Hey guys, this just in: We were vacuuming the couch and found FIVE PAIRS of tickets to see stylish-yet-maudlin hitmakers London Grammar at the Electric Factory TONIGHT! As it happens, we already have plans to pick up our auntie Lisa Stansfield and head over to a dinner party at Sam Smith’s house (he’s had a rough week), so it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to go. But we’d love for some of you people to have these tickets. To enter to win tickets, email ihopeiwin[at]philebrity[dot]com with “INSTA-GRAMMAR” in the subject header. You’ll automatically be subscribed to the forthcoming new Philebrity Reader weekly newsletter and win chances for other exclusive free stuff. Winners will be chosen just after 5pm (just after I finish making these leek tarts that Sam likes so much), so be sure not to use your work email.
Nicole Steinberg was, hands down, one of our absolute smash hit favorites of last fall’s 215 Festival. What was it about her? The work itself was wild, yet honest; filled with risk but also right there with you. (Here‘s a brand new poem she has up over at the Philadelphia Review of Books; and here is even more.) And Steinberg as a reader is kind of a rock star. So we are truly excited to have her at The 700 on Tuesday for Philebrity Salon, our monthly reading series/music-you-(mostly)-can’t-dance-to DJ night/drinking session. If you’ve not been out to one of these before (or since we instituted the reading series element; before that, it was mostly just Sweeney standing around playing records and drinking), this is a good one to come out to. Last time, Carla the bartender even made empanadas. What will happen next?
Philadelphia’s Aikan Entertainment will treat its acting students and the Children of the Arts to an evening of excitement when it hosts a panel discussion at the MLK Recreation Center. The discussion will bring together several actors from the hit HBO series The Wire, such as Nakia Dillard, Joilet Harris, Chris Mann, Kamal Bostic-Smith, and Brian Anthony Wilson to share with students the real-life experiences of actors and the importance of performing arts education and practice. It will be hosted by noted acting coach Miranda Thompson. This event is open to the public.
The free community outreach event runs tonight from 7-9 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center. Even without Omar there this will be unmissable.
Earlier today was the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce‘s Mayoral Luncheon, the annual opportunity for the Mayor to address our area’s business community and tell them (and everyone really) what Philly is doing right. Basically, the whole event is the sort of bedrock we build these GOOD NEWS posts on to begin with. So with that in mind, let us temporarily overlook our issues with the administration and just get some unfiltered positivity up in this jawn. Here then are the highlights of Mayor Nutter‘s talk via Philly’s Twitter account, complete with our commentary.
"I am pleased to say Philly is in its best shape in years, experiencing growth across the board-population, employment & development!"
We’re into this, though we still find the new lights on top of Lit Brothers to be incredibly jarring.
Mayor Nutter went on to discuss the challenges faced by his successor, including issues of violence and education funding. But hey, those are problems for another day. Because right now, you’re looking beautiful Philly!
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.
One of the more notable Septa misfires in recent memory was their oft-maligned “We’re Getting There” slogan, one that seemed to indicate a deeply profound, and representatively Philadelphian, awareness of their considerable shortcomings. Although that ad campaign has long been retired, Septa is still, well trying to get there by putting in motion renovations that feel like they should have been undertaken years ago. Case in point, the soul-crushing netherworld that is 15th Street Station. Like your unfortunate friend who is still taking fashion cues from Carrie Bradshaw, the station is way overdue for a makeover. But it’s a coming, and it has the potential to be a good one. Via Philly.com:
The long-delayed, $150 million makeover of the busy subway complex beneath City Hall will begin early next year, a top SEPTA official said Wednesday.
The century-old 15th Street station on the Market-Frankford Line and the 87-year-old City Hall station on the Broad Street line will be made roomier, brighter, and cleaner, and be equipped with 13 elevators to make them fully accessible.
And the dark, narrow passageways that connect the stations and the Subway-Surface Lines will be reconfigured to eliminate stairs and bottlenecks.
As detailed in-depth by Septa here, this construction, scheduled to begin next year and wrap up in 2018, is the middle part of a three-tiered renovation project that began with the revitalization of Dilworth Plaza. (With the City Hall stop also beginning renovations next year). Amongst the promised changes are three additional elevators, structural repairs and new platform topping. Since the area is, as of now, a vortex of sadness, we are more than anxious for this project to get underway next spring. Until then, we’ll continue on Snowpiercer-like, dreaming of the promised day when Septa finally gets there. Anywhere really.
