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.”
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 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 email@example.com to register for a space.
The West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival invites you to step outside your cultural comfort zone to explore music and artwork by regional and international artists. Meander through the marketplace, jam-packed with a multi-cultural mix of crafted creations; immerse yourself in live jazz, soul and reggae performances by artists like Chaka Khan, Chrisette Michele and the Philadelphia Freedom Jazz Orchestra; and indulge in an assortment of extravagant cuisine from around the world, catered by local eateries like Relish and Victoria’s Kitchen. Perfect for Father’s Day, this year’s festival also includes kid-friendly music workshops, live performances and an arcade accessible to all.
Fri.-Sun, June 17-19, all day, free, 7100-7400 blocks of Ogontz Avenue, westoaklanefestival.com.
Sunday's Odunde Festival was packed and hot, but that didn’t deter the vibe one bit. The streets only became more filled and more local groups carved out their corners to play or perform. “On days like these, I thank God for deodorant,” said the announcer. He couldn’t have been more right.
The only funk at Odunde was musical, and the smells that filled the streets were of vendors selling Jamaican, African and African-American cuisine. I heard that many people came just for the food. This made a lot of sense because all sorts of deliciousness were in abundance. There were countless vendors frying, jerking and candying. Many people were walking around with tubs, not cups, of freshly brewed iced tea and pink lemonade. I was lucky to enough to order curry crab. All I have to say is: Lawd have mercy.
There were bargains galore for people looking for handmade jewelry (I bought a pair of earrings that I saw for double the price on Etsy) or moisture-rich skin or hair products. There was plenty of stands selling waxes and oils, offering their own takes on Beyonce Heat, Halle by Halle Berry and scents named after the Obamas. Eau de Barack, anyone?
There’s not much people won’t do for cheap food — at least, that's what CP reporter Grace Ortelere noticed after last Thursday’s Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll.
With $10 in hand, I began the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll by walking down Baltimore toward 42nd Street. I kept waiting for some kind of sign — a banner, a slightly different smell in the air, anything. Then, I found it: a line that looked like it went on forever outside of an Indian restaurant. I walked a block up where I hit an even longer line outside a café. Eventually, I came to understand that the Dollar Stroll was less of a “stroll” and more of a “stand.”
I walked from line to line for about an hour and a half, during which I managed to eat two vegan cupcakes (coconut mango and chocolate peanut butter) at the Green Line Café, pork tacos at Jose Garces’ Guapos food truck (it was unclear whether the new truck, covered in used bottle caps, was a part of the Dollar Stroll or just taking advantage of the crowds, as the tacos were $7), Basset’s mint chocolate chip ice cream at Milk & Honey Market and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at Queen of Sheba.
As is sadly usually the case in our time, you got what you paid for. A woman eating a dollar slice of pizza summed it up best: “I wouldn’t eat this pizza again, but it was worth a dollar.” As two girls walked by the meandering ice cream line, one reacted in annoyance that the other suggested they stop. “I can get ice cream for a dollar every day!” she screamed at her friend.
Fortunately, the weather was perfect. The taco truck was out of most items on its menu, but it provided a nice place for me to sit and stare. There was an interesting crowd which made people-watching a go-to hobby in downtime: bands of Penn students, couples on dates, mothers with strollers and local hipsters who drank PBR and ate vegan dishes with more ease than me. Groups sifted through racks of dollar clothes situated along the route, although to no avail — I didn't see anyone purchasing the particularly dated items on the racks.
I’d go back next month for the tacos then find an air-conditioned bar where I can sit and treat myself to a nicer beer.
For so many Philadelphians, springtime = race season, and that means on any Saturday on Kelly Drive, you're likely to be passed-on-the-left by hundreds of runners in training.
But all that personal-best pressure can take the joy out of running. Stephan Weiss, founder of Uber Endurance, wants to get back to the roots of the individual sport. Uber Endurance is a German-themed group that focuses on the fun of running and, just as important, the fun of the after-race.
Weiss teamed up with his pastry chef wife, Linda, to start a race club that embraces the calories just as much as the calorie burning. Having struggled with weight issues in the past, Weiss says, “Being married to a pastry chef leaves me only two options: having extreme willpower to resist the temptations in the kitchen or to become a hardcore runner for the rest of my life.”
In celebration of that balance, Uber Endurance has combined running and racing with food and post-race fun. Take for instance, the ½ Sauer, ½ Kraut, a half and full marathon race followed by beer and brats.
