The 12 Worst Pieces of Public Art in Philly

Philadelphia is a city awash in public artworks. Some of them are magnificent. Some of them are dreadful. The thing about public art that’s dreadful is that you can’t just go at it with a sledgehammer, even if you have to walk past the dad-blasted thing twice a day every day. All you can do with bad public art is shine a bright light on it, wonder what the hell the powers-that-be were thinking, marvel at the artistic conventions of earlier eras, and hold it up to shame and ridicule, which is what we’re doing here. Forthwith, in ascending order of awfulness, we present the 12 worst pieces of public art in Philadelphia.

The Wrestlers, artist unknown (1885)

Tony Fischer under Creative Commons 1.0 license, resized.

The Wrestlers. Tony Fischer under Creative Commons 2.0 license, resized.

The Horticultural Center, Fairmount Park

This Victorian-era copy of a Roman copy of a long-lost Greek original sculpture, variously attributed to various “artists,” features two buck-nakey dudes grappling away in a sweaty frenzy that makes MMA look lame. (It’s Dan McQuade’s favorite public art.) What propels it onto this list is that neither of the heads is original to the Roman copy, which was dug up in a vineyard in the 1500s and caused a Renaissance sensation. The bottom head comes from a different statue altogether, and the top head was modeled after it. So, Frankenstein. Read more »

Colonel Mustard, In the Refrigerator, With Corporal Ketchup

ketchup

I’m a reasonable woman, by which I mean I don’t get riled easily. I understand that not everything in life, or on the Schuylkill Expressway, will go my way. In the sanctuary that is my own home, however, I expect to have some agency. I don’t.

A few weeks back, my husband Doug put “popcorn” on the shopping list we keep on the kitchen counter. When I did the weekly shopping, I dutifully bought a box of six packets of microwave popcorn. When I went to put it away in the cabinet, I noticed there were already two open boxes of popcorn on the shelf, along with another full box. So … why was popcorn on the shopping list? A fit of artificial-butter-flavor insecurity? A sudden mass craving? Nah. Doug had taken the last packet from yet another open box and mindlessly put popcorn on the list without checking to see if we still had any popcorn. And the reason there were so many boxes of popcorn in that cabinet? This wasn’t the first time.

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The Dick Cheney-ization of America

Vice-President Dick Cheney is joined by his openly gay daughter Mary, at right, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, left, as they attend church services in Washington, Monday, September 11, 2006. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Vice-President Dick Cheney is joined by his openly gay daughter Mary, at right, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, left, as they attend church services in Washington, Monday, September 11, 2006. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Back in 2004, then-Vice President Dick Cheney horrified conservatives when, at a town-hall meeting in Iowa, he came out in favor of gay marriage, a stance at odds with then-President George Bush, who at the time was advocating a constitutional amendment to ban such banns. “Lynne and I have a gay daughter,” Cheney announced, “so it’s an issue that our family is very familiar with. … With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to be free … ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.” Eleven years later, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

What happened in the interim? People like Cheney’s daughter Mary publicly came out and wrote and sang and talked about their lives, and the six degrees of separation Americans liked to pretend existed between them and homosexuality gradually vaporized, became five degrees, then four, then one. If you didn’t have a child or a parent or a friend who was gay, you knew someone who did—someone you were close to. The other nudged closer and closer until she was teaching your class and sitting at your Thanksgiving table and staying at your beach house. And even if you sort of didn’t get what those people did in their bedrooms, so what? They didn’t care what you did in yours. Read more »

Rating the Sixers Draft Prospects by Checking Their Horoscopes

Zodiac images via Shutterstock.com. D'Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor photos via USA Today Sports. Porzingis via Twitter.

Zodiac images via Shutterstock.com. D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor photos via USA Today Sports. Porzingis via Twitter.

Phillymag.com’s Derek Bodner has been doing a masterful job of unpacking the candidates to be the Sixers’ top pick in tonight’s NBA draft. But now push has come to shove, and it’s time to stop niggling over outside shooting and post defense and get down to brass tacks. We consulted the stars — the Daily News horoscope, penned by one Holiday Mathis — to learn which hoops star will be wearing that spanking new jersey this season. Barring tragic injuries, of course. Some things even the heavens can’t predict. Read more »

These Are the 10 Worst Drivers on the Schuylkill Expressway

Illustration | Hawk Krall

Illustrations | Hawk Krall

This wasn’t the best day for my editor to ask if I wanted to write about driving on the Schuylkill Expressway. Today it took me an hour and 39 minutes to get from my front door to the parking garage across the street from our office building — a total distance of 37 of the most heavily traveled highway miles in the United States. That’s not bad. It’s about average, in fact, for my morning ride. Along the way, I encountered four pothole crews, three miscellaneous lane restrictions, two disabled vehicles, eight dead deer, countless rotting raccoons, and the same sweet company I have every single morning and night on this road.

Then again, this morning, for the first time in the 20-plus years I’ve made this commute, I found myself forming my hand into the shape of a gun and firing it at another driver. So yeah, maybe this is the right day to introduce you to my favorite traveling companions. In ascending order of assholedom, here are the 10 Worst Drivers on the Schuylkill Expressway. Read more »

The Evolution of Birthzilla: Why Women Want a Crowd in the Delivery Room

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

First came Bridezilla—the self-obsessed center of attention who pitches fits if every single detail of her wedding day isn’t to her liking. Then, heaven help us, came Birthzilla—the mom-to-be who had to have her husband and her mom and her mom-in-law and her doula and all her besties gathered together to witness the miracle of birth. Pure silliness, right? How can doctors and nurses do their jobs with all those people crammed around the bed?

Not so fast. According to a professor at the University of Delaware, the way boomers gave birth—alone with their physicians in sterile operating rooms—is the evolutionary outlier, and the cocktail party in today’s birthing suites is a return to our roots.

Read more »

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