Archive: October, 2011
Putting on a show, getting a silo, it comes naturally to our first guests. David Sweeny, better known to Rat Pack aficionados and coke heads as Johnny Showcase, will finally drop his debut soul cabaret funk mess Love is the Message, on Oct. 21 with a party at Underground Arts to show for it. It’s not just a speed-and-sweat hdriven disc or a wonky one closer in his sprit to his Lefty Lucy luaus despite the inclusion of his Parliament-ary “Cocaine Sandwich” and the freak-a-deaky “Love is the Message (For Miles Davis)”. The whole affair was co-produced with producer/engineer Henry Hirsch who has twiddled the knobs for Lenny Kravitz, Madonna and Mick Jagger. “Johnny’s a fiction, but the funk is for real,” says Sweeny of his exy dance debut. “At first I was doing Johnny as a tongue-in-cheek lounge cabaret act, playing upon mediocrity and cheesiness. But I got totally transfixed by Miles Davis’ electric transformation in the late ’60s/early ’70s (hence the title track) as well as Dylan’s electric transformation in ’65. Both were creating outside of the comfort zone of their audiences. I decided to do the same thing, and it totally changed the game, creatively. I built myself a funk band, The Sons of Thunder, and started making any kind of music I wanted, because they could play whatever I asked them to.” As for working with the legendary Hirsch, Sweeny was in awe of the master, one of the last men standing to champion analog recording. “He would listen to a demo, and say something like “Hmm, it sounds like you want Led Zeppelin-type drums on this one. Ok, give me an hour.” Within the hour, simply by manipulating drums, microphones, and the console, Henry would have achieved that John Bonham sound. We all walked away stronger musicians.” If by some dumb chance that you miss the Showcase/Sweeny Underground Arts extravaganza, catch up with Johnny when he hooks up with Martha Graham Cracker for their double-teamed Halloween soiree at Milkboy Chestnut Street on Oct 29. If Martha takes a break ask Dito von about the book he’s working on (Pig Iron: Three Plays, due out in December) and his role in Act II’s Irma Vep opening Oct. 25.
Want more show people? Take the wizardress/true star that is Jess Conda. She just finished playing the haughty Mae West in Looking Pretty and Saying Cute Things at the Adrienne Theater, and now the Brat-artist-in-residence has began work on her own Halloween cabaret. A is for Anaconda at the RUBA Club (Oct. 27-29 with a special preview of Madi Distefano’s Meanwhile on the first two nights) is a little Edward Gorey, a little heavy metal and, in the tradition of Brat stuffs like Haunted Poe and Carrie. “Plus my band is the boys from the Martha Graham Cracker cabaret, sans Martha,” says Conda. Take a rock show, dress it up in Victorian finery, cover it in blood and blast it with bombastic vocals. Perfect Halloween fare. “This show tells the story of the corruption of my rock ’n’ roll alter ego, Anna,” says Conda. “It’s inspired by the cult favorite poem, The Ghastlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. I was curious if I could stage the world of that poem in a rock context. Can Victorian school children get down to Iron Maiden? Can the spectacle of a rock show feel like true theater?” Sure can.
Popping pop up fresh: Stateside on the 1500 block of E. Passyunk Ave. didn’t just get a chef, ex-Barbuzo mate George Sabatino. It’s got a five-course soft opening pop-up at South Philly Green Eggs (13th and Dickinson) on Oct. 29. The Green Eggs folk, along with Bill Bonforte and Stephen Slaughter are responsible for Stateside which will open soon after the pop. Up.
If Laurie Anderson can show at Fabric Workshop, Karen Finley can work at Kelly Writers House. The yams-and-yowling performance artist will be a Kelly Fellow at UPenn this up-coming season. Mazel.
Our resident DJ on his most boogie-worthy pick of the week.
WHO: Uproot Andy, Geko Jones, DJ Mandip and DJ M-Ski
WHAT: NYC’s badmen from the infamous Que Bajo?! party are swooping into Philly to smack their brand of tropical bass on the dancefloor. Uproot Andy and Geko Jones are top-notch selectors who are sure to keep your mind and booty satisfied with their world-spanning bangers. Drink specials + no cover before 11 p.m. x no dress code = no reason not get over there and make it a magical night.
