April 22, 2015

Productivity Killer Of The Moment: The Political Data Analysis Site Crowdpac

crowdpac-logoWith May 19th nipping at our collective heels, the undecideds amongst you must figure out which of the candidates you’ll be voting for as Philly’s next mayor. Even though it’s just a primary, the Democratic candidate that wins will essentially be the person who gets the job come next November, barring any unforeseen and unlikely circumstances in which Philly politics get completely inverted and all Freaky Fridayed. As such, you’ll need to prep yourself on the men and women running, and the often none-too-subtle variations on where they stand on things. The new site Crowdpac can help you do just that by culling data from a variety of sources to present an overview of each candidate, their positions, some information on their contributors, etc, etc, etc. Barring a reboot of The West Wing, it’s the most enjoyably accessible introduction to and analysis of politics that we can think of. The site says its mission is “to help everyone participate more easily and effectively in the political process. Crowdpac is independent, non-partisan and for-profit. This is the new politics.” Citified put the website through its paces, and their findings indicate that Crowdpac possesses a near-Skynet level of data awareness that makes us suspect that it may just become self-aware and install itself as the Benevolent Ruler of the City Of Crowdpacdelphia come November. (Although that could just be a mixture of our inner Luddite talking and a subconscious desire to see Avengers: Age of Ultron). We’ve spent a good chunk of the afternoon going through its various features and it’s the little touches — clicking a candidate immediately brings up their endorsements and other types of information that can help influence voters — that are really impressive. (Information on how this all works can be found here). We recommend you spend some time today getting acquainted with its in and outs, just watch the clock while doing so as the site has a tendency to suck time away without you realizing it.

Dept. Of In Da Club: 50 Cent To Host A Poolside Party For College Kids At Harrah’s Next Month


On May 15th, rapper/Vitaminwater magnate 50 Cent will host a Wet N Wild Wednesday event at The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s — a happening for the young that is described by the Facebook event page as the following:

It’s that time of the year again. You know what that means. There’s only 1 place to celebrate your senior week and leave college with the banger of all bangers with 4,000+ crazy college kids.

Get your friends together and make your way down to The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City on Wednesday May 13th to say goodbye to another year and hello to SUMMER 2015.

Not to sound like a grandad here, but four new college grads looking to blow off steam by drinking and dancing (can people actually even use the pool at this thing, or is it strictly ornamental here?) seems like a lot to deal with, let alone 4,000. We are way way too old to deal with such carefully organized fun, but have at it kids. We’re sure it will go, um, swimmingly.

Previously: Noontime Nuggetz: Patti LaBelle Dancing To 50 Cent Is All You’ll Ever Need

Podcasts We Wholeheartedly Endorse: Hot Probs

It’s not inaccurate to call Amanda Blank and Rose Luardo Philly creative dynamos given their involvement in pursuits like Sweatheart and Comedy Dreamz. It’s been firmly established over the past decade that the pair know how to entertain, but did you realize that they just might be able to help you as well? Their advice-dispensing tumblr and podcast Hot Probs has recently returned after a four-year hiatus and Philly is so much better for it. The just-released fourth episode covers “gross roomates, dental problems, work dilemmas, and a loss of sexual sensation” and we can’t wait to dive right in. If you have a Hot Prob of your own you can ask Amanda and Rose here. Since it’s totally confidential we may be in touch ourselves. If anyone can fix us, it’s these two.


Right Now In The People’s Republic Of Comcast: Another Comcast Tower On The Way?

USSRCAST1With work already underway in Center City on a second Comcast behemoth, could yet another living monument to all things Comcastic be prepping to complete the Philly skyline’s hat trick of corporate barfiness? This could very well be the case. The Inquirer is reporting that Comcast has once again partnered with Liberty Property Trust on a new property collab:

The companies have jointly bought land at 19th and Arch Streets, diagonally across the street from where they are building the 59-story Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, company spokesman John Demming said.

Comcast and Liberty have no specific plans for the parcels, as the companies concentrate on developing the new tower, Demming said.

