New Fishtown Law website is live.

January 18, 2021

I commissioned the rad dudes at True Hand Society to create a new branding package for me a few years ago. Then, I slept on it like an idiot. No longer.

BEHOLD.

Happy for feedback. I am going to keep tweaking it here and there, but I wanted to get this done and off my to-do list.

You should totally hire True Hand to do your branding too, but I have already asked them to make sure that everyone else’s branding is slightly shittier than mine. Sorry.


I am mobile again (hernia surgery update).

January 18, 2021

Last Tuesday, I went under the knife to repair a hernia. The recovery has not been fun, and my mobility has been extremely limited. I have two canes now, though, which is pretty cool. It’s been a humbling experience, and without my friends helping to take care of me I would have been in a real bad spot.

In any case, I went for a walk this morning and it felt great.


The One in Which the Black Metal Lawyer Formally Owns His Queerness. #queeristkrieg

January 13, 2021

Warning β€” this post talks a lot about queerness, depression, suicidal ideation, and shitty people. (“Govern Yourself Accordingly!”, as fancy lawyers like to say to sound threatening).

If you have known me for any appreciable amount of time, you probably already knew that I was, at minimum a bit off kilter. See, e.g., this Buzzfeed article. Can you can spot me? (Hint, it’s at ΒΆ15, and I still do not know who sent this photo to Buzzfeed).

But I did not recognize I was queer until very recently (BTW: I wish you all had told me sooner, it would have saved me a lot of consternation). This is also a difficult post for me to write, as I have tended to be very private in the past about my personal life. However, as I have committed to the Qowat Milat philosophy of “Absolute Candor” in 2021, it is time I get this off my chest.

Recognizing my queerness was a hard thing for me to come to terms with over the past few months. 2020 was a hell of a year. I spent much of it suffering from suicidal depression. I was so completely depressed that I was not even able to write Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (yes, this is a real subgenre, check out Leviathan and Xasthur. Sidebar: one of my local metal buddies is Leviathan’s lawyer. What a weird, small world). You know you are in the shit when you cannot even find the creative passion to write music for a subgenre that is all about being depressed and killing yourself, in a genre that is all about killing each other and burning churches, and playing guitars in the snow. (I will probably write a post about my suicidally depressive 2020 later, but that is another story for another time. Short version: the only reason I am still here today, writing this post, is that I am simply to polite to leave my corpse for another person to deal with. Also, do you KNOW how difficult IOLTA accounting is? I couldn’t possibly foist that burden on another person).

That said, I found myself living on my own in October of 2020. I have not lived by myself since I was 21 (ish? My memory is starting to go at 36 so this is my best guess). I got my own apartment. It was weird, this monastic life without other people around me. I was alone with my thoughts. That is a scary place to be, let me assure you.

But in being alone, I was able to take the time to work on myself. I had the time and space to realize who, and what I was. I’d started therapy about a month prior (highly recommendβ€”everyone should be in therapy), which also helped me along the journey. I was able to be weird again. I say again, as I allowed a prior partner to crush my creative spirit, for purposes of keeping up appearances of being A SERIOUS LAWYERβ„’.

I only came to this realization these last several or so. It was enlightening and horrifying.

Irrespective, in that time of monastic contemplation, I started to stop lying to myself. When Harry Styles appeared on the cover of Vogue, it reminded me of a time when I was child, at a water park, afraid to get into a water slide. I then saw a younger kid fly down it, care free, and realized I had nothing to be scared of. Regardless what you might think of Harry Styles or his music, I owe him a debt of gratitude.

My partner has always been supportive of me in all things. They were supportive of me in this journey before I even knew I was on this journey.

But this was scary.

I grew up in a household where my parents threw the word “faggot” around. My dad had a gay cousin, but he was one of the “good” ones. I remember my father talking about how he made fun of his cousin when he shaved off his pubic hair as a teenager.

My father also asked me if I was a “faggot” when he discovered I shaved my armpits at 16. I still do. Easier to deal with.

Needless to say, this is difficult for me to discuss.

Last June, a group of us had all been at a drag show in West Philly for a gay friend’s birthday. We all had a β€œfew” drinks. Things were supposed to be winding up with my divorce.

