July 29, 2014

Not Angry About Anything Right Now? Read The ACLU’s Suit Against Philly Cops Who Continue To Bust People For Taking Photos Of Them

Late last week, the ACLU of PA broke news when it filed still another suit against the Philadelphia police for continuing to arrest and otherwise mess with people who happen to be taking pictures of them while in action. As Commissioner Charles Ramsey as well as many others have pointed out over the years, this is totally legal (and frankly, in Philly, probably necessary). Still, however, arrests have continued. And to read the ACLU’s actual complaint is to see the systemic scope of how this plays out in Philly. The complaint begins:

Observing police officers’ behavior in public is activity protected by the First
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is not a crime. Nevertheless, notwithstanding a widely
publicized Department policy endorsing these principles, Philadelphia police officers, due to
serious deficits in training, supervision, and discipline, have routinely punished civilians who
observe or record police activity by filing false criminal charges against them. This case is
brought by a man who, due to the deliberate indifference of the City of Philadelphia and the
unlawful actions of two individual police officers, was arrested, handcuffed, and prosecuted
simply for observing and photographing a police officer at work.

From there, it’s incident after incident of the same wrong thing, happening over and over again.

You Are This Much Closer To Never Ever Calling It “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station”

Remember that brilliant idea Chaka Fattah had to rename the venerable 30th Street Station to “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station?” Well, it’s been approved in the U.S. House, and now goes before the Senate, where one can expect it will be approved. Among those not expected to approve or, indeed, use the new nomenclature: Actual humans.

Local Artist Punks Philly Cream Cheese And Paula Deen, And ‘Lo, IT IS GOOD

Every good Philadelphian knows that Philadelphia Cream Cheese has been trading on our good name for decades in a way that is infuriating and wrong. It’s not made here, it has never been made here, and it’s only named “Philadelphia” because back in the day, AS NOW, “Philadelphia” was synonymous with “THE BEST.” So when Philadelphia artist Jenny Drumgoole‘s mother started leaning on her a while back to compete in Paula Deen’s “Real Women of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Recipe Contest,” Drumgoole did what any good Philadelphian would do: She listened to her mother, and also immediately began plotting on ways she could totally screw with the whole thing.

As it happened, Drumgoole — who you may know from her frankly kind of amazing “Happy Trash Day!” project — was the right woman for the job: By the terms of her own artistic statement, she “inserts herself into marginal spaces for pseudo-celebrity within popular culture [... her work] involves the artist physically and virtually infiltrating competitive events with subversive art actions which question our obsessions with celebrity, desire, and the limits and illusions of individuality in popular culture.” If anybody had the chops to totally pull a freakout move on this game, it was her.

And so the games began. Over a period of eight weeks, Drumgoole would get loaded and making increasingly unhinged “recipe videos” for the Deen competition, each one crazier than the one previous. And as one art blog put it:

The result: a predatory marketing campaign for cream cheese turned into an awesome, empowering creative adventure for moms and home cooks across the nation. The videos become increasingly unhinged as Drumgoole populates her tutorials with John Rambo, cream cheese busts, New Age-y green-screen sequences, and slo-mo breaks for sexy 80s style hair flips. She even sparked a hair-flipping meme.

In the end, Drumgoole actually made the finals. She meets Deen (who has not seen any of the videos). She makes friends. But in the offing, she also comes out with the video piece above, which is, quite frankly, magnifique. And while it does not make up for Philadelphia Cream Cheese using our good name with nothing in return for decades on end, it does, hopefully, signify a sea change. We real Philadelphians, and we’re not gonna take it anymore.


PHL Airport Hassle Brings Light To The Fact That, Yes, You Should Be Allowed To Carry Your Instrument Onto A Plane

Many musicians have horror stories about what happens to their instruments when they check them as baggage — so much so that, collectively, the render all airlines untrustable, thereby making carry-ons the only way to go. But just as many musicians will tell you that they’ve gotten static for that, too. This is what happened last week when the dude from Deer Tick got screwed with at the PHL US Airways terminal, nearly causing him to miss a gig. He tweeted about it, and it turns out, his complaint caught the attention of a Rhode Island senator who is now bringing the heat down, as well as reminding airlines that bringing your axe on board is totally legal. So suck it, PHL US Airways terminal.

