Archive: June, 2012
Sorry it took a minute to process Atlantic City’s Revel, the $2.4 billion hotel/casino on its opening weekend with Beyoncé in tow.
A glass-and-steel structure 710 feet high (NJ’s second talent building) filled with nearly 2,000 rooms (each with a bay or ocean view) and a 130,000 square-foot casino is plenty to consider. The pop-soul queen’s show at Revel’s 5,050-seat Ovation Hall was just gorgeous icing on an extravagant cake. And I didn’t even get a chance to sample restaurants (Philly’s Jose Garces has three) or the spa.
The Ovation is a wide room whose acoustics were stellar and sightlines were great. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house as Beyoncé, her all-female band and crew of dancers, wound through the most spell-binding light-and-visual display I’ve witnessed since Roger Waters’ “The Wall.”
While loud geometric symbols popped behind her, Bay (never in better voice) sashayed and dry-humped as she made silly tough-girl faces. She raced through the femme-empowered “Run This World” with its heart-beat bass rumbling through the Ovation and turned a mash-up of “Naughty Girl” and the late Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” into a snaky delight. Beyoncé slowed to a romantic shimmer on heart-break ballads such as the heavenly “Halo” and a handily grand version of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” While the smashing “Crazy in Love” had the thrilling sonic vibrancy of a fast train riding off its rails, the quick dance-off “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” shook even harder.
With that, it was difficult to know which was more epic — witnessing Beyoncé at her best or Revel at its start.
We're looking for a diverse group of everyday Philadelphians to represent his or her hood in our 2012 City Guide, a glossy intro-to-the-city mag we publish in the fall for Philly transplants. (See a copy of last year's here.) Here's a rundown of who we're looking for:
WHO: You. Philadelphians who are passionate about their hoods. Men, women, gays, straights, black, orange, couples, Siamese twins, bartenders, local business owners, hookers, whoever. You!
WHAT: Your photo, along with a quote, will be featured in a section all about your hood — which'll feature our guide on everything from the area's best restaurants and bars to a rundown of that district's council person and bus lines.
WHEN: You would schedule a time with our staff photog, Neal Santos, preferably in the afternoon between June 20 and July 18.
WHERE: You'll be asked to choose your favorite spot in your neighborhood — whether it be a park or a random corner with your favorite street art. The more creative spots the better.
WHY: We're looking to add local voices and faces to our magazine this year, to put together a personable, all-inclusive guide that exemplifies why our city rocks balls.
To be considered, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with (1) a photo of yourself, (2) a quick blurb about your favorite spot in your neighborhood and, of course, (3) tell us which neighborhood you live in. We need all entries by Wed., June 20.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey covers the people and events that are giving Philly the giggles.
Last night, Canadian-born standup comedy legend Norm MacDonald performed for a jam-packed, sold-out show at Helium. He did his usual ultra-conversational, "laid-back uncle" style of banter on topics like cannibalism and the out-of-control adult film industry (he seemed to do a good half-hour on each). His 2011 DVD, Me Doing Standup was an instant classic, and Norm did the same type of observational material in which he always finds the mundane in the bizarre — or vice versa.
MacDonald generally baffles me, because his punchlines make so much sense that they almost seem obvious. But he has a way of putting it; a style of delivery that is uniquely his own. When you buy a ticket to see Norm MacDonald, you're not really paying to hear jokes, you're paying to spend time with his personality. This is not to say that his writing isn't sharp. It just always seems ... funnier than it should be.
If you're uninitiated, check out the video below from his special, in which he puzzles over why serial killers always seem to bury their victims in a "shallow grave."
MacDonald always sells out in Philly, and this weekend is no exception. Helium even had to a Sunday show at 7 p.m. Head over to heliumcomedy.com for tix. While you're there, pick out a night of Philly's Phunniest to come support local comedians. The seventh annual contest will be running throughout the summer.
To sleep: perchance to read. The Dead Bards of Philadelphia welcome all ye with a penchant for poetry (or an old-fashioned love affair with a rivaling family) to come read your words or those of a favorite author. Join them tonight at their Open Poetry Night as they awaken Shakespeare’s ghost at The Spiral Bookcase (112 Cotton St.) at 8 p.m.
For those who love stomping through Center City, the Pride Parade is only one chance to do so this weekend. The other is Philly Dyke March 2012, which will pound the pavement beginning at 3 p.m. in Kahn Park (11th and Pine streets) tomorrow. An annual event, the Dyke March gathers lesbians to protest against the domination of male voices amongst the LGBT populace.
Organizer Morgan Levine of Stimulus Productions hopes to “reach a record number of attendees this year,” setting the bar at 750. While allies have always been invited to the rally beforehand, she mentions this year they are now welcome to march along in unity. Planners behind the march come from a wide variety of lesbians spanning numerous cultural backgrounds, and hope the makeup of the protest will reflect this diversity. Club Adesso (10 p.m., $7, 1519 Walnut St.) will give marchers the chance to cool down afterward with a party thrown by Stimulus.
What a Phillies game is to a ball fan, a Story Slam is to a storyteller. But even though bookish types are often pinned as glasses-wearing, cat-loving, indoors-huddling nerds, don't think they can't hoot and holler with the passion of a true phan. Story slams are a place to don your best thinking cap and spin a killer tale that will win the ears of the crowd. The competition gets fierce: Aside from relaying an exciting series of events, good storytelling requires confidence, conviction and delivery.
