August 21, 2014

Breaking: City Ends Lap Dance Tax Efforts

LapdanceTaxOur long local nightmare is over. Or something. Why? Because the city has decided to abandon their efforts to tax, wait for it, lap dances. CBS Philly reports:

The Nutter Administration has decided not to appeal a July ruling by Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler, who threw out the lap dance tax. City officials confirmed the decision not to appeal but had no further comment. In the past, Administration officials had contended that the Revenue Department’s decision to seek back taxes on lap dances was appropriate under the amusement tax.

There’s much more info on the nuts and bolts of this decision at the link above, but the real take away here is that you are free to enjoy your lap dances without fear of having to pay more from them. MAKE IT RAIN. In the meantime, this little ditty suddenly seems that much more relevant.

Chris Cummins

August 20, 2014

This Evening: Bears, Spiders and Mormons

>>> Bear in Heaven, a group whose members remain, sadly, not nearly hirsute enoug given their name, hits Johnny Brenda’s, with support from Weeknight and Young Magic.

>>> The raucous garage rock of Merge Records’ Spider Bags hits Boot and Saddle tonight. Say what you will about their music, but you’ve got to admit their name is the most indie rock name to come along in some time.

>>> Already seen The Book of Mormon? Then for a different take on the religion, check out Steven Fales’ Confessions of a Mormon Boy. Part of the ongoing GayFest, the one-man show (which opens tonight for the first of five performances at the Adrienne) chronicles Fales’ experiences with sex, drugs and being ex-communicated from the church.

– Chris Cummins

Awesome Fest Summer Camp Sleepover Comes Back To Town For Another Night Of Anything Goes Horror

Last year, on Friday, September 13th, The Awesome Fest took over Adventureland Day Camp in Bensalem for an all-day, all-night horror movie marathon, including a screening of the apropos Friday the 13th and Philadelphia premieres of a few summer horror gems. This year, Friday falls on the 12th, but that’s not stopping Awesome Fest from hosting their second annual Summer Camp Sleepover. This year’s lineup of screenings includes Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part VI and Pumpkinhead, as well as Philadelphia premieres of Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead and Wolfcop. Just like last year, the event is BYOB and T (Tent) and offers a host of summer camp activities to finish your summer right. We’ve got to hand it to Awesome Fest for having the insight two years in a row to bring together all of the best parts of summer camp and combine them with beer.



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FringeArts Is Hosting Three Weeks Of Totally Sick And Totally Free Late Night Events As Part Of 2014 Fest

1.FringeArts_CHRISTEENE & The Boyz

Back in June, when FringeArts released the first rough overview of their 2014 festival, centered this year at their new permanent headquarters on Delaware and Race, we were pretty stoked. Now the festival’s three week program of late-night music, comedy, theater, and whatever else can’t be squeezed into those categories, has been released, and we couldn’t be more stoked. In addition to the previously announced premieres from Pig Iron Theatre Company, New Paradise Laboratories and the Pennsylvania Ballet, you can also now officially look forward with absolutely no patience to opening night performances on Sept. 5th from Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and then a parade of other events featuring Dennis Diamond and Daryl Hannah, Christeene, Mary Beiser, Champagne Jerry, Doll Parts, and too many more to name. Also, all of the late night performances are free. Don’t make any plans to go away for the late summer holidays. You are fucking booked.

Department of That E-Mail Your Mom Just Sent: The Purge: Philadelphia Is Not A Thing

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Sigh. NBC 10 (from which the above image originates) is being uncharacteristically non-fear mongering by debunking the current Twitter rumor that a real-life version of the movie The Purge — in which all crimes, especially murder, are legal for a brief period — will be happening in Philadelphia this Friday night. So if you’ll just humor us for a second while we play Snopes, this is just the latest lame urban legend sweeping the stupidity prone nether depths of social media, so fear not. It’s safe to go out this Friday. Well, about as safe as it always is anyway. So go ahead and tell your folks that it’s cool for them to go to Kohl’s on Friday like they had planned.