Y’all know we love that Marty Moss-Coane like she was our own kin, right? ‘Cos WE DO. But to put it mildly, she is long-suffering in the sense that Marty, as a radio host, lives a kind of life of service in that her guest line-ups do not always, how do we say this, deliver. But today was different. Actor/musician/whatever Dr. Steve Brule is John C. Reilly was on the show with musical cohorts Tom Brosseau and Becky Stark and holy mackerel it was delightful and magical and fun and sweet. (They’re playing the World Cafe Live tonight.) The music was enchanting and the conversation was lively and we were so happy for Marty that we kind of wanted to have a good cry on her behalf. A happy cry. A nice cry.
Living in such close proximity to the Pennsylvania Dutch, we’ve had plenty of time to tire of Dutchsploitation garbage like Amish Mafia and, just no, Vanilla Ice Goes Amish. So as a contrast to such nonsense for the basics, we’d like to direct your attention to the Smithsonian Folkways lesson Playing Pennsylvania Dutch: Following the Musical Journey of “This Little Light of Mine.” It serves as an introduction to Dutch folk music–an art form that is too often overlooked by the mainstream, obvs, and scholars in general–and we aren’t okay with that. For the music teachers amongst you, it’s worthwhile class material that saves you some heavy lifting as you slog through these darkest of months. As for the rest of you? It’s a welcome reminder that the Pennsylvania Dutch are more than just comedic fodder for one of Bill Murray‘s most uneven cinematic efforts.
From the New York Review of Books comes some valuable words of wisdom from poet/essayist Charles Simic:
My late father, who had something good to say about most things, used to console people who complained about bitter cold weather by reminding them of the joys of a hot bowl of soup and of a strong drink being made permissible early in the day by the extraordinary circumstances. In addition, he claimed that the cold concentrates the mind. The moment we step outdoors, we do what we have to do with uncommon intelligence and dispatch, unlike those folks who can afford to sit in the shade on some Mediterranean or Caribbean island. Once we lie down, time ceases to count and we can meditate on eternity, Cioran believed. History, he said, is the product of people who stand up and get busy.
I’ve been following 100 Years Of Solid Dudes for like a month now and I still have no idea what it actually is. But it kind of doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a merely a system of words (what the fuck is a “system of words?”) or four guys each aged 25 or a record label (as it says on their Facebook page), I think even the Dudes concerned would agree that more than anything, 100 Years Of Solid Dudes is a vibe. And what is that vibe? That vibe is 100 Years Of Solid Dudes.
Speaking of vibes: This week fucking blows. I mean, yeah, good shit is happening in the world still, but really: Fuck this week. Fuck January. Fuck the culture of lowered expectations that is this mayor’s race and fuck that bullshit snow dusting and fuck getting used to the idea that we’re all going to have to deal with Chris Christie running for president for however long it takes America to be like, “We hate to say this, dude, but you are actually too fat to be president — like, not aesthetically; like, MEDICALLY — there’s no nice way to say this but as it turns out, you are not deserving of niceness.”
Phew. Sorry. Anyway. You’re gonna need a soundtrack to your version of whatever catharsis you need to get out of this week alive, and man, that soundtrack could include…
Fugazi / Kate Bush / William Onyeabor / The Future Sound of London / Blood Orange / Akiko Yano / Atom and His Package / David Bowie / Visage / Friends / LCD Soundsystem / Japan / Rolling Stones / Tones on Tail / The Stranglers / Eurythmics / Pizzicato Five / Tom Tom Club / Dice Raw / Oingo Boingo / King Crimson / Roy Henry Alexander Gover / Lords of Acid / Jakie Quartz / Kraftwerk / Supergrass / Devo / Michael Jackson / Timmy Thomas / Autre Ne Veut / Tortoise / Captain Beefheart / Paradise of Replica / My Bloody Valentine / The Human League / Goldfrapp / Shikh al-Moutchou / XTC / The Chameleons UK / Johnny Harris / Per Tjernberg / Bleached / Chaka Khan / Jamie Paton / Simple Minds / Dunkelziffer / Talking Heads / Air / David Astri / The English Beat / Al Usher / Orient Express / The Bar-Kays / Studio / Bassnectar / WHAM / Rajie / Nospy / Apollo XI / Pink Floyd / The Orb / The Cure / Love International / The B52s / Jellphonic / Ryuichi Sakamoto / God Lives Underwater / Gwen Guthrie / Jack Knife / Splinterfunk / Tomoko Kuwae / Pyrolator / Big 200 / Out Hud / Tiga / and many many more.
… and you know who you’ll have to thank for it? That’s right: 100 Years Of Solid Dudes.