Every month at World Café Live (3025 Walnut St.), the First Person Arts Story Slam embodies this spirit of creative competition, providing a platform for some of Philly's finest tale-spinners. The rundown is the same each time: Ten names are drawn from a bucket of brave volunteers who are each given five minutes to tell their story on a given theme. Audience members score each performance on a ten-point scale, and the highest-scoring competitor wins an invite to compete in the prestigious Grand Slam. A winning story could land you the title of Best Storyteller in Philadelphia, and a bad story? Well, screwing up could be just the inspiration you need for tonight's story theme, “My Favorite Mistake.” Starts at 8:30 p.m., $10.
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): It’s time to plan birthday parties, complete with elaborate fireworks and superhero-themed cake. Make a list of all of your presents, tangible and not. Send real paper thank-yous for all.
Cancer (June 22-July 23): Listen to the music of everything your loved ones say. Compose it into melodies and hum along wholeheartedly, as if you’re out on the open road, out on the world’s best road trip.
Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Take your summer bonus money and buy a vacation, even if it’s a little one. Get time to gaze into your sweetie’s eyes, write gratuitously in glitter-emblazoned notebooks or catch up on your Firefly episodes.
Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Do what you need to do and don’t worry about who presses “like.” OK, worry a little, that’s OK, but for the most part, give yourself to real and present things, like dancing, or walking or cuddle parties. If you do try a cuddle party, I promise you this: You will be closer to your inner Reid Mihalko by the end.
Crowds poured into Johnny Brenda’s last night for a sold-out show with New Zealand indie legends The Clean and Ohio noise rockers Times New Viking. The latter opened with a short but energetic set comprised with a mix of songs from recent Merge Records debut Dancer Equired! and other noisier albums of the past. While still tossing out the usual head-banging rhythms, something felt amiss without the lo-fi distortion of the group’s earlier recordings. Fans were not very responsive themselves until the trio of shitgazers hit the high of 2007 hit “Teenage Lust”, reminiscent of the original days of punk. After breezing through a few more songs including “Fuck Her Tears” and “It’s A Culture”, Times New Viking vanished off the stage just as quickly as they had entered.
After a just as brief intermission, second trio The Clean took to the stage as part of their first American tour in years. Instrumental “At The Bottom” began the set with a toe-tapping beat showcasing the talents of witty drummer Hamish Kilgour and bassist Robert Scott. Through the rest of the set, the two would lay driving background to which David Kilgour would tear through with his noisy guitar. While the audience wavered less than with Times New Viking, it still took a few songs until everyone finally grooved along with “Drawing To A Whole”. Notably, The Clean seemed to ignore 2009 album Mister Pop in favor of more beloved songs from the rest of their 31-year career. First encore “Safe in the Rain” revealed a gentler side of an otherwise driving band represented by the much requested final encore “Tally Ho!” Despite an audience at times lethargic and sets deviating little from album versions, both acts were lively enough to make the night worthwhile.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Bye 32 Degrees. Hi Harrison Ford. Yahoo craft sodas. Boo Cheshire Agusta’s wounds. Shake Shack porn. Pianos on The Porch.
Old City’s 32 Degrees — the first bar in Philly to do that bottle service thing — closed over the weekend after a solid 10-year run. You could joke that there goes the neighborhood, but Barry Gutin and Larry Cohen (profiled as part of last week’s cover story on Delaware Avenue) own the swellegant Cuba Libre restaurant next door, the block’s last true remaining tony outpost. (Then again, who knows what Joe “Dog” Schultice has planned for his take-over of 32’s downstairs neighbor, Nick’s Roast Beef, a longtime grog-n-gravy-soaked respite of mine when I lived across the street.) It may have been a minute since I’d been to 32 but there were good druggy times had (by me and mine when me and mine still imbibed) and weird introductions made in the VIP section with Kiss’s Gene Simmons, a tight-assed Jeremy Piven and Mark Wahlberg just-barely-out of his Marky Mark phase.
As I mentioned several weeks ago in Ice Ill, Harrison Ford will be in town for filming purposes. The reason: Paranoia, a tale of corporate intrigue filmed by a British production company co-starring Liam Hemsworth, Embeth Davidtz and Gary Oldman. Hemsworth is busy getting engaged to Miley Cyrus and lensing Empire State in New Orleans. Oldman is ready to bask in the glow of The Dark Knight Rises along with heading into preproduction on RoboCop, Monster Butler and Motor City. And Ford is currently wrapping up 42 where he’ll play legendary baseball scout Branch Rickey. “We’re expecting a late July start in Center City mostly for Paranoia,” says Sharon Pinkenson.
Can’t lie won’t lie. I miss Espers, the most sensuous entry in the nu-folk movement that just happened to come from green Philadelphia. Cellist and singer Helena Espvall was an Espers as who also spent time with The Valerie Project, Sharron Kraus/Meg Baird’s act and did sessions for Masaki Batoh. Currently she can be found with Brooklyn improvisationalists Azure Carter and Alan Sondheim, making a sci-fi-gypsy album called Alan Sondheim/Helena Espvall/Azure Carter Trio (through Philly’s Majuma Music label) and debuting its wiry songs with Dan Joseph on June 9 at Highwire Gallery, 2040 Frankford Ave. Go and get mesmerized.
And speaking of Philly girls making experimental music, West Philly’s Cheshire Agusta — the goddess of pummel for Stinking Lizaveta — got swiped on her bike quite badly the other day, smashed up to the tune of a fractured tibia for which she had surgery earlier this week. One: pray. Two: Get ready to cough up some money for her. She’s going to be off the metal drum stool for a minute.
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