While there are no formally announced plans for the location as of yet, the cynic/realist in us is just wondering if the companies are biding their time waiting to see how the increasingly complicated Comcast/Time Warner merger plays out. Meanwhile, those with access to PhillyCAM can watch the Comcast franchise negotiations RIGHT NOW. They aren’t on Netflix, obvs.

Noontime Nuggetz: Travel Back To 1970 Philadelphia For The First Earth Day

Namaste! Today is Earth Day, the annual celebration of environmentalism that aims to raise awareness and effect change in how we treat this wonderful, horrible little planet we are all marooned on. (Which brings us to the yearly reminder that Ira Einhorn was master of cermonies at the first Philly commemoration of Earth Day back in 1970). We’ve embedded a delightfully off-kilter vintage CBS news report from the festivities in Fairmount Park some 45 years ago. Sadly, Einhorn isn’t featured in the clip but there is an embarrassingly sincere performance of “Air” from Hair that will make you feel equally uncomfortable. You can get out there and let the sun shine in with these local celebrations of the event. So happy Earth Day folks, we’re all pretty much screwed!


HughE Dillon’s Discovery Of The Shirtless Guy From The Art Museum Steps Is The Greatest Todd Solondz Film Never Made

There’s so much about this that delights and confounds us, but it is the appearance of “#Fun” that makes this celebration of fitness from HughE Dillon truly transcendent. We never knew how much we needed to see a neo-Dan Cortese shimmy up the art museum steps like an six-packed scorpion until right this very minute, so thanks?

All Music Heard At Fishtown House Parties To Make Up New Cameron Crowe Soundtrack

songs-of-alohaThe durability of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything and Almost Famous are more than enough for us to forgive Cameron Crowe for his recent cinematic output. (Paula Deen was in Elizabethtown HAW HAW). His new film, Aloha, is a romantic comedy/redemption tale whose cast includes Bradley Cooper (nope), Bill Murray (foreverlove), Alec Baldwin (sure, why not?), Emma Stone (ok), Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls always), John Krasinski (absolutely not), Danny McBride (still?) and Jay Baruchel (his trademark brand of awkwardness always brings a smile to our face). Despite our ambiguous feelings towards the actual film, we very much would like to hear the soundtrack, which includes Hall & Oates, Kurt Vile, David Crosby, Fleetwood Mac, Beck, Jónsi & Alex and The Tallest Man on Earth . Or we could just walk anywhere in the proximity of the Rocket Cat Cafe on a Saturday night and hear the same music wafting down to the sad and sublime streets below.

ICYMI: Frontline’s Documentary On Terrorist/Former Khyber Pass Manager David Headley

In November of 2008, David Coleman Headley was a member of a cell responsible for plotting and carrying out the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. But how did a U.S. citizen from an affluent family become involved in a radical Islamic group? That’s one of many questions explored in the PBS Frontline documentary American Terrorist, an updated version of the 2011 doc A Perfect Terrorist that has been revised for our post-Edward Snowden age. Headley’s life story is a fascinating one that is only made more compelling by the fact that he used to manage the Khyber — a bar his mother started during her ownership of the property from 1977-87. The Frontline doc presents a rare look at this long-gone era of Philly weirdness in the form of an Evening Magazine piece on the Khyber Pass (glimpsed above). While we search the Internet for more Ray Murray/Nancy Glass wonderment — does anyone have the full Khyber episode? — you can watch the entire documentary here.

April 21, 2015

This Evening: The Stillness Of Remembering What You Had

>>> Re-Set featuring Kate Faust, Donn T and RES at Johnny Brenda’s features vocal powerhouse RES presenting her takes on Fleetwood Mac classics. Because thunder doesn’t only happen when its raining.

>>> Jazz Appreciation Month isn’t over yet, which is why we recommend checking out Jazz Night with Chris Oatts at Ortleib’s. This is not quite Duke Silver territory but it’s close, damn close.