Customer service is a tough job. It’s hard to spend all day sitting at a desk helping others while you yourself are dealing with problems with the very company people are calling you to complain about. Yet there is still an order to things, and which such order is ignored the results are the sort of unpredictable madness Jeff Goldblum was going in about in his Jurassic Park chaos theory speech. All of this information takes us to scenic Spokane, Washington, where a Comcast rep changed a customer’s first name to “Asshole” on his bill. A pretty big no no, wouldn’t you agree? But this is 100% legitimately terrible customer service. I know, we can’t believe it either! It seems that Comcast customer Lisa Brown discovered that the company changed her husband’s name from Ricardo to the offending word, contacted writer and advocate Christopher Elliott and the story blossomed from there. From Elliot.org:
Next, I contacted Comcast to find out what its records said. It’s fairly easy for any customer to doctor a photo of a bill to shame a large company, so I wanted to make sure Comcast was seeing the same thing.
A few minutes later, I received a call from Steve Kipp, Comcast’s vice president of communications for the Washington region.
“We have spoken with our customer and apologized for this completely unacceptable and inappropriate name change,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for this type of disrespectful behavior and are conducting a thorough investigation to determine what happened. We are working with our customer to make this right and will take appropriate steps to prevent this from happening again.”
Ultimately, Ricardo’s name was restored and the Browns were given a complete refund for two years of service. So we suppose the lesson here is that while you may not like Comcast, as this episode illustrates, sometimes their employees might not like you either. The more you know!
We’ve long been fans of the work of photographer Steve Weinik around these parts, so we were captivated when he posted some pictures of dilapidated Septa trolleys to Philadelphia’s Reddit page. You can, and should, check out an entire photo gallery of these forgotten conveyances here, and what is so compelling about these images (which were taken at a storage facility in Juanita) is their solemn bleakness. Yeah, we can say that the deterioration of each of these cars perfectly mirrors what we have felt like during most of our Septa excursions, but beyond the snark is how Weinik’s lens captures the absurd, absolute beauty of vehicles that have nobly served their purpose and then been abandoned without fanfare. Maybe we are just feeling sentimental this morning, but these images feel like a microcosm of the Philadelphia experience to us.
You know that episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where Jake is trying to get some writing done but he finds his energy is constantly being sapped by a weird alien muse/vampire? Of course you don’t, but nevertheless that is exactly how we feel right this very minute. Coming just a few days after word broke that Ori Feibushcybersquatted all of Kenyatta Johnson‘s websites is Feibush’s latest salvo against his opponent for the 2nd District seat, and it’s gonna result in…well a lot of debates and perhaps some moderate hrummphing. From Ori’s press office (our bolds):
Ori Feibush, running for Philadelphia’s 2nd Council District nomination in the Democratic primary has today committed to ten debates to be conducted throughout the district. The only question is whether or not Councilman Johnson will agree and stick to his word.
“Repeatedly Councilman Johnson’s campaign has stated that they are looking forward to talking about the issues with me. Well now it’s time for the Councilman to put those words into action,” said Ori Feibush. “Between now and Election Day, I will participate in ten debates to ensure we give residents of the 2nd District every opportunity to hear straight from me about how they can participate and help craft a plan to fix Philadelphia for the better through improved education, raising the minimum wage and job creation, and making our communities safer and cleaner.
“I have a proven track record and vision when it comes to the issues facing the 2nd District and I encourage Councilman Johnson to keep his word by showing up to these debates so we can discuss his,” Feibush concluded.
Point to ponder: Back in the olden days of Philly politics when life was simpler, or, at the very least the dirty shit going on was more robust, it seems that unsympathetic characters like a developer seeking to push his projects through and an old democratic machine cog would team up, with the latter using the tried and true practice of Councilmanic Prerogative to grease the former’s wheel. Together, they would both square off against a fresh progressive upstart whose idealism and good ideas would be squashed like a flattened Dunkin Donuts Munchkin on a Septa bus floor. Although such a candidate would almost surely lose, at least he or she tried and didn’t make us feel dirty about voting, right? So the question at hand is can we blame our current situation on the changing nature of politics in Philadelphia and how, even when we try a new way, we can’t get it right?
There’s a city in our minds, come along and take a ride and it’s all right. Baby, it’s alright.
Friends, Philadelphians, countrymen: The cheese fries are our birthright. The scrapple is our birthright. Sharing counter space with the strange ’80s wraith of Rittenhouse, too, is our birthright. And so, Thursday at 7pm, if you believe in anything at all, join your fellows and #SAVELITTLEPETES!
As regular readers know, we are borderline obsessed with the inflatable union rat. (Confession: We once called our attorney to ask, point blank, what would happen if we stabbed the rat. He did not recommend finding out.) But as the years have worn on, we have developed a kind of sympathy for the rat. He is so far from home. He is frequently accompanied by the amplified sounds of a baby crying, which scientists have shown to psychosis-inducing. And God only knows where and how they keep him at night.
