Archive: March, 2011
Two weeks after Bart Blatstein and Nicole Cashman, the partners in the Arrow Swim Club, held a preview party at Tendenza to spotlight some of its amenities, the 21+, $1,000 membership club has made its first hires.
While no executive for the restaurant/club has been chosen, the general manager for the whole operation has: Steven Uhr, formerly of Starr Restaurant Group, the W Hotel in DC and Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges Vongerichten to name a few. While 611 Lifestyle’s Nigel Richards (Cashman’s paramour) will handle the music and SaVa’s boss Sarah Van Aken will be designing the club staff’s uniforms, Catalyst will provide the juice bar niceties.
So far, four hundred people have been accepted into the membership club with a public restaurant, Chanango. The Arrow is hoping for a thousand members.
In case you missed it, Screeching Weasel — the California Punk band who won your hearts with, let's say, "Come And See The Violence Inherent In The System" and "Beginningless Vacation" (I dunno, I bought one album at Tower Records in like 1992 and didn't like it) — has cancelled its current tour and broken up. Why? Oh well, Ben Weasel, apparently pissed at himself for being a total sellout and playing a SXSW show for not enough money, went nuts on a woman in the audience who was allegedly throwing ice at him and appears to have punched her (and another woman?) in the face during a scuffle onstage. I thought punk meant cuddle. The band has since revolted against their frontman and disbanded. So, yeah, no show on Friday 4/7 at the Troc.
Every Thursday our pop-culture critic, Bianca Brown, gives the catty, smile-with-your-eyes lowdown on cycle 16 of America's Next Top Model.
Alex took front stage again as the girls contemplate whether there’s actually something wrong with her. Molly’s weave looked trashy with visible tracks even after a reinstall, and I’m starting to wonder if they’re jacking it up on purpose.
The girls split into teams of three to shoot Covergirl commercials: writer, director and talent. Alex quickly got crabby with Monique and Molly. She ended up crying about their criticism and they gave her a group hug to get her to stop. You have to take all of the pills, sweetie. Dalya can’t act at all, and her commercial with Jaclyn and Hannah was stilted and embarrassing. Alex pulled through her shoot thanks to Monique’s babying, but Mikaela, Brittani and Kasia won the challenge.
Back at the house, Monique peeked at Alex’s diary, and read a typical teenage “Nobody gets me” page, and Alex revealed in the confession booth that she dealt with abuse in her family.
Photo shoot at the zoo! The girls modeled guest judge Rachel Zoe’s faux fur line with a jaguar cub, and Alex was weirdly giddy about it, barking during her shoot.
At panel, Tyra schmoozed with Rachel Zoe, and Andre Leon Talley told her how great she smelled. Jaclyn’s passionate pic looked like she might have been flicking the bean, which sounds pretty high fashion to me. Tyra told Mikaela to “grab on to the handle bars of fierce,” whatever that means, and Kasia doesn’t like animals, so she looked a little awkward. Brittani got five stars for her striking photo, but got called second. Maybe they don’t want to be predictable? Nervous Dalya went home for her difficulty emoting. Next week the girls learn to deal with their impending, cataclysmic fame.
Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson isn’t just looking for chefs, amateur and professional for his as-yet-unnamed Philly food thing that he tweeted the other day. (Interested? Send a 90-second video of yourself to email@example.com and wait for questions back like: What would you make for ?uest if you could only make one dish?) The Roots drummer is also going to want you to cook backstage for the Roots Picnic on June 4.
Remember I told you that Jolly Weldon was taking his pianos and going home — I mean, house, I mean Academy House? Weldon did just that, pulled out the 88s from Jolly’s Dueling Piano Bar at 2006 Chestnut St. and moved them to Locust St.’s Academy House with an expected March 25 opening.