That night, D R U N K E N L Y, I hit on my ex’s male classmate of my from law school. This person presented as queer, but I was wrong. My b. Problem was, I had forgotten that this person was a MY EX’s CLASSMATE. I do not remember much of this conversation, as we had had a few (I am not perfect). THIS WAS BAD NEWS BEARS.

So around 11.30pm on June 4, I get a text out of the blue, calling me a “fucking faggot” and a “dirty disgusting human”, and accusing me of gaslighting her for years. I did not sleep well that night. There is much more to this story, but that is private business not suitable for the internet, and I do not wish to air any more dirty laundry than is necessary to make my point, or to harm my ex’s future law job prospects.

Whatever. I am too nice sometimes.

My internal struggles with that aside, I *think* (until relatively recently, at least) I am a cis-het presenting white dude.

If you look at my Instagram history you will see what I mean. I try to look like a Brooks Brothers’ catalog from the 60s. I have all of the privilege. I can go anywhere and be invisible. I have not faced adversity in my life due to how I look or act. So I was also afraid of intruding into a space that might not be meant for me, or which was inhabited by people weirder and braver than I.

This was dumb. I have largely been welcomed with open arms.

And then in the last year, I saw as friends and colleagues of mine (of similar vintages, or perhaps even with a few years on me) were brave enough to openly announce their own queerness, whether that be ENBY/trans/gay/pan whatever.

And just like that kid on the water slide, that gave me the strength. I was afraid of losing face, or clients if I did tooβ€”but I realized I am good at my job, and that if a client fires me over this, I probably didn’t want them as a client anyway.

So, TL;DR. Hi, I am Leo. I am queer (he/him/they whatever I am pansexual). I’m the same Leo as ever before, I just know myself better now.

“Greetings, Prophet;
The Great Work begins:
The Messenger has arrived.”
β€”Angels in America Pt 1: Millennium Approaches


Nerd Rage, D&D, Harry Potter, and Litigation.

January 7, 2021

The world is a scary place right now, so I decided to entertain myself. Remember this chucklehead? It has been three weeks since I sent that email. They have not responded. Maybe it’s because they are on vacation due to the holidays. I got an autoresponder saying they are out of the office until January 11. Good, everyone deserves some time off, even chuckhead lawyers.

But as I had not heard anything, and I have repeatedly asked for documents from them, I followed up today.

I hope you have at least a quarter of the fun reading this as I did writing it. Their office got CCd so they understand how I do.

And, opposing counsel, if you’re reading this: “Hi! I hope you enjoy your vacation and that it is someplace warm and delightful and full of tasty adult beverages. It is cold and miserable here in Philadelphia and the world is on fire“.

***

Greetings Mr [Tough Guy, Esq.], and HappyΒ New Year.

I have not yet received the notice under the [redacted law] that your client is required to provide to my client regarding [redacted facts]. In fact, despite my requests, you have not indicated whether it even exists. If you do not respond to me indicating one way or another by the end of this week, I will take that as an admission that it does not exist. I understand that I am not a judge and do not get to set your responsive deadlines for courtΒ mattersβ€”however, as this is not a court deadline, I may draw conclusions from your behavior. Consider this an informal RFA. Without hearing from you, I will deem asΒ admitted that you do not have it.

Regarding your curious venture intoΒ Common Pleas Court, I understand that you may have perfected service on my client’s mailing address recently via certified mail. Please confirm this is the case, and I will enter my appearance. Note that [client redacted] is not at this address currently, but I did receive word from his parents that they received a certifiedΒ letter (Footnote: Your complaint also does not include a copy of the required notice.Β See, id.Β I was on Law Review. It taught me all of these neat citation tricks).

Hey,Β did you know I am a dungeon master? As I see it, you’re trying to play this game as a Human Barbarian (I am not sure of your alignment yet, but I would guess lawful evil, at this point, based on your behavior).Β 

This is silly, and yourΒ “my clients are aggressive look at me I am so tough hahahaΒ surprise lawsuit after you extended me a courtesy and did not require my appearance at an afternoon hearing on 12/23” tactic will not work on me.


