Archive: March, 2011
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady's weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning (and sometimes Thursday afternoon).
Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): “If you see something you love, you’ve just gotta get it, and eat it” (Shappy Seasholtz). This quote was inspired by coconut cream pie, but it can also be applied to your biggest, deepest meringue-cloud wishes. Get it. And eat it.
Aries (March 21-April 18): Sometimes I like to pretend that something is a big magical mystery for a while before I realize that I can just Google it. Research is magic, too. Know your true self by your search terms, or just look at pictures of kittens.
Taurus (April 19-May 18): “What we think about ourselves and our possibilities determines what we aspire to become" (Robert Frank). Add to your own thoughts the screams of your adoring fans, your mom and dad’s opinion on their best day, and, of course, the stars; we just think that you’re the bee’s knees.
Gemini (May 19-June 21): You’re in one of those dreams where you keep finding more and more rooms in your house — where did this extra parlor come from? Why is this ceiling painted like waves? What are these algorithms painted on the windows? Why won’t this top stop spinning?
As Will Stone mentions in this week's Agenda section, Lynda Barry will read from her new memoir, Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book, at the Free Library tonight. We caught up with her earlier this week to hear her thoughts on drawing, fake dancing and why we need a good book at a Jiffy Lube.
City Paper: What prompted you to write this follow-up to your first graphic memoir, What It Is?
Lynda Barry: My two books, What It Is and Picture This are siblings. Both look into the question — what is an image. What It Is used writing as a way of exploring that, and Picture This used drawing; those are very tied together – drawing and writing – because they both use what I like to call the original digital devices – your fingers. Both books are trying to understand why we do that.
CP: For example …
LB: Yeah, for instance, when you’re at a meeting, and you’re bored—why do you doodle? Why is it that people want to make things? And why is it that, when we’re little, we can do these without hesitation. Or even when you’re with a kid. Say, you’re generally a grumpy old uncle, but you really dig your little nephew; you’ll dance, sing, and make sculptures, as long as you’re with the kid.
Why is that? Okay, well, it’s not intimidating to be around a little kid, but also I think it is a language that they both can speak. The arts are a kind of language. As far as evolution, why do we keep the arts? I mean, it takes a lot of energy to make art, and what would be the point if it didn’t have any biological function? I think of the arts as the corollary to our immune system and our autonomous nervous system; in the same way that the two systems keep our bodies healthy, an image system makes us want to keep living.
When your hand is moving, it actually improves your experience of time; it becomes less like a cheese grater and more of a Brillo pad, which is still not terrific, but it’s a hell of a lot better.
CP: Who did you imagine reading your book?
LB: I wanted to make a book that is like a kids book. I picture someone looking at this book while sitting in a jiffy lube, waiting for their oil to get changed
CP: But your book encourages being active. Did you see it having more of a function for readers than passing the time?
LB: For sure, I want to make their finger get itchy. I mean when you’re at a jiffy lube, no one is expecting anything; you’re just expecting it to be a drag. I thought It’d be fun to help someone forget how much things sucks at the moment.
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.
This week the poor models had to look at pictures of Alex in the house, and she quasi promised to get her hostile act together. Sara didn’t feel pretty, (and that’s why you went on a modeling show?) and Alex said she’s going to IMG if she wins or not. She kind of has a point: why be on the show if you’re not gonna model after? But as usual she’s so antagonizing about it.
The girls wear dresses by Geoffrey Mac, who designs for Lady GaGa, in a runway challenge with Miss J. And they do it on a flaming catwalk while holding fireballs. For once they express hesitation at this stunt, but it’s actually the least stupid thus far (eh hem, live bees?...balloon capsules?). “The worst thing that could happen is that I could possibly get a third-degree burn,” Hannah said. Eh, it's worth it.
No one burst into flames, and a few of the girls played up the cool factor of holding fire. Dalya was the challenge winner and recipient of designer dresses. Miss J decided that Hannah, Kasia, and Sara sucked ass and should walk home as punishment. Hannah was really scared of the neighborhood despite being accompanied by a camera crew.