This Moment In Retail: Uniqlo Vs. Biggest Target In The Universe

>>> Because we are but humble men who require basic clothing items of a decent cut that do not fall apart immediately (seriously, suck it, H&M), we have been following the opening of the Chestnut Street Uniqlo with great interest. Here’s the latest: “October 3rd opening at 1608 Chestnut Street with big dance block party with Questlove,” sayeth the jolly man on Instagram. [Instagram]

>>> Meanwhile, King of Prussia just got a 165,000-square-foot Target, the largest in the known universe. You will have a nervous breakdown there sometime in mid-December. No one will notice. No one will help you. [NBC10]

>>> And finally, American Apparel sent that barista who got harassed by Philly public pool mouth breather a whole box of bikinis. A word of warning to said barista: When you open the box, if you see a pile of sad wet pubes in one corner, be careful. They might just be using you to try to rid themselves of Dov Charney once and for all. [Racked]


Express Your Emotions About The Kurt Vile Mural/Beer Gardens/Whatever With These Handy Steve Powers Emojis


It’s been a summer of feelings, no? You had feelings about that mural. You have feelings about the beer garden thing. And you have, at one point or another, found yourself in a place where you had to express those feelings. And at this point, the “poopie” emoji and the “heroin” emoji just aren’t getting it done. You’re in luck: Artist/hometown boy Steve Powers aka ESPO (he of the KV mural in question, as it happens) has just released a new line of emojis via Hi-Art, the same people who brought you, uh, the Ghostface Killah emojis. They are there for you, they are free, and that is less expensive than therapy or higher education, and you are eventually going to have to express your feelings somehow. Let Espo help.

July 28, 2014

Video Premiere: TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb, “Snakeskin”

As we ride into the dog days of summer, TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb, that Philly institution of of boozy blues (or is it bluesy booze), show no signs of slowing down. We’re proud to present “Snakeskin,” a new clip from the KONG EP, produced by the band and Talk Design — and it’s the first of five videos in the pipeline, one for every track on KONG. The EP, as it happens, is being re-released on American Diamond Recordings on Sept. 9, available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, with bonus tracks.

You can check out TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb for yourself this Sunday at the 2nd Street Festival, or if you happen to be down there, in the great states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia next week.

How Have We Been Missing The Geator’s Advice Column This Whole Time?

Atlantic City Weekly is one of the papers owned by Review Publishing, which also publishes Philadelphia Weekly and South Philly Review. That is all well and good, but for our money, the whole shebang is a shell corporation for their greatest contribution to society — an entire archive of advice columns by Jerry Blavat aka The Geator that they have been quietly amassing for about a year now. In this archive, you will find such truths as…

Who is “Jackson, Jackson, Jackson?” (Marilyn, via Facebook)
If you listen to the Geator on the radio when we do our live broadcasts from Memories, you’ll hear me say, “Clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands,” to establish a rhythm beat. Sometimes I’ll say whatever name or word pops into my head, and that’s where “Jackson, Jackson, Jackson” came from. And last week the word was “stucco, stucco, stucco.”

Stucco. It’s Jerry’s “Rosebud.”

Dept. Of Gold, Jerry! Local Coffee Roaster Inks Deal To Pen Coffee/Adventure Coffee Table Book

You’ve savored his coffee, at La Colombe, for years. You watched Dangerous Grounds, his show on the Travel Channel. And soon, you’ll be able to have him on your lap — in book form that is, as Todd Carmichael gets ready to pen his story, or at least part of it, and hopefully realize the dream of Cosmo Kramer in the process. No details on timeline for this one yet, but we’ll be keeping an eye out.

