Archive: November, 2011
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Queen — glam faves, epic hit makers — Hollywood Records not only released three box sets filled with re-masters of the quartet’s entire catalog, but held auditions for what remaining band members Roger Taylor and Brian May are calling The Queen Extravaganza Tour. Fans/musicians auditioned for the 2012 event, which promises to feature performances of Queen's biggest hits. The contestants performed Queen’s "Killer Queen," "Somebody To Love," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Another One Bites The Dust." Now, 21 finalists (6 vocalists, 6 guitarists, 3 drummers, 3 bassists and 3 keyboard players) have been chosen to fly to Los Angeles to meet Taylor and perform their final audition live on Dec. 5 at Foo Fighters’ Studio 606 West. As for the Philly/Jersey area, two local musicians are champions: drummer Billy Orrico of Denville, N.J. and Philly bassist Brian Weaver. Bi- cycle. BI-CYCLE. Let’s hope these two get in and get to wear silver on tour.
Congrats to the three City Paper writers nominated for 2011 Philebrity Awards! CP staff writer Dan Denvir and Critical Mass blog columnist Ryan Carey were recognized in the General Excellence in Writing for a City Publication category. And food critic Adam Erace is in the running for Phoodie of the Year, which was won last year by our very own Drew Lazor.
- Since he started in July, Dan has been working overtime to report on everything from Occupy Philly and the city's lack of sex ed courses to the Department of Human Services' crackdown on pot-toking parents.
- Adam, who was nominated with his brother Andrew for his work at South Philly's Green Aisle Grocery, helps us dine smarter with restaurant reviews and writeups about the local food scene. Some of his recent contributions include critiques of Tashan and Farmers' Cabinet and a review of Marc Vetri's latest cookbook, Rustic Italian Food.
We're proud of all of them and would love it if you'd pop over to show them a little love on the Philebrity Awards voting page.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
When your home is just your own, the sky’s the limit with what you can do with décor. Buy white couches, streamlined metal work and take the doors off your kitchen cabinets. But when you have kids, decorating can take a different turn. Suddenly, you have to consider how your child fits into your space by childproofing cabinets, minimizing sharp edges and putting up baby gates. There’s nothing like a bunch of toys, baby bottles and constant spillage that’ll force you to rethink your fabrics, furniture and room usage.
Designer Mona Ross Berman (pictured), hailing from nearby Chestnut Hill, has her finger on what it means to design for growing families. Recently, we sat down with her to chat about what it takes to satisfy parents and tots alike.
City Paper: Do you have children of your own? If so, how does this aid in your design philosophy?
Mona Ross Berman: Yes, I have a one-and-a-half-year-old and a four-and-a-half-year-old. Having children, particularly young children, influences how I think about space significantly. My design philosophy is to create spaces that are not only beautiful and unique but also highly functional. Every project I work on has a certain commitment to “form” (how a space looks) and a commitment to “function” (how it gets used). When children are going to be in and use the space, often function trumps form, but I still need to find a way to make it beautiful and “grown up” enough for the adults. I am always asking myself ‘will this room work for this family?’ and ‘are there materials I can use to make it function optimally and be forgiving but also still look beautiful?’
CP: How do you have to design differently for families with kids?
MRB: I work with a lot of families so I have learned a lot of tricks to help make spaces as kid-appealing and kid-proof as possible, while also making them beautiful and interesting so the parents are happy, as well. For example, we are very lucky because we currently live in a design world that’s full of lots of materials — fabrics, furniture, etc. — that are pretty kid-friendly. For example, there are hundreds of beautiful outdoor fabrics that have come out in recent years that I have access to and that many designers, myself included, use as indoor fabrics because of their durability and imperviousness to spills and stains. I also think that a lot of parents make the mistake of not investing in spaces because they have kids. I encourage them instead to invest in quality pieces that can be refinished or reupholstered when needed. It’s somewhat counterintuitive but higher quality pieces will take wear-and-tear better and will be more forgiving over time and when your kids grow up you only have to “freshen” up the room, not do a major overhaul. It’s also a more “green” solution to design because you are not just throwing out junky furniture after five years; you are reinvesting in it and using all or most of it for many years.
Each week, Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald puts together a rundown of book-centric events that’ll keep you “lit” like wheels on fire all week long.
[ tonight ]
➤ Vroom For Two
Former editor of New York Times House and Home and a seasoned contributor to Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, Michael Cannell (pictured) chose a riveting story for his new book, The Limit. In the 1961 Grand Prix season for the Formula One World Championship, two friends and competitive rivals, Phil Hill and Wolfgang Von Trips, fought for the gold. While one man claimed this defying moment in racing history, the other perished on the track, face down. Cannell will speak of his research process and revelations tonight. 7:30 p.m., free, The Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., 215-567-4341, freelibrary.org.
