“Phanatic Around Town” Review #3: Franklin Institute


Let’s face some realities.  The Phillie Phanatic, while the single most 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, and the Free Library.

This is the Phillie Phanatic dressed up like Ben Franklin and, unlike the Phanatic across the street at the free library adorned in a spacesuit, this makes sense.  A lot of sense.  These are two principal symbols of Philadelphia combined into one, so of course its weird, but if he were holding a cheese steak in one hand and trying to puke on a little girl with the other, there would be so much Philly embodied in the statue it would probably be banned.

If you took this piece of art, threw it on the back of a truck, and moved it on out to a barren desert, within a month, a city almost exactly like Philadelphia would be somehow constructed around it.  It’s just that Philly.

And, sitting just outside the Franklin Institute, its location is both high traffic and a good selection.  There’s a lot of spots in Philadelphia worth utilizing in an art project as this, and the free library is not one of them.  My point is, you’ll find a lot less homeless men asking to borrow your toenails in the Franklin.  Though there is that guy dressed in a tashiki constantly playing bells.  But that’s music.

How To Be A Phillies PR Rep

  • Is project Phillies-related?
  • Does project title contain the letter “F”?
  • If no, brain storm to force in title with letter “F.”
  • Change all “F’s” to “PH’s.”
  • Congratulations, your job is done.

Granted, I don’t think Deborah Walderson works for the Phillies.  But every time we see some Phillies project in a public setting, we get a phonics lesson.  Yes.  “PH” makes the same sound as “F.”  Its one of those rules that makes English the most wildly cryptic way to speak and spell on Earth.

But, other than the title, this statue is pretty acceptable.  Its decor and placement in the city are linked, instead of inexplicably thrown together by a mad scientist and a Dr. Seuss enthusiast like the last one.

They even gave him a nice little view of part of the skyline.  Through the humid afternoons and infrequent pouring rain, Ben Phranklin’s (ugh) gaze drifts softly toward the city center, as he dreams of the days before he was a costumed laughingstock, running freely in packs with his friends and family in the jungles of the Galapagos Islands, honking and dancing in their natural habitat, before being lured into a Burmese tiger trap by the scent of a hot dog…