Archive: December, 2009
In last week's City Paper, Julia West interviewed photog-about-town Marianne Bernstein, who asked South Street's most inked-up denizens to bare their souls ' and their tats ' for GritCity Inc.'s new coffee-table book, Tatted. Along with the photo shoot, Bernstein asked Philadelphians to write down the meaning behind their ink. Here's what she had to say about the results:
Each person's handwriting is unique ' some letters rounded, others sharp ' you can almost sense personality coming through. I love the layers of information in the shape and text of the handwritten notes. Watching each person write their note was very poignant. It was almost like receiving a love letter. I felt so fortunate again and again to have strangers offer up their time and give of themselves in such an open, personal way. And I think they were just as surprised as I was. It all happened so fast. They probably didn't have time to process it until later.
Tatted's official launch party is Thursday at the Piazza's Pure Gold Gallery, but citypaper.net reader/Head House Books event planner Debbie Rech let us know that the South Street-adjacent bookstore is also hosting a f'te this evening. The deets:
There is a launch event and book signing at Head House Books, at 619 S. Second St. (between South Street and Bainbridge) at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 8. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to a memorable evening and to celebrating Marianne's talent behind the lens.
Check back with CritMass later in the week for a chance to win a copy of Tatted, and don't miss Thursday's jam at Pure Gold, complete with music from DJ Frosty, free beer and rum, and GritCityInc. giveaways including books, tattoo sessions, 215 mag swag bags and more.
Well, I sure didn't see this coming.
In 2006, Island Records reissued three Pulp albums in the UK: His 'n' Hers (1994), Different Class (1995) and This Is Hardcore (1998), with bonus tracks, liner notes, extra pics, the works. Dutifully, I bought import copies. Now, three years later, the same three double-disc editions have been released in North America, despite Pulp never having really risen above "critically admired cult act" status on these shores.
It is interesting ' maybe even significant ' that Pulp, who went on indefinite hiatus in 2002, are the first of the mid-'90s Britpop acts to get a reissue campaign, rather than Oasis, Blur, Elastica or Suede. This band had a unique take on their zeitgeist, one that remains relevant. And their towering, dapper stick figure of a frontman, the inimitable Jarvis Cocker, was auteur-like in his pursuits. Even the band's most tossed-off compositions often contained a laser-like focus, as Cocker found endless permeations and new angles for his devastatingly witty, deeply neurotic worldview.
Before signing with Island in '94, Pulp had spent over a decade exiled in an especially hopeless indie nowheresville, primarily in their hometown of Sheffield. Band members came and went, as did a dizzying array of musical styles ' faux-Factory Records, twee-pop, gloomy goth, Euro-folk. By the early '90s, however, they had settled into a (mostly) stable lineup and an effective identity, melding guitar-pop and disco.
His 'n' Hers, their major-label debut, is, first and foremost, a very British album. Imagine a collaboration between Roxy Music and Mike Leigh, as the glossy art-pop music soundtracks some impossibly grim lower-middle-class scenarios. By the first track, "Joyriders," someone's probably been murdered already. Of the album's three singles, "Babies" and "Do You Remember the First Time?" display Cocker's oft-cited talent for droll sex commentary. But "Lipgloss," a glorious paean to a woman undone by heartbreak, highlights his sympathetic eye. The bonus disc shows just what a songwriting roll the band was on. B-sides like "Street Lites," "Your Sister's Clothes" and "Seconds" are anthemic and sly, and they contain miles and miles of style.
Amazingly enough, the band was just getting started. Different Class is, of course, Pulp's magnum opus. It contains "Common People," their signature song and biggest hit, a scathing satire on the glamorization of poverty. ("The stupid things that you do/ Because you think that poor is cool.") It also contains their other signature song, "Disco 2000," a tale of unrequited adolescent longing, melded to the fabulously cheesy guitar riff from Laura Branigan's "Gloria." But there's much more to the album than these two singles. Different Class is a classic coming-of-age tale, detailing Cocker's escape from Sheffield to London. Only this tale culminates with songs like "Underwear" and "Monday Morning," where the freedoms of young adulthood reveal their potential for disappointment and disillusionment. Because the band was so focused on making Different Class as perfect and catchy as possible, they didn't hold any classic songs back, so the bonus disc is mostly inessential. However, fans of other tall singers who look good in suits may want to check out Nick Cave's scuzzy cover of "Disco 2000."
