joining us was a girl who ran the reiki online group, and they just finished a meeting, so she wanted to "show support" to the community.

Rich eventually showed up, with a 1987-style Megadeth fan haircut and a tight T-shirt with some lightning on it and the phrase "Memento Te Esse Mortalium," with a matching coffee mug.

Rich drew a spiral on a blackboard and then began a rambling lecture about wormholes, timeloops amidst references to various sci-fi television shows, throwing in every now and then a quantum physics reference that I'm sure he didn't quite grasp. During his lecture, he claimed his girlfriend was telekinetic and that she lived in a house filled with glowing orbs and other visions signifying the dead. Every so often someone, usually the UFO guy, would chime in on some sort of sci-fi type of thing and a few people would crack up laughing about something for a few minutes at a time.

My favorite bizarre comment came about the discussion about a couple who disappeared off of South Street last year, a really big news story in Philly since these people left a popular bar and were never seen nor heard from again. Most people assume it's some sort of rape/robbery thing and it ended up with these people hacked up and thrown into the ocean. These people think there could be a possibility of a vortex opening up with these two unfortunately going to The Great Beyond.

This meeting would have been interesting if the people weren't so irritating and long-winded. I've never really put too much time into thinking about ghosts or spirits from the other world, and it's not because I'm scared to believe, but it's mostly because I'm not seven. I left abruptly at the 90 minute mark of the evening.

If I disappear anytime soon, it's probably because some apparition from beyond grabbed me.

EDIT: Pictures from Latkepalooza will be up tomorrow. As will at some point the essay about Day 13, which has already been done. Day 13 is going to be terrific. Just trust me on that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

shove the vortex up your ass dickhead

5:32 PM  

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