July 29, 2013

Recommended Reading: Wrong To Know

Today’s cover story of the Daily News, written by William Bender, takes Mayor Nutter’s administration to task for the city’s Right-to-Know Law – though in this case it falls firmly in bizarro Nutter territory. Though the law is, by definition, an effort at transparency, Bender takes that misconception apart with example after example after example.

‘There is nothing that government does that cannot be done ethically and transparently,’ Nutter proclaimed at his inauguration in 2008. ‘Nothing.’ Except, we now know, pitching municipal bonds to investors. And settling lawsuits. And, sometimes, budget briefings with City Council. Also, sheriff’s sales and pension payments aren’t entirely transparent. Neither are zoning appeals. Nor, in some cases, the way taxpayer-funded grants are doled out. And the mayor’s past daily calendars are a closely guarded secret. Even elevator records have been deemed off-limits to the public.”

We applaud Bender here. In an effort to really show how consistent this problem is, Bender talked to a whole group of young and veteran journalists who have had the same issues as others have. In doing this, and having them all quoted as part of one piece — instead of each individual journalist coming out and saying these things themselves — he takes these thoughts out of the realm of “complaints” and into “signs of a bigger problem.”

You can read Bender’s whole cover story here or, if you’re some kind of masochist, in today’s edition of the Daily News.

Dear Art Museum, Where In The Social Contract Does It Say You ALWAYS Have To Humor Philistines?

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Oh, honey. It’s just so beneath you.

We’ve remarked in the past on both the raging awesomeness of the Cy Twombly room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the deeply annoying nature of idiots who see it and are like, “Durr, my five-year-old could do that.” The latter, of course, is basically a problem with America, and the PMA did not create it; they just have to deal with it. One way of dealing with it is friendly evangelism, and we suspect that’s what’s behind the art talk being given at this week’s Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday:

‘My Five-Year-Old Could Do That!’: Appreciating Minimalist and Abstract Paintings
Wednesday, July 31, 2013, Starts at 6:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.

With Eliza Spaulding, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation
Have you ever thought to yourself, “My five-year-old could do that!” when encountering an abstract painting? If so, join this engaging discussion on appreciating these often elusive artworks.

But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And, as it happens, Facebook posts. We understand that the PMA is a public institution; it is for the greater good whether people know what the fuck good even is, or not. But to see the above playing out on Facebook right now — complete with a ‘My Five-Year-Old Could Do That!’ gallery of Twombly works that just sells the poor dead man out — reminded us that there is such a thing as giving too much. We look at it this way: The PMA already allowed a statue of a dumb meathead to adorn its front steps. Does it have to allow him inside, too?

The Convention Center Just Got A Tiny Bit Busier, Is Still Wide Open

naacpWe always knew we were well-read by the NAACP: When we first told you about the weak slate of bookings the Philadelphia Convention Center had going on until 2016, they had eight conventions booked from 2014 to 2016. Well, make that nine.

According to the Philadelphia Tribune, “Philadelphia has been chosen as the host city for the NAACP’s national convention in 2015, beating out St. Louis and Milwaukee for the competitive bid.” To be honest, we’re a little insulted we were even in the same conversation as St. Louis and Milwaukee. In selecting our city as the convention’s host, the NAACP’s Philadelphia Branch president praised a “Philadelphia Convention Center and Visitors Bureau delegation that traveled to Orlando to make their pitch for Philadelphia,” which sounds like a real nice thing until you realize how desperate they probably are for bookings. In fact, if you’ve got a child’s birthday party coming up, they may have a good price for you.



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Noontime Nuggetz: Scranton Goes After Goldwater

On the occasion of the passing of former PA Governor William Scranton at age 96, we look back at some things he said while opposing Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1964. Goldwater would win the nomination and go on to lose to Lyndon Johnson in a legendary landslide, but Scranton’s words in the video above could apply very easily to today’s Republican party, were anyone within it willing to say such things.

Could You Even Handle A Midnight Screening Of Sharknado? Find Out

f9h3_SharknadoThere is no consensus here in the Philebs HQ about Sharknado. On one hand, SyFy — even going back to their Sci-Fi days — has undoubtedly made more ridiculous original films, such as Piranhaconda, Planet Raptor, Ice Spiders, Alley Gator, Sharktopus, Chupacabra vs. The Alamo, and Mansquito (we swear we only made one of those up). But on the other hand, SHARKNADO.

