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No Crossing for Cold Cuts

Border crossing is a subject that has been the focus of much heated political debate. No matter which side of the “fence” you're on, Adriana's winning story from Monday's “Close Calls” Slam reemphasizes the dire need for border control reform between the U.S. and Mexico.

Why shouldn’t we extend the same rights to chickens and as well as pigs? To parrots as well as parakeets? Avocados as well as tomatoes? Don’t miss Adriana’s hilarious winning story starring four pounds of ham and a delicious smelling vehicle in the video below.

Congratulations to Adria

na and to “Close Calls” Audience Favorite, Kate who’s story tells how mother-daughter relationships get complicated when your dating members of the same family. (Video below.) Stay tuned for videos from all of our “Close Calls” storytellers coming soon to our YouTube channel.

Next First Person StorySlam:
Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Location: L'Etage (6th and Bainbridge Streets)
Time: Doors open at 7:30pm, Slam starts at 8:30pm
Price: $10, $8 for First Person Arts members

Adriana, Winning “Close Calls” Storyteller

Kate, “Close Calls” Audience Favorite

-Becca Jennings


Look out for Martha and Nathan!

Last night's winning storyteller, Martha, is the kind of gal you want to keep around…and not just because she's a great storyteller. At her first big win just a few of weeks ago, she told a story about how she escaped arrest in Ireland at the “Weird Trips” Slam. This time she showed her tough side again with a story that packs a punch. Check out Martha's winning story in the video below! Don'

t miss what Philebrity had to say about her story.

As a tribute to Martha I typed this with one finger.

Congratulations Martha! Congratulations also to last night's Audience Favorite, Nathan! See them both compete for the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia” at the 2011 Fall Grand Slam.

“After Hours” Overall Winner, Martha

“After Hours” Audience Favorite, Nathan

Next StorySlam:
Date: Monday, September 12
Location: World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.
Theme: Back to School
Doors at 7:30, Slam starts at 8:30
$10, $8 for First Person Members
All ages, $3 Yuengling Draft Specials

-Becca Jennings


Gentle Crosshairs

Get in gear with this week’s featured story from the First Person Museum Online Gallery. This week’s tale is more than classic! “Gentle Crosshairs” comes to us from Andrew from New York City. Take a ride through Andrew’s story about an unconventional hood ornament that once sat perched on the edge of a 1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. But this hood ornament is not just special for evading the late ’80’s and early ’90s fad for hood ornament theft. Read the story behind Andrew’s gentle crosshairs and learn about a comfort and luxury that exceeds even powered leather seats.

Now it’s YOUR turn! Upload your story to firstpersonmuseum.org and be featured in a Museum! Read through stories by other Museum contributors or upload your own using media including a photo of yourself, your object or video. Who knows? Next week’s featured story could be yours!

Theme: Good Times
Object Type: My Wheels
In the winter of 1997, I set out to buy a sensible car and, instead, fell in love with a 1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. A couple thousand bucks got me two tons and twenty feet of harvest gold luxury, replete with four-way powered leather seats, sun roof, and a working 8-track stereo. To my enormous delight, the car remained intact save for one glaring flaw: It hadn’t survived the late ‘80s and early ‘90s fad for hood-ornament theft. With at least ten feet of hood, the missing crest made it nearly impossible to determine where the world started and my Cadillac stopped.

By chance, at a flea market, I discovered a lovely chrome swan, lightly pock-marked and imperfect, but with a delicately arched neck and a dramatic spread of wings. It made a stunning, if unconventional, replacement, rivaling the luxury and prestige of any not-quite-classic vehicle anywhere.