While getting ready for her March 2012 Philadelphia Museum of Art mega-solo-show, photographer Zoe Strauss realized she doesn’t have enough of her famed I-95 images — the ones she used to shoot and sell cheap ($5 cheap). Strauss needs them for record-keeping as well as to be considered for the show and its catalog. Can you help? Got some? Get in touch with Grace Ambrose, Strauss, PMA intern, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alchemy and Intent, a new paint/print show opened March 22, at the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, 1441 Sansom St, 2nd floor. It will be on display until May 31. (Artists’ reception May 12, 5 p.m., with Bobbie Adams, Rachel Citrino, Linda Dubin Garfield, Pia De Girolamo and Tom Hlas.) Besides being mesmerized by snaps I’ve seen of the work, I’m equally enthralled by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics and that the office “charged with providing ethics training for all city employees and enforcing city campaign finance, financial disclosure, and conflict of interest laws” (according to its Web site) has opened itself as an exhibition space.
On the heels of releasing Mikronesia’s Sick with Silence and preparing to drop Gemini Wolf’s Infinite Sand Dunes, Philly’s earSNAKE label makes its downloads part of a charity thing. Buy an earSNAKE label item and 100% of the proceeds go to Japan relief funds.
Radio Eris and DJ David S. Aponte hit Hoi Polloi Studios, (in the Amber Street Studios Building) at 3240 Collins. The eerily odd Eris is currently recording a whole handful of new songs for its summer-due CD.
It finally happened: The Spice Warehouse — the famed spice holdings megalopolis on 11th Street in South Philly — has closed its doors and will soon be on the open market for sale. Sadly, this also means that Paul Pirozzi aka Wharton Tract’s vintage studio and Spice House label will have to relocate. Parting. Sweet sorrow. All these things are true.
WHOWHATWHERE: While in town for their lengthy stay, Furthur’s Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and the Deadheads who love them were in and out of the Sofitel Hotel. Closer to my block, L.A. Law’s stars Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker were spied eating at Le Virtu on East Passyunk. It wasn’t a surprise that Bill Cosby showed up at the Clef Club’s all-star benefit for Odean Pope and that saxophonist’s bipolar disorder charity. Still, it was nice to see Cosby in a Temple sweatshirt (what else?) chatting with the Pope on-stage. When the 2011 Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was aired on Fuse TV on Sunday, there was Jerry Blavat, clear as day, singing “Sweet Caroline” with inductee Neil Diamond, pal Lloyd Price and a slew of rock luminaries. The Geator always hits the R&RHoF ceremonies and his writings can be found in the programs, this year in dedication to another inductee, Darlene Love. Talking about the old songs being the best songs: Yes, the Philadelphia Film Society’s partnership with the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ at Macy’s yielded one of the finest events of recent memory when it screened Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent sci-fi classic with live accompaniment from grand court organist Peter Richard Conte. But the nicest thing about the VIP pre-event was going into the rarely used Greek Hall where wine and hors d’oeuvres were served and there was film and theatre-organ music played by Wurlitzer organist Rudy Lucente. I nearly cried when he played songs from Oklahoma! The ever-caustic Tabatha Coffey of Bravo’s Tabatha’s Salon Takeover (her salon is New Jersey for those who want a trim) was nice as pie at her Barnes & Noble book signing for It’s Not Really About the Hair. Remember last week when I asked Greater Philadelphia Film goddess Sharon Pinkenson about how things were going with films that had long been in talks to shoot in the area but got sidetracked by the question of tax credits? (Governor Corbett gave the good thumbs up to the promised credits and threw in $60 million more.) Things are looking weird for the Brad Pitt-produced World War Z that was supposed to start filming here this summer. According to New York magazine’s entertainment blog The Vulture, Paramount may pull the plug on the zombie flick if they can’t get more financial help for a film already budgeted at $125 million. The Vulture says Paramount is talking to David Ellison, a movie financier. I say call Sydney Kimmel — Philly’s resident Hollywood bankroller.
Say what you will about organized religion, but it doesn't take more than a brief moment inside a majestic cathedral or a cursory glance at a Michelangelo to realize that some of humanity's greatest artistic achievements have been dedicated to the glory of the divine.
My personal favorite deity-inspired artistic work, by leaps and bounds, is Handel's "Messiah." Just thinking about it — shit, just typing it — is making me well up with tears like an old man who's just watched his ten year old grandson hit a game-winning grand slam. If you grew up Christian, you may remember feeling overwhelmed with goose bumps during the enthralling "Hallelujah" chorus at the end of Christmas mass. For me, "Messiah" is so much more than nostalgia for simpler intellectual times; its very composition radiates the sheer bliss that can only be felt with soaring, untethered faith.
