Archive: March, 2011
Film icon Elizabeth Taylor passed away today in Los Angeles at the age of 79. The reported cause is congestive heart failure. The two-time Academy Award-winning actress appeared in over 50 films, including Cleopatra, Raintree County and, my personal favorite, the film version of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And besides dazzling movie goers for more than 70 years, she put her celeb status to good use as a devout champion for AIDS-related charities, founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Rest in peace, sister. We'll miss you dearly. Oh, and give Michael Jackson our best "hee-hee!"
Wednesday: Reality show diva, hairstylist and savvy businesswoman Tabatha Coffey is adding author to her already lengthy résumé. She'll be signing copies of her new book It’s Not Really About the Hair near Rittenhouse Square. This memoir/self-help book explains how Ms. Coffey’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude has gotten her where she is today. Don’t forget to smooth those fly-aways and curl those ends before you shake her hand, though. Wed., March 23, 6 p.m., free, Barnes and Noble Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut St., 215-665-0716.
Thursday: Temple’s Creative Writing Program’s writer-in-residence, Bhanu Kapil, doesn't let genre or geography stifle her creativity. Born to Indian parents in the U.K., Kapil currently teaches at Naropa University in Colorado. Her newest book Schizophrene — to be released this coming May — is a collection of poetry examining mental illness in newly dispersed refugee communities. Kapil will be reading selections of her work at this public event. Thu., March 24, 8 p.m.., free Temple University Center City, 1515 Market St., Room 222.
Friday: Let’s get ready to rumble! Watch two poets go head to head in a battle of the bards. At this edition of the FUZE Open Mic & Poetry Slam, husband and wife Matt and Hannah MacDonald will present original poems in a competitive setting. Hannah and Matt both have experience slamming on national teams, so the literary gloves will be off. An open mic precedes the main event. Fri., March 25, 7:30 p.m., $3-$5, InFusion, 7133 Germantown Ave., Mount Airy, 215-248-1718.
Saturday: Coffeehouses have always been havens for literary types. The Chapterhouse Café is featuring three poets who bring various styles and backgrounds to the mic. Marcella Durand is a professor at UPenn and most recently published Eco Pré. Mytili Jagannathan is a poet whose work focuses on various forms of the human condition including desire, gender and power. Also reading is Joseph Yearous-Algozin who, in addition to being an author, is also the co-editor of PQueue magazine. Sat., March 25, 8 p.m., free, Chapterhouse Café & Gallery, 620 S. Ninth St., 215-238-2626.
➤ Last week, our music editor, Patrick Rapa, made his way to SXSW in Austin, Texas. The days-long music and film festival has become something of legend, where basically every bar and venue in Austin is pulsing with great music from all around the world. As is evidenced in his Day 4 recap, quite a few Philly bands made their way down. Also in atteneance, Phrequency put together a collection of local band photos featuring Nicos Gun, Suede Uppers, Arrah and The Ferns, The Armchairs, The Spinto Band, Slutever, and Reading Rainbow.
➤ I don’t think there was a book I disliked more as a 16-year-old boy than Pride and Prejudice. Call me crazy, but I don’t think many high school guys can relate to Victorian rich folk running around fretting over choosing a proper husband. Even Mark Twain said, “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig Jane Austen up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” For those who share Twain's sentiments, Geekadelphia gives its impressions on a book that may help bridge the gap between both hardcore fans and critics of Austin's work: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. That’s right, it's a zombie parody of the novel that, according to Philly's ultimate nerd site, is apparently pretty well written. Hear that? It’s Mark Twain is rising a tumbler of Old Crow in his grave right now.
➤ Working for Wikipedia must be one of the most fun jobs ever. When you’re not correcting facts on the “Football in Guam” page (first thing that came up when I hit “random article”), you get to read some pretty funny edits. According to Philebrity, for a short amount of time the Philadelphia Zoo wikipage was changed to "Penis World Zoo" located in Penis World, Pa. It has since been corrected, but I’d like to think that for a short time, people all around the world had a nice giggle in their cubicles at work.
While strolling through Queen Village last weekend, I stumbled upon a group of artists creating a mural in the parking lot of Napoli Pizza (944 E. Passyunk Ave.). They must've been working with a quickness, because today I passed by the finished product. Apparently titled "2 Lives," the cubist, abstract figures and peeping deer heads remind me of Picasso and Frida Kahlo.
Since being fired by CBS, Charlie Sheen has been riding a roller coaster to the top of the entertainment world, and now that he's the most famous person in America (for the time being), NBC news' Jeff Rossen tweeted that "Sources close to Charlie Sheen tell NBC News, CBS has offered him his job back."
