October 28, 2014

Q&A: Taylor From The Front Office At UberX, Who Is Not Amused By These PPA Shenanigans. Not At All. Not One Bit.

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Mounted police is one thing. Riot gear is another. But Action News?
Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?

As UberGate has continued to tumble out since the car service app rolled out its UberX service over the weekend — inspiring the Philadelphia Parking Authority to impound cars and use all law enforcement resources at its disposal — everything about the controversy seems to now be outsized. All parties involved are heated. And as even the Mayor now steps into the fray, what we are seeing here is about Uber, certainly, but only to a degree. [Full disclosure: Uber has advertised with Philebrity in the past.] What is really in play as the PPA and traditional taxi drivers alike act out in full tantrum mode is nothing less than this: Two of the most visible vestiges of Old Soviet Philly encountering modern technology and commerce. And they do not like it. That said, neither side is completely right, and neither side is completely wrong. For those of us who use taxis and Ubers alike, UberX feels like a not totally satisfying approximation of either. In any case, the acrimony and confusion does not look like it will be ending soon.

Earlier today, we spoke with Taylor Bennett, a communications representative based in Uber’s Washington D.C. office — where, as it happens, the service is also making news today. After the jump, Bennett dishes some tough talk, but also dodges questions and tows the company line. (more…)

We’re Pretty Sure Escape The Room Is Hypercube In The Qdoba On 15th And Walnut

According to the website for Escape The Room Philly,

Escape the Room is a fun, interactive game taking place in Philly. While it looks like any other ordinary room, it’s actually a mystery puzzle. Find the hidden objects, figure out the clues and solve the puzzles to earn your freedom and “Escape the Room.” You have 60 minutes, so be quick! Come with your friends, family and coworkers and have a great time.

As an advertisement, this is a perfect storm of cryptic and menacing. The FAQ tells you that, legally, the staff are required to let you out of the room if you insist, but it’s “much more satisfying” if you find and solve the clues. The endorsements are culled from social media, which tells you only that people are claiming on the internet to have done this thing. Obviously, this is part of the mystique and, we guess (?), the allure, but there are also no images of Escape The Room on the website. So you have, like, no idea at all what you’re getting into if you do it. All you can find is the location, which, if you zoom in far enough on Google Maps, appears to be a Qdoba on 15th and Walnut, where, if you actually follow through with Escape The Room, you could end up trapped forever. If this is your thing, then proceed at your discretion, but remember: There are no rules, no one is safe, and order is for pickup only.

New John Coltrane Live At Temple Album Only Exists In Meatspace

…but apparently it doesn’t matter. Although Offering: Live At Temple University is only available as a physical release, it’s as beloved as any of Coltrane’s records. We can’t prove it to you, because there’s no YouTube or SoundCloud embed available, but this review insists that the album is superb, and we’re inclined to believe it, because we’re serious admirers of Coltrane’s (read: people with functioning ears and brains) and because while some find it tiresome and unlistenable, we know Coltrane’s later period produced some of his best work. What’s more remarkable is that lack of an online release isn’t hurting the album’s sales at all; well, not exactly. Because albums don’t sell like they used to now that downloading is so easy and widespread, an album that’s only available as a hard copy, like this one, is actually pretty likely to top charts, as this one has. Of course, this could also be because it’s coming from one of the greatest musicians of all time.



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Ain’t No Party Like A Lynne Abraham Dance Party ‘Cos Lynne Abraham Dance Party Is Running For Mayor!

Dear Lord, have we really not had a Lynne Abraham Dance Party in this spot since 2011? Well, it looks like we’re going to have to fire up the disco ball and the death-injectors, ‘cos as of today, it’s official: Former Philly D.A./“Queen of Death”/star of a National Mechanics pint glass (see above) Lynne Abraham is officially running for mayor. As in, she said it. This comes of course after months of her intimating that she would be, but never actually saying the words, “I am running for mayor,” so yes, it’s a technicality, but nevertheless, there she is, and there it is.

