Archive: January, 2012
One of my very dearest old friends, Tim Bowen, passed away on Monday. Bowen was an integral part of the Philly punk and painterly arts scene since the days of the Hot Club (he worked there, his Boneheads played there and opened for the likes of the B-52s) and Bar Noir, which he helped build and book. Tim made a fleeting few sharply sardonic albums (with the Crystal Ball Breakers) that were often as cutting as his socially critical paintings. He opened and closed his own gallery on Fourth Street, Falling Cow.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
This year, the Philadelphia Home Show is breathing new life into its interior design element. Four “Design Rooms” will offer inspiration to Convention Center visitors. Each room is the brainchild of a local media personality and a bona fide designer. We asked one of the stylists, Denise Sabia of The Painted Home, what the experience was like and what inviting inspirations she came up with.
City Paper: Were you assigned your room or did you get to pick the room type you wanted to decorate?
Denise Sabia: We were able to choose what "type" of room we'd like to do. I chose a guest room/home office because it had never been done before and it's something that almost everyone wants/needs in their home.
CP: What was your process for designing the room?
DS: I wanted the room to be totally functional and not just "fluff.” Everything in the room is there for a reason. It either has sentimental value to the homeowner, or it has some function in relation to the office or guest room. I wanted to create lots of conversation pieces in the room, which would also be useful. Finding the items is a total rush, it's like a treasure hunt for me. Creating new uses for them is my passion.
CP: Tell us a little about the room you came up with.
DS: My room is a modern take on what is needed in a home today, room for a guest and a home office, all in one space. I wanted to show how you can maximize space in your home without sacrificing your style.
It's a casual mix of vintage furnishings and cozy fabrics. I wanted to design a room for the average family with a sense of humor; something realistic and doable in these economically unstable times. I used lots of found items from thrift stores, flea markets, salvage shops and even from the side of the road, and re-purposed them so they could be used in unusual and unexpected ways. I wanted to design a room that would make people smile.
Virginia Woolf circumvented bluntness by dwelling on a snail. Alan Hollinghurst does it by creating complex characters with countless thoughts, motives, fears and desires — and then slowing everything down to each loaded sentence.
Each scene in his most recent novel, The Stranger’s Child (Knopf), is dense with intricate details and nuggets of truth. Hollinghurst takes aspects of the human condition that we never take the time of day to dwell on and reveals them in relatable forms for the reader. Everything from specific words to character movements is carefully calculated, and he focuses in on a scene for entire chapters without losing sight of the novel’s purpose as a whole.
Hollinghurst perfectly captures the bittersweet taste of the past but manages to avoid the trap of the predictable love-in-wartime tragedy. He takes snippets of moments, slows them down and exposes each character flaw in a refreshingly nonchalant and noncritical way. Witty dialogue snaps at the heels of disarmingly beautiful descriptions of scenery, and the prose has a subtle brilliance that’s self-aware yet humble. The Stranger’s Child effortlessly delves into thought processes, paints the thousands of awkward interactions going on at once at a dinner party and points out the glaring contrast between the way one is perceived and one’s private persona. Regret, envy and intense desire drive the story while unrest and overwhelming discomfort float overhead.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
I consumed two films this weekend: Win Win (pictured) and Young Adult. The former starred Paul Giamatti at perhaps his Paul Giamattiest since Sideways. The lovable schlub played a small-time attorney struggling to keep his practice afloat. He sees an opportunity to survive off a wealthy older client with dementia, taking advantage of his need for at-home care. This semi-unethical maneuver helps him feed his family, but not without complications( i.e. the dude's teenage grandson shows up all wayward and pissed at mom-in-rehab and in need of some positive adult role-models). Giamatti — as a part-time wrestling coach — welcomes the kid into his home and onto his wrestling team, where he proceeds to beast his way through the competition.
All told, Win Win really amounts to a nice indie flick about making good on your commitments and doing right by your family. It wasn't particularly mind-blowing but rather a chill hangout with Giamatti, (The Office's) Amy Ryan and (Arrested Development's) Jeffrey Tambor. The wrestling subplot added just enough suspense to elevate this simple film to a level just above really exciting screensaver.
Young Adult, on the other-hand, was almost unbearable. This isn't to say it wasn't any good — all the performances were great. It was just a bit too uncomfortable for me to ever want to sit through again. Charlize Theron was Ka-RAZY! Patton Oswalt was effective as a chubby, loser-y, drunk nerd (true method acting if I ever saw it). And Patrick Wilson (A-Team, Little Children) played a great unwitting object of Theron's nostalgia-fueled romantic obsession. Young Adult reminds me of Black Swan if it were a bit funnier and had less-scary editing. Attractive lead actress lives in a complete fantasy world, and proceeds to suffer the most epic of meltdowns. It gets a bit frantic. I had to look away from the screen. Bat-shit crazy women are not exactly my comfort-zone, which is why this is art, not entertainment.
