Archive: November, 2009
THE CURATOR: Frank Lloyd Wright's final work, the conductor that got away, terrorists, stylish flow chart, Nacho Crawl Philadelphia
|Photo | Phawker.com|
Every Tuesday, Critical Mass sifts through the art blog world so you don't have to.
' Uwishunu reports that Frank Lloyd Wright's final work during his lifetime ' Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park ' has got it together enough to institute regular visiting hours, as well as a visitor's center and tour guides. L'chaim, architectural enthusiasts!
' Former Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Riccardo Muti brought the NY Philharmonic to the Kimmel on Friday. Seems like he's the one that Philly let get away, considering the amount of glowing nostalgia over him that's emitting from the Inquirer's Arts Watch.
' City Paper's living room/favorite Old City dive was called the Khyber Pass (as opposed to the Khyber) in the '80s. And back then, according to The New York Times, suspect terrorist David Coleman Headley owned it. Woa. Heavy shit. We don't remember him ' do you?
' Stylish Thought offers fashion holiday help in the form of a flow chart. This only works if you're going to an office party, friend's mixer or family gathering ' and like to dress in women's clothes.
' And as if the Snuggie Crawl wasn't enough, Phawker tells us that food blogger Lee Frank is hosting a Nacho Crawl Philadelphia this weekend. I wish it were a Poutine Crawl.
"They told us, don't ever try that again."
The seating was unassigned, up in the balcony of the Colonial, people scrambling over one another to get a good squint at the show. Let's say these seats date from the days when nosebleed seats were the kids region or you'd better really love your neighbor, since your elbows are in each other's ribs. It was fun though, getting to a seat in the very first row of heaven, right in the center, surrounded by genuinely diehard Leon Redbone fans.
"They told us, don't ever try that again," said one fella registering mock indignation as he and his wife scooted by us. His great offense was buying every CD on the table and asking if he could get one signed. Somebody told him to try his luck with the dressing room door. Sure enough, Redbone opened right up and made these folks at home, graciously signing the LP the couple had dug up from Deep Storage.
As well he should have. The husband explained to the rapt listeners Up There Where the Air is Rare how they were regular Prairie Home Companion fans and that Mr. Redbone had been featured on one of the recent best-of shows. "I wonder if he's still alive" mused husband to wife."Let's check online." Pause and typing motions, followed by pantomime of scanning a screen. "Holy mackerel! He's playing Phoenixville next week! Where's Phoenixville?
Who cares? Let's go."
They were reading this good news in Harrisburg and bought their tix right away. Clearly Philadelphians aren't the only ones who wished Redbone didn't live that old tune, "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."
It was, of course, a night full of old pop tunes like "Sweet Sue," and "Marie," mixed with blues and even old minstrel show numbers. Redbone has fun with the sounds, not one to play the scratches off the 78's, but certainly to preserve the spirit of the must popular stuff. His absence lets us forget just how much pleasure there is in a Redbone show, from hot playing to an expressive voice capable of great tenderness, but often playful, gnawing the sounds like a mouthful of tough boiled spinach.
Redbone is a surreptitious educator, the professor of American popular culture we wish we'd all had, dropping historical facts amid the innuendo and the old jokes between songs.
Rich ("Ricardo when he plays the Continent," says Redbone) Barnes of the Blackbird Society Orchestra did a fine job of supporting Redbone's lead guitar, trading decorative lines with solid rhythm chops and the occasional set of slants and chimes played on National Steel guitar.
Another ornament to Mr. Redbone's performance was Vince Giordano, the amazing triple threat bandleader from NY. There was a bass sax, tuba and string bass all on stands, so VG could skip nimbly from one to the other. It's a pleasure to see a man who really enjoys his work and clearly Giordano was having ball, grinning and struggling to suppress guffaws at Redbone's stage persona's antics, choking back laughter to deliver his straight lines to Redbone's pseudo-Alzheimer's patter. Redbone would frequently outro a song, "That was a sing-along- I forgot to tell you," which would prompt a hollered request from the audience. Redbone would smile, and mumble the name to himself and turn to Giordano "Do I know that one?" Giordano would do the silent movies, overacting, big grin and vigorous nodding. Lots more vaudeville where that came from with Redbone telling jokes he readily admitted were at least 50 and maybe 100 years. old.