Abraham joins a growing field of declared or assumed candidates for whom the very notion that they’d run is horrifying and distressing to most Philadelphians.

This Is (Maybe) The Year That (Maybe) We’re All Gonna Really (Maybe) Care About The 76ers Again (Maybe)!


A sneak peak at our intro video for this season on the new 3d projection system… 👀

A video posted by Philadelphia 76ers (@philadelphia76ers) on

God bless those 76ers, because, by God, they try, and even though they fail, they fail spectacularly. As in, their failure itself is a spectacle, and this harsh reality seems to be guiding their new approach to marketing: let loose a bunch of jive-ass theatrical effects and attention-grabbing ploys (e.g., the new 3D video projection system previewed above) before, during and after every game so that the fans who so desperately need a reason to be there will forget, at least momentarily, that they just can’t seem to get it together to play a decent season. Either that, or that’s not actually a 3D projection above, and when the Heat show up to the Wells Fargo on Saturday for this season’s opener, rather than employ a winning strategy, the 76ers are planning to tear up the floorboards beneath them. Literally.



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Watch Michael Nutter Talk With Sadness And Exasperation About How City Council Screwed The Pooch On The PGW Deal

… to an audience of apparently no one, and with no one by his side. This will make you sad. It will make you even sadder to know that, as of this writing, this video only has 47 views. And yet, there he is, lonely and… completely correct when he talks about how City Council going all old-bullshit-corrupt-Philly and negging this PGW deal is a dark day in recent Council history. Some of these people are going to try and run for mayor soon, and, you know, it’s really important to remember: Most of them probably didn’t even deserve to be on Council. Sigh.

Arts Groups, Take Note: Nutter, Office Of Arts & Culture Open Up Applications For Performance In Public Spaces Grants

This just in over the transom:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAYOR NUTTER OPENS APPLICATIONS FOR PERFORMANCES IN PUBLIC SPACES

Philadelphia, October 28, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) announced that the City is accepting applications for Performances in Public Spaces – an initiative that provides grant money for artists and art organizations to cover all costs associated with presenting performances in select parks and plazas across the city in 2015. This initiative is made possible by the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia and a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a total of $60,000. The number of projects selected and award levels will be based on the number of applications and range of amounts requested.

“In the past, OACCE has animated City Hall with performances. Now, we will go beyond City Hall and bring performances to the people. It is important that art be accessible to everyone,” said Nutter. “We hope that these performances will enrich the lives of citizens and promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the arts. I am pleased to support Performances in Public Spaces because I believe the project will strengthen Philadelphia’s reputation as a leader for public art and it will also highlight the potential of the city’s many neighborhood public spaces.”

Depending on the applications submitted, OACCE anticipates that 10-15 grants of $500-$3000 per performance will be awarded. The grants can be used to cover artist fees, marketing, materials, production and other administrative costs incurred by the artist or group related to a specific performance or a performance series.

All performances must take place between April 1st and November 1st, 2015 at any of the 16 partner sites listed on the application. Applicants must include a letter of support from the selected partner site as proof of communication between the performers and the venue. Performances with a strong connection to the site and a measurable impact on enhancing the civic space are preferred.

Applications and all required attachments must be submitted online or delivered to the OACCE office, located in City Hall, Room 116, by 5:00 pm on December 1, 2014. Submissions will be reviewed by a committee of three City employees and three performing artists and/or arts administrators.

Helen Haynes, Chief Cultural Officer, said “Our office seeks to promote the thriving art scene in Philadelphia, expose more people to interesting programming and use of Philadelphia’s vibrant public spaces. We are excited for this opportunity to support place-based activities in neighborhoods and hope to jumpstart continued use of these spaces beyond this program.”