[ wednesday ]
➤ Moby Pic
It’s time you accept that all humans fall into one of two camps: those who live to find the white whale and those who live in ignorance. As Herman Melville writes in his timeless novel, Moby Dick; or, the Whale, “Ignorance is the parent of fear.” For those of you who live to find the white whale in your life, you have probably already read and re-read the epic novel. For those living in ignorance, for fear of missing the deep-sea message, you might have one more chance to set sail. Matt Kish has taken the long, conversational paragraphs of all 552 pages of the Signet Classics version and condensed them into colorful illustrations. Not so hasty, though, they still require research and explanation. Learn the method of the Pequod with its visual interpreter. 8 p.m., free, Brickbat Books, 709 S. Fourth St., brickbatbooks.blogspot.com.
You love the eagle and I love the eagle but you’ll never be able to call its perching spot by its current name without thinking Wanamaker’s, no matter how long Macy’s name has been in place. So get over it and get in the spirit of The Wanamaker Building’s 100th Anniversary. Though the actual date of its is birth is Dec. 30, more than a few events will continue throughout the month to celebrate the first department store in Philadelphia — its eagle gifted to us straight from the St. Louis World's Fair and its designation a National Historic landmark since 1978. While there's a private event in the Crystal Tea Room with Mayor Michael Nutter and Paul Levy, president of the Center City District, tonight, you can celebrate downstairs at the Holiday Pageant of Lights and The Dickens Village while you look for your bratty kids and yearn to hear John Facenda’s voice during the Christmas show.
Sports nut Massimo Pulcini rounds up a week of everything Philly sports. Balls!
EAGLES LOSE TO PATS, ANGRY FANS CALL FOR COACH REID’S JOB
Turkeys weren’t the only bird getting roasted in Philly over Thanksgiving weekend, not after the New England Patriots came to town to play the Eagles on Sunday. The Pats, led by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, burned, fried, and feasted on the Eagles defense en route to a 38-20 massacre.
Quarterback Vince Young filled in for the injured Mike Vick for the second consecutive game. Young looked very impressive during the first quarter, throwing beautifully arced bombs to receivers Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson to gain a 10-0 lead to start the game.
But the fast start was short-lived. The New England offense dismantled the Eagles’ secondary that had no solution for Tom Terrific and his speedster receivers. Wes Welker and Deion Branch both had field days, catching short, underneath patterns and using their speed to break up field for large chunks of yardage, including a 63-yard catch and run by Branch that set up a Patriots’ rushing TD and a 41-yard score by Welker in the second quarter.
While Brady and company were putting up points with big catches and runs, the Eagles offense looked scared. Jackson (pictured) had two huge drops on potential touchdowns. On one attempt, the fourth-year pro dropped what could've been a 4-yard TD pass, allowing the Eagles to settle for a 22-yard field goal to get within 21-13. On that play, the diminutive receiver shied away from the oncoming hit and let up from the ball. Later in the game, he would also drop a deep throw in the end zone that would have been another score, drawing trademark Philadelphia boos from the hometown crowd. After that play, Jackson took a seat — a move that Coach Andy Reid said was done “to give other guys a chance in fourth quarter.”
Characters breaking into song in the middle of dialogue, an angry ensemble rioting about the woes of the working class, and the lead leaving a small town to pursue big dreams: every stereotype of a musical-atheist's worst nightmare.
The only thing that could make this musical more cliched would be a if kick line were incorporated into the closing number. Oh wait. That happened, too.
Northeast England in 1984 is in a dismal state: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is cracking down on the striking miners, and an 11-year-old boy is trying to come to terms with the violence outside, his mother's death … and his insatiable desire to dance.
Torn between his aspirations and what's expected of him, Billy is shrouded in constant fear of his conservative father (Rich Hebert) and his brother, Tom (Cullen Titmas), a fiery, rebellious youth who puts his stubborn ideologies before his brother's dreams.
Four young actors rotate the role of Billy, one of whom is Lex Ishimoto. With a breathy falsetto and scrawny body, he isn't your typical Broadway star — but his feet really fall into place during "Electricity," a song that incorporates his impressive hip-hop background. And Ishimoto's tap-jumproping in "Born to Boogie" would've made Legally Blonde the Musical's Brooke Wyndham look amateurish.
Billy finds a mentor in Mrs. Wilkinson (Leah Hocking), a washed-up ballet teacher who wastes her talent on a group of young girls during "Shine," a horridly lengthy number in which the young actresses exaggerate their balletic inadequacy as well as their facial expressions (which are comically comparable to the young divas of Toddlers & Tiaras). The redeeming quality of the song is Hocking's acting, which is as solid as her belt.
Other musical numbers seemed like incomplete afterthoughts that were thrown in for the sake of having more content. Though the dance sequence was creative and emotionally charged in "We'd Go Dancing," its random plot placement and, ultimately, irrelevance (Billy's grandma reminiscing about her deceased husband) cannot be ignored. And despite Billy's flamboyant friend Michael (Jacob Zelonky), whose charisma and cross-dressing deem him universally likable, "Expressing Yourself" is another needless song squeezed into the score. Yes, it's endearing to see little boys play dress-up in girls' clothing. Yes, it's protocol for every musical to possess at least one big tap number with sparkle and chorus girls. But it doesn't make it any less cheesy.