WHEN & WHERE: Fri., Oct. 21, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5 after 11 p.m., Fluid Nightclub, 613 S. Fourth St., 215-629-3686, fluidnightclub.com.
WHY: It may be getting cold outside but it's gonna be absolute fire in the club!
Health-care and pharmaceutical marketing agency Digitas Health opened its doors last night for an idea-sharing session as part of DesignPhiladelphia. Noting Philly’s long history with innovation and creation — holler, Ben Franklin! — Digitas Health went with a rapid-fire technique, attempting to plug 100 ideas in 100 minutes. OK, so it ended up being more like five solid ideas in 90 minutes, with one important question in mind: What can we do better through design?
The majority of speakers came from Digitas Health’s own employee lineup, noting the problem-solving nature of their positions as advertisers. The first speaker noted how good design through presentation and the correct use of technology (no reading off your PowerPoint slides for two hours!) can transform outreach and communication. The second speaker, Brendan Gallagher, spoke about four things in Philly that could be solved through good design. First was SEPTA. Archaic in design and technology, this whole system could use a redo. Second was the solar-powered trash compactors you see throughout the city. A great idea, but often hard to use. Next, he noted how much Occupy Philly could use good design. (It’s ridiculously hard to navigate through that mass of tents!). Finally, Gallagher presented a solution to the U.S.'s obesity epidemic. Gallagher suggested using technology to help, noting a new iPhone app, Zombie Run, that layers gaming on top of your run schedule. It’s a fantastic idea, but often the people with the highest incidents of obesity are at the lowest income levels and thus gaming and iPhones seem a little far-fetched. Here’s to hoping, though.
Other presenters spoke about green design, artist innovation, the old/new architecture of Philadelphia and saving places like the Divine Lorraine. While all of the talks were interesting, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the space’s interior, designed by award-winning architects KlingStubbins — a perfect spot for creative thinking.
I haven’t witnessed so many smiling nuns and pink-faced Catholics since my confirmation. I’m talking about the gathering of the masses (or the mass for the gathered?) of holy folk, lady basketballers, sports addicts, movie brass, investors, Style mag makers and Immaculata College alumni for last Friday night’s world première of The Mighty Macs, local director/writer/produer Tim Chambers’ film based on hard-charging coach Cathy Rush and the true story of the 1971-72 Immaculata team that started small but became a great big Cinderella story of girl b-balling victory.
The Kimmel Center event also doubled as a benefit of Immaculata University and Coaches vs. Cancer, so everybody was hopped up on charity as well as the glitz of hanging with red carpet-ready stars such as the real Rush and the actress who plays her, Carla Gugino; weatherman Dave Roberts’ kid David Boreanaz, who plays NBA referee/husband Ed Rush; the cutest nun since Sally Field, Marley Shelton (who played “Sister Sunday”); and pirate-loving producer Pat Croce, the ex-president of the 76ers.
After a few blessings from Archbishop Charles Chaput and an appearance by Michael Smerconish in what appeared to be a Robert Hall men’s suit jacket, the assembled moved noisily into the main hall (this was EASILY the noisiest crowd at the Kimmel since that French thing a few months back) wherein several Immaculata reps, producers and Chambers chatted up the film they held so dear to their hearts since its wrap in 2009. While I’m not here to review the flick, I can screw you guys up and tell you the film’s big ending (spoiler alert!): The Mighty Macs win.
Miss Independent is back after two years, and it was worth the wait. “Mr. Know it All” takes up permanent residence in your memory while pulling the strings of your neck into a rhythmic bob of the head. Here is a song worthy of getting caught lip-syncing to at work: a surefire hit by winter. “You don’t know a thing about me,” she quips in the catchy chorus.
We do, actually.
Kelly Clarkson is the original — not to mention the most successful — American Idol. The two-time Grammy winner from Texas has become the queen of move-on songs such as “Walk Away,” “Since U Been Gone,” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes.” With the punk of P!nk and the soul of Christina Aguilera, Clarkson manages to maintain a rawness that’s all her own as she sails through songs that help listeners through a hard breakup. Her fifth album Stronger is due out October 24th, and her next rock-pop single “What Doesn’t Kill You” will surely keep Breakaway fans satisfied until her tour. Staying afloat the pop music industry while critic sharks snap at your heels is no babypool feat, and these past ten years of treading have paid off. Our lives would suck without you, Ms. Clarkson.
