Archive: October, 2011
Here's what we know: Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Director Anders Cato's RED, written by John Logan. A biographical drama about abstract expressionist Mark Rothko performed by two actors at Philadelphia Theatre Co. through Nov. 13. (Read David Anthony Fox's review here.)
After that, it’s been up to Stephen Rowe (as the eternally difficult Rothko) and Haley Joel Osment (as his beleaguered assistant, Ken) to create stoic, wonky whimsy from the dark and difficult magnetism of abstract expressionism. Each actor is energetic and coolly curt in their roles. But for Philadelphia, our eyes have been mostly on the 23-year-old Osment, who made his bones locally by starring in M. Night Shyalamalan’s The Sixth Sense. Happily, Osment has outgrown the baby face we remember cinematically and become a stately, bold acting presence. I chatted with him after the first performance. No seeing dead people jokes.
City Paper: The first moment of RED finds your character just staring at us, the audience. It’s a painting, of course, that you’re looking at, but that abyss: We are a substitute for Rothko’s work. And you seem so symmetrically square and spare standing there. What are you thinking right at that moment?
Haley Joel Osment: The use of a painting unseen by the audience — and technically invisible to we actors — gives us a way to open up the deeply personal and private experience of observing a painting to everyone out in their seats. We spend a lot of the play looking out into the abyss, and it's a useful tool for our performances, balancing the suspension of disbelief we require to ignore all those pairs of eyes with the living, breathing sensation we know Rothko's paintings possess. Both Stephen and I have spent time with the real Rothko paintings scattered around the world, so I think it's an exciting and beneficial energy within the play, that of our imagination and memories of those paintings working to create the reality of those scenes each night.
CP: It’s a big deal for you to pick a play — this play — as your first after graduating NYU. Why this one? What spoke to you about RED and the role of Ken?
HJO: I think RED offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the evolution of an intense relationship between two characters, one that’s both contentious and caring. My strategy in selecting projects — theatrical or on film — has been to find ways to stretch myself as an actor, to keep searching for challenges I haven't faced yet. Acting is a craft you can be learning about until the day you die so there's always the motivation to do the most you can when you can. RED is such a challenge and it's unique among the roles I've done in that Ken is in many ways an antagonist. Although that doesn't encompass everything he is or does, his courage in standing up to a titan like Rothko and defining his place in the world is an inspiring and instructive task to take on.
CP: Why take that first big role here, in Philadelphia, rather than wait for the New York City stages?
HJO: I always follow the material. I have been working mainly in New York since graduation, but film shoots have taken me back to the West coast and in the summer I was lucky enough to participate in a theatrical workshop in Cuba — with the U.S. government's permission, of course. There's great theater everywhere, and the opportunity to do something as powerful as RED was impossible to pass up. The director, Anders Cato went to the same drama studio (the Experimental Theatre Wing) at NYU Tisch that I did so that added to my interest.
Coldplay protrudes from the pop-music scene like a thorn — appreciated for standing out among the crowd with its distinctly different take on the mainstream, but all at once loathed for being the prickly, pretentious pop-version of “edgy.”
Chris Martin, who cites 1970s New York graffiti as his primary source of inspiration for the album's lyrical, takes the group in the direction of politically charged, pissed-off optimism, if there is such a thing.
The album couples the common, relatable themes of “fighting the man” and “gosh, love sucks” in what could be argued to be a more eloquent and wordy fashion than the usual pop album. The first single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” for example, takes on the simple and increasingly dire theme of “let’s party” and turns it into an elongated, elaborate anthem that's clearly crafted to be embraced by radio rather than hardcore fans. It is, as most things are with Coldplay, brilliant but equally deceptive.
Key album tracks include the opener, energized love anthem “Hurts Like Heaven,” which is flawlessly led in by the title-track intro. Also, the infectious instrumental of “Charlie Brown,” the ethereal “Princess of China” collaboration with Rihanna, and “Paradise,” which is sure to become another staple sampling for Coldplay’s inevitable greatest hits album.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Le Virtu’s 35-course La Panarda, El Malito’s electro-Latin pre-Halloween costume party, Harold & Kumar, Diplo, Sbraga, Chloe and more.
Here’s something you can never try at home — thirty five courses. Only a protean chef and a willing audience with elastic waist lines can accomplish the feat of what the Italians (normally in two day stretches, with more courses) call La Panarda. This exquisite and rare decadent dining occasion dates back to the 14th century with its foodie events tied to a moneyed capo or signore’s new family addition or overly-grand wedding celebration. When Le Virtu (1927 East Passyunk Ave.) held La Panarda, a likely first in the area, it was for its fourth anniversary of serving the singular Abruzzese cuisine. Some 14 brave diners including myself and my wife — but not counting the gentlemen who provided the eight wine courses from Abruzzo’s distinguished Cantina Frentana’s collective of growers — spent eight and a half hours supping on chef Joe Cicala’s menu of scampi with chickpeas, a serving of layered Timballo (kind of like what Stanley Tucci served up in Big Night without the kettle drum effect), pastas rife with lamb ragu, black truffle and boar, whole roasted turbot, coniglio (rabbit) and a massive dry-aged pork rib roast amongst other succulent things. The whole menu can be viewed here. And it is my understanding that I got through nearly all; my “understanding” as I think I blacked out. Was it the best meal I ever had? I would prefer not to hurt any other chef’s feelings. The Le Virtu La Panarda was certainly the grandest meal of mine or most anyone’s life. Request they do another: 215-271-5626.
