July 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dead Milkmen!

Via the inimitable Jon Wurster, aka Johnny Earthshoe, we are made aware that Philly’s own most beloved punk rock band, The Dead Milkmen, turn 30 today:

I’ve had a hand in booking one rock concert in my life: the Dead Milkmen’s first show, 30 years ago today at the Harleysville, PA Senior Adult Activity Center.

Thank you, guys, for 30 years of music and fun!

Rumblings: Our Bodies, Our Selves

>>> After 27 years, one of Gary Heidnik’s victims finally speaks with the media. And of course it’s grisly, more grisly than you can imagine. [MyFoxPhilly]

>>> Meanwhile, a deady body was found in Hotel Monaco yesterday morning. [6ABC]

>>> And finally, just another night in North Philly. Heavy, heavy sigh. [Guncrisis]

Sing Along With Elvis & The Roots!

Behold, the leak of the week: “Walk Us Uptown,” the first shot out of the gate from that Roots/Elvis Costello collaboration we’ve been telling you about. Not for nothing, this tune goes pretty well with the nasty, slinky business detailed in the post below. Sing along at home!


Hyperspace Clusterfuck: The Fuzz, Darrell Clarke’s Daughter, A Whole Bunch Of Other People, And The Strangest Mayoral Endorsement Ever

Just as we were wondering just what mystery article Will Bunch was referring to in this column posted last evening, it turned out that City Paper might have pre-empted him with their own admission by a matter of minutes. At issue: A post earlier this month by CP’s Ryan Briggs on the strange case of Nicole Bright, City Council President Darrell Clarke’s daughter, and Jermal (aka Jamal) Jones, her boyfriend. On July 16th, CP had published a post by Briggs of fairly singular only-in-Philadelphia proportions: In it, he detailed the arrest — and subsequent apparent un-arrest — of Bright in connection to a drugs charge with Jones, who’s currently locked up. To a cynical eye, it looks like Bright’s family connections might have set her free; to anyone else’s, it looks, at the very least, given the details of the case, unusual.

The post apparently ruffled feathers: So much so that City Paper quietly took it down, only to publish a more thoroughly reported version late yesterday. In the meantime, a few things happened, at least, that we know of: One is that people, among them Will Bunch, noticed. Another is that this creepy-ass anonymous blog posted a whole slew of documents related to the case, and crying foul. At the heart of the Bright story are two age-old Philadelphia themes: Corruption from within, and Philly’s general libel-lawsuit-friendliness, as far as the power structure here is concerned. (Both of them are dealt with well in this post on The Declaration.)

If you’ve lived here long enough, absolutely none of this will surprise you. This is but one more of those “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown” moments that is unfortunately part and parcel of what Philadelphia, for worse and worse-r, is. The truth of what happened here will eventually out — it almost always does. But what caught our eye, really, more than the whole messiness of it all, the mean desperation the whole story evokes, was what might be perhaps the strangest mayoral endorsement we’ve ever seen. Tapped for comment in the updated Briggs/CP story, Lieutenant John Walker of Southwest Detectives, tried to place the controversy in context. Note our bold:

“If, in fact, Darrell Clarke, who’s probably going to be the next mayor, called about this incident, do you think we would put his daughter in a cell on the first floor?”

Now. We’ve remarked a few times already (and we most likely will a few times more) on the truly disappointing field emerging in the 2015 race for mayor of Philadelphia. And, well, there’s just no way the above can’t go in that file. Walker may very well not be wrong; somehow, though, he doesn’t feel right, either. Remarking further on the matter on Nicole Bright, he lays down another unfortunate tell:

“If this happened frequently we wouldn’t be in business,” he said.

Business. Not the best choice of words. Then again, maybe it is. Maybe unusual business is, in Philly, the only kind of business we’ve got. And you’ll forgive us for riding this cliché out when we say, hey, guess what: By the looks of things, business is good.

