Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday night, and all is well. I still can't quite adjust to the reality of Philadelphia. Where do all these people come from? Some 1.5 million people live in the City of Philadelphia proper. No matter what time of day or night we may venture out, the roads, byways and freeways are full. People are friendly but violence is an underlying theme.

Yesterday, we lunched at Larry's Steak Shop on 54th Street for the long-awaited Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Imagine quick fried beef on a soft Italian roll, with melted American cheese and mushrooms with peppers. Add a generous dollop of Marinara sauce on top. One half of one of these footlongs is enough!

At the next table, two construction workers exchanged cop stories. Story 1: A mugger raced up to an elderly man, screaming, "Give me your money or I'll beat you up!" The elderly man, formerly a professional boxer, decked the would-be mugger with a neat right hook. When the police arrived, the young man was ready to be handcuffed.

Story 2: Another would-be robber broke into a bar just before closing. "Hands up!" he cried as he pointed a gun to the startled patrons. Five guns were quickly pointed at the would-be robber who made his move at a bar frequented by off duty cops. The robber in this case simply put his hands up.

If I compare crime rates in Philadelphia to Portland, Oregon, for example, the crime rates in Philadelphia seem to be driven by violence -- with higher rates for murder, rape, and assault. Portland, on the other hand, has significantly higher rates for burglery and auto theft. Crimes against person vs. crimes against property. Neither makes me sleep better at night.

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