This is probably a grab in response to FOX, who has likely made offers to Sheen. The View's Joy Behar (now appearently working for CNN) tweeted: "Sheen met with Fox about a possible late night talk-show."
Has Sheen written a new manual for super-fame?:
Step 1) Get regular famous.
Step 2) Lose your marbles on an all-out media blitz.
Step 3) Tweet.
This is somewhat reminiscent of Conan O'Brien's post-fired frenzy, except the volume is turned way up. Additionally, Sheen is both the comedian AND the punchline. In being both, he's managed to dwarf anyone else on the Hollywood radar. Now I'm curious to see what actor will be the next to spaz out, because apparently that's your ticket to the top ... as long as your tiger blood is thicker than dignity.
Our best guess: Christina Aguilera
Beauty pageant contestants smile until their cheeks hurt, strut on a stage and put on little outfits — all with the hopes that the judges like them best. I've never been a huge fan of pageants, however a good friend of mine requested my help during this weekend's Miss Carribean Queen competition. Against my better judgement I agreed because I was curious to see what all the hoopla was about. My job as assistant was not as difficult as my friend's, I was mostly an errand girl, addressing the contestants' concerns. I did a good job hiding my indifference and acted engaged, all while discreetly observing the ladies to what drove them to participate. And as I watched them practice their speeches and their dances I saw that it genuinely made them happy. There's my answer. Who am I to judge?
The following day I agreed to go on a date with a guy my friend recommended. We agreed to meet at the Continental on Chestnut Street, since I didn't want him to know where I lived. I chose the restaurant because: One, if the date turned out to be horrid I could make a quick exit and do some shopping, and two, because I love Continental. On the date, I felt like a pageant contestant myself. All he did was interview me. I hate interview dates, it's such a crutch. Yes, you can ask me questions and I do the same to you. However, when we don't explore a common interest and move on to the next question, what is that? Something I cannot stand. So there I was with my fake smile, in my little outfit with a string of profanities threading through my brain.
Sunday I looked for a job. My current place of employment isn't conducive to my latest credit card statement, love for sweet cocktails or rent payment. I posted my resumé tons of websites and filled out applications in Center City. Later, feeling optimistic about my future prospects in the work force, I treated the girls to dinner.
Monday: Hot off the heels of their third album’s release, Canadian dreamers Young Galaxy are coming to share their artsy swirls of auditory aura. With an unconventional approach to writing and recording that included communication via Skype and carving away at arrangements, Shapeshifting has already been hailed as the trio’s best work to date. Having toured with some of indie pop’s current royalty, Young Galaxy are fast on their way to formally joining those esteemed ranks. w/ Winter Gloves, 8 p.m., $10, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Tuesday: If you only know Simian Mobile Disco for their go-to status as noisemakers at most Making Time afterparties, then you need to see them at a proper show more than you realize. The UK duo makes concocting beats and remixes seem easy, but you’ll be far too busy boogieing to try and figure out how they do it. Show up, get moving, keep moving, don’t upset the rhythm. w/ Blondes, Dave P & Sammy Slice, 8 p.m., $14 - $17, Trocadero, 10th & Arch Sts., 215-922-6888.
Wednesday: As Dinosaur Jr’s spindly-haired frontman, J Mascis can pack a wallop. On his new solo album, though, he’s toned down everything, including his trademark overdriven guitar. Taking on the persona of a freaked-out singer-songwriter, J’s Several Shades Of Why is fragile and hushed, but alluring in abundance. For those who’ve always wanted to see J live but couldn’t afford the eardrum trauma of a Dinosaur Jr show, be sure to see the guy get his folk on. w/ Kurt Vile And The Violators, 8 p.m., $21 - $43, World Cafe Live, 30th St. & Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Thursday: The name Deep Dark Robot might not sound familiar (indeed it shouldn’t because it’s a new group), but the brain behind it is an old friend. Previously of 4 Non Blondes and the producer’s seat on countless rock and pop records, Linda Perry has finally returned to making her own music DDR’s debut, 8 Songs About A Girl, is Perry’s first new release in over 10 years, though she recently embarked on an impromptu ‘iPhone’ series of audio dispatches. w/ Leiana, 8 p.m., $15, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215-787-0488.
Friday: More than just any old concert, this evening is an all-out festival. The Caravan Festival, to be precise. Rescheduled (and expanded) from an original date in October, the festival will culminate with a set from cinematic swooners DeVotchKa, whose new album, 100 Lovers, is an eclectic masterpiece. Before that, though, you’ll have the chance to take in more world-fusion sounds from a cavalcade of globally-influenced groups. Many of those bands are local, showing that knowing no borders really knows no borders. w/ Mariachi el Bronx, West Philadelphia Orchestra, Kruno Spisic, Mischief Brew & West Powelton Steppers, 8 p.m., $25 - $32.70, Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., 215-627-1332.