Give Damon Feldman credit for two things: making lemonade from lemons and having a sense of humor about it. The odd-lot Philly boxing promoter — who's legally restricted from promoting real boxing events in Pennsylvania after being convicted of promoting fights without a license (even though most of them happened with overstuffed giant gloves the size of watermelons) — is behind the new Pillow Fighting League (PFL). And face it: Pillow fighting is not regulated by the state as of yet (For the record, Tom Corbett — before he was governor — really went after Feldman for allowing cats like Danny Bonaduce to pummel bozos such as Jose Canseco. Me? I’d give Feldman a medal.
Speaking of giving Feldman a hero's welcome — the debut event of the PFL happens tonight at 8:30 p.m. at The Deck (101 Taylor Ave., 267-803-1999) in Essington. James James’ tattooed love-goof Michelle “Bombshell” McGee (pictured right, photo by Scott Weiner) will fight Rita Rampage, amongst other battle royals to be held. Are the girls allowed to smother with pillows? Or make the opponent eat tweety feathers? I don’t know the rules of the PFL. Maybe I should’ve asked last night when the downy combatants held a news conference at Legendary Dobbs on South Street. That’s where Feldman said the goofiest thing: “They can’t arrest me for pillow fighting, right?” Hey Tom Corbett, you’ve got nothing better to do with that Penn State trial on tap. $15 gets you girls and pillows.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey covers the people and events that are giving Philly the giggles.
New Year's resolutions are generally supposed to be committed to before Jan. 1, but if I know my fellow rag-tag band of Philly comedy fans, you're all a week late on coming up with one, and most of you don't give a shit
Still, the time is nigh for Philly to take it's place on the cultural map of the country's various entertainment hotspots — Chicago has improv, New Orleans has jazz, NYC has Broadway and Arizona's Grand Canyon State Park has synchronized long-distance urination (I know you think I'm making this stuff up, but trust me, post-Katrina N'awlins STILL has jazz!).
Some day, Philly will be known for its independant comedy scene. But we can't do this simply with lots and lots of talented, hardworking local comedians — which we have in droves! More importantly, we need a city that cares about laughter. We need audience members. I've sat in entirely too many audiences as one of nine people, four of which were other comics, and the rest comedians' significant others. We need members of the general population willing to be entertained on a Thursday night — for like five bucks.
Director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Flirting with Disaster) left Philly a few weeks ago after wrapping the comic The Silver Linings Playbook. But there’s nothing funny about Bradley Cooper’s auteur pal’s next move. According to entertainment websites The Smoking Gun and The Wrap, there’s a police report claiming that Russell fondled the private parts of his transsexual, 19-year-old nephew Nicolas (also known as “Nicole”) Peloquin, the son of Russell's adoptive sister, Barbara Jane Peloquin. Nicole told a Broward County Sheriff's Office deputy that the assault happened in a Florida gym. Russell, who, in a police report called his nephew "dramatic," claims the touching incident was motivated by the nephew and was more of a hey-is-this-breast-larger-than-the-other sort of thing. Oy.
The upcoming winter months make many city dwellers go dormant, crawling up on their couches, posed for TV sitcoms and Netflix orders. But the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) isn’t letting a little cold weather keep them down. The art house's 2012 Art After 5 schedule includes the usual jazz and rock lineup, but we're most excited for the three dance parties — each revolving around local photog Zoe Strauss. Here are a few Friday-night haps to keep an eye out for. All shows run from 5–8:45 p.m., free with museum admission, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-763-8100, philamuseum.org/artafter5.
What can be considered a work of art in an age of mechanical reproduction? A damn fine cocktail, for one — which, thanks to an increased interest in mixology, may be the reason we’re (finally!) seeing a subtle decline on the PBR popularity scale. To feed (or rather, water) this trend, and just in time for a deep winter warm-up, the folks at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (AITA) have teamed with a group of local artisans on "Cultivating the Cocktail," a month-long exhibition of the tradition and craft behind the perfect mixed bev.
Participants will learn about the history of distillation and fermentation as they concoct delectably potent potables. Ingredients will include AITA’s signature spirits Root and Snap, and will be infused with the flavors of Philly’s own Gradman Bros' Revolution Cider, Spring Hills Farm organic maple syrup, and bitters (in flavors like wormwood aromatic and vanilla kumquat) from Hella Bitters of Brooklyn.
Opening reception tonight, 6-8 p.m., free, through Jan. 29, Art in the Age, 116 N. Third St., 215-922-2600, artintheage.com.
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