Rybread 11 a.m.
Fairmount Avenue is missing its Sunday brunch contingent. Those who still have a yen for eggs Benedict and strong coffee navigate the metal fences and concrete barriers to get to the restaurants. The employees at Rybread, operating from underneath its storefront awning, didnt sell breakfast items on Saturday, but they changed tactics this morning.
Business was so bad that we transitioned to offering egg sandwiches today because of demand, owner Ryan Pollock says. Its having some effect: There are couples and small groups at the handful of sidewalk tables they have set up.
But a crowd like this wont offset the impact the week has had on Pollocks bottom line. Its going to be negative, he says resignedly. Barricades on Fairmount went up on Tuesday, and hes lost business ever since. Rybreads more expensive offerings havent been the quickest-moving, either. A lot of people have been buying coffee. Jenn Ladd
The Parkway near 24th Street 12:15 p.m.
Most people in the 1 section have been staking out their spots in the front of the ticketed area since at least 7 a.m. Some showed up to wait in empty security queues until the Parkway opened at 6 a.m. Its a choice position unlike nearly everywhere else, it has a distant but unobstructed view of the huge golden crucifix and the altar on which Pope Francis will say Mass this afternoon.
Five hours into their wait, though, hundreds of pilgrims break into loud boos and shouts of dismay as a huge white tent rises directly in their line of sight. Determined, angry chants of TAKE DOWN THE TENT! and MOVE THAT TENT! break out as the acts onstage try to perform. Even a couple young nuns in habits join in the fist-pumping protest until shushed by an older nun.
Fran Y Soto, a 32-year-old graduate student, traveled here from Mexico City. There is people here since 4 a.m., making the whole trip from many places, she says. They just put a tent exactly where you can see the pope. We really need someone telling the pope to take that down so we can see him, not only by the screens.
I hope this aint a VIP thing, says Carlos Olmo, 58, of Levittown. Were all supposed to be family, were all supposed to be equal. If I was going to watch the projection, I would have stayed home, I could have watched it on my TV.
The suspicion that the tent is for VIPs is unsubstantiated but widespread. This is the Mass, says Y Soto. This is not about privilege. Hes a really humble person; this is not something he might like. (It actually was cover for the orchestra in case of rain.)
The chanting continues intermittently for an hour as performers onstage attempt to carry on. At 1:25 p.m., a man standing nearby, citing a call from a nephew in the mayors office, spreads the word that the tent will be down before the Mass starts. And indeed, at 1:30 p.m., it begins to come down, the huge golden cross slowly coming back into view.
The crowd goes insane, former strangers hugging and high-fiving. After a bit, they unite in another chant: THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Emily Guendelsberger
Fergies Pub 1:10 p.m.
Fergus Carey emerges from the basement of his Sansom Street pub for a quick interview. The owner of Monks Café, Grace Tavern and Belgian Café, Carey says that the citys restaurants just had to take one for the team this weekend.
One need not look far for proof: There are a mere three patrons in Fergies at this hour. But the couple from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., finishing up lunch doesnt mind the lack of company.
Were happy to support a bar thats empty, says Jason Hughes, who surprised his husband with plane tickets to Philly for the papal visit. We wanted to see what this event was all about, and for my husband its a pilgrimage.
Husband Ryan Spring is a Mass-going Catholic I go for the blessing. Im not really there for all the unnecessary tradition, he says and he and Hughes saw Pope John Paul II in Toronto in 2002 and visited the Vatican during Pope Benedicts eight-year papacy.
But Pope Francis clearly is different. Best pope ever! Spring exclaims. I love him. His message is an all-inclusive message, and for us that makes a lot of sense.
You have to meet people halfway sometimes, Hughes says. And I think hes met us, our relationship, halfway, which is better than no way. So sometimes you can reward that message with attendance.
The pair is preparing to brave the lines for Mass. I mean, we have to, Spring says. But its not a completely dry affair.
Actually were going to drink our way to the pope, Hughes says. Jenn Ladd
The Norway flag on the Parkway 3:15 p.m.
Before the Mass, Pope Francis stands up in his vehicle as it glides down the Parkways outer ring. The crowd is on its feet, cheering, cameras are raised, babies held aloft. The video feed on Jumbotrons follows along every inch of the way.
The Popemobile passes the grotto, and then suddenly stops. He gets out and blesses the grotto and its prayers. Project HOMEs Will OBrien, who is standing there, says the pope embraced Sister Mary Scullion in a very moving and powerful way.
He was very quiet, though he told Sister Mary to pray for him, OBrien says.
The pope was holding a card with a copy of the Our Lady Undoer of Knots as he stood there, and I pointed so he could see our large reproduction as part of the whole installation. He closed his eyes and seemed to pray very deeply for about half a minute.
The pope is handed a gift, a stole woven with pieces of hand-spun yarn that was knotted by the homeless, prisoners and others on the margins of society. Two journals of their prayers are given to him, too.
Meanwhile, the Parkway crowd is going nuts, standing and applauding the popes blessing of their prayers. Was it chance or divine intervention that at that very moment a choir on the stage was singing Alleluia? Lillian Swanson
Broad and Pine streets 3:50 p.m.
A crowd bigger than any of the ones Ive seen turn out for Christmas Mass is gathered before a Jumbotron. Mostly theyre seated on the asphalt, cross-legged. I work my way to the back no pews to contend with, just port-a-potties and people loitering. A man with a cardboard miter and a staff made from a tinfoil-wrapped PVC pipe poses for pictures. Mass begins. An ambulance sounds suddenly at our backs and drives slowly up the street, momentarily displacing the faithful. I head north.
