As you doubtlessly are aware, driving in this city is an absolute pain in the ass. For those of us who don’t own a car, the ease by which you can get around via walking, biking or public transportation remains a key Philly draw. While nowhere approaching perfect as is, multimodal transportation just got a bit better. The Clean Air Council has launched the new GoPhillyGo program. Essentially a large-scale reliable version of Google/Apple Maps that includes SEPTA integration, the system (currently in beta) aims to get you to and fro with as little headaches as possible. Amongst the early adopters of the program are biking advocate/charity dude/Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin, who sings GoPhillyGo’s praises in the above video. We played around with the site a bit earlier today, and while some of the places we plugged into the database didn’t show up (we can’t be the only ones trying to get to Ontario Street Comics, can we?), many did. Our favorite part of GoPhillyGo is its “explore nearby locations” option that recommends places you may have somehow overlooked. Even though it’s still early days for the initiative that just launched yesterday, we applaud any and all efforts to make navigating this oft-frustrating city easier.
While we fully expect that the Parkway will be full of vendors hawking all sorts of Pope merchandise come His Holiness’ visit in September, we’ve only recently had the opportunity to sit down and ponder what such papal souvenirs might be like. We’re guessing lots of shirts with the word “Pope” stylized like the Love Park statue, but what else? It was a question that plagued us. Then we stumbled upon the website for the St. Jude Shop and hit the motherload of papal paraphernalia. Along with the pictured Pope Francis bobblehead (marked down from $24.95 to $19.95), the faithful can buy everything from papal-themed holy water (just $3.50!) to a rosary box ($4.00) emblazoned with the image of a smiling Pope waving at you, as if to say “hello sinner, you’ve been bad today and so let’s begin the repenting, shall we?” It’s a fascinating examination of the crossroads between faith and commerce that reveals how the Pope’s U.S. visit is being marketed to the masses. After the jump, more of our favorites. (more…)
Filmed throughout Philly earlier this year, Creed is a sequel/spin-off to the Rocky franchise focusing on Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis. The movie stars Michael B. Jordan as the title character, a young man dealing with the pressures of Philly life and having to live up to the legacy of the father he never knew. He finds guidance in the form of his new trainer, one Rocky Balboa, and we’re guessing success in and out of the ring. The just-released trailer for the film uses remarkable restraint by not putting Sylvester Stallone front and center, instead focusing on Adonis and his struggles. There is plenty of Philly scenery porn to found here though. (Oh hey Johnny Brenda’s cameo as the club that love interest Tessa Thompson plays). We are into the idea of Rocky now taking on the Mickey mentorship role here and interested in seeing if the film, like the primary dilemma its lead faces, can break away from the past and establish its own identity. Creed hits theaters November 25th.
>>> Highly theatrical and deeply personal, the music of Haley Fohr’s Circuit des Yeux project takes center stage at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Traditionally performing solo, Fohr has recently begun playing with a full band — a dynamic that we can’t wait to see translated live. Also on the bill are Philly’s Jeff Zeigler and Chris Forsyth, both of whom are reason enough to head out of your home tonight, if not your musical comfort zone.
>>> Earworm alert! God help us, but we like that “Girls Chase Boys” song. (What is even happening to us?) The provider of that infinitely catchy radio staple is Ingrid Michaelson, and she’ll be at the Mann tonight. We don’t know why we are even telling you this.
Well this snuck up on us, Matt Pond PA‘s new album The State of Gold is released today. Now available on Doghouse Records, the expansive 13-song affair feels like a big moment for the one-time Philly band. (What’s the over/under on how long it takes an indie film to snatch up “Take Me With You,” the album’s wonderful first single that is featured above?) We will be downright shocked if we don’t encounter cuts from the LP randomly throughout the summer. In fact, we’ll be straight-up disappointed. The downside? As of yet there are no area tour dates planned. Bummer.
CBS Philly is reporting that a new report states that Philadelphia’s smoking rates have never been lower, dropping “from 27.3 percent in 2008 to 22.4 percent in 2014-15.” There’s a lot of factors at play here, including the cigarette tax, continued awareness of the dangers of smoking and perhaps even the departure of Mad Men from the airwaves. (Okay, probably not that last one). This is clearly great news from smokers lungs and wallets. Yet we’d still like to know where stats on vaping are right now, as it seems as if we can’t ride the el or walk down the street anymore without having vaguely cherry and formaldehyde-scented mist blown into our faces from people of all walks of life. Cause that shit ain’t good. Also, TURN DOWN THAT ROCK AND ROLL YOU HIPPIES!