Next up the models had to memorize a script full of cheesy innuendos for a Mad Men-inspired coffee commercial. Photographer Francesco Carrozzini is fine as hell. He was also the director for the Fierce Roast Coffee shoot, for which the girls ironically wore padded boobs and booties. Sara chafed at the flirty lines because of her feminist beliefs, and Brittani (who got paired with Alex) messed up the lines and started crying. Alex pretended to care and told everyone they “leaned on each other” like sisters. I think this bitch might be crazy. She then told the crew how to light the place properly and what to shoot next, and Francesco told her to piss off. Mikaela’s hand shook uncontrollably during her and Sara’s spot, and Sara, who was supposed to coyly circle the coffee jar with her finger and flirt with the boss, scratched the lid and looked at him kinda crazy. She worried about getting eliminated in the confession booth and did a spot on impression of Tyra, “You are so beautiful. But you are so scared.”
Kasia and Jaclyn got top kudos for their commercial at panel, and Jaclyn did multiple booty drops for everyone’s entertainment. Alex and Brittani turned out to suck, with Alex being a little Basic Instinct and distracting Brittani. Kasia, the plus size model, got called first, and Alex and Sara were the bottom two. Francesco complained about Alex, and Tyra told her this was her last warning about her behavior. Sara went home, even though Tyra for some reason was really rooting for her.
➤ Forget the Freaks & Geeks marathon on IFC. Tritone is holding a party benefiting this summer’s Phreak N Queer Arts & Music Festival on March 19. The zombie-electro of Rainbow Destroyer, dragsters Nueva Gabor and Messapotamia Lafae and Eric Van Osten’s new gig Manscape (he’s Golden Ball and Umlaut) take part in the charitable bash meant to raise cash for the August fest.
➤ One time City Paper scribe, Idolator instigator and rare Sugar Town DJ Maura Johnston is now the music editor at the Village Voice. Yay her.
➤ The 30th Anniversary ACHIEVEability benefit, Food for Thought, is this Saturday March 19 at the Naval Yard (215-748-8804, achieveability.org) and some of the area’s finest food bosses will be there to honor Dr. Ian Smith of Celebrity Fit Club: Jonathan Adams (Pub & Kitchen), Dave Conn (JG Domestic), Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette), Kevin Sbraga (recent Top Chef winner) and Marc Vetri hit for charity. Vetri might as well move to the Naval Yard. We spoke to him a few weeks ago and he rapped about his Naval Yard event in June, Great Chefs 2011 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Along with the usual locals and Top Chef honcho Tom Colicchio, Vetri just signed Iron Chef's Michael Symon and Vinny Dotolo of L.A.'s Animal to cook. If we’re going to talk about Top Chef we might as well mention that local chef (Coatesville I believe) Celina Tio will be a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Masters (starts April 6) Tio is renowned from her days at the Ritz-Carlton.
➤ Upper Darby’s Todd Rundgren and Philly’s Daryl Hall reunite the 40th and latest edition of Live From Daryl’s House that just popped its top yesterday (lfdh.com). Only this time they did it at Rundgren’s home in Kauai, Hawaii and covered the Daryl Hall and John Oates’ rarity “Beanie G and the Rose Tattoo” and the Delfonics’ “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time.”
➤ The Philadelphia Singers want your money. They deserve it. Michael Korn’s nearly 40-year-old organization will even sing for their supper and yours as Sunday March 20’s benefit dinner at Bistrot La Minette features authentic French bistro cuisine and performances by members of The Philadelphia Singers and Music Director/Conductor/TPS boss.
Yuck, 8:15 p.m. @ Stubb’s
’90s-style indie pop, not too aggressive, not too wimpy. Well, sometimes a little too wimpy. This London band was a bit underwhelming. Maybe the venue — large enough to accommodate Duran Duran later in the night — was a bit too much for hopeful, earnest rookies. Not yucky, just eh.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., 9:15 p.m. @ Phoenix
This is more like it: catchy power pop kinda stuff that didn’t take itself too seriously. Or maybe they were serious about the music but the one dude looked a little like Judah Friedlander and their name is ridiculous, so everything felt loose and fun. Their album It’s a Corporate World comes out in June.