Thankfully, brilliant choreography shone through the blocks of cheese. Miners and cops were aggressively head-to-head in "Solidarity," sharing the stage with the girls peacefully dancing in ballet class. Although the fusion of the current conflict and mundane life was hammered into the audience's brains, the nonchalant weaving of the two was beautifully executed (plus, it's nearly impossible not to smile when little girls practice their pirouettes while leaning on the knees of burly miners).
Strong voices from the ensemble guide the audience through the show as Billy continues to feel the increased need to dance against the town's wishes (this is starting to sound familiar...).
Boom. Footloose has taken over. Billy is angsty, and he's taking out his anger through dance, tapping dramatically in his bedroom to electric guitar while the strikers cause chaos outside. After all, it's the end of the first act, and every first act ends with a dramatic number, as Lonny Barnett from Rock of Ages quips.
But after intermission, the heart of the show is revealed: a Swan Lake sequence surrounded in swirling fog and mystique — just Billy, an older version of himself (beautifully danced by Maximilien Baud), and the chilling music. The show needs more dance sequences like this to achieve its heartfelt message, not garish musical numbers that detract from the plot.
Much of Billy's strength is found through its visually breathtaking scenes: smoky surroundings for fantasy sequences; walls of ferocious police officers; utter darkness pierced with the lights of miners' helmets — all topped off with lighting to effectively heighten the drama.
Of course, bows were transformed into a dance number with manly miners in tutus, a cute ending that sort of jabs at itself. A fine finish for a self-aware and (sometimes overly) symbolic musical about a boy and his feet.
Expect a rash of gossipy snarking locals to bother A.J. Daulerio, the one time Philadelphia magazine staff writer and ex-editor-in-chief of Deadspin who just got placed atop the Gawker mountain throne as its new boss. The Amber, PA-raised writer and editor whose handle was once found at Oddjack and the Black Table (where I wrote with him for a hot minute at the beginning of the 21st Century) was just moved from Deadspin with Tommy Craggs taking over A.J.’s slot at Deadspin. Media Bistro just posted that Daulerio was brought in to help grow site and — according to an internal company memo from its CEO, Nick Denton: “We need to release the full potential of the site’s excellent roster of writers — and fill out the team with new hires,” wrote Denton in an internal memo. “A.J. has proven himself as both developer and recruiter of editorial talent. That’s what the site needs right now. Hence the switch.”
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
Parks and Recreation's Adam Scott (perhaps best known for his role as the über-successful jerk brother from Stepbrothers) was interviewed on WTF with Marc Maron. One of the topics they covered was Party Down, the 2009 Starz series that he starred in. They talked a lot about the show, so I decided to utilize my extended weekend to Netflix of season one. Scott plays a failed actor, the "straight man" amongst a dysfunctional catering service filled with Hollywood wannabes and has-beens. Like many critically acclaimed cable shows, the series is slow to get moving; the opening episodes are all premise. But once all the characters are in gear, laughs flow abundantly over the underlying context of the ultimate Hollywood nightmare.
Let's check out the rest of the ensemble:
Ken Marino as Ron Donald: This The State alum is the manager, working side-by-side with his L.A. catering misfits. He has perhaps the most modest life dream of all the crew: to open a soup and salad franchise — and even that's proving unlikely in modern Hollywood. He is all positive energy and customers-first. He is also the only person on the show who cares about the catering business.
Lizzy Caplan as Casey: You may have seen Caplan in Mean Girls, Cloverfield and True Blood. Here, she plays a frustrated standup comic who frequently complains about the not-very-funny side of show business and may or may not be an Adam Scott love interest.
CP music critic Brian Wilensky on the week's sure-bet live acts.
Monday: Coming from North Carolina, Black Skies is a trio of hard-hitting, wah pedal-crushing bearded metalheads. One is an unbearded metalhead chick. Their most recent, On the Wings of Time is chock-full of drop-tuned metal guitar riffing and muddy tempos accompanied by deep, gutteral vocals. 8 p.m., $5, with Vaz, JR’s Bar, 2327 S. Croskey St.
Tuesday: Named after Civil War general William Sherman, Philly’s Sherman (the band) plays some dusty booted, Dylan-esque folk rock on From the City to the Sea that could make you yearn for home without leaving. 8 p.m., $5-$7, with Polar Ice Cap, The Dirty Cut & Cantos, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St., 215-787-0488.
Wednesday: Billy Martin and John Medeski are back in town to groove on some jams from their 2007 album, Mago. It merely features Medeski’s adventurous Hammond B3 tickling and Illy B’s deep-pocket drumming. When you arrive early enough for Martin’s newest “three parts brass, one part drums,” project, Wicked Knee, you’ll have no one but the dancing shoes that took you there to thank. 8:30 p.m., $18-$20, with Caveman, The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St., 215-222-1234.
Thursday: The String Cheese Incident jam with the best of them. And in case you missed them on the summer festival circuit and you’re itching for some guitar solos and screaming organ sounds, you’ll be able to get all that without the tents and sunshine. Wear your best patchwork pants. 8 p.m., $35-$45, Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow Sts., 610-352-2887.
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