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Monday, September 28, 2015

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Clark DeLeon during Pope Francis' visit--Center City








A lifelong journalist, Clark DeLeon used to write a daily article for the Inquirer, but with the decline in readership, he only writes an occasional piece for them. Clark is also a tour guide at Independence Mall, and sometimes takes people to Kensington to see Rocky's fictional home. Before I saw Clark in Dirty Frank's around 1984, I had read him. Everybody did.

The mural on the outside walls of Dirty Frank's shows famous Franks, thus Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa and Pope Francis, etc.

"The commentators are talking about his message as being more favorable to a liberal approach, but actually, it has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. I love what he said about the aim of government. The aim of government is to seek the common good.

I think the Pope's visit has an effect, but I don't think it’s gonna affect Washington. It affects people, meaning the rest of the world, in America, wherever he touches. He has a proven touch. I mean, he’s touched Dirty Frank’s. He’s on the wall of Dirty Frank’s. You know Popes don’t go on walls at Dirty Frank’s but now you have one.

I’m a cultural Catholic, which means I went to Catholic school, my kids are baptized Catholic. I don’t go to church, but I feel a basic connection to the Catholic church. It’s like an ethnicity. It’s the food I eat. They eat fish on Fridays. It’s the way I grew up.

There’s a lot to the Catholic Church that I admire, and a lot I can’t stand. Pope Francis represents what I admire.

He can’t just turn around and say, ‘Change everything,’ but I think he’s moving in that direction, and people should be pleased. It’s the symbolic power of this papacy… He’s representing poor people, the people that are least powerful. The history of the Latin American church, the Jesuits especially, they were the first ones to stand up against the European conquerers, they stood for the indigenous people, and he comes from Argentina, so he’s a part of that tradition.

He’s a very good politician. He knows who he is. It means he knows his position. He was a different guy in Argentina. People called him dour. He had a very serious and frowning face. Today, you see the Pope in your mind’s eyes and he’s smiling, so maybe he was liberated by becoming Pope. Maybe he realizes, now is the time I can be on my mission and he feels the freedom to do it. When he was elected Pope, the first thing he did was pay his hotel bill. He went to Rome and took a small room, he didn’t take the palace, then he served mass the next day at the Vatican to the guys who were like the janitors. When the people in charge found out, they were like, the Pope doesn’t do that, but he says mass everyday, to the workers at the Vatican. I like him for that."



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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.