Archive: June, 2011
Black Music Month has rolled in, so all June long Critical Mass will be featuring videos of some of our favorite artists from now and then. Let's get it poppin’ with Aloe Blacc. He sang the above cover in his encore Thursday night. Too cool.
Aloe Blacc’s vocals are arresting. The first time I listened to his debut album, Good Things, I couldn’t get over it. I didn’t know whether to sway and clap on my feet in my pew or bob my head in respect of a flow that crazy. For all of his rich and melodic belting, he could easily slip into hip-hop tinged percussiveness, and at times, combine them. (When he combines them, he is most compelling. It seems like he’s touching on the spirituality behind his desperation, or the reverse.) Blacc began his musical career as a rapper and sings effortlessly, confidently. His confidence is also striking, even more so in person. When Blacc walks on stage, you know that he knows that he is one bad (shut-yo-mouth!).
Intrepid CP entertainment reporter Peter Chawaga sets out on a weekly mission to find the best, quirkiest and - most importantly - still operational record stores our town has to offer.
Walking into Long in the Tooth (2027 Sansom St.), I was overcome with a distinct vibe. The dark artwork on the sign, the black and white posters on the walls and the huge collection of punk rock and heavy metal records suggest that the store is designed for a certain demographic — one that appreciates a good Mohawk and utilizes safety pins heavily in their wardrobe. After only a few minutes of talking to the cashier and digging through the stacks, however, it became clear that almost any fan of vinyl could find something they would want to walk out with.
In response to my first impressions, an employee told me that they don’t want to be “unfairly pigeonholed." And it shows in their collection of over 10,000 vinyls that include genres you can’t find anywhere else — from psychedelic rock to old school Jamaican dub. They also have plenty of 45’s and collectibles, including a mono first press of The Doors 1967 debut album for $65, and a huge jazz collection. There are also some hip-hop records and an impressive new releases section.
But with standard record store gets aside, Long in the Tooth is still the place to go if you’re looking for rare records or oddities. And the friendly staff — who has a passion for bringing in stuff that you can't find anywhere else — say the collection gets weirder and rarer every day.
A painful reminder of the gloriousness of life
With a smirk and a nod, the lights dimmed on what was a fitting end to a masterful retelling of life in its purest form — through the eyes of the beholder. Vigil’s only characters, a sexually stifled middle-aged banker and his aunt on her death bed, waltz through the onslaught of rants and quirky monologues that take up most of Lantern Theater Co.'s production.
For two hours, Vigil's main character (Leonard C. Haas) tends to his aunt whom he believes to be dying, dousing her with an ample supply of butterscotch pudding and tragic accounts of his dismal childhood. Throughout the nephew's tales of neglect, his aunt speaks mostly with her eyes, save for a few whimsical utterances at key moments. Aside from the nephew's revealing dialogue, what's really striking is his body language. Through animated jeers and jerks, the pain built up over a lifetime of bottled-up resentment comes through crystal clear, adding to and unbuckling the layers of the plot.
The play keeps the audience guessing, embedding subtle hints about the nephew’s past in seemingly innocuous sections of dialogue — like when the nephew recalls his father’s suicide right after telling his aunt about how his mother shipped him to a Catholic school because "all the queers grow up to be priests anyway.”
At play's end, once secrets are revealed and dust settles, it becomes clear that all the words had been said that needed to be said.
Vigil runs through June 12 at Lantern Theater Co.
SNL's Goat Boy is performing all but one sold out show this weekend at Helium Comedy Club. This week he chatted with me about how much he looks like Kevin Bacon, cleaning up his act and, as always, heavy metal.
City Paper: Have you ever Kevin Bacon-gamed yourself?
Jim Breuer: Absolutely. I look like him a lot — to the point where [I] went on a cruise ... at 16, a bunch of teenyboppers were asking for my autograph. They were pretty convinced I was Kevin Bacon. He's stayed in great shape. I've given myself some pudge over the years. But I'm back in shape, I could maybe pass as his brother, but I don't have that hair ...
CP: What tricks are keeping you in shape these days?
JB: Fighting my food addiction. After any meal, I feel like I should be treated with a big fat chocolate chip cookie. I love pasta. I can eat six slices of pizza without blinking — even if I'm full. [After] weeks of eating grilled chicken and salad I'll throw two weeks worth of work out the window for a pizza. Now I jog a couple times a week. It's amazing what jogging does. It gets rid of everything.
Christopher Seybert dishes on the week's best and (mostly) worst moments in daytime talk.
Just a phone call away…
It’s good to have friends in high places. Not that I have any but I’ve heard. Regis Philbin has a lot, though; he just has to remember their names. When news broke that Republican titans Sarah Palin and Donald Trump met in Manhattan on Tuesday, everyone wanted to know the details.
