Posted on December 8, 2007
Beginning as early as 1980 and ending about a decade later, wheatpaste fliers were glued to bus stations, Communist Workers Party and USA Today newspaper boxes, lampposts, signs and other public surfaces across center city Philadelphia. No photos are known to exist, but one witness remembered,
To my continual regret, I never copied down or photographed any of the
handbills. I recall them starting out with a preamble that pretty
much said the same thing as the street plates (“Toynbee’s Ideas in
Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001…”), and that there was definitely a shortwave
radio frequency mentioned, but beyond that… it was 1989 and I was 17
Based off of this shred of then 17-year-old information, the Ressurrect Dead documentary team was able to find out what those handbills actually said. Uncovering the content of a wheatpaste flier more than 15 years after it appeared based solely off of the information in the quote above was a fucking miracle.
Today, photographs are cheap and information is easy to find. Because information is now free and widespread, scores of people are out there documenting everything and providing it free of charge to anyone on the planet.
A couple months ago, I noticed some bizarre wheatpaste fliers in center city Philadelphia. All of them had lots of text and all of them were almost completely destroyed. I assumed they were just another example of ‘regular’ street art and didn’t pay them much mind.
A couple weeks ago Justin Duerr started photographing these “Beautiful Mary” posters. It turns out that of all the things they are, regular isn’t one of them. The intact messages are… interesting. Here are photos from 5th and Girard, Broad and Spring Garden and Broad near Snyder. Thank you Justin for taking them:
And in case you’re curious what the Toynbee wheatpaste fliers said:
Arnold Toynbee’s conception of the colonization of
outer space as depicted in the movie “2001: A SPACE
ODYSSEY” on the ability of science to bring every dead
molecule of every human body of history back to life
on the gigantic planet of JUPITER.
We beg the people of this community to accept us
as we have been denied acceptance by the media and
Please write us at P.O. Box xxxxx Phila. 19xxx
(U.S.A) and TUNE x.xx Megacycles (xx meters) short
wave (Saturday nights, midnights ).”