Archive: July, 2012
Like Summer School But It's Fun
Just because school's out doesn't mean you should just forget about reading. The Philly Urban Book Festival is an all-day event dedicated to authors, books, reading and other text-centric activities that promote the joys of kicking back with a good read.
Located at the Camphor Memorial Church (5620 Wyalusing Ave.), the event is an opportunity for local authors, both published and unpublished, to meet each other and share their work. Open mics will be held for the slam poets in the audience and a kids' corner offers word games for younger bookish-types.
Getting in touch with her hometown roots, this year's author embassador is West Philly native Nicole Rouse, whose 2007 book Happily Ever Now catapulted her from writing as a hobby to full-blown author — an experience she'll share as she reflects on the world of publishing. Get in on the lit-frenzy tomorrow from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The event is completely free and open to the public.
To step into the Twenty-Two Gallery is to enter a separate plane of existence, far removed from the frantic pace of the city beyond its walls.
Melissa M. Bryant reigns over this quiet kingdom, speaking with me at a small table in the center of the paintings that comprise "Interlude," her current exhibition. The artist maintains that “you learn quite a bit about life by being still,” an idea captured in the surrounding oil paintings that are meant to embody mindfulness. Bryant's work is mostly made up of landscapes — her “first love” — as well as several portraits and still lifes. A large canvas of Mother's Day flowers preserves their vibrance before they begin to wilt, and a scene depticting a winter dawn captures a transient moment of morning peace. Her whimsical brushstrokes are remeniscent of the en plein air Impressionists, colorful and full of contemplation.
Only through attentiveness, Bryant maintains, can we truly take the time to appreciate these scenes of nature that surround us. A look at her paintings and a moment in her presence are a welcome respite from the fast-paced working day, and may help you pause to appreciate the breeze in Rittenhouse Park next time you pass through in hurried transit.
Through Sept. 9, opening Fri., July 13, 6–9 p.m., Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. 22nd St., 215-272-1911, melissambryant.com.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey covers the people and events that are giving Philly the giggles.
Last night, Greg Proops recorded his Smartest Man in the World podcast to a crowd of hardcore fans at Helium. A long episode capping off at two hours and fifteen minutes (quite a bit longer than his usual "Proopcasts"), the comedian detailed his visit to historical sites in Old City and listed his favorite soul-singers to emerge from Philadelphia during the '70s. He also discussed Pete Rose, and explained why Satchel Page is one of the greatest ball players ever to play the game (an important moment for Proopcast fans, since he discusses negro-league baseball very frequently and it became an in-joke to mention Satchel Page at least once on every episode.)
His Smartest Man podcast is gaining lots of steam. Says Proops, "I’ve had more writeups and more attention for the podcast than anything I’ve done in the last 20 years. I’ve done Asscat over at the UCB, I’ve done full-on musical Shakespeare in London, I've been doing "Whose Live" on tour with the guys from Whose Line is it Anyway and I was on audible doing Audible Proops from 2001 to 2005. I’ve had more fun doing [the podcast] than anything else during this time."
A recent Italian-Market story printed in the Philadelphia Business Journal and re-blogged by Grub Street yesterday mentions that the gaping hole behind Anastasi Seafood off the corner of Ninth Street and Washington Avenue is set to become a mixed-use restaurant/retail business courtesy of the N.Y.-based Midwood Investment & Development. The one time Ice House space (once owned by neighboring Giordano’s Fruit & Produce) is scheduled to hold 31,000 square feet of underground parking, which is good for the car-spot-stressed area replete with business owners and vendors.
For the record though, this is the same story that this very writer wrote about for the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2009 and again for a City Paper cover in 2010. Is this just a case of the development firm putting out feelers and trying to initiate a discussion with the City so to finally put into use a space it has held for five-plus years? At one point, long before discussions arose regarding a retail/restaurant space for that corner, a tony home for the elderly and the infirm was discussed for that space. At present, a similarly themed home is currently being erected at 10th and Ellsworth streets. A rep from Midwood told PBJ that they’d like to have the Ninth & Washington project up and running for 2014. Stay tuned.
Mikes Santoro and Dorris have been too busy dealing with sewage pumps, sump pumps and other pumps to worry about what they were going to call their S. Eighth Street purchase, the restaurant space that once held James. The pumps must be fixed as they’ve titled their cuisine-TBD restaurant The Mildred. It ain’t sexy but it works.
Philly’s Latin king DJ Rahsaan and his AfroTaino Productions, bring Thom Yorke’s favorite multi-lingual MC Ana Tijoux, Academy Award-winning musician Jorge Drexler and local spoken word diva Denice Frohman to Dobbs July 15. ‘Musica’ estilo indeed.
Cherry Bomb Bus babe and Hen with a Knife lady, chef Jen Zavala has just left her most recent digs at Interstate Draft House up north according to the restaurant. We’re waiting to hear from Zavala but the restaurant’s employees say it was a genial mutual parting of the ways and that she packed up her knives on Sunday.
Though Philly’s day to shine is indubitably on the Fourth, many locals extend brotherly loving arms to the French to pay celebrate fourteenth, aka France's Bastille Day. After all, Philadelphians have plenty to thank the French for — from the design of City Hall to the Champs-Élysées-inspired Ben Franklin Parkway.
➤ The Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.) begins the weekend celebrations tonight at 5 p.m. with a Bastille-influenced Art After 5, which coincides with the reopening of the Rodin Museum. The evening will include confetti cannons, go-go dancers, a cardboard version of Parisian attractions and a bawdy performance by experimental cabaret group The Bearded Ladies, who will undoubtedly be dressed in their Marie-Antoinette best.