Battle Circus, 10:15 p.m. @ Valhalla
Band of the night. Just loud, heavy killer rock ala Sabbath/Faith No More or something from a New Zealand four-piece. Guitar, bass, keyboards and intense drums.
Eatliz, 11 p.m.-ish @ Easy Tiger
This artfully heavy, kinda proggy Israeli band was doing well rocking three guitars and huge, near-operatic vocals — until they decided to try an unfortunate Bjork cover. That bassline is the best part of “Army of Me.” The song just doesn’t work without it. Singer Yael Kraus was the highlight with powerhouse vocals and flamenco-ish dance moves.
SXSW's a choose-your-own-adventure kinda deal. Was gonna check out Black Lips, Lia Ices, Chiddy Bang, Rafael Saadiq, Gudrid Hansdottir and Surfer Blood, but some lines were too long, or the show times conflicted, or the venues were too far away, or the reviewers were too tired.
Food: Pulled pork sandwich from a truck. Eh.
Sightings: Ex-CP editor Brian Howard, ex-CP Hang the DJ columnist J. Edward Keyes, rock star Ted Leo, and my pal Maris Kreizman of Slaughterhouse 90210.
Missed: Jack White playing a parkng lot.
Funny: Local TV news people confronting SXSW people about jaywalking.
Singing flight attendents: Two. Nicely done, Southwest.
Every Thursday, singer/songwriter Matt Cantor gives you the skinny on a local open-mic night so you'll know which stages to call home.
This week I headed to Northern Liberties to check out the open mic at the Fire, one of the area’s top smaller music venues. The place has hosted the likes of OK Go, Iron and Wine, and the Moldy Peaches. Fortunately for us open-mikers, the Fire welcomes local talent to its stage on Monday nights.
When I arrived at the scheduled time, 8:30, no performers had showed up yet; they trickled in around 10 p.m. I got the impression, however, that showtime is fairly variable from night to night. Eventually, a small crowd filled the stage room, a long, shadowy, candlelit area separate from the bar. The stage was deep, with a drum kit at the back, a pair of mics, and a set of monitors — definitely more than you get at a lot of these shows. With an engineer always at the mixing board, the sound system was crisp and well-balanced.
There were about 10 performers, and each got a 15-minute set. Cowmuddy, the show’s host, kicked things off with some excellent original songs about heartbreak, loneliness, and eight tracks. He played a guitar with just five strings — someone else had played it a little too hard, breaking the top E — yet it still produced a powerful, dark, rhythmic sound. His soulful singing complemented the well-structured lyrics. Another standout was WillAmaze, who rapped over a thick, richly produced backing track; he won an enthusiastic response from the audience with a single song. Later, Stephen DiJoseph performed an innovative cover of “Norwegian Wood” as well as a pair of originals. His songs, full of open tunings, harmonics, and technical expertise, showcased some lightning-fast fingers.
Meanwhile, the beer was cheap and high quality — Magic Hat #9 for $3! — and the staff was warm and friendly. Usually, they said, you can expect about 18-20 performers, many of them regulars. There was also a lot of overlap with Fergie’s open-mikers; with the two good shows on the same night, some may manage to fit in both.
The nitty-gritty for performers: Mondays, sign-ups theoretically at 8 p.m., show technically at 8:30, free, the Fire, 412 W. Girard Ave, iourecords.com/thefire. Fifteen minutes each.
Neighborhood Watch looks for Philly’s most fashionable. This week, Kala caught up with three warm-weather worshippers in Queen Village.
As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, lighter jackets (and even bare arms) become neighborhood norms. I caught up with hree girls who couldn’t wait to show off the duds that had previously been bundled under heavy wool coats.
