Thursday, July 9, 2009

Destiny Sent Philly a Conceptual Marriage and Water Gun Fight

Last night, a group in red t-shirts engaged in a water gun fight at Rittenhouse Square at 10:30 pm. I heard about it through a flurry of retweets on Twitter. I have no idea who started it or whether it was a regular thing, but it sounded cool so I filed it away in things to do.

Sometime during the day, I decided to go to the First Person Arts salon at the Arts Bank at Broad and South. A friend texted me asking about something to do and it seemed like a perfect convergence. I had an idea and he had free time. My friend Larry is an interesting person with a rare quality valuable in any friend-- a great propensity to say yes to last minute plans. Because I am trying to live a full summer, I have trouble planning ahead. Often I only have hours notice to an interesting happening.

First Person Arts salon was amazing. Phil Jackson who photographed skateboarders passed out from alcohol poisoning awaiting ambulance rides or curled up on dirty floors was amazing. The question that grabbed his attention most was whether he was a skateboarder who takes pictures or a photographer who skateboards. He preferred to call himself a skateboarder, but I would say he was both. Check out Phil's stuff. He said he'd rather his work be published in a zine, but some of it is hanging in 2424 studio in Fishtown.

While there were 4 artists presenting, it was documentary photographer Ellie Brown and her story about a conceptual performance art piece that she co-created with Zach Webber that rocked me. Zach put an ad in Craigslist looking for someone to enact a "capsule relationship" living out the ritual of falling in love, marriage, and splitting up in 7 encounters. What was so moving about her story is that the two in real life fell in love and then split up. The pain of the recent end of their romantic and professional collaboration was evident as she held back tears during the slide show. It was eerie that Zach was away in the woods and not present for the event. From my perspective, I saw his absence as fitting. Usually when a relationship ends, we are left with only one person to tell us what happened. Check out Ellie and Zach's blog about their 7-day conceptual relationship.

After the salon, I was vibrating with thoughts and feeling. About 5 years ago I had a double-speed relationship that led to a Vegas elopment, tumultuous marriage, and sudden separation and divorce. At first our marriage started as a practical joke we played on our friends. But we fell into the sociel scripting of love and marriage. It's amazing that I was able to go through that dance with someone I barely knew and I definitely did not love. I hope that Ellie and I can talk about her photography and life some time.

After the salon, Larry wanted to hang out and I suggested Rittenhouse Square Park. We happened to be sitting at 10:25 and I saw a group in red gathering and the I remembered. The water fight. I didn't participate- instead I watched a group of 15 squealing and running with supersoakers in hands. Then in 5 minutes they ran out of water and started asking for a water fountain. There are none in the park.

But this is the part of the story that you will think I made up. Only moments later, the waterless fighters were given a gift. The sprinkler system went off and they replenished their supplies. I was astounded by the serendipity. At that moment, Philly seemed like a magical world and I was so grateful to be part of it.

Photo Credit: By Ellie Brown...retrieved from

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