After talking about the story on Live with Regis and Kelly’s Host Chat segment, Kelly was mad that Regis didn’t get the scoop from his good pal, so they could discuss it on the air. This led to an impromptu, on-air call to the Trumpster. He revealed that Palin asked to meet him, they dined at Famous Famiglia Pizzeria, and she played it coy when he asked about her potential 2012 presidential candidacy. Perhaps, a tactic she learned from the Trumpster himself?
Teresa promotes her Fabulicious fight
Like every other American with no life on Monday nights, I tune into The Real Housewives of New Jersey. It brings me back to my Jersey high school cafeteria, when "prostitute" and "whore" were terms of endearment — unless, of course, they're used in the same sentence.
One of the show’s stars, Teresa Giudice, on a nationwide book tour for her second cookbook Fabulicious, stopped by Ellen on Wednesday. Talk quickly shifted to this season’s infamous christening brawl between Teresa and her brother, Joe Gorga. The aftermath will air for the rest of the season, but Teresa told Ellen that watching the footage still upsets her. Ellen generously gave her a bedazzled megaphone to help break up future fights. And if you’ve ever heard Teresa’s voice, you’d know that’s the last thing she needs!
Serving Paris and a side of Kathy
One reason I love The View is because an interview can begin with a compliment of a guest’s Chanel suit and end by accusing the fashionista of murder. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.
On Wednesday, Paris Hilton was joined by her Nicole Richie’s replacement, her mother Kathy Hilton, as they promoted their reality show The World According to Paris. After some small talk, the co-hosts skewered Paris on why she was doing a show that paraded her partying and shopping, instead of focusing on her charity work since she’s been trying to shed her party girl image. The answer: They need to appeal to an audience. If that audience is Paris’ collection of pets, then I’d have to say they nailed it!
Congratulations, graduates: You’re about to step into the so-called “real world.” It’s a daunting task at a time when the economy is struggling, jobs are scarce, and a pizza guy is considered a viable presidential candidate. But never fear — here are 5 tips to building a bright future.
1. Move back in with your parents. It’s often rent-free, at least for the first year. You get free food, too. Living with your parents can be difficult, but it’s no more difficult than living with a random Craigslist weirdo. You’ve already done it for 18 years; you know what you’re getting. Plus, it’s the cool thing to do these days: it qualifies you as a full-fledged member of the boomerang generation. For us, it’s almost a rite of passage.
2. Don’t feel compelled to tell people what you’re actually doing. Let’s say you’re living with your parents and working as an unpaid floor-mopper at an Apple store. You’re at a party, and an attractive person asks you what you’re up to these days. You absolutely don’t say, “I’m living with my parents and mopping floors for free.” Instead, open with, “I’m working for Apple.” If the person presses you, asking what you do for the company, give them a version of the truth: “I get rid of bugs.” See? Double meaning. Find one for your job.
The next question is always, “Where are you living?” Don’t mention the parents. Just say the city. If it’s in the suburbs, use the pronoun “we”: “We live in Ardmore.” That will make them think you’re already married and have a mortgage.
3. Avoid vague Facebook browsing. You can be sure that your few friends who do get impressive jobs will make a big deal out of it, with lots of self-congratulatory status updates about how stressed they are. Meanwhile, the vast majority of your friends, who are struggling just like you, will keep quiet about their employment situation. The result is that it will appear that everyone but you has a job, which isn’t true.
4. Always be applying for grad school. You never have to go; you just have to have at least one application partially filled out at any given time. That way, if people do find out you’re living with your parents, you can explain that you’re doing it while you apply, making it sound as if you very wisely chose to live with your parents to save money, rather than being forced due to lack of cash.
5. For those darkest of days, when you think things will never pick up…there’s a simple solution: dailypuppy.com.
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): My psychology-major brother says that your brain is programmed to tell you things’ll never get better after you make a mistake, but it’s not true. Things always get better. Make charts and graphs to prove it.
Cancer (June 22-July 23): The stars appreciate your listening ears, generous even while you’re at work, even when you are supposed to be doing important things with machines. Heart-glitter and grateful tears to you.
Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Do some really good nothing. Remember watching whole seasons of TV series in one or two sittings? Remember perfect inertia, alone or with someone sweet? Accomplishments can forget it, just for delicious now.
CP's Brian Wilensky's on a mission to hit up every karaoke haunt in town — and then share all the mellifluous details.
Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar (1200 E. Passyunk) in South Philly has been a diverse neighborhood staple for over 70 years. This is clearly evident in their weekly karaoke night, which caters to a crowd from all spectrums of the social chain — from dark-framed-glasses nerd types and the tattoo-clad to loud party girls and those awkward old men that remind you of the uncle you only see on holidays.