Update: Philly 1, Hack Comedian 0

Well, maybe. Much as we did yesterday, folks in the local comedy scene got right up in comedian Chris Gethard‘s face after his piece about performing in Philly on Vice went viral. Throughout the day, Gethard backpedaled like crazy, eventually going back and changing his headline altogether. (Though is “scary” better than “worst?” Probably not.) At any rate, far more entertaining than Gethard’s piece (or, for that matter, his YouTube ouvre) was the heartening reaction from the local comedy scene; this piece by Philly comedian Hillary Rea might well be the last word on the matter. In any case, Gethard can rely on one thing; next time he performs in Philly, his audience will be, er, engaged.

Previously: So Here Is The Thing About That Vice Article About How Philly Is The Worst City For Comedians


July 22, 2013

This Evening: Surfin’ N.S.B.

>>> Over at the North Star Bar, surf-rock legend and guitar-icon Dick Dale will be playing along with Philly’s own surf-punks Dry Feet. We can’t promise this won’t make you want to be at the beach real bad.
>>> In the cinematic arts: UHF screens as part of Awesome Fest at the Troc, and the boss-doc Springsteen & I has a special screening night at a number of area theaters.
>>> And on the South Philly tip, there’s a stacked-bill of psych and scuzz happening at Teri’s, featuring Psychic Teens, Harsh Vibes, We Are Hex, and Wet Food.

Forget The BBC, All The Royal Baby News You Need To Know Is Coming From @ChipChantry

Other than the Jay McCarroll/Royal Baby joke that is inaccessible somewhere in the deepest recesses of our mind (feel free to offer up your own), Chantry’s got it all covered.

Readers Write: What Happened To Tony’s Way?

So PGW trucks everywhere, part of the façade has blown off. Cleanup crew onsite, no ambulances, too busy to stop and take a pic, whats the scoop, yo?”

Well, we don’t know. The instagram above and the email text below it come from two different sources. It’s worth noting the email was sent about a half-hour ago, while the picture above (and this one here) are a few hours old. So, an explosion seems unlikely (though PGW being there screams gas), and a façade collapse might be slightly more likely. But what really did happen there? Collapse? Explosion? Anyone?

Tuesday Night, Philebrity Salon Is Back!


Click here to invite friends on Facebook.

After a long hiatus where we often felt displaced and confused on Tuesday nights, we are happy to say that Philebrity Salon is back on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the venerable 700 club in Northern Liberties. And it’s more Salon-y than ever. In addition to a full night of “other” music, a gorgeous summer cocktail menu and a large selection of games behind the bar (Boggle, Scrabble, etc.), we now begin each Salon at 10pm with an hour of readings from local writers at the bar. Last time around, we featured Juliet Hope Wayne, Erik Bader, Steve Goldberg and Shawn Kilroy; tomorrow, we’re welcoming Nic Esposito, author of Seeds of Discent and part of the force behind The Head & The Hand Press/Rust Belt Rising Almanac. Please join us, why don’t you? There’s never a cover and always a friendly face. (And if you’d like to read, feel free to pipe on the Facebook event page.)

Sybrina Fulton, Mother Of Trayvon Martin, To Speak In Philly This Friday

In the wake of yet another Trayvon Martin rally held in Philadelphia this past weekend (which was the second large rally in as many weeks), Trayvon’s mother will be appearing at a conference in Philadelphia. According to KYW, this year’s National Urban League Conference — taking place from Wednesday to Saturday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center — will feature appearances by Eric Holder and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

Holder will speak on Thursday at an “Emergency Town Hall” focused on voting rights and justice, while Fulton will speak Friday. More information, tickets, and a full schedule for the conference can be found here.

