Archive: September, 2009
The '70s and early '80s were a mixed bag for Philly ' we had the Bicentennial celebrations that drew attention from the world, and we had the horrific MOVE bombing, which, even today, not nearly enough people outside of the city are aware of. The Print Center's (1614 Latimer St., 215-735-6090) exhibit "Streets of Philadelphia: Photography 1970-1985," featuring works by George Krause, James B. Abbott, Nancy Hellebrand, Paul McGuirk (whose piece is pictured) and other artists, focuses on these strange times. Another Philly-ish exhibit that the Print Center is putting on is "There's No Place Like Here," which showcases Nadine Rovner's photographs of the southern New Jersey suburbs she grew up in. She captures the slow-moving, weirdly comfortable parking lots, diners and highway roadsides of the 'burbs in all their depressing, mythical glory. The opening reception for both shows are on Wed., Sept. 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Click the jump to see a piece by Rovner.
Philly's favorite grumpy old men (and woman) will perform their show live this Thu., Sept. 10 as part of the Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging's festivities at United Way (7 Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-665-2500). No, you don't have to be elderly to attend. Well, not officially: The show, followed by a talk with creator Mark Brodzik and the gang, will be filmed from noon to 1 p.m. On a Thursday. So that rules out basically anyone who has a job, along with anyone who doesn't have a job and is sensible enough to sleep until noon. I guess Joe has his bedtime to get to, though, huh? In the rare event that you can make it, be sure to RSVP by today by e-mailing PCA planner Kate Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling her at 215-765-9000, ext. 5072. And peep at the latest show up top ' in it, Joe talks about weed.
"I mean for fuck's sake. We're the birthplace of the nation and people are asking me about cheesesteaks? I'm over it."
|McElhenney as Nightman|
City Paper: Where are you right now?
Rob McElhenney: I am on the streets of Beverly Hills [laughs], not far from the Fox lot. And we are just getting some last minute things together for the tour, and the premiere. I think we're like a week and a half out now. So, everything's coming to a head.
CP: Those two Philly shows sold out so quickly.
RM: Yeah, in fact I'm spending a lot of my time kind of dealing with that, interestingly enough. We knew it was going to be a little bit of a clusterfuck but we weren't sure how much so. Specifically in Philadelphia, which is why we added a second show. And we thought well, a second show, at the Tower ' regardless of how quickly the first one sold out ' can't sell out as quickly and it wound up doing so. So, that's a good sign. But I have all my family and friends there so I wanna make sure that they're all taken care of. It wasn't like they had a long time and then got lazy and didn't do it. They really were trying to get tickets and kinda got pushed out.
CP: So you're trying to score them some tickets.
RM: I basically have, I think, 96 requests, so far. And that's just my immediate family and some close friends. But I know the barrage is going to come any day now.
CP: Right now you're one of the few faces people think of when they think of Philadelphia. How do you feel about representing Philly?
RM: [laughs] That blows my mind to even hear that. I never even thought about it like that. I don't know. I definitely enjoy the fact that maybe now when people talk about the city that this is maybe some sort of frame of reference as well. I'll tell you what I'm sick of. People hearing that I'm from Philly and asking me about cheesesteaks, pretzels or Rocky. I mean for fuck's sake. We're the birthplace of the nation and people are asking me about cheesesteaks? I'm over it. I'm hoping that maybe we can create one more, at least, talking point, for people when they reference the city of Philadelphia.
CP: Tell me about the live show.
RM: It's going to be pretty wild. What we decided to do very early on was is that if we were going to do this show, that we really had to go all out. The actual performance of the musical itself, even with a few new songs that we added, let's see the, I think, the running time of The Nightman Cometh production within the episode was maybe 12 minutes, 12 or 13 minutes. So we realized there's no way we can put on a live show, a 12 minute live show. So we obviously had to enhance that, so we wrote three new songs and put that in, and actually we're going to perform the entire episode leading up to it.
My guess is that everybody who's seeing the show has already seen the episode, so I think to see it performed live, with that fourth wall up and then once we begin the Nightman performance itself, you know, it's the characters performing in front of a live audience so that wall's gone and now we can interact with the audience because they're supposed to be a part of the show.
