Archive: March, 2010
I wrote a little thing in today's paper on Scout Niblett's new album, The Calcination of Scout Niblett, but I forgot to mention: She's playing JB's tonight. Her shows always rock in a weird, weird way.
Every Thursday, we give you this week's LGBTQ to-do list.
The gay community was handed more good news this week with the passage of gay marriage in Mexico City. Even though it's in a completely different country, it's still a huge stride for us LGBTers. Philadelphia, aren't you ashamed Mexico City did it first? Way to go amigos.
Bullies everywhere need to conjure more clever insults than "You fight like a girl," to heave at the poor little gay boys on the playground because the William Way Community Center's (1315 Spruce St., 215-732-2220) self defense class for women at 2 p.m. on Sat. Mar. 13 will prove that girls can kick some major bully ass. Philadelphia Judo Club instructors Ray Huxon and Alma Qualli will teach students how to maneuver a variety of standing and ground attacks. Then, students suit up in protective gear to demonstrate what they've learned. I'm sure this instruction will be much more in depth than the defense mechanisms I learned, even though, "Go for the balls," has worked pretty well for so far. Heeeeya!
Whether you do it for fun or you're trying to make a legit transformation, artist Klawdya Rothschild is teaching two gender transformation classes at Sexploratorim (620 S. 5th St., 215-829-4986) on Sat., Mar. 13 that will boost your drag or passability experience tenfold. The first session begins at 2 p.m. with a lesson about hiding or enhancing gender-identifying attributes like high cheekbones or a 5 o'clock shadow and how to complete the process with hair and wigs. The second class, which begins at 6 p.m., takes the teaching downtown with pointers on how to tuck your hoo-hoo and flatten or push out those ta-tas. The $20-$30 admission price includes a discount coupon to Passional Boutique (704 S. 5th St., 215-829-4986) and the next Angela's Lap Top Lounge event at Shangrila (120 Swedesford Rd., 610-687-8838) on Sat., Mar. 20.
If you don't feel like tucking the jewels or punching fight instructors on Saturday, maybe you'd prefer a leisurely afternoon of shopping and mingling on E. Passyunk Avenue. 2nd Saturdays on the Avenue kicks off at 6 p.m. with participation from dozens of neighborhood hot spots. You can browse art by Pam Haner and Justin Myer Staller at Sweet Jane Vintage and B2 CafÃ©, chow on discounted grub at FUEL and relax with the music of Alia Ady at Black N Brew. There's a lot going on in this area of South Philly, I definitely suggest hopping on this trolley before you get left behind.
|Photos | Emily Currier|
In a chilly basement in West Philly, Mary Tasillo is crouched by a space heater, trying to warm up chilled ink. This is the other side of Philagrafika: Tucked away in a basement, artists Mary Tasillo and Michelle Wilson are the pioneers behind Book Bombs, one of Philagrafika's independent projects, and they'll be making prints on an old-fashioned letterpress for the next seven hours.
"You have to intensely love the process to bother with it," comments Tasillo, who met Wilson during their graduate Book Arts program at University of the Arts. About two hours have elapsed by the time the two are done coating the ink rollers and tweaking the woodcut's placement on the press. They are employing paper handmade from mugwort, a weed to some but also a medicinal herb used in China to evoke dreaming. Using recycled and natural materials adds to the overall exhibit's aim to examine Philadelphia's community through printmaking; receiving no funding from Philagrafika, Tasillo and Wilson pour grant money into their vision.
When they pitched Book Bombs to Philagrafika, the two artists were nervous that a street art project wouldn't seem "official" enough. But displaying their prints around the city, open to the elements, is an integral source of commentary on issues of public space and, in particular, homelessness. "We asked ourselves, how can this project occupy the same territory as something public?" says Wilson. Neither artist has experienced homelessness, but both think the issue is too often, and too easily, overlooked by the public.
For their third and final printing session, Tasillo and Wilson have carved two woodblocks, one with the Philadelphia cityscape and the other with a long, thin sapling. When the two images overlap, it appears as if the sapling is growing out of the city, up into the sky. Combined with the organic quality of the paper it's printed on, this image has a handmade look that will encourage passers-by, who are saturated daily with mass-produced images and fliers, to really take notice.
