August 26, 2015

This Moment In Popesploitation: The Wall Street Journal Reports On Pope Merch

Taking note of the Pope Francis merchandising boom in advance of his visit next month, The Wall Street Journal created the above look at the various ways His Holiness is being used to sell commemorative products. We’re actually impressed at some of the inventive Pope products on display here (mainly Pastifico Homemade Pasta Company‘s Pope-shaped hunk of mozzarella cheese). This report made us feel a lot of things, but more than anything else, hunger. Some papal toast might just be in order this morning.

August 25, 2015

This Evening: A Real Human Being, And A Real Hero

>>> There are jams. They need to be kicked out. This will happen when Mystery Skulls plays Ortlieb’s tonight. RIYL: Daft Punk, Junior Senior, getting the hell out of your house and into real life on a dull late-summer Tuesday.

>>> The Empire Strikes Back is tonight’s free movie at Gorgas Park. Please and thank you.

>>> First Person Arts’ StorySlams returns to L’Etage. Tonight’s theme is “Hero,” so expect to hear stories of sacrifice and bravery, both large-scale and intimate.

>>> Melissa Etheridge is at Longwood Gardens. Which we mention purely because Juliette Lewis’ performance in the “Come to My Window” video is one of our favorite things ever.

FYI: The Philadelphia Flower Show To “Explore America” In 2016


Earlier today, the horticulturist’s dream/allergy sufferer’s nightmare that is the Philadelphia Flower Show announced that its 2016 theme would be Explore America. Running from March 5th through the 13th, the event will celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service. While there’s no word yet on if this means visitors will get to see a gigantic version of Ron Swanson’s head made entirely out of petunias, it will most definitely showcase “the natural, historic, cultural, and monumental beauty of the national parks through the eyes of the world’s greatest floral and garden designers.” Complete details are as of yet unavailable, but The Philly Voice tells us that the show will include a “Big Timber Lodge” and base camp replicas. So all the beauty of nature without any of the pesky bug bites or bear attacks really. That’s enough to sell us on it.


No, The El Bar Is Not A Piano Bar Despite What Any Websites Might Tell You

PianoManOver at the vague and unknowable Internet portal known as Philadelphia Piano Bars, there exists a run down of every place in the city where people can go when they’re in the mood for a melody…and some where they most definitely cannot. For what we can only assume is a glitch in the Matrix that poured over from a parallel Philadelphia in which Ben Folds mania never waned, both the White Dog Cafe and The El Bar are listed on the site as great places to hear folks tickling the ivories — with the latter’s description being especially noteworthy:

The El Bar is located right by the railroad, so you can’t miss it! This establishment has a following of locales that come for the cheap beer and bar food menu options. The pool table is great when you’re looking for a bit of friendly competition to go along with your cocktails, and the newly installed outdoor patio is fantastic when the warm weather rolls around. The live music is really what shines, though, as you’ll be able to enjoy performances from the talented local musicians at this piano bar. How can you go wrong with a bar that offers entertainment along with cheap drinks? This piano bar is one that you’ll want to check out as soon as possible.

We’ve been riding on the Market-Frankford Line all the live-long day, and we’re not sure exactly what this site’s purpose is other to reinforce our long-held beliefs that Billy Joel is amazing and/or to provide some covert promotion for Philly Limos. While we keep our fingers crossed that Uber creates a stealth website promoting Philly’s swing-dancing scene (including The Five Spot, obvs), we’re going to go listen to The Stranger and think about weird marketing schemes for awhile.

Noontime Nuggetz: KYW’s Goofy “Pride Of Philadelphia” Promo From 1990

If you’ve ever wanted to see Jerry Penacoli and Pat Ciarrocchi running in track suits or Ukee Washington in singing in a church choir, have we got a promo for you. This forgotten commercial that includes a Barry Mannilow-esque vocal singing the best local jam since “Philadelphia, Get to Know Us” is a snapshot of what the Eyewitness News Team and, by extension, Philly itself was like in 1990. And all that that implies.


And Now, Today’s Moment Of Philly Zen: Philadelphia, As Seen By HD Drone

Philadelphia in 4K from Philly by Air on Vimeo.