Nashae Pettus (17) of Mount Airy, considers herself a “sandals and jeans” type of girl, and was perfectly dressed for a brisk and sunny day of strolling outside. She topped her black Gap jeans and striped H&M shirt with a light wash denim jacket from Weathervane. Her glittery, slouchy bag and beaded jewelry are also from Gap and H&M, respectively, but her taupe suede sneakers are from Lord & Taylor (and won’t be ruined by the snow on a warm day!).
She considers Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret her other favorites, and is looking forward to shopping for new Spring looks. Aren’t we all?
Mariah Carty (18) was visiting the area for the day from Delaware. Her knee-high boots are from Boscov’s, her pants are from Urban Outfitters, and her tank, sweater, and necklace are from Forever 21. Her shades are from Icing and she also toted a fabulous pink Coach bag.
While in Philly, she loved checking out South Street stores like Luluish and Temptation and Barefoot Shoes, which is like DSW on an even tighter budget. What more could a girl want?
Talia Daniels (17), also from Mount Airy, is a big thrift store fan. She doesn’t even remember where she picked up her oversized graphic print sweater, but she knows it was a thrift find, so she more than likely got a great deal. Her leather and fur roll top boots are by Ugg, and her jeans are Gap. She also loves Zara, TopShop, and online shopping at Asos.com.
“I can’t wait to be able to wear sandals and skirts,” she says. “I love flirty tops in different patterns and colorful stuff.” What better way to celebrate the return of fall than with color?
I’m not a technophobe: I spent much of my childhood trying to program my dad’s computer and attempting feats like hooking up my Nintendo to my guitar amp. The iPhone has saved my absent-minded self from a number of situations in which I suddenly realized I had no idea what time my train was leaving, or, for that matter, where the station was. Even though I like records, I’m definitely behind the iPod. And I can’t imagine writing this post without a word processor.
What I can’t understand is this e-book craze. The vinyl record lasted several decades; the VHS tape for a shorter time; the CD only reigned for a matter of years. But books have done their job for centuries upon centuries. When you open a volume, you’re sharing in a human tradition. Books, as objects, have a permanence that software doesn’t; they don’t require any mediating machine; they never run out of batteries; and our bookshelves, decorating our walls, are records of our personal histories.
E-books have been around for more than a decade now, and so have e-book readers: Franklin’s eBookMan, for example, appeared in 1998. Back then, however, the electronic format didn’t have much buzz, and it took years for it to catch on. “They’ve been selling e-books for a long time. Nobody’s been buying e-books,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos in an interview with Charlie Rose. Perhaps that’s because they lacked clear advantages over traditional books. An iPod makes sense: when you’re on the move, you’re going to listen to a variety of songs, so it’s handy to have your library with you. But when you travel with a book, you’re not reading one novel for three minutes, then changing to another. You’re not going to put your book collection on “shuffle.” You don’t need more than a book or two at any one time. So why spend a vast amount of money on a special machine when you could spend a few bucks on a paperback of the same size?
In the early winter of 2009, Aderbat was a band in crisis. On the heels of a stunning set of minimal, autumnal songs – the previous year’s We Belong to the Sea – the Bucks County foursome was pushing headlong into its next project while it geographically drifted apart. As we reported at the time, singer-guitarist Matt Taylor moved to Brooklyn, keyboardist Craig Hendrix moved to Kensington and drummer Todd Schied and bassist Brad Kunkle stayed in Wasssergrass. They met up for weekly rehearsals and recording sessions, built their new album up track by track – but a hard drive crash later, everything was lost.
Two years down the road, the same four guys are making music together, but under a different moniker – Mammal of Paradise. Taylor reasons that so much changed between the meltdown and the move, both personally and sonically, that it was in effect a different band.