– Chris Cummins



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The Ebola Bucket Challenge Is The Bucket Challenge That Challenges Bucket Challenges

Ordinary people and high-powered celebrities all over the internet have been embracing the Ice Bucket Challenge as a way to raise awareness about ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease) and contribute to a collaborative viral video campaign. Dissenters all over the internet have embraced the popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge as an opportunity to level criticisms against those who have chosen to publicly make light of an issue that drastically affects the real lives of countless people. Philadelphia comedians, almost all of whom are neither high-powered celebrities nor ordinary people, have chosen to respond in the way of Philly comedians: with an extremely dry and dark joke that refuses to directly engage with the issues that the Ice Bucket Challenge illuminates while also calling out and burning those who refuse to directly engage with the issues that the Ice Bucket Challenge illuminates. Participants in the “Ebola Bucket Challenge” raise awareness about the Ebola virus, and about viral (no pun) social media campaigns that both raise and misdirect awareness about deadly diseases, by refilling a Brita filter, chugging a beer, and pretending to accidentally contract Ebola. At the moment, they’re not raising the money that the Ice Bucket Challenge is raising, but at least their bucket challenge has the name of the disease it’s trying to combat as a part of its title.

This Year The PA Election Will At Least Have A New Website

The office of City Commissioner Al Schmidt has just launched a website called philadelphiavotes.com, in an effort toward better election transparency and voter outreach. The website provides resources and data for voters, candidates, election officials and researchers who want to investigate registration, voting options, polling activity and etc. While it might seem like a no-brainer to put up a website offering information for prospective voters about basics like elected officials and election dates, there aren’t actually too many counties with a comprehensive online hub of voting resources for the public. Transparency hasn’t exactly been the name of the game in past state elections, as the City Commissioner’s office are clearly aware. Will an online map of polling stations do anything to address Pennsylvania’s history of election fraud? Maybe not. But, like The Wire‘s Jimmy McNulty, we at Philebrity are just happy to be in the 20th century.

Noontime Nuggetz: That Time Don Polec Rode An Ostrich

Seeing how the current news cycle is intent on convincing us that we are all well and truly fucked, the need for fluffy human interest reports is greater than ever. So where, local news progams, are your Don Polecs and Grover Silcoxes? Yes friends, there’s no room for mustached reporters spewing wackiness amidst all the nihilistic hellfire that is the media right now, so allow us to don our Get Off My Lawn persona for a second and reminisce about the “good old days” when men could ride ostriches at the Spectrum for the enjoyment of thousands. Jesus. Still, Don Polec, we miss you more than we knew.

– Chris Cummins

Places We Can’t Understand: Elegance by Edythe

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Located deep in the cream dried beef-encrusted heart of Northeast Philly — which, truth be told, is the original Place We Can’t Understand — is a mysterious department store known as Elegance by Edythe. Writing on the well-kept brickface outside proudly exclaims that the establishment is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, an admittedly impressive feat given today’s brutal retail environment. Yet each year the building closes for most of the summer, and the awning-covered windows often seem dark and/or emblazoned with signs making unverifiable claims like “Fall Starts Here.” What little online presence Elegance by Edythe has seems equally baffling. Potential shoppers can learn that the store specializes in high-end women’s sportswear…annnnddd that’s pretty much it, aside from some residual confusion by would-be shoppers as to when the place is actually open.

We’ve never been so bold to step inside it’s doors, but for that there is good reason. You see in our minds, the shop marks the last remnants of bygone retail era in which employees fight a losing battle in the war between couture and Iggles jerseys. This hub of, well, elegance could very well be the department store where Luke and Laura once danced the night away while on the run from the mob. (Or, at the very least, that shop from The Twilight Zone where the mannequins all came to life). We would be crushed if we entered its doors and found out that there was no such stateliness to be found.