We may have mentioned this before, but drone videos of Philly are rapidly replacing footage of French bulldog antics to become our go-to source of visual enlightenment. The latest in this ever-growing collection of reminders that, holy shit, our city is beautiful is from aerial photographers Philly By Air. Captured in stunning ultra HD 4k, the video makes us wistful for a Philadelphia free of the street-level debris that clutters our days. Related: If the rest of today’s posts are a bit late that’s because we are going to pop on over to the Zoo Balloon for a bit to experience some of this up, up, and away majesty for ourselves.

Le Bok Fin: Go For The View, Stay For The Complicated Feelings About New Philadelphia

Earlier this month, the pop-up restaurant Le Bok Fin opened on the roof of the former Edward W. Bok Technical High School in South Philly. (It takes its name from the student-run restaurant that used to be housed at the school). Having visited Le Bok over the weekend, we can say with confidence that the view overlooking the city is undoubtedly stunning. But otherwise there is nothing remarkable about the space other than how it is a lightning rod for debate about New Philadelphia projects such as this and the nebulous accompanying “makerspace” that is planned for the rest of the building. Over at Teachadelphia, the piece “Why Le Bok Fin Is Misguided and Wrong for the Neighborhood” touches upon issues of gentrification and questions how the venture brings good to the neighborhood. The larger issue here is the how rebirth of the shuttered Bok, with its $6 baguette hot dogs and daytime yoga classes, is being seen by some as the latest Playground of Privilege that indicates the growing divide between the citizens of Philadelphia and the NewPhies. Yet this project also helps preserve a grand building…so ambivalence. Ultimately the controversy over the space is about changes that Philly faces as a whole, and that’s something we are always trying to wrap our heads around.

Fringe Notes: Pat Finnerty’s “The Lid” Is A British Invasion-Influenced Exploration Of Ennui


With the 2015 Fringe Festival kicking off on September 3rd, we’ll be previewing shows of note throughout the fest. We can think of no better way to start off our coverage than by putting BRAT Productions’ The Lid on your radar. Written by and starring Pat Finnerty (he of “Reggae Dog” infamy), the rock opera (which kicks off BRAT’s 20th season) deals with issues of nagging discontentment and how unexpected possibilities can take us out of the everyday drudgery and back into ourselves. From the press release:

The Lid tells the story of Lee (Pat Finnerty), a man who lives a “no fun” life trudging back and forth between his simple boring house and his simple boring job working for The Moustache Man (Brian Ashby). Lee’s world is “all fish and no chips,” “all bones and no meat,” until one day he discovers a lid in a meadow. What’s underneath that lid? A chance to break the drudgery and finally have fun or just more of the same old same old? The story is told through 14 original songs that blend 1960’s inspired Brit rock melodies with irreverent comic satire. Finnerty thinks of The Lid as a concept album that allows him to address a larger creative thesis about our modern day struggles looking for significance while becoming increasingly more dependent on imperfect technologies to get through our days.

Rock siren Ali Wadsworth (Satellite Hearts, Unlikely Cowboy) and BRAT Producing Artistic Director Jess Conda are featured as Finnerty’s back up singers and are also working with Finnerty offstage co-producing and directing the show. The cast includes Pat Finnerty, Jess Conda, Ali Wadsworth, Brian Ashby (The Teeth, Purples), Brian Langan (Langor, Needle Points, Kock 107, The Sw!ms, Sweatheart), Rose Luardo (Comedy Dreamz, Sweatheart), Gretchen Lohse (Yellow Humphrey) and script consultation by Bob Babajak.

Given the sheer volume of talent involved in this production, The Lid is shaping up to be the show to beat this Fringe. After all, British Invasion tunes from the man who brought us “Too Culd?” How can you lose?

Stop Everything And Watch This Video Of Puppets Skateboarding Around Philly

Imagine a world where Kermit the Frog was a Thrasher cover star instead of a song-and-dance man and you’ll begin to get the vibe of the above video from Philly’s Andy Rothwell that showcases adorable monster puppets skateboarding around various local landmarks. It’s great stuff, but be warned — a slide at the end gives away how the effects were achieved. Those looking to keep the magic intact should stop the video at the 2:41 mark so that the mystery is preserved.

