Marvel With Us, Won’t You, At What Could Be The Ugliest Piece Ever Displayed At The Philly Furniture Show

Algorithms have conspired against us for two weeks now to show us, at every possible opportunity, the work you see above, in relation to promoting the Philly Furniture Show, slated to open at the 23rd Street Armory this weekend. It’s been on Facebook, it’s been in our emails, it even finally showed up on Instagram last night, making us wonder, finally: What is this thing, and what did I do to deserve it?

The work in question is called "Boss, I hit a tree" by an artisan called David Lee Moneypenny; Mr. Moneypenny has used “crashed auto parts and reclaimed wood” to fashion this creation, which as you see, has a shelf of some kind and two drawers. The charitable souls at the Philly Furniture Show call it “witty, beautiful and one of a kind,” and indeed, that’s one way to put it. Another would be “a fantastical imagining of what would happen if a leftist magician saw Donald Trump at a Sonic drive-thru and shouted ‘Ala-kazam!’ with a mouth full of fries.” Even its title is a form of apology; here, we see what George W. Bush might have done in his retirement years if he’d chosen installation art instead of painting to atone for his crimes. In any case, this thing has been hounding us around the Internet day after day. We’d like to, if we could at this time, pass it along to you.

Unlikely Heroes Of The Moment: Wheelie Kids

BY JOEY SWEENEY

Amidst all of our grousing — the changes happening so rapidly in the city’s mad churn, the grinding gears of gentrification and crap politicians producing fresh humiliations daily — it feels good to remember that this is the kind of place Philadelphia is: It’s the kind of place where a group of black bloc anarchists can have their hides saved by a few hundred wheelie kids, as the local police tell a small, dejected, incredulous group of out-of-town Trump supporters that they should really consider going home. On Saturday, this is precisely what transpired.

On Saturday morning, the #MAGA March we’d written about previously began in earnest near Independence Hall. From the start, it was evident that the #MAGA group’s choice of location showed how fundamentally flawed their perception of this country’s basic tenets really are: In the same way that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, those who wrap themselves in the flag often are not familiar with the words it represents:

In any case, the First Amendment guarantees even the most confused among us to voice their opinions, and so here they were. And on the other side of the little veal pen authorities had put up as protection for these definitely-not-snowflake pro-Trump demonstrators was… everybody else. And much as in the larger reality of America right now, there were a hell of a lot more of them than there were of the other poor fools. Worse news still for the Trump brigade, they were Philadelphians, known for their volume as well their magic touch when it comes to the profane.

Accounts vary, but in short order, something like this happened: At some point, black bloc protestors had effectively hijacked the #MAGA March, and made it their own. Authorities on the scene had been reported as variously telling the #MAGA crew to “go back to their automobiles” — it was assumed they’d all driven there, being from places that require the misery that only automotive travel could deliver you to — and also being “pissed” at how many of them were openly carrying firearms. In Philly, you see, we prefer our firearms concealed; anything else registers as tacky. (The finer points of all of the above, we should remind you, are hearsay, and indeed, over on the #MAGA March Facebook event page, they’re still complaining about it.)

Even so, the threat of violence lingered in the air as the black bloc co-opted the #MAGA March’s protest route through Center City — for as much as the Philly police might have been annoyed with the #MAGA mooks, it’s not like they have special love for a gang of masked black bloc anarchists, either. After all, this is Philadelphia, on a Saturday; everyone’s primary concern should have been brunch. And so the cops began a process called “kettling,” a kind of cops-vs.-demonstrators cat-and-mouse series of actions that attempt to corner an element and contain/detain it.

Just then, something fantastic happened: The wheelie kids showed up and mingled right into the space on the Parkway where the black bloc folks were, too. In a matter of seconds, a threat diffused, even as confusion and rancor still played out. “Wheelie kids?,” some of you are quite rightly asking. Yes, wheelie: That group of unattended minors who seem to be gaining a sort of cultural momentum and infamy around the city, even as acne and emotions begin to threaten their very being. And so it went, and so went the attempted kettling: Police actions simply can’t go a certain way when there are children involved. Even more so when many of them are popping wheelies.