Questions remain: How does such a Saville Row-esque destination survive in Northeast Philly? Is the whole place just a block-long ghost of a better, forgotten past? Or is it a reminder of what the Curiously De-Feminized Women of the Northeast should aspire too?  We may never know. What is clear that is if there is still an Edythe out there toiling away in her vast Bustleton Avenue storefront we would like to salute her for fighting the good fight. Whatever exactly that is.

Previously: Places We Can’t Understand: The P.J. Whelihan’s Wells Fargo Center Smoke Dome

Is there a Place You Can’t Understand in Philly? Some nook or cranny that makes no sense whatsoever? Let us know about it at tips[at]philebrity[dot]com.

– Chris Cummins

In PhilaMOCA, Everything Is Fine This September

We here are eagerly awaiting the arrival of PAFA’s David Lynch: The Unified Field exhibition that kicks off on September 5th. (If for no other reason than to hear the auteur once again eviscerate our fair city with more bon mots like these during his appearances at PAFA and the Free Library next month). So too is PhilaMOCA mastermind Eric Bresler, who has a series of events planned from his base deep in the Eraserhood itself. On Wednesday 9/3, he will host Lynch 101, a Video Pirates screening that bills itself as “a comedic video-based history of Lynch’s film and television career with special guests.” Here’s hoping he throws in some of the insane Twin Peaks coffee ads from Japan for good measure. Then, on Friday 9/12, PhilaMOCA is hosting an after party for the official PAFA opening that promises a multimedia performance from NYC’s A Place Both Wonderful and Strange inspired by the deleted scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me that were recently unearthed on Blu-ray. Finally, Friday 9/27 brings the venue’s third-annual Eraserhood Forever art show, a celebration of all things Lynch.

Yes, even Dune. Always Dune.

– Chris Cummins

State GOP A Little Too Afraid Of Big Bad Wolf

At this year’s Ag Progress Days, the annual agricultural exposition sponsored by Penn State that was held last Tuesday through Thursday, Tom Wolf, in an attempt to relieve tension, told a room full of Republicans that he had greeted them upon seeing them in order to frisk them for guns, Newsworks reports. The GOP had a right to come down on Wolf for this joke, because it’s a stupid, insensitive joke. Even if the people you’re addressing aren’t actually supporters of 2nd-amendment rights who will be offended by your bare suggestion, however facetious, that you might want to take away their guns, why would you joke about checking people for weapons? Joke around about guns at the bar with the morons who taught you to tip cows in high school, not at a public gathering with the people you want to vote for you for Governor against their own party’s candidate. All that said, the state Republican committee’s official response to this poor choice on Wolf’s part is, hopefully to no one’s surprise, truly baffling. Watch the video above for one of the most overblown and worst edited smear ads you’ve ever seen, comparing Wolf’s public wisecrack to a private expression of sincere concern for those Americans who feel the need to arm themselves to feel safe from President Barack Obama. The connection is not flimsy or a stretch; it isn’t there at all. There are many useful terms for the kind of thinking that finds and affirms implausible connections to support nonsensical theories, many of which you can find in the DSM-5. Politics is cracking down these days on speech and its implications, so, GOP, it’s okay to be sensitive. It’s just still not okay to be totally paranoid.

August 19, 2014

Paul Ryan Book Tour Kicks Off Tomorrow, Right Here In Philly

You may remember Paul Ryan from 2012 Republic presidential ticket fame. Ryan’s book, The Way Forward, recently hit Christian gift shops everywhere. According to the Amazon product description, “The Way Forward challenges conventional thinking, outlines his political vision for 2014 and beyond, and shows how essential conservatism is for the future of our nation.Beginning with a careful analysis of the 2012 election – including a look at the challenge the GOP had in reaching a majority of voters and the prevalence of identity politics – Rya examines the state of the Republican party and dissects its challenges the country to certain ruin.” Cool.

