Archive: April, 2011
If you still don't know what fracking is, the Oscar-nominated Gasland is a good place to start figuring it out. Writer/director Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary looks at the hydraulic drilling process developed by Haliburton to pull natural gas out of the ground.
That wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that the companies executing said frack don’t really say much to the landowners from whom they're buying fracking land. A lucrative offer from an energy company to lease their property comes with little or no explanation until their land is raped and water is flammable. Some would say becoming an energy superpower is worth most inconveniences. Then again, some would say that all Hitler wanted to do was better the roads and septic systems of Germany. From Texas to Pennsylvania, drilling companies are buying up properties in anticipation of a drilling boom and finding legal loopholes to inject toxins into the ground. Adding insult to possible injury is the fact that our government is allowing the natural gas industry to profit at $2 billion annually while but paying zero tax. Contrast that with education budget cuts, the recent decision to neuter DEP Field Inspectors by not allowing them to give violations to drillers illegally dumping and the current findings of a study showing that natural gas may be dirtier than coal — oy.
Iris Marie Bloom from Protecting Our Waters will give a 15-minute intro, and there’ll be a Keynote outro from David Masur of PennEnvironment from Harrisburg. Go get educated. (To read more about fracking, visit The Naked City blog, category: FrackTrack.)
Gasland screens Wed., April 13, 6:30 p.m., free, Mugshots Coffeeshop & Cafe, 2106 Fairmount Ave., mugshotscoffeehouse.com.
On the April ball and gala tip, nothing beat the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts' (PIFA) opening soiree that was held with you and 849 of your closest friends eating Wolfgang Puck’s food and watching French aerialists at the Kimmel Center. I say “you” because I couldn’t make the Thursday Kimmel bash due to mega work commitments. Besides, I had a funny feeling that either Pia or Stefano were going to get voted out of American Idol and I wanted to catch it. Oh, America when will you learn?
There was a greater factor at work as well — I was saving myself for the next night’s PIFA VIP bash/runway fashion show with South Philly’s Ralph Rucci. Rucci won the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Visionary Award for Fashion — handed to him at the end of the runway by Anne Ewers, President and CEO of the Kimmel. Rucci is a sweet down-to-earth man (who I’ve chatted with for several publications including this one) whose connection to the French is a solid one. His definitive Balenciaga-meets-Capucci-like designs have made him (in 2002) the first American couturier in more than 60 years to be invited to show in Paris by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Rucci showed his haute couture collections in Paris for the next three seasons to boot. Just as cool and doubly colorful was the fashion show run by Sharon Waxman Productions featuring Wilhelmina models with designs by local lums like Sarah Van Aken, Carmelita Martel, Janice Martin, Bela Shehu and Philadelphia University's Kaitlyn Doherty.
Plus, if I wanted to catch aerialists, flame swallowers and stilt-walkers I could just wait a day and hit the PMA’s Art After Dark Vivid Gala where proceeds went to benefit the Museum’s education department. Michael Schmercomish and Nancy Glass were there but they give me a headache so I concentrated instead on the diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiviiiine must-see "Roberto Capucci: Art Into Fashion" exhibition. I knew a great deal about Capucci and wrote about the exhibition from my memory with having studied him and seeing select pieces in other shows around the globe. Seeing so much of Capucci’s sculptural algebraic wizardry in one large beautifully staged exhibit (chronologically, from his discovery in 1951 to more recent pieces) was breathtaking. The cool thing was that Vivid asked people to dress in Capucci-inspired colors. A few folk did. That was OK, I suppose. Good thing, though, that I had a cocktail. Then, the next thing you know, the live auction occurred: Two aerialists started flying above the Great Stair Hall, an artisan cake by Classic Cake’s Chef Robert Bennet got served on the “skirts” of live models and the sculptures started dancing. I’ll have another cocktail, please.
Sandwiched between these events was the Gift of Life’s "THEParty" at the Four Seasons, where I got a chance to hang out with my favorite smart-dressing couple: Don and Renee Freeman, the local face at the forefront of the swanky charity. Icepack fans know I’m a great advocate of this organ donation event as I mentioned THEParty previously and even sstopped by the Gift of Life’s Home Cook Heroes launch party at their new Family House at Fourth and Callowhill the week previous. The ninth annual Donors are Heroes and Gift of Life's 'THE Party' raised more than $100,000. Brava and bravo to all y’all.
For a lot of people—including myself, until recently—“modern art” is a dirty word. It conjures up images of a single brushstroke on a canvas or a painting that’s all one color. Sure, these might be innovative, breaking with artistic tradition, but what is a person unschooled in art history supposed to make of them? We’ve all heard the standard response: “My six-year-old could do that.”
