Archive: May, 2011
As news outlets have been reporting over the past few days, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was the victim of a most whimsical protest/demonstration on Tuesday. At a Minneapolis book signing, Gingrich and his wife Callista were showered with a boxful of sparkly glitter that gay rights activist Nick Espinosa brought in his man purse. With a cry of “Feel the rainbow, Newt!” and “Stop the hate,” Espinosa was escorted out of the room by security. The glitterer was not charged with any crimes, which made me feel silly for not tossing a little sparkle on the former Speaker of the House when I saw him a few months back. Luckily, for Gingrich, Espinoza has implied that there could be more glitter on the way. Until then, check out the video above. The glittering occurs at :40.
For so many Philadelphians, springtime = race season, and that means on any Saturday on Kelly Drive, you're likely to be passed-on-the-left by hundreds of runners in training.
But all that personal-best pressure can take the joy out of running. Stephan Weiss, founder of Uber Endurance, wants to get back to the roots of the individual sport. Uber Endurance is a German-themed group that focuses on the fun of running and, just as important, the fun of the after-race.
Weiss teamed up with his pastry chef wife, Linda, to start a race club that embraces the calories just as much as the calorie burning. Having struggled with weight issues in the past, Weiss says, “Being married to a pastry chef leaves me only two options: having extreme willpower to resist the temptations in the kitchen or to become a hardcore runner for the rest of my life.”
In celebration of that balance, Uber Endurance has combined running and racing with food and post-race fun. Take for instance, the ½ Sauer, ½ Kraut, a half and full marathon race followed by beer and brats.
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady's weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning.
Gemini (May 19-June 21): Happy birthday month, Gemini! This summer, you’ll have everything: fireworks, bright beach days, those Fourth of July cakes with blueberries for stars and strawberries for stripes — everything, and it’ll be the sweetest!
Cancer (June 22-July 23): Your life is a celebration of edits and submissions. Proofread carefully. Make sure that even your status updates are grammatically correct. Feel free, though, to be immoderate in your use of exclamation points.
Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): “When Christo and I met, he was an artist and I was not. I became an artist only out of love for Christo, and if he had been a dentist, I would have become a dentist” (Jeanne-Claude). Your love is as generous as The Gates, so big it could wrap up the Reichstag.
In the '50s, most women were all about pearls and polka-dots. Not so much these days: Educated women are working shoulder-to-shoulder with men in offices, courtrooms and hospitals across the country.
But according to MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, women have a long way to go before work-world equality can truly be achieved. At an event presented by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, the Morning Joe co-host will read from her new book, inspired by her own experiences, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You're Worth.
In addition to anecdotes from Brzezinski herself, she'll read interviews with women from various industries across the country — including familiar names such as Nora Ephron and Joy Behar — who contribute examples of finding success and navigating a sometimes-sexist world. Men, too, are a crucial part of Brzezinski's investigation; for her book she spoke with Donald Trump and other big-time businessmen.
Like a 21st-century Rosie the Riveter, Brzezinski sends out a call for action: Working women, let's finally shatter the glass ceiling.
Mika Brzezinski reads from Knowing Your Value Fri., May 20, 4 p.m., $10-$90, Loews Philadelphia Hotel, 1200 Market St., 215-561-4700.
Philly native Shari Solanis stars in the erotic drama Now & Later, now out on DVD. Solanis plays Angela, an illegal Nicaraguan who takes in Bill (James Wortham), a banker-turned-felon who just jumped bail. The pair hole up in her apartment to talk politics and sex — and then have sex, and then more sex. While Wortham’s performance is about as stiff as his frequently visible erections, Solanis is compelling throughout. She makes Angela a feisty free spirit who's desirable for her mind and her body. City Paper talked — and talked sex — with Solanis on the phone from Los Angeles.
City Paper: What prompted you to make this film?
Shari Solanis: Well, there are not too many projects that are intelligent, interesting, and provide an opportunity to be creative. I think there is a lot of hypocrisy and Puritanism, and it’s very outdated. What’s wrong with the human body, and sex? Why can’t we talk about it? I wanted to be a part of a project putting forth that message.
CP: How do you prepare for the role, get into character?
