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Some days, it feels like the city is changing so rapidly, we can’t even keep up with it all, even after sitting at a computer day in and day out, taking in as much as we can and talking about it here. Years from now, we already know, we will look at the last ten years and the next ten years as being times filled with amazing change for Philadelphia — which is saying something for a city as steeped in history as this one is. But the only thing we worry about as far as Philadelphia goes — for, after all, have we not succeeded in spite of ourselves over these last 50 years? — is that, for all of the new energy that seems to abound here, we may be in danger of losing our Weird.
Then we think about this log cabin, on North Lawrence Street in Northern Liberties. Built in 1986 by artist Jeff Thomas, when NoLibs was so blighted out you could have built an entire block of log cabins if you wanted to and no one would notice, it currently stands as the city’s only log cabin. Now, granted, Philadelphia has never been in the running on any kind of “Wow, That Place Has A Lot Of Log Cabins” listicle (somebody ring up Forbes, they love running shit like this), you’d think we’d have at least a few running around. But we don’t. And then the one that we do have is only there because some freaked out artist in the ’80s was like, “Fuck it, I’m doing this BECAUSE I CAN.”
And really, that’s a big part of what we mean when we talk about Philly and its longstanding, beautiful weird. It’s not just the Lynch-ian other-ness of the Eraserhood or the Divine Lorraine — where blight somehow magically becomes beauty that is, all at once, daunting and inviting and challenging — it’s the blank spaces. The things that we don’t have. At the end of the day, we probably shouldn’t worry all that much: From the perch of the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox and everything we see as we move about town, the Philly of tomorrow will have all kinds of stuff it doesn’t have today. But on the real: A few more log cabins certainly wouldn’t kill us.