Readers Write: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Dear Philebrity,
I miss the old you. I miss the funny, clever articles that captured my city's weird side. I miss the reflective and thought provoking musings on Philly's topic du jour. I miss the photos that randomly captured our city's multiple personality disorder. I loved the articles on the music scene, cool art events that are worthy of checking out and under the radar but bizarrely cool events. There were well-written pieces that illuminated obscure but relevant aspects of the history of Philly.... I could go on.
I gave the new Philebrity a shot. I've been patient. I looked forward to reading the updated version. But I am struck by the consistent snarky tone that permeates the stories. It lacks humor, creativity and joy. Not sure what happened. Why did you have to change?
Once a fan,

Dear Alice —

Thank you for writing in, and also a very sincere thanks for being a dedicated reader. We truly appreciate it. 

I'd like to address your concerns directly, as the changes that have been made to the site over the last year -- from design to tone to areas of coverage -- are something I've taken very seriously. One of the biggest of those changes, and one that has most radically changed the vibe of the site, was a rule we'll call "no reblogs" — in other words, we stopped doing that thing where we cut-and-pasted part of a news story and then put some kind of zippy spin on it. That simple move, for the site, meant a turn towards more original content — no more lazy stuff, and if anything, a decided move towards the humor, creativity and joy you're saying you don't see.

I don't want to give you too hard a sell, but have you seen:

This thing we just posted about how listening to Sheer Mag is actually a profound act of self-help?

Or what about this meditation on the Twitter bot that's been posting pictures of every address in Philly, or this other thing about Philly viewed from space?

What about Blind Connie Williams, I ask you? Or this ode to "calling the time?"

Meanwhile, we've posted tons of arts and events picks, on a rolling basis, each week, with getting even more of them live in advance being an ongoing project (there's only so many hours in the day). 

Now, if you're looking at this stuff and not seeing what we see, then I guess there's no accounting for taste. But I would like to suggest to you two things before you go:

1. That the Philebrity you once loved is better than ever. (There's less of it, but we'd argue what is there is of a far superior quality.)

2. "Snark" is a term used mostly by people who are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the long and beautiful tradition of criticism in arts and current events, and just based on your email alone, that doesn't really sound like you.

Go if you must, but know this: Philebrity remains.

Your humble servant,

Joey Sweeney
Publisher & Editor

10 Larry Krasner Events I’ve Been Invited To But One Of Them Is A Lie*

With the May 16 election day contest for (among others) Philly’s District Attorney seat just around the corner, competition is fierce. So fierce, in fact, that the race is now under the national spotlight, and candidates have been pounding the pavement to meet voters harder than in any other Philly DA race in recent memory. And perhaps nobody is out there, showing up at more events than progressive candidate Larry Krasner, whose appearance in this writer’s Facebook event notifications has been, not to put too fine a point on it, wall-to-wall. Why, in the last month alone, we’ve received invites to:

West Philly Potluck w/ special guest Larry Krasner & His Bangin’ Bean Dip

Tuesday Night Settlers Of Catan w/ Larry Krasner

Fishtown Beer Runners w/ special guest Larry Krasner on “The Unjust Nature of Shin Splints”

Making Time w/ Larry Kraser feat. Simian Mobile Disco

Eat Your Beats improv comedy food-themed rap battle feat. Larry Krasner (chosen food: “sprouts”)

Home Visit/Promo: “Larry Krasner Will Bring In Your Recycling Bins This Week”

Lovemaking Tips at Sexploratorium with featured guest Larry Krasner

Special Forum on Home Decorating with Larry Krasner at South Philly Ikea

Bob Dylan Birthday Tribute with special guest Larry “Blind Boy Habeas Corpus” Krasner

Online Skillshare Class with featured instructor Larry Krasner; today’s topic: Beekeeping!

All of which is to say: Larry Krasner may or may not be the next District Attorney, but at present, he’s something much larger — he’s a lifestyle.

*Editor’s note: All of these are made up. Except for the Pot Luck one. That was real.

