>>> Much-missed Philly expat Steve Gunn demonstrates his astonishing songcraft tonight at Boot & Saddle. But he’s not alone! Also on the bill are Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler, along with Nathan Bowles, resulting in a slow-cooked musical stew that, yes please, we would like many helpings of.
We’re just learning that Joe Walker, WWII veteran, lifelong Philly resident, actor and straight-up loveable curmudgeon has passed away at the age of 90. You may remember Joe, we certainly do, from his appearances on the Fishtown-shot web series Breakfast At Sulimay’s. Scrapple TV, who brought Walker into the public consciousness, produced the above tribute that features a variety of his most unforgettable appearances. Goodbye Joe, the streets of Fishtown just won’t be the same without you.
Last night, Al Día held a mayoral forum in which the Democratic candidates touched upon various issues ranging from education to law enforcement. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the event other than how it served to further illustrate the overall wheel-spinningness of this mayoral campaign. (See also this tweet from The Inquirer‘s Chris Hepp, which seems like a representative snapshot of the affair, and, perhaps, even the state of contemporary politics are a whole). With Jim Kenney continuing to pick up high-profile endorsements as well as a barrage of TV commercials supporting Anthony Hardy Williams dominating the race thus far, we find ourselves wondering if this slow burn primary period is ever going to heat up. We’re fairly confident that it will, but when? For that is the question that reignites the spark in our currently glazed-over eyes.
Although the picture of the Jerry Blavat “You Gotta Wash Your Hands” billboard hanging in the bathroom of Ida Mae’s comes close, the most beautiful thing in Fishtown is the Saint Laurentius Church. For over 130 years the Roman Catholic parish (as seen above) served the community, and now it faces a wrecking ball because the Archdiocese is currently seeking permits for the ailing structure’s demolition. (A move which kind of violates Vatican procedure, but hardly the most offensive shenanigans the Archdiocese has participated in over the years). You can do your part in saving the Berks Street institution by signing this Change.org petition to have the structure named as an important historical landmark. The document currently has 1,620 of the 2,500 needed signatures, so help spread the word. Whatever your religious affiliation is the fact remains that Saint Laurentius is a beautiful piece of Philly history that should not vanish. If nothing else, think how insufferable it will be if more condos go up there.
The latest project from filmmaker Cory J. Popp is Uncover Philly, a series of videos that aim to shed light on some of our area’s most elegant forgotten places. Kicking things off is the above first installment that provides us with a look inside the abandoned Reading Viaduct Tunnel — video of which is like Manna from heaven for urban spelunkers. With the surrounding area being given new life, it is hopeful that somehow, some way the 1.5-mile tunnel will be reborn as a public space again. (Do the Phila Flea Market folks have portable electric generators? This site is all them). Until then, we’ll forgo the possible legal entanglements and run-ins with crust punks that can result from visiting the site and bask in the welcoming glow of the tunnel’s decay from the relative safety of our laptops.
The ubiquitous force known as the Philly Pretzel Company is one of those local food entities we’ve never given much thought to (although we know there’s one across from the Cinnabon heading into Market East Jefferson Station, which is a thesis paper about commuter life choices just waiting to happen). So imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon this nugget from the Philadelphia Business Journal:
The pretzel company is in serious growth mode, and it’s even added a chief development officer, Tom Monaghan, to handle and plan its expansions. The company has 148 locations in 10 states, but it’s aiming to open at least 500 locations, in every state, by 2020.
“We’ve got the brand, product and the operating system to really leverage economies of scale to make this a national brand,” said Monaghan, who started his position on March 16. “Ultimately, when we feel we’ve begun to saturate domestically, we’ll begin to look at international opportunities.”
Real talk: Philly Pretzel Company’s hot Dusseldorf mustard is our go-to sinus reliever of choice. (Someone slather some onto a pretzel dog and bring it here STAT). What have we learned here? That if there’s a massive future in selling pretzels with Dixie cups of goo then perhaps America isn’t dead after all.
With Comcast’s 15-year franchise agreement with the city expiring later this year, City Councilman Bobby Henon helped pass a resolution last week in which the committees on Technology and Information Services/Public Property and Public Works will conduct hearings on issues vital to the renegotiation process. This will open the door for the public to speak about what their needs are from the company. Uh huh. Henon is also urging the city’s Office of Innovation and Technology to release their “Needs and Interests Assessment” report, in which thousands of Philadelphia residents sounded off about all things Comcast. From CBS Philly:
“I think it’s incumbent upon us as a body to make sure that we have public input,” Henon says, “and we thoroughly review the needs assessment, as we negotiate a final franchise agreement with Comcast.”