After the painstaking process, the artists let go of their lovingly made prints, stringing them in trees, on benches and lampposts, in parks around the city. On leaving their prints exposed to the elements, Wilson says, "We're making commentary on what gets neglected in the city and what gets taken care of." At about 40 degrees, Friday, March 5, is the warmest night Tasillo and Wilson have ever undertaken a book-bombing operation. On previous nights, they've contended with freezing temperatures and one of Philadelphia's many recent snowstorms. While the missions have been more than uncomfortable, the two are able to cope knowing they have warm places to go home to.
While Center City on a Friday night isn't the height of discretion, no one from the passing crowds stops to ask Tasillo and Wilson what exactly they're doing. Meandering from Rittenhouse Square to Kahn Park, then on to Christ Church, Tasillo and Wilson mainly focus on hitting parks but also leave their marks on various fences along the way. The two use the same care and diligence from their printing process for hanging the prints. They aren't hurried in their actions and, clad in thick, warm knits, the two look anything but criminal. Still, Old City First Friday attendees only stare, perhaps afraid or indifferent about engaging as they shuffle along to the next open bar.
In the four hours spent hanging, only one person approaches the artists, as they sit at a picnic table stringing prints. "What are you girls doing?" the toothless, homeless man asks amiably. After briefly explaining their mission, Wilson hands the man with a print and, among the three of us, we come up with 80 cents for him to get a hot dog.
For more information about the Book Bombs project, visit bookbombing.blogspot.com.
RELATED >> Kaleidoscope, March 4, 2010
Conan O'Brien announces he will play the Tower Theater on June 7. Nice! Tickets run from $39.50-$79.50, but snap up them fast 'cause this a hot show.
Everyone's fave Jolly Red Giant has a lot of time on his hands now that he was booted off the Tonight Show (sidekick-for-life Andy Richter recently spoke about their axing for the first time), but he better get to know Philly better if his proposed locally-shot show about the Supreme Court justices is picked up.
Welcome to Philly, CoCo. The weather's fine.
|Three Musicians, by Pablo Ruiz y Picasso,
oil on canvas, 1921.
Wanna tell the Internet everything you know about Cubism? Feel like writing quick-hit blurbs about the Blue Period? Here's your chance: The Philadelphia Museum of Art has launched a new blog in conjunction with the opening of its spring exhibit, "Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris."
Despite the fact that it's called "Picasso Posse," the idea has potential: The PMA's asking you, artsy Philadelphians, to contribute. In what they're calling a "new experiment in social media," the PMA folks will pick a group of bloggers to write posts, upload photos, create behind-the-scenes videos and Tweet the hell out of all things PMA.
The perks? Free unlimited access to the museum's collections (presumably at least till April 25, when the Picasso exhibit shuts down); cred on the blog; power. The downside? No money involved, and as one blogger points out, you're basically feeding the PMA free information for not a whole lot of reward.
To apply, complete the following steps and send materials "as soon as possible" to email@example.com:
- Submit a sample 250-word post on any topic related to Picasso
- Suggest 5 ideas for content you would create for the Museum's blog
- List any relevant experience you have with blogging, including any blogs or sites that you currently host or write for.
In the meantime, pick up a fresh City Paper and flip to the A&E section, where visual art critic Robin Rice gives you her take on Picasso at the PMA.
"I am trying to use words to understand life; it takes me to different places in my mind": Q&A with Henry Rollins
Perhaps best known as the powerhouse lead of Black Flag, Henry Rollins has done anything but lose steam since. In his signature gravely-voice, he's hosted radio and TV shows (including a titular show on IFC), gotten all dramatic (like on last season's Sons of Anarchy) and currently heads up a publishing company/ record label called 2.13.61, Inc.
Rollins' interest and passion for human rights lead him to traveling to off-the-beaten track destinations such as Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Senegal. Now, trading in his frequent flyer miles for a tour bus, Rollins will report on his travels through spoken word performances in his Frequent Flyer Tour, which stops at the First Unitarian Church tonight. Even though Rollins plays a new city each night, he took time out of his schedule to chat with City Paper.
City Paper: You've done extensive traveling around the world. What locations resonated the most with you on your travels?