➤ Cinephiles will get their fill tonight at International House (3701 Chestnut St.), where there will be a screening of Jacques Tati’s legendary 1958 film, Mon Oncle, at 7 p.m. Following Monsieur Hulot, the flick hints at the evils of consumerism as it flashes through his family’s lavish ultramodern home and prosperous hose factory. In spite of the message, there will be plenty of wine to consume afterward.
➤ When you're good and pre-gamed, get set for plenty of Francophilian shenanigans on July 14. At 4:30 p.m., Eastern State Penitentiary (2027 Fairmount Ave.) will also play home to The Bearded Ladies, who will take bystanders on a two-hour musical history lesson of the French Revolution. Expect beheadings, stilts, Ben Franklin, a bigass catwalk and a tempest of Let-them-eat-Tastykakes.
➤ At 6:30 p.m., London Grill (2301-2303 Fairmount Ave.) will host a block party complete with performances by The West Philadelphia Orchestra and The Hot Club of Philadelphia. Meanwhile, its neighboring sister restaurant, Paris Wine Bar, will pacify tamer attendees with a chill set by Philly guitarist Mike Kennedy.
Viva La Revolución, bitches!
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady’s weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning.
Cancer (June 22-July 23): “All I ever knew is like a little mouse living in a tiny hole in a palace I have become.” (Hafiz) While you’re busy being expansive, take time to celebrate the way you used to be, which was also amazing. Bake a birthday cake for your former self, with big blue icing flowers.
Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): You never really know how much you’re loved, how precious you are to the people in your life. Look for signs of it — the special groceries, the firefly walks, the silly love-music that gets stuck in your head.
Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad.” (Carly Rae Jepsen) You have always contained at least as much longing as a song-of-the-summer, probably more. But today, take stock of all the many people you have wished for who subsequently arrived. The other missing magic puzzle pieces are on their way — just open your arms and let them come to you.
Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): “I feel so grateful for every challenge I've encountered, as it's now clear that they were all stepping stones leading to the present moment, which is so full of joy and beauty that I feel I could do ANYTHING with the rest of my life & feel satisfied that my time on this planet was worthwhile. Dear G-d, I sincerely hope that, at some point, each and every person I know experiences the happiness that I am experiencing right now.” (Sam Richman, after gender-affirming surgery.) Be like Sam.
Of all films ever made, some are deemed “classics,” available on Netflix and endlessly rebroadcasted on ABC Family, while others — due to low-budge production, scandalous scenes and/or amateur acting — never make it beyond their initial screening, falling to the wayside and effectively exiting from the repertoire of seeable films.
Film collector Jay Scwhartz has set out to remedy the situation, screening B-, C- and even D-list movies for curious audiences who don't want to go through all the trouble of finding old VHS tapes for what could end up being a diamond in the rough. They leave that to Schwartz, whose Secret Cinema project began in 1992, showing films anywhere from private living rooms to vaudeville-style theaters. Not suprisingly, the films range from “quirky” to outright bizarre, and Schwartz has been finding more and more appropriately strange venues in which to show them.
Tomorrow's edition might be his most eccentric setting to date: In honor of Friday the 13th, Secret Cinema will screen outside at 9 p.m. in Philly's historic Laurel Hill Cemetery (3822 Ridge Ave.). Sitting high above the Schuykill River, the 176-year-old graveyard provides a deliciously spooky setting. Come prepared with a blanket, a brewsky and and $10.
When Kanye West took on the wide stages of Ovation Hall at Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, there was a lot to love. Most of all by him, as no one could adore West more than he. Not the screaming fans who paid upwards of $250 for a greatest hits (plus one) show. Not the lean and hungry dozen ballet dancers who pranced and knelt upon the etage in a ritual of devotion before an angelic relief while awaiting the lord and master.
West’s arrival came not before his wanting ballerinas but instead from above, perched upon a high-flying crane that stretched across the audience to the tune of “Dark Fantasy.” Surely, he loved that people had to crane their necks to stare sky-high beneath him. Fans of the Watch the Throne shows with Jay-Z (an album whose material West did none of at Revel) will recall that Kanye too stood atop another large cube-obelisk thing throughout the set. We get it, K. We’re watching the throne already.
Tuesdays have recently been one of the more exciting times to travel to PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St.) thanks to the museum's $5 Tuesday Tune-Outs. Once a week at 8 p.m., a different local musician will play a set and screen a film that has been an inspiration to them. These screenings are normally unannounced beforehand, but not so with July’s guest curator Herbie Shellenberger. Being an employee of the International House, member of local act Pet Milk and founder of Black Circle Cinema, his retro-influenced line-up for this month is as varied as the résumé.
Pet Milk takes the stage tonight, rocking out with influences that include twee, noise-pop, and blonde bombshell Nico. Screening this night is Future Shock, a psychedelic 1972 short documentary projected on 16mm film. The big man Orson Welles narrates, showcasing some of the hyperbole he would use in F For Fake the following year.
July 17 features the collaboration of Jesse Kudler and Alex Tyson, musicians working in experimentation. The pair will improvise alongside a variety of Shellenberger’s 16mm ephemeral films. Kudler utilizes inexpensive, lo-fi tech and computer compositions, while Tyson descends from the realm of visual music.
Tom Guycot steps up as the last performer on July 24. Guycot’s influences lay in library stock music and early electronic horror soundtracks, guaranteeing a night of chills on this side of Halloween. Fittingly, he will play with clips of assorted cult VHS films warping away in the background to his uncanny sounds. His film choice, Quiet Cool (pictured), ends the night on 1980s B-movie adrenaline with a story involving a cop and his son going Rambo on pot farmers.
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