The OACCE has partnered with the following locations as participating sites: Campbell Square, Clark Park, Fairhill Square, FDR Park, Frankford Pause, Gorgas Park, Hawthorne Park, Hunting Park, Malcolm X Park, Marconi Plaza, Paine’s Skatepark, Race St. Pier, Saunders Park, Spruce Street Harbor Park, The Porch at 30th Street Station, Vernon Park.

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For more information about OACCE visit: http://creativephl.org/.

We’re curious to see what comes of this. And we hope it’s not more food trucks. Enough already with the food trucks.

Noontime Nuggetz: Philly Police Edit Footage Of Halloween Decoration Theft To The Soundtrack To The Nightmare Before Christmas

Here’s what we want to know: have the Philly Police been in touch with Danny Elfman about the rights to this music? If so, does any documentation of that conversation exist? We’d love to run something on it.

OH MY GOD LOOK AT THIS BABY GIRAFFE BORN AT GREAT ADVENTURE

Mika-and-Noel-Photo-2

Guys, this is Mika. Mika is a female reticulated giraffe, and was born to first-time mom Noel Oct. 11 inside the giraffe barn at Six Flags Great Adventure. She just came outside last week. We want to put her in our mouth. Would a whole baby giraffe fit inside a human mouth? There is only one way to find out.

[Photo: Jason Holloway/Six Flags Great Adventure]

Inky Owner Gerry Lenfest Won’t Endorse Tom Wolf Because He Doesn’t Represent His Readers

Jon Geeting pulls no punches in this piece for Keystone Politics on Inquirer/Daily News owner Gerry Lenfest‘s choice to opt out of endorsing a gubernatorial candidate. “For the past four years, Philadelphians have gotten an up close and personal look at what happens when a Governor and his party caucus govern like they fucking hate a city,” the article opens. Geeting’s not getting gauche, though. He’s emphasizing his point that Lenfest’s refusal to endorse Tom Wolf out of loyalty to Tom Corbett, despite the fact that the city his papers exist to inform overwhelmingly supports Wolf, is cowardly and childish. We’re pretty sure Geeting’s right, but we do have to allow the possibility that Lenfest’s hesitation could be a reaction to this bone-chilling new Corbett ad:

And Now, Philebrity Will Help You Process Your Feelings On Yelp’s Philly “Hipster Heatmap”

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It’s a matter we have discussed with clarity and frankness in the past, but it bears repeating at this time: The very word “Yelp” has been evolving for quite some time into being, and is now, synonymous with “raging entitled asshole who should be barred from public communication in general.” So that’s where we start.

So that Yelp crunched its data, using various critera, to build, among other things, “hipster heatmaps” of various cities should not come as a surprise: That is a totally asshole thing to do. Think of the people in your life that you know, both those with whom you are close, and those with whom you are only merely passingly acquainted. Now think of the people in those groups whom you could see putting together maps like this. They’re assholes, aren’t they? Maybe there is something to this “corporate personhood” thing after all. And if Yelp has a soul, it is the soul of exactly the type of asshole who would post a review on Yelp.

Nevertheless, there is the information. But what is the information? Can we even, in the time allotted here today, unpack what Yelp believes is “hipster” versus the reality we all live in, where “hipster” has devolved into a derisive yet meaningless term, now so broad that the fairest definition possible is “youngish person with interests?” We can’t. We do not have time for that. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So what does the map really tell us? It tells us a few things:

1. Here are the areas of town most likely to have assholes thumbing out Yelp reviews. One may want to keep this in mind especially on Friday and Saturday nights (but, like a sort of social tithe, one can assume to move about these areas freely during the rest of the week).

2. Here also are the areas where only idiots are still purchasing real estate; the savvy buyer will begin to look into the fuzzy pinkish areas around Yelp’s hipster hemorrhoids.

3. Yelp is failing. Yelp is desperate. Yelp will say anything. Yelp knows that the penny has dropped on itself.

And finally, really, this map tells you what you already know: Though we had a great run as a city, Philadelphia just might not be Philadelphia anymore. Philadelphia, Goddamnit, has finally been colonized by (shudder) ugly Americans. Let’s hope we can turn this all around somehow. That said, live your lives, people. It’s later than you think.