The Cadillac and I moved a lot in the late 90s, and the swan perched on the hood as a gentle cross-hairs on my various aspirations, pulling up targets and driving them down. Anything was possible in that car. In the fall of 1998, I drove across the country, up through Canada (where I evaded a speeding ticket because the speedometer wasn’t graduated in kilometers) and down to my new home in Los Angeles. From Venice, I barreled south along the beach to the Palisades and north on the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu, the chrome swan leading the way. Gradually, though, the stuff of adulthood crept into my possession, eventually exceeding the ample trunk capacity of the Cadillac and forcing a painful choice. In advance of a move to Philadelphia, I reluctantly prepared to part ways with the car, listing it in the Auto Trader at an ambitious $2500. One Saturday morning, I pointed the swan towards a diner in the Valley and sat down for breakfast with Frank, a retired janitor who looked wistfully at the car through the diner window while pushing eggs around his plate. It was his dream car, the first vehicle he’d lusted after as an adult, but there was a problem: He could do $1500 up front, but he’d have to make payments on the balance. For my taking on the risk–for trusting him–he’d even pay $2700. Frank’s palpable love for the car made the deal, and, impulsively, I shook on it. We agreed to meet at a mall in Santa Monica the following week.

Frank had brought a friend–a fellow retiree–and over lunch we talked cars and life in Los Angeles. At a break in the conversation, Frank looked around furtively and leaned in: “Are you ready to make the swap?” He was afraid we’d be seen with cash and robbed. With his friend standing guard at the door, Frank and I swapped paper and shook on the deal in the mall bathroom. In addition to the cash in hand, he’d make eight monthly payments of $150 each. We walked together to the car, and lingering over the swan for a moment, he looked at me and said he’d like me to have it. He’d already found an original Cadillac replacement, and he had no use for it. “To remember this great car” he said.

The sensible, utilitarian little pickup truck I bought as a replacement lacked a hood ornament or badge of any kind. No cars have them anymore. They’re too ostentatious, maybe, or too vulnerable to theft. Frank made every single payment as promised, calling to make sure the check had cleared and updating me on his life. In ‘retirement’ he’d started a small solo janitorial business–he just couldn’t sit still, it turned out, or play golf like his buddies. The car, of course, was everything he’d hoped.

For ten years, the swan has occupied a nook or shelf, a memento of my days on the wide-open freeways of L.A and of something else as well. Once an emblem of ambition, movement and change, the swan reminds me now of my deal with Frank, of the virtues of simple human trust and a confidence in people, that, as it happens, is a comfort and a luxury exceeding even powered leather seats.

Read Andrew’s official entry.

-Becca Jennings


Western Electric

Hold the phone! This week’s featured story from the First Person Museum Online Gallery comes to us from Dan from Bala Cynwyd. Travel back in time through a story about a rotary phone that is squat, black and solid — much unlike its owner. Gather ’round what Dan calls “a household altar” for a tale that pays homage to a grandmother and the pre-satellite era.

Have you uploaded your story yet? Drop the First Person Museum a line at firstpersonmuseum.org along with media including a photo of you, your object, or video. Choose from Themes like “You Can’t Go Home Again” and Object Types like “From Long Ago.” Operators are standing by! Who knows? Next week’s story could be yours!

Theme: You Can’t Go Home Again
Object Type: From Long Ago
My grandmother’s phone is squat, black and solid, and in that respect it was unlike her, a tiny Italian woman with narrow birdlike bones. Otherwise, however, they were in parallel: built of stronger stuff than their modern-day equivalents, and hard-wired once and forever into a tidy house in Ardmore. It bears an exchange number, MI for MIdway, which is vastly more permanent than fungible 64.

It works by means of magnets and metal, dense with respectable copper, resting firmly on hard rubber feet, an artifact of an age of clear cause and effect. A household altar to the electromechanical mystery of the single, totemic Phone Company. First the old AT&T was slain, then the very wires themselves, and the phone and my grandmother were both thrust into a contingent, unreliable era of cells and satellites. “You’re walking on the street in Canada? You sound like you’re right next door!”

Like her, the phone ended its days affixed in the same place but severed from its context, cast out from the eternal verity of the 215 area code and into the distressing meaninglessness of 610. People say it was a stroke that carried her off, three days short of her ninetieth birthday. I know better. It was ten-digit dialing.

Dial up Dan’s official entry here.

The Museum is officially open at the Painted Bride Art Center. (230 Vine St.) Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12-6. You can also visit whenever there are performances and events during the First Person Festival. Thanks to everyone who came to Friday’s opening night reception.

See you at the Museum!

-Becca Jennings

Upcoming Events
  • May StorySlam – Grand Slam
  • Date: May 22, 2018
  • Time: 8 PM
  • Venue: Fringe Arts Building
  • Location: 140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106