Archive: June, 2011
Each week, Peter Chawaga breezes past those big-name theater companies to turn a spotlight on the city's indie stages.
The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (PAC) is dedicated to reviving the best works of classical theater through workshops, readings and performances. Originally, co-founders Dan Hodge and Damon Bonetti intended to do four or five classical readings for a different company, but when that company backed out they decided to start the PAC to see their plans through. Since that day in 2008, they have been revitalizing classical theater throughout the Philadelphia area.
PAC has a short history thus far, but they have already collaborated with talented and diverse Philadelphia groups to present some of the most rarely performed plays of all time. To date, their production list includes The Duchess of Malfi at the Philadelphia Arts Alliance, Oedipus the King at the Broad Street Ministry and An Enemy of the People with Drexel University. Hodge told me that for them it’s all about collaboration. “Our main thrust is doing classical plays that don’t get produced very much and partnering with other artists and musicians to create a full event.” Their collaborations range from working with other actors to inviting visual and musical performers to bring their classical productions to life.
Through their dedication to the community and wide-ranging collaborations, PAC is wholly immersed in the local theater scene. "[I'm grateful that] Philadelphia provides a depth of curiosity and connection to history you don’t get with regional markets," says Hodge. "There’s a desire for that which makes what we do possible.”
CP's Darren Ankrom put his iPod on shuffle. This is where it led him.
1. Coldplay featuring Jay-Z – “Lost!” Already a great song in its own right, “Lost” is made even better with the addition of Jay-Z. If you listen closely, Jay is making a strong point — he uses musical (Biggie and Pac) and conveniently rhyming historical (Jesus, Judas, Caesar, Brutus) examples to prove that, “If you succeed, prepare to be crucified.”
2. The Doors – “Alabama Song” In a 1970 performance taped in Detroit, The Doors take the audience on a brief, carnival-like jaunt. “Alabama Song” is actually a cover, first performed in a German opera from 1927. Given lead singer Jim Morrison’s extensive knowledge of performance history, it’s no surprise this song popped back up with The Doors.
3. Drake – “Best I Ever Had” His first hit, the one that single-handedly launched him into stardom, is surprisingly romantic given popular themes in today’s rap. I’m willing to bet it’s also synonymous with freshman year for most 2012 college graduates — I don’t think I attended a party that year without hearing this one.
4. Blink–182 “Dumpweed” From their live The Mark Tom and Travis Show album, Blink delivers a high-energy performance that manages to drown out the many screams of love-struck teenage girls. Not an easy feat. Judging by their dialogue with the crowd at the end of the track, it amazes me how much Tom in particular has grown up since then.
Neighborhood Watch looks for Philly’s most fashionable. This week, Diana and Kelsey look for trendsters in the Gallery at Market East
Sharon models her funky shorts in The Gallery
While window-shopping in The Gallery at Market East, we found Sharon (28) grabbing a last-minute iced coffee before catching a train. After talking to her about her ensemble, we learned that she pulls her influences from the likes of Jessica Alba and the Olsen twins.
Her outfit was from some of her favorite stores (printed shorts from Century 21, shirt from French Connection and necklace from Forever 21), but the key to her heart lies in her petite Marc Jacobs bag. We loved her Urban Outfitter’s shoes as well, but Sharon told us she wished she was "wearing different shoes, these are so old and worn!”
Philly Aids Thrift is teaming up with Philly Side Arts to add a little extra zing to their new storefront in Queen Village.
Philly Side Arts, a website that connects area artists and craft makers to local initiatives and gallery openings, is bringing Philly artist NoseGo to give a painting demonstration this Friday. The piece is expected to be 2 feet by 3 feet and include the Side Arts logo. “NoseGo often likes to take pieces of existing art and put in his own new colors [and] characters,” says President and Side Arts founder Todd Hestand of the locally based artists who typically mixes fine art and grafitti to concoct his signature creations.
Philly Aids Thrift, a nonprofit business that distributes all proceeds to 30 different HIV/AIDS service organizations, recently moved from Bainbridge Street to a new department store-sized location around the corner. “It’s a great looking store,” Hestand says, “and they have lots of wall space, so we’re hoping to do more with other artists.” The new store is already open for business and is always accepting donations and volunteers to help them move into their new location before the upcoming grand opening celebrations.
