July 19, 2013 – I have lived in Philadelphia all my life, with the exception of the two years I ventured into Montgomery County to reside there. Philly is a wonderful city, and although I have had to defend it on occasion to the less informed, most people understand its appeal, whether it is the city’s proximity to the Jersey shore or the Pocono Mountains, its variety of unique neighborhoods, many of which have been refurbished, its sports mania, or its cosmopolitan nightlife.
Learning that the Philadelphia recently hosted an Eraserhead Forever (and ever) event to celebrate David Lynch’s odd film “Eraserhead” just upped its coolness factor for me. I also learned that Lynch filmed Eraserhead in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section, and that he once lived in the neighborhood.
Lynch said of Philly, “It’s the sickest, most corrupt, decaying, fear-ridden city imaginable. I was very poor and living in the bad areas. I felt like I was constantly in danger. But it was so fantastic at the same time.” Much of what he said is not flattering, but Lynch lived in the area between 1966 and 1970, and since then the neighborhood, known by fans as Eraserhood, has greatly improved, developing into one of the more trendy areas in the city. However, if it inspired him to make “Eraserhead”, I suppose I can take a little criticism.
“Eraserhead”, Lynch’s debut 1977 feature film has to be one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen. I can’t say that I love it, but I like its unusual factor, and appreciate the imagination that went into the film. The film tells the story of a paranoid man (Jack Vance, pictured above) living in an industrial wasteland who suddenly becomes a parent. Shot in black and white to give it a creepy feel, along with its eerie soundtrack put it in the category of a horror movie, and it is horrifying, but not in the traditional sense. If you’re a fan of Lynch and his offbeat films, you’ll most likely enjoy “Eraserhead”.
Another reason Philly is ultra-cool is its Mausoleum of Contemporary Art, the venue for the Eraserhead Forever event, and a building that was once a showroom for tombstones and mausoleums. I’ll admit I didn’t know this existed either, but now that I am aware, a trip is in the works. MOCA, as it is known by the “it crowd”, sits at 531 N. 12th Street in Eraserhood, and features gallery space complete with stage and screen. It displays works from artists, musicians, photographers, writers, filmmakers, dancers, clowns, acrobats, comedians, jugglers, strippers, puppeteers, game show hosts, and many more in various artistic circles. Here is a schedule of upcoming events.