Speaking of jokes: local comic-in-training Jeff Soles opened. It seemed like he wasn't quite ready to work an audience that not only knows the words to "Harvest Moon" but is begging for it so they can sing along. His material was really funny in spots, but he delivery was way too tentative. Listen for his version of the TV newscaster trying to get a sound bite from a high school kid "witness" to some breaking news.
Monday: Rockabilly music walks the fine line between either slick or horribly cheesy. It doesn't take much to cross that line and fall tragically into cheese-dom. Jon Spencer, one half of Heavy Trash, would never allow that to happen, though. No, he's going to churn out some sexy rock that has an ever-present threat of self-destruction. Always a lover, that Jon Spencer, but first and foremost a punk. With Jukebox Zeros & Delco Nightingale, 8 p.m., $8 at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St.
Tuesday: My biggest complaint regarding N'Dambi is that I only recently heard her music. Somehow I overlooked her booming voice that is at times gigantic, and then delicate and intimate. Pink Elephant, her most recent album, has got plenty of sass, though it never feels unwarranted. The blues here are balanced by a bit of funky tracks that keep up the whole momentum of the album. With Natural Selection, 8 p.m., $11-$13 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.
Wednesday: There are plenty of options for the night before Thanksgiving, so choose wisely. If it's music you want, then Metric should definitely make your list. Emily Haines's voice is what gets me every time. She sings like a girl who knows too much, and can't un-learn what it is that torments her. And yet the vocals are paired with a pop sound that makes for catchy songs that don't leave your head. With Band of Skulls, 8 p.m., $20 at the Electric Factory, 7th and Willow streets.
Thursday: Spend some time with your family maybe.
Friday: Julian Plenti is Paul Banks of Interpol. Paul Banks of Interpol is Julian Plenti. But everyone was already clear on that, right? His solo work still has that dirty, sexy ' sometimes skeevy ' edge to it that we're used to from Interpol. But there's less brooding here. It's like someone cheered him up ' a little. At first this prospect made me nervous, but it didn't take long to realize that the man knows what he's doing, and he does it well. With I'm In You, 8 p.m., $12 at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St.
Saturday: Since I didn't give you anything for Thursday, I'll give you two choices for tonight:
Jay Reatard will fix your itch for a loud, raucous show that is bound to be pumping with testosterone, set to the sound of blazing power pop. With Screaming Females, 9 p.m., $12, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave.
If you'd rather listen to songs about Bible verses'the coolest songs about Bible verses, that is'then check out the Mountain Goats. Singer John Darnielle's voice is haunting and will make you feel guilty all over, but you won't be able to pinpoint why. With Final Fantasy, 9 p.m., $18-$21, TLA, 334 South Street.
It's times like these that I curse modern technology for not yet discovering a way for me to be in two places at once.
Sunday: The jangley, spastic music of Ladyfingers doesn't fall square into one genre of music. Avant-garde, sure. Jazz? Yeah, at times definitely. Folk, blues, rock and a touch of vaudevillian? Yes, all of the above. With Rough Hands, 9:30 p.m., $5 at Tritone, 1508 South St.
|Photo | Courtesy of Color Magazine|
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
' Pillars & Tongues has its toes dipped in free jazz ' but doesn't go off the deep end long enough to officially be part of the genre. At times, it's a tight soul set; at others, it's a freewheeling harmonica jam. Most songs are around the 14-minute mark. At the M Room (15 W. Girard Ave., 215-739-5577) at 8 p.m. for $8.
' Br'no's no Borat or Ali G, but the 2009 film about the pretend gay German fashionista is funny nonetheless. It's playing at the Troc (1003 Arch St., 215-922-LIVE) at 8 p.m. for $3 (which goes toward a free drink or snack).
' See officially-in-the-genre free jazz set Shot x Shot at Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684). Check out Shaun Brady's piece on the group for more details.
Not satisfied? Check out today's listings for more and more and more events.
|Photo | Lauren Seibert|
On paper, it sounds good: A sketch comedy troupe called Comic Energy performs about 14 sequences of rehearsed scenes, improv and music, while guests get a free drink at the bar and a buffet at Karma NightClub in Bustleton. I attended this show on Sat., Nov. 21, and everyone there was extremely welcoming, from the night club staff to the troupe members to the sweet, slightly-above-middle-age audience. So it pains me to say it, but the show was honestly the worst comedy act I've ever seen. I'm still cringing.