In honor of the Bicentennial of St. Luke's Church in Germantown (5421 Germantown Ave.), the Germantown Institute for the Vocal Arts is performing Handel's "Messiah" on Sat., March 26, at 6 p.m.. St. Luke's Bicentennial Mass Choir features: Eleanor Macchia, soprano; Donna Walters, mezzo-soprano; Tyler Lee, tenor; and William Mayer, bass-baritone, and the Rittenhouse Ensemble with Nile Weber, organist and Cailin Manson, conductor. The performance will be free, with donations optional.
For more information, call 215-844-8544.
Every Wednesday, open-miker Matt Cantor gives you the skinny on a local open-mic night so you'll know which stages to call home. Today, he goes to Gryphon Café on the Main Line.
Main Line coffee shops, I’m beginning to realize, are a haven for open mikers. Gryphon Café is no exception. I dropped by this Monday, guitar in the back seat, hoping to play; unfortunately I showed up too late. For this one, you’ve got to be there by 6:30 for sign-ups, as all the slots are filled quickly. But the early arrival is well worth an open miker’s while: Gryphon hosts plenty of talented local musicians, and everyone—the staff, the audience, the host—is friendly. The place was so densely packed that I had to squeeze into a table with people I don’t know, which is something I normally hate doing. Somehow, at Gryphon, it seemed socially acceptable. Meanwhile, I noticed some familiar faces both onstage and in the crowd. That posed an open miker’s dilemma: I can’t expect to play the same songs every time at such places, or someone will notice.
As at other Main Line coffee shops, the walls were covered with local artwork, much of it for sale. I was impressed by the quality of the work, which featured small paintings and larger woodcarvings reaching from shoulder level all the way to the high ceiling. Nestled among the works, in a corner of the room, was the makeshift stage with a bright sound system. On the other side of the fairly intimate room was the coffee bar. I sampled their jambalaya, which was excellent, and some elegantly-presented coffee; both were carried to me at the table.
Each performer was allotted two songs. As I sipped, I listened to the Describers — or, in this case, the Describer, as the host pointed out: only one was there. But he played with energy and sang with passion. Next was Tron, who performed earnest originals over some unusual and biting chords. His second tune featured a traditional fingerpicking style known as Travis picking, which you don’t hear often among current musicians, despite its pleasantly lazy bounce. I’ve mentioned Steven Singer before, but he bears mentioning again: This time, the keyboardist took rapid-fire requests from the audience, and was able to put together a medley ranging from Primus to Paul Simon as people yelled out artists’ names. Last to perform was Bill O’Meara. His live performance sounded as polished as a recording, with a rough-edged but sweet voice and real facility on the guitar. With some people, you can just tell they know their way around the fretboard. O’Meara also knows his way around the Philly music scene, having performed at World Café Live and Tin Angel, among other places.
If I had a seal of hearty open-miker approval, I’d give it to Gryphon Café.
The nitty-gritty for performers: Mondays, sign-ups at 6:30, show at 7, get there early, Gryphon Café, 105 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, gryphoncafe.com. Free admission; two songs each.
Elizabeth Taylor seems to have packed 10 lives into her 79 years. She was married eight times, won two Academy Awards, was the first actor to be paid $1 million for Cleopatra, had a love affair with jewelry, pioneered AIDS activism and, strange fact, was born with two rows of eyelashes. Defining grace and poise, she was an exceptional beauty and tremendous talent — one of the most fashionable women the world has ever known.
On Sat., March 26 from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., the Japanese Mother's Association is throwing a flea market and bazaar at the Church of the Holy Trinity (1904 Walnut St.) that benefits the Japanese Red Cross, a charitable organization that supports victims of the earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan. Besides purchasable goodies, the event will feature a variety of real Japanese kimonos that attendees can try on and take photographs in, and entertainment scheduled throughout the day. Here's the line-up:
Noon-2 p.m.: The W.M.R. Trio's Wataru Niimori performs live with special guests.
2:30 p.m.: Taiwanese dance instructor Ya-Chih Chuang (pictured) performs traditional Chinese folk dance.