Filmmaker turned malito, Les Rivera — a.k.a. electronic Latin hip-hop magician El Malito — has had many a gig since starting his theatrical act with merry odd music produced by Aaron Levinson. El Malito has never played a show in the Latin/Mexican heavy South Philadelphia area and he has never held a Halloween event. Until now: Oct. 27 at Eighth and Fitzwater’s Little Bar. Some folks will say, “That’s really cool they dressed up to do a Halloween show,” notes El Malito of the wild dressy affair. “But the truth of it is, we always dress up. And we want you guys to come dressed up.” See it here and hear it here.
The always-inviting Arch Street BYOB Chloe is celebrating its eleventh anniversary. Yay you. The only thing better than their continental Indonesian, Italian and Moroccan-tinged fare is the fact that the happy couple who run the joint, Philly restaurant vets Mary Ann Ferrie and Daniel Grimes (who is the hospital this week for minor surgery — get well fast) are celebrating their twelfth wedding anniversary at the same time. Double yay you.
Their Second and Arch restaurant is thisclose to getting the one-time Trenton China Pottery spot, the legendary Old City locale that just got a recommended approval from Philly’s Architectural Committee of the Historical Commission to go mixed-use while retaining the faded paint signage on its Second Street wall.
Soft openings and Design Philadelphia events aside, events manager Shannon Niland reminds me that this Sat. Oct. 29 is the true and real grand opening of the Eraserhead-neighborhood’s favorite go-go, whiskey bar, and noshery, The Trestle Inn. I dunno. Those other events were pretty damned grand.
Our resident DJ on his most boogie-worthy pick of the week.
WHO: Isaac Jordan and John G
WHAT: You wanna get kooky, spooky and swanky all at the same time? This is the Halloween-weekend spot for you. Lucky Strike, Center City's unique club/bowling alley, will be decked out for the occasion, with one floor themed "heaven" and the other, of course, "hell." Costume contests and prizes will go down, slick musical sounds will permeate and you’ll lose your shit and have a nice foggy memory the next morning.
WHEN & WHERE: Fri., Oct. 28, 9 p.m.-2 a.m., $10-$20, Lucky Strike, 1336 Chestnut St., 215-545-2471, philadelphia.cities2night.com.
WHY: It’s amusing to try to figure out if that smeared make-up all over your body the next day is from your costume or someone else’s.
Check this space all week for our picks of the 2011 Philly-Halloween-event litter.
Nest Philly’s No. 1 rule — parents have a right to have fun with their kids — is the driving force behind their first-ever Halloween Nestival. The event pays tribute to moms, dads and children with not-so-spooky ‘nestivities’ — everything from a Black Cat Treasure Hunt and balloon-making class to Halloween storytelling sessions. In fact, the only screams you'll hear from this soiree will be from scary face painting and a jam session of kid-friendly tunes. But don't worry, parents. If "Monster Mash" medleys aren’t your cup of tea, Chef David Katz of Meme will be there handing out chocolate-coconut macaroon spider treats and other wholesome desserts. That sounds doable, huh? Sun., Sun., Oct. 30, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., $10, Nest Philadelphia, 1301 Locust St., 215-545-6378, nestphilly.com.
Growing up on their secluded piece of land in Birchrunville, Pa., Robert, Ben, and Turner Graeff (pictured right) didn’t have cable or a computer, and their closest friend's house was twenty minutes away. So to battle boredom, the brothers took to their backyard. But playtime for them wasn’t like it was for most of us. These boys were jumping off their father’s construction equipment, swinging on a garden hose from the roof of their three-story home and setting fire to their wooden tree fort.
They were risk-takers from a young age and, as middle brother Ben explains, nothing has changed. “[We must have] a danger gene or something, because we were all the ring leaders and still are. When all three of us get going, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Passing into their teenage years, however, the threesome was forced to invent new ways to challenge their fears. So they started to film their stunts — jumping out of cars into roadside shrubbery, surfing down escalators in public spaces, and running full speed at moving cars. Soon enough they had a small following of friends that wanted to join in on the fun — and the pain — and they called themselves Team NUB, with NUB being an acronym for Nobody’s Un-liked Buddy.
Their videos featured them and their friends doing original stunts on homemade sets, which gained a hearty following on their YouTube Channel, NubTelevision. But the Graeff boys were slotted for something greater.
"Man, this is nothing but a goddamn wonderful scene," said a Hell's Angel the first time his group shared a space with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. It's also the kind of statement the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is shooting for with the beginning of their second season of the PAFA After Dark series, entitled "Home Grown." Now, granted, its not the Hell's Angels and the Merry Pranksters, but two different cultures are about to converge.