I don't know what terrified me more ' the fact that 'music' meant karaoke from the same two people all night in between the acts (singing songs such as Shaggy's 'Angel' and 'Chantilly Lace' by Jerry Lee Lewis); the adolescent and often just plain nasty humor; the overly dramatic acting; or the offensive racial stereotyping.
They covered every offensive subject known to man: racial slurs, farting, diarrhea, drugs ' all utterly lacking a tongue-in-cheek tone that could have perhaps saved it. Let me walk you through a few Comic Energy scenes. In one, troupe member Gia Seta plays an irritating reporter who sticks her microphone in her unfortunate victim's crotch and tries to talk to his 'McNuggets.' In that same scene, further on, a character shouts, 'Don't tase me, bro!' ' a reference likely lost on an audience not of the YouTube generation. In another scene, producer and troupe member James Daly informs us, 'There's three things I like: breasts, thighs and legs. This morning we have a guest. She's not a chicken, she's a chick.' He then proceeds to act out a talk show with troupe member Mary Sack as the special guest, a doctor who feeds crack to mice. At the end, the cracked-out mice (two troupe members wearing antlers) come out and dance.
Another scene involves actor Frank Fral rolling on the floor, eating his own socks and toes, and smearing Vaseline on his rear to hump the ground while the other actors discuss their sex lives in the background. I had to help myself to another drink during this scene. The scariest part is that I believe he was supposed to be either a baby or a mentally handicapped man ' a character role he filled in many scenes to come. Why is it necessary to link either babies or mental handicap to kinky sex? Barely any audience members laughed during this scene, so it would seem that even fans of Comic Energy (several people in the audience had seen them before) found this a bit gross. Most comedy performances involve sex, but it takes more than plain crudity to carry it off.
Troupe member Walter Threadgill brought a slight tinge of humor to the show through the juxtaposition of his tough appearance (big man with earrings) and cheek-splitting grin, along with the silly lines you'd never expect to emerge from his mouth. For instance, he played a man running a TV news show, and, bored with the news, suggests randomly, 'Let's pretend to be monsters!' Later, he plays a doctor who names a couple's baby for them: Herbert Lucifer Minion. This skit goes on far too long, dragging out a story that lacks substance. Along with abrupt, awkward closures to scenes, dragging story lines seemed to be the theme of the night. Threadgill's line about 'six months of online training in a medical school in Mexico' could have saved it, had they based the scene around that concept instead of focusing on the baby's name.
Beyond the loud and obnoxious characters the troupe chose to portray, the continuous sound cues really detracted from the comedy. True comedians don't need them. Farting sounds for about four minutes straight might have a place in some pre-pubescent class skit, but not in an adult comedy show that should appeal to a higher wit. And really, do we need a skit about a date interrupted by bouts of diarrhea? Accompanied by loud groans and culminating in bathroom sex? Watching this, I wished I hadn't had that drink.
During the middle of the show, a guest standup comedian who declared himself 'half-hillbilly, half-Amish' stunned me with 10 minutes of sheer drunken rambling. He even had a bottle in his back pocket from which he paused to take a swig.
As a final straw, the racial slurs made in many Comic Energy scenes were unaccompanied by any sort of self-deprecating humor that serves to show that the stereotyper the comic is playing is truly the one he's lampooning. Instead, a character speaks to Threadgill, who is black, about 'you people"; and the same Threadgill is the only one in a funeral scene to be carrying a gun and a six pack of beer. Even worse, in a separate scene, a couple climbs into a cab with a turban-wearing driver and tells him, 'Oh, we were kinda hoping for a white cab driver.' After several near-collisions, they then say, 'How would your Arabic ass know how to drive?' Wow. The cabbie doesn't even get a rebuttal line. Cleary, Comic Energy, which started 10 years ago and has had members flow in and out since then, needs to reevaluate its material.
|Photo | Bryan Obrien | smh.com.au|
We read on Zoe Strauss' blog this morning that Jeanne-Claude, one fabulous half of the Christo-and-Jeanne-Claude duo responsible for countless public environmental art behemoths, has passed away. She died last Wednesday, Nov. 18, of complications due to a ruptured brain aneurysm.
|The Pont Neuf Wrapped|
For the art world, this is a huge loss. (Among the couple's most famous work: wrapping the entirety of Paris' Pont Neuf in silky golden fabric; covering 10-plus miles of land in California and Japan with yellow and blue umbrellas; and installing bright-orange gates throughout Central Park in New York City.)
