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Ain't No Place Like Home

By Brian Prisco | Comment Diversions | January 11, 2011 |

By Brian Prisco | Comment Diversions | January 11, 2011 |

I grew up outside Philadelphia, but often traveled to Scranton to see my extended family. I went to college twice: once in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the second time I shipped up to Boston. And now I live in Los Angeles.

In books and in film, these cities I’ve called home have often been the settings. Those opening shots of “The Office” are incredibly evocative, because I’ve made that drive several times. I remember in one episode they ordered a cake from Brunetti’s Market, a small grocery that sits on Main Street in Scranton, and happens to share a parking lot that faces my grandparents’ home. James Ellroy’s LA Quartet and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels take on new meaning, because I’ve been to the places that they take place. Harry Bosch grabs a french dip at Phillippe’s? I’ve been there too.

I loved Gilliam’s version of Philadelphia in 12 Monkeys, but there have been sometimes when my hometown hasn’t been so well represented. I recall sitting in a crowded movie theater when The Sixth Sense came out. A beautiful brownstone home comes up on screen, followed by the title “South Philly.” And everyone in the theater started laughing uproariously. Because that’s not exactly what one calls to mind when they hear the words South Philly.

Are there books or films that have done your hometowns proud? And conversely, which films totally screwed the pooch with their settings?

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