So Here Is The Thing About That Vice Article About How Philly Is The Worst City For Comedians

20130722-132401.jpgYou might have seen this making the rounds by now: Upright Citizens Brigade comedian Chris Gethard‘s screed on how, of all of the cities in America, Philly is just the absolute worst performance destination as far as standup comedians go. Now, you may be surprised that this is something that we were 100% ready to believe. Not because we hate this place but because, well, frankly, we hear fucking bad news about this city all damned day. And in the spectrum of bad news going on in Philadelphia — oh look, the schools are screwed; oh wonderful, City Hall knew that building was in grave danger of collapsing — finding out that it’s a tough place to do stand-up is kind of the least of our worries in the most grand civic sense.

But it may well be the case that this isn’t true. After a little bit of reflection on Gethard’s piece — which chronicles two times he totally bombed here — we’re calling bullshit. Now, remember, we were ready to hear this news with no defensiveness; we were coming from a place of humility. But certain pieces of all of this give us pause:

1. Chris Gethard is not really all that funny. Go ahead, look him up on YouTube. There’s not a lot of there there. And this isn’t like a “Well, fuck you, you suck anyway!” thing. We gave this dude a chance, and all we came away with was something we have already known for years: Those rectangular glasses are completely unflattering to 99% of all male faces.

2. Villanova is not Philadelphia, and even an asshole from the suburbs could tell you that because guess what, Villanova is full of assholes. To the point where even other assholes from around here are like, “Whoa, Villanova is like TOTAL ASSHOLETOWN.” So lumping Philly in with these guys — in fact, he bases most of his piece on some shit that went down in Vanilla-Bro-Va — is like, no. Just, no.

3. Gethard has been poorly booked here. That’s his fucking problem. More wahhhhh.

4. What Gethard is saying is anecdotal evidence against real knowledge we have that Philly is, now more than ever, a great place for both comedians and audiences. And that’s the dick move at the heart of Gethard’s piece; as a comedy-world insider, he’s probably at least tangentially aware that Philly’s comedy scene, at this moment, is one of national renown. Comedians here — especially the sort of alt-comedians of which Gethard fancies himself one — have created a scene over these last few years that is easily as exciting and fresh as the music scene in Philly, if not more so. (We chronicle this scene as much as we can, but Witout is its real home online.) And people all over the country are noticing — especially in the insular world of comedy. Meanwhile, there’s great audiences here; we’ve seen with our own eyes young comics kill here everywhere at comedy and rock shows alike. Gethard took a shit on us because, surprise, he was out of ideas.

In the end, Gethard is basically hacking his way through a very old bit about Philly: They booed Santa Claus! But he forgets one major thing: That Santa sucked at his job, too.

Dr. Dog’s New Album Comes Out In October, Here’s Their New Vibey Single To Soundtrack The Rest Of Your Summer

Apparently, Dr. Dog have got a little thing going on with Spin: The once-in-print music mag has just debuted the newest video from West Philly’s own, for the song “The Truth,” a slow-burning soul-jam.

The track is the first sound released from the group’s upcoming album B-Room, set for release on Anti- in October. According to Spin, the new record was a much more collaborative process, as the band “worked together from scratch, mimicking the manner in which they built their studio.” Oh yeah, they also built a new studio. Much of B-Room features songs recorded in full-band live takes, and if “The Truth” is a testament to how that works out for Dr. Dog, maybe they should have been doing that all along.

You can catch Dr. Dog at this year’s XPoNential Music Festival, and keep an eye out for their collaboration with Pig Iron.

Noontime Nuggetz: And So We Must Part

Last night, after 36 years of bringing you the news, Rob Jennings said goodbye. While Jim Gardner is often held up as Philadelphia’s grand example of a “newsman,” Jennings always gave off a just-a-guy vibe — a guy who you trust and respect, but a guy nonetheless. He will be missed, and he says he’s going to miss us, but when he’s traversing the Chesapeake, we don’t think he’ll miss warning us of another impending snowpocalypse. Farewell Rob.