R.I.P. Fabric Workshop And Museum Founder Marion “Kippy” Boulton Stroud


We were saddened to learn that curator/author/artistic director Marion “Kippy” Boulton Stroud died sudddenly in her home in Maine on August 22nd at the age of 76. One of the most vital forces upon the Philly arts scene as we know it today, Stroud founded the Fabric Workshop in 1977. Despite its name, the space remains one of the city’s most captivating places to see art from rising talents in all mediums. (Stroud’s dedication to helping new artists spanned from her establishing of the Prints in Progress program for inner-city youth to her work with Maine’s Acadia Summer Arts Program — an exclusive venture to help artists expand their creativity that was dubbed “Camp Kippy”). In a statement relayed by Art News, the Fabric Workshop and Museum made the following statement about Stroud’s passing:

“The Board of Trustees and staff of The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) mourn the loss of their beloved founder and director Marion (Kippy) Boulton Stroud. One of the art world’s true visionaries, Kippy founded FWM in 1977 to encourage leading artists to experiment with fabric and ultimately a wide range of materials and methods and to share their creative process with the public. Through her leadership, FWM has developed into an internationally renowned contemporary art museum, distinguished by one of the most innovative artist-in-residence programs in the United States and an acclaimed education and apprenticeship program. For more than four decades, Kippy was a curator, author, editor, educator, administrator and force for positive social change, all at the same time and always at the highest level of achievement. The Board and staff of FWM are making plans not only to maintain her legacy but to advance it, as we know she wished.”

While she may no longer be with us, there is comfort to be found in the fact that her legacy will continue to positively impact Philadelphia’s thriving art scene for decades to come.

(Photo via The Inquirer)

The Kensington Sink Hole Perfectly Sums Up What Philly In Late August Feels Like

And once again, a city sinkhole becomes a living metaphor for your everything.

August 24, 2015

This Evening: Nights In White Satin

>>> The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward brings his over 40 years of unforgettable pop gems to World Cafe Live tonight. Admit it, you still get a little turned on every time you hear “Nights In White Satin.” Ain’t a damn thing wrong with that.

>>> In a night where nothing much is happening, your best bet is to hit The Troc, where this evening’s free movie is Jurassic Park and Jeff Golblum is at his sublime Jeff Goldblumiest.

>>> He was in Delaware last week, but if you missed that show, Howard Jones will be at Sellersville Theater tonight to fulfill your 1980s quota for the week. Did he ever figure out what is love anyway?

Barrymore Nominees Announced, And Still We Ask: Do You Care?


Longtime Philebs readers know of our long-standing indifference towards the Barrymore Awards, which annually celebrate the finest in Philly theater. But with the 2015 noms just getting announced, perhaps this will be the year in which we will do a 180 and decide that yes, these are worth caring about. (Especially since Norristown’ Theater Horizon leads the pack with 19 nominations, something of an unexpected surprise). We’ll find out after the jump, where we have a complete listing of all of the nominees. (more…)

Chase Utley’s Farewell To Philly Has Us Feeling A Bit Weepy

Chase Utley farewell

Proving one final time what a class act the dude is, Chase Utley took out a full-page ad in today’s issue of the Inquirer to say farewell to the city. To which we say thank you, the pleasure has been all ours. And no, we aren’t crying right now.

Noontime Nuggetz: My Son Bison Live At Philadelphia Magic Gardens

This Friday, the Twilight in the Gardens event at Philadelphia Magic Gardens will include (amongst other things) a live performance from Philly’s My Son Bison. The band are no strangers to Isaiah Zagar’s trippy mosiacs, as singer/keyboardist Joel Sephy recently recorded a live version of this group’s “XV” at the Gardens. It’s packed with some great visuals of the location that compliment the song’s spacey aesthetic. It’s only Monday, but your Friday plans are already made. Ain’t that something?

And Now, The Best Response We’ve Seen Thus Far About Today’s Stock Market Tumult

With this morning’s news about the plummeting stock market, perhaps it’s time to inquire what Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorpe are up to these days. Or maybe just turn off the coverage of all of this and take some Gaviscon.

ICYMI: Mayor Nutter’s Latest Papal Visit Recap

In advance of the release of the so-called Papal Visit Playbook at noon today, we thought we’d refresh your memory on the detailed breakdown of Pope info presented by Mayor Nutter at his presser last Thursday. The nearly hour-long conference does begin to shed some concrete light on the impact that Pope Francis‘ visit will have on our region — especially in regards to the nebulous “traffic box” situation. All of this continuing news coverage makes us wonder if we will miss it when it is gone. Come October, will Popestalgia be a thing? And if so, how do we collectively move past it? Such are the collective questions of our times.