Everybody there knows what the deal is, but before Smoke DZA takes the stage, the show is mostly the music. Smoke DZA changes that. He asks to taste test stuff from the audience, and fans throw various product onto the stage. DZA catches a lighter. DZA approves. He keeps that high energy, high-pitched voice after smoking all throughout… how, I don’t know. He goes into an a capella rendition of “The World.” Midway though, someone shouts that he needs the lighter back. DZA takes no break, even without the beat, and throws it to the guy. From that point on, no one is allowed to forget that this is the Smokers Club Tour.
Shiest Bubz flings papers to the audience between sets. Big K.R.I.T. takes the stage and wants to talk about drinkers. The crowd is down for that too. K.R.I.T. was hype; the crowd was hype. The hype overpowers the turntables, and makes it too easy to miss the musicianship behind his beats. Performing in front of a band or an orchestra is the next step, but will K.R.I.T. take it there?
Curren$y broke his ankle in August jumping off the stage at the Rock the Bells. How does he play his set? He sits on a jumbo plush couch with a cannabis-patterned sock around his cast, and invites his crew to come sit and smoke with him. For the first half, Curren$y slays. He jokes with the audience, relying on his hands, rhymes and charisma alone. People are still throwing things on stage, only now it’s landing on his couch. “Oh shit, and Starbursts!!” Curren$y says happily. He turns to the DJ, “OK, Let’s do some more raps.” Young Chris comes out to chill. Jet-Life affiliates spit for bit as Curren$y catches more gifts (Skittles this time) and shares them with DZA. Does the hangout vibe, rap after rap, get stale? Little bit. It’s hard to mind though; hanging with buds is sort of the whole point. He stands up and leans on his homeboys to close the show. Then he hops around the sofa, into his own posters almost, to bounce off the stage. Couldn’t anybody pass him a crutch? I’ve got a feeling that Curren$y doesn’t want or need one.
Method Man is up last. Time to reminisce of days of yore. DJ Mathematics spins his own shoes off, literally. Wu's to the sky. “I’m telling you; that gritty shit is coming back,” Meth says. His set doesn’t seem like the appropriate finish to K.R.I.T. and Curren$y, rising sophomores ready to take the game in the new direction. It seems like a bonus for people who really like hip hop. That’s cool for now. In fact, when the ODB tribute arrives, it’s a lot more than cool. Still, there’s an odd comfort in seeing that come next year, the new kids shouldn’t need to lean on the old heads anymore. Especially since Curren$y’s leg will have healed.
You've probably had your Halloween ensemble planned for months, but now you need to buy it. Whether you go the sexy kitten route or dress as a freaky-eyed Michele Bachmann, we've rounded up four local one-stop-shops that should suit your costuming needs to a tee.
Pierre’s 211 N. Third St., 215-925-7121, costumers.com ➤ If you don't have a costume in mind yet, a browse through Pierre's Costumes should do the trick. One of Philly's oldest shops of its kind, there's an overwhelming amount of costumes, make-up, and accessories to choose from. If the packaged costumes (which can be rented or custom-made) aren't enough, trying on an assortment of different shoes and wigs alone can inspire the makings of an unforgettable outfit. Fun fact: ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX get their “On-Air” costumes from Pierre’s. If you can’t make it to the store before Halloween, check out their website for amazing offers.
Past & Present, 7224 Germantown Ave., 215-242-2908 ➤ The Halloween season is no stranger to Past & Present, a funky Mt. Airy vintage shop loaded with upscale, costume-store goodies. For some laughs, there are colonial garb magician's capes and even an Elvis costume. For some classier attires, travel back in time with handmade vintage 1920s flapper dresses, crinolines and tuxedos. Want to top off your creativity with a little extra oomph? There’s color hair spray, crazy wigs, masks and face paint, too. So, why aren’t you on your way yet?