Fri. July 1, 6-8 p.m., free, Philly Aids Thrift, 710 S. Fifth St., 215-922-3186, phillyaidsthrift.com.
Matt Cantor puts Generation Y-ers on blast.
Last week, I wrote about the difficulties of a Gen Y-er at a reunion. This week, I’d like to expand to a more general peril: the formal social gathering, or “party.” These aren’t the same as the parties we knew in college, where it was perfectly acceptable to adorn one’s head with a lampshade (or so I hear. I’ve still never seen anyone do that). No, these parties are an adult phenomenon, where a glass of wine is more ornamental than functional. The primary goal is to “chat” — code for making contacts to advance your career. Some parties are fun. These parties are work. So how do you survive them?
Like many twenty-somethings I know, I’m still trying to figure it out. Everyone thinks that these situations are uniquely important to their own fields. People in politics say it’s all about who you know. People in entertainment say it’s all about who you know. People who work in zoo management say it’s all about who you know. The fact is, it doesn’t matter where you work — meeting people is key. We need a one-size fits-all guide to handling these so-called parties. I cannot provide that guide, but I can certainly complain about them. Then maybe someone can tell me what I’m doing wrong.
As far as I can tell, there are three points to the compass of social navigation: Entering, Extending, and Ending conversations. Let’s look at each one. (For the sake of argument, we’ll use zoo management as our field.)
Each week, Dylan Rhys Williams reviews a new childrens' book that'll twinkle the imaginations of kids and kids at heart.
Iconic graphic novelist and science-fiction author Neil Gaiman has accrued a respectable cult following with his unique (and often downright creepy) literature. But his new novel is certainly worthy of the wide acclaim and the 2009 Newbery Medal it has received. The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins), a modern retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book, chronicles orphan Nobody (“Bod”) Owens' adventures being raised by ghosts in a small graveyard in his hometown. Finding himself embroiled in an international underground conspiracy involving an order of professional assassins, Bod must use the lessons he’s learned from his ghostly encounters to fend off evil and find his rightful place in the limbo between death and life.
The Graveyard Book is a brilliantly woven and hauntingly beautiful tale. Told in a series of interconnected vignettes, the story teeters on the edge of doom without falling into negativity or despair. Its no-nonsense attitude regarding death and celebrating human life while embracing mortality as just another step in our journey, comes as a dissenting voice in a society that fears our demise. Children will love Bod’s various graveyard misadventures and the novelty of his relationships with the ghosts, but Gaiman’s descriptive richness and tongue-and-cheek narration will especially appeal to adults. This is a perfect book for reading together, and a potential starting point for the difficult discussions we must have about death — with both our children and ourselves.
Two years ago, Jimmy Rollins teamed up with Red Bull in an attempt to break the record for the longest batted ball. That record was held by Babe Ruth for a 576-foot slugger. In 2011, it still is. Year after year, Rollins has stuck with this event even through injury, but the stars just haven’t been aligned for the Phillies’ shortstop. Many wondered why he had been chosen to pursue the Guinness World Record. He has no history as an epic slugger. Yet, Rollins’ business relationship with Red Bull and his interest in the task landed him the spot. Jimmy currently holds three world records — including the most plate appearances in a season — so it comes as no surprise that he wanted in again. So, being no Ryan Howard or Mark McGuire, Rollins and Red Bull sweetened the deal with a souped-up bat for his latest attempt on Monday.
While the Guinness World Record rule book says you can’t modify the ball, there were no stipulations on the bat. So sports and science were again asked to collaborate on a slugger that would help Rollins with the extra footage. Dr. Alan Nathan, a physicist from the University of Illinois with an interest in sports science, worked on the bat originally. According to Nathan, Rollins was aided with a composite bat that was hollowed out. The hollow bat produces a “trampoline effect” that propels the ball farther than normally possible. Nathan also looked at how Rollins’ batted his homers and used that information to transform the bat. But even though Rollins was warmed up and ready for the challenge, there was only so much this team could do. The weather wasn't totally cooperating, with strong breezes pushing against Rollins and his task. And try as they might, physicists can do little to redirect natural winds.