The book tour kicks off at the Philly Union League tomorrow evening and will end at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

This Evening: Echo Of The Past

>>> Whether you consider Echo & The Bunnymen the most annoying band of the 80s or the most kind of awesome band of the 80s, you can’t deny that they were one of the bands of the 80s. One of the first bands to be known for playing with a drum machine (assumed by many to be the eponymous Echo), the Bunnymen are responsible for such embarrassing quasi-gems as “The Killing Moon,” “A Promise” and “The Cutter”. If you don’t want to go back to the age of matching sky-high pompadours, we can’t blame you. But if you do, head to Union Transfer tonight. Because after all, without Echo & The Bunnymen, there would probably be no Radiohead. Although, there would also probably be no Coldplay.

>>> Also: The Philadelphia Moth Storyslam is tonight at World Café Live, and The Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival begins tonight at World Café Live upstairs, featuring Valerie Broussard, Paige Allbritton, Jacqueline Constance, and Vertical Current.

MP3 Of The Moment: Mumblr, “Roach”

Okay, so we already threw Mumblr an MP3 Of The Moment a little over a week ago, but if they’re going to world premiere another banger every ten days or so until their album drops next month, we’re going to have to continue to up them here. While “Philadelphia” was a slightly more overt throwback to that moment we’re all dying to return to now when the cloud of grunge slowly dissipated to reveal the still-grey sky of lo-fi indie, “Roach” looks back with a little more distance. Subtly dream-poppy vocals hang out above the rhythm section’s clean AM indie groove until the guitar cuts it in half with bursts of fuzz that build to a solo worthy of Pavement’s harshest outtake. Thank Philadelphia for the only band that knows that Unwound are way cooler than Modest Mouse, but Modest Mouse are still also cool, kind of.

Temple Faculty Member Sues For Denied Promotions, Has A Pretty Convincing Case

This is a litigious time for Temple. Philly.com reported yesterday that an academic advisor, Kenneth L. Ruff, is now suing for multiple missed promotions due to racial discrimination based on an ugh-tastic reverse racism paper written by one of his bosses in 2010. The paper in question states: “Therein he wrote ‘I sense that I am always limited by my identity as a white, middle-class male of protestant background. . . . I’m still suspect of my own intentions, aware of my subconscious desire for self-preservation/promotion and the [white] privilege granted to me unwittingly.” Yup, those are real words written by a real academic.

Captain Freeshit: Oh Man, We Are Just Giving These Die Antwoord Tickets Away

When Die Antwoord surfaced in 2009, I have a clear memory of watching the Enter the Ninja video on a Dell desktop in my school library. “I don’t like this at all,” I thought, opening a package of Gushers. I was a senior in high school and I was terrified by a rapping ninja with progeria.

It took the Baby’s on Fire video to win me back. Everyone’s clothes in this video adhere to some next-level pastel aesthetics, especially Yo-Landi’s shirt that says “WHO NEEDS TITS” on the front and “WITH AN ASS LIKE THIS” on the back. I’ve embedded it below for your convenience. It’s probably not safe for work, but I also don’t know where you work.

I think what’s so endearing about Die Antwoord is that for all we know, they could be some kind of Afrikaner Spinal Tap. They’re just so earnest and unapologetically bizarre.

ANYWHO, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to see Die Antwoord live at the Electric Factory’s outdoor stage on September 5th.

To enter to win tickets, email ihopeiwin[at]philebrity[dot]com with “YO-LANDI 5EVA” 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.

Yes, Mo’Ne Davis Really Is The Most Positive Presence In The Media Right Now


Many articles and news segments have appeared recently asserting that Mo’Ne Davis’ consistently stunning performance in the Little League World Series is offering the nation hope at a time when violence at home and abroad are breaking spirits and shattering hearts. While the nation is outraged over the loss of an unarmed young black man to senseless police violence, there is also inspiration and joy to go around thanks to the young black female pitcher with skills as a baseball player that speak beyond her age, race, gender and generation to fix her as a legendary athlete regardless of any classification. Mo’Ne’s supporters at home (Philebrity aggressively among them) are no more vocal than her supporters nation- and worldwide, who now include John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, Lil’ Wayne and Michelle Obama. As The Inquirer reports, academic James B. Peterson, who chairs Lehigh’s Department of Africana Studies, believes that “We need this story right now, to uplift us at a time of great sorrow.”

