Archive: October, 2011
Abraham Lincoln High, Academy at Palumbo and John Bartram High, are among the local schools taking part in the Get Schooled Attendance Challenge, a nationwide project that promotes attendance and spreads awareness about the teen dropout rate. The eight-week challenge includes wake up calls from celebs like Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa and several contests designed to rally school spirit. As each competition plays out, students are awarded points. The school that racks up the most, and displays an overall increase in attendance will be rewarded with scholarships and appearances from stars like Trey Songz, Ciara and Malin Ackerman, just to name a few.
The challenge could not have come at a more perfect time. According to Mayor Nutter's School Reform Commission, the Philly dropout rate for grades 6-12 is a depressing 37 percent. It even goes on to suggest the factors that typically influence a student to leave school— listing things like abusive foster care, LGBTQ-questioning youth and teenage pregnancy.
Another study, titled "Unfulfilled Promises," also points out early-education indicators, which the writers say are detectable through a pattern surrounding attendance, promotion and grades. The Get Schooled Foundation has used this data to their advantage, seeking to change those patterns and make school a more comfortable environment.
And it seems to be working. In last spring’s Get MotivatED Challenge, Philly’s Lincoln High School received three $1000 scholarships for succeeding in a quiz and dance challenge. And better yet, with an average increase in attendance of 2.01 percent, the Challenge motivated an additional 90 students to come to school. You go, Philly schools.
Brian Wilensky highlights the week's sure-bet live acts.
Tuesday: Catnaps sound all soft, warm, fuzzy, cozy, cute and, gee, it’ll make you just want to give them a hug. But when you pay attention to the lyrics of “Tree + Houses,” the love they sing about is sort of disheartening. 9 p.m., $8, w/ Wild Moccasins, PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., 267-519-9651.
Wednesday: Southern blues rockers, North Mississippi Allstars didn’t sell their soul to the devil like Robert Johnson. But there’s enough slide guitar on their tracks to prove they pawned their finger to some glass slide manufacturer. 7:30 p.m., $23-$45, w/ Alabama Shakes, World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
Philadelphia’s evolving café scene is percolating with the finest beans the world has offer, but a heap of coffee-shop patrons care less about the flavor of their java and more about the atmosphere — especially one that provides an ideal work environment for the city’s abundant student population and the increasing number of work-from-homers. Besides offering ample room to work and comfy seating, design is what turns a run-of-the-mill espresso factory into a haven of productivity. So in honor of this week’s DesignPhiladelphia events, we're taking readers on a virtual tour of three gorgeous, workable café spaces in Philly. The fact that they happen to give great brew is just an added bonus.
One Shot 217 W. George St., 215-627-1620, 1shotcoffee.com ➤ This Queen Village newbie screams academia. Designed by SL Design (of Arrow Swim Club fame), the shop is antiqued and worldly yet far from stuffy. A comfy seating area with reading lights, a library and motorcycle murals keep things livened up. The space is just comfortable enough to entertain finishing that novel for American Lit but not so much you’ll want to take a snoozer. Several small tables line the wall with enough space for your laptop and books. All tables feature a personal outlet so you don’t have to fight for a spot and the only people who have to face the work counter are the ones in the social-area booths.
Chapterhouse Café and Gallery 620 S. Ninth St., 215-238-2626 ➤ Designed by owner Rob Cortez (who's featured in this edition of The Great Indoors) and his wife Shannon, this spot combines unique architectural details with smooth, mid-century furniture to create a space that is calm and inviting. The shop is a hood favorite, with the weekend hours packed with workaholics, students and writers alike. The upstairs features two large rooms, one decorated with that month’s unique artwork and the other loaded with tall windows. Downstairs, the spaces get more intimate and less distracting. Two areas downstairs feature a workspace wall, a faux-fireplace with mid-century loungers and a backroom with spots of sunlight and large worktables. The design utilizes vivid art, arched doorways and wood tones to balance out the cooling and calming effects of the blue-grey walls and stainless furniture. Large and spacious, cool and comforting, and with plenty of outlets and free Wi-Fi, this spot is the ultimate study time buddy.
