THE MUMMERS ARE DEAD! LONG LIVE THE MUMMERS!
January 2, 2016 | Philadelphia, PA
The sun was a red smear against the horizon as the truck finally crossed Two Street. It was weakly echoed in the rearview mirror's grimy streaks, and a wide smear on one edge of the windshield. Scattered sweepers were brushing the street clean of hot particles from the Drift wind, for tomorrow's parade.
Declining membership and soaring costs are building a story line of stress within Mummery that goes something like this: If only Dem Golden Slippers could be melted down and sold for cash, the feathered folk tradition might feel more secure.
Since 1901, the city of Philadelphia has officially recognized New Year's day with thousands of revelers in celebratory regalia parading through the streets.
On January 2nd, 2016, DBQ presented THE MUMMERS ARE DEAD! LONG LIVE THE MUMMERS!, a two-person performance with single-channel video projection amidst the detritus of a Mummers Comic New Year's Brigade's workspace. Through a compilation of historical and contemporary texts in front of found YouTube footage, the recitation examined the perpetual prospect of an end for the Mummers.
Threading the readings together are excerpts from the 1985 sci-fi novel, In the Drift, which provided the core inspiration for THE MUMMERS ARE DEAD! LONG LIVE THE MUMMERS!. Author Michael Swanwick imagines a future-ish Philadelphia, plagued both by post-nuclear-fallout and by the perennial Mummers, whose governance of the City baffles and threatens its residents.
Two days after this DBQ event, on January 4th, 2016, The City of Philadelphia inaugurated its 99th Mayor, a former Mummer, Jim Kenny.
Many thanks to author of In The Drift, Michael Swanwick ,for attending and commenting on the January 2nd event. Read his response here.