Dead Flowers Presents: Mad Summer Block Party II
I was outside of my mind with the heat of the day. There was an infrequent breeze that made all of it bearable, but when it did blow it didn’t linger. I took a step towards Kingpin who was setting up our canopy.
“It’s hot out today,” I said as I looked down to see my right shoe caught in melted tar.
“This Rum will keep you cool.” Kingpin shook the unopened bottle of “Party Rum” in my face.
“… No thanks.”
“You’re no fun.” he said, and went back to propping up our vendor table with the help of Sweet T.
I was… all over the place. My brain felt addled and overwhelmed with the sounds of the people and the sights they created. I was feeling a bit beyond myself and really had no idea what I was doing. I’m not sure if it was the heat or simply something I ate, either way I was feeling light, giddy and excited.
When we had first turned the corner on to Earp Street we were greeted by a long-haired man in red platform shoes with matching shin high socks. He was brandishing a five-foot whip in his left hand and an earthworm in the other. “Hello, friends! I’m Jason” he said to us as we entered the Realm of Dead Flowers and their modern oddities. “Set your stuff up over yonder and enjoy yourselves!” he said and then put the earthworm into his mouth and sucked the dirt off. I knew this was the guy in charge.
There was no telling what the day would shake up, but I knew that I’d at least be doing some day drinking, and that I’d probably see some interesting shit.
Under the shade of our canopy, the Wild Crow (the lead maestro in Souldiers of Soul) was lamenting as to how hungover and sober he was. It sounded like a terrible combination. I told him to have a beer so that he could Confucius his way out of his hangover. As I was handing him a cold one, a Platinum blond babe in a skin tight, leopard print skirt and high heels came strutting on over to me. She had a drink tray in one hand and a smile on her face.
“Hey there baby, you look like you could use a Jell-O shot.” she said flirtatiously, shaking the tray. The gelatinous alcoholic beverages thereon started to jiggle. It was slightly hypnotizing. “YES! Immediately. Please.” I bought two and handed one to Sweet T, cheersing her and sloppily sucking the Jell-O out of the cup.
The Circus Folk were friendly. The Platinum Shot Girl came and went with her tray full of jiggly Jell-O shots. A giant pancake was already doing laps and hi-fiving people while the first bands began to play.
A man sat on a stone berth, like the City Gargoyle watching over his dominion. Rolled up sleeves. Mohawks. Studded belts. The real freak show was all of us. The masterful, the crafty, the hustlers and the bustlers, the movers and the shakers. We were all here; we were freaks of this generation.
A scraggly haired, tatterdemalion man was screaming into the microphone while a band playing up-tempo folk rock was pounding on their instruments.
The band was Bunny Savage and The Shallots. Savage sang about the girls at McGlinchey’s Bar, and a pedophile who lived nearby (“Go pay him a visit!” Bunny said) and about being born in New Jersey. They were finished too quickly, but then young wheelchair bound man in a koala mask stepped up to the makeshift stage. Within minutes, he was blowing my mind with these incredible guitar riffs, looped effects and grungy but relatable lyrics.
The only thing I could think about as Velvet Crayon sang for us was that there was some sort of revolt happening. I could feel it emanating from the attendees and the Circus they were here to support. This was a block party with a message. I just didn’t know what it was.
South Philly Block Parties have a way of making you feel like you’re at home. These people were party people. They were (for the most part) my people. Like modern day Salt of the Earth Folk. Instead of growing Potatoes, we grew palpable energy.
I decided I needed another beer. I reached into the cooler and stepped in hot tar, getting a second coat on the bottom of my shoe. This time it was harder to pull my foot away. I felt like… a dinosaur. A fucking dinosaur. Antiquity alive and well. There was an important thought here somewhere.
“Dude, this Velvet Crayon guy rocks!” Sweet T bounded up to me, and planted me with a kiss. “I feel funny!” she said.
“Did… did you eat something strange too? I feel like a door is closing in my mind…” I looked at my arms. They were sweaty and blotchy.
“It’s not a door, it’s a window!!!” and then she ran off, leaving me with that thought.
I needed a clear mind and the shade of the canopy. Kingpin and Jayne were present, but I could tell both of them were too distracted by their upcoming participation in the Rock Paper Scissors Championship later that night to really express what I was feeling. Kingpin seemed reserved even. Clutch was… well he was attempting to take off his pants, as usual. Lord knows where Sweet T and Skinny Pete had run off to. Zero, as if reading my thoughts, appeared at the table. I figured he’d be the one who could help me clear my head.
“You. Roc. Now.”
“Take this Party Rum and swig it. Now. Big sip.”
“But I –”
“This shit will clear your head, man!” he yelled as he shoved the bottle into my hands. I gulped.
“See the message.” he said, “It’s all right there, man.” It appeared as though Zero was trying to
motivate. I was feeling far too silly for motivation, but it was working. I told myself this was the last time I would eat delicious baked goods from strange street vendors. Who was I kidding? It was AMAZING! I wanted more.
We began to break down our set up, and headed back towards the Hivelords, who were thrashing wildly at the end of the street. As we walked in the direction of my car, I paused to watch the band once more before we left.
As I stood there watching, I realized I had once again stepped in tar that had melted under the hot South Philly sun.
I attempted to remove my shoe from the tar pit (nearly pulling it off my foot in the process). I definitely felt like a dinosaur. I was a dinosaur among dinosaurs. Circus folk were a dying breed, but there was this pocket here, in high fashion and alluring design like the last of the dinosaurs. They were keeping this small piece of dying culture alive in a very modern way. Our feet may have been in the tar but this was no pit. This was the carnival of music. We were the circus of life.
The bottom line:
If you’re looking for a place to get weird, be weird, or just be accepted for your pre-existing weirdness, Dead Flowers events are the way to go. The perfect blend of modern freakery and old- timey macabre makes them fun to watch, and easy to cheer for.