Archive: June, 2011
Ever since George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and our country’s other white-wigged founders roamed its streets, Philadelphia has been an essential part of American history. On June 23, the National Constitution Center will hold a discussion called Cradle of Liberty that examines that legacy.
Why come? According to NCC's Alison Young, it’s a matter of civic duty. “Philadelphia is the birthplace of liberty," she says. "As Philadelphians, and even as people in our region, it’s up to us to live up to the standards that the up-bringers of our constitution laid out."
While D.C. might overshadow Philadelphia, don't forget that our city was the site of the Constitutional Convention, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and it served as our country’s capital for the last decade of the 18th century. “Philadelphia kind of gets put behind D.C., now that [it's] the capital, but we like to draw many historical lines back saying why this is the birthplace of liberty,” Young reminds me. “It all started here with the Founding Fathers on Independence Hall.”
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase the city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
In today’s real estate market it can be hard to make the decision to sell. With a lot of families downsizing and a new wave of retiring Baby Boomers leaving their homes, it’s definitely a buyer’s market. But for those of you on the other side of the door, there's still hope. The key to selling a house today is attraction and allure. Besides total renovation, there’s no better way to get a leg up on the market than by staging. Staging entails arranging a room to be as appealing as possible to potential buyers. While most people take care of their homes and have a sense of pride in the way they keep it, everyone has certain tastes. Staging keeps options broader by fitting rooms in a way that suits more expectations.
To better understand staging and its influence on the real estate market, I headed to Luxe Home (1318 Chestnut St., 215-732-2001), a Philly-based interior design shop. Other than offering extravagant, rich and beautiful pieces, Luxe Home has been a one-stop shop for design consultation and, of course, staging. While the group often works with developers, they are open to every project. “It’s the same process in anything we do," says designer Katelyn Goodman. "Whether you are renting or selling, what we do is create the ability to envision the potential in a space."
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of an everyday, pop-culture-loving Philly dude.
If there was ever a tribute band forged specifically for bachelor party glory, it's gotta Get The Led Out, the American Led Zeppelin. Saturday night at the Electric Factory they played two long sets of Zep covers, played pitch perfectly per the album.
Get The Led Out seems to have mastered the crowd-please/nerd-please ratio. Their setlist didn't miss any "essentials" (i.e. most famous radio hits). But it skipped the second-tier radio hits for a bevy of deep-cut fanatic-favorites. Here's the run-down (as best I could text it to myself during the show):
If you picked up a copy of City Paper this week, you likely read A.D. Amorosi's interview with Philly music mogul Larry Magid, the man behind the Electric Factory curtain.
Initially Magid was hesitant to write a book about his biz:
"I couldn't see how anybody would want to read a book about my life," he says. "You have a life and some success, but the idea of sharing that story is difficult. Bill Graham [a fellow legendary concert promoter] wrote a book, and it's very interesting. But much of his family was wiped out in WWII, and he escaped a concentration camp. That's a life. I just escaped West Philly."
Then there was the idea of writing uncomfortable things. A book about sex, booze and drugs or anything salacious wasn't only distasteful to Magid, it was passé. "Kiss-and-tell memoirs were shocking maybe 30 years ago. So-and-so did drugs. There was a girl backstage. Who cares?"
But after Temple Press approached him with the idea, Magid realized there was plenty of story to tell:
"That's a worthy story," Magid says, "that we were a centerpiece to the counterculture here. It was happening all over the world and wasn't going to stop, but we might have been the catalytic agent in Philly. We were part of freeing up opportunities, the first restaurant renaissance, the buildup of Center City, that business model. Watching a city change around you was truly something to be part of."
The book's jam-packed with concert photos, posters and bits of history of the company Magid co-founded. To celebrate its release, Larry Magid will appear at the Free Library on Thursday, June 23, to discuss the history of Electric Factory rock with David Dye.
To win a copy of the book, answer the following trivia question:
What band, who played the first-ever Electric Factory show in 1968, gave this book its title?