After a particularly steamy summer and a rainy autumn growing things without a hassle from the elements almost seems like a moot point at present. That is until the folk of Data Garden — the plant-based record label from area musicians Joe Patitucci and Alex Tyson, and web designer Ian Cross — took sprout in my brain with their crafty concoction: a hand-printed downloadable music card on seed paper with water-based ink. You can recycle the card by planting it in your garden after which time a blue-ish flower will come up. But not until you’ve downloaded Data Garden's musical offerings from the likes of chip tune locals Cheap Dinosaurs, Cosmic Morning and DJ Ryan Todd. To that end Sunday’s afternoon in the park of Bartram’s Garden in SW Philly for Design Philadelphia’s “Switched-on Garden” event was all about what the kids at DG call a “convergence of music, nature, and sculpture.” Having grown up around the corner from Bartram’s as I did made coming home to see beardos and the ladies who love them listening to noise-generators in ponds and amplified apples a sight far beyond the usual lush greenery. Plus I had to giggle every time a kid knocked over a toy synth or cried at the whirrrrrrrrrrrrzzzzzzzzz of Charles Cohen's Buchla. My wife and my garden may have seemed tame all season due to the weird psychotic weather. Imagine how creepy it will be with Cheap Dinosaurs popping up fresh.
Words by M.J. Fine | Photos by Chris Sikich
Unlike AthFest, which sends us scurrying from place to place — indoors and outdoors — in the June heat, most of PopFest is concentrated in two venues, the 40 Watt Club and Caledonia Lounge, less than a minute’s walk away. We’re in Athens just long enough to catch the tastiest parts of the festival, but 15 bands in two days isn’t bad for a midweek getaway — and not one of the sets is a stinker. (We leave town on Friday, before Olivia Tremor Control and The Dead Milkmen go on.) Here are some highlights:
Sweater Girls: You couldn’t ask for a better introduction to PopFest than L.A.’s Sweater Girls, who look and sound exactly like their name suggests. Like most of their Happy Happy Birthday to Me labelmates, they make sweet songs about breakups and makeups that stop just short of sending you into sugar shock.
Witches: Not everything’s so poppy, though. Athens’ own Witches tread spikier emotional and melodic territory with “Count to Ten” and “Roy.” Naturally, they’re as catchy as anything else we hear all night.
Throwing Muses: If all Kristin Hersh had wanted to do was recount stories from her year-in-the-life memoir, Rat Girl, the crowd would have been enthralled. And if she just wanted to bring Throwing Muses’ new Anthology to life with no-nonsense drummer David Narcizo and Zen bassist Bernard Georges, that would’ve been fine, too. Instead, the trio rips into songs like “Shimmer” and “Shark” with power and precision. Hersh doesn’t talk much between songs, but her guitar says it all. An unflinching take on “Pearl” is the perfect encore, and even those who are smart enough to wear earplugs feel a faint ringing for the rest of Wednesday night.
Catnaps: We feel a touch of hometown pride during Catnaps’ set on Thursday afternoon; the Philly quartet totally charms the Caledonia with “Vanilla Vodka” and “I Sat on the Edge of My Bed and I Sang You Velvet Underground Songs.” They sheepishly admit they didn’t bring copies of their clever and adorable album, Why Don’t You Whisper?, but — even better for the collectors in the room — they offer discs with a mix of previously released material and fuzzy rarities.
Cassie Owens covers Mural Arts Month in this space every Monday in October. Here are a few things you can delve into this week.
Common Threads Mural Re-dedication ➤ For the Mural Arts Program (MAP), Common Threads (pictured) was groundbreaking. Executive Director Jane Golden describes it as “moment of epiphany” in which people began to see murals in different light. Its size, style and drama inspired many viewers recognize that murals could be “museum quality.” After undergoing a scientific, three-month restoration process this year, the mural is ready to be rededicated. Muralist Meg Saligman will be present to celebrate the new look. Wed., Oct. 19, 3-4 p.m., free, Broad and Spring Garden streets.
Reading the Flow and chainlinkGREEN Dedications ➤ MAP's Restored Spaces Initiative brings muralists, architects, sculptors and more together to renovate civic spaces in environmentally conscious ways. This meeting of the minds resulted in the renovation of Bodine High School, which now features student-crafted murals, mosaics and gardens around its entire exterior. The plans don’t end there: Bodine’s new backyard will play host to an amphitheater, combining all of the elements to form an interactive classroom. School will be out, so the student artists will be in on the fun. Come see their new place. Thu., Oct. 20, 3-5 p.m., free, Bodine High School for International Affairs, 1101 N. Fourth St.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
Do you think the Savage brothers bicker about who had the better coming-of-age sitcom growing up? Sucks to be Ben! Boy Meets World was solid (and maybe funnier) but cheesy laugh tracks can't compete with the awkward adolescent nostalgia that comes from The Wonder Years. Not to mention my first crush, Winnie Cooper.
While TWY is not available on DVD — presumably due to soundtrack licensing issues (remember all those classic hits they used!) — Netflix has found a way to stream it instantly. I'm not asking any questions, I'm just spending my entire weekends marathoning the shit out of it, whole seasons at a time. This weekend I notched off the first two seasons, and boy are my eyes red with nostalgic man tears. Wayne was my horrible older brother made over, Paul was my nerdy best friend and Winnie the reason I started talking to girls in '88.
