As has been said, & Poetry Incarnation '05 notwithstanding, the meat & potatoes of the el primo Philly Free School "glory year" ('04/'05) were the shows we curated at the Highwire Gallery, when it dwelt several floors up in the Gilbert Building on the PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) campus. The shows were wild, crazy, debauched, and also profitable; we made a reasonable amount of money on the surface. Yet the theoretical & spiritual backbone of the shows, worked out between myself & Mike Land, is presented in this 2010 piece published in Otoliths, and the piece goes some distance towards defining how a bunch of guys attempted to stage something unique in public spaces.
Each thinks the other a lonesome reprobate.
That’s what I guess when I see the picture.
It’s Elkins Park Square on a cold spring night;
they’re almost sitting on their hands. One
went up, as they say, one went down, but
you’ll never hear a word of this in Cheltenham.
They can’t gloat anymore, so they make an
art of obfuscation. That’s why I seldom go
back. Elkins Park Square is scary at night.
There are ghosts by the ice skating rink.
“Why Plymouth Meeting at night still haunts me— when you
look down Germantown Pike from a car at, say, 2 am on a Sunday morning, if it
was merely desolation to see, there’d be nothing to say. Why something must be
said is that Germantown Pike and the environs (Plymouth Meeting Mall, Fed Ex,
Starbucks) all exude such a sense of foreboding, menace, and compressed
anti-matter or anti-material nothingness, from having been built in a jagged,
ill-shaped, ill-placed fashion, that the consciousness of the individual is
sucked into a vacuum from seeing them that it cannot (in my case, at least)
ever really recover from. It is man’s inhumanity to man hewn into architecture;
and crisp, poignant to understand that Plymouth Meeting by daylight looks
innocuous or even impressive. Daytime world and nighttime world in Plymouth
Meeting are diametrically opposed.”
"You pushed me, Deb, you pushed me," I say,
to the red-headed corpse who begs an answer-
then banned in Cheltenham, banned from plays
whose runs made you twirl, torque like a dancer-
dead, dry bone, ribs cracked, earth smudges,
grease, soot caked onto the derelict frame,
once could blinker me like freckles & roses-
"let me correct, recompense all your grudges,
all you astounded by changing your name,
all you inverted by striking your poses-"
No, I tell the fearful mirror, myself skin
& bone, brain smudged by understanding
the past I could never live in, get in,
fly through the air w/ out crashing for landing-
"I won't be corrected, cadaver'd by your Highness,
(as though I'd accept such vulgar mandates,
rivers run dry into spiders & dust),
won't lower my voice, to mirror your dryness,
then or now, applying no band-aids,
letting myself come up roughly, brown crust-"
"Then why don't you shut the fuck up," I spat,
splitting the Elkins Park air like an atom,
hitting the fifth you'd been taught to flat,
from clowns who amused you, to nuns, to your Madams-
why don't you shut the fuck up, it was,
spit out in venom, from someone in pain,
who you had been taught to subject to starvation-
forgotten the Eros, forgotten the lust,
just a mad prostitute cunt & a brain,
both fugue-stated out in unnerved enervation-