Kids playing at the Richard Allen Homes, photo undated. Courtesy Temple Urban Archives.
>>> Urban studies nerds, take note: This evening’s “Unedited North Philadelphia: Girard to Lehigh,” 6PM at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, promises a motherlode of seldom-to-never-seen archival footage of North Philly. Drawing on Temple University’s Urban Archives’ extensive collection of unedited news footage from 1947 on, the program is slated to feature “the people, events, and places that have shaped North Philadelphia’s dynamic history – including Progress Plaza, Yorktown, Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Temple University, and the Columbia Avenue Riots, which took place 50 years ago in August 1964.” Bound to be some pretty amazing stuff on display here.
>>> And in this week’s installment of Philly Sings Philly, Avi Wisnia, Aaron Parnell Brown, Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf, Ladybird, Sean Hoots, Davis Howley of Commonwealth Choir, and The Rivals, all get together at The Fire.
Last week, we hipped you to a new Tumblr called cityhallparkinglot.tumblr.com that infuriatingly illustrates one of the more tacky pieces of cognitive dissonance in Philly local government: While so many of us — even, yes, a select few within City Hall — are pushing towards Philly’s virtues of walkability, ease of public transit and bike-friendliness, whole swaths of City Hall’s plot are still given over daily to an unsightly dump of SUVs and the like; this, even as the City celebrates what should be a proud moment in the recent unveiling of Dilworth Park. We know, we know: It’s agitating, and if you took a look at cityhallparkinglot.tumblr.com last week and felt like it was indicative of a whole bunch of other things but didn’t have the time or wherewithal to unpack it, you’re in luck: Somebody else just did it for you.
In this must-read post on This Old City, Geoff Kees Thompson digs around and finds that, yep, City Hall’s obsession with decking itself out with cars to park on its pavement is indeed kind of shameful. At issue is not just 56 cars the City pays for and parks on its grounds — mostly driven by CouncilPersons (who really ought to know better) and employee’s of the very, very broken Sheriff’s Office…
… but also the mindset they reveal. Would, say, Bill Greenlee have killed off that bike line in his district if he didn’t have a sweet parking spot in the shadow of Billy Penn? Would Darrell Clarke perhaps be less driven by ego if he didn’t have the City paying for him to volley around town in the manner Kimye are accustomed to? Could Dilworth Park have been, still be, bigger and better if the City didn’t have to (more than) tithe its footprint to what amounts to nothing more than a big, dumb, space-sucking ego stroke? The answer to all of these, with the present ways and leadership we have, is most likely “No.” So maybe the present ways and leadership are not actually good enough for the resources we have.
That’s right, it’s “vape.”Vape, as in, “When I see a person on the street hitting on a vape, my mind immediately flashes to a catalog of a lifetime’s worth of disappointment in that person’s life and with it, a matching catalog of other shit they’ve lied to themselves about because if you believe you’re ‘getting over’ by vaping, well…” Vape, as in the “vape shops” that have now replaced cell phone stores as Biggest Waste Of Real Estate On South Street. Vape, as in, “vape culture,” so wonderfully personified by this guy.Vape, as in “I did a Google image search for ‘vape memes’ and fell down an Internet wormhole of nerdy dudes making ‘vape gear’ jokes that all feel like exhibit A thru A-586 of American Masculinity In Crisis.”
In any case, good on ya, Philly: You knew “vape” was a dirty word even before some goofball thought it’d be a good idea to put it in the dictionary.
At this point, if anyone is still watching the 76ers, it’s either as part of a really far-out BDSM scenario, or it’s because they’re somehow into the fact that, albeit in the worst way possible, the 76ers are actually making history. All the time, it turns out. If you watch the video above detailing the Sixers’ (seriously) historic loss last week to the Dallas Mavericks or read this writeup at For The Win, you will hear the word history a lot. In fact, with almost every move the Sixers make these days, they’re breaking a record or creating a new statistic. Third largest loss in Sixers history. Second-largest trail at halftime in NBA history. Most games lost by at least 50 points in NBA history. Worst Team in NBA history. Philadelphia has always been a city known for its rich history. Maybe we should all be proud to see that tradition honored.
Kenneth Goldsmith, the University of Pennsylvania professor and UbuWeb founder who has made waves as a curricular innovator already with his course on “Uncreative Writing,” got some attention when he announced his new course on “Wasting Time On The Internet,” and it looks he’s running with it. Now up at The New Yorker website is this defense of the course, which cites a new mental makeup dominated by distraction rather than attention as a justification for the course’s approach. Some will find Goldsmith’s insights powerfully transgressive, given their open embrace of our information- and media-inundated culture’s hangups. Others will find them offensive, given that Penn is an expensive and prestigious school and, presumably, shouldn’t be allowing anyone to waste any time at all.