The final quarter of the Eagles-Jets game plays out on all eight flat-screens in Locust Rendezvous, which claims the biggest crowd Ive seen in a bar all weekend. Still, I have my choice of barstools. I pick one next to an AT&T rep whos spent the weekend in the Apple Store. He and the bartender get into a conversation about business, and she says its been the worst weekend for restaurants and bars all over the city. The media coverage spooked everyone, she says.
The game ends, and Pope Francis appears in green vestments on the TVs. The bartender says, We dont want to listen to this, right? I cant listen to this. Mass is muted. A woman approaches the bar and says her party is leaving in 15 minutes, but could the bartender put the Mass back on for now?
The bartender grimaces just a bit and balks. Eh, Mass in a bar? The woman, dejected, returns to her seat. The bartender finds a remote, goes over to the appropriate screen and puts on closed captioning. Jenn Ladd
Show & Tel 4:30 p.m.
Its not easy to find boobs when the popes in town.
But that is my assignment. I start out at the World Famous Gold Club at 15th and Chancellor world-famous, partly, for its connection to the phrase Josh Duggar cheated with me! The hours on the door say they should be open, but the place is locked up tight.
Next stop is Penns Port Pub on Delaware Avenue. Despite the flashing LEDs around the door and the words open Sundays scrolling across a screen, this place is also closed.
So here I am, 100 feet away at Show & Tel. Why not Tell? No idea. The door is mercifully unlocked. But the strip club side of things is closed, and always is at this time of day, the guy at the cash register tells me. Hes here in case somebody comes in to buy lingerie or dildos or porn, but theres nobody here. A smiling woman pops in to tell me shes one of the girls in the back available for a private show, then disappears.
The guy at the cash register does not want to talk to me.
Has it been busy today? I ask.
No, he says.
What about yesterday?
I wasnt here.
But its been slow?
Yes, we expected it. Its not like the Navy is in town.
Then youd be
Wed be busy.
I wander around in the back. Lots of walk-in closet-sized rooms, most with the doors open. I see no one. I hear nothing. I leave. Patrick Rapa
21st Street near Race Street 5 p.m.
On the Parkway, the Mass is in full swing and communion is about to begin. But a few blocks away, at the security checkpoint for those with Mass tickets, there is still a huge bottleneck. Thousands of people are waiting to get through, stuck in lines that reach from curb to curb.
My own feet-hurting, 90-minute wait earlier in the day turned out to be nothing compared to this.
I entered the line at 1:12 p.m. today, says Cathy Morris of Northeast Philly, noting the four-hour wait. Its a disgrace, she says. They needed more TSA. They needed more checkpoints. I feel horrible they did this to us.
I can feel her disappointment as well as her anger, but theres nothing I can say to make things better. So I reach into my purse and pull out a small, white booklet.
Here, this is the Mass program. You keep it, I tell her, and walk away.
Further away, down 21st Street, someone has brought their flat-screen TV out onto their front stoop. A crowd of about 30 people is gathered around it, following the Mass on the small screen. At one point, a few of the spectators kneel on the hard street to pray. Lillian Swanson
Delaware Avenue near Snyder 5:30 p.m.
John is sitting on a wooden shipping palette, working on his sign. So far it says Homeless & Starving. Growing Hopeless in black marker on brown cardboard. Theres room for two more lines. He takes a break to talk to me and roll himself a cig from the remains of discarded butts he keeps in a plastic bag.
Hes been in the hospital four times in the last seven days, he says. Three times to deal with a staph infection; the last time because he was poisoned.
A good Samaritan gave me some poison food.
You think it was poisoned on purpose, or just bad?
Poisoned on purpose.
What kind of food did they give you?
Sandwich from Arbys. It wasnt even like 10, 15 minutes later, I was just vomiting.
Thats fuckin awful.
Yeah, I thought I was gonna fuckin die.
Winters coming, but Johns staying in the area. The plan is to get a job, get his life on track and try to get back in his sons life. The kids 5 and lives in Jersey with his mom. I dont want to end up a few states away, then get a job and have to plant myself there, says John. Ideally hed like to get back into construction or some sort of trade job, but right now hed settle for sweeping up for minimum wage. Hell sleep behind a Dunkin Donuts later tonight.
I was sleeping up toward South Street, but the cops are just coming in at all hours of the night. Every place that I try to lay my head Ive been kicked out, he says. He chalks up the crackdown somewhat to the usual and somewhat to the pope preparations. Up the road a little bit, next to the Comcast building, there was what was called a tent city, it was back in the woods. If you werent looking for it, you didnt know it was there. They came through one morning and bulldozed the whole thing.
What about shelters?
Any time Ive ever been in one, Ive been robbed or Ive gotten bugs. Theyre just its not what you see in the news or in the movies and whatnot. Obviously the idea of it is good, but the reality of it is theyre not the best of places. If we were going through a cold fluke, yeah, it would be the best thing. But if I dont have to be in one Id rather be out here.
John gently scoops up a large, bright-green praying mantis and lets it walk over his palms, up his arm, down his leg.
I ask him what hed say to the pope if he could.
You know, I actually legitly thought about that if I were to have any chance to talk to him. I couldnt really pinpoint anything. Theres just too much. The pope may be a man of God but hes only one person, he shrugs. Maybe make sure theres better resources so the people who actually dont want to be homeless can get up out of the hole. Patrick Rapa