In creating your character, you ought to have considered putting more of your stat points into Wisdom and Intelligence, rather than Strength.Β 

When I litigate, I take on the spirit of a lawful evil Tiefling Warlock, and my patron is ÓðinnΒ (I told you a bit about him before), the chief god of the Norse, associated withΒ wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victory, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet. I think you understand my point.Β I was a fat theater/orchestra/academic team nerd as a kid, and was picked on mercilessly, and I have a lot of unresolved nerd rage for attorneys who act like you. I also work for myself and can dedicate endless hours to this case, if I feel like it. That’s the beauty of self-employment.

If you are more into Harry Potter than D&D, I’d say you’re a tough guy Hufflepuff. I am Slytheryn. My wand is elm, with a unicorn hair core, and unyielding flexibility, My patronus is a Thestral. I am not joking. Take this for what it is worth to you.

Also you are famous: https://phillylawblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/15/a-norse-take-on-randazzas-litigation-philosophy/. You can expect more of this from me in the future if you continue to be a chucklehead tough guy instead of a big-boy attorney who acts like a professional, as attorneys are supposed to be (in case you don’t know anything about my friend and mentor Marco [sic] Randazza, you can read more about him here: https://randazza.com/marc-j-randazza/).

In closing, you could have been nice, courteous, and professional to me, and I would have extended the same courtesies.Β Instead, you chose to be a jerk. Cool.Β 
Well, as the unofficial Philadelphia motto goes, “fuck around and find out”. You fucked around.
(I am very professional).

Best for 2021,

[signature block]

***


4 U.S. Code Β§β€―8. Respect for Flag.

January 7, 2021

…(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

I don’t do this lightly.


I Got My Stimmy. πŸ¦„

January 6, 2021

I think this AR lower was some right-wing lummox’s idea of a “joke”. Well, joke is on them, because as soon as it’s back in stock I am going to have a lower with a FUCKING πŸ¦„πŸ¦„πŸ¦„UNICORNπŸ¦„πŸ¦„πŸ¦„ ON IT. (libturds have guns too, ding dongs).

[edit: Upon further review, and realizing how awful this company is, I am actually not going to buy this. Instead, I’m going to have a friend engrave one for me].


Follow the Reaper (Shred in Hell, Alexi Laiho)

January 4, 2021

Alexi Laiho, shredding king and frontman of Children of Bodom, followed the reaper today at 41 years young.

I am crying right now.

As Heavy Devy says, crying is metal. Devy has a good sense of humor. So did Alexi:

I told you so.

I was introduced to COB by a friend when I was maybe 18. We both worked at the Starbucks in Doylestown. I had an unrequited crush on this friend (hi Ellen hope you’re doing well).

They were one of the first groups that I listened to that was in the arena of death metal. They opened me up to the world of death metal with their quick tempo, shredding, and catchy hooks. Some metal dorks shit on them because they have keyboards and are melodic. I hate metal dorks like that.

This band was very important to my journey in becoming “Black Metal Lawyer” and wanting to learn to shred. I still cannot shred nealy 20 years later but I am trying. 2021 goals?

I have not listened to COB in a long time. I am now.

That is why I am crying as I type this.

I only saw them live them once, in 2016. They played at the Electric Factory opening for Megadeth. Suicidal Tendencies also opened. I dragged my partner with me. She is a punk rock chick more than a metalhead, but she is a good sport. (Funny story: she almost got kicked out of that show. “Wait, Leo, how does one almost get kicked out of a death/thrash show?”, you may ask. Remind me to tell you at the next show you see me, once live music resumes again).

Their sound that night was absolutely atrocious, which is common at that venue.

I’m glad I saw them anyway.

41.

Fuck.


I am a Dungeon Master.

December 31, 2020

You spend countless hours poring over hundreds of pages of materials, memorizing important details: names, locations, events, prior statements (of course you have read F. Lee Bailey).

You carefully craft an outline of the story you wish to tell, filling in details as you go along, based on the materials in your possession.

You find that you are talking to yourself, rehearsing what it is you want to say and how it is you wish to most effectively communicate your themes so your audience does not get bored.