So we have a lot of stuff in store in terms of that. And we're definitely going to build this up in terms of not necessarily what we as writers or actors or even citizens think is cool, but what the characters might think is cool. Whatever the characters think is gonna be badass is what we're going to wind up putting in the show.
We're also screening a episode from this season, prior to. We're also showing an exclusive scene from a DVD, a Christmas special that we're doing, which is direct to DVD episode that we're releasing. And plus an opening band [Don McCloskey], so we're really excited.
CP: Do you have any stage experience?
RM: Yes, however minimal. Not really as a professional. Very little as a professional. Some off-Broadway stuff in New York but that's not even worth mentioning. But in terms of amateur work when I was a kid, certainly I was involved in musical theater when I was really young. And then I kinda stopped doing it in high school simply cause I wanted to drink beer and hangout for four years, which is what I did in high school.
CP: Tell me about Boldly Going Nowhere.
RM: Ah. Boldly is now in the hands of Larry Charles, who, I don't know if you're familiar with Larry, but he's a show-runner extraordinaire executive producer, he directed Borat and Bruno and he's the executive producer of Entourage and Seinfeld. And he saw the pilot that we shot that we all liked, but we didn't love, and he really liked it and said he would make a couple of tweaks and maybe he would kinda take it over because we're obviously busy with Sunny. And we agreed that this was a good idea.
So right now we're at script phase just making some tweaks and hopefully we're gonna go into production for the pilot in a few weeks, right after the tour.
CP: And Sunny just got re-upped, right?
RM: Yeah, after this year, it's gonna be an additional 25 episodes. We're gonna span those out over two years. and that's just a start, that's what we're contracted for, but you know if the audience keeps watching and still wants us to make episodes, we'll keep making them.
CP: Here's what I like about the show: The sorta outlandish things the cast does, they don't seem to be for shock value because they come from the kinds of conversations people actually have. People do think as stupidly or cruelly as these characters. The difference is that the characters actually do the horrible things somebody else only thinks about.
RM: I'm constantly getting people asking are you deliberately trying to push boundaries, are you trying to push buttons, are you trying to shock people, are you trying to upset people ' and it couldn't be further from the truth. In fact that's the opposite of what we are trying to be doing.
Ideally, our best episodes come from us sitting in the writers room, and saying what are we not seeing anywhere else and what are the conversations that we'd like to see on television that we're not seeing. Anywhere else, on CBS, or ABC, or HBO for that matter? Where are things that we'd be interested in thematically and culturally are fodder for entertainment, and at least a part of our genetic and social Americans, and how can we put that to use in terms of making a television show. So that's like the grandiose way of looking at it, but the simple way would be: How can we make ourselves laugh today?
But simply doing something just to shock people, honestly, that's what we sort of find offensive.
Look out, folks. More so than bowling, your dad has an even bigger reason to go and buy a Nintendo Wii.
Due out Wednesday, The Beatles: Rock Band places the mop top firmly on your head and the plastic guitar/bass/drum kit in your hand as you wail away on 45 of the Fab Four's songs (finally). For Rock Band and Guitar Hero aficionados, you're not likely to find anything too groundbreaking here, since this game is much more about the Beatles experience than changing the basic blueprint its predecessors laid down. The one innovation is the vocal harmonies, and in this version three people can each grab their own microphone and try and match The Beatles vocal chops.
Keep your eyes peeled for downloadable content Rock Band is famous for. Harmonix has announced that full Beatles albums, beginning with Abbey Road, will be downloadable and playable, with more to follow.
I didn't get a chance to play with one of the more fun options the game offers: new instruments that are replicas of the four's classic instruments. They're offered in a bundled package for about $250. Also, worried that we might crash their servers, Harmonix asked that we not try to access the online play functions, which should be mostly standard fare.
Changes from 2008's successful Rock Band 2 formula are minimal. In fact, the game is even more stripped down. Gone are the custom avatars - you've got no say over what John, Paul, George, and Ringo wear ' and the finger-blistering guitar solos and impossible drum beats are minimal. Developer Harmonix deserves some credit for not forcing anything here just to appease their hard-core, YouTube-bragging main audience. It's the simple fact that you're playing I Am the Walrus while your friend shrieks 'I am the eggman!' or your cartoony avatars send the young ladies of the 1960s into a complete frenzy is what makes the game so much fun to play. The emotional impact matters more than how many buttons you can mash.
