Let’s face some realities. The Phillie Phanatic, while the single most fucking hilarious mascot to exist in the history of humanity, is a giant muppet from the Galapagos Islands with a lamp shade for a nose that is meant to represent a baseball team. Now that the “Phanatic Around Town” art project has placed a bunch of identical, differently decorated Phanatic statues around Philadelphia, we’re going to like/dislike them. Here he is in Center City, at the Free Library, the Franklin Institute, Rittenhouse Square, and Love Park.
This guy was telling me once that when he first moved to Philadelphia, he and his girlfriend came into the city by way of Boathouse Row. He’d never seen it, and she kept making him look away. It was sunset, so the spot was going to be lit up in all of its glory.
“Okay!” she said. ”Look!”
He turned and saw a bunch of quaint houses neatly trimmed with strings of lights. ”What do they do?” he inquired.
“They… nothing, they’re just… pretty,” she explained, stammering.
Two months later their relationship fell apart.
And so stands the Lloyd Hall Phanatic, arms outstretched just at the start of Phillies famed Boathouse Row, where small homes twinkle like stars along the Schuylkill River, and a body of water majestically teeming with garbage and apparently the toxic fumes of relationships dissolving from passing cars. Nearby, obnoxious Penn students prepare to get in some quality crew practice and make a quiet bet on who can have the most scorn for the homeless.
A witness to all of this jackassery, we find ourselves presented with another Phanatic whose creator decided to go with “green.” After the Rittenhouse Square Phanatic tripped us out with colors and hippies, seeing a traditionally shaded Phanatic just seems like square one. He’s green. Of course he’s green. This is an art project. Get a little artistic.
Yet the context of this particular Phanatic is much emptier. He’s pretty isolated. He’s probably going to stand out regardless, despite the only thing separating him from being a completely normal Phanatic (other than being a lifeless model) is this:
His uniform is the Philadelphia skyline. Aaaaaand that’s about it, folks.
Well, you can’t really see the Philly skyline from in front of Lloyd Hall, so maybe the intention is to create a window into part of the city that is most recognizable.
But wait! That’s probably not it!
A Harry Kalas reference! But where is he? Do the “hopes” in question pay respect to both the late voice of Phillies baseball and the “high” buildings of center city? What’s with all the clouds? Is it metaphorical of Harry watching over us?
Or maybe it’s simpler than all that. Maybe its just the Phanatic and Philly, combined on a nice day. Maybe it’s meant to invoke the image of serenity in a city still licking its wounds from flash mobs and Eddie Jordan. Maybe the big, poofy, storybook clouds are a tap into our infancy, when clouds were just the fluffy white friends of the sun, and now they are on the chest of the most recognizable figure in Philadelphia Sporting history, adding pleasantry to a portrait of our city.
Perhaps, on one of lo these many summer evenings, as the sun sets over the highway and the din of weekend travel begins to die, a couple will be making their way into Philadelphia for the first time, and instead of the lights of Boathouse Row forcing them to face a cruel reality about themselves, they will acknowledge the charm of a small collection of houses donating their share of twinkles into the night sky.
Could be better. C+.