With the 100% appropriate tagline of “Enough Said!,” Sharknado’s premise, if you haven’t seen it, is as follows:

Produced by The Asylum, Sharknado is the story of beachside bar regulars including owner Fin (Ian Ziering, “Beverly Hills 90210″), bartender Nova (Casie Scerbo, “Make It Or Break It”) and local drunk George (John Heard, “Home Alone”) as they team up with Fin’s ex-wife April (Tara Reid, “Scrubs”) to investigate the ecological nightmare that has sharks swimming through the streets of Los Angeles and falling from the skies.”

And if that is something you really want to see in theaters — it’s okay, no one is judging — you’ll have your chance on August 2nd as a number of local theaters are throwing the thing on at midnight, along with a behind the scenes featurette and a gag reel which we can only assume is longer than the film itself. You can check out which theaters are screening the film and get tickets over here. And if at least one of you doesn’t show up dressed as the Land Shark, we don’t know you anymore.



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Please Make It Stop: Thoughtful Pieces About The Lap Dance Tax

We know, we know: You are under a lot of pressure. Lexie Norcross is eating brains, the city is literally falling in on itself, and who knows where you will even be in a year from now. But for the love of all that is holy and mumsy, your thoughtful piece on the lap dance tax is not going to help anyone, least of all, YOU. Or, for that matter, us, the News Consumer. The more you people write pieces about the titty bars we know you have never been to, the more it creates a stir in the echo chamber, and the next thing you know, Marty Moss-Coane is discussing sex toys. NOBODY WANTS THIS. Just let it go.

BREAKING: Explosion, Home Collapse In South Philly

Seven people are injured — and three are currently being treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital — after a possible gas explosion brought down all or part of three homes. According to 6ABC, “The collapse happened around 11:00 a.m. in the 400 block of Daly Street. PGW was called for a possible gas leak connected to the collapse. PGW said the homes are 426, 428 and 430 Daly Street.”

Dept. Of They Made That Here: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Hits NYT Best Seller List

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Just a quick shout out to Philly’s own/our neighbor Quirk Books who, once again, have pulled off what is becoming their own singular kind of magic trick in having a book that is essentially a joke become a best seller. From the minds that brought you Pride & Prejudice & Zombies comes William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher, at #15 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best Seller List – down from #10 last week. And for those of you who bemoan a novelty gift hitting the place where, say, A.M. Homes and J. Robert Lennon should be, look at it this way: In a world where books like Proof of Heaven and Heaven Is Real hang out on the non-fiction list for months/years at a time, all bets are off and the whole goddamn thing is just a hustle anyway. (As if it wasn’t to begin with.) So good on ya, Quirk.

Readers Cameraphone: Don’t Mess With Shakespeare In Clark Park

From West Philly’s Clark Park over the weekend comes a more subtle cameraphone than usual:

Car parks too close to tracks for prima donna trolley driver’s liking. Much honking ensues with no car owner in sight. Guys from all over team up and lift the car to move it. Trolley driver dings appreciatively and people clap. The Tempest going on all the while.

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We’ll let Bill take it from here, from The Tempest:

“O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”

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

Morning Poll: Rip It Up And Start Again?


Anyone with eyes and brain knows that something is not right with the Phillies. Yes they’re old, and yes they’re facing a bunch of injuries, but this team is too good to drop eight in a row and fall further below .500 than they’ve been all year (or are they?). With that in mind, Jonathan Papelbon — he of Paris and get yer hands off my guns — has stated the partially obvious: Something’s gotta change. So with that we ask you:

July 26, 2013

This Weekend: City Of Brunchadelphia, Province Of Festivalia


Friday, Saturday, Sunday: That makes 3, too.

FRIDAY:

>>> As you may be be aware, the Xponential Music Festival is back in Camden this weekend, with its attendant mix of people you really wanna see and people who you are like WHO?/OH HELL NO about. Today, they’ve made it easy for you: Finish work, get yourself a nice meal and a few drinks, and then roll up to see Michael Kiwanuka at 8:00pm, Red Baraat at 9:00pm and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at 9:50pm.

>>> But this is nowhere near the end of festival type news for this weekend: You see, though the city of Philadelphia may be colonized by brunch (which is why your city tax forms now say “Brunchadelphia”), it is also a province of Festivalia. And so, the Kevin Bacon Fest at the Awesome Fest begins to make more sense. And yet, it doesn’t: There will be a free public screening in Eakins Oval of the movie Footloose, as well as DJ entertainment and a slew of food trucks all serving bacon specialties. None of this is in any way to be construed as a complaint.

>>> Elsewhere: the very great New Order plays at the Mann; Gogol Bordello at the TLA; and, finally, something humbly called THIS IS HOW WE DO IT – SUMMER CAMP 90′s DANCE PARTY at The Trocadero.

SATURDAY:

>>> Back at the Xponential Music Festival, there’s the whole Xponential Music Festival thing going on.