The more you know!

Twitter Account Of The Moment: Did The Phillies Win?

Few things ease us into the work week more than glancing at the Did The Phillies Win Twitter page and seeing an affirmative message. It’s been a rough season for the Phils (Chase Utley, forever in our hearts), so we’ll take whatever victories we can get at this point. Another silver living: The Fightins now have some competition for last place.

Dept. Of We’re Getting There: SEPTA’s Key Is Still On Its Way


It’s been awhile since we checked in on the status of SEPTA’s long-awaited Key payment system and, according to this Billy Penn update, it’s going to be awhile longer — roughly four months. It’s not surprising that this isn’t rolling out before Popemania due to the challenges of getting the bugs out of a large scale system like this one, but we’ll take any news of forward momentum on this as a good thing. So hang in there Philly, SEPTA Key will be along shortly. We just have no earthly idea exactly when.

Previously: Dept. Of Golden Years: The SEPTA Key System Already Works For Elderly Riders

August 20, 2015

This Weekend: No One Is To Blame


>>> Gimme some of that old time college-rock fuzz! Chicago’s Eleventh Dream Day play Johnny Brenda’s tonight, reminding us of our blissful idle youth all the while.

>>> Then over at the Tin Angel, Philadelphia is represented quite well by a singer/songwriter-heavy bill featuring A.M. Mills, our very own Joey Sweeney, and Shawn Kilroy of Weird Hot. And for one short evening in the City of Brotherly Love all was well, all was well.

>>> It’s not an exaggeration to call Guardians of the Galaxy the most fun and original sci-fi flick since Star Wars. Despite being a part of the blockbuster sausage grinder that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie has genuine heart along with the requisite jolts of action and laughter. It’s tonight’s free movie at the Schuylkill Banks, so check it out either for the first time or again.

>>> Free 1960’s soul and Motown hits as performed by The York Street Hustle at Blue Cross RiverRink? Don’t mind if we do!

>>> We’re not 100% on this, but we hear that the Bilal, Son Little and Kate Faust show at Underground Arts is going to be the in sound for all you rock and rollers.

>>> Howard Jones is at World Cafe Live in Wilmington, and no one, nooooo one, no one ever…is to blame.


>>> Philly’s Lithuania are at PhilaMOCA, along with The Sidekicks, All Dogs, and Marge.

>>> Cheerleader are giving an XPN Free at Noon concert. Those of you who also enjoy Summer Fridays can get in on this action by RSVPing here.

>>> FREE MOVIE TIME! Back to the Future, Part II — it’s set in the year we are living in RIGHT NOW — is at the Oval accompanied by some retro-themed festivities that will alternately make you happy you lived through that decade/bummed that you didn’t (or vice versa), and The Incredibles kicks off Clark Park‘s outdoor film series.


>>> Join “the world’s tallest and hairiest drag queen” as The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret brings its most-welcome madness to Union Transfer, featuring the peerless Johnny Showcase and Red 40 & The Last Groovement. Give it up Philly, because no other party will compare to this tonight.

>>> Bob & Barbara’s is the ideal place for a country music fest, and it will get one this week courtesy of your friends at WXPN. Organized by The Wallace Brothers Band, The First Annual Philadelphia Country Music Festival will showcase songs of someone done wrong by John Francis, Sparkle Pony, Jack Murray and the Midnight Creeps, Appalachian Gypsy Tribe, Uncle Jake and the 18 Wheel Gang, Chris O’Connor, and many more. Yee-haw, as the saying goes.

>>> The Princess Bride: An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes is going down at the Keswick and you know what? MY LOVE IS LIKE A STORYBOOK STORRRRYYYYY.

>>> Oh hello South Philly, almost didn’t see you there! Don’t worry baby, we got you covered with the Punk Rock Sexstravaganza II at Connie’s Ric Rac. This one features performances by Pink Mass, Sparklefight, and Wolves Attack. Things are getting sexy. Aww yeah!



>>> Usually on Sundays we are all “let’s stay in and watch Netflix all day.” Nope. There’s no way we aren’t going to head over to the Lady B Basement Party at the Dell Music Center featuring old school luminaries like Kool Moe D (“Wild Wild West” forever), Naughty By Nature, 112, Biz Force MDs, Stetsasonic, and Tuff Crew. See you at the party!