Keith Morris, original frontman of Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Philly’s own Dimitri Coats, brought his hardcore punk act, OFF!, from L.A. to Philly to open for Dinosaur Jr. Friday night at the Electric Factory. Generously speaking, the length of their songs may have topped off at one minute each. And there were only two breaks in their 45-minute set that lasted more than a hot minute. The first happened so Morris could share how happy he is to still be able to kick ass on stage at the age of 56. The other was to dispel their connection to Black Flag when a fan yelled for “Nervous Breakdown.” “Sir, you must have me mistaken for someone else,” Morris said after a pause.
The pace that OFF! set was disturbed when Dino Jr. was interviewed onstage by former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins. This was a special affair only included in the first eight shows of their tour. Rollins prodded at Dino’s early days, wanting to hear about their earliest touring van and how the band felt about their 1988 album Bug. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a classic,” J Mascis said modestly. Rollins ended the questions by asking about a supposed performance on the couch of someone’s apartment in Europe. The band just looked confused, not recalling a single note of it.
J and the rest of Dino Jr. came back out, starting with You’re Living All Over Me’s “The Lung” and Green Mind's “The Wagon” before powering through both sides of Bug as if it was a new album they were promoting. The energized crowd was audible, singing along with J over his crunchy Fender guitar and the chord-strumming of Lou Barlow’s distorted bass. Speaking of which, Barlow couldn’t man up to scream through Bug’s send-off track, “Don’t,” admitting to hurting his throat too much on the opening night of the tour. To make up for it, they brought out Charlie, a Philly teenager donning a Joy Division tee. Gaining confidence as the song went on, the kid ended up lying on his back screaming as Dino Jr. layered more noise on top of him. They came back out for the encore — without Charlie — to play “Feel the Pain” and “In A Jar” before quickly left the stage with nothing but a wave goodbye. As for Charlie, his voice is still hoarse.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
As far as design is concerned, Bella Vista's Chapterhouse Café and Gallery (620 S. Ninth St.) could be the best coffee shop in the city. Surrounded by a modern layout with mid-century inspired tables and chairs, and artfully angled mobiles, you could spend your whole day there — and many people do. The space was designed from top to bottom by local craftsman Rob Cortez, who, with his wife Shannon and brother-in-law, own several buildings on the block that have benefitted from his artistic design aesthetic.
Cortez’s style is inspired by his years in the bespoke bike business and an upbringing around hot-rod cars. Everything he does is influenced by mathematical symmetry, the kind you see in a well-made road bike. You can see it in his reclaimed wood tables and the zillions of fragile and complex mobiles that flood the café. So you can imagine that his own space, the two stories perched above the café, is a showplace within itself. Like other buildings he has worked on, Cortez gutted the space and filled it with intricate tile work, hand-poured concrete counters, welded metal railings, and handmade benches. He created a masterpiece bath from an old dark room and closet. The floors were ripped up and reworked, with the leftovers crafted together to form a glass- and wood-framed door. The upstairs bedroom features open rafters and exposed beams along with newly drafted walls for his five-month-old baby girl’s room. The home is filled with his favorite pieces, which include a reclaimed dining table, two reclaimed benches, his favorite mobiles, a few mid-century pieces and several portrait paintings from Shannon’s artistic grandfather.
WHO: DJ Phsh
WHAT: Over the past few years, Matthew Fishman Dickerson (aka DJ Phsh) has become a rising talent who’s been honing his skills for a variety of crowds in venues across the city. Always holding it down with his expertise and dedication, he's recently earned a spot on the respected Illvibe Collective. At SUPERDOPE, his staple weekly party, expect a diverse selection of sounds and all kinds of people keeping it crunk on the dancefloor.
WHEN / WHERE: Tue., June 28, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., free, Fluid 613 S. Fourth St., 215- 629-3686, fluidnightclub.com.
WHY: If you need to get ya mind right on a Tuesday, this is a sureshot.
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