Round-Up

Everything old is new. Except that sentence.

Among the existentialist angst suffered by so many is the choice to be separately made about transportation and eating.

Once upon a time, in the late 1970s, while a grad student living in Philadelphia, a daily decision of some significance was required: which subway stop to take?

The decision is not to be trivialized for it held important consequences.

Getting on the Broad Street subway at Spring Garden (at the time an ironic name, once one likely apt) one traveled north to Temple University.

An expansive campus stretching many blocks in all directions, two subway stops bracketed the north-south extremes of the university’s borders. For this graduate student, most classes and his home department were located at the northern end.

Logically, one might expect, knowing that would dictate which subway stop to de-train. (See George Carlin for an explanation.)

However, at the time, the north-most stop was neither the most attractive nor the most appealing. Indeed, mostly it was scary.

The “southern” stop was in far better physical and aesthetic shape. It would also make for a much, much longer walk which, in 70-degree sunny weather might be attractive. Sadly, and despite the TV show title, it is not always sunny in Philadelphia.

However, the consolation prize for commuters such as me, who would have to hoof it ten blocks to class, was that the path (sidewalk) to be hoofed was also lined bumper to bumper with food trucks.

That’s what we called them back then. Even if they were little more than vans. And even if they looked like the quilted-aluminum vehicles that once populated construction sites. Which they were.

Remarkably, one could get virtually any- and everything one wanted at these mobile restaurants. Note again the date: late 1970s. Anything you wanted as long as it was coffee and donuts or hots and burgers. Occasionally an egg roll might appear.

In more recent memory, say the past couple of years, urban hipsters and aspiring poseurs have discovered, along with daily newspapers, and mythologized food trucks as the fetish du jour.

Foodie cuisine served (more or less) fresh. From a truck. Out a window and onto (maybe) a stainless steel counter.

So cool is this that with some frequency Food Truck Rodeos are held.

Parked in circular formation and bumper to bumper, such rodeos seem more like the corral that would contain the rodeo.

That’s where the customers congregate.

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