So there you have it: The world is not totally made of shit. Have you got some good news? If so, send it to tips[at]philebrity[dot]com with “GOOD MOTHERFUCKING NEWS!” in the subject header — we’d love to hear about it.
There’s an inherent strangeness to business districts in that after the work day is done they often become urban ghost towns. Especially off-putting in these areas are the vast swatches of antiseptic open spaces between buildings that are primarily the domain of smokers or workers trying to scarf down a quick lunch before returning to the drudgery of the day. But for one of these corporate netherworlds there is a cure for the summertime blues. Philadelphia Business Journal has word of a new pop-up beer garden from Bru/U-Bahn/Finn McCools mastermind Teddy Sourias that will demolish the abandon hope all ye who enter here vibe of JFK Boulvevard’s Mellon Bank Courtyard by installing a 9,000 square foot/500-person capacity pop-up beer garden there that that will open tomorrow and run until September (with all of the requisite food and drink bells and whistles). What is arguably most interesting here is how the garden will entice people into what is essentially a Place We Can’t Understand after they have clocked out for the day by redefining the possibilities for such public spaces. We’ll be watching this one with great interest…probably while having a drink or three.
It seems unfathomable that the Australian four-piece Dick Diver formed in 2008, as their sound is cut from the same Byrds-worshipping cloth as such regionally specific post-punk acts as The Chills, The Go-Betweens and The Church. We honestly thought that sophisticated jangly wonderment like what Dick Diver is up to got lost in the grunge-induced Great College Rock Purge of 1992. What a relief it is to be wrong sometimes though, huh? We’ve been grooving to them all morning long and are thinking that they are going to be our go-to band for this long summer ahead of us. The downside of liking an indie band from so far away is that you rarely get a chance to see your musical heroes perform. Not in this case. So consider this advance warning that Dick Diver is playing Philadelphia Record Exchange this Friday night. You don’t know their music yet, but you should, oh man you should.
Despite our feelings on Chris Christie running for president (i.e. a hale and hearty no thanks), we have to admit that something about him walking on stage to announce his intentions of vying for the leadership of the free world accompanied by the piped-in sounds of Bon Jovi seems right on a primordial level. It’s as if history became self-aware and realized that what a candidacy like this one needed to jump off was the most middling fist-pumper ever, and so it took steps to ensure such a thing occurred. But we could be over-thinking this. Is there a Garden State law saying that the music of Mr. Bongiovi, Jr. must accompany any and all Jersey events. If not, that may change if Flintstone here gets elected.
Philadelphia has been wondering for awhile now which spaces in Philly Pope Francis will be visiting when the World Meeting of Families Conference takes over the city at the end of September. Even though we were just told last week that details of the papal visit would be scarce for security reasons until closer to his arrival, today comes word that everybody’s favorite Popelebrity® will be checking out, amongst other places, Independence Hall and the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. (You can find the details of his itinerary that have been issued so far here). But we are kinda bummed because it means he won’t be visiting a slew of Philly’s most intriguing spots, including:
Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” speaks of a very specific type of radio personality driven by a passion for music, a rarity in these post-Clear Channel times. That song has been bouncing through our heads a lot this morning as we reflect upon Michaela Majoun‘s final shift at WXPN before she leaves the airwaves for other creative pursuits. The above video is one of a string of tributes currently being thrust upon Majoun in honor of her 26 years of service to Philly (the other most notable one being this, sure, why not, interpretive dance tribute from Headlong Dance Company) and we’re just now realizing how different the tenor of mornings in Philadelphia are going to be from this point onwards. Thanks for the tunes Michaela, we’re already missing you.
>>> Words like enigmatic and fascinating are far too often bandied about, yet they manage to still be applicable in the case of Brian Wilson. But we’re guessing the rock nerds amongst you are already well aware of this. He’ll be appearing tonight at the Mann Center in support of his upcoming album No Pier Pressure. Dude’s been through a lot, so we’ll give him a pun pass and instead focus on the promise of the greatest hits portion of the evening and how tonight’s set will feature Wilson performing alongside of old Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin.
>>> Sondre Lerche’s appearance at Boot & Saddle tonight will feature the Norwegian songsmith performing songs from last year’s enthralling Please album. If you hear an especially loud wooooooo during “Sentimentalist,” that’s just us cheering for the catharsis.