3 p.m.: A koto (a traditional Japanese instrument similar to a small wooden harp) performance by Mirai Yasuyama.
For more creative ways to send aid to Japan, check Kaleidoscope in last week's A&E section.
City Paper intern Sean Kearney set his iPod on shuffle. This is where it led him ...
1. Neutral Milk Hotel, “Marching Theme," On Avery Island
I got into Neutral Milk Hotel sometime in high school, and my love for them hasn’t faded a bit. Both On Avery Island and On the Aeroplane Over the Sea were really important albums to me. “Marching Theme” is a bit of a weird, fuzzed out, at times heavy instrumental song featuring wacky synth parts, heavy guitars, and clanging marching band percussion. Still pretty groundbreaking stuff, if you ask me.
2. Sleigh Bells, “Crown On the Ground," Treats
One of last summer’s darlings. I feel like you’ve got to be in the mood for Sleigh Bells to not be irritated by them, but god, if you’re in the mood for it they really hit the spot. Really loud high pitched guitar, anthem-like female vocals, and an unrelenting, pounding crash symbol drum beat with claps instead of snare hits make this a worthy high energy summer jam when you’re in an obnoxious mood.
3. White Denim, “Darksided Computer Mouth," Workout Holiday
Austin’s White Denim is a sick band, without a doubt; they’re constantly putting out good work. This was the first White Denim album I owned and I played it to death for a while. The cool thing about this song, and pretty much all the songs off this album, is that it changes tempo frantically, going from standard speed, to silence, to neck breaking technical freak outs. All of this with goofy shouted lyrics give it an impressive yet goofy and inviting feel.
4. jj, “Are You Still in Vallda?," jj n˚2
I remember not giving this album a chance for awhile. The strange name coupled with an equally bizarre cover that features a huge pot leaf sort of made me feel like it would've been some cringe-worthy stoner techno or something. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This one’s a beautiful little acoustic heart-breaker with violin and electronic parts blending perfectly with longing lyrics: “Someday I know we'll meet again but I said that every summer/and every summer is the summer closer further away from you...” My heart!
I recently had the good fortune to hear what may be mankind’s greatest achievement thus far: “Friday,” by 13-year-old prodigy Rebecca Black. I must have been late on this, because according to YouTube, 29,874,430 people viewed the video before I did. Given that that’s a significant proportion of the US population, I think it’s fair to say that “Friday” has become a cultural touchstone.
That is no surprise. Black conveys a universal human emotion, celebrated for centuries: the desire for an end to labor. In so doing, she is working in a literary tradition that dates back to Genesis, in which God punished Adam by forcing his descendants to work for survival. Black encapsulates this theme in a single word, “Friday,” which in much of Western culture heralds the coming of a period of rest, or in the singer’s words, “fun, fun, fun, fun.” In short: “Everybody’s looking forward to the weekend, weekend.”
But before reaching that period, Black, and indeed all of us, have a series of hurdles to overcome. In the “Friday” allegory, those struggles are represented by an early rise — 7 a.m. — as well as the compulsion to “be fresh,” “go downstairs,” and “get to the bus stop.” All the while, we are “seein’ everything,” but must grapple with the notion that “the time is goin’/ Tickin’ on and on.”
Fortunately, as Joseph Campbell observed in his “heroic cycle,” such quests typically have “helper” figures. Black is not without this assistance: “I see my friends,” she tells us as a group of underage drivers approach. That poses another pre-Sabbath dilemma, one we’ve all faced: is it better to be “kickin’ in the front seat” or “sittin’ in the back seat”? The urgency of the question is clear: “Gotta make my mind up,” Black points out.
Within three-quarters of an hour, Black and her friends are “cruisin’ so fast,” physically manifesting their desire for “time to fly.” It is a study in futility, however: the unavoidable reality is that speeding towards school will only result in having to spend more time there. But the rest of the stanza offers reassurance: “Fun, fun, think about fun,” the singer entreats her friends. “You know what it is,” she reminds them: “I got this, you got this.” She then establishes a frame of reference: While “yesterday was Thursday,” “today is Friday,” and that means that “we, we, we so excited.” Yet the weekend can’t last: though “tomorrow is Saturday,” still, “Sunday comes afterwards.”
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