WATCH: Nightlands' Mini-Homage To The Pinball Machine At Loco Pez

Human Hearts

A post shared by Dave Hartley (@nightlands) on

Dave Hartley wears a lot of hats — bassist for The War on Drugs, sought-after session dude and of course, CEO of the dreamy science-pop project Nightlands — but to those who know him best, he is perhaps above all an increasingly noted pinball aficionado. When he’s not traveling the world in search of perfect pin (usually using apps like this one, basically Grindr for pinball machines), he’s perched at Fishtown’s Loco Pez, at the lone pinball machine in the back, which has alternately been a Ghostbusters one, or a Family Guy one, and so on. And in this teaser vid for his for “Human Hearts,” from the forthcoming Nightlands LP I Can Feel The Night Around Me, Hartley bares what one imagines to be both his heart and his daily pinball commute. Like “Lost Moon,” the other leaked track from I Can Feel…, “Human Hearts” traffics in a sweetly, melancholy kinda space doo-wop/Lover’s Lane type of vibe — perhaps appropriately bittersweet for Loco Pez, who’ve seen better days.

I Can Feel The Night Around Me is out on May 5th, with the attendant Nightlands tour hitting Johnny Brenda’s on May 27th. Check out "Lost Moon" here:

Unfinished Blues For The Astronaut's Picture Of Philly From Space

BY JOEY SWEENEY

We like that Philadelphia, when viewed from the cosmos, has the color and texture of dirt when you hold it in your hand or, more appropriately, when you’re spitting out/brushing off dirt as you get up after being knocked down. It is a familiar tactile experience. You know it now, and you will know it again.

We like that the connecting rivers offer up the shape of the main of the city — our beautiful grid, our birthright of Penn’s greene country towne — as alternately a scrotum or a teardrop.

The left hand side of the city would seem to be yelling at someone.

The shadows of skyscrapers peppering the cranium are absolutely demure, as if to say, It doesn’t all happen here. In fact, if you must know, hardly any of it does.

The north side explodes out of said cranium, as if to suggest the madness of North Philadelphia, the insanity of Fishtown and Northern Liberties.

The rivers aren’t blue, or black; they’re almost the color of dried blood, and the various bridges seem to suggest that the only way is in, not out.

I can see my house, but only just.

One Last Spin Around Palisades Park With Chuck Barris

Last night I took a walk after dark
A swingin' place called Palisades Park
To have some fun and see what I could see
That's where the girls are

I took a ride on a shoot-the-chute
That girl I sat beside was awful cute
After we stopped she was holdin' hands with me
My heart was flyin'
Up like a rocket ship
Down like a roller coaster
Back like a loop-the-loop
And around like a merry-go-round

We ate and ate at a hot dog stand
We danced around to a rockin' band
And when I could I gave that girl a hug
In the tunnel of love
You'll never know how great a kiss can feel
When you stop at the top of a ferris wheel
When I fell in love down at Palisades Park

-- Chuck Barris, "Palisades Park"

BY JOEY SWEENEY

It may be impossible to remove the now dearly departed Chuck Barris from kitsch and camp, for these were the very things that brought him into being. But let’s take a moment here to respect Barris’s initial spark, for it was a perfect express of our local kitsch, our local camp; because before there was The Gong Show, and before all the wild (apocryphal? Who knows!) CIA stuff, there was “Palisades Park,” a song that namechecks a now-defunct amusement park off the cliffs of the Hudson but really, honestly, truly can only be about the southern end of the Jersey shore. Philly’s shore. And if we’re really gonna put the money on the table, we’re saying Wildwood explicitly.

Barris was raised in Oaklyn, NJ, and attended Drexel before trying to crack into showbiz any way he could. His first big break came as a result of his first big hire — to be Dick Clark’s minder on the then-Philly-based American Bandstand. Along the way, he and Clark became fast friends, but more importantly, Clark provided him with a model for success. Barris echoed Clark’s rise of course with the various TV properties that eventually brought him wealth and celebrity, but before that, there was his Clark-esque stab at actually becoming part of the revenue base of pop music. Which is where “Palisades Park” comes in.

By every account, the Palisades were the last referent to get packed into the song — it had otherwise already been written, before it went off to Boston’s Freddy Cannon and released on Philly-based Swan Records. So it’s no wonder than when you scan the lyrics, you get a slice of (well, I get a big slice of) Wildwood, NJ — both as it must have been then and also very much as it appears today. In all that wonderful, enticing trash — the hot dog stand, the rollercoaster — Barris sees mystery, excitement and even a little bit of madness. The song’s opening organ riff is one of the more manic bits you’ll hear in pop music of that time, and with it comes a kind of darkness that had to register to with everyone who’d go on to cover it, from the Beach Boys to the Ramones. (Sidebar: Is “96 Tears” by Question Mark & The Mysterians a direct descendant of “Palisades Park?” I’m saying it is.)

In any case, in just this one little ditty, Barris articulated what would become the key motifs of his future life and work: Trash and darkness. Is it that direct? Was the clue there from the first? We only offer this, as a matter for interpretation: He was born in Philly. But as the obits state today, he died in Palisades.