>>> Meanwhile: Ambivalence, thy name is Mad Decent Block Party.

>>> But here’s something fun and awesome to get excited about: Molasses, a Summer SlowDance at Studio 34 in West Philly, in which local freelance sex educators ScrewSmart — nobody but a world full of stupids asked them to do it, and they have politely and enthusiastically obliged — hold a good old fashioned slow-dancing slow-dancey SLOW DANCE. Huma, pin this to fridge; he’ll get the message.

>>> But if you like fast-dancing, specifically krumping, running-man-ing, sprinklering and so one, there’s It’s The Year 1999 at Johnny Brenda’s and we shall not judge you. That’s the old Brunchadelphia.

SUNDAY:

>>> Back at Xponential Music Festival, they’re really getting down to business with Phosphorescent during the day, and that whole Bob Dylan/Wilco/My Morning Jacket thing at night. Bring the whole family!

>>> And finally, our dark horse pick of the entire weekend, but one you might want to consider because it will be old-person magic and fun: Bob Dorough at World Cafe Live Upstairs. You may think you don’t know who Bob Dorough is. But you totally do. Just scroll up.

Film Sweat: Vote For Pedro

RECOMMENDED: Throughout his career, Pedro Almodovar has enjoyed a series of comparisons to the greatest film directors the world has ever known. And after taking in I’m So Excited, it’s our belief that he may be now gunning for the greats of television, specifically its early years. You know, the classics: I Love Lucy, Gomer Pyle, The Beverly Hillbillies on through to Three’s Company and maybe even a soupçon of It’s A Living. Why do we say that? Because I’m So Excited leaves no stick unslapped and no entendre un-doubled.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Using an ensemble cast in a very tight space — specifically, on an airplane that’s lost its landing gear and heading for possible doom — I’m So Excited is a kind of limiting exercise for Almodovar, and it’s one he excels at, adhering closely to a demanding dictum: When in doubt, actually whenever possible, be ridiculous. So there’s jizz jokes, there’s lipsynching, there’s some “Who’s on first?” stuff, drugs, booze, lots of sex, bright colors and absolutely zero guilt about any of it. It even looks downmarket; seriously, there’s Telemundo soaps with higher production values than this movie. And it is gloriously stupid. If you smuggle a thermos of Cosmos into any critically acclaimed Spanish-language feature this summer, make it this one. I’m So Excited is your reward for trying to care.

ALSO NEW IN THEATERS: Computer Chess, the latest from writer/director Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha), about a nerd convention in 1982, shot entirely on period video equipment; The Hunt, a Eurodrama about the dark power of the malicious word; Blackfish, a thoughtful doc about KILLER MOTHERFUCKING WHALES; The To-Do List, which we don’t feel qualified to comment on because like you, we have so many conflicting feelings about Aubrey Plaza; Crystal Fairy, ditto for Michael Cera, we’re just confused; and The Wolverine, which is all like, IN A WORLD, WHERE HUGH, JACK IS AN X-MEN.

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.

Noontime Nuggetz: Cosmo Baker On Wolves, The Holy Trinity And Power 99

As part of the Tucker & Bloom bag company’s ongoing series of micro-documentaries, this clip captures beloved Philly export DJ Cosmo Baker perfectly. You can catch Cosmo at Morgan’s Pier on August 29th.

Philadelphia Isn’t Detroit, But We’ll Have To Pay For It

The ink has barely dried on Detroit’s bankruptcy filing (is that a paper form?), and the first question on everyone’s mind is “Who is the next Detroit?” Well, good news: It’s not us!

As Forbes points out, the financial situations of cities all over the country aren’t exactly great, but Philadelphia isn’t the next Detroit. In fact, it just might be that no one is. While everyone is attempting to predict the next collapse, PhillyDeals points out that Philly might in fact be the next Chicago (not exactly high praise), as did an AP report.

But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. According to Newsworks, Detroit’s fallout will have an immediate influence on the way Philadelphia does things, as “the city of Philadelphia will end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more in interest costs for the next 20 years because Detroit filed for bankruptcy last week, the week before Philadelphia planned a major bond offering.” Quite simply, as Philadelphia City Treasurer Nancy Winkler told Newsworks, “We’ll be paying more to borrow.” Additionally, “She estimates the Chicago and Detroit events will add a about a quarter percent to the interest rate the city will pay for its $197 million bond offering, adding around $500,000 a year to the annual debt service the city will pay for those bonds.”

Even Newsworks got into the “Who is the next Detroit” name-game, but they quoted Bond Buyer‘s Paul Burton when he classified Philadelphia as an “improving situation.” An improving situation with a slightly lighter wallet, that is.

