Yes, his name really is Thaddeus Squire and these are really his glasses. Thaddeus is the impresario behind Peregrine Arts, which produced Philadelphia's first Hidden City Festival last spring. Check out Hidden City's beautiful and colorful 2009 report, which still has that new report smell. Hidden City Philadelphia paired little-known but significant and sometimes crumbling historic sites with artists and performers. It was great for the sites, for the artists, for the community--and for me! Woody Allen cannot love New York and Fellini cannot love Rome as much as I love Philadelphia.
I worked for Hidden City and got to know Thaddeus and his glasses a little then. Thaddeus claims he has never bought a pair of new frames in his life, but has always worn antiques and hand-me-downs. He takes advantage of the custom fitting services at Marchese Opticians. Above you see two pairs from his desk drawer and one I borrowed from his cherubic face for this photo. Clockwise from the top:
- 1880s, nickel, purchased from a South Street antiquarian.
- 1960s, formerly owned by a Philadelphia philanthropist, who, according to legend, was wearing them when her caricature was drawn by the great Hirschfeld.
- 1920s, "three piece," i.e., just a nose and arms; purchased at a synagogue bazaar in the Bella Vista neighborhood.
Whenever I talk to Thaddeus I come away with a broader and more holistic view of the arts than I normally have in my little paddock on the fiction farm. When I showed him the book of flash fiction I'm in, he became fascinated and gave an impromptu discourse about current miniaturizing trends across disciplines and continents. Thaddeus is a far-sighted guy, a visionary; it is fitting that the glasses he sees the world through are art objects that contain narratives.