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Thursday, August 6, 2015

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Woman, Laura, panhandling on 8-5-15--Washington Avenue








5 1/2 block from my front door. At Unz, a reader asked about working class whites in South Philly, I answered:


I’ve lived in South Philly, off and on, since 1984. East of Broad Street, there are still many working class Italians, but there are also many Chinese, Vietnamese and, since about 2000, an increasingly large influx of Mexicans and other Latin Americans. My landlord is a Calabrese. A doctor, he has an office in deep South Philly but lives in New Jersey. Many South Philly Italians move to New Jersey as they move up the social ladder. With each year, then, there are fewer Italians in South Philly.

Extending for several blocks south of 7th and Snyder is a strip of Cambodian businesses. I don’t have the exact figure but I’d guess a couple thousand Cambodians live in the immediate area. The large Preah Buddha Rangsey Temple is by Mifflin Square. There are about eight other Buddhist temples in South Philly.

Pennsport has long been primarily Irish and it remains that.

West of Broad Street is Point Breeze, long a black neighborhood. White yuppies and hipsters are moving in, but they’re making slow progress gentrifying it. On the edge of Point Breeze, there is an Indonesian neighborhood.

Greys Ferry, in the far western part of South Philly, was Irish for the longest time, but it’s now at least 56% black, a transformation that was accomplished with the help of Section 8 Housing.

In sum, there are still many Italians east of Broad Street, and many Irish and other whites in Pennsport. Pushed away by the ridiculously high rents in Center City, white yuppies and hipsters are also moving into South Philly. Though the hipsters are of limited means, I’m not sure I’d consider them a part of the underclass. Their presence has become very noticeable in certain pockets of South Philly.




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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.