Host DJ Lars starts at 9:30. I knew it was going to be a classic karaoke night when the first song I heard was Pat Benetar’s “Love is a Battlefield,” complete with cheesy dance moves (holding her nose and shimmying down like she was ... sinking?) and a raised fist to the line, “We are stroooooong!” Later, a female trio sang “No Scrubs,” by TLC. They started off strong, you know, when singing karaoke seemed like a good idea, but they basically gave up by the end. Better luck next time ...
Someone named Regina took the stage — which is a cramped corner underneath a sign reading, “NO RIFF RAFF” — and sang Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” as if it was the karaoke national anthem. At this point of the night, she was the best and it was her birthday. So you go, Regina! Next, a guy named Sean tried singing “Maneater” and, despite bringing people to their feet to dance, he was a far cry from Hall & Oates. It wasn’t until the end of the night when Leah stole the show with "Paul Revere" by the Beastie Boys. “I was so nervous, they sped it up!” she said afterward. But once she started rapping, nothing was stopping her. She didn’t even need to look at the teleprompter for the lyrics.
Turns out Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar is perfect for a Friday night when you and your friends just feel like getting in a few drinks and even more laughs. Take note, though, this isn't a smokefree bar, so come ready to take in a fair share of second-hand fumes.
The Nitty Gritty for Performers: Every Friday, 9:30 p.m., free, Ray's Happy Birthday Bar, 1200 E. Passyunk St., thehappybirthdaybar.com.
For a comprehensive list of Philly karaoke listings, check our online events database.
May is the season for television finales and, as comedies and dramas on a panoply of networks draw to a seasonal close, it seems only appropriate to sum up the goods and bads of this television year.
The Office, chronologically the first of the big four finales of the past two weeks, was a hope-inspiring end to the show’s last season with Steve Carell. I say “hope-inspiring” because the final episodes show that the sitcom’s writers can compensate for the loss. At times, the episode seemed to be over-compensating for the change (with guest appearances by comedy greats like Jim Carey, Will Arnett, and Ray Romano), but the hilarity engendered by most of these appearances (particularly a virtual appearance by Ricky Gervais, who played Steve Carell’s counterpart in the British series) made them well worth it. Flippant and unrepentant, the episode illustrated that, even with Carell’s departure, The Office refuses to shy away from the tongue-in-cheek irony that brought it to the top. (A)
Saturday Night Live seems to have reserved its funniest material for the finale episode, hosted by Justin Timberlake and featuring both musical and sketch performances by Lady Gaga. Although there were few new sketches, the writers re-hashed old favorites to craft a finale both side-splitting and nostalgic. Timberlake was a hilarious host (as always), and showed off his comedic talent in “It’s Okay When It’s in a Three-Way” (a vocal duet with Andy Samberg à la “D*** in a Box”). Gaga’s vocal performance was far from her best (singing and dancing at the same time is freaking hard!), but she absolutely delivered when it came to sketch comedy, dancing backup in “Three Way” and shaming Timberlake in “What’s That Name?”. Gaga and Timberlake were certainly the highlight of this episode; for once, Kristen Wiig (accompanied sometimes by Samberg, Hader, and Armisen) was not forced to carry the comedy of the episode alone. (A-)
If the rainbow street signs in the Gayborhood don’t give it away, Philadelphia is home to a large lesbian and gay community. But while an entire neighborhood plays home to many who identify as lesbian, gay or bi, the last letter of LGBT is largely left without a specific home. With the help of Philadelphia's Trans Health Conference (PTHC), however, that's all about to change.
Now in its tenth year, PTHC is the largest trans-specific conference in the U.S. — welcoming folks from across the globe. Generally, conferences aren’t something people flock to unless they include adult video stars or storm trooper costumes, so why does this health conference have such a following? Surprisingly, it’s not the medical advice or free food, but the sense of community that these spaces provide. Joe Ippolito, an FTM psychologist who has been on the conference's event committee for eight years, is interested in the way the event functions as a community space for the trans-identified. “The trans community as a whole is dispersed compared to the L[esbian] and G[ay] communities. The conference provides a place to meet, talk and share experiences for three days, providing reliable connections after you leave. It’s a community.” When asked what made Philly such a perfect spot for this large event, it was clear it was more than just the central location. The group who has been putting the event on since the early days is committed to providing a diverse conference that is free and accessible to attendees. Ippolito noted how important it was to keep everything free as the trans population is generally lower on the socioeconomic ladder, and sometimes homeless. The conference provides free meals to those who need them as well as several outreach groups. Few events this large could sustain this level of aid, but this Philadelphia-based group, along with Mazzoni Center, is committed to the cause.
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