Henry Rollins: I think the most thought provoking were Bangladesh and China. In Bangladesh I saw so much poverty but so many smiles. In China I always felt like I was being watched and handed a line. Everything felt like propaganda there.
CP: What themes or messages from your travels will you be sharing in your performances?
HR: I have a lot of anecdotes from recent travels: India, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, China, all the other places as well, all gave me very interesting stories. As far as themes, I don't think that hard about themes or overall messages. I think these things happen naturally.
CP: After so much traveling, how do you find America upon your return?
HR: What I see abroad makes me like America more. We have it very good here. I think if more Americans could see more of the world, it might make them value what they have and perhaps they would take better care of the place and better care of themselves.
CP: Is there more similarity or difference in songwriting versus writing poetry?
HR: I just write stuff and it turns into different things. It's just writing to me. I am not all that aware of a style of a difference in the methods. I would perhaps be more aware of a difference if I were a better writer. I am trying to use words to understand life; it takes me to different places in my mind.
CP: What about in singing versus performing spoken word?
HR: Talking shows are a lot harder. There's nothing onstage but me, and if I stop talking, then there's no show. I don't know how I get through them but I do. Band stuff is hard too but at least it's a group effort and my many mistakes on the bandstand are somewhat obscured by all the surrounding noise.
CP: So you've been the lead singer of a band, a radio show host, a publisher, and a poet, what can we expect next from you?
HR: I have been doing a lot of photography. I have been working on it pretty hard, trying to tell the story through the lens. It's not easy but I am getting a little better at is, learning about light and composition and all.
Frequent Flyer Tour with Henry Rollins, Thu., March 11, 7pm, $20, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St, 215-563-3980, r5productions.com.
That's different from Daily Candy, mind you (not that she hasn't had her hand in that jar, too): Visual artist/Philly resident/all-around cool lady Shannon McLaughlin, whose little critter series Say Hello to my Little Friends been enchanting us for at least a year now, has been featured on design blog Share Some Candy. Big ups!
Here's what we said about her back then:
Shannon McLaughlin's got a thing for critters. "I'm not saying this is healthy in any way," says the 24-year-old mixed-media artist, "but I often find myself relating a bit more to animals than people." Letting the wonder of nature speak for itself, McLaughlin's endearing, realistic animal portraits avoid LOLhedgehog clichÃ©; set on cross sections of trees, the caption-free animals pop atop bright colors and floating food. "Each exotic pet is surrounded by its meal du jour from crickets to kiwi," says McLaughlin, whose furry-thing love runs deep. Ten percent of all animal-related sales on her Etsy site (youwannatalkjive.etsy.com) go toward Etsy for Animals' monthly charities, and she's working toward becoming a partner with the Pennsylvania SPCA. Plus, McLaughlin has six pets herself a dog, three rabbits and two chinchillas. "I'm always surrounded by critters, which is why they tend to seep into my work naturally."
|I put these on my boobs.|
We sent admittedly shy Emily Currier to Annie A-Bomb's Philadelphia School of Burlesque at the Walking Fish Theatre to learn about the vaudevillian art form. Each week, she'll file a report of her progress from the tasseled and bedazzled frontlines. Catch up on Emily's first adventure.
"We already have one prostitute and two zombies," Anna informs me as I walk into my second burlesque on Tuesday. Rats, there go my ideas.
Last week, our teacher Anna Frangiosa/Annie A-bomb told us to think up show theme and song ideas and to ransack our closets for potential costumes, and the three other students and I dutifully paid attention. The other girls have scattered the contents of their closets around the room: an explosion of polka dots, red cherries, lacy underthings and black. I'm packing the puffiest, most puritanical garments in my wardrobe, including a virginal white gown I wasn't even able to fit into as a string-bean high-schooler. Naturally, this dress champions the others and Anna helps me figure out the logistics of how to actually fit into the dress before I seductively slink out of it.
Later we gather around the craft table for our pasties-making session. The conversation hovers around the other women's children or falls silent as everyone focuses intently on hot-gluing rhinestones. "Isn't it strange how much hot glue goes on around the nipples?" one woman says as she puts the finishing touches on pasties that resemble tiny little studded shields. We were given options of different circle sizes that essentially depend on the size of our nipple. I've opted for the largest size that not only sufficiently covers my nipples, it covers up my boobs, torso and some of my shoulders as well. (In reality, they're about the size of a compact.)