"HERE." is the newest exhibit on display, featuring pieces that focus on how an artist's location can affect the art that is created. Six cities are featured, with two of the six being Philadelphia and Cincinnati. So, PAFA has invited Ohio's Bunk News — a collective of Cincy artists who travel the country looking for like-minded folks and welcoming places — to hang out for the night.
Arriving with them will be spoken word artist Jim Swill (pictured), whose style of delivery is mildly confrontational in the sense that if forces you to listen.
Refreshments will be provided by Yards Brewery. Greensgrow Farm will also be on hand to lead a chat about sustainability and how to make your own mead.
Thu., Oct. 27, 6-9 p.m., $10, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 128 N. Broad St., 215-972-7600, pafa.org.
Check this space all week for our picks of the Philly-Halloween-event litter.
✚ Soup Nazi Look-Alike Contest by Massimo Pulcini
It’s time for all you Seinfeld addicts to shift into soup mode for this Doc's Gourmet Cafe and Soup Bar-sponsored “Soup Nazi” look-alike contest. If your getup impresses the panel of soon-to-be-announced celebrity judges, then you may be the one who wins the $100 cash prize. If your costume is uninspiring, however, then “you're through, Soup Nazi. Pack it up. No more soup for you. Next!" Fri., Oct. 28, 5 p.m., free, Doc’s Gourmet Cafe and Soup Bar, 169 W. Girard Avenue, 215-423-5350.
✚ Jack the Ripper Conference by Meg Augustin
One of the most infamous cold cases is being reopened. Drexel will be hosting an expert-filled investigation into Jack the Ripper and his famous gruesome murders. The conference will bring together Dr. Jean Hartman, who will talk about serial killing; Dr. Craig Monk, who will speak on “optograms;” and former Philadelphia chief inspector John Maxwell will explore some of Philadelphia’s own serial killers and unsolved mysteries. Fri-Sat, Oct 28-29, $250, Drexel University, Bossone Research Enterprise Center, 3140 Market St., 215-895-2000, drexel.edu.
Each week, Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald puts together a rundown of book-centric events that’ll keep you “lit” like a jack-o-lantern all week long.
➤ Grunge Roots
While many writers have chronicled the Nirvana- and Soundgarden-heavy days of the early-nineties punk and grunge scenes, author Stephen Tow (pictured) has chosen to look further back. In his new book, The Strangest Tribe, he highlights the individuals and bands that were the true roots of this movement, ending with the period when mainstream grunge began. He focuses on short-lived bands from Seattle — like The Fartz and 10 Minute Warning — that supplied the necessary fuel for '90s-grunge momentum. Like all artistic movements, there were many crucial layers of hard work before grunge hit the big scene. These are the layers that Tow explores, and he'll talk about it all tonight. 6 p.m., free, Penn Bookstore, 3601 Walnut St., 215-898-7595, upenn.edu/bookstore.
➤ Book Club: Bring Cheese and Whine
If you are reading this post with ease, you are clearly not a contestant for writing a memoir about your personal struggle as a blind citizen. Stephen Kuusisto, author of Planet of the Blind, however, has lived this challenging lifestyle, making his narrative honest and dynamic. With his book featured this month in Big Blue Marble Bookstore’s Life Stories Book Group, members will have a helpful template for practicing the art of the memoir. Hosted by local author Minter Krotzer, the club will discuss the technical and creative elements of writing a tragic or triumphant personal account. The book club meets every last Wednesday of the month, 7:15-8:30 p.m., free, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane, 215-844-1870, bigbluemarblebooks.com.
➤ Phederalist Papers
Powdered wigs or dreadlocks, the defenders of the Constitution and the campers of Occupy Philly have something in common: they are peacefully, but relentlessly questioning the authority of those in power. On this day in 1757, Alexander Hamilton and collaborators James Madison and John Jay published the first of The Federalist Papers. Pick up a copy in our Founding Fathers’ honor to read how many of their proclamations resemble today’s poster boards. All day and night, free, Dilworth Plaza, 15th and Market St.
Sports nut Massimo Pulcini rounds up a week of everything Philly sports. Strike!
EAGLES USE BYE TO PREP FOR DALLAS
The Philadelphia Eagles were on their bye this week so there was no football in Philly on Sunday. Instead, many of the Eagles took the week to visit their homes, as well as get healthy. Benefiting from the Birds week-seven bye were defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, as well as offensive lineman Jason Peters. Cole (pictured), who recently suffered a calf injury, finally returned to practice on Monday. A wrecking-ball on defense, Cole will return to the starting lineup on Sunday night, where he looks to add to the three sacks he already has this year.
Second year defensive end Brandon Graham, who has been recovering from off-season knee surgery, returned to practice for the first time all season. A pass rush specialist, the Eagles and defense coordinator Juan Castillo may be looking for creative ways to get Graham on the field and play him to his strengths.
Finally, starting offensive tackle Jason Peters returns to his slot as the starting left tackle after sitting out with a hamstring injury last week. Peters will once again protect Mike Vick’s strong side and Todd Herremans, who, while starting at left tackle last week, slides back to the right.
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus