( Inspired by a tweet from Heckle and Jeckle, the talking magpies, who agreed to co-author this column)
By Tom Cardella
“We’re not ones to get involved in political matters us being magpies and such. But we’re very concerned about where this statues controversy is heading.
“Heretofore, we’ve always been able to find a nice perch on any statue in the area. Jeckle here particularly likes the Rizzo statue because Big Frank’s outstretched hand makes for a very nice perch. I, myself, have experienced some arthritis in my feet in recent years, a little unusual for a cartoon character, but the big picture studios don’t care about little creatures like me and Jeckle. They’re only interested in keeping their Super Heroes healthy, because they make a lotta money for the studios. No one wants to see a talking magpie battle Superman. I find the attraction of that lummox hard to understand. Speaking for myself, I think I would’ve made it with Lois Lane. And changing in a phone booth? What are phone booths? But Jeckle here tells me that I digress.
“The point being that Jeckle and myself can’t afford to live in Center City if we have to pay those outrageous rents. And buying one of those pricey new condos is impossible, what with the tiny pension that 20th Century Fox gives us magpies to live on. We need free living quarters. And that’s what the statues provide for us. May I remind Mayor Kenney that we’re probably the only residents in Center City who don’t scream that they need a tax abatement.
“Look, we’re not dumb. Both of us watch CNN and MSNBC. Jeckle here is in love with Brooke Baldwin, but that’s another story.
“We understand that a bunch of good folks are offended by some of these statues. Although Jeckle reminds me that neither one of us ever saw anyone even peek at one of these statues before all this political hubbub arose. If it weren’t for us birds, I think even the Rizzo statue would tell you that without us birds as friends, it would get very lonely just standing here. To tell you the truth, most of the time he finds the pigeons too liberal for his taste. Embarrassingly, though, Big Frank constantly reminds us that we birds are not very discriminating about where we perform our bathroom duties. I keep telling him that it’s nothing personal. A bird has to do what a bird has to do. But you know how Big Frank (he likes when we call him “Big Frank”) is all about neatness. I think his is the only statue which has its shoes polished.
“About those statues of Confederate generals, I’m not sure any of us birds can tell Robert E. Lee from Stonewall Jackson. And this is a statement that you might not agree with, but I don’t think anyone would know who these southern generals were if they didn’t have an identifying marker. Jeckle has a solution: instead of tearing down these southern statues, just change their markers to show their names as U.S. Grant and Joseph Hooker. On second thought, Jeckle says we better forget about using “Hooker” as a name because it might wind up being a meeting place for “Ladies of the Night.” Aside to Jeckle: I don’t think that term is used anymore. That solution wouldn’t work in the South, so I figure they could put up statues honoring heroes of the civil rights movement. Can’t you just imagine how the locals would react to a large statue of Rosa Parks sitting in the front of a bus next to a statue of ol’ Stonewall?
“Obviously Jeckle’s solution would not work for Big Frank here. And I’m worried that if they tear down this Rizzo statue, either South Philly secedes from the city or, even worse, the great pasta restaurants would close in protest. Jeckle and I simply could not get by without visiting those dumpsters to get our fill of the al dente noodles that people leave on their plates. And let me tell you a secret about the columnist we’re writing this column with. His father and Big Frank were pals when they were on the force together. While they were calling Big Frank the “Cisco Kid,” they were calling Cardella’s father “Pistol Pete.” And this columnist wrote a lot of bad stuff about Rizzo while he was mayor leading Big Frank to ask Pistol Pete, “What gives with your kid?” But even a stoonad like Cardella believes that nothing good would come from defacing this Rizzo statue and mural. He believes that ethnic pride, not racism, is at the heart of honoring the former mayor. Maybe they can put the statue in Marconi Plaza next to Marconi and Columbus. I think they could get neighborhood town watch volunteers to safeguard the statue.
“The only other thing that Jeckle came up with is that they put all these controversial statues in a museum. Call it the Museum Of Controversial Statues. Maybe they can put a tax on healthy beverages to pay for it. I’d love to see them tax almond milk and kale juice. The way things are going the only statue that will be left standing is Rocky. “Let’s face it. Room to roost is at a premium in the Art Museum area. There’s a Limitation of Statues.”