We’ve lost interest in the too-frequent callbacks to previous jokes that currently mar It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, yet we couldn’t help but think of the fourth season installment chronicling Charlie’s mailroom ineptitude when we learned that 10,000 pieces of unprocessed city mail were recently unearthed. At a news conference today, City Controller Alan Butkovitz decried the current state of the city’s Mail Distribution Center in which late water bills, subpoenas and other important documents that shape our destinies were just sitting there, dreaming of the day they’d reach the irritated hands of their intended adressees. As much as there is to be frustrated about this story, it’s hard to not think that this feels right on a cosmic level. A metropolis the size of ours needs the yang of incompetence and the ying of progress battling at each other. This isn’t something that regularly happen, but rather something that will and chaos theorists might even argue should. Those water bills can wait because there is nothing quite as beautiful as bureaucracy sometimes.
(For best results, read the above post while listening to “You Belong to the City”).
A month into Mayor Kenney‘s term, how are you feeling about his work so far? You’ll have a chance to sound off with your questions and concerns this Friday when the Mayor participates in one of his #AskKenney Twitter conversations at 3pm. We want to learn more about the Complete Streets Commissioner, and we expect there to be some griping about snow removal too, as well as the requisite softball lobs. We’ll keep an eye on this one for you and have a full wrap-up of the most significant moments — if any that is — this coming Monday.
Earlier today, Citified broke the news that Mayor Kenney would be hiring a “Complete Streets Commissioner.” A first for the city, this new position in the Kenney administration would, according to spokeswoman Lauren Hitt, be concerned with “making sure our streets are as multimodal as possible, including advocating for protected bike lanes.” The Citified piece has a deep dive on what this means for the city, with the ultimate message being sent by this move — the exact details of which are TBA — is that cyclists and urbanists alike have garnered enough attention within the city to merit a position that more or less will be dealing with the issues that concern them the most. It is as of this writing still unclear how the Commissioner will act to make the city a more sensible place for everyone who has to get anywhere, but we feel good about local government taking a step in this direction. Cautious optimism for now, and we are eager to hear more about all of this. Any word if a dance party has broken out over at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia upon their learning of this news?
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.
>>> Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins tours behind last year’s The Voyager, showcasing a set of fantastic songs that explore “her struggle to cope following the death of her estranged father in 2010 and the subsequent break-up of her band, Rilo Kiley.” Lending support at tonight’s Union Transfer show will be Philly’s Waxahatchee, so get your tickets before this one inevitably sells out.
>>> The Free Library’s 2016 One Book, One Philadelphia initiative — a city wide book club revolving around Charles Frazier‘s Cold Mountain that we are just barely tolerating — kicks off at Central Library with a discussion between Frazier and WHYY’s Jennifer Lynn, an excerpt from Opera Philadelphia’s upcoming performance based on the book, performances by the Curtis Institute of Music’s Rene Orth and Abigail Fayette, a signing by Frazier, and a Jude Law lookalike contest (okay, we made the last one up). Did you feel the book was overrated and wordy? Then you’ll probably want to lay low for awhile, because Mountain Mania is about the grip the city. Or at least that is the intent here.
>>> Philebrity PSA: We nearly lost our minds when we saw that James is at Kung Fu Necktie tonight, thinking our evening would be spent amidst kindred spirits listening to underrated Britpop. But no. It’s the other James. The South Jersey one. We’ve been through this before, so to him again we say: Dude, change that name. Not only is it a rough Google, but it’s already pretty well associated with another act.
>>> Real Estate’s Martin Courtney takes the solo spotlight to show off his psychedelic pop leanings at Boot & Saddle.