I can understand this viewpoint. Some art is weird for the sake of being weird, and I can’t say I’m particularly moved by the paintings of, say, Mark Rothko. But lately, when I hear people say they don’t like modern art, I just get confused. What I’ve learned from exploring the Philly art scene is that there’s simply no such thing as “modern art.” That’s because of its incredible diversity: Working for City Paper, I’ve seen pieces ranging from realistic paintings to photography horses built from lightbulbs. The only thing uniting these works is the fact that they were created recently. You can’t lump a Rothko painting together with a remote-controlled system of gears—but both would be considered modern art.
It’s completely fair to say that you dislike, for example, impressionism. It’s a recognizable style: There are identifiable similarities between, say, Monet and Pissarro, even to my untrained eye. Many of their subjects are outdoors; they mix colors for effect; the brushstrokes often give their paintings a kind of speckled appearance. On an even more basic level, they both use paint. If you don’t like Monet, it’s entirely possible you won’t like Pissarro.
The same cannot be said, however, of any pair of contemporary artists. Just because you don’t like a book artist doesn’t mean you won’t like a mobile designer. They’re completely different, but the works of both artists are found in contemporary art museums. Unlike impressionism, modern art isn’t a genre or style—it’s just a reference to when a piece was created. I’m ashamed I ever wrote it off.
Alaskan folk rockers by way of Portland, the Builders and the Butchers are playing Philly tonight with Damion Suomi & the Minor Prophets and Katie Barbato of The Sleepwells. Having previously toured with Philly's Man Man, The Builders and The Butchers bring their unplugged-esque sound and very analog dual drummers to the Northstar Bar (27th & Poplar streets) at 7 p.m.
Getting their start as street musicians, they got their start the same way many indie bands probably do ... wondering the streets of Portland and playing outside music venues. That was 2005, and now they're touring their third album, Dead Reckoning.
Check back tomorrow for a review and photos from our music editor, Patrick Rapa.
Intern Diana Palmieri put her iPod on shuffle. This is where it led her ...
1. Matchbox Twenty, “How Far We’ve Come” – Exile on Mainstream (2007)
I loved this song when it first came out and I loathed it a week after that. It probably didn’t help that I made it my ring tone, simultaneously pissing myself off and everyone else around me whenever my phone rang. The rushed beat and hectic pace makes me feel like I’m on speed whenever I listen to it.
2. Michelle Branch, “Breathe” – Hotel Paper (2003)
If there is such a thing, this is the epitome of white girl music. From Branch’s Hotel Paper album, it is a definite mood lifting kind of song. If I could drive or had a car, this would be playing with the windows down on an open road.
3. Strays Don’t Sleep, “For Blue Skies” – Strays Don’t Sleep (2006)
This is a song that doesn’t need anything but soft music to accompany the powerful lyrics. Although written about the sentencing of lead singer Matthew Ryan’s brother to 30 years in prison, this is one of those songs that can be placed in almost any context and still be relatable to anyone having a hard time with forgiveness or acceptance.
4. South, “Paint the Silence” – From Here on In (2001)
Whenever I hear this song, only one thing comes to mind: Ryan and Marissa’s first kiss on the Ferris wheel. I still remember the moment that my 14 year-old self, wide-eyed in front of my TV and sighing with a pillow clutched to my chest, was watching The OC when South’s lead singer belted, “How can you say your life is empty?” as the characters locked lips. It was a great television moment, but it was one-upped by an even better song.
5. The Cure, “Pictures of You” – Disintegration (1989)
I’m a big fan of The Cure although I usually can’t get behind a song that doesn’t actually start until nearly two full minutes into the track, but this is the exception. The melody has just the right amount of whimsy and really prepares the listener for the lyrics that are to come.
6. Guns N’ Roses, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Classic rock at its best, this is one of those songs that everyone should have on their iPod, even if they don’t have any other by that artist, kind of like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me all Night Long” or Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It is from the band’s 1987 debut album “Appetite for Destruction” and was their first and only #1 single.
7. Rihanna featuring Drake, “What’s my Name?” – Loud (2010)
Part of me hates me for loving this song since it is so over-played, but I can’t help it. Everything Rihanna’s been putting out lately is about sex, either blatantly or not so much, and this one is no different. I’m usually not one for updating my music library too often, but I couldn’t help fork over the $1.29 (damn inflation) iTunes demands in exchange for this pleasantly obnoxious repetition of lyrics and beats.
