BY JOEY SWEENEY
The people behind Phila Flea Markets generally put on the best flea markets in city. They’re the folks who do the wrap-around-the-block type fleas you see all over the city — be it the one that wraps around Eastern State Penitentiary every now and then or the jawn that takes over Pine and Lombard from 3rd to 4th twice a year, and so on — and they are surely among the most unsung of Philly quality-of-life heroes. Even if you don’t find anything to buy, these fleas give off a sort of ambient niceness that doesn’t punctuate street life enough around here.
So why does the fact that they’re doing one of these indoor at the Kimmel Center bug me so, as it keeps popping up in my feed? I have done some good, solid thinking about this — certainly more than it deserves, certainly more than you need, and by the way, why are you reading this? — and I would now like to show you the layers of this onion. Arranged in no particular order, they are as follows:
· why’s it indoor it’s the middle of the summer you babies
· Also, the Phila Flea Markets vibe — the single most beautifullest thing about it, in fact — is the way their steez plops down on a whole city block and instantly becomes a neighborhood function; you see all the people you know in the neighborhood; you just stand around chatting; et cetera. This is an experience totally foreign to the Kimmel Center, which is, for better or worse, a fortress that exists as part of no neighborhood, and don’t give me this “Avenue of the Arts” nonsense, buddy, because that is not an actual thing.
· But at the same time, the Kimmel Center deserves a lot more than this! The Kimmel Center is, in its away, above the flea market! Not in terms of high or low as regards art/commerce/whatever, so much as spiritual condition. The Kimmel is the only contemporary hallowed hall I can think of in Philadelphia. It’s not new trash, like everything else that’s being built right now. And forgive me, but the experience of gripping community rush tickets and seeing the mighty Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall, its wooden curves acting as God’s Perfect Amp, is damn nigh on holy. (Have you done this? Why, for the love of God, haven’t you done this?)
· I don’t think they’re gonna let the hot dog cart inside. I love the couple that runs the hot dog cart at these things. I hope they’re becoming secret millionaires from their Philly-flea hustle.
· I worry that Philly Jesus might get ideas from the bible and flip the tables, but this is presuming that Philly Jesus has it together enough to perform a living metaphor this insanely-spot-on. Experience tells me that he does not.
· Sigh. That’s all. Part of the reasoning is just a sigh.
On the other hand, if we’re being honest here, I do happen to love the idea of some some stinky old eccentric flea market diehard wandering in Jose Garces’ totally overblown Volver and asking where the shitter is. So maybe this thing isn’t all bad.