And then, even with all your hard work, just before it’s time to start, your palms start to sweatβ€”but you know that you cannot project anything other than confidence in order to do your job right. So you take a deep breath, namaste that shit, push the fear out of your mind [fear is the mind killer] and steel your resolve to do your job the right way.

Then despite all of your preparation, memorization, and confidence that you know how things are going to work out, someone whips out their goblin cock.

This is Boneweevil. He is a Goblin Rogue and he plays in our game.
Goblin Cock is a real band. You should check them out.
I hastily photoshopped this image during a pee break in our session tonight.
See, I can be funny(?)


I am talking, of course, about Dungeons & Dragons. Did you think I was talking about trial? PSSSSSSSSHhhhhhhhh you better improve your Wisdom stats, my dude.

Despite being a full-on nerd for 36 years running, I did not play Dungeons & Dragons growing up. I was the kind of nerd that thought Star Trek and Battletech and musical theatre and Magic the Gathering were all cool, but Dungeons & Dragons was a bridge too far. I guess I was some sort of nerd elitist? This was dumb. D&D is super rad. I am no longer a nerd elitist.

I started wanting to play D&D after listening to the popular podcast HARMONTOWN (this was a weekly show with Community/Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon and his friends. It was funny, and I am sad Dan decided to end it last year because every episode felt like a fun hang with my friends).

Early in the show’s run, Dan (while somewhat inebriated, I assume), sua sponte asked whether anyone in the audience had a set of dice because he wanted to play D&D. A man in the audience raised his hand, and they began playing D&D. That man is Spencer Crittenden, and he is far cooler and more chill than I can ever hope to be. (They have an animated TV show now called “HarmonQuest“, where they play D&D. It is on VRV and you should watch it).

Listening to these weekly-ish games on the podcast, I came to realize that I was VERY WRONG about D&D. D&D is not for nerds, D&D is for rad people who like to use their imaginations and tell stories and improvise and hand with their friends and maybe get a little too drunk as they go on adventures to try recover the hoard of the dragon queen (Wow, young nerd me was a total elitist dick). It was A W E S O M E and much fun.

To do their job right, a DM must know their shit cold. While a DM is allowed to look up rules, stat blocks for creatures, maps, etc., your players get bored when you do this. It kills the vibe and flow of the story your are trying to tell. It’s better if you KNOW YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL so you can keep things moving. And even if you know all of your shit C O L D, inevitably your players will pull some WILD SHIT THAT NO ONE COULD HAVE PLANNED FOR AND GOD DAMMIT YOUR HOURS OF PLANNING WERE JUST DEFENESTRATED FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK TIME TO MAKE SOME SHIT UP I GUESS OH DAMMIT I HOPE THEY CAN’T TELL I AM TOTALLY MAKING ALL OF THIS UP ON THE FLY I’M GONNA ROLL WITH IT FUCK FUCK FUCKKKKKKKKK.

If you have ever tried a case, this probably sounds familiar to you.

I only started DMing about two years ago, after several years of trying to make someone else do it. When no one else wanted the commitment, I assumed the mantle. While I often regret assuming this responsibility (as it is a lot of work, and I am a solo practitioner who usually works 12-14 hours a day), it is totally worth it when your players say to you “Man, Leo, that was a great fucking session. I had a lot of fun”.

If you have ever won a case that you tried, you know this feeing. It is a rad feeling.

I’d like to think that being a DM has made me a better trial lawyer, but I think the truth of the matter is that being a trial lawyer has made me a better DM.

In closing, I present to you a delightful ditty from Jeffrey Bryan Davis, who has joined in our Curse of Strahd campaign. You might know Jeff from Whose Line is it Anyway? [Note that while I want Jeff to be my friend and play in my game just because I am the greatest person alive, this is not the case. I pay Jeff money to play in our gameβ€”he is a live performer and has a Patreon. I do not regret paying Jeff money to play in our game because 1) I think Jeff actually enjoys it; 2) He is great; 3) Maybe if I pay Jeff money long enough he actually will like me enough to be my friend without me paying him. This last part is doubtful but a man can dream].