Unless you’re one of the Beckham’s, Mr. Bean (Yep, that Mr. Bean. I was surprised, too!) or Kate Middleton’s butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, chances are your name didn’t make the cut for the royal wedding guest list. It’s nothing to lose your knickers over, though. Several local venues are opening at the ass crack of dawn to allow guests the opportunity to take in the wedding of the century from this side of the pond. Sure, you’ll have to wake up a little early, but at least you won’t have to buy a gift. I doubt Will and Kate are registered at Target, anyway.
Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons is your go-to if you’re looking to wine, dine and dress to the nines. Get glam with your most royal duds (especially any Kate Middleton-esque hats – the more feathers the better) and feast on an English breakfast buffet in the fancy Swann Lounge while watching the “I do’s” that come before the first lip-lock. If you aren’t pooped by the afternoon and fancy yourself a spot of tea, the hotel will host a Prince and Princess Tea from 4-5 p.m. with desserts and pastries. Fri., April 29, 5:30 a.m., $50 for breakfast and $65 for afternoon tea, 1 Logan Square, 215-963-1500, www.fourseasons.com/philadelphia.
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel
It's been a long week and you deserve a treat. Luckily, CP's here to help you decide where to take your cutie — in case you haven't picked up a paper copy, here's a quick roundup of who to see, what to do and where to go tonight.
MOVIES >> Another one bites the dust — Super was only around for a week before getting bumped for POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Morgan Spurlock's new snarkumentary on product placement. To elicit warm and fuzzy feelings in your significant other, catch African Cats (about, er, African cats); if you're "stupid for historical costume dramas," there's The Princess of Montpensier. Also playing: Ceremony (D), Madea's Big Happy Family, Water for Elephants (C, thanks to Robert Pattinson's inability to do much else than look sexy) and White Irish Drinkers (C-).
MUSIC >> Bee Mask and Oneohtrix Point Never, two bands that make up for their regular-dudeliness with "hypnotically spacey drifts and drones," play the International House; for something smoother, Philly jazz dude Ari Hoenig's at Chris' Jazz Cafe tonight. For something a little more country, Birdie Busch headline's the Philly Opry at Johnny Brenda's.
CULTURE >> Hey, it's Earth Day! Go plant a tree with your sweetie. Afterward, visit the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center's "East of Eden" exhibit, see 1812 Productions' Laughter on the 23rd Floor or InterAct's Two Jews Walk Into a War (pictured), or let Karen Gross woo you with her Black Cat Cabaret.
I will not get that song stuck in your head. I will not get that song stuck in your head. But let's just say it's been a long week and you deserve a treat. Luckily, CP's here to help you decide where to take your cutie — in case you haven't picked up a paper copy, here's a quick roundup of who to see, what to do and where to go tonight. Now all you've gotta do is decide which seat you can take on the way there. (Sorry.)
MOVIES >> Weird array of openings this weekend, ranging from fake-scary to Tea Party-scary. Unlike every critic on earth, Sam Adams really dug Super, calling it a "genuine movie of ideas, more genuinely provocative than any of its glossy big-studio cousins." Meanwhile Scre4m is, according to Shaun Brady, samey-samey, but way more meta than its predecessors: It's "self-aware about its self-awareness, with characters calling attention not only to their equivalents in horror films, but in the Scream franchise itself." Also out this week: Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 (D- due to its Fox News-y bent), The Human Resources Manager (C), In a Better World (B-) and Potiche (B+).
MUSIC >> First and foremost: The Mountain Goats play the TLA tonight; go there and let John Darnielle make you feel better about the end of the world. For something louder and more luscious, visit Johnny Brenda's for Wye Oak. Or you could jam with Girls Rock Philly and Ghost/Light at PhilaMOCA's Sonic Textures gallery night.
CULTURE >> Get yr perf-arts on at the Pennsylvania Ballet, whose Building on Balanchine program features the one, the only Natalie-Portman-baby-daddy-dancemaker, Benjamin Millepied. If you prefer farts to arts, A Passing Wind is tooting away right down the street at the Kimmel Center. For a religious experience, head to West Philly's Calvary Center for Curio Theatre Co.'s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Having someone read David Foster Wallace to you is better than trying to do it yourself, which is why the Free Library's hosting Ken Kalfus on DFW's The Pale King. Finally, support a good cause at the Women in War Zones fundraiser party, where you're encouraged to dress loudly. (Holly Otterbein suggests hot pants.)
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