In a just-released video, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer announced the lineup for the 2016 Roots Picnic in a mini Broad City sketch that also unveils the lineup. Heading this ninth Roots Picnic — which will be held on June 4th at Festival Pier — will be Future, Leon Bridges, and Usher with The Roots (who will also perform a solo set). Here’s your event poster with the full details via Brooklyn Vegan (because of course):
DMX! Swizz Beats! Gogo Morrow! Others! It’s a pretty decent lineup, though we would have loved to see some rising Philly acts like The Morelings or Queen of Jeans added to the bill. That gripe aside, you’ll want to grab tickets when they go on sale this Friday to ensure you don’t miss the celebration. As we get closer to the date, we’ll have complete details as well as after party info.
We’re just learning this morning via Philadelphia Business Journal that UberPOOL, a new car-pooling service from the popular ride sharer will launch in Philly at a yet to be determined date. Given recent events, we can’t imagine that cabbies and the PPA are happy about this, but neither are we. Why? Because we heard “UberPOOL” and assumed the service allowed you to summon a flatbed truck with a shipping container othat had been modified into a makeshift swimming paradise to deliver watery fun all summer long at the click of a button. We guess the other thing is pretty interesting to, although we will reserve our final judgment until we have some more details.
For about as long as we can remember, Brian James Kirk has been a force of inspiration around this city through his exploits as a writer, adventurer, tech expert, and biking enthusiast. He’s the type of creative individual that Philly needs more of, a feeling that is further solidified by his latest project: the bike/camping hybrid Bikeout. Co-created by Kirk and Mat Tomezsko, the upcoming event describes itself as “a bike camping journey connecting residents of Philadelphia to the abundant natural and civic resources in the surrounding communities” and will be held on July 16th and 17th. Along with the riding, Bikeout also promises great meals and music, basically turning Philly into the two-wheeled utopia we always hoped it would become. We asked Kirk about the happening and what Philly can expect, here’s what he had to say:
Biking and camping. We’ll be perfectly upfront with you: We really want to goof on this. But goshdarn it, the whole thing seems so sincere that we don’t even think we will mock the inevitable moment when the “Kumbaya” singalong kicks us. So tell us a little about how this came to be.
Brian James Kirk: There’s only so many places you can ride in Philly if you think about it in the context of a couple-mile radius. But the Philadelphia region has so much to offer beyond city limits, and there are great ways, safe ways, to get there by bike. My co-organizer Mat Tomezsko and I thought it would be awesome to give people a chance to explore more without a car.
Obviously the biking aspect is the biggest appeal to this, but the food, music and community-building aspects of Bikeout are pretty intriguing as well. Please share with our readers how you feel the event will help Philly’s bike community connect and come together.
Our main hope is that people who have never done an overnight ride get a chance to experience it, because it’s a totally different way to enjoy a bike. So, we’re trying to make it as simple as possible to make that decision: an easy-going but distant ride, a unique venue, good food and drink, and a truly different overall experience. Even if you already do much longer tours, there’s something here for you: a chance to connect with other people that are down to tour.
What can you tell us about the food? And the music? Specifics please!
You’re watching this unfold. We’re talking to a few chefs and hope to hear from more who are looking to experiment with fresh ingredients directly from the farm, Sankanac CSA, where we’re hosting. Whatever happens, we’re planning a big communal meal that hits home after a long ride. Behind the ride and the camping, we want the meal to be a huge part of the experience. For music, we have some interest from some local bands, too, but we’re just getting started. Say hi.
If this event connected with #OpenStreetsPHL our hearts couldn’t take it. Please make this happen somehow.
We’re all about open roads. On the trip, there’s only a small stretch of about 3 miles through Phoenixville that has vehicular traffic, since most of the ride will happen on the Schyullkill River Trail, the region’s first #OpenStreet.
Bikeout seems like a pretty complicated affair to throw together. What were the biggest obstacles you faced in making this happen?
The folks at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills have been so helpful, and none of this would be happening without them signing on. We knew this had to happen on a farm, and they were on-board right away. The village is an amazing group of volunteers that help empower adults with developmental disabilities through on-site projects, like Sankanac, the farm where we’re hosting. We still have a ton of planning to do and even more people to contact to make it happen, but finding a place to host a bunch of bike campers was the biggest hurdle.