Saturday: How do you know that Cults are a band to latch onto? It’s not their Robert Longo-inspired looks. It’s even not the fact that music fans, blogs and even bigwig record companies scrambled to find out more about them when three songs mysteriously appeared online last year. It’s their sweet-as-Kool-Aid hooks and lazy summer atmospheres that make their upcoming full-length debut so delectable. And just so you know, there’s only a very small chance you’ll leave this show with a shaved head and flowing white robe. w/ Asobi Seksu & Warm Ghost, 9 p.m., $12, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Sunday: Aiden James sure knows how to wrestle with feelings. His songs are intimately personal, drawing from heartbreak, joy, different heartbreak and reflection. To know the guy is to know a sweet, outgoing soul, but his musical persona can be a bit more fragile and introverted. Think doubled over his guitar in strained ecstatic passion. He’s had experiences just like any of us, only he’s turned them into dynamite songs. w/ Natalia Zukerman & Garrison Starr, 7 p.m., $12, Tin Angel, 20 S. 2nd St., 215-928-0770.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of an everyday, pop culture-loving Philly dude.
Friday: Saw Stephen DiJoseph and Jersey Jung perform at the Tin Angel. Jung — a young lady with a small backing band — sings sensitive, emotionally reflective songs in the phylum of Sarah McLachlan. Guest poets — reciting some pretty out-there verses — punctuated her songs. DiJoseph wowed audiences with acoustic jazz and electric piano blues. Some of his songs were actually quite funny and he even showed a hilarious short video about his dating site for the truly undateable.
Later, I went to the 10:30 show at Helium to see Myq Kaplan, who I had the pleasure of interviewing for last week's LOL With It. The booze-soaked late show audience struggled for a bit to keep up with his hyper-intellectual word play, but they eventually caught up.
Saturday: I watched The Sting. This is the 1973 Paul Newman/Robert Redford heist scored with Scott Joplin ragtime (think The Entertainer, one of the popular ice cream truck songs growing up) is currently available free On Demand if you have Comcast.
That night, I attended the AquaCorps' St. Patrick's Day Beef & Beer for Needy Families. I finished the night at Tank Tops and Temporary Tattoos VII, a somewhat legendary annual shindig for LaSalle and St. Joe's alumni celebrating life, liberty, and the pursuit of temporary ink on bare arms. Spirits were high. Showtunes were belted — Not to mention two or three obligatory "Bohemian Rhapsodies."
Sunday: I was a judge at Rooftop Comedy's National College Stand-up Competition. The Philly stop of this March Madness-style comedy tournament was held at Helium. Penn State's funniest were bussed in to challenge Temple's funniest. The advancing school will be announced HERE.
The Sound of Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m. @ Convention Center
This was a panel discussion featuring Leon Huff, Kenny Gamble and Joe Tarsia live from Philly International HQ (via Skype or some other equally hiccuppy web video chat thing on a big screen in a really big and underpopulated auditorium), and in-person panelizing by Bruce Warren of WXPN, Chris Junior of Goldmine (a music collector mag) and Akina Adderley, an Austin singer performing at the festival. For what it was, the event was a fairly illuminating conversation that touched on the Delphonics, Intruders, Patti Labelle, Wilson Pickett, Nancy Wilson, Teddy Pendergrass, the Schubert Building and tons more. When the anecdotes reached the ’80s, Gamble surprised me when he said he was, in retrospect, relieved when hip-hop and rap pushed soul, R&B and disco out of the limelight. He and Huff and co. had been building hits and careers for years and “needed a break.” Could that possibly be true?
Kurt Vile and the Violators, 3:30 p.m. @ Auditorium Shore
Swift, confident set from the Philly guitar dude recently featured on the cover of our Music Issue. Broken pedal = no “Freak Train,” but he didn’t need the “hit” today. Crowd was into it. Surprisingly good sound for a wide-open festival type atmosphere. Maybe it’s the lack of buildings or any other structure for sound to bounce off of and muddy up. Tallest thing nearby might be the Monster Energy drink tower of scaffolding which nobody climbed to the top of because it’s freaking 80-something degrees.
Man Man, 4:30 p.m. @ Auditorium Shore What The Hell Kind Of Name Is That For A Place?
If you wrote them off as some kinda porn-stached hipster-Muppet-Tom Waits novelty act, I dare you to stand by that now. Honus Honus and co. put on a phenomenal live show. Musically clever, raucous and perfect for a dusty sweat-storm show near some guano-stenched river.
!!!, 6:30 p.m. @ East Side Drive-In Pig Pen
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