So when we came across the above — a party rental service that rents out “inflatable pubs” — we thought, gosh, what a treat this would be! Not just for the rat (whom we’re sure could use a drink or five) but also for the goons; after all, Finnegan’s Wake is no longer with us, and um, check the “decor”: This place is basically an Inflatable Finnegan’s Wake. One problem, sort of: You’ll have to go to Belfast, which I’m sure you salty micks will just haaaaaaaate, right? Hey goons, don’t say we never showed you anything nice.
While the Internet continues to explode with concrete details about Paul Feig‘s all-female Ghostbusters reboot, there’s a easy way that aspiring Egons in our area can show their fandom for the beloved comedy franchise. One that costs, yipes, $6500. We turn your attention to this Craigslist posting (from South Jersey, naturally) in which someone is selling their 1971 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Ambulance that has been modified into an Ecto-1 just like the one seen in the two Ghostbusters flicks. Like all Monkey’s Paw-esque wish fulfillment there’s a catch, the buyer doesn’t really want to sell but he doesn’t have a place to store the car so he is trying the online marketplace waters. So if you have the disposable income and no hesitation about constantly being harassed by strangers wanting to take a picture of your shamefully nerdy wheels, it might just be your lucky day…in the most meaningless way possible.
We’ll have more on Jim Kenney, who’s resigning from City Council and officially getting into the Mayor’s race tomorrow, but in the meantime, there’s this: Last night, the video above surfaced of Kenney talking with reporters about “the grungers, the hipsters, the guys on the bikes,” and, well, it had the ring of familiarity to it. After thinking hard for a minute about Who the hell talks like this?, it came to us in flash: Principal Rooney’s assistant, Grace. That’s who talks like this.
So, yeah. Jim Kenney 2015: The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads, they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.
Lithuania is the new side project from Dr. Dog drummer Eric Slick and DRGN KING songwriter Dominic Angelella. Via Spin magazine comes the group’s debut single “Pieces,” a frenetic jam throwback that convinces us that the spirit of the 90s is alive everywhere. Give it a listen, it will hit your nostalgic sweet spot for sure. Wonder if Matt Pinfield knows about this?
Even though our feelings on religion are pretty complicated at this point, we were able to put our ambivalence aside long enough to be pleased to learn that The American Bible Society will be transplanting their headquarters from New York City to our burg after 200 years in existence. Why? Because the move will open up 200 jobs for Philly residents. The news broke this morning at a press conference held by Mayor Nutter. Here’s the dish on the new digs via the Mayor’s Office of Communication press release:
The new American Bible Society headquarters will be at 401 Market Street, encompassing nearly 100,000 square feet on the 8th and 9th floors of the building. In addition, American Bible Society has proposed a Bible Discovery Center on the first floor, as well as a conference center, Rare Scriptures Depository and scholarly working library on the concourse level of the building. The new Bible Discovery Center, which could open in 2016, will provide quick access to 5th Street, the center point of Independence Mall, and will add a new dimension to the historic area, sharing American Bible Society’s uniquely American story.
CEO Roy Peterson said the city was selected based on a number of factors, including strategic collaboration opportunities, affordability and livability. Coincidentally, one of the ministry’s founders and its first president, Elias Boudinot, was a native of Philadelphia. The ministry anticipates opening the doors of its new offices this summer.
As for the new positions this move will result in, Philly.com has the following:
Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said the society’s headquarters will be yet another historic presence in the Independence Mall area.
“They are bringing 200 jobs with them,” Greenberger said. “Wage tax is our No. 1 revenue generator in the city, so on a very basic level, nonprofits and for-profits are all the same.”
Indeed. We can’t really argue with that. The only question remaining is how long until a savvy member of the American Bible Society’s social media team approaches Philly Jesus to do some outreach for them. He seems like a natural, no?
Way back in 2001, a bunch of the geniuses from The State teamed up with some comedy veterans and rising talents to bring us Wet Hot American Summer, a motion picture lifemate that we can never, ever get enough of. Mixed in amongst all the Paul Rudds and Amy Poehlers was a fresh-faced actor with local ties named Bradley Cooper. While it’s true we cover the Coop beat fairly often, rarely does doing so make us feel joy inside. Yet today is different, because we have the first official teaser for Netflix‘s limited-run prequel series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. It’s nothing more than a cast list soundtracked by Craig Wedren‘s immortal, anthemic “Higher and Higher,” but this brief return to Camp Firewood is enough to induce a comedy freakout of anticipation. The eight-episode season debuts later this summer. The takeaway? There are warmer days ahead my friends, warmer days indeed.