In the UK, Pulp would never again be as popular as they were during the era of Different Class, and the follow-up, This Is Hardcore was a precise description of what fame did to the band's collective psyche. "This is the sound of someone losing the plot," Cocker sang, "Making out that they're okay when they're not." The album catalogues an exhausting foray into overindulgence, while the expertly crafted arrangements and state-of-the-art production shows just how alluring but dehumanizing the experience can be. Cocker's cynicism finds an artistically brilliant outlet in the title track, which basically compares rock stardom to pornography. (And the video's pretty genius too, a mash-up of film noir, Douglas Sirk and Bubsy Berkely.) The bonus disc is much better than Different Class'; there's a fully realized outtake, "It's a Dirty World," along with b-sides like "Cocaine Socialism" and "The Professional" that skillfully fill out Hardcore's worldview.
A concert a day keeps the doctor away.
Monday: If you were into that hip-hop that pre-dated gangsta rap, and you miss those choppy raps over synth beats, then you might want to get to Johnny Brenda's tonight for Schoolly D. True, he hasn't released an album in nearly a decade, but the Philly rapper should still be able to take you back to an era when hip-hop wasn't quite squeaky clean, but it was more fun-oriented and a little goofy. With Bahamadia, DJ Tat Money & Ethel Cee, 9 p.m., $12, Johny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Tuesday: Simone Felice (of the Felice Brothers) is half of The Duke and the King, though I'm not sure if he's the duke or the king. Either way, the band makes dewy alt-country music with a biting sadness to it. Even with the hopeless feeling attached to the entire album, their sound has a way of floating that makes you wonder if what you're hearing is tragic or just introspective. At 7:30, $15, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 215-563-3980.
Wednesday: Clearly the Canadian singer Issa loves to experiment. Listening to her album is like storytime on the carpet, only you're dreaming and all the creatures start pouring out of the book. Then suddenly you're faced with forcing yourself awake or ignoring reality and diving deeper into this bizaare Alice in Wonderland dream. Yeah, she's strange. But with a voice that creates a surreal atmosphere, she's also alluring in all of her weird splendor. With Leslie Alexander, 9 p.m., $28, World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Thursday: Sure, we've seen plenty of bands emerge recetly that boast an above average number of members, all manning multiple instruments, including lots of percussions and an appropriate ratio of strings to horns. Fanfarlo is one of those bands. They lie somewhere between Beirut and Arcade Fire,'creating a bittersweet and catchy-as-hell sound that begs to let the good times roll. With Freelance Whales, 9 p.m., $12, Johny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Friday: If you're in the mood for fuzz, look no further than super lo-fi extraordinaires Tickley Feather. Heavy on the drum machine, with keys that sound like they've been left in the rain and dried in the sun, paired with Annie Sachs melancholy voice, Tickley Feather sounds like it should accompany some occult ritual. Though her music doesn't sound like Bj'rk, there's a weirdness you can see in her videos (like the one above) that instantly conjure up images of that cookey Icelandic singer. With Toro y Moi, Power Animal & Hot Guts, 8 p.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Saturday: If you were to spend your life hopping trains, loving bad women and drinking moonshine from a mason jar, then Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs would be the soundtrack to all your adventures. Their bluesy sound is smoke- and whiskey-infused, resulting in music that insists on sin. Whether you're a country bumpkin or a city slicker, a gypsy or Johnny Law, this sultry Americana should not be missed. With the Tough Shits & Far-Out Fangtooth, 9 p.m., $12, M Room, 15 W. Girard Ave., 215-739-5577.
Sunday: Who doesn't like to go to a show and know that their money is going to a good cause? Tonight you can see a slew of musicians ' including Toy Soldiers and Birdie Busch ' and help raise money for local Philly venue The Fire (just like Holly Otterbein told you to do earlier today). Music ain't the only perk: There will also be a silent auction of work from local artists and a raffle to win "A Day in Philadelphia," which includes all things Philly (breakfast at Honey's, a concert at World Cafe Live, and dinner in Northern Liberties, among other things). With Drink Up Buttercup, George Stanford, The Blood Feathers, The Great Unknown, Cowmuddy, Fantasy Square Garden, Hezekiah Jones, Chris Kasper, Joshua Park, Spinning Leaves & Aunt Pat, 6 p.m., $24, World Cafe Live, 215-222-1400, 3025 Walnut St.