Mo’Ne’s achievements are not to be dismissed, belittled, or pondered too hastily. She is now the first girl to shut out another team at the World Series of Little League, beyond being one of only eighteen girls to play at the Series in its history. The Taney Dragons’ Series opener was not Mo’Ne’s first shutout. She is now pitching no-hitters regularly. While many compare her skill and success as a pitcher to that of Clayton Kershaw, her 70 MPH fastball invites no comparison. It is her own. As she told the press herself, and as everyone agreed, she throws her fastball like Mo’Ne Davis.

Mo’Ne is also just as inspiring as a media personality as she is as a player, maybe because her media personality is not a media personality. She doesn’t perform in front of television cameras as if she has been groomed for them. She speaks honestly, evenly, and without affect, because she doesn’t need performance or affect. She is confident enough to be who she is, whether she’s feeling playful and ready to meet the attention she is now receiving constantly with life and wit, or she’s indifferent to the attention because she’s more interested in the game. This confidence is natural, but it’s also earned. Mo’Ne is more than aware that she doesn’t have to go out of her way to impress anyone.

Should Mo’Ne’s ability to invigorate and amaze change the way we process everything else that’s causing us so much anger and despair? Yes, and no. The ebb and flow of the news cycle shouldn’t, and won’t, allow us to forget about or ignore the very real tragedy we’ve seen and the larger questions it’s brought forth. Violence can’t be undone, and it can’t be balanced by any kind of victory. But the truth is, we really are happy about Mo’Ne. There’s no denying it and there’s no reason to play it down. Compared to this year’s Little League World Series, The World Cup seems like a distant murmur of excitement that’s already lost its power, which is probably a sentence that’s never been written or spoken before. People are really losing it over this girl, and they really want to see her kill it and kill it and kill it again until she kills it all the way to the top. So let’s watch her do it. Let’s not ignore what’s really hurting us, but let’s not ignore what’s really worth celebrating.

Noontime Nuggetz: Voguing All Over SEPTA

I’m calling it now: this is my all-time favorite Noontime Nug. Philly-based dancer and choreographer, Kemar Jewel, organized a voguing expedition all the Broad Street Line. The mom in me just hopes they wash their hands.

Philly Is A Nexus For Unjust Civil Forfeiture And WHYY Wants To Talk About It

Civil forfeiture is a legal action where private property is seized because the property itself was involved in a crime e.g. houses and rental properties where drugs are sold, usually unbeknownst to the landlord or property owner. Philadelphia is a hot spot for civil forfeiture. WHYY brought together Beth Grossman of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Lou Rulli, a University of Pennsylvania professor, to discuss the implications of civil forfeiture for communities. Grossman is frustratingly uncritical of the racist and classist implications of the war on drugs, but what can you expect from the District Attorney’s Office?

Pope Francis Will Either Visit Philly Or String Us Along Forever

For the moment, at least — and let’s hold on to this moment for as long as we can, for however sweet it is, who knows how fleeting it may turn out to be — it seems as if Pope Francis, whose attentions we’ve craved and craved and for which we’ve vied and vied, is in fact planning to visit Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in 2015. Or, at the very least, to continue to tease us with tentative promises in soft Italian. The Super Chill Pope has still not confirmed that he intends to visit, but he has at least acknowledged our invitations and indicated that he is interested in coming to the States to visit Philadelphia and two smaller cities of lesser national regard, New York City and Washington, DC. We don’t know what inspired the Pope to articulate his interest with renewed enthusiasm, or at least clarity, but locals have been speculating for some time that he has been itching to hit up Pat’s Steaks. Perhaps he finally saw the sign, so to speak.