The text of EDWARD PETTIT's City Paper Op-ed (NAKED CITY), 1/08/09, is below in the obligatory yellow... while at the same time commentary is interjected amidst ....
recently watched John Travolta plow his car through a Mummers parade in 1981's Blow Out and couldn't help but notice the way Brian De Palma depicted our city. To him, Philly is a ruined colonial capital, with reminders everywhere of its once-lofty status as the Athens of America. And ever-present is Ben Franklin: his name on signs, his face on crumbling murals. De Palma needed a symbol for the faded glory of Philly, and Ben fit the bill.
Your Poe Calendar
Since then, Rocky has taken over the mantle as Philly's resident icon, a symbol of our underdog spirit.
But I say it's time for a change, time for a new figure to represent everything good and bad about our city. One in whom we can see both our dreams and nightmares. It's time for Philly to embrace its inner-Gothic self and celebrate Edgar Allan Poe. (This probably will not shock you. Since I wrote the "We're Taking Poe Back" cover story for City Paper in October of 2007, I've become a go-to champion for the cause.)
|Musea E-mail Club #458 Corporate Art Crumbles|
« Thread Started Today at 12:17pm »
There is evidence that corporate art is crumbling. First look at this chart to see perhaps the high point of art and media consolidation in 2006. Note that there are 5 major players and that each has a major TV network - Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, and WB. Add to this 3 major internet players.
The consolidation of the arts and media that began in the eighties now seems to be falling apart. The first casualties, the canaries in the coal mine, may well be the Big Four music companies that can't seem to find a genuine hit or adjust to the internet music explosion. Not far behind is the daily newspaper conglomerates. Followed by the Film Industry that had a horrible year, the TV writer's strike mess, and just this week the news that Clear Channel, the nations largest radio conglomerate is letting off 1800 employees.
This is no time to loose your job, and dumping employees shows that these corporate art gaints have little to no support for their hardworking employees.
Hopefully all these laid off employees whether from CC or any of the other media giants, will recover and then will start up their own indie versions of art companies. And we will have what seems to have started now - a resurgence of indie art companies not just 5.
You and I can help by supporting indies and supporting the breakup of the giants. Let me hear what you think.
Long live the revolution in the arts.
(editor of the 16 year old zine Musea)
January 19, 2009, is the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth. (Click here for our Poe Calendar.) In case you hadn't heard, the man wrote most of his greatest works while living in Philly. In the early 1840s, this city was the crucible for his imagination, and his genius flourished. He may have briefly lived in other cities. He may have died in Baltimore (while on his way back to Philly). But his writing career was set afire in a flaming channel of literature known as Philadelphia Gothic, which you can still see in writers today.
Baltimore has the literal bones of Edgar Allan Poe. We don't need them. We need to appropriate his legacy. For more than a century Poe has been maligned as crazy, drug-addled, drunk, his macabre tales proof of a disordered mind. But the truth is that he was a dedicated professional writer who created a substantial body of work that has had enormous influence on all of literature.
Poe invented the mystery/detective story, which has burgeoned into the largest of literary genres. He's a forefather of horror and science fiction. He was also the greatest American literary critic of his time and a poet whose verse would outlast the scribblings of most of his contemporaries.
And he did it here. Philly, in all its tumbling mess of democracy, strife, toil and glory, is the kind of place where the greatest American writer needed to be, to hone his vision, to perfect his craft.
And Poe's life had all those Rocky undertones, as well. He battles poverty and adverse critical opinion in search of his own glory, always just out of reach. He never quite wins the fight. Then, after death, he is finally crowned the laurels due him in life.
Ben Franklin was a great icon for a time when we wanted to whitewash the past, see it in terms of all its possibility, but not its limitations. Franklin's story is the buttoned-down version of the American Dream, complete with corny aphorisms. Don't get me wrong — Franklin was brilliant and led an extraordinary life. But have you read his autobiography lately? Not very inspiring for most people living in a 21st-century city.
Poe is the creative genius for our time, unafraid to show the wicked along with the good. Willing to work hard and keep pursuing the dream, even when life kept knocking him down. Off-center, but firm in his conviction that his was the right way to look at the world. And in the end, he was right.
That's why we still read him.