Ladies, gentlemen, and folx of all/any genders, I present to you, Pringles Dick (a song Jeff wrote while on tour with the Whose Line? guys):

Roll for initiative.


I am a Super Lawyersβ„’ Rising Star Again πŸ™„

December 29, 2020

Oh man, I was selected as a Thomson Reuters Super Lawyersβ„’ Rising Star again. Third year in a row babeeeeeee!

Please click here for a short video summary of my feelings on the subject.

Yes, I have a TikTok, @Black_Metal_Lawyer. I think I am pretty funny. You may have a different opinion. I also have an Instagram as @Black_Metal_Lawyer. Note there is another Black Metal Lawyer on instagram but his handle is @BlackMetalLawyer without the underscores. He is an imposter, I will not be linking to him because he is not me and this blog is all about me. (Sorry, Ben).

For the supreme honor of being a Super Lawyersβ„’ Rising Star, I have now unlocked the access to constant spam emails from vendors who want to sell me shit to remind me how Super of a Lawyer I am. I also have access to a catalog of various marketing things that Thomson Reuters wants to sell me.

I am going to share some of the benefits of being a Super Lawyersβ„’ Rising Star. (I am not going to post images because Thomson Reuters is a large corporation and lots of money to throw at lawyers so if I do that they will probably sue me or at least write me a nastygram, and I do not care to deal with that while I am trying to do real legal work for my clients. I will, however copypasta. All capitalization and titles are directly from the site).

β€’ “PREMIUM ONLINE FIRM PROFILE” – $400.00/mo

β€’ “ONE-THIRD STANDARD PROFILE, Philadelphia magazine, Published in June 2021, Readership: 852,000” – $5,500.00, but free shipping!

β€’ “MEN’S GOLF GLOVE” – $29.00 + $10.00 S/H. It has a Super Lawyersβ„’ logo for a ball marker, so all of your buddies at the country club can know how Super of a Lawyer you are even if you are bad at golf. It’s white, available in Small, Medium, Large, and in both left and right hand options. It is a Calloway; is that good? I do not golf so I do not know.

β€’ “EXECUTIVE MONEY CLIP, Sterling Silver (.925) executive style money clip with highly polished protective Rhodium finish and hand-engraved with the Super Lawyers logo.” – $200.00 + $10.00 S/H. I guess you can remind your friends that you are a Super Lawyersβ„’ Rising Star when you show them your sick money clip that is empty, because you spent $200.00 on a sterling silver money clip. Remember, you’re not a Super Accountantsβ„’ Rising Star.

β€’ “PENDLETON BLANKET WITH CARRIER, Pure virgin wool throw is softly napped and the perfect size to curl up with on the sofa or toss in the car. Each one is still woven in our America mills and comes with a convenient leather carrier.” – $180.00, Free shipping. Pendleton makes nice blankets. This one is a pleasant orange and navy tartan. It does not appear to have any branding though, so this seems like a poor decision if you want all of your non-lawyer pleb friends to know that you are a Super Lawyersβ„’ Rising Star. But if you want a nice blanket, might be ok? I don’t know because I have not bought a Pendleton blanket, it $180.00 a good price?

I made a joke about Super Lawyersβ„’ in a Facebook post back in 2015. It was funny then. It is still funny. I will share it with you even though my Facebook is as private as I can make it because I do not want my clients to see my Facebook (sorry clients, but enjoy this rare glimpse into my personal life).

I should have been a comedian, right? And then metal as hell St. Laurentius would have been my patron. That would have been tight.

Super Lawyersβ„’ is dumb.

[EDIT: Apparently I didn’t pay enough attention when I was screen-shotting the above images because I missed this gem of a comment from someone whose name you might recognize:

Damn, I needed that today.


The One Where a Satanist Wants to Save a Church

December 27, 2020

Preface. St. Laurentius (aka St. Lawrence) was metal as hell. He was martyred on a gridiron by the prefect of Rome for distributing alms to the poor. Whilst burning, supposedly said β€œLet my body be turned; one side is broiled enough”. He is the patron saint of comedians. I *like* this guy. Now, to begin.