8. Sister Hazel, “Elvis” – Fortress (2000)
This is in my iTunes library because I accidentally bought the whole album, instead of only purchasing “Change Your Mind” off of Fortress. It is too country-sounding for me, and I’ve never listened to it in its entirety until now. It isn’t about Elvis, but about separating belongings after a break-up, including one person’s “big painted velvet Elvis.” Who would want that?
9. Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car” – Tracy Chapman (1988)
I’ve loved this song ever since I heard it when I was younger on radio stations my dad always had on in the car. For the longest time, I thought that Tracy Chapman was a man. My world was officially blown when I found out that the manly-ish voice behind “Fast Car” has lady parts. Either way, “Fast Car” has such beautifully poignant lyrics that make me pause whenever I hear it.
10. Dashboard Confessional, “The Brilliant Dance” – The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (2001)
I’m shocked that Dashboard only made one cameo appearance on this shuffle, because I own just about every song they’ve ever put out. This song, which is such a lovely track with lead singer Chris Carrabba’s dreamy voice solely accompanied by an acoustic guitar, has such simple lyrics about a jaded heart after a break-up. Every time I hear it, I can’t help emit a mental ‘aww’ when he belts, “This is incredible, starving, insatiable, yes, this is love for the first time.” It’s a little emo, even a little whiney, and probably mostly reserved for people who eat that crap up. (Guilty.)
On this, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (it's also the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight and Clare Danes' birthday, FYI), we're giving away a copy of Adam Goodheart's 1861: The Civil War Awakening. Tomorrow night, Goodheart will make an appearance at the National Constitution Center for a talk with Penn prof Richard Beeman. (Oh, and speaking of the Civil War, "Abraham Lincoln" will be tweeting (!), giving us the scoop on the early days of the war, leading troops into battle and how the hell he avoided hitting his head walking into those tiny 19th-century doors.)
Here's what Shaun Brady had to say about tomorrow's event, in last week's Agenda section:
Apu had it right the first time: In the Simpsons episode where the Kwik-E-Mart proprietor took his citizenship exam, he answered a query about the cause of the Civil War by launching into a lengthy disquisition; the Proctor quickly interrupted with, "Just say slavery." That about nails what most of us believe about the onset of our nation's bloodiest conflict, but as Philly native Adam Goodheart reveals in his new book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening, the battle meant different things to different people across the borders of states, class and ideology. Timed for the sesquicentennial of the war's outbreak, Goodheart's book looks past the usual heroes and villains to find lesser-known players who nonetheless had their own part in the now seemingly inevitable build-up to the Union-threatening schism. Goodheart, a writer for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and others, will discuss the book with Penn prof Richard Beeman.
Wed., April 13, 6:30 p.m., free (reservations required), National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., 215-409-6700, constitutioncenter.org.
To win a copy of the book, be the first to correctly answer the following trivia question:
Abraham Lincoln had many pet names for his wife, Mary. Do you know at least three?
E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win!
Each week, Emily Apisa puts together a rundown of book-centric events that’ll keep you “lit” all week long.
Wednesday: The leader of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, confronts the longstanding stereotype about the Jewish community and its relationship with money in his book “Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype.” The Gershman Y is hosting Foxman, and he will read excerpts from his book which tracks the history of anti-Semitism from Biblical times to modern day Wall Street. Wed., April 13, 7:30 p.m., $8, The Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St., 215-545-4400.
Thursday: In this memoir, Philadelphia sports and the ways in which they bind together fathers and sons are chronicled. Author Tom McAllister wrote “Bury Me in My Jersey” after his father, a fellow Eagles fan, died of cancer. McAllister will read selections from his book explaining his ceaseless dedication to the Eagles, the ways he coped with the loss of his father and how those two seemingly disparate worlds may actually be related. Thu., April 14, 5:30 p.m., free, Temple University Paley Library, 1210 Pollett Walk, 215-204-2828.
Friday: Despite the fact that we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, we do…luckily, artist Mikey Burton is making those oh-so-judgeable covers a little more interesting. At this event, listen as Burton describes his creative process and his inspirations for redesigning the covers of some of literature’s most celebrated classics including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and Animal Farm. The modernized images on the front sleeves may spark enough interest to lure even the most discerning bookshelf browser. Fri., April 15, 6 p.m., Free, The Central Library Room 108, 1901 Vine St., 215-686-5322.