Most players will spend the bulk of their time in the game's story mode, which traces The Beatles' history from The Cavern Club to their retreat into Abbey Road Studios. You begin as the lads from Liverpool, churning out classics like I Want to Hold Your Hand, eventually landing an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and concerts at Shea Stadium and Japan's Budokan. Accentuated with archival material ' like Sullivan's famous introduction - the art direction shines, and the set replicas, overworked bobbies, and screaming fan base fit the bill. True to their story, The Beatles retreat to the studio after swearing off touring. Figuring watching the four sit around in chairs in a studio for 20 songs would get a tad boring, Harmonix created some incredible dreamscapes that you don't need to be on acid to appreciate. At points, the game is as much fun to watch as it is play.
The biggest fans of The Beatles: Rock Band, obviously, will be existing Beatles fans. I'm not convinced this iteration of Rock Band will win over those born and bred on System of a Down and Mastodon. But for those who still have their (or their parents) 45s with the green apple on them tucked away in the attic, this game is a lovingly-crafted gift with a big red bow on it. Just don't play it with your parents unless you're willing to deal with their wedding reception-esque rendition of Twist and Shout.
First Friday Fete is a new Critical Mass feature where we tell you the galleries not only hosting the best First Friday shows, but also throwing the best parties. (And yes, "fete" is totally a snobby synonym for "party." We gotta make this classy somehow.)
-2424 Studios (2424 E. York St., 215-423-1800) made the list for keeping it simple. Their opening of "Five Dudes" includes the two essential elements of a party: beer and music. Yards Brewing Co. will be serving up the booze, and Tantrum Tonic will provide the music. Plus, we've been told they'll be anything but skimpy with the beer. The artwork featured includes Michael Xander's comic illustrations (pictured) and paintings, which are influenced by local landscapes, as well as paintings and illustrations by Noel Hefele, Ron Johnson, Shane Leddy and Matt Maloney.
-The opening of Brave New Worlds' (45 N. 2nd St., 215-925-6525) "What Makes a Man Dress Up Like a Bat?" gets a shout-out because of the free stuff they'll be giving away. In addition to the normal First Friday goodies, attendees will be able to pick up the latest issue of Philly Comix Jam. The artwork featured includes comic illustrations by the PCJ.
-And finally Hudson Beach Glass (26 S. Strawberry St., 267-319-1887), who'll be opening "Goofy Goblet Show," featuring glass goblets in the shapes of shoes, watermelons and seed pods by several artists. They'll also be opening their new bar tonight, filled to the brim with wine, snacks, coffee and tea. Plus, they'll be showing their first video installation: Dale Inglett's Transient Being. Oh yeah, and sometimes they do live glass-blowing. Which is pretty badass. And kind of hot.
Unfortunately, we couldn't hook up with Rebecca Wright before our Fringe issue came out, but we were so intrigued by Inside Julia Child that we couldn't resist a chat with the director, who also has a show called It's Hard Times at the Camera Blanca ' about circus performers during an economic recession ' going up at this year's Fringe.
City Paper: What's the thrust of this show?
Rebecca Wright: It's actually of a re-enactment of The French Chef, which was Julia Child's cooking show. It's the tart tatin, an apple tart, episode. He [John Jarboe] re-enacts the episode but it gets interrupted at three distinct moments from inner monologue, which is composed of Julia Child's writing. We did all this research so it's from Julia's writings. The monologues get more extended and intense and between all of them Julia goes back to to doing the TV show and making the tart.
CP: Why choose a man to play Julia Child?
RW: The actor John Jarboe ' the project came from conversations we were having. We generated it from scratch and he was always a part of it. There's something about her amazing attitude, especially when it comes to challenges and mistakes and failures. She also overcame so many obstacles and so many stereotypes. We wanted to make a show about Julia Child and failure, or imperfection is a better way of saying it. And that's a universal thing ' something experienced by men and women. So it's partly to universalize it and partly to make some disjoint in the show.