Let People Smarter Than We Are Explain What Actually Happens At The End Of Trading Places

The Philly-set holiday classic Trading Places is a truly wonderful film, and it has the (semi)unique quality of being a film people love and adore and enjoy even if they don’t really totally get what is going on. Because as often as Billy Ray Valentine tries to dumb down orange juice futures and what exactly the Dukes are up to for the movie-watching audience, sometimes, we just don’t get it. And when it comes to Winthorpe and Valentine’s final plan to get back at the Dukes? Well, we’re mostly lost.

That’s where the good people at NPR’s Planet Money come in, which refer to Trading Places as “the most sophisticated treatment of the financial industry in American cinema.” Spare a few minutes for NPR’s Robert Smith to break that down for you, along with the intricacies of Winthorpe and Valentine’s plans, over here. And then just think, it’s only two or three months before you can watch the film without feeling weird during the holiday scenes.

Dept. Of Meaningless Lists: Cool It Now

We all know it’s been hot lately, but how can we really acknowledge how hot July and August in Philadelphia are without making useless comparisons to other cities? Luckily, Bert Sperling has done just that.

According to Sperling’s calculations — which include the average daytime highs and nighttime lows, dew point, and humidity — the Philly metro area is nearly dead center when compared to the 50 largest U.S. metro areas. With an average high of 86.1, an average low of 65.2 (boy, doesn’t that sound nice), a dew point set at 63.7 and 47% humidity, Philly is the 24th coolest metro area of the U.S.’ top 50 (and excepting Washington D.C., the warmest in the northeast) — conversely, that makes it the 26th un-coolest. And when you start factoring in all of the U.S.’ metro areas (there are 361 by the way), Philly does a little worse, landing at the #196 spot. But really, these are all just magical numbers that hold no actual bearing over how we feel. We like to judge the heat solely on how often we’re soaked in sweat, and it’s been happening more often than we’d like.

Captain Freeshit: Win A Pair Of Tickets To See Hot Fuzz And The World’s End Followed By A Q&A With The Director And Stars Next Tuesday At Ritz Five!

All good things must come to an end. And now is the time for the conclusion of the so-called “Blood in Three Flavors” trilogy: A trio of films director by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It all started with 2004′s brilliant Shaun of the Dead, continued with the somehow even funnier Hot Fuzz, and now wraps up with The World’s End — a tale of friends getting back together for to finish a legendary pub crawl but there just may be a robot invasion along the way. As part of the Awesome Fest, and the rolling out of the Oval, Shaun of the Dead is screening this Wednesday at 9PM outdoors, and it’ll be preceeded by a zombie thriller dance because why the hell not?

But the big event we’re super-excited about is a double-feature, featuring a screening of Hot Fuzz and followed by an advance screening of The World’s End, itself followed by a Q&A with Wright, Pegg, and Frost. It all goes down next Tuesday July 30th at the Ritz East, starting at 5:30PM, and we’d like you to go. Note: To attend, you must be present for both Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, so if you can’t be there at 5:30, you can’t be there. With that out of the way, here’s what you need to do. To enter to win, email ihopeiwin[at]philebrity[dot]com with “CORNETTO” 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.

Readers Cameraphone: “I Believe In Werner Herzog” Will Never Die

19th & Chestnut

Even though the statement at the Hale Building is no longer with us, the message survives, not only at the location above, but here and here and here and here. It’s spreading, and we’re on board. Because after all, “the common character of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder,” so we might as well believe in something.

Seeing something around town of note? Cameraphone it to tips[at]philebrity[dot]com.

July 19, 2013

This Weekend: Cheer Up, Sleepy Jean


>>> Attn. anyone bummed out about how quick that thing a few years ago when everyone started neo-Motown bands turned way too quickly into wedding bands covering Bruno Mars: Brooklyn’s The Jay Vons have held tight onto the dream, and tonight, they play Kung Fu Necktie. And if you request Black Eyed Peas, they will punch you in the throat.

>>> But earlier, you can live your own dream of 1985 and see The English Beat, also featuring songs of General Public/Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at Eakins Oval, for free, as part of The Awesome Fest. There is something about this that is beautiful and strange and wonderful.