But Mayor Nutter says the “needs assessment” report — more than a year in the making — is not ready.
“I do not have the report, but it is going through a process of review,” says the mayor. “When that process is complete — I do not know when it will be complete, but we’ll work on it expeditiously — we’ll obviously release it. It is, as I understand it, a quite voluminous report with a lot of details. And we want to make sure that a) its accurate, b) we understand what’s in it, c) the company has a fair opportunity to read it and review it for themselves.”
The “needs assessment” report will form the basis for negotiations between the city and Comcast on new agreements. It includes the city’s public opinion surveys of Comcast. Critics of this process claim the Administration is stalling in order to reduce the amount of time for public debate.
In light of incidents like his one, it’s hard not to be cynical about the delay in issuing the report. More info on why public discussion is so vital after the jump. (more…)
Like you, we’re also still trying to unpack all of the information presented in Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. The past day for us has been a trip down the Xenu rabbit hole in which our fascination with the religion has reached a fever pitch of Tom Cruise couch-jumping proportions. (Timely reference, bro!) With that in mind, we encourage you to revisit Daily News reporter Jason Nark‘s 2012 piece on Scientology head honcho David Miscavige‘s local ties, including insights from ex-church member Marty Rathbun that illustrate the dubious ways in which our area may have stuck with Miscaviage:
Rathbun and some other church defectors say Miscavige is nothing more than a 5-foot-5 bully who has physically attacked underlings for no reason. Rathbun, who once defended Miscavige against such allegations, said that’s the dark side of his “Philly attitude.”
“He loves to use the Philly banner to play the tough guy,” Rathbun said.
See Philly? Stuff like this is exactly why you’ll never reach the O.T. III level.
A lot can happen in a decade. When you consider the surprisingly short life of most insects, it’s not as stretch to say that most things that have ever been alive didn’t even exist for 10 years. Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of comedian Alex Grubard performing stand-up comedy. If you don’t know Alex, you aren’t paying attention. He’s one of the city’s most talented performers, and he’ll be celebrating his decade of service to us all at Pub Webb Wednesday evening. Alex will be hosting and headlining, and will be joined by guests TBA. Wednesday 7:30PM, Free.
Troika! Troika! Troika! I said it three times because that’s what Troika is all about. Thursday night kicks off Troika, the month long improv comedy battle at Figment Theater. Troika features three weeks of three teams of three random improvisors. Each week a winner is selected by the crowd, and on week four, the three winners face one another. Perfect if you’re a fan of strange pairings, unique and silly forms, or three-centric comedy shows. This week’s teams are made of Joel Sumner, Samantha Salley, and Tom Hannigan, Jamie Glasheen, Kayleigh Leggit, and Robert Alesiani, and Mallory Rhodes, Sean Landis and Andrew Coppola. Thursday, Doors at 7:30PM, $10.
Friday is this month’s First Friday and you know what that means: The Comedy Show Gates with Joe Gates returns to L’Etage! Comedian Joe Gates’ variety show features some of the best talent the city has to offer and this month’s showcase is no exception. This month, The Show Gates will be taken over by special guest hosts The Mean Wendy Band (who aren’t as mean as their name suggests but definitely are as Wendy as they say). The show will also feature stand up from Nicole Yates and Matt Monroe, and improv from Bishpelldah and Proper Dodgy. Friday, 7PM, $10
– Joe Moore
Joe Moore is the genial jerk who is head writer of sketch group Dog Mountain, host of monthly show Guilty Pleasures and a sketch comedy instructor. Hunt him down on twitter @TheJoeMoore.
From 1913 through 1915, Philadelphia Transit Commissioner A. Merritt Taylor was charged with what had to be a daunting but truly-awe-inspiring task: To draw up a proposal for several mass transit lines to connect metro Philadelphia. As the map above shows — made by a train geek on the web some years back, based on Taylor’s proposal but also adding an Airport route apparently just for the hell of it — it would have made for a different city indeed.
Taylor’s routes were drawn up when the Market-Frankford Line was in its infancy and a decade or so before the construction of the Broad Street Line. But it’s amazing to look at them and think how useful they’d be to us today. As the city goes through rapid changes right now, it’s heartening to see that the wish 100 years was the same as it is today: To serve that City of Neighborhoods by connecting them all as best as possible. It’s an issue that dogs this city, and its commuters, to this day.
>>> As we mentioned earlier, The War On Drugs play the Tower Theater tonight. Expect plenty of uh uh and a whole lot of hell yes from the show.