Indeed, differences are easy to find on the self-titled debut from Mammal in Paradise (released to Bandcamp in December). Aderbat’s signature was downtempo minimalism; it never would have done anything as fierce as “Two Headed Swan,” a rough-hewn guitar number reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate. Aderbat also never would have done anything as base as “Hey Mister,” a clumsy pop paean to the dying beast that is radio (“Hey mister DJ please, I’m freaking out.”). Thankfully, that’s the only misfire in a ten-song album, and most of the set a rich and progressive step forward from the four-piece’s previously stark starting points. “Freeway Robber” has a punchy pulse and strong vocal performance from Taylor stretched across haunting feedback strains. “I Wanna Go Back” pokes and prods in unconventional tempos; it’s challenging and ultimately rewarding. Other numbers echo Aderbat’s aesthetic , indicating that these guys will never fall tremendously far from the tree: “Saw the Thing in Half” references the stoic deconstruction of aughts Radiohead, and brilliant closer “Anyone’s Song” is as warm and comforting a comedown as the closing title track of Sea.
Conclusion: Mammal of Paradise shows tremendous growth from Aderbat. And if the band deems that the growth necessitated a new identity, we’ll roll with it, and keep our eyes peeled for its next release. Meanwhile, Mammal of Paradise plays its Philly debut tonight at Kungfu Necktie to benefit the Little Berlin artist space in North Philly. w/ Sweet Sister Ray Band, Pile of Girls, Charmaine’s Names, The Other Band, Ladies Auxiliary, Puppetyranny, No Face, 7 p.m., $10, 21+, Kungfu Necktie, 1250 North Front St., Kungf Necktie.com
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll: that classic cliché is the best and perhaps only way to describe what happened at the Theatre of Living Arts on Tuesday night when Canadian electro-punk and indie buzz-band superstars Crystal Castles played host to a sold out crowd. Alice Glass, Crystal Castle’s ferocious front-women, had broken her ankle earlier in the tour. Despite pressure to cancel all remaining shows due to the injury, Alice responded to doubters the only way she could: with a simple “fuck you.” In show business they always say “the show must go on,” and Crystal Castles did put one hell of a show, broken ankle and all.
Glass and producer Ethan Kath initially appeared on the gloomy stage as silhouettes in the dark, shadows moving only as figures of the audience’s imagination. Suddenly, as the phasing pulse began thumping, the group unleashed its one-of-a-kind brand of electronic terror onto the crowd. In a daze of fog, strobe lights, and color, Alice and Ethan gave the crowd what they came looking for: a nightmarishly violent 8-Bit storm of electronic beeps, tones, samples and screams. Despite her injury, Alice was still her maniacal self, yelling her shrill echoes into the night. She repeatedly thrust her tiny frame into the audience, hands raised high into the air, and fell into the flowing mass that was the crowd.
Crystal Castles played all the songs you would expect to hear from both of their self-titled albums. The crowd romped to the robotics of “Crimewave,” the chaos of “Alice Practice,” and the nocturnal sleez-fest that is “Untrust Us.” The only track I saw as noticeably absent was “Vanished,” the one tune I find that everyone refers to as “That-One-Song-by-Crystal Castles.” Despite that omission, all the tracks set the perfect ambiance for the group’s dirty and un-refined lo-fi electronic sound. As Crystal Castles played their grimy, guttery mix of electronic dance music and Game Boy glitches, the crowd fell into the sex- and drug-filled fantasy that Crystal Castles’ music creates. In a perfectly fluid way, the entire audience gyrated, swayed, and most of all, perspired together as they gazed blankly into the eyes of Alice. Alice seemed to be possessed by all sorts of demons and her glare was legitimately frightening—every time her black eyes crossed yours, you felt like you were looking straight into Hell.
Overall, Crystal Castles' set was everything I expected- short, violent, sexy, and very sweaty. Despite the occasional horrors of the night, it was so hard to look away or not find lustful pleasure in Alice’s twisted gaze and the music that it spawns from. The band’s intensity and fury is very hard to not appreciate and it was truly as captivating a concert-going experience as it was uncomfortable. Something still doesn’t sit well in my mind after looking in the void of Alice’s stare, and it’s something that can only be found when listening to Crystal Castles. It is a dark, gritty, and lonely place—but a place that keeps you coming back for more.
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