The respectable craft party quickly turns into every man's fantasy when everyone takes their tops off to give their pasties a test run. The other girls show no awkwardness about de-shirting, while I struggle with tactics of discretion I picked up in the trenches of the high school locker room. We literally tape the tasseled, bedazzled nipple-covers to our breasts (the sacrifices we make for art!).
For the flat-chested in the class (party of one!), Anna demonstrates a see-sawing foot routine straight out of an aerobics, while the other women get the proper effect from shoulder shimmies. I learn that making your tasseled titties twirl around like a car wash is largely an act of faith: For as much momentum you can get from various shimmying, the key is to not keep looking down to make sure your pasties haven't flown off in the process.
From tassel-twirling we move onto various sexy ways to remove your elbow-length gloves, such as the tug, the wipe, the bite, the whip and the gag. We are talking about taking off gloves here, right?
Next Week's Adventure: In class three, we'll actually learn how to do burlesque dancing!
We like American Idol. Too much.
Tommy Button: When the night starts off with Ellen Degeneres sitting on the lap of Simon Cowell, you know it's gonna be a rough one. This was the girls last chance at Top 12 dreams and only three of them really sang like it. Besides the physical discomfort of sitting through the performances, the show itself was all over the place. Seacrest and the judges were bouncing off the walls with anxiety because they had to find some way to cram the show within a reasonable amount of time. I'll try to waste slightly less of your time.
Molly Eichel: Eh, it wasn't so bad. No surprises but other than Lacey Brown lessening the degree to which I wanted to punch her in the face.
TB: Powersox was far and away the best of the night. She was in fact the polar opposite of Paige Miles. A soulful white girl with a cool streak in her as long as Route 66.
ME: I feel bad always praising Powersox as my favoe, but what are you gonna do? She took Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason," a song very much associated with its artist, slapped it upside the head and said, "Look Tracy, you're super cool and all. You can play the didgeridoo, your arms are jacked and you have a beautifully distinctive voice. But I'm motherfucking Crystal Bowersox, bitch." Also, she looked so glamorous tonight!
TB: Look at her. Just sitting on her amp like a fucking champ. Mission Blow It Out The Box: Accomplished. Seeing Powersox right before just proved that Lilly Scott has got to step it up a bit otherwise she's gonna get left in the dust. Sure, Lilly's consistently good but it's turning into a bit of the same ol' same ol'.
ME: Amen, Tom-Tom. I like her arrangements but they're too small. She needs to come out huge next time or I'm afraid that some lesser boys will take her down. Although, word to Patsy Cline.
TB: Didi Benami gets second billing. She was able to outshine Lilly, who up to this point has been her toughest competition.
ME: Didi took my second best spot too with Fleetwood Mac's "Rhianna." I love the tone of her voice. Unlike Lilly (who needs a wow moment to remind us who she is), I think all of this no wow moment blather from the judges is bullshit. Stevie Nicks never has wow moments either and she has one of the greatest voices in all of pop music. Here's my problem with Didi, though: Her strongest songs are all of these, slow quiet version of songs and I'm worried she's one-note.
TB: Do I think Didi can keep up this momentum? Hell no. But at least she ain't throwing in the towel yet. I heard it through the grapevine that Seacrest is tapping dat. And by grapevine, I mean Spike Eskin at WYSP pointed out that last week Sea-man gave Didi a little hand grab after her performance. AND HE DID IT AGAIN THIS WEEK!!! Leave a little room for the lord, you two. She still has at least one more week of Seacrest hand grabs in her future
ME: I'm embarrassed to say this because I've kicked her in the balls a couple times before, but I loved Siobhan Magnus' "House of the Rising Sun." Perfect song choice for her range, perfect execution. I was totally digging Snaggle Tooth Siobhan last night.
TB: I'm glad Simon finally pointed out the mind boggling weirdness of this girl. There seems to be some box blowing moments in Snaggle Tooth Siobhan and she's gonna go far. But for me, she's always gonna seem like the pot dealer's weird girlfriend. Except she's not making me any hand-blown pipes.