>>> The strange, haunting music of Wand hits Milkboy tonight for a bill that also features Babes and Mock Suns, which is the indiest indie band name we’ve heard in some time.
>>> The original Robocop is tonight’s midnight movie at Ritz at the Bourse, and yes, we would buy that for a dollar.
>>> Let’s all meet up in the year…2015? The 90s/2000s dance party is happening at the Barbary. So give me coffee and TV, easily.
>>> Ms. Lauryn Hill brings her eternally soulful sounds back to the area with a performance at the Keswick Theater and we are into it, so forever into it.
>>> And while we’re on this whole timewarp Saturday vibe, Pennywise are playing the Troc. We aren’t actually suggesting you go, we just thought you’d like to know its a thing, and that dude you worked with at Tower Records back in ’94 will almost certainly be there.
>>> Another Five Dollar Comedy Week comes to a close, with four shows at Plays & Players Theater that will make Sunday Funday live up to its promise for once.
>>> Swervedriver are at Union Transfer, and we have missed their psychedelic shoegaze antics more than we knew. You guys, this one is big. It’s conceivable that every high school crush you’ve ever had will be here, along with the ghost of 120 Minutes hovering over the festivities like a Killing Joke-shirted old friend. If there’s one show worth leaving the confines of your home on a Sunday night for, this is it. See you there, pals.
RECOMMENDED: Seymour: An Introduction is a compelling documentary directed by Ethan Hawke (but don’t let that put you off) chronicling the life of Seymour Bernstein, a gifted classical music pianist who decided to retire from performing professionally in order to devote his life to teaching others to develop their craft. Bernstein is a charming character whose selfless story is poignant and unforgettably inspirational. Let his insights teach you as well.
ALSO IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: Get Hard, an alleged unlikely buddy comedy laughfest starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart that we’re going to skip, hard; Home is a CGI effort with the voices of Jim Parsons (someone explain this guy to us), Rihanna and Steve Martin about a runaway alien who befriends an adventurous girl that aims for E.T.-level profundity before settling into mediocre Mac & Me territory; A Girl Like Her is a teen drama (with faux documentary elements) that serves as indictment of high school bully culture led by a cast of as-of-yet unknowns; Based on the novel by Ron Rash, Serena is some nice-try Oscar bait chronicling the Depression-era problems of lovers Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, so yeah; and John Boorman‘s Queen and Country is a welcome sequel to 1987′s Hope and Glory in which the now-grown Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) learns about life against the backdrop of the Korean War.
We don’t care what The Housemartins say, this is the type of flag day we fully endorse. 120 years ago today the Philadelphia Civic Flag made its glorious debut. There was an official commemoration of the anniversary earlier today, and we’d like to add our own acknowledgement of this prestigious event. May the Philly flag continue to fly forevermore. And baby, you don’t look a day over 30.
Ori Feibush (whose campaign for the 2nd Council District Seat has already resulted in the worst thing to happen to Philly rap since “A Nightmare On My Street“) participated in another debate with rival Kenyatta Johnson last night at the Greenfield School. At this point we regard these two with the same kind of ugh, really? indifference that we have for the former classmate who keeps sending us middle school reunion invites on Facebook, but we found the following exchange that resulted from a question by Holly Otterbein to be especially noteworthy. From The Inquirer:
Otterbein also asked the two what their opponent’s best quality was. Their responses said something about the tenor of the debate.
“He’s a businessman trying to do well by the city,” Johnson said.
Feibush on Johnson: “He can reach very tall shelves.”
END SCENE. Well, if the whole politics thing doesn’t pan out, maybe there’s a future in Friar’s Club Roasts for Feibush.
Set against the complex backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Philadelphia, the indie film City of Shells aims to tell the story of a man with psychic abilities who discovers a mysterious force that is manipulating human experience while investigating a woman’s disappearance. We’re digging the Eraserhead by way of The Vanishing vibe that this putting out there and it how speaks of the firmly entrenched strangeness that flows through Philly’s arteries. The film is currently in pre-production from writer/director Sean Hamilton, and you can learn more about the project here.
Yesterday afternoon, Jim Kenney (whose latest endorsements are from the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women and Working America) participated in a Twitter chat yesterday in which he fielded questions about his candidacy and ongoing mayoral run while relating to his transparency in government plan. For the most part it was a pretty innocuous affair marked by an impressive series of questions from everyday Philadelphians, with Kenney’s answers serving to explain his vision for Philly’s future and doling out the occasional bit of Jimbo sass. So what went down? Wonder no further as we’ve got your highlights after the jump! (more…)