Season one (spoilers!) finds the gang about to start high school during the summer of 68. And Kevin and the Winnie actually kiss in Harper's Woods in this very first episode, which is part of the reason their ensuing high school career has a sexual tension you could cut with a plastic spork.
Inspired by Shaun Brady's sweet cover story, I went to Jimmy Amadie's show at the Art Museum, his first since 1967. The joint was jumping and the trio was swinging. That Amadie's a skilled showman. Good stuff. Here's hoping that wasn't his last show after all.
Jeff Buckley’s premature death has only magnified his popularity. You’ve probably heard of him because of this, but in case you haven’t, here’s the Cliff’s Notes. Folk legend Tim Buckley abandons his pregnant wife in ’66, a month before son Jeff is born. Papa Buckley dies of overdose at age 28 in ’75. Tim and Jeff had only met once. The younger Buckley becomes a musician himself, first in garage bands in the OC, later as an open-miker in New York City. Jeff Buckley establishes himself as one of most hyped live performers in NYC, drawing celebs and execs to his shows regularly. In ’94, He drops his first, last and only studio album, Grace, and makes adoring fans out of his idols — Bowie, Morrissey and Jimmy Page to name a few. In ’97, he takes a break in Memphis to work on his second album. In eerily mythical fashion, he drowns during a midnight swim in the Mississippi River.
Fans have been clamoring for his unreleased material ever since. Four posthumous compilations, two DVDs (not counting the documentaries,) and five live albums later, there’s still a wealth of songs that remain untapped. Buckley was always heavily bootlegged. The internet has taken that to the next level. His fans and interviewers are dusting off those cassettes. Dozens of unreleased tracks that were only rumored in the ’90s are now racking up thousands of views on YouTube. Here are five rare recordings that the internet has given new life.
“Grace” on Nulle Part Ailleurs (Canal+)
Buckley performs the title track of his debut for French television. Brace yourself for the last minute and a half.
“Once I Was” at “Greetings from Tim Buckley”
Jeff Buckley often stunned audiences even before opening his mouth. The physical resemblance to his father was enough. He won over many of his father’s fans, making perhaps his biggest statement at a Tim Buckley tribute concert. It was his first time singing in front of an audience. He killed. “Once I Was,” was the last song he performed. This moment is actually the basis of one of the three Jeff Buckley biopics in development. Yes, three. This one will star Penn Badgley. Who’s starring in the other two? Reeve Carney and Robert Pattinson. If you think Jeff Buckley is big now, just wait until Gossip Boy, the new Spiderman and Edward Cullen play him.
“Night Flight” from the cutting room floor
Grace has got some stellar outtakes. Buckley was a total Led Zeppelin fan. This version of “Night Flight” didn’t make the album.
“Dido’s Lament” at Meltdown
The Meltdown Festival invites musicians annually to “curate” a lineup of art, music and film. In 1995, the invited curator was Elvis Costello, and he chose Jeff Buckley. At the time, there were reports that Buckley’s voice spanned four octaves. His performance of “Dido’s Lament” at Meltdown showed that the reports were probably true.
“What Will You Say” at the Sacred Music Festival
JB was obsessed with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Nusrat was the foremost practitioner of Qawwali, the traditional music of Sufism, a mystical denomination of Islam. Buckley famously called Nusrat his Elvis. The Qawwali had a profound influence on JB’s style, a style that brought him to the 1995 Sacred Music Festival. “What Will You Say” was a song from JB’s live repertoire that was never recorded for official release. In this rendition, he takes advantage of his auspicious festival surroundings and collaborates with Alim Qasimov, the UNESCO prize-winning Azerbaijani singer. The duet turns into a sing-off to the heavens. Unlike the other picks, you can actually buy this one! Check 2001’s Live à L’Olympia.
Why are you charging money this year?
I know it’s a sore subject. We wanted to reward the artists whose comics made it into the issue. We have zero budget for this thing. (The Comics Issue is a pet project, something I started a few years ago because I like comics. I’ve been told it doesn’t generate any money advertising-wise.) So we decided to go with the model that’s worked for our annual Fiction/Poetry Issue for 20-something years: Submission fees get turned into prize money.
Why don’t you hire a guest judge/editor?
It’s an idea we toyed with before but never pulled the trigger. It makes us nervous (so many comics people know each others’ work on sight). But yeah. We heard you loud and clear on the subject this year and invited Art Baxter pick the winners. He’s also doing the cover. Could not be more excited about that.
Can we use bad words/nudity/sacrilege in our comic?
Go nuts, man.
How do you feel about Garfield subversions?
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