SS: I watched a lot of movies, such as Last Tango in Paris, and I read a lot of books. The culture was what I had to really get in touch with. I’m mixed-race — my upbringing involved being raised in an all-white neighborhood in the Northeast. I went salsa dancing with our assistant director. That said, when I jump into a character, I don’t want to be too cerebral. I do my research, but I delve into it and … come what may.
CP: How did you identify with your character, whose background is revealed over the course of the film? What rang true?
SS: She’s artistic/creative, and very humane. I’m not Mother Teresa, but I care for people. Aside from the cultural differences, who she was at the core was something that I was able to sink my teeth into easily. I have strong thoughts about feelings and politics — my father was a Vietnam vet — and I’m outspoken and liberal.
CP: Angela talks about life — saying that we’re here by chance, that we should feel, not think, and make every memory as good as possible. How much of her philosophy do you subscribe to?
SS: I buy it intellectually — but is it something I am able to own at every moment? NO! I am a cerebral person but I don’t always have the [luxury] of enjoying the breeze on my face, and the taste of my food. But when I do, I do enjoy it. Especially as an American — which is what Angela’s speaking out against/breaking down for Bill. I’m on the other end of that lesson, as well. We care more about what’s happening tomorrow than today. I learned a lot from Angela.
This is it, gang. Either Brittani or Molly will be this season’s ANTM princess. But first, it’s shiny dimple Cover Girl commercial time, and both girls are more complex than some pollyanna Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms: It turns out Molly kicked a drug addiction through rehab, and Brittani lived on welfare as a kid because of her single mom’s anxiety disorder.
After interviews with IMG VP Ivan Bart, the girls did their takes for Cover Girl Lip Perfection with Mr. Jay. Molly had trouble being the sunny girlfriend character, while Brittani delivered a friendly performance after an initial nervous take.
The photo shoot was very different from cycles past. Cover Girl is going edgy, so instead of smizing at some imaginary person above left, both girls stared icily into the lens. Next was their Beauty In Vogue shoot with photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari. Pierpaolo and a Vogue Italia stylist thought Brittani was very professional, while Molly was pissy about the cold, and they said she lacked energy.
After the shoot, Molly was surprised by her parents at Dar Doukkala. She was overjoyed, but Brittani’s mom couldn’t be there because of her anxiety and recent back surgery. She was a little blue, but got to video chat with her.
My favorite new power couple in Philly is Dean and Christy Bottie Kitagawa. She’s a painter and muralist whose swell new student exhibition made of studies of the Divine Lorraine Hotel are the hit of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and will be on display throughout the spring. Dean is a local restaurant vet (FriSatSun, the Saloon) whose first-ever restaurant Rotisseur (on S. 21st Street, between Chestnut and Sansom) has been soft testing this week with mind toward a Mon., May 23, opening for his menu of cage-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken with veggie sides, all done up with products from local growers and farms in Lancaster. Ask for the succotash as a side and you’ll love me forever. But hey, why a BYOB rotisserie chicken spot? “I’ve seen tons of spaces fail and watched places have headaches with bartenders,” says Kitagawa. “Here, the bell rings and you know the chicken is done.” Along with partner Aaron Matzkin, Christy painted a gorgeous sunny mural on its walls to brighten up the spot.
Clark Maloney has, at one point or another, run every club and restaurant in Philly. He’s probably managed the square footage of space where you are standing. Now the managerial veteran Maloney has a new gig at the Walnut Street after-hours joint, Whisper. Along with being its GM, Maloney is now Whisper’s entertainment director. Maloney is bringing in Jazzy Jeff on May 25 and readying artist-centric after parties in June with Marsha Ambrosius, P Diddy and Ke$ha. Zach Seidman, Whisper’s valued previous EM, is rumored to be doing something similar at Tweed.
When Audrey Claire Taichman isn’t busy planning THE perfect dinner at 20th Street’s Twenty Manning (May 24’s bacon and beer collaboration with Dock Street) she’s tied up with a blog detailing the progress of COOKbook, her due-in-late-summer food lab. Taichman gets blogging help from COOK’s Jackie Baik and Lily Cope.