I am a Satanist. Not in the goat worshipping, blood-drinking sense, but in the “we actually believe in the separation of church and state and will fight to vindicate the rights of the oppressed and use the laws written by right-wing zealots against them” sense. Watch “Hail Satan?” to get a sense of what I mean. It is a good film.

For those who may think that I am joking, I am not. Here is my membership certificate.

To the pierogi and kielbasa: there is a church in Fishtown that was built by Polish immigrants called St. Laurentius. It is gorgeous. It is in imminent danger of collapse and I wish it weren’t. Here the story (as I understand it from a combination of personal knowledge, rumor, and neighborhood gossip). It may not be 100% accurate, but after all, truth is subjective.

Several years ago, due to waiting attendance, the Philadelphia Archdiocese deconsecrated the church. The church has serious structural issues. They put it under agreement to a developer for $1.00. This developer was going to preserve the Church building and convert it into apartments. It was a really cool idea.

But like any good idea, there are some chuckleheads who don’t like it. Some Fishbillies fought the development all the way to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment. Their main complaints seemed to be 1) it needed to stay a holy place (I wonder how many of them attended the Church or tithed, but that’s irrelevant to this discussion); and 2) bUt wHaT aBouT mY pArkIng!!!?!? (to this I say, get bent, we live in a city, this Church is a 10 minute walk to the Market Frankford El, and less than 5 minutes from several bus and trolley lines).

The developer won their zoning hearing on November 25, 2016 (as they should have). Then the Fishbillies, now calling themselves “The Faithful Laurentians” (again, I wonder how many attended the Church weekly and tithed to support the church, and again, irrelevant to this discussion), filed an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas on December 5, 2016.

Their lawyer was either lazy or incompetent (I will give the benefit of the doubt and suggest lazy) and, to put it in strict legal terms, fucked up a lot. Judge Dan Anders, who is brilliant and an amazing human being (and now edits the famed Olbaum on the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence), quashed the appeal. I consider Dan Anders a friend. I appeared in front of him routinely when I was a baby lawyer and he was a baby judge handling matters in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal division. He scared me because he is the type of judge you cannot bullshit or tap dance around to distract them from your shitty legal argument because he is the smartest person in the room and knows the law.

(Sidebar: he does not act like a know-it-all. He is very compassionate on the bench and has an excellent judicial temperament. I do not get special dispensation from him because I know him, and in fact, he is probably harder on me because he knows me outside of the Courtroom).

He made the correct decision in YEETing the appeal, which he ordered on August 29, 2017, almost a year after the Fishbillies filed their appeal.

But as so often happens, instead of issuing a mea culpa, the Fishbillies doubled down on the idiocy, and filed another appeal to the Commonwealth Court on October 2, 2017 (note: the Commonwealth Court is Pennsylvania’s intermediate appellate court that deals with administrative agencies like the Zoning Board of Adjustment). This was stupid.

In any case, the Fishbillies lost again on August 29, 2018, when the Commonwealth Court affirmed Judge Anders’s order YEETing them into the sun. Whether they ran out of money or steam, I don’t know. I also don’t care. Note at this point it is TWO YEARS after the initial zoning win.

But it was a pyrrhic victory, as by then, the damage had been done, and the deal to preserve the church via adaptive reuse was dead. Fuck you very much, Fishbillies.

In January 2020, hope was rekindled when a new developer expressed interest (this article may have a paywall; use Incognito mode and you should be able to open it). At this point, though, the Church was literally in danger of collapse. Pieces of stone weighing hundreds of pounds fell from the façade of the spires, leading to the street being closed down and fenced off. There is an elementary school next door. This is dangerous shit.

Blah blah blah the Church is in real bad shape and the City basically says “hey guys, this is REALLY DANGEROUS and we have to take it down now before someone dies via a 500lb rock to the head falling from 60 feet”.