Scrolling through the couple's Web site, christojeanneclaude.net, is an adventure: After you check out their crazy-inventive artwork, be sure to click on "Common Errors," a link that just goes to show how seriously these two have taken their work (fact-checkers, beware). An excerpt:
The Game of Errors: There are six errors in the following published short sentence:
"Christo wrapped some islands in Florida, off the coast of Miami in Key Biscayne with pink plastic."
1.-2. Christo and Jeanne-Claude never wrapped any Islands. They surrounded the islands. Most journalists do not understand the difference between wrapping and surrounding even though they should know that the United Kingdom is surrounded by water, it is not wrapped in water.
3. There were eleven islands surrounded, but because in two occasions 2 islands were surrounded together, there was a total of nine configurations on a span of seven miles.
4. Not off the coast. Off the coast would be in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Miami Beach.
5. It was in Biscayne Bay in the heart of the city of Miami, between Miami City and Miami Beach. Key Biscayne is miles away from there.
6. Not plastic - FABRIC, woven polypropylene is a man-made fiber, and is woven. Plastic usually refers to a film, not woven. For instance, women who wear nylon stockings are not wearing plastic stockings.
|Would you share a van with The Hermit Thrushes?|
Okay, so I'm reading this amazing story in Wired about a writer who ditched everything to start a new life for a month and challenged a world-wide web of hackers and cyber sleuths and such to find him. It's a crazy, amazing story. And then I get to this part:
I left LA with a band called the Hermit Thrushes, trading gas money for a spot onboard a converted retirement-home shuttle van that served as their tour bus. An indie rock group composed of college grads from Philadelphia, they'd responded to an ad I posted on craigslist, under the name Don, needing a ride to Austin or New Orleans. We rattled along from show to show: LA to Tempe to Las Cruces, up to Lubbock and Tulsa, east to Fayetteville, then north toward Chicago. The band played whiskey bars, coffee shops, and rowdy house parties. We crashed on living room floors or crammed into the seats of the bus, and, once, on the grass at a rest stop in Texas.
The band was serious about its music but unperturbed about much else, and I settled into a role somewhere between lazy roadie and moneyed patron, pulling $100 bills from my belt at gas stations. On board, I staked out the bus's backseat, where I could use my laptop without anyone looking over my shoulder. With a $150 wireless broadband card from Virgin Mobile, the only nationwide service that didn't require a credit check, I had almost uninterrupted online access.
Now, astute readers will remember that Philly band The Hermit Thrushes features CP writer Sam Tremble, who had a web-infamous encounter with the so-called Hipster Grifter. I mean, what the hell? Two run-ins with wanted people?
Admit it, you want more from this week's Movies section.
New Moon didn't screen in time for publication but Drew Lazor went anyway:
Let's start out by saying there's no real point in criticizing Twilight. Complaining about the pointlessness of Stephanie Meyer's bizarro Mormon fantasy world, populated by pouty, eyelash-fluttering studmuffin vampires, steroid-abusing American Indian werewolf boys and the screamingly self-absorbed teenage girls they lust after is akin to punching a tidal wave ' it may make you feel like you're fighting the good fight, but your ass is still going to drown. This series, for myriad reasons, has an unrelenting stranglehold on American pop culture and is not going to let go until the last drop of blood (money) has been drained from the veins of America's shrieking tweens. So what exactly does Chris Weitz's New Moon, which picks up right where Catherine Hardwicke's 2008 smash left off, accomplish in terms of advancing our understanding of this arcane mess? Nothing in particular. Bella (Kristen Stewart, the No. 1-ranked lip biter/melodramatic sigher in Hollywood) still treats her friends and father like garbage because she's so fixated on thousand-yard-stare-factory douchevamp Edward (Robert Pattinson), who abandons her early on after an ugly incident at his family's house. Jacob (Taylor Lautner), tormented by Bella's incessant mixed messages ('You're beautiful! I love you! But I still like vampire guy better, he's mad sparkly!'), lifts a shitload of weights, discovers he's a werewolf and starts wearing nothing but jean shorts and running shoes. (We also learn that werewolves, while in human form, enjoy muffins for breakfast.) We eventually meet the Voltari vampire council, all of whom dress like they're in a porn version of Immortal Beloved. The acting is crappy, the plot is stupid and Meyer seems to want every young girl in America to believe it's OK to screw over everyone who cares about you in the name of restraining-order-worthy love. But this is the movie that made $26.3 million in a single night, so I'm going to go ahead and holster my haymakers and let that saltwater rush into my lungs real slow like.