Kensington Finally Gets (Mini-) Golf Course, Opening This Weekend


After a successful trial run over the weekend, Keystone Mini-Golf and Arcade is set to open this weekend at 161 Cecil B Moore Ave. Housed in one of the old warehouse spaces that lines CB Moore, Keystone recreates an amusement park vibe — or better still, a BYOB amusement park vibe — in a place that was previously used for fabrication or, most recently, nothing at all. “The idea of Keystone came together after a day spent hitting some golf balls at the driving range,” Bill Cannon told us. “My friend Drew and I realized that Philadelphia does not have many activity centered, affordable, family friendly/all-ages venues especially those that are opened year round.” Since then, Cannon and company have been putting in long hours getting the space together. “Embracing the do-it-yourself attitude of our generation, we started planning and sketching out our ideas. From there, we moved on to securing a building and hunting down vintage memorabilia — including a 7ft rabbit circa 1950s — from courses long since closed.” On Saturday, they got to see the fruits of their labors. “It was a major success with over one hundred people enjoying the course and the classic arcade games,” he said. Keystone opens this Friday at 7pm, and Saturday at 11am.

[Photo: Bill Cannon/Keystone Mini-Golf and Arcade]

The BlackStar Film Festival Slated To Return This Week

The BlackStar Film Festival is coming back to Philly for its third annual program and its first awards ceremony this week, from July 31 through August 3. Collected under the theme “Music Is The Weapon,” these films, short films and documentaries will explore the relationship between music and film and celebrate hip hop and other musical genres. The program will also include performances by artists including DJ Phsh, DJ Statik, Ursula Rucker, and Bilal, and industry panels on composing for film and crossover between the film and music industries. The festival will be based at International House and will also host events at Scribe International, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, The Annenberg School for Communication and World Café Live.

Judging by the trailers available on the website, the program will be borderline legendary. Time is Illmatic, the first full-length documentary on the making of Nas’ Illmatic, presented in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary, could be the rejoinder to every boring, unnecessary classic rock biopic that’s come out in the past two decades. And if it’s not, Til Infinity: Souls of Mischief, the documentary celebrating the 20th anniversary of Soul of Mischief’s classic ’93 album, will be. Also on the schedule are a documentary investigating the legacy and aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, experimental short films, and a Western with an all-star cast including Rosario Dawson and Michael K. Williams. The only Philadelphia film festival oriented exclusively toward black filmmakers and international filmmaking investigating the African Diaspora, the BlackStar Festival seems to be gathering steam with each year.

Philly Joins Other Cities In Exploring “Civic Hacking,” The New LifeHack For Cities

Along with Barcelona and a few other cities internationally, Philadelphia is getting involved in the “civic hacking” movement, offering startups and businesses the opportunity to present new initiatives that might/should/will address city problems. Philadelphia’s new program, FastFWD, has already awarded $30-35,000 city contracts to three companies with new ideas to address issues of public safety. By August 1st, another round of applications will come in. For everyone in Philly with a startup and a dream, the dream just got bigger.

July 25, 2014

This Weekend: Cave Diem!


>>> XPN Fest starts today at Camden’s Susquehanna Bank Center and Wiggins Park with too many acts to count here (and plenty of great Philly ones as well). Reports of Sunday night headliner Beck‘s live shows on the Morning Phase tour have been super encouraging, but if he somehow bombs his set, Band of Horses, Jenny Lewis, or someone else on the bill should be able to rise above the wreckage.

>>> This Is Hardcore 2014 began Thursday at The Electric Factory, but unlike most hardcore shows, this one’s running way longer than the usual twelve minutes. On the off chance that your personal hc favorite already threw down last night, don’t worry about it; there are 42 other bands on the lineup. Heavy-hitters Killswitch Engage, Converge, and Title Fight will lead the charge that, with any luck, will finally shake the city to the ground.

>>> If you’ve hit the site at all this week, you already know that Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are playing with Kurt Vile and The Violators at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts tonight, but a reminder can’t hurt.