CP: Is her attitude what attracted you to Julia Child in the first place?
RW: That attitude, that working can-do attitude. Have you ever seen her old TV shows? She's an amazing performer. She seems really awkward and she makes mistakes all the time but she makes jokes about it. The first time I sat down to watch it, I thought, this is the worst performer ever ' she mumbles and stutters. But she's so great and so compelling because she loves what she's doing. She's understands it deeply and wants to communicate it.
CP: And what about the tart?
RW: Look, you can say a lot of things about this but it's half an hour long, it's $5 and you can get to eat at the end.
Inside Julia Child, Sat., Sept 5, Mon., Sept. 7, 9 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 6, 10 p.m.; $5, Philly Kitchen Share, 1514 South St.
We've always dug Nose G for the goofy, long-faced, mythical characters that pop up in his paintings. Earlier this year, I reviewed his exhibit "New Beginnings," which was up at Mew Gallery. (His real name is Yis Goodwin, BTW):
Goodwin is inspired by two very ' and hilariously ' dissonant styles. The first is graffiti, which is evidenced by his nom de plume (Nose G), as well as his paintings' lush, cartoonish colors and rogue aesthetics. The second, which is significantly less hip, is Sesame Street ' an influence that's apparent in his work's recurring bug-eyed, bodiless, goofy monsters that could be stunt doubles for the Yip Yips. Though comical, there is a sadness in these creatures. In "Striped Shirt for Life" (pictured), the monster's face is blue and quite long, with his chubby hands bunched nervously.
Tonight, he'll be making a big leap into the 3-D art world, by releasing his first toy in conjunction with Dreamland Toyworks. Goodwin's toy ' selfishly, perhaps, called "NOSE" ' is a green little bugger, with lopsided eyes, a crooked smile and an endearingly sloppy body. It seems like a good move ' as I noted up top, his work has always reminded me of something from Sesame Street, so I think this could appeal to both grown-ups and kids alike. Click the jump to see a shot of NOSE, and click here to see some of Goodwin's painted works.
Fri., Sept. 4, 6-10 p.m., free, The Toothless Cat, 1050 N. Hancock St., Suite 54, 267-319-1782, atthepiazza.com.
|The Man as a young
A little while ago, we called out for entries for a a WXPN Bruce Springsteen tribute to honor the Bossman's 60th birthday. The plan was to have Philly artists cover Born to Run (as a centerpiece) and other Bruce faves. Now it's all happening Sept. 23, so mark your calendars. XPN has the deets up. It's all free but you have to pre-register here in order to attend. Here are some musicians to expect:
Ben Arnold Band, Tom Hamilton's American Babies, East Hundred, John Train band featuring Mike Brenner, Sharon Little, James Maddock, Cynthia G. Mason, Dan May, Missing Palmer West, Phil Roy, Matt Santry, The Great Unknown, Theotis Joe, The Rigbees, and the Phill-E Street Band.
Lest we not forget, Springsteen will hit up the Spectrum later in October for a final bow at the Spectrum. And 'cause it's Friday and who doesn't love "Thunder Road"? Here it is.
Wed., Sept. 23, 7-9 p.m., free, World Cafe Live Downstairs, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com.
Faithful Clog readers will remember that on Tuesday I told you about how Madam Tussaud's version of Wolverine was hitting up the FYE on Broad. What we didn't know was that Wolverine would be visiting ultimate Philly icon Rocky Balboa. And then we saw this picture:
That's a fightin' stance if we ever saw one. The only possible conclusion: Rocky v. Wolverine Cage Match!
In a to-the-death battle, who would win? Let's take a look at both sides:
- Adamantium skeleton
- Ability to regenerate
- Has claws
- Is a mutant
- Penchant for married women
- Poor attitude
- Hometown advantage
- Namesake movie won Best Picture (beating four superior movies: Network, Taxi Driver, Bound for Glory and All the President's Men)
- Everyone loves an underdog
- Lots of heart
- Wife is incredibly annoying (especially in Rocky II), brother-in-law is a douche
- Is human
- Is super old
But, look, here's what it all comes down to:
|This one is my fave. Doesn't the minivan in the back make him look like he's a
pissed off soccer dad, ready to kick some ass?
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