Just in case you missed it, Gary M. Kramer talked to The Messenger director Own Moverman and its star Ben Foster:
CP: So, Ben, how did you immerse yourself in the role?
BF: Oren set up a field trip for Woody and myself to go to Walter Reade Hospital before we started shooting, to spend time in the amputee ward. That was a life-changing experience. You can read things in the paper, and see things in the news, but to be in the amputee ward and touching a 19 year-old boy's stump, it roots you. It becomes, in itself, its own kind of humble service trying to get out of the way of yourself and serve these men and women and represent them warts and all, scars and all.
If you haven't seen this movie yet, do it now. Seriously, you have no excuse.
We told you about the Philadelphia Art Hotel, a super-short, quirky artist residency that breaks all kinds of rules, this summer. PAH's proprietors, Krista and Zak Peel, have since moved into the Kenzo house they spoke about, complete with three floors for the married couple, live-in artists and a gallery, and ' perhaps one day ' an artist-made mini-golf course. They announced today that they'll be holding a benefit/gallery exhibit at the Walking Fish Theater (2509 Frankford Ave., 215-427-2822) on Fri., Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 10 p.m., and OH MY GOD, can you please go and donate so they can get that golf course? HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE??
Anyway. The exhibit features "12 miraculous, miniature, museum models" by artists including Karl Erickson, Matt Bergstrom, Cara Levine and Ross Martens. The works have been photographed for a 2010 calendar, too, which will be available for $30 at the benefit and $40 online.
|Photo | Mark Stehle|
It looked dire for the 941 Theater for awhile. The NoLibs movie theater/concert venue/weird-ass event space was shut down by L&I in October, making things like rent, bills and daily operative costs nearly impossible to cover. But the boys at 941 are picking themselves and holding a series of fundraisers. They've already raised $1000 via private donations. If they raise another grand, they have found an investor who will match the donations dollar-for-dollar.
The string of events kicks off tonight with a Mad Division DJ night featuring Joker, Nomad Subdivision Crew and more at the Mausoleum (12th and Spring Garden), where there will be a $2 suggested donation going to the 941. In fact, K. Ross Hoffman gave you the skinny on it in this week's issue.
Without venues like 941, filmmakers, musicians and other artists lose an important avenue to present their work. Go out and support your local art scene!
11/27 Starlight Ballroom, 460 N. 9th Street - 7pm, 18 to enter, 21 to drink ' $20 at door
Sideshow Prophets, The Old Souls, Three Four Tens, Anchor Boys, Tsunami Rising, a performance by Christa Dagger and Scott Johnston of the Peekaboo Revue, Comedy by The Pickle Man, DJ Dev79, Bikini Oil Wrestling and more TBA. Buy tickets here
11/28 Connie's Ric Rac, 1132 South 9th Street, Italian Market - 8pm, 21+ BYOB - $10 at door
Jam Band Showcase with Bodega and DJs
11/29 M Room, 15 W. Girard Ave, Fishtown - 8pm, 21+ $8
Metal and Punk Showcase with Trasher, Omnious Black, Nassau Chainsaw with Disgraceland Hook Squad, Death Bed, Vulcan
11/30 Green Rock Tavern, 2546 E Lehigh Ave, Port Richmond - 8pm - 21+ - $5
Acoustic music (Brad Carney and Chalk of Old Souls) and Comedy (The Legendary WID & Danny Bee) more TBA
12/1 Cantina Dos Segundos, - 931 N 2nd St No Libs - Free and open to public
DJs Flufftronix and more TBA - Portion of bar proceeds go to 941 Theater
12/5 - 2424 Studios, 2424 E. York St, Fishtown
Philly Indie Craft Market - Noon-7pm - $2 Suggested Donation
Over 30 vendors, live music from Toy Soldiers, Spinning Leaves, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb, The Great Unknown, Homophones
To make a donation anytime, go to projectedarts.org/donate.htm.
Related: 941 Theater in danger of closing
- 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