Saturday: Donna Leon, author to the long string of crime novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, is coming to Philly promoting the 20th addition to her series. In “Drawing Conclusions,” the usual protagonist scours picturesque Venice, Italy in search of clues to prove that a widow’s death was not due to a heart attack, but something more violent instead. At the reading, Leon will also be selling and signing copies of her book. Sat., April 16, 7:30 p.m., Free, Blauvelt Theatre at the Friends Select School, 1651 Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-561-5900.
Sunday: Author and human rights advocate Linda Rabben will be discussing and signing her book “Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present, and Future of Sanctuary.” Rabben’s book uses historical and anthropological evidence to explain why humans are compelled to give asylum to strangers in dire situations. In addition to the social compulsion to provide sanctuary, Rabben also looks at legal compulsion including modern governmental policies that reinforce the idea that offering asylum is a pervasive aspect of human nature. Sun., April 17, 11 a.m., Free, Moonstone Arts Center, 110A S. 13th St., 215-735-9598.
Monday: April is National Poetry Month and the Free Library’s Falls of Schuylkill Branch is celebrating — don’t be a party-pooper. Local poet and Temple University professor Kevin Varrone will read selections from his work at this event. Varrone has published books of poetry infused with Philly flavor including “g-point almanac: passyunk lost” and most recently, “The Philadelphia Improvements.” Mon., April 18, 6:30 p.m., Free, Free Library Falls of Schuykill Branch, 3501 Midvale Ave., 215-685-2093.
Tuesday: In his book “Here on Earth” author Tim Flannery starts from the very beginning (a very good place to start) as he delves into the impact of human civilization on the Earth. Starting with the Big Bang Theory, this thorough investigation into the Earth’s evolution, tracks the ways humans developed, too. As part of the Philadelphia Science Festival, this Australian born scientist and author will be reading from and signing copies of his book. Tue., April 19, 6:30 p.m., Free, The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-299-1000.
So the government didn’t shut down after all. That should give you even more reason to celebrate America when July 4th rolls around. Okay, so that might not be the best reason, but the lineup of the annual Welcome America celebration’s featured concert should lift your spirits. Curated by Roots drummer/coolest guy in town ?uestlove, the Fourth of July Jam will feature performances from R&B cornerstones Earth Wind & Fire, yacht rock crooner Michael McDonald, fiery newcomer Sara Bareilles, and more. Of course The Roots themselves will be performing, making this a kind of sequel to the previous month’s Roots Picnic. Also slated is a 40th anniversary salute to Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records and the requisite fireworks display. It is the Fourth of July, after all.
The July 4th concert is free, and more information about the entire Welcome America festivities (including its sister celebration, Taste Of Philadelphia), is available at welcomeamerica.com.
The Philly Sketchfest participants who also dabble in stand-up are performing a comedy showcase at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sanson St., 215-496+9001) tomorrow at 8 p.m. The first half of the show will be a stand-up comedy ace, with the second being a Sketchfest preview of sorts. Money raised will go to fund this year's PSF.
Inspired by the wildly popular SF Sketchfest (San Francisco being the hometown of co-founder Ben Maher), PSF is organized by Maher along with Dave Terruso and Matt Lally — the Previously on Lost auteurs of Animosity Pierre.
The show is $12 bucks, and watching each performer do both sketch and stand-up will illustrate the strengths that cater to scripted dialogue comedy vs. monologue joke telling. Because who wants to see a comedy show without a little anthropology, am I right?
Joining Animosity Pierre will be by BAD Creations (Darrel Charles and Monroe Martin), the Feeko Brothers (Billy Thompson and Christian Alsis), and Hate Speech Committee (Aaron Hertzog and Brendan Kennedy and guests).
On the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka comes a phantasmagorical retelling in Basil Twist’s masterful puppetry.
Petrushka plays the impish clown next to a ballerina with cartoonish grace and a dashing, scimitar-wielding Moor. Petrushka, always thrown aside by the puppeteers, longs to be loved by the ballerina, who rejects him, and a tragic love triangle ensues. The clown follows the ballerina to the Moor’s room, where he throws a tantrum, and then has to flee for his life.
We follow the action through the ether of Twist’s kaleidoscopic glowing shapes, classic Russian cities, and feral creatures. Twin pianists Julia and Irina Elkina lend a dreamy fantasy to the show, playing the original score by Stravinsky below the stage. Petrushka is surprising in its depth of emotion and liveliness of the puppets, achieved through Japanese and Czech methods you get to see in a demo after the show. Petrushka is one of those children’s stories anyone can enjoy because it’s artful and says something about life.
Through April 16, $20-$30, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut St., 215-898-6702, annenbergcenter.org.
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