Enter perennial thorn-in-the-side of developers Oscar Beisert (this article makes him seem like a hero. I do not think he is a hero. I think he is annoying). Oscar seems to have more time that sense and moved here from Texas a few years ago, started his own “foundation” and goes around nominating any old building for historic preservation once someone pulls permits for it. I guess he thinks himself a maverick. I have read his Historic Preservation submissions. He makes Melville seem concise. He means well, but his efforts are Sisyphean, at best and dumb at worst (again, I am giving Oscar the benefit of the doubt because I do not know him other than telling him he is annoying on Facebook and sending him mean gifs. I do not think he likes me. I also don’t care). I feel comfortable saying all of these things because I have spent many hours in public service with our local community groups, both at community clean-ups and running my civic’s Zoning Committee (Olde Richmond Civic Association at the time) for several years, until I stepped down because I was getting many local zoning projects and I did not want there to be any appearance of impropriety whereby anyone could impugn the integrity of the volunteer community organizations. I tried to serve on the Fishtown Neighbors Association Zoning Committee as well but this made some board members feel uncomfortable (since I represent developers in Fishtown and its environs), so I resigned. Again, the perceived integrity of the organization is more important than my ego.

Back to Oscar: I tried to find his nomination petition for St. Laurentius but after spending 10 minutes looking I stopped. I am sure it is out there but I have run out of patience looking for it. Read a summary here.

(Note: I also know the attorney who was contesting the Historic Nomination. I have written him funny emails about some of his client’s projects, most recently nicknaming one of his client’s projects “Club 69” [nice]. I fought him at the Zoning Board when he was representing Starbucks and they wanted to put one on Frankford Avenue. I pulled a few stunts that one can only learn from criminal trial work. He did not get angry with me. He is a good guy and far more patient with my shenanigans than I deserve. Fun fact: did you know that I worked at Starbucks during law school? I would get up at 4am, work from 5am-9am, then head to class. I quit because I kept falling asleep during class. I was very tired. Don’t work during law school, kids, if you can help it).

In any case, there’s now an ongoing battle about whether the spires will be torn down because they’re imminently dangerous. Some experts say they are. Others say they are not. This is how the law works.

That was a very long journey to get to this point: I love this building and I want it to stay. So I made a dumb art print to raise money to donate it to whomever to try to do something about it. Please buy one or 100. Each print sold will net about $25 for this fund. I am making no money off of this. Tell your friends. Buy one for your friends. Buy one as use it as a firestarter. Whatever, I don’t care so long as I have your money to donate.

***

Edit: Dec 28, 2020 after I made a lot of white people on Facebook MAD.

[I plan to split all proceeds from the sale of any poster 50/50. Exactly where they go is uncertain as of this moment but am trying to figure this out. Yes this is half-baked but I hope it will be fully-baked soon. Explanation below.

I am in talks with Fishtown Neighbors Association now. I have an intense dislike for the Catholic Church as an institution and do not wish to give a dime to the archdiocese, so funds may go to benefit the kids at the school somehow. This is evolving.

In addition, to those who bring up the history and weight of the words I chose: heard. I have reached out to my colleague at Avenging the Ancestors Coalition to see if they have any recommendation how any funds might best be handled. This is also evolving, and I care to hear more from black/brown voices about it. I would especially welcome input from local black-owned businesses (Harriet’s, Amalgam, Franny Lou’s). Paging @FishtownFamiliesAgainstRacism. I understand talking about race can be exhausting, and I want to do my own work and research. (For Yt folks who are commenting, you are also heard, and I believe you mean well. That said, I wish to hear from brown/black voices about these infamous words from the MOVE bombing combined with this image.

I feel that well-meaning yt people too often talk over, when they should be listening to, our black and brown neighbors who have their own voices. I saw and heard of this happening during the anti-racism demonstrations at the 26th and through the neighborhood. I feel this a time for yt people to stop talking and listen to our black/brown neighbors.My door is open to continuing discussion. I am listening to the voices of neighbors here in Fishtown, and in the wider black community. My goal here is to make a statement, sure, and to raise money for good causes.

I am not making a cent from the sale of any of these posters. I will be donating every penny. I understand that to some, the combination of the image and words is upsetting. It is undoubtedly a gross juxtaposition.

The comments I am reading below mean that I stuck a nerve. That was my intent, and I wanted to make people think not just about the history of the building, but also the oft-ignored MOVE incident. Those who are coming at me with “edgelord” comments: You are heard. This is a shocking image/word combination.]



