Dearly Beloved Artist Known as Prince is honored through remembrances, a medley of song fragments, and a song-of-the-week about life beyond the human realm, where presumably we all come from and will all end up eventually, one way or another. Imperfection within the human realm where we presently dwell is celebrated, and conversely striving impatiently for perfection is warned against. For example, the natural world fails to cooperate with the science festival, and Cynthia suffers a social-anxiety-induced minor emotional “shame spiral” meltdown during the car ride to Costco, a destination supplying all needs at bargain prices in preparation for this week's house warming party. New neighbors and old friends are encountered and gifts received at the house warming party, which goes better than expected, as does a trip to the DMV, where New York licenses are surrendered to friendly employees who joke and offer to re-take photos.
This week the themes are social justice and an investigation of empathy (does it require shared experience?). Both topics were spurred by Cynthia’s visit to the Church of the Advocate in Northeastern Philadelphia, host of multiple major events during the Civil Rights movement and the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s (the first women Episcopal priests were ordained here in 1974), and home to controversial murals painted by Walter Edmonds (former owner of the home now occupied by Cynthia & Jeff) and Richard Watson. The murals were commissioned by the church to better represent the black experience, reflect the black congregation and community, and draw parallels between slavery described in the Bible and slavery suffered by African Americans. The joke of the week, in keeping with these themes, involves racial discrimination, a religious debate without words, and social justice, while managing to have a funny punchline. Also discussed are Cynthia’s inadvertent discovery of the Fireman’s Hall Museum, and her attendance at two experimental performances: A Fierce Kind of Love at the Christ Church Neighborhood House, telling the story of the fight for the rights of the intellectually disabled and performed by a mixed ability cast; and Beowulf/Grendel at Mount Moriah Cemetery, a mobile outdoor performance requiring the audience to hike through a beautiful wilderness. Beowulf/Grendel was refreshing in its sincerity and total lack of irony....leading to a discussion of irony's infectious grip on all manner of cultural expression but especially prevalent in the avant guarde theater scene in New York over the past 20 years or so, with which Cynthia and Jeff are so deeply familiar. The song of the week therefore is a very simple sincere folk song about love making loss bearable.
This week shout-outs and mad props are given to Deborah Hay, Jonathan Richman, Jerome Bel, Pina Bausch, Lou Reed, and Annie Wilson, all in relation to Meg Foley’s project Action is Primary, currently on view at the Icebox Project Space in North Philadelphia. Cynthia and Jeff attempt to describe what is so fascinating and inspiring about Foley’s work, and why by contrast “dancer face” is not so interesting. Also our first-ever hate mail is read aloud, and Cynthia in turn allows herself a brief tirade against cultural criticism in general. To balance out the negativity with humor, we present not one but two jokes of the week. Jeff’s visit to the West Philadelphia tool library is described, and Cynthia bravely attempts to apply Foley’s techniques to an improvised song, vaguely in honor of the audience.
Photos related to this week's episode can be found on Cynthia's site here.....
More is revealed about local politics and culture through interactions with neighbors and ward leaders. Meanwhile, a portrait of the late Walter Edmonds (the fascinating former owner of the house now occupied by Ms. Hopkins and Mr. Sugg) continues to assemble itself in literary fashion, emerging through a collection of anecdotes passed along by friends and family members, as well as objects accidentally discovered in the house. References are made to Moby Dick, Jersey Boys, a poem titled “When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”, and James Turrell (whose outdoor sculpture at the Walker Art Center inspires this week’s song "Frame the Sky.") Last but not least, the inaugural “joke of the week” is unveiled, and a previous week’s visit to Le Cat Café in Brewerytown is described. Here is a link to some photos we've uploaded can be seen on Ms. Hopkins' website. For those who are interested in reading the whole of the poem referenced, here it is:
|When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!