>>> Oneida will be at Boot & Saddle with Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band and locals I Im Eye My. If you’ve never seen the undisputed kings of contemporary kraut-psych-noise live, it’s kind of like seeing Total Recall in its entirety through the eyes of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid. If you haven’t seen either Oneida or Total Recall, we’re not sure we can help you.

>>> Serious jazz heads, this one’s for you: Ars Nova Workshop is presenting Philly native and Grammy nominee Uri Caine, playing with Guggenheim Fellow and Grammy nominee Dave Douglas, in a great, offbeat location: The Maas Building. The two will perform selections form their upcoming Present Joys, a celebration of the tradition of Sacred Harp shape-note singing.


>>> Nostalgia for the 1990s, which now feels like the last time human beings in America had any sense of long stretches of nothing going on in their lives, is now a free-floating virus in the air, against which there is no known innoculation. And of all the musical acts currently mining the sickness for material, we think that Philly’s Amanda X are getting the best results, as the whisper down the lane a kind of bedroom radicalism that marked everyone from Kurt Cobain to Kathleen Hanna. We know that’s a bit like saying “from the dining room to the kitchen,” but you forget: In their way, the ’90s were lean times for us bedroom radicals. Amanda X celebrates the release of their new record at Philadelphia Record Exchange with Wish List.

>>> As part of the 40th Street Summer Series, “Raphael Xavier W.O.R.X. Meets Bobby Zankel & The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound,” a collaborative fusion ensemble, will perform free with the Avalon String Band.

>>> Elsewhere: Making Time with DIIV; and a screening of David Kessler‘s art/nature doc, Pines with live score provided by the Ruins of Friendship Orchestra at Gravy Studios.


>>> Think of it as the “Living Museum of Double Parking”: East Passyunk’s 9th Annual Car Show & Street Festival is back!

>>> Looking for a little road trip? Surf legend Dick Dale will play Sellersville Theater 1894 with The Coffin Daggers, and if he continues to shred like he has over the past few years, you won’t be able to tell he’s been doing it for over sixty.

Film Sweat: Boy II Man

RECOMMENDED: By now, the hype — and it is hype that is just; for once, it is hype that is appropriate — surrounding Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood has reached a critical mass, so I will spare you my personal note about how this movie gave me all of the feelings. But it did, and unless you are a stone cold savage, you’ll feel them, too. The premise is now common knowledge: For a few days a year for the last twelve years, Linklater gathered Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane and others to tell a story in piecemeal of a boy growing into a man. That it was able to happen at all was a minor miracle; that it’s such beautiful and compelling movie is something else entirely. Coltrane pulls off a feat that is unique in the history of movies; Arquette might be even better. This is as essential as a movie — I’m talking in terms of cinematic history here — as you are likely to see on a screen this year or any other, and do please actually go see it in the movies. It will remind you what they are there for.

ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: Lucy, Luc Besson‘s latest pretty-girl-fucks-people-up adventure, which, silly premise and Morgan Freeman be damned, still has our interest because who doesn’t wanna see ScarJo use 100% of her brain?; A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in this John LeCarré adaptation; I Origins, starring Michael Pitt as a Hot Scientist on the trail of his dead wife’s eyes, reincarnated in a child in India; Hercules, which we’d be more interested in if it was just a 90-minute animated GIF of this photo of The Rock; Happy Christmas, another post-Girls/Silver Linings Playbook fuckup-goes-home snoozer; The Fluffy Movie, man, that kid from Modern Family is lookin’ rough!; and And So It Goes, an uncomfortable Michael Douglas vehicle best reserved for the Hallmark Channel.

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.

Giovanni’s Room To Re-Open?

Lovers of books and other living things: Keep your fingers crossed, as it looks like legendary/historical/very necessary bookstore Giovanni’s Room may re-open in the near future. Owner Ed Hermance has told Publisher’s Weekly that he is very close to signing a deal with an as-yet-unnamed LGBT organization to have the store back open. The cat is somewhat still in the bag, but it can’t be for long, as Hermance is looking to sign over the lease on August 1.

