June 29, 2015

The Week Ahead In Comedy: To The Death!


If laughter is the best medicine, the get ready to overdose on comedy pills. Philly comedy don’t quit and I, for one, am soaked in the urine of my own excitement for this week’s live comedy offerings.

This Thursday at L’etage, Philly comedy’s resident McDreamboats Matt Aukamp and Pat Reber bring you another installment of Hey, We’re Cool! For the uninitiated, H,WC! (that’s what the true fans call it) is a comedy show where a bunch of stuff happens. This month, Mat and Patt are taking that stuff TO THE LIMIT by adding a new element to the show every minute for a full hour. It promises to make your mouth wet with laughter. 8pm. $5 at the door.

Ain’t had yourself enough L’etage comedy action? Then head back there on Friday for The Comedy Show Gates with Joe Gates. This juicy lineup is enough to launch any Philly comedy geek into a fit of uncontrollable spasms, featuring stand-up from Robert Rule, music from Mean Wendy Band, and improv from Yeti Detective and Nick Gillette in Silent Scene. It promises to make your mouth wet with laughter. 7pm. $10 at the door.

Finally, on Sunday night, make a trek down to everyone’s favorite cavernous South Philly slop bar Connie’s Ric Rac for Comedy Death Match II: Shaner vs. Wood. Hosted by Hannah Harkness, this show pits the true hunks of Philly comedy, Ryan Shaner and Chris Wood, against each other in a comedy fight to the figurative(?) death. Also appearing will be stand-up comedian and corporate humorist Rubi Nicholas and conscientious objector Brandon Jackson. It promises to make your mouth wet with laughter. 7pm. $10 at the door.

Dewey Sugarput is Philly comedy’s biggest fan. He has been to over 300 comedy open mics and never performed. Dewey hosts the podcast Hi What’s Up? with Dewey Sugarput, which is downloaded over three times per episode and has over 100,000 fans.

Local Artist Drew Leshko Recreates Philly’s Overlooked (And Vanishing) Squalor In His Work

A photo posted by Drew Leshko (@drewleshko) on

We let a out an extended “whoa” when we stumbled upon this Flavorwire article about Philly artist Drew Leshkow‘s attempts to preserve Philly’s decaying eyesore architecture through his intensely detailed paper sculptures. These dollhouse-sized works make a statement on how gentrification and what passes for progress these days impacts the community on an almost imperceptible level that Leshkow comments on by creating “three dimensional archive of buildings that are in transitional periods.” By crafting replicas of such dubious local icons as The Forum porn theater, he is reminding us that, like it or not, weird gross places like the ones spotlighted in his work are what gives Philly its unique flavor. While we are already very much aware of this message, it is a welcome one nonetheless.

Kick Off Your Week With An Outer-Spaced Themed Playlist From WHYY That Is Truly Stellar

The most recent episode of WHYY’s The Pulse dedicated itself to songs about outer space. It was a suitably cosmic affair that featured everyone from Sun Ra (obviously) to David Bowie (ditto) that has got us thinking about our favorite far-out tunes. (Current favorites include Dewey Cox’s unmissable cover of “Starman,” the weird song performed by The Space Angels in the original pilot for Battlestar Galactica and this sci-fi disco playlist). The Pulse was kind enough to compile a playlist featuring music from the show that we’ve embedded above so that you go give it a listen and muse about how space is still most definitely the place. Far out!


June 26, 2015

This Weekend: Rubber Duckie, You’re So Fun


>>> The World’s Largest Rubber Duck and Tall Ships are on the Delaware all weekend, and as much as we want to snark about this and comment on the tourist traptitude of the entire enterprise we just looked into the eyes of that massive duckie and saw the hopes and dreams of the city reflected back at us. So yeah, we’re on board. A complete run down of events held in conjunction with all this can be found here.

>>> In support of their just-released album Cemetery Highrise Slum, noise rockers Creepoid will play a sure-to-be blistering set at Johnny Brenda’s. Old songs meet the new in a music-friendly environ! Dig it.

>>> The most high-energy event of tonight? There’s NO WAY it won’t be The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret at Franky Bradley’s. Accompanied by sets from DJ Robert Drake, this is where everyone will be celebrating marriage equality tonight. See you there?



>>> Rep film lovers, make it a point to attend The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films at the Maas Building, in which cultural anthropologist rescues from obscurity a variety of one-reel wonders — including 1952’s shot-in-Philly The Story of Bubblegum, focusing on