>>> Over at Tattooed Mom, Plant Me Here is “a devised immersive experience based on the poetry of Jason Rosenberg” that is a fundraiser for BRAT Productions‘ May performances at The Iron Factory that we want to go to despite the fact that this event’s very name has done the unforgivable by putting this Suddenly, Tammy! song in our head.

OH! And…

We Don’t Understand What Tim Tebow Or His Pretzel Doppelganger Are Supposed To Be

Football. It’s still the worst.

Previously: We’ve Glimpsed The Face Of The New American Dream And It Comes With A Side Of Cheese Dip

Today’s Weird Obsession: The Cult House Of Beaver Valley

Skull TreeOne of the many great things about living in Philly is its unlimited strangeness. As if Philadelphia proper didn’t have its own weird legacy — what with our Toynbee Tiles and that “where people flow underground” compound in Fishtown and so on — it’s worth reminding you that we live in close proximity to even more oddness that lies not too far from our city. (Related: Is the new issue of Weird NJ out yet?) One such hub of bizarre happenings that we’ve become obsessed with of late is the so-called Cult House of Beaver Valley and its surroundings. Otherwise known as “Devil’s Road,” Cossart Road in Chadds Ford off Route 202 is home to the sort of nature-induced emptiness from which a million urban legends are born. The area is also the home to what’s known as the “Cult House,” a mysterious mansion that has been linked to everyone from the DuPont family to the KKK, as well as tales of human sacrifice, weird circumstances, bizarre-looking trees (like the pictured “Skull Tree”) and a general feeling of evil that hangs in the air like a palpable echo of the bad juju that is supposedly linked to the place. Is it bullshit or not? The folklore swirling around the area does have some tenuous links to chilling real-life crimes such as a 1978 murder spree in the area, but “Satanville” as it has come to be called is more about mood than verifiable horror. (Its creepy atmospherics are well-known enough that M. Night Shyamalan shot footage for The Village there, although we’d rather take our chances with crazies in the area than have to sit through that again). Is there really something sinister happening in the woods there? We aren’t sure, but we know where the next Philebrity road trip is going to be.

Doug Oliver’s New TV Ad Has A “The Greatest Love Of All” Vibe

Do believe that children are the future and if they’re taught well then they can lead the way, showing us all the beauty we possess inside? If so, you’ll likely find the above campaign ad from Doug Oliver to be effective. (Especially with its somewhat restrained criticism of longtime politicos like Lynne Abraham, Jim Kenney and Anthony Hardy Williams). The memorable ad marks the debut of a new media push from Oliver, one that Newsworks has the details on:

The campaign-funded effort will focus on Center City, Northwest and West Philadelphia with nine billboards and 30-second spots on Comcast. Radio spots will start airing on 900-AM WURD (today), WRNB 100.3-FM (April 27) and KYW 1060-AM (May 5) as well.

Campaign spokesman Mustafa Rashed said it was “the right time” to build on an effort that had focused on events and social media up until this point.

“We’re especially happy to say that Friends of Doug Oliver is 100 percent paying for its own media,” he said. “No dark money, no special interests, no independent expenditures and not a dime from a single PAC. Just the support from individual Philadelphians who truly want to see something different.”

With the May 19th primary swiftly approaching, Oliver’s newly enhanced media presence aims to gain the attention of undecided voters. But will his ads reach their audience or become nothing more than political background noise a la those competing spots that are currently airing non-stop? We will find out soon enough as the home stretch will quickly be upon us.

Philadelphia-Born Composer Julia Wolfe Wins A Pulitzer Prize In Music

jwDebuting last year at the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the choral work Anthracite Fields chronicled the often-bleak lives of Pennsylvania coal miners. (And you thought “The Downeaster Alexa” was a musical bummer about the working class). In the year since the piece had its world premiere here it has received unanimous praise, culminating in a 2015 Pulitzer Prize win for “For distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year.” In conversation with NPR, Wolfe — who was born in Philly and raised in Montgomery County before co-founding the Bang on a Can collective in New York City — describes what she hopes listeners take away from Anthracite Fields:

One thing that is really important to me was to honor that life. It’s not like nobody knows the history but it’s not necessarily mainstream history. The politics are very fascinating, the issues about safety and the consideration for the people who are working and what’s involved in it. I really wanted to leave it open for people to think. I didn’t want to hammer them over the head and say, “Listen to this. This is a big political issue.” It really was, “Here’s what happened. Here’s this life and who are we in relationship to that?” We’re them. They’re us. And, basically, these people, working underground, under very dangerous conditions, fueled the nation. That’s fascinating and very important to understand.