Email your answer to email@example.com. Thanks for playing!
Monday: On the strength of a single album, Florence + The Machine have risen to superstar status. Alright, so they might not demand dressing rooms full of assorted yogurts or roadies sorting through bowls of M&M’s, but their quick path to international recognition is nonetheless staggering. There is perhaps no better time to take in the soaring, anthemic sounds of Florence Welch and her band than during the so-called ‘dog days’ of summer. Yes, yes, the song’s called “Dog Days Are Over,” but just go with me here. w/ Twin Shadow, 7 p.m., $30-$42, Festival Pier, Columbus Blvd. & Spring Garden St., 856-365-1300.
Tuesday: Formed by members of skuzzy pop favorites Cloud Nothings, Total Babes is a group of, well, skuzzy pop purveyors. Joyously overdriven guitars pound out simple power chords while the collective vocals shout beach-dazed hooks. It’s too bad this show is at an indoor venue, because Total Babes would cause quite the commotion if loosed outside. As side projects go, Total Babes aren’t really a departure from the main band, but you really don’t need an excuse when you’re music is this much fun. w/ Cold Fronts, A Lull & Sherman (The Band), 8 p.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Wednesday: You’ve most likely seen California duo Pomplamoose without even realizing it. The quirky, self-consciously adorable pair makes equally quirky ‘video songs,’ featuring spliced-together covers played on a variety of instruments. The group gained some widespread recognition during last year’s holiday season, when they were drafted by Honda for a series of giddy commercials. Their handful of albums and EPs contain plenty of covers and original material, but it’s the jubilant energy of their performances that is Pomplamoose’s signature. w/ Lauren O’Connell, 8 p.m., $18-$37, World Café Live, 30th St. & Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Thursday: Best known as the former leader of Pedro The Lion, David Bazan has been slowly but determinately building up his career as a solo artist. With a variety of influences from the wide spectrum of rock and pop, Bazan’s new album, Strange Negotiations, is his first to be written and recorded for a full-band since his days in Pedro The Lion. The album’s sound is alive and dynamic, compounding the more introspective tone of his solo debut, Curse Your Branches. The road to re-establishment isn’t an easy one for anyone to traverse, but Bazan carries on bravely. w/ S. Carey, 9 p.m., $12, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Walking into Comic Con Saturday was like walking onto a production set: There were tons of people dashing around in a hurry, the occasional celebrity sighting, hot girls just hanging around to be hot, and various people in costume. Unlike Hollywood, though, these crowds weren’t paid to be here — they wanted to be there. Adoring fans lined up in the PA Convention Center just to get their photo taken with Lou Ferrigno or Bruce Campbell, meet the artists behind Grimm Fairy Tales and Uncanny X-Men, or have their try at a lightsaber battle. And, of course, there were the people who came for the chance to be their favorite hero and villain for the day.
Saturday, the heaviest traffic day for the convention, is also the best day to spot folks in amazingly realistic costumes. Fans go anywhere from donning a mask or buying a Spiderman suit to piecing together the perfect Jedi wardrobe with years of precise tailoring. No matter the costume or attention to detail, most people say the same thing when asked why they dress up: “Because it’s fun!” I asked two separate Batmen why they wear the costume. One responded: “I love doing this because it’s the only time I can wear this costume and not be arrested.”
It’s obvious, too, who the real celebrities are. While Adam West and Bruce Campbell sat nearby, crowds flocked to the man dressed in a scarily real Hulk costume. The moment the Hollywood stars take off their masks, their celebrity is gone. The characters and the fantasy become the stars and anyone with a half-decent sewing machine can partake. So while you may think the mega-geekfest sounds like a waste of a weekend, it may be just the fantasy you’ve been missing.
The Daily Show's Peabody Award-winning writer Paul Mecurio performs tonight and tomorrow at Helium Comedy Club. This week he talked to us about his unlikely transformation from Wall Street lawyer to comedian and getting his first big break from Leno.
City Paper: How did you get started doing comedy?