The kids the class is for, though — kids who already “take notes” on their laptops in class and spend most of their class time watching Last Week Tonight with the sound off and the closed captioning on — will probably not be moved either way. Whether you agree with Goldsmith that “Every click is indicative of who we are: indicative of our likes, our dislikes, our emotions, our politics, our world view,” (we do) or that “Joyce’s use of compound words in “Finnegans Wake” predicted lengthy run-on hashtags,” (we don’t), if you’re young enough to have grown up with the internet, you don’t need to be told that your divided attention and your thoughtless culling and collaging are in the service of something larger. If young people didn’t think it was okay to live their lives this way, they — we — wouldn’t do it.
Nothing‘s Guilty of Everything was one of the best debuts out of Philly this year, and now the boys are back with a 12-inch split with Whirr. If the song above is any indication, this release’ll see Nothing doing what they do best better: simultaneously going pop and going hard.
It gives us no more pleasure to comment on this one-way exchange than it gave NPR’s Scott Simon to initiate it in the first place, but if you listen to the interview above, most of which sounds like a courteous preamble to the question broached at the end, you’ll hear that Bill Cosby responded to Simon’s questions about his resurfaced allegations of sexual assault with total silence. Since the interview, this statement from Cosby’s lawyer has appeared on Cosby’s website:
“Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.”
Whether Cosby’s silence on NPR was a product of legal counsel or complete discomfort, it’s not doing anything to keep anyone else quiet. New allegations of assault continue to emerge. As this story grows, it only becomes more troubling. Luckily, for those of you who don’t know how to feel or what to think, Roxane Gay is ready as always with some powerful perspective.
In fact, according to this CBS report, it’s still the poorest of the ten biggest cities in the country. The “not as poor” qualifier owes to its growth from a twenty-eight percent poverty rate in 2011 to a twenty-six percent poverty rate in 2013, which, in this 2013 press release, Mayor Nutter seems not to have noticed. The fact that there is a discrepancy in the quoted numbers reinforces the basic point here, which is that Philly’s poverty rate is still over twenty-five percent. The news that really is good is the news that due to this rate the city has been selected to receive a number of federal grants to provide better health options for young pregnant women, better early education for at-risk children, and employment services for juvenile offenders. We’re assuming (/hoping) that the fact that the acronym for the name of the office that manages these grants, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, is “CEO”, is a coincidence.
>>> Two big rock shows of note in town tonight, which probably should sell out, but with the rain, probably won’t: Garage rock saviors and apparent inpire-rs of super-fandom Thee Oh Sees play Underground Arts. This feels like one of those you-should-have-seen-them-when moments, where in three years time, people will brag about having seen this show. Over at Union Transfer, TV On The Radio plays. If you saw their first tour, surprise! You are now old. Let’s hang.
In with the new! “Sidekicks: The Comedy Game Show” debuts tonight at the PHIT. Hosts Sidney Gantt and Alison Zeidman have devised a mathematical format for their foray into live interactive entertainment that goes “STANDUP+TRIVIA+GAMES+GIVEAWAYS+YOU.” That’s right: “+YOU.” Three lucky audience members (chosen by raffle) will get linked in with comic sidekicks Tommy Pope, Mary Radzinski, and Darryl Charles to compete for more than $150 worth of fabulous prizes. “This is going to be a great show,” says host Gantt. “It’ll be a chance for the audience to get to know some hilarious local comics, and there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved and be part of the excitement.” Kick it! Tonight (Monday), 8pm. $5.
Chip Chantry is the only comedian I know who has inspired not one, but two, Facebook parody accounts (Chirp Chantry and Chip Pantry, respectively); he’ll answer the call of his muse at Helium Comedy Club Wednesday night. Helium’s own grownup newsie Jim Ginty and this week’s MVP Mary Radzinksi will also be on hand for shenanigans. Chip Ahoy! Wednesday. 8pm.Tickets available online.
Nicolas Cage. Am I right? Garrett Smith and Dan Scully team up for a high-octane edition of “Movie Movie Live!” at PhilaMOCA, devoted to the hairline-in-chief of Con America himself. Illuminating the panel this go-around are sketch ingenue thin mint Jacquie Baker, Michael S. “I Saw Limp Bizkit In Concert In the Year 2014″ Watkins, and “Didjaeat” podcaster Nicole Yates. Set your skull on comedy fire. Thursday. 8pm. $5.
Rounding out the week, special guests Spank Rock and Dr. Timaree Schmit will “Hang On with Aaron Nevins” Friday night at the Adrienne Theatre. Panelists include cool drink of water Caitlin Weigel (of Mani Pedi, see video above), tall glass of water Matt Schmid, and wet’n'wild Drew Garrison, with standup from Brandon Jackson. Walking talking microphone caddy Dan Vetrano returns like a bad habit to do more of what he does when he’s not returning my texts. Multiple exclamation points!!! Friday. 8pm. 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.
