Justin Bieber Went to Johnny Brenda’s and Things Are Different Now
Most relationships have a breaking point.
In a healthy relationship, you see it coming far enough in advance to prepare a short list of grievances before going your separate ways.
Volatile relationships are harder to predict, but when the time comes, it’s nothing special — simply business-as-usual-chaos, a last straw waiting to happen.
It’s the neglected relationships you have to watch out for, those fragile unions running on the fumes of nostalgia and commitment, of long-dead in-jokes and stale scripts. Those are the ones that take a grand gesture to end, something big enough to shock all parties back into the reality they’ve been ignoring.
Something like Justin Bieber hanging out at Johnny Brenda’s.
Short of, say, conjuring a Kardashian in Anthony’s Café, Fishtown couldn’t have spelled it out any clearer on Sunday night: Things are different now, Philadelphia.
To be fair, there were warning signs. For years now, Fishtown has been trying to tell us that something was up over there in the River Wards, that the luxury condos weren’t just a phase. It laughed along politely at the beard jokes and good-naturedly absorbed the jabs about hipster pizza and craft beer, but if we were paying attention, we would have realized that it hasn’t been that Fishtown in quite some time.
It’s hard to tell when, exactly, it happened, but ever since Frankford Hall introduced valet parking, the temperature changed on Frankford Avenue. When La Colombe opened its flagship coffee shrine, the line in the sand became a bit clearer. By the time Kit and Ace started selling “performance cashmere” and construction began on a boutique hotel, it was all but official: Fishtown had skipped a dozen or so levels in the gentrification game, mutating from just another Portlandia to the type of place Justin Bieber swings by after a show.
Until Sunday night, Philadelphia didn’t really have one of those places. The closest we’ve come is Northern Liberties, but Northern Liberties stopped short of becoming bigger than itself when, in one of the most Philly moves ever pulled in Philly, it spent its allowance on a faux-Italian town square. Justin Bieber, noticeably, didn’t surface at the Piazza.
So where do we go from here? It’s hard to tell. Maybe Fishtown was overreacting this weekend and just needs some time and space to find itself. Or maybe it finally took the New York Times up on its offer and officially became the sixth borough.
Either way, in the sage words of Justin, there is no innocent one in this game for two — is it too late now to say sorry, Fishtown? You look really pretty today.