Captain Freeshit: Ooh-Wee We’re Giving Away Nick Cave Tickets RIGHT NOW!


There’s been a love affair with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds going on in this office ever since yours truly picked up the above LP at the ripe age of 15. And there hasn’t been a regret since. So many of us have had our own love affairs with the man, along these lines of teenage infatuation running straight down the decades into full-on spiritual appreciation, and tonight, we will be among the hordes welcoming Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, along with Kurt Vile, to the Mann. We’re stoked, and we know that a lot of you are, too. (Superfans take note: The Awesome Fest is also screening the new Nick Cave doc on Sunday night at the Troc.) It is in that spirit that we are going to give a few lucky winners these tickets to tonight’s show that we just found in the couch cushions. So let love in, baby. To enter to win tickets, email ihopeiwin[at]philebrity[dot]com with “THE MANN CAVE” in the subject header. You’ll automatically be subscribed to the forthcoming new Philebrity Reader weekly newsletter and win chances for other exclusive free stuff. We will pick winners by 3pm.

If Dana Smith Is Still Running For Mayor, She May Have Just Gotten Our Vote

While it’s true that Smith has broken no news lately as to whether or not she really is running as a Republican in 2015, this photo reminded us of how truly wonderful a Smith candidacy could be. Because in a race that has no truly good options, you might as well vote for the candidate most likely to declare “Skinny Bitch Wednesdays” for the entire city.

The Cop Who Punched That Lady Just Rescued Three People From A South Philly House Fire

No, really:

In a news briefing at the scene, a police official said Lt. Jonathan Josey – who was in the area for an unrelated matter with another officer – saw the fire and called it in over police radio.

Then, without protective equipment, police say Josey kicked in the front door of the burning home and was able alert the people inside, telling residents to go out the back door.

Philadelphia: She is ugly. But then she is beautiful. And she offers failure and redemption alike at every corner.

Here’s Dearly Departed Philly Goofball David Brenner Introducing Some Band Called Fleetwood Mac

Though sadly, Brenner left this earthly plane earlier this year, we can at least rejoice a little that the Mac — with Christine McVie in tact — will be back in Philly later this year. She makes lovin’ fun.

Pope To Philly: Meh

You will recall, a few months back, the massive state, city and archdiocese efforts in Rome to get Pope Whateverhisfacethegermanone to confirm a visit to this World Meeting of Families thing here in Philly in 2015. While in Rome earlier this year, Governor Tom Corbett, Mayor Michael Nutter and Archbishop Charles Chaput endured the kind of jockeying for position and hopeful begging previously known only to people who’d like to meet, say, Prince or Bob Dylan. There were gifts to be presented. There were meetings set, then cancelled, then sort of uncancelled (but really still cancelled, it was more of a cattle-call kind of line dance greeting). It was a bummer for all involved — even with all of their efforts, the local team returned to Philly still with no confirmation that the Pope would come here — but frankly, kind of hilarious to watch from here. It was, for each man, a reminder of one’s place in this life. They asked God — or rather, God’s proxy — what was up, and God said, “Ha. It’s only Philadelphia.”

This morning bears another chapter in the chapter. Speaking in Fargo, North Dakota, yesterday Chaput told an audience that indeed, the Pope would be in Philly in September 2015 for the World Conference Of Please Come Back To Us, All Ye Lapsed Catholics, We Need Your Money Quite Badly. Chaput’s confirmation was quickly reported in the Catholic News, and whether he was just talking out his ass or actually breaking the news before he wasn’t supposed to, we cannot say. What we can say is that this morning, Action News rang up the Vatican (they’re big Adam Joseph fans, we hear) only to find the Vat saying, “Not so fast!” and reiterating that the Pope hasn’t really decided. He may be washing his hair that weekend. He may have a wedding to go to. He may… he may just not like you, Philadelphia. Are you grown up enough to deal with that?