|Courtesy of The Fire|
We told you about L&I's destruction of all things fun and good in this world, including puppies and puppy cams closure of The Fire (412 W. Girard Ave.) last month. The Fire is a great venue, especially for up-and-coming local acts, so we're glad to hear it'll be hosting a benefit show at the World Caf' Live (3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400) on Sun., Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. for $20. Toy Soldiers, Drink Up Buttercup and George Stanford will be performing; there will also be an art auction and a "Day in Philadelphia" raffle, featuring a Honey's breakfast, carriage ride tour, Ritz Theater tickets, a concert at World Caf' Live and dinner at a NoLibs restaurant. What guyz, no cheesesteaks?
Cute, weird hipster icon/universal girl crush Miranda July will be showing a video at NEXUS/foundation's "SUPERGIRL!" exhibit, a group show that opens this Thu., Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. She's best known for her film Me, You and Everyone We Know (see a creepy, hilarious clip of it above), but she's also kinda a Renaissance woman ''she wrote the short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, is an actress (she starred in her own film), and has exhibited video and installation pieces in several galleries. At NEXUS (1400 N. American St., 215-684-1946), she'll be tackling the topic of female superheroes in a video about "a 12-year-old Olympic swimmer and her mother (both played by July) who speak to the public about going for the gold." Fingers crossed that she'll be there for the wine and cheese on opening night.
|Knopf, 320 pp.,
$25.95, Nov. 17
Book Quarterly Giveaway Week continues, as promised, with a chance to win a copy of Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness. In case for some reason you missed this week's issue, here's what senior editor Patrick Rapa had to say about the collection:
Alice Munro used to be the Mary Queen of Scots of short fiction, deserving of the throne but locked away by her pastoral prose, her litera verite plots, her Canadianess. You could call it a power play that her new Too Much Happiness runs wild with ghosts and psychopaths and nudity. So there's a little pizzazz, but it's the same old Alice, a prisoner to her own tasteful, sublime storytelling.
To win a copy, answer the following trivia question:
American writer Cynthia Ozick has compared Alice Munro to what Russian lit all-star?
|photo from Flickr: teakwood|
I guess it's true because I've seen it a few places, that Jack Rose has passed away. Formerly of the band Pelt, and more recently a solo artist, Rose was a spectacular guitar player whose fingers moved like dancing spiders across the strings. Seriously, you need to hear his 2005 acoustic ragtime masterpiece, Kensington Blues. Rose was only 38.
More Jack Rose memorials:
Admit it, you want more from this week's Movies section.
|Turner Entertainment Co and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc|
It's the most wonderful time of the year, or some such. A time when you're expected to drop large amounts of cash on your loved ones, whether you actually love them or not. Sam Adams rounds up some of the best DVD purchases for the cinephile on your shopping list, from the Wizard of Oz's Blu-Ray treatment to the newest Criterion catches. I've been drooling over this Kurosawa box set myself:
If there's one megabox that makes the grade, it's Criterion's AK 100, a centennial celebration of Akira Kurosawa that collects 25 of the master's films, including new, variable-quality transfers of his first four films: The Most Beautiful, The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail and both parts of Sanshiro Sugata. Due to rights issues, Criterion's now out-of-print Ran is not included, nor are the company's trademark profusion of extras, but considering the set would cost a cool thousand at Criterion's usual rates, the fact that it's available for roughly a quarter of that makes it a steal.
So ' if anyone out there wants to get me a present ' cough, cough.
|Photo | Scott Yorko|
It was a night of self-deprecating, Tourrette-syndromic outbursts last night at the Keswick, both from Bob Saget, who I wrote about in this week's issue, and the people who came to see him perform standup.
Then Bob Saget came out spewing gay John Stamos jokes paired with descriptions of vivid fantasies of blowing himself. He constantly apologized for the vulgarities coming in and out of his mouth, even admitting, 'This is not an act. This is a cry for help.'
Saget was like that hilarious, attention-starved-at-home, perverted special ed kid who was only allowed to eat lunch with the other children twice a week. Those other children were half of the crowd, only grown up and drunk, blurting out the names of their favorite genitalia, which Bob was happy to discuss.
The other half of the crowd? Men the same age as Bob, giggling while following their less-than-entertained wives to the exit for an early departure. My guess is they weren't leaving early to go be romantic.
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