Anything else you want to share with our readers about this, and why they should attend?
I bring a lot of friends out on tours with me who’ve never tried it. No one’s ever turned back, and honestly, most of them have gotten super into it. There’s really something special about doing a self-contained trip to a place you’ve never been. We’re trying to make it even more accessible to a lot more people.
Brian did his first bike tour in 2012, a solo trip from Philadelphia to Ocean City, Maryland. Since then, he’s toured on two dozen trips throughout the Philadelphia and Mid-Atlantic regions, from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington D.C., and from Nice, France to Barcelona, Spain. He’s a cofounder of the local news company Technically Media, which publishes Technical.ly and Generocity.
In their new album, Thousand Lives, Philly’s Church Girls find themselves possessed by the ghosts of the past. “All my idols, they are dead and buried, and I think you should bury me,” declares singer Mariel Beaumont on the blistering track “Dead,” and the album ends with the cooing declaration that “you’ll always be alone” in “Smoke Signals.” Ouch. Despite the melancholy and occasional kissoffs, listeners will find nothing but contentment from the group’s post-Drop Nineteens songcraft. (Especially on the gloriously poppy “Slow”). Church Girls will play Johnny Brenda’s on February 19th with Queen of Jeans and Madalean Gauze, which will give you the chance to hear this early contender for year’s best LP in a live setting where you most definitely won’t be alone, despite what they may say.
We’re learning that tickets are going on sale this Friday for Barenaked Ladies’ concert at the Mann on June 18th supported by opening acts OMD and Howard Jones. We will be the first to admit that this is not exactly newsworthy but bear with us for a second as we’re trying to figure out a couple of things. That said, some thoughts:
• Post 120 Minutes, Dave Kendall hosted a syndicated show called Music Scoupe in which HoJo once joined up with Haddaway to perform the latter’s “What Is Love?” It was one of the strangest things we have ever witnessed on television and have spent an inordinate amount of time scouring the Internet with hopes of once again making its acquaintance.
• What is the Barenaked Ladies fan in 2016 even like? We will admit that pre-“One Week” the group often had a flair for Elvis Costello-esque pop that could be both witty and deeply insightful. At some point though, maybe when the group played The Peach Pit After Dark, there was a sea change and the goofy schtick took over. We think it is delicious that the group recorded the theme for The Big Bang Theory as lowered expectations seems to be the name of the game here. We had some run-ins with hardcore BNL fans both before and during their 1990s heyday, and that shit could be grim. The point we are making here is that someone desperately needs to Heavy Metal Parking Lot the tailgating at the upcoming gig because we want to see what’s doing. And perhaps even understand.
• How did OMD and Howard Jones get involved in this given they found their fortune in an entirely different decade than the Ladies? Did the retronaut who booked this get his chronometer screwed up? Can’t these acts just team up with ABC and therefore spare themselves the torture of having to endure the wince-inducing line in “Pinch Me” that declares “there’s a restaurant down the street where hungry people like to eat.” Will the pre-show music be “One of These Things Is Not Like The Other?”
• There is some sort of distortion in the space/time continuum surrounding BNL. Understanding this is the only way that the news that former band frontman Steven Page joined with, among others, Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket to tour Beatles covers in Canada makes any sense.
The Phightins’ new jerseys are looking good and there’s only 17 days until Spring Training begins. We’d be really excited if only we knew that our hearts wouldn’t be ripped out of our chests in some sort of Phillie Phanatic/Mola Ram bullshit.
Have you been noticing how much people dislike Wednesdays? The Mid-Week Guff is like an epidemic spiraling hopelessly out of control. In order to best combat that, I’m assigning your a trip to Bardot Cafe for Northern Comedies. This week’s showcase is hosted by Michelle Biloon and will feature stand up from Eddie Finn, Dan Vetrano, LUMP, Matthew Tsang, James Hesky, and David James. Take back Wednesdays, yt’s up to us. Wednesday, 9pm. Free.