This community anti-casino meeting that took place last week in South Philly — where, we are told, it’s very likely that the company behind Parx Casino will get that second casino license, pushing forward plans to build one near the stadiums — is still on people’s tongues. The local community feels railroaded, many other Philadelphians have no interest in a second casino anyway, and the whole thing really does feel like that old Philly business-as-usual. Oh, did someone say “business-as-usual?” Enter this appearance by Philly union overlord John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. Doc knows what side the union’s bread is buttered on with regard to a new casino being built by the stadiums, and so of course he appeared to plead the union’s case. And plead it he did: He insisted on calling union workers, grown-ass men the lot of them, “kids.” He reminded neighbors of the time those “kids” covered everybody’s house in plastic when Veterans’ Stadium was torn down (illustrating the “gypsy” properties of union guys, like mob guys, the world over: never accept a favor). He even stumped about how he didn’t actually want a casino, he wanted one in Center City “like everybody else.” (Show us this “everybody else.” We would like to smell the hoags on their breath.) And then he even bobbed and weaved with some gibberish about how he once paid for something out of his own pocket.
All of it failed spectacularly. It was beautiful. Stay strong, South Philly. Stay strong.
There’s the Pope, aka Pope Francis, the “cool Pope,” who has been doing his level best to bring actual Christlike values to the Catholic Church (not seen in these parts in quite some time); and then there’s The P.O.P.E., the cozy beer bar in East Passyunk that introduced South Philly to Modest Mouse fans about eight years ago and, if you owned property in that area prior to that, is more or less directly responsible for how flush you are right now. Considering the Pope’s ongoing attempted reinvention of the Church, and South Philly’s longtime status as being one of the great Philly strongholds of Catholicism — now also in a whole new era — it is not actually a terrible idea to put the Pope’s chocolate in the P.O.P.E.’s peanut butter. If you believe, #bringthepopetothepope. It’s right there waiting for you.
You know, no matter what you believe, sometimes it really does feel like in this life, there are no accidents. We’ll have more on this a little later. We’re still just trying to process it all right now.
In the movie Basket Case, the main character and his deformed brother take up residence in a shady and oh-so-late-1970s New York City flophouse called the Hotel Broslin. That flick wasn’t filmed here, but if it was, chances are it would have been shot at the Parker Spruce Hotel. As much as we are fans of the joint’s “abandon hope all ye who enter here” vibe (seriously, just walking by the Black Lodge-esque lobby conjures up visions of Eddie Savitz and Gary Heidnik arm-wrestling for the title of Creepiest Philadelphian Ever), its delightful sketchiness has now resulted in a major blow to the gayborhood — the closing of venerable watering hole The Westbury Bar & Restaurant.
A true piece of gay Philly history and home to several of the city’s LGBT sports teams, The Westbury had the misfortune of being attached to the Parker. So when a fire on the 9th floor of the hotel occurred on October 21st, it revealed a variety of L & I code violations that resulted in both buildings being shuttered — even though none of these actually had anything to do with the Westbury. The bar has been closed for weeks now, and on Friday afternoon the other shoe dropped via the The Westbury’s Facebook page:
With a very broken heart, I have to announce, the Westbury Bar and Restaurant will not be reopening. Our extensive efforts trying get an exception from the city have not worked.
After 30 years in our current location, and many years at the 15th Street location, the Westbury has given our all to serve the community with a friendly oasis from the rigors of life. I hope we will be remembered fondly.
I would like to thank all the local business’s and patrons who supported the hourly employees these past 3 weeks. The community support was just overwhelming.
In closing, I would like to thank…
Our neighborhood sports teams, choirs, etc.
Our loyal customers who always became part of the family.
And a special thanks to the most dedicated and hard working staff I could ever have hoped to work with.
Thanks for the great years!
Well, shit. Like all bars, The Westbury had gone through its ups and downs throughout its lengthy existence. But in the past few years, it had reinvented itself as a Cheers for the LGBT community, a craft beer saloon/restaurant where bears, twinks and everyone in-between could peacefully coexist and throw a few back without judgment or pretension. (We once heard Ride’s “Seagull” intermingle with Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” on the jukebox here, and you know what? It was tremendous). That’s the type of place the bar was, a welcoming and unexpected oasis that offered up a much needed alternative to typical gayborhood hot spots. To say it will be missed by its loyal clientele is an understatement to say the least.
Those seeking to help out can come to Tavern on Camac to play Quizzo tonight at 9, wherein a portion of the proceeds will go towards helping the bar’s displaced staff. Farewell Westbury: We won’t see your likes again anytime soon.
>>> This is the kind of show we love: A bunch of dream-pop bands playing at batting cages. If you told us this kind of thing would be happening in Philadelphia when we were 15, we would have punched you in the face for even allowing us to conceive of it for a moment, hurt tears streaming our faces for we knew no such beautiful world could ever exist. But today? It’s like, oh, yeah, sure! Go see Dream Safari // White Laces // Myrrias // Suburban Living at Everybody Hits.
>>> Been looking to dip your whole person into Philly’s ever-more-fertile young comedy scene? Laughs On Fairmount: A Live Taping at Urban Saloon is a truly worthy primer. There, 14 — fourteen! — Philly comics will do sets at breakneck speed before the cameras and a live audience.