Paul Mecurio: I got to see Jay Leno perform at a private function back when he was first starting to host the Tonight Show. I had amassed some jokes while I was working on Wall Street and I offered some of them to Jay after the show. He called me back saying, "I can tell you're a lawyer, you're too wordy! You don't need to tell me where and when to make the funny faces, just get to the joke!" And a few days later he read one of my jokes on the opening monologue and I got $60. It was the most powerful moment of my comedy career.
CP: Any good horror stories from the early days?
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.
In my experience, hardly any record store owner will admit to catering to one type of music fan. Understandably, they see "specializing" as a negative thing, because it suggests that their store has no variety and most people won’t be interested in visiting. The owner of Noise Pollution Records and Collectibles (619 S. Fourth St., 215-627-7246) is no different and when I asked him if the store sees any demographic coming in regularly, he responded, “It’s all across the board. We get anything from young teens to older customers buying classic rock [and] DJs buying soul, jazz guys and metal heads.” I’m not saying he misled me (in fact there was a great deal of variety and options for every type of fan he mentioned), but he underplayed the impressive punk and hard rock collections that define the shop.
While plenty of vinyl stores can amass large collections of classic rock and jazz records, Noise Pollution has been carrying a notably large punk and hard rock selection since 1991. When I asked how many vinyls the store carries, the owner replied “more than you can count.” Although the punk collection remains the stores biggest draw, there is definite validity to the claim that they have something to attract all sorts of customers. There are 45s of all types, a big bin of discount records and a huge CD collection as well. I’m told they’ve also carried eight to 10 Beatles albums signed by John Lennon.
I’m not a huge fan of punk records, but I appreciate their value on wax and can tell you that if you’re in the market for them, this store is worth checking out. Noise Pollution is in a great location, the owner is extremely friendly and although their collection would appeal primarily to those looking for hard rock records, all vinyl fans would enjoy a visit.
The Art Making Machine wants to take your stuff. But don’t worry, you’ll get something in return. The Machine, a collection of studios with the FLUXspace gallery in the middle, is hosting a studio swap meet tomorrow. You bring your unwanted materials — whether they’re art supplies, artwork or anything else useful — and you take home someone else’s. Artists are invited to register a five-foot-by-five-foot space to display what they’re trading: those things that “you keep in the studio because it’s great and you love it and you think one day you’ll use it, but you won’t,” says Shaun Baer, a studio member.
And it’s not just for artists — this event is open to the public, too. You can bring in your life-sized stuffed armadillo and perhaps pick up the complete works of Stephenie Meyer. There’s just one caveat: the Machine is putting the “emphasis on cool stuff, not junk,” Baer notes.
Sat., June 18, free, 2 p.m.-6 p.m., Art Making Machine, 3000 N. Hope St., artmakingmachine.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for a space.
Black Music Month rolls on. All June long, Critical Mass will be featuring videos of some of our favorite artists from now and then.
There's been a lot of wistful talk of cowboys in recent years. With all respect to Paula Cole, I couldn't care less about that. When I'm longing for days gone by, I want to know where have all the good falsettos gone.
Old school R&B, especially of the Philadelphia variety, was replete with fantastic countertenors. Today, only a select few have high notes that are swoon-worthy. It's not just a switch in style, a lot of the fellas heating up the R&B charts today just can't reach those upper levels.
That's why when I heard Mateo's "Doubt," I was more excited than a suburban housewife discovering a new outlet mall. More excited than an ice cream addict on free cone day. More excited than Snooki at a bar full of juiceheads. You get the point ...
Mateo is more than just his falsetto. The versatile crooner glides through genres and registers, brought to you by the producer of Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor. "Don't Shoot Me Down" (featuring Goapele and Ab Liva) is the lead single off the mixtape Love and Stadiums, available for free download on Mateo's website. I love the vocal pairing on this track. They sound like they're calmly, but persistently chasing each other. Be sure to take this one with you before hitting the road. The vocals and bass make for great summer driving music.
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