Recently, scientists think they have discovered a new planet in our solar system, and similarly I discovered a new improv show I’d like to tell you about. It’s called Double Play and its first installment is on Friday this week. This show will feature two of the most acclaimed improv groups in Philadelphia, as both Playback and Triple Double will share the stage and lie to the audience for awhile as they pretendto be people they most likely are not. Friday 8:30pm. $5.
This Saturday will be an historical day in Philadelphia and you can quote me on that. This Saturday marks the first ever Bechdal Test Fest. This all-day comedy festival will be a celebration of female and trans comedians in the Philadelphia comedy scene will feature over 40 performances. That’s more comedy than you can catch in a week in most cities, but you can do it here in one single day without anything being interrupted by a pudgy cis white guy in a flannel shirt. Saturday, noon. $20
— Joe Moore
Joe Moore is the genial jerk who is head writer of sketch group Dog Mountain, host of monthly show Guilty Pleasures and a sketch comedy instructor. Hunt him down on Twitter @TheJoeMoore.
>>> February, you are barely a day old and you are already looking better than your predecessor. Usher in what will be hopefully a much more reasonable month musically when Low comes to Johnny Brenda’s tonight in support of their latest, the stunning Ones and Sixes. Having had the pleasure of seeing the act at venues as diverse at the Ethical Society to Union Transfer, we can say without hesitation that the band’s trademark slowcore (a term they just can’t shake despite their forays into sonic experimentation, if not outright bombast) fits any setting. Opening the show will be Philly’s own Mary Lattimore, whom we hope becomes BFFs with Low so they can all record the soundtrack to the looming apocalypse. I could live in hope…
>>> We mentioned it earlier and it we’ll say it again, The Awesome Fest’s Caucus Schmaucus will make tonight’s proceedings in Iowa that much more comedic.
>>> The soul-pop of NYC’s Lawrence makes Monday that much cooler at World Cafe Live tonight.
>>> Pet Semetary is tonight’s Movie Monday choice at The Troc. A left field choice? Could be. Or the programmers just know that there’s never a bad time to listen to the flick’s theme song from The Ramones.
With 2016 continuing to be quite the downer for music, the new video from Fabergégé brings the focus squarely back on how amazing Philly’s pop scene is (a most welcome thing in light of last week’s bullshit ). This clip, filmed by Isaac Harris and edited by Thom Lessner has the artistic pedigree, as well as just being about the poppiest thing we’ve heard in this still young yet so far aggravating year. When watching this, don’t be surprised if you start to have visions of Suzy Chapstick dancing at a Miracle Legion show. Man, is there a better feeling to evoke right around now than that?
We feel uncomfortably New Rule-y about this, but could you all please stop with their “Hotline Bling” parodies? First it was the Philadelphia Police Department’s “No Savesies” spoof, and now the cops over at the University of Delaware have gotten in on the action. Maybe we are just still concerned that — especially in our beloved Philadelphia — these resources could be used attempting to fix more pressing problems. Or perhaps we are just so, so tired of that song at this point. Either way, please, we beg of you, enough already. And New Jersey, look at you for not hopping aboard the bandwagon with this silliness! Well done. The rest of you though? Sigh.
A photo posted by The Fillmore Philadelphia (@fillmorephilly) on
With the current political news cycle being the strangest in recent memory, we’re more than down for as many laughs as we can get right now. That said, we feel somewhat obligated to let you know that The Awesome Fest folks have cancelled their previously scheduled Monday evening plans at the Foundry (which in this case would have been a tribute to Pauly Shore — really guys?) for an Iowa Caucus viewing party that will feature specially produced video pieces skewering candidates and politics in general. As tempting as this sounds we have to wonder if it can possibly be more entertaining than watching the spin Fox News will be making viewers dizzy with this evening.
