Archive: October, 2012
Jeffrey Lewis’ lonely, lovelorn songs have grown more nuanced and poetic over the years, but that waggish wit has always been there. Same goes for the quirky topicality and conversational sensibility that reached fuller flower on last year’s A Turn in the Dream-Songs and 2009’s great, mortality-oriented Em Are I. The proof is in The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane (and Other Favorites), a compilation of DIY cassette recordings issued by Rough Trade in 2001 now available on vinyl for the first time, in a 10-year anniversary edition (well, almost) from Don Giovanni records. It’s as good as any excuse for a tour, not that we need any justification for a chance to catch New York’s most entertaining (and most endearingly neurotic) songwriter-cartoonist in action. Hopefully he brings along some of his ingenious “low budget videos” — large-format lyric-illustrating flip-books — which are perhaps the best expression of his twin supertalents.
TONIGHT, Thu., Oct. 25, 8 p.m., $8-$10, with Birdie Busch, World Café Live Upstairs, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com.
You have to admire Bart Blatstein’s confidence. After an hour-long happy hour at his grand Tendenza Hall in Northern Liberties — just doors from his Piazza at Schmidt’s — the developer announced plans for his $700 million casino, resort, and entertainment complex at the legendary former home of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News on North Broad Street, with Hard Rock International as its gaming operator, called The Provence.
Blatstein doesn’t have that gaming license yet (he has until Nov. 15 to submit an official proposal for Philly’s second casino license). He faces steep competition from Penn National Gaming, Inc. (for land along the Delaware River just north of SugarHouse Casino) and Cordish Co. of Baltimore (they want the Philadelphia Turf Club on Packer Ave. in South Philly, supposedly) to say nothing of opposition from Casino-Free Philadelphia.
That isn’t stopping Blatstein. In his mind, his epic design for the block-long enterprise — a casino at Callowhill between 15th and 16th streets at 120,000 square feet, with table games in the one-time newsroom of The Inquirer and a 125 room hotel in its legendary tower — was just the start. Blatstein traveled from China to Macao (it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it) to France for inspiration for his Provence and promised it would be “no casino in a box,” a phrase repeated several times throughout the presentation.
You know what I say about expectations? I say who needs them. Historically, when I make them I never meet them, so I tried really hard to keep my lookout low for this weekend’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. CMJ happens every year: It’s a five-day conference for music professionals and the people who love them, offering dozens of panels on everything from music licensing to composing criticisms. On top of that, there are showcases. So many showcases of various genres and stature, set up at different venues across the city. Some are free to the public and some require credentials. It’s overwhelming and best thought out in small doses, like, first: Figure out how to get there. And second: See what happens.
My expectations were as follows: See some new music, see some old friends, find a bed to sleep in or a couch or floor or something, and not get irreversibly lost in Manhattan. Despite cab odyssey that took me to 92nd Street and Second Avenue —instead of my intended destination, 92 Second Ave. — I guess I can safely say that the weekend was successful by those standards. I was also able to take one shower and eat some free rotisserie chicken and I only almost cried like, three times the whole weekend. So it goes.
My weekend starts with a 6 p.m. Mega Bus that turns into a 6:45 p.m. unnamed bus with some pretty rad cosmic seat patterns. By the time I get to Union Station it’s 9 p.m. and too late to pick up my press pass, so I go to a friend’s place to snack on some bird meat and drink some beers. Two hours later we hit up Glasslands Gallery, an old warehouse converted into an art space/music venue with no line and cheap Brooklyn Lager tallboys. The venue is stuffed and I have to teeter on a raised ledge that juts out from the bar, only half confident that I won’t fall overboard. I watch Isaac Delusion, a French psych-pop outfit that plays what my friend dubs “pill music.” The sound is very mellow, cathartic, electronic, like something that would come stock on a first generation iPod.
I was tempted to keep this pair of headphones for myself, but when they're on my scrawny head I look like Princess Leia if she was a pitiful drowned rat. I bet they'd look so much better on you.
Here's the deal with them: They're called Chambers and they're designed by Wu Tang producer/occasional filmmaker Rza. Besides the actual headphones, the whole getup includes a black zip-up pouch, a twin-plug airline-system adaptor, a detachable cable (which includes a handsfree unit that works like a charm on the iPhone) and an alternate cable for your alternate-cabling pleasures.