Here’s my Facebook post with background on the issue. This is a full-on copypasta.


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WARNING β€” THIS IS LONG. EVERYONE WHO CARES ABOUT FISHTOWN HISTORY: I am selling a print to get money to whatever organization is raising funds to save St. Laurentius.

If there is not a non-profit org already, I will donate all proceeds to Fishtown Neighbors Association or Fishtown Co.

Background: if you don’t know anything about Norwegian black metal, they’re famous for burning churches (watch “Lords of Chaos” for a pretty accurate account how things went down in late 80s/early 90s Norway, minus the girlfriend side story).I love black metal. It probably sounds like noise to most people but I have been into it for 20 years.

Black metal cover art aesthetic is generally some dumb gothic font and silly low-res black and white photos or maybe some idiots in makeup and spikes carrying battle axes (see, e.g., http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/…/top-10-most…/).

I also love the St Laurentius church building, and it’s an important part of our neighborhood’s history. I’ve been here about 15 years, but my grandfather worked in the Holtz building back when it was still H.W. Butterworth & Sons back in the 30s-40s. I have his apprenticeship certificate framed in my office, which is in the same building where he worked almost 100 years ago.

Regarding the text (in addition to the whole black metal church burning thing) my great-uncle (Terrance Mulvihill) was one of the cops who beat Delbert Africa in the MOVE saga. He was prosecuted and (unjustly, IMO) acquitted.

I went to Uncle Terry’s house a lot as a kid before he shot himself in the head with his police-issued Glock. My family doesn’t like me to talk about it, but I think it’s important I do (watch “Let the Fire Burn” and you’ll see him featured prominently).

If you recall, the police commissioner, after authorizing a bombing of its own citizens which turned into a raging conflagration that burned and asphyxiated innocent people, said: “LET THE FIRE BURN”.

In any case, while walking home from True Hand Society the other night, I snapped a photo of St. L with the moon peeking from behind its eastern spire, and felt inspired.

I want this church to stay.

Please help me raise money to help it stay.

And to the “Faithful Laurentians”, you are solely responsible for what’s happening to the church now, and each of you should buy 6 of them and say 666 hail marys for the damage you’ve caused to this amazing building. St. Leon calls that penance for your sin of pride. FYI: I’m confirmed (Malachy is my confirmation name) so don’t try play the Catholic guilt card on me. My mom’s been trying that for 36 years and I am inoculated.Please comment if you’re interested [edit: or just order one from the site].

I have already ordered 50 12×18″ prints from Fireball Printing, and I will continue to order as many as necessary to meet demand and raise money to help save the building.

TL;DRβ€”I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME OR MY POLITICS OR MY ART (BUY ONE AND SET IT ON FIRE IF YOU WANT) OR MY ATHEISM THE BUILDING DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS AND WE NEED TO RALLY TO SAVE IT. Buy a print and help try to save the building.

Hell, buy 10. Let’s save the dammed spires before it’s too late.
πŸ”₯β›ͺ️πŸ”ͺ
#savestlaurentius #savingchurchesistkrieg

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One final note: the night that I took this photo, I was getting a tattoo of this very church, in flames, in tr00 kvlt Norwegian black metal style. My artist was shading and grabbed their bottle of soap to clean up my arm. I suddenly felt an intense burning and pain (being tattoOed isn’t comfortable to begin with, but this was another level, such that I gritted my teeth and groaned ::ffffffuucuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu::. Something was not right.

“OH NO, I ACCIDENTALLY GRABBED MY RUBBING ALCOHOL INSTEAD OF MY SOAP! I AM SOOOOO SORRY!” – my tattoo artist, who is very upset at this point and feels awful.

I am normally a trooper. After a short break I tried to start again, but my body was done. I had to call it quits.

I found it hilarious that I had an image of a burning church with interactive burning action. Maybe St Laurentius was mad at me? Who knows.

In any case, I had to walk by the St. Laurentius church building on the way home.

That’s when I got the idea for this image and snapped this photo.

Hell of a coincidence, right?