Knowing a good thing (or at the very least, a buzzy thing) when they see it, Connie’s Ric Rac will hold their own live presentation of Grease as a response to the musical extravaganza Fox aired last night on April 2nd. Details are still scarce, but they may want to proceed with caution or risk the wrath of lawyers who could potentially make litigation the word. (Our apologies for that terrible joke). Whatever this turns out to be, the musical theater nerd in us hopes that Connie’s gets the Rizzo casting right as that character is the linchpin to the whole show…and helps us feel less weird about the other Rizzo whose spirit looms large over South Philly.
One of our favorite things about this city in which we’ve chosen to spend our lives in is its consistently fantastic comics scene. We’re not just talking the work of Charles Burns, or Locust Moon Comics (RIP) or the usual headline grabbers either. Philly is home to seemingly countless writers, artists, and creators who impact the comics scene on a local and national basis. Cases in point: Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman. Since 2011 their Dirty Diamonds has helped expand the horizons of the traditionally male-dominated medium by establishing itself as an all-girl comics anthology, one whose six issues to date have focused on issues ranging from travel to beauty. The work by a varying group of artists is more compelling and entertaining than anything the major publishers are putting out, so when we heard that the publication was seeking submissions based around the theme of “imagination,” we jumped at the chance to interview Phillips and Folkman to get the inside story on how Dirty Diamonds makes the entirety of Philly shine bright.
Tell me a little about the genesis of Dirty Diamonds.
Kelly Phillips: Dirty Diamonds got started in 2011 after we attended Drink and Draw Like a Lady, an event that happens each year in NYC the day before MoCCA Fest, which focuses on women within the comic scene getting together and talking shop (and drinking, and eating). There were so many girls making so much really great work; it was inspiring! At the same time, we felt like we weren’t seeing the work of women like the ones we’d met being properly represented at comic shows and in anthologies that were coming out. So we said, “if they’re not going to print these incredible ladies, we will!” We teamed up with our favorite local ladies (Carey Pietsch and Dre Grigoropol) to make the first issue, and it’s kinda been a runaway train since then.
What, if any, difficulties have you found in getting this project up and running? What has the response been like so far?
Kelly Phillips: From the moment we released our first open call (for Dirty Diamonds #2: Jobs) it seems like everyone we talk to is super excited about what we’re doing. We think everyone within the comics community likes to see people making things happen and creating new opportunities to showcase great art. You know, that supportive, DIY spirit. Our toughest moment thus far has probably been planning and launching our first Kickstarter campaign. Suddenly, our baby project of photocopied/stapled zines was a 100+ page perfectly bound book with triple the content that we’d ever published before, and we had to have the confidence and enthusiasm to raise enough money to transform what we had been doing into something even greater. It was a big vision and a big risk. Everything worked out, thank you Internet, but it was still unsettling to ask for a bunch of money, knowing if we didn’t get it we would still need to figure out how to cover the costs of getting our book printed. We’re so thankful that our campaigns have been successful because it means that we’ve been able to pay our contributors, because supporting our artists has always been very crucial to our mission.
Why do you think that comics are still a traditionally male dominated industry despite the great work being done by everyone from yourselves to women who work with both major and indie titles?
Claire Folkman: I don’t know if I still think of the comics industry as male dominated. I feel like the more shows we go to and the more people we meet, the more I see that it’s really a mix of all kinds of people…dudes, ladies, and everyone in between! Maybe there are still more men than anything else in C-Suite roles at big publishers but even then, more and more indie publishers are coming out with really great material from a very diverse set of creators and readers are really starting to really seek that type of material out. I think that as the readership changes and expands and demands more varied voices, the industry itself will have to respond and change too.