>>> Elsewhere: The Rockers BBQ Weekend, a sprawling three-day rager focused on subverting the dominant paradigm, kicks off; Bo Bliz and Low Beezy at Silk City, for those of you who have mainstream-type relatives in town; and lastly, Juan Maclean and Horse Meat Disco at Morgan’s Pier. Please adhere to the Philly OEM tweet that just went out about making sure to drink a lot of water and not being stupid.


>>> More great news for people who like block parties: The 2nd Annual Phsh Tank Block Party in Fishtown with appearances from Vacationer and Illvibe Collective, and, not too far away, a BBQ fundraiser at Crane Arts for Citywide, the forthcoming arts fest in the fall.

>>> Hailing from Lansing, MI, the festering heart of this nation that has brought you so, so much great rock and roll throughout the years comes Cheap Girls. (Sort of related note: DETROIT OUR HEARTS ARE WITH YOU, WE LOVE YOUR CITY AND ITS PEOPLE DEEPLY, AND THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO US; WE PROMISE TO VISIT YOU SOON.) Cheap Girls are so heart-on-sleeve Replacements/Dü-ish that you gotta just relax your muscles and let them give you the big bear hug they wanna give you. They play the North Star Bar, and they’re not taking no for an answer.

>>> Otherwise: Experience the Rodney-on-the-ROQ glam magick that is Creem Circus at Ortliebs, and also, hey, not for nothing, The Monkees are playing at the Mann. Since we’re being so playlist-y with this week’s weekend picks, can we just go here for a minute?

Indeed: The porpoise is laughing. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!


>>> Fans of the written word, take note: Philly’s Ixnay Press celebrates at L’etage with a reading from their two just-issued chapbooks, Allsorts by Mark Lamoureux and Odd Regard by Elizabeth Scanlon.

>>> And for those of you for whom all summers are ’90s summers, The Swirlies play Johnny Brenda’s.

Dept. Of Summer Melting Your Mind: Norwegian Arms Gets Weird In The Heat

Right now in Philadelphia, there are (at least) thousands of people who just absolutely had it with this fucking week, and in point of fact, are sliding, slug-like, into a form of heat-craziness whose only remedy is to sleep (perchance to dream). And in a very I Am Thinking Of My Darling type of way, we are liking to imagine that this is what’s going on in their minds right now. The culprits for the above, the Philly space-folk-miscellany group Norwegian Arms, play PhilaMOCA tonight.

Film Sweat: Train In Vain

RECOMMENDED: Hey, you, over there, yes, you, the one who’s been hiding in the AC for every bit of the day you can and then instantly melting the moment you finally have to go outside, the contrast and airlessness of these twin states having put you straight into a Giant Cosmic Funk. YES, YOU! You look like you could use a HARROWING FILM ABOUT RACIAL INEQUALITY AND UNCHECKED, THICK-NECKED AUTHORITARIAN AGGRESSION! OK, well, maybe not right now, but still: Fruitvale Station is a ripped-from-the-headlines heavy duty drama about that time, a few New Year’s Eve’s ago, when a BART cop shot some poor dude who was just trying to make a life for himself. Fruitvale Station stars Michael B. Jordan in a breakout role as Oscar Grant and cleaned up at Sundance and Cannes. And it will make you cry.

ALSO NEW IN THEATERS: Girl Most Likely, the Kristin Wiig family-dramedy with Matt Dillon and Annette Bening that should have been good but somehow came out stillborn; R.I.P.D., haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, starring Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker as cops in the afterlife (now this is more like it!); The Conjuring, a proper spooker that tells the true story behind what became the fiction that was Amityville; and Red 2, with Bruce Willis, Jon Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Catherine Zeta-Jones in smash-em-up-blow-em-up popcorn bonanza.

For more recommendations on films currently in theaters, visit Philebrity’s Film Sweat archive. And click here for movie times. Need repertory film? Try Cinedelphia.