ME: Worst by far goes to Paige Miles with "Smile."
TB: Way to shit the bed, Paige. I want to go more in depth than say she sucked but that seems to be the best I can do right now. But hey, if she's not gonna try, why should I?
ME: Not only did she sing this poorly, but Janelle Monae did the same thing and did it better. Check it:
Aw, Paige. Don't worry, you're not the only one who deserves to cry. Because Katelyn Epperly did one of the most mediocre versions of Carole King's "I Hear the Earth Move" I've ever heard. She didn't tweak the arrangement that much, but what she did ruined the momentum of the song. Look, if you're gonna fuck with someone who knows how to structure pop song like a finely crafted mystery (keeps you holding on until you can barely take it anymore ... then pay off), you either go nuts or keep it simple. I wish she had sung it as a ballad like last week. Actually, I just wish Siobhan had sung this song too.
TB: Quite frankly, I do not understand what the judges were talking about. Her hair looked like a rat's nest. This was Katelyn Epperly's third (and hopefully final) shot at impressing me and she failed. I bet Epperly is the kind of person who strikes out in kickball.
ME: I think she'll stick around because she's smokin' hot (and I've got a soft spot for her because she's got Sharon Pinkenson's hair). Even though she wasn't that bad this week, I still am gonna hate on Lacey Brown. Her version of Brandy Carlisle's "The Story" wasn't balls-out awful, but I still don't think she's top 12 material.
TB: The judges thought it was her best yet it was still awful. Lacey is in the same boat as Katie Stevens her success is totally dependent on someone else failing. So basically, Lacey shouldn't focus on singing so much as sabotage at this point.
Neighborhood Watch finds fashionable folk all across the city. Where do all the vestiges of the '90s meet? South Street, South Street.
|PHOTOS | Julia West and Josh Middleton
This week exciting street fashion was as abundant as the sunshine. We found most of our picks circling somewhere near South Street, where we felt as if we'd just stepped out of Bill & Ted's excellent phone booth into the soul of the '90s.
Brittany K. (15) is a product of the '90s in more ways than one. Not only was she conceived in the latter part of the era but her sense of fashion has turn-of-the-century, pre-packaged Hot Topic Goth written all over it. This is a look that's age specific. When you're 15 it works, but honey, don't be trying to pull it off after high school. She buys the bulk of her duds on sites like Hell Bunny and she mentions the bands Eyes Set to Kill and A Day to Remember as fashion influences.
|PHOTOS | Julia West and Josh Middleton|
Jonathan G. (37) and Stephanie W. (38) show how to take the punk rock look out of the malls and make it appropriate for any age, which is unsurprising for the latter because Steph is the owner of South Street's quintessential and iconic punk shop, Crash Bang Boom (528 S. 4th St., 215-928-1123). On their way to donate clothes outgrown by Nina J. (2), they stopped to chat about their "cheap and savvy" style that includes a lot of black, a lot of layers and a damn good pair of boots.
|PHOTOS | Julia West and Josh Middleton|
Strolling down the street with a cock-eyed doo-rag and donning a re-envisioned '90s grunge look, Jeff M. (19) was killing time before going to put more holes in his face. He already has a lebret piercing and huge gauges in his ears but he's not quite satisfied yet. Judging by his appearance you'd think he pieced his outfit together from a second hand store, but actually most of it came from mainstream department spots like Kohl's and Foot Locker.
|PHOTOS | Julia West and Josh Middleton|
We weren't actually on the Neighborhood Watch clock, but when we spotted Rose B. (17) at the Man Man show at the Trocadero (1003 Arch St., 215-922-5483) we couldn't help but whip out the camera for a snap. We find her "circus/vintage" look a tad too provocative for a girl her age, but I'm sure all the fellas in the house didn't mind it at all. Looking at her is like a game of I Spy â We spy Britney gone wrong in the pigtails and plaid scarf, we spy Rainbow Brite in her hair bows and stripped socks and we spy Final Fantasy heroine in her lace bodice and self-made faerie bloomers and ... wait a minute ... is that a chastity belt? Either way, read J. West's review of the Man Man show.
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