You can read more about the fancy innerworkings here. Now let's get on to the contest details:
Since the headphones are red, we'd like you to snap some photos in the city of red things, whether it be a building, a baseball cap, a pumpkin that came out the wrong color, whatever, and upload it on Instragram (follow us @phillycitypaper!) with the tag #cpwin. On Monday we'll scroll through the entries and choose our favorite one. Then we'll contact that photographer and mail them the prize.
Are we good? If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, get to snappin'!
Movie critic Andrew Wimer reviews his favorite Netflix Instant flick of the week.
Coming off 2012’s National Coming Out Day celebrations, British director Derek Jarman showcases an intangible relic of ancient queer history in his 1976 debut Sebastiane. The film offers a glimpse into an era of bathhouses and casual sex, long before the impending AIDS epidemic was a glimmer in anyone’s eye. Chronicling the exile and execution of Saint Sebastian, the film remains notorious for its low budget and gratuitous male nudity (the result of such limited expenses, the director once joked).
From the journey's onset, Jarman establishes his unique vision of the late Roman Empire. The emperor's court is a veritable who's who of Rocky Horror fame, including Little Nell, Peter Hinwood and Patricia Quinn. The rest of the talent ranges from friends in Jarman's artistic circles to unknowns who may well have been cast directly from a '70s porno reel. Impressively, all dialogue is spoken in vulgar Latin though one need not know the language, as subtitles are provided.
The sole Christian amongst the group, the saint finds himself reaching holy enlightenment, unlike his fellow soldiers who are busy being attracted to each other's flesh. In a time before contemporary notions of sexual identity, casual sex between men passes the time for all but Sebastian, tortured by a compatriote for his refusal to submit to his lust. Between Brian Eno's psychedelic ambient score, a sublimely beautiful slow-motion lovemaking sequence among two soldiers in a pond and Sebastian's increasing delusions, Jarman creates a hauntingly spiritual presence beyond the bounds of celluloid. The implications of the BDSM-esque ruin of the saint juxtaposed with homoreoticism remain questionable today, but few have the courage to tackle such themes this far past Jarman's untimely death from AIDS in 1994.
For those of you who are going to your psychedelic funk-metal concerts in 2-D and in stereo, you might as well be sitting in a cave listening on a Walkman. The polka-core trio already rocked the Tower one short year ago as part of their Green Naugahyde tour, and what better excuse to come back than an upgraded multi-media experience?
It was a blast.
The set-list was great, the music was tight, the visuals were cool, and — as usual with 3-D ventures — the glasses were distracting. I personally didn’t wear my pair for a lot of the show. The 3-D rendering didn’t stretch the y-axis that deep, and many of the graphics looked just a cool without the glasses. By the way: When are we gonna get 3-D contact lenses? Mosh pits must be a real inconvenience for old-school Poindexters.
LOVE NOTE RECIPIENT: Franklin Square
I AM: “Philly homegrown.” Born and raised in the 215, I spend my days entertaining tourists and locals at the official visitor center of Philadelphia.
MY LOVE NOTE:
What kid doesn’t love going to Franklin Square? Mini-golf, carousel rides and the promise of a Cake Shake are enough to make even the oldest kids, myself included, get excited about playtime. But the lure of a sugar high or a hole in one wasn’t always guaranteed. Growing up in Chinatown, I didn’t know what grass looked like. I’m not saying I was deprived, but everywhere I looked, I saw blacktop. Baseball field? Yeah… a parking lot outside my house. (It’s amazing how fast your legs can take you when you’re being chased by your neighbor in his underwear.)
Those wings of mercury would eventually show me the way to “Bum’s Park.” Oh wait — you know it as Franklin Square. My mistake. Unfortunately, there was nothing there at the time that deserved the honor of being named after a Founding Father. Yellow grass. Broken pavement. Faulty playground equipment. It was a dump, both literally and figuratively, but it was a park nonetheless. If anything, tackle football felt a little softer here. The soccer ball would actually travel — not much, but it was still good for a roll or two. The homeless were on one side and my friends and I were on the other. Never did we engage or intermix, but then again, we never had to.