Along with a cash prize of $10,000 and the continuing respect of her peers, Wolfe will also receive a lifetime of bragging rights for, you know, winning a Pulitzer. Well done.

UPDATE: Another Philly-related win! Gregory Pardlo‘s Digest wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Pardlo is a Philly-born poet whose work has appeared in American Poetry Review, who also published his 2007 book, Totem, and Painted Bride Quarterly (where he has worked as a Contributing Editor).

Noontime Nuggetz: The War On Drugs On The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Wow. Yesterday, The War on Drugs appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to perform “Red Eyes.” Insert OMG LOL here. We were working and missed this, but our mom told us that the performance “had a lot of fun energy” and that “the frontman seems like a really sweet guy.” So there you have it. Congrats guys, you’ve really made it now!

Excessive Whimsy Alert: Secret Cinema To Open For Stephen Merritt’s Union Transfer Gig

MerrittOn Saturday, May 2, Stephin Merritt will appear at Union Transfer with cellist Sam Davol to perform acoustic material from The Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies and The 6ths. The gimmick here is that Merritt will only performing a total of 26 songs from these various projects in alphabetical order. (We are keeping our fingers crossed that “The Dreaming Moon” makes the cut). As if this show already wasn’t precious enough, Jay Schwartz‘s repertory film project The Secret Cinema will open the evening with a screening called Selected Short Subjects. Curated with input from Merritt, the program will include music-related material presented on 16mm film culled from the always impressive Secret Cinema archives. Due to the sheer volume of whimsy that will be on display for this show we have to ask: What’s the over/under on how many people will be riding pennyfarthing bikes to the gig?

Dept. Of Southpaw Grammar: For A Mere $6.9 Million, Cliff Lee’s Rittenhouse Condo Can Be Yours

DaCliffzAttention rich Cliff Lee superfans, yesterday the Phils’ pitcher listed his Rittenhouse Square condo for $6.9 million through Fox & Roach Realtors (who has a jaw-dropping photo gallery of Lee’s three-bedroom, 4,166 square foot digs here and, better still, a virtual tour). What do you get for all those millions? Here’s a breakdown via Fox & Roach:

Exclusive Condominium with Full Floor Residence in the Heart of Historic Rittenhouse Square. Direct Elevator Access to the Most Spectacular Views North, East, West and South! Stunning Living Room, Open Formal Dining Room, Family Room, Large Gourmet Eat-In Kitchen. Large Terrace. Three Spacious Bedroom Suites. The Luxurious Master Suite has Endless Closet Space and an Lux Marble Bathroom. 24hr Concierge, Indoor Pool, Fitness Center, Board Room, Resident’s Garden with a Koi Pond and a Chauffeur Driven Mercedes S-550. Two Automated Garage Parking Spaces.

We came for the spectacular views, but we stayed for the Koi pond. Man, just thinking about living here makes our elbow hurt. We will leave it to WIP to speculate about whether or not this move is a precursor for the veteran pitcher — who has grappled with injuries of late — to announce his retirement. For now, we just want to daydream about having that Rittenhouse view.