Masquerade Costume Superstore 1100 S. Columbus Blvd., 215-952-0980, masqueradeadventure.com ➤ While Halloween typically represents candy, haunted houses and costume parties, Masquerade Costume Superstore hasn’t forgotten our favorite reason: an excuse for girls to dress like sluts. The warehouse-sized building is split between two sections: over 18 and under 18, where you will be carded to enter. Beyond that forbidden line lies sexy, jaw-dropping costumes, accompanied with holiday favorites; whips, stripper heels, handcuffs, you name it. However prepare yourself before shopping at Masquerade; the place becomes a madhouse before Halloween. You’re best bet: Go on a weekday. A weekday really, really soon.
Buffalo Exchange 1713 Chestnut St., 215-557-9850, buffaloexchange.com ➤ Buffalo Exchange has been noted in Elle and Seventeen Magazine as the go-to place for getting new and recycled fashion at a fair price. And Halloween duds are no exception. The store's buyers begin hunting as early as August for items on their list of ‘must-have’ Halloween costumes: from Glee characters and Victorian-Era clothing to vampire and western-styled outfits. This is also a great stop if you're looking to perfect an incomplete look with flashy accessories collection.
What happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas for artist Kate Bodine. After a stint in Sin City, she got booted back East without a job, sufficient funds or any real plan at all. Any plan, that is, until Louis Senofonte saw her art.
Owner and proprietor of Lucifer clothing store on 15th and Pine, Senofonte hosts monthlong art shows for up-and-coming locals who may otherwise go unseen and unknown. “We look for artists who produce new, innovative art that they believe in, but that has not been shown in galleries yet. We give artists a chance to get their name out there and gain the confidence to produce more. Kate is definitely that person.”
The series that sold Senofonte in seconds, now hanging around the store for the duration of October, is titled “Mongrelisation.” It was born out of a totally separate project that Bodine was working on involving portraits of circus freaks and one painting in particular involving midgets. She could not get the faces to look realistic, so, as Kate says, “I thought, how do I get around this? Then I decided to just make them weirder by putting animal heads on them. And it worked.”
Each week, Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald puts together a rundown of book-centric events that’ll keep you “lit” like a son-of-a-gun all week long.
➤ Writer’s Anonymous
Are you strangely obsessed with having your writing critiqued? Do you get a rush from red lines or a stomach tickle when an editor advises you to re-work your character development? Come share these literary endorphins at this book club each Tuesday, you sick, sick son of a gun. 7 p.m., free, Barnes & Noble, 1805 Walnut St., 215-665-0716, barnesandnoble.com.
➤ Strictly Philly
While joining a book club during the late-fall and winter months is a great idea in itself, this one is particularly neat because it features local authors. This month’s mystery series will host D.H. Dublin, Merry Jones, and Solomon Jones (pictured). 7-8 p.m., Cheltenham Arts Center, 439 Asbourne Road, Cheltenham, $10, 215-379-4660, cheltenhamarts.org.
➤ The New Jim Crow
I imagine if you were told “There are more African-Americans under correctional control today ... than were enslaved in 1850” you’d feel inclined to research and write about the issue. Professor and author, Michelle Alexander, from the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, certainly felt the need to do so in her new book, The New Jim Crow. She confronts the racially disproportionate statistics for incarcerated individuals and dissects the discrimination that occurs in post-incarceration. 7 p.m., free, Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad St., 800-298-4200, thebaptisttemple.org.
Sports nut Massimo Pulcini rounds up a week of everything Philly sports. Pivot!
FINALLY, A PHILLY WIN!
After experiencing the worst start for an Eagles team in Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach, the Birds finally pulled through and got what their city wanted — and what their head coach needed — a win.
The Birds traveled to FedEx Field, home of the division leading Washington Redskins on Sunday for an afternoon divisional tussle. The Eagles entered with opportunity to end a four-game losing streak, while the rival ‘Skins aimed to increase their lead in the so far uninspired NFC East.
Like they have in past weeks, the Birds started strong, racing to a 20-0 second-quarter lead. What set this fast start apart from the others is that the Eagles didn't implode on themselves. The defense played strong for the entire game, intercepting Redskins’ signal-caller Rex Grossman four times, including three picks by safety Kurt Coleman. The Eagles also made adjustments to their defense’s alignment that helped them stop the run effectively, holding Washington to a pedestrian 42 yards on the ground.
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