There Is Nothing Creative About The Work Of Philadelphia’s “Creative Class”

Philly.com just ran an article on a Citylab census of class populations in Philadelphia that examines, among other things, the distribution of the city’s “creative class.” The census finds that Manayunk, Society Hill, Wynnefield, Fox Chase, and other neighborhoods around Center City are populated between 75 and 88 percent by members of the creative class, that the creative class makes up about 35 percent of the city’s working population, and that these numbers are contrasted with the findings on the “service class” that makes up about 48 percent of city workers. What this article fails to mention is that “creative class” is a term coined by centrist urbanist Richard Florida, who conducted the census, and that it refers not to a class of underemployed hack authors and musicians but to the working stratum that encompasses those employed in the business and finance industries, who apparently think and work more “creatively” than blue-collar workers. The corporate “creative class” are only involved in actual creative work when they are donating the money that arts and culture organizations depend on more and more to survive post-recession.

Even Mayor Nutter Wants This PPA/UberX Beef Squashed

While the dispute between UberX and the Philadelphia Parking Authority continues to smolder in bitter stalemate, the PPA and city cab drivers holding a firm line and UberX drivers forced to keep looking over their shoulders (which is obviously bad for driving), one voice has sounded in the hope of silencing the rest: the voice of Mayor Michael Nutter. Like a soft-spoken cleric in white robes, Nutter has raised his hands and called upon the pitted parties for peace, urging the PPA to back off and let UberX do its thing, under certain conditions. Because, whenever anyone in Philly wants to do something cool, Nutter’s usually only down under certain conditions. To Nutter’s credit, he’s appealing to reason way more than the PPA, who many speculate are only in this fight to protect their precious medallions. PPA executive director Vince Fenerty objects to UberX on the grounds that “one of the ticketed drivers seemed to speak no English, and that another got lost and inadvertently took the undercover agents on ‘a joyride’ trying to find a destination on Front Street.” Dude. What do you think it’s like to take a cab?

This Photo Of One Direction Wearing Eagles Jerseys Is A Hilarious Window Into All That Deserves Ridicule And Scorn

oneD

There is no other thing that it could possibly be.

October 27, 2014

This Evening: Still Too High To Die

>>> John Sharkey III of one-time Philadelphia art-hardcore stalwarts Clockcleaner famously deemed Nirvana “dogshit” and their seminal Nevermind “piss-poor.” The transformation from the 80s “alternative” of Sonic Youth and The Pixies to the 90s “alt” of Sonic Youth and Nirvana was slow enough to be imperceptible to many, which is why Nevermind remains in the minds of these many a paragon of the authenticity that rock and roll was born to capture, rather than a studied exercise in derivative streamlining. Which is not to echo Sharkey’s opinion, but to shade it. Nevermind is “piss-poor” in the sense that it’s insidiously devoid of the destructive spirit a band like Clockcleaner exemplifies. Rather than breaking down tradition to rebuild it anew, it hardens a tradition already built. Who were the builders of the tradition Nevermind honors? If you go to Underground Arts tonight, you can see for yourself. The Meat Puppets play with Cass McCombs at 8.

>>> Also tonight: Brother Ali at Union Transfer with Bambu and DJ Last Word and Harry Shearer of Simpsons fame at World Café Live.

The Week Ahead In Comedy: Funny Females, Vicious And Magnificent

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If you’re wanting to see some hilarious comedy while also being inside of a Happy Birthday Bar, look no further than Funny Females at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar tonight. Hosts Rachel Fogletto and Phyllis Voren host some of the funniest stand up comedians in the city at their recurring show and at a price (FREE!) that can not be beat. Besides your two fantastic hosts, the show features sets from Kate Banford, Vickie Fernandez, Gina Stitzer and Natalie K Levant. Monday; 8PM Free.