Previously: The Way We Live Now: Cliff Lee’s Fart Is A Metaphor For And Answer To Everything In Your World Right Now

FYI: Kelly Writers House Is Hosting An All-Day Reading Of One Hundred Years Of Solitude This Thursday

100yearsGabriel García Márquez‘s compelling — although that may be understating things a bit — 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude will be celebrated on Thursday during a Marathon Reading of the entire book at the Kelly Writers House that will span from 9am to 10:30pm. That’s a lot of ruminating about the cyclical nature of life right there friends, and you can help chronicle the immensely tragic exploits of the Buendía family by signing up for a 10-minute reading slot here. There’s still an assortment of prime spaces available, including the final spot for the magical realism-loving literary glory hounds amongst you. Perhaps the best part of all of this? The organizers of the event also promise “decorations, food, and props all derived from the text.” We’re holding out hope that this means there will be some Red Hots candy there to represent fire ants.

Get Answers About The Answer With Showtime’s New Allen Iverson Documentary

Let’s kick your Tuesday off with some spooooooorrrrrrrtttttssss! On May 16th at 9pm, Showtime will debut the documentary Iverson, chronicling the ups and downs of the one-time Sixers great. The doc originally premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and we’re anxious for the world at large to get reacquainted with Allen’s unique brand of magic…both on and off the court. In fact, we’re so excited we’ve already bought some beer for the screening. Corona of course.

April 20, 2015

Introducing “Beefeaters Anonymous,” Joey Sweeney’s Weeklong #PhillyVegPledge Weblog


The vegetarians and the vegans have the moral high ground now more than ever. But I will spare the niceties about this: No one likes them. Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of chefs about vegans? It is hate magic. Non-carnivores in our society bear the same historical burden of many who have come before whose moral position was correct but whose likability suffered from any number social gaffes, misunderstandings and just plain bad luck. This is regrettable but, in a meat-based society, understandable, too. I mention it because in mere hours, I too will be a vegetarian, however temporarily. I have to have my eyes open to the ways I will be treated. And I have to know where I stand.

At the request of Greenlimbs and the Humane League of Philadelphia, our esteemed editor and publisher is participating in this year’s #PhillyVegPledge. And all week, he’ll be chronicling the experience of eating like a responsible human being over at Phoodie.info. (Hey, remember Phoodie?) Part one is up now here.

The Week Ahead In Comedy: ‘Dam Yankees


“A mellow yellow night of musicomedy fusion” hits Rybrew Thursday night with the debut of “A Night in Amsterdam.” Lighting up the joint: Drew Castellano, Jamie Glasheen, Joe Bell, Michael S. Watkins, Robert Ecks, Sara Belle, Ari Fishbein, Aaron Nevins, Elise Thomson-Hohl, Matt Aukamp, Baby Pleasure, and more. And by “more,” I mean the best 90′s grunge parody band in the city, The Flannel Chucks. Thursday at Rybrew. 7:30. No cover.

Friday night, presented by the 2015 Cinedelphia Film Festival, Baltimore’s Wham City Comedy comes to PhilaMOCA. Featuring Adult Swim “Unedited Footage of a Bear” collaborators Alan Resnick and Robby Rackleff, this night of high comedy also boasts Philadelphia’s New Dreamz and stand-up comedian Chanel Ali. As my favorite New Dreamz character once said, “In Berlin, when someone tells you to take hair out of a bag and rub it on your teeth, you do it.” Friday at 10pm. Tickets available online.

In Manayunk Friday night? See poor behavior in public. You can also you go to “Delinquent Comedy: Support Bad Decisions.” Hosted by “the always predictably drunk” James Mascuilli, the BYO spectacle will feature Troy Moore, Chris Stenta, Joe Moore, and Brian Finnell. Friday at Comedy Club House Manayunk. 9pm. No cover.

Saturday night, a second chance to catch Wham City Comedy as they join ladies’ sketch collective Mani Pedi at Plays & Players. Mani Pedi will be presenting “Karen’s Dream,” with an additional performance of “Mel Buttermensch: A Memorial Concert” by The Wire Mothers. Saturday at Plays & Players. Doors at 10pm. Show at 10:30pm. Tickets available online.

– Alejandro Morales

Alejandro Morales is one of the six rotating hosts of the award-winning (and later, award-losing) Laughs on Fairmount open mic, every Monday at 8pm at Urban Saloon. See his webseries at thedatesshow.com and follow him on twitter @AlleyHandRow.