Kelly Phillips: I think the traditional comics industry is and has been very male-dominated, and it’ll likely stay that way. What we’re really starting to see now, especially with the proliferation of tools like Kickstarter that allow people to take things into their own hands, is a really strong diversification of what the industry actually is. It’s not just two major publishers. It’s not even a handful of strong, independent publishers. It’s people getting their work out any way they know how. Publishing a comic on tumblr could get your work seen by thousands of people within a day. That would never happen in traditional comics publishing at that speed or with so little outside intervention, and it also means that no one is restricted by the rules and hesitations of traditional publishers. That gives way more people of all genders, orientations, and ideologies a level playing field for creating and distributing their work. It’s total anarchy right now in all the best ways.
The upcoming seventh issue is all about imagination. What are you looking for in terms of submissions?
Kelly Phillips: Of course, there are the usual structured aspects of our open calls (all specs can be found here), but in terms of content, we love when people really stretch and bend the theme to make it their own and make things we wouldn’t even think to ask for!
When we select themes, we aim for something that’s universal, abstract, and completely open to interpretation. For our last issue, with the theme Beauty, we received comics about hair, makeup, body image, gut bacteria and gargoyles, to name a few. We love how the open calls really make for a book full of crazy good and crazy different comics!
Philly has an absolutely fantastic comics scene, seemingly unmatched, between the work of the Philadelphia Cartoonists Society to the various stuff that Locust Moon was up to first as a shop and now as a publisher. Difficult question here, but why do you think we have such a tight-knit and loyal artistic and creative community?
Kelly Phillips: The Philly comics scene doesn’t give a fuck. There’s no pretense, there’s no gatekeeper. It just comes together organically, and anyone can jump in at any time. My introduction to it was through the Philly Comix Jam, which is still, to me, a staple of what this community is all about. It’s a loose gathering of cartoonists who get together once a month to draw (and drink; see a theme here?). That’s it. We don’t do workshops, we don’t have critique circles, we don’t gather in each other’s studios to toil for hours at our craft. It’s just about this shared passion that we all have. I think that keeps a lot of the joy in it, and I take all that energy back into my studio time. I’ve met so many fantastic people through Philly comics who are still some of my favorite creators and best friends, and I think that’s key to what makes this community so great: It’s not about networking; you just make friends and get excited about each other’s work.
Claire Folkman: To me, I think the Philly comics community is so great because everyone treats each other like old friends. It’s small enough to be intimate but big enough that it’s welcoming to anyone who would want to hang out with us. There are no bad attitudes or people being salty about someone else’s successes… it’s just people who all love to do the same thing and who enjoy hanging with like-minded people. I think Philly also benefits from being a slightly smaller major city… you can be involved in so many different scenes here and there’s a lot of cross over, so the art people and the comic people and the band people and the wrestling people and the bike people all know each other and get interested in what everyone else has going on. It’s a city full of communities always on the lookout for a cheap beer, a few laughs, and a good time.
For for information on Dirty Diamonds, and to get involved with the next issue, visit their webpage.
RECOMMENDED: Nothing. Seriously. It’s late January and the cinematic tumbleweeds are tumbling. Down below you will find some would-be blockbusters and Oscar bait, but really, you are better than all of it. With that in mind we recommend you seek out the following older films that you may or may not have seen via Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, or the hundreds of other ways people watch shit in the year 2016:
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK:Kung Fu Panda 3 is the latest CGI would-be laughfest from Dreamworks whose trailer has been annoying the shit out of us for over a month now. With the voices of Jack Black, Bryan Cranston; The Lady in the Van is a VERY IMPORTANT British drama about VERY IMPORTANT things starring Maggie Smith as a homeless woman, and we miss Downton Abbey. Jim Broadbent co-stars; The Finest Hours is based on the true story of a daring Coast Guard rescue, so why does this film stir nothing within us? Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster star. Oh that’s why; and Fifty Shades of Black is a Marlon Wayans-starring spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey that totally captures the zeitgeist of three years ago. Well done.