The Incidental Beauty Of @everylotphilly

In 2015, a coder named Neil Freeman created a Twitter bot called the Every Lot Bot, and it was brilliantly simple: The bot would go through every property in a local principality’s tax record, then match all existing addresses with their corresponding Google Street View photographs. Then, at the desired interval, those images and addresses would posted to Twitter, one at a time, in a process that could (and will, in many cases) take decades, depending on the size of the city.

The resulting Every Lot feeds — currently in operation in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philly — are as urban-studies-wonky as they are accidentally serene and beautiful. Freeman is on to something when he cites the art of Edward Ruscha as partial inspiration for creating the Every Lot Bot, and Philly, where John Ricco has implemented @everylotphilly, reflects that placid artful tone as well. “I think it's interesting and beautiful in its own way,” he told us.

Ricco’s Philly version tweets out a streetview image every 20 minutes. “I did the math once -- it will take 21 years to cycle through the entire city,” he says. “It goes in order of property ID so it goes block by block, house by house. So over time you get to see how each block is different from the next, and eventually how each neighborhood is different.”

However predetermined its technical process and architecture, though, @everylotphilly feels like a very slow and highly attuned drive through every Philly neighborhood and every Philly street. To look at the feed sequentially offers a kind of trance, occasionally broken by your own familiarity with a certain address; earlier this week, the bot pulled up the image above. This, for instance, was the address of the old Studio Red where, in a tiny basement, indie rock history was made as bands like Helium, Versus and Lilys all made some of their most landmark recordings. As of this afternoon, the bot is still winding its way through South Philly; we suspect it’ll pull over for lunch sometime in the year 2037.

Try This: Quaker City Lemon Shrub Iced Tea

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QC Malt is a brewed hard soda, the latest product from Philly spirits tycoon Steven Grasse, who also happened to invent Hendrick’s Gin, the Art In The Age line of spirits and Tamworth Distillery, among other things. (And who also, in the interest of full disclosure, employs this site’s editor and publisher, when he’s not writing here.) Having launched late last year, QC Malt comes in two flavors, Old Dutch, which has a birch-beer-inspired flavor, and Lemon Shrub, which is a tart, tangy, (gluten-free) lemon-infused malt and the reason we’re telling you about this in the first place, because we have just discovered a new little slice of heaven on a hot day. It goes like this:

1 can of Quaker City Malt Lemon Shrub (get it at Bottle Bar East, or your local beer deli or distributor)
1 container of home-brewed, unsweetened iced tea (we used PG Tips)
1 wedge of lemon
Pour the Shrub and iced tea in equal measure over ice in a tall glass, and garnish with lemon wedge. Enjoy. (If you’d like to get fancy, add a sprig of rosemary.)

And yes, we know what you’re thinking: It’s one of those Arnold Palmer/John Daly types of things. You are correct. But it’s also got this lightly boozy malt underpinning that hits a spot of the beer button, too. If you ask me, it’s delightful is what it is. And I’m not even getting paid to say so.

Cornel West Talking About Sly Stone's "Everyday People" Is A Hearty Truthbomb That Will Last All Day

While it's true that Cornel West has seen easier days — it sounds weird to even say it, given his stock in trade as lifelong resistor to the status quo — those on either side of the current dialogue around him might be given pause by the above. It's a clip from On The Sly: In Search Of The Family Stone, a new documentary by native Philadelphians Michael Rubenstone and Todd Shotz about the iconic and often baffling Sly Stone. It makes its East Coast premiere this weekend as part of the closing night of the ongoing Cinedelphia Festival, which has been underway for the last two weeks (and which, frankly, is giving more established film fests in this town a serious run for their money). In the clip, West interprets "Everyday People" as something more than a pop song — which it was, and then much more. Instead, he flies right over all of that, and internalizes it as a kind of gospel, or at any rate a spiritual/near-mystical text. For West, the song both elevates its subject matter and gets right out in the open air key questions about "Everyday" people: "How are they treated indecently and yet teach America the meaning of decency?" And instead of an exact answer — which would do no real good anyway other than just being another opinion — West suggests that Sly Stone did something immeasurably better. "He created a place where we could go to have a foretaste of that freedom," he says. We're going there still.