Recommended Viewing/Reading: Vice‘s Interview With A Skateboarder/Firefighter/Photographer From Camden

Most people end up with one career. Camden’s Gabe Angemi is working on his third. Agemi was a sponsored skateboarder in the ’90s, currently works as a fireman, and earned himself an interview with Vice because of his photography skills. You can check out the interview and some of his snaps here. It’s worth checking out for both the images and the words, but we know it’s Friday, so maybe just the pictures are your thing.

Dept. Of The Fun Police: You Don’t Miss Your Water ‘Til Your Fountain Run Dry

We’re hitting a nice little stretch of weather right now, as a nightly cool-down comes as the sun sets. But when the sun is high in the sky, it’s still incredibly hot. One way to keep yourself cool in Philadelphia has always been the classic fire hydrant maneuver. A similar cool-down strategy is taking a dip into one of the city’s many fountains (and not in the ironic, “what a magical night,” Diner En Blanc way). That can’t be done alongside the Art Museum Steps however, since those fountains have been dry for years. And it shall continue that way, according to City Paper:

Unbeknownst to most people, the Art Museum steps are a living monument to two illustrious Philly traditions: illegal swimming in public fountains, and City Hall clamping down on unregulated fun. The pair of cascading fountains that line the steps have been bone dry for nearly a decade. And even as the city tries to add glitz to the Parkway with a new pop-up park on Eakins Oval and pours funds into renovating long-neglected fountains by the Water Works, there’s not much hope for these cascades.”

So just keep that in mind the next time you’re stranded on the Parkway in 90+ degree heat: There’s nothing to drink, nothing to eat, no bathrooms in sight, and no relief from the heat. Just like Paris.

Lenny Dykstra Read His First Book In Prison, And Well, That’s Just A Bummer

In light of Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez and all of those other cheaters, it’s worth checking in with the Phillies’ own sentient ball of chewing tobacco and steroids, Lenny Dykstra. The no-longer incarcerated ex-Phillie sat down with some random podcasters to discuss baseball, prison, prison, and prison. When talking about it, Dykstra said “I actually read my first book in prison. …You know, I never read. (Laughs) I never read when I played baseball. And, I didn’t read because I thought it would hurt my eyes. You know what I mean? So it would affect my hitting, you know?” No Nails, we don’t know.

As far as we know, Nails will not be at the upcoming Phillies reunion weekend, featuring many members of the 1993 National League Championship team , but that doesn’t mean we can’t look back at better, brawnier times. Like this here, which does nothing more than make us miss Harry Kalas so, so much.

Rumblings: Failadelphia, Caught On Tape

>>> We recommend playing the above video, and loading up some “Yakety Sax” to begin at around the one minute mark: The Philadelphia Police Department has released a video of one man’s repeated attempts to break into the cash register at King of Wings. He attemps to break into the register drawer for at least three minutes before just deciding to say “Fuck it” and take the whole register with him. They report he got about $600. Meanwhile, you can toss King of Wings a hotlist vote for Best Wings. They need it right now. [Youtube]

>>> Elsewhere in South Philly, here’s a serious “people on street v. people in car” shouting-match, done the way only South Philly can. Oh, and it’s a two-parter. [PhillyBlunt]

>>> And someone out there takes it upon themselves to film all of Beyonce‘s shows, from bad seats, with un-synched audio and video. Here’s the Philly show. [Youtube]

July 25, 2013

This Evening: No Crap On Tap

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>>> A few months ago, we went to Blast Off, the new-ish monthly at The Khyber, and guess what? It was a goddamned delight. When it was announced earlier this year that The Khyb, which fairly dominated the 1990s indie rock scene here in Philly, would be having shows again, many approached the proposition with (an appropriate amount of) skepticism. But it turns out that the vibe up there is new and old, and feeling glad all over: It’s a smaller room, which generally hosts smaller bands (and some comedy, too), but you know, it’s still The Khyber. There’s history there. Real, live, slacker-ass, keep-Philly-weird history. And this Blast Off night captures all of that at its best. On the docket tonight are two garage-y bands you’re never heard of: Tin Horses and Invisible Friends, plus DJs spinning soul and scuzz. If you’re looking for a vision quest, head on down to a time before yarnbombing in the land that New Philadelphia forgot.

>>> Also so very worth your time and crinkled ten-dollar-bill: Black Circle Cinema’s retrospective on Warhol superstar Taylor Mead, in the Vox Populi Black Box space.

>>> Elsewhere: As mentioned earlier today, Little Big League at The Fire, and Philly comedy revue Comedy Dreamz, returning to the Barbary, complete with a performance from poor Greg Gethard who (for this week at least) will just be Chris Gethard‘s brother.