Is comedy funnier in drag? Do jokes lose sheen when the comics wear sheer? Find out on Wednesday, as The Trestle Inn hosts The Vicious Variety Show. The brand new show will feature a stand up competition where 3 comics, Rick Robotin, David Piccolomini, and N.a. Poe will each perform a set of stand up in drag. In addition to the competition, you will also hear from the dark lord of comedy and metal The Necrosexual, Philly’s Funniest Matt McKusker, and Scrapple TV’s Ian Morrison. Wednesday, 7PM, $6.66 in advance.

On Thursday, the city’s finest showcase The Magnificent Seven returns to Boot and Saddle. The 7th installment of “Magnificent Seven” is a little unique in that instead of seven performers on the show, this time there is EIGHT! Joining hosts Aaron Hertzog and Alison Zeidman are comics John McKeever, Chip Chantry, Bobby Lorello, Juliette Hope Wayne, Michael Rainey and Michelle Biloon. That’s a definite 14% increase in performers and a very likely 100% increase in funny! Thursday, 9PM, $7.

– Joe Moore

Joe Moore is the genial jerk 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.

Watch Questlove And Christian McBride Talk James Brown In New HBO Doc Tonight

Like this Summer’s Get On Up, this movie about James Brown is also a product of Mick Jagger’s pet obsession, but at least it features the man himself. Brown, not Jagger. Although, yeah, Jagger is in there too. Fortunately, he’s in good company. Mr. Dynamite premieres tonight at 9 on HBO.

Recommended Reading: Penn Design Students Discover “Fingers Of High Ground”

This article at Penn Current about new Rockefeller-funded research by the Penn School of Design on rising sea levels on the East Coast is pretty mind-bending in its representation of the structure and ecosystem of the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. The basic revelation of the findings is that the ocean doesn’t wash up on an even coastal plane so much as a “gradient” of “fingers of high ground.” The implications of this research are changing the conversation about coastal planning and rising sea levels so drastically that what was once considered a problem to be addressed is now better understood as a natural process to observe and carefully manage:

Mathur and da Cunha found that the change in their design vocabulary opened up an entirely new—and more accurate—way of understanding the interaction between land and water as dynamic rather than static. From there, the whole language changed: “Accommodate” replaced “confront,” “adaptable” replaced “fixed,” “soil” and “pine hummocks” replaced “steel” and “concrete.”

Ebola Paranoia Triggers Epidemic Spreading Quickly Across Philly: Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is not a new problem in Philly or anywhere, but once in a while, thanks to new confusions and fears, it shows up in a new guise. The latest iteration of racial profiling in Philadelphia comes to light on the heels of the dangerous outbreak of paranoia in America in response to the far less dangerous outbreak of Ebola in America. Philly.com spotlights the case of Roselyn Gray, a Liberian-born receptionist who was recently ambushed by masked healthcare workers and shuttled to UPenn for Ebola testing after her symptoms of an allergic reaction to penicillin were grossly exaggerated. The story is disturbing because it is not at all unique. Dozens of similar cases have been reported. We’re not doctors over here, but we are compelled to ask: is the best way to control a deadly disease to intimidate minorities until they’re afraid to seek medical attention?

UberX Launches In Philadelphia To Parking Authority Crackdown

UberX launched in Philadelphia this weekend to an unpleasantly surprising reception from the Philadelphia Parking Authority. PCMag.com reports that five UberX drivers have been impounded in Philadelphia since its launch. While Uber does not offer its users any warning or disclaimer about UberX, it is actually classifiable as an illegal service, because UberX drivers, normal people in normal cars, don’t necessarily have commercial driving licenses. In fact, in most cases, they don’t. Uber is calling this reaction from the PPA an abuse of power, but UberX has had similar problems in the past in Hoboken and DC. In those cities, the controversy inspired some to push for the legalization of UberX’s service model. We’re not sure how this will play out here, but given the possible elimination of certain other transportation options in the city, we hope some resolution is found.