Today marks the release of Dreams Worth More Than Money, the new album from Philly rap royalty Meek Mill that includes guest spots from Nicki Minaj (obvs), Diddy, Chris Brown, Drake, Rick Ross and others. As eagerly anticipated as this LP is, we are way more into the fact that the new game Meek Mill Presents Bike Life also drops today. Available for iOS devices, the game from Arlington’s Im3 Gaming Studios is an extension of the rapper’s love for dirt bikes in which “players will compete against others gathering coins and performing sick tricks as they mock and evade police apprehension.” (No word yet on if any Philly landmarks are incorporated into the game, but we can dream). We haven’t had the opportunity to check this out yet, but that will be rectified soon enough. So you’ve got advance warning in case the rest of this week’s posts are late.
Every now and again, Philadelphia’s weird juju manifests itself in the unlikeliest of places. Such was the case yesterday when Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur made an embarrassing throw in a game against the Washington Nationals that was so lame that we immediately had a painful flashback to our uncoordinated Little League days. In the 1980s, the error would have been chalked up as a “Not So Great Moment in Sports” and relegated to the baseball blooper reels. Now we’ve come to realize that these little moments of failure are a necessary part of the Philly tableau required to keep our egos in check and our spirits diminished. So the next time a SEPTA bus arrives 45 minutes late or you get a ticket from the PPA a minute after your meter expired, don’t fret too much or blame bad luck. These events merely indicate that life in Philly is simply moving along in the frustratingly absurd norm that has come to define our city.
Continuing the good news theme of the previous post, let’s rejoice in the new single from Philly’s Purples. Described as a “slightly scary groove,” the new track “LD” is a bit of a freaky daydream that goes alarmingly well with a day such as this one. You can pick it up here, and be sure to catch the band when they play Ortlieb’s on July 22nd.
For the LGBT community and its supporters, this past weekend was one of celebrating and contentment as marriage equality has finally come to the United States. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look back at our favorite local reactions from the last couple of days. Fist off, as pictured above a joyous nation turns to Philly Jesus to help them celebrate the good news. Much more after the jump. (more…)
If laughter is the best medicine, the get ready to overdose on comedy pills. Philly comedy don’t quit and I, for one, am soaked in the urine of my own excitement for this week’s live comedy offerings.
This Thursday at L’etage, Philly comedy’s resident McDreamboats Matt Aukamp and Pat Reber bring you another installment of Hey, We’re Cool! For the uninitiated, H,WC! (that’s what the true fans call it) is a comedy show where a bunch of stuff happens. This month, Mat and Patt are taking that stuff TO THE LIMIT by adding a new element to the show every minute for a full hour. It promises to make your mouth wet with laughter. 8pm. $5 at the door.
Ain’t had yourself enough L’etage comedy action? Then head back there on Friday for The Comedy Show Gates with Joe Gates. This juicy lineup is enough to launch any Philly comedy geek into a fit of uncontrollable spasms, featuring stand-up from Robert Rule, music from Mean Wendy Band, and improv from Yeti Detective and Nick Gillette in Silent Scene. It promises to make your mouth wet with laughter. 7pm. $10 at the door.
Finally, on Sunday night, make a trek down to everyone’s favorite cavernous South Philly slop bar Connie’s Ric Rac for Comedy Death Match II: Shaner vs. Wood. Hosted by Hannah Harkness, this show pits the true hunks of Philly comedy, Ryan Shaner and Chris Wood, against each other in a comedy fight to the figurative(?) death. Also appearing will be stand-up comedian and corporate humorist Rubi Nicholas and conscientious objector Brandon Jackson. It promises to make your mouth wet with laughter. 7pm. $10 at the door.
Dewey Sugarput is Philly comedy’s biggest fan. He has been to over 300 comedy open mics and never performed. Dewey hosts the podcast Hi What’s Up? with Dewey Sugarput, which is downloaded over three times per episode and has over 100,000 fans.
We let a out an extended “whoa” when we stumbled upon this Flavorwire article about Philly artist Drew Leshkow‘s attempts to preserve Philly’s decaying eyesore architecture through his intensely detailed paper sculptures. These dollhouse-sized works make a statement on how gentrification and what passes for progress these days impacts the community on an almost imperceptible level that Leshkow comments on by creating “three dimensional archive of buildings that are in transitional periods.” By crafting replicas of such dubious local icons as The Forum porn theater, he is reminding us that, like it or not, weird gross places like the ones spotlighted in his work are what gives Philly its unique flavor. While we are already very much aware of this message, it is a welcome one nonetheless.