Guitarist Tim Motzer’s 1k label hosted “Sessions,” a live in-studio web cast on May 18 with bassist Tony Tidd and drummer Jeremy Carlstedt. Think Cream meets Eno. You missed it live so catch it and tons of other Motzer music at 1ksessions.com. Motzer was also the subject of an April article in Guitar Player Magazine on the making of Descending, an album he made with King Crimson’s Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto.
Kraftwork on Girard Avenue celebrated a one year anniversary the other night. I’m not sure which night after the mix of Fegley’s Brews and absinthe ginger ale vodka drinks.
As this column winds to a close, I wanted to give a quick overview of the Philly’s open mic scene so those new to the area—or new to open-miking—have a good sense of where to start. Over the past semester, I’ve been very impressed with the range of places to choose from—from coffee shops to bars, from truly acoustic to full-band setups—as well as the sheer number of available venues. Those looking to get used to the stage can find an event almost every night of the week.
Below, a few highlights of the Philly open-mic experience:
BEST OPEN MICS FOR BEGINNERS:
Milkboy Coffee (824 W. Lancaster Ave.) It’s a cozy little place with an appreciative crowd, a laid-back ambience, and good coffee. There’s no sound system, so it all feels very organic. And though Picasso Restaurant & Bar (36 W. State St., Media) has plenty of talented regulars, don’t be intimidated: it’s still one of the most chilled-out open mics I attended, and you’ll get a long performance slot.
BEST OPEN MICS FOR EXPERIENCED PERFORMERS:
The eight annual Art Star Craft Bazaar took over Penn’s Landing this weekend and, naturally, it rained. That didn’t stop tons of people from coming out to enjoy music, food, crafts, though. In case you didn’t get a chance to stop by, you can still order homemade goodies from pretty much all of the vendors that participated. Here’s my top six (cause five simply wasn’t enough):
I’m so in love with these funky, hand-worked clothing designs. The appliqué and embroidery add the homemade touches every crafter goes wild for, but these pieces are totally wearable and look super comfortable and colorful. web.me.com/malagueta
It’s pretty much standard etiquette to leave a rock concert saying it was amazing. How often does a friend tell you she saw a band, and it was terrible — or even middling? Such rare evaluations are usually accompanied by a tone of surprise: “Actually, they really weren’t that good, believe it or not!”
In part, this is because people go to see bands whose music they already love — and the music is loud enough to cloak any bad notes. Listeners already have the songs in their heads, so instead of hearing the show, they’re just watching the band and listening to a flawless mental soundtrack. That means artists and sound guys can get away with not-so-great performances and still garner rave reviews from the audience.
I love rock shows, but I think they could be better. In the spirit of constructive criticism, here’s four ways to improve them:
1. Clarity before loudness. Way too often, I go to shows and can hardly hear anything but a pulsing, bass-heavy mess. Loud is fun; it’s part of the rock mentality. But when venues have to sell earplugs at concession stands—a bizarre phenomenon—they’re acknowledging that the music is too deafening for comprehension. Would you ever blast your iPod, then put in earplugs before popping on your headphones? That’s the logic here.
But it’s not just about hearing damage. What’s most bothersome is the inability to hear any individual instruments. When the volume’s pumped up, often all that’s audible is bass and drums—rendering guitars, pianos, violins, and everything else pointless.
2. Vocals should take center stage. When you send in a demo to a record company, they say to make sure the voice is far and away the loudest instrument. The same should hold true for live performances. As you’ve probably noticed, it’s incredibly rare that you can actually make out the lyrics over a full band, unless you know them already and can fill in the gaps. But vocals are the heart of popular music, from Britney to Dylan. So unless you’re being deliberately experimental, the singer should be by far the loudest thing in the mix.
3. Rope off a section for short people. I think I speak for all of us when I say we’d love to have a little area devoted solely to people under five foot eight. There could be a little sign like at amusement parks, but instead of saying “you must be at least this tall,” it could say, “you must be at least this short.” The special section wouldn’t necessarily have to be in the front: I’ve found that if the people up to 10 feet in front of you are short, you can see—even if there are taller people nearer the stage.
4. Have some benches at the back. OK, it’s not very rock ’n’ roll to need to sit down, but getting a breather from time to time might refresh fans so they can be all the more hardcore when they stand up again.
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