There’s a song by Madonna aptly called “This Used to Be My Playground.” Although I never kissed a girl there or was ever really victorious in any of my sporting events, Franklin Square was still a park surrounded by blacktop. I often watched as the senior citizens of Chinatown practiced their Tai Chi every morning without fail and scratch my head as to why more people didn’t take advantage of this amazing space.
Little did I know that change was coming. Historic Philadelphia Inc., the historic arm of tourism in Philadelphia, vowed to keep the promise of William Penn’s Green Country Towne with plans to restore the grandeur of Franklin Square. A beautiful carousel, an 18-hole mini-golf course celebrating Philadelphia’s cultural icons and monuments, brand-new playground equipment that kids of all ages could enjoy and turning on a fountain that I frankly never even knew was there (maybe because the it was covered in grass). And if that wasn’t enough, restaurateur Stephen Starr would add a small eatery specializing in burgers and milkshakes. Oh, sweet Jesus, they even have green grass and picnic tables.
To paraphrase a line from my parents when we feasted on our eyes on the newly renovated Franklin Square: “Holy s*** !" Was this the same spot where I used to waste away my summer days?
No, it’s not the same place that I fondly remembered. It’s better. On my commute to work (all of 4 minutes) I still see the seniors practicing their Tai Chi and kids running through the grass playing all sort of sports. Families love it, and I’ve heard that even Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny make yearly appearances at Seventh and Race during their respective seasons. Rittenhouse Square may be the best people-watching place in the city, but you tell that to the family who just sank a hole in one.
I love Philadelphia...
Have a favorite spot you'd like to write a love note to? Send it to the author at email@example.com.
Right now I'm getting into a little Philly band called Glitter. They do some dancey, shoegazing indie-pop that's upbeat and indiosyncratic. I hear moogy synths. I hear xylophone. I hear guitars, snares, handclaps and earnest but never edgeless vocals. I like what I hear. The Glitter people are throwing a release party for their sparkling new debut album, Wyld Hrts, on Saturday at the El Bar. Listen to it here. Buy it if you like it.
Glitter plays Sat., Oct. 20, 9 p.m., with DJ CNNR, El Bar, 1356 N. Front St., 215-634-6430.
When last I spoke with J. Andrew Greenblatt, he was taking over the Roxy Theater and talking about this week’s start of the next Philadelphia Film Festival. What wasn’t reported during our chat was the fact that the PFF was hooking up with fest sponsor Comcast Xfinity, to launch a Festival Video On Demand (VOD) channel. The channel allows viewers the opportunity to view a small handful of narrative films included on PFF screens this coming week along with shorts and additional festival ephemera, some for free, some for rent. Plus, with the rise of non-theatrical releases hitting the VOD market on a daily basis, Greenblatt and co. will use the Comcast partnership to premiere flicks through the aegis of PFF’s curatorial programming. With Bradley Cooper not coming out for Silver Linings Playbook, you might as well stay home and watch PFF. Psyyyyche. Keep your eyes out for Playbook director David O. Russell and co-starring Philly folk Brea Bee and the mistress of the Tiffin-Tashan empire Madhu Narula, to hit the red carpet tonight.
Local PR boss Peter Breslow has been telling me all about his pal Jeff Moore of Greater Media Radio fame who started a cool networking group, Gotta Guy, during the swelter of the summer. Since June, Gotta Guy has gone viral, with its initial events jumping from just a few guys in a tent talking up the fine points of Philly entrepreneurial enterprise to 50 guys and the women who loved business in on what Breslow calls “the testosterone-fueled action.” Tonight, Oct. 18, Breslow acts as host of Gotta Guy’s third installment at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse (19th and JFK) at 6 p.m., with a locally brewed craft-beer tasting and a meat-a-thon to go with it.
I’ve been meaning to congratulate Jose Garces on his recent successes. Within the last 10 days, the Iron Chef and restaurateur gave readers and eaters a taste of his new cookbook The Latin Road Home at J.G. Domestic with several slow roasted pigs as his special guest. The next night, he and his wife Dr. Beatriz Garces hosted a fundraiser for their brand new nonprofit organization, The Garces Family Foundation at the Kimmel Center with an assembly of this city’s top chefs (including Top Chef Kevin Sbraga) helping him feed donors and prepare diners for Garces own boutique Kimmel restaurant, Volver. Then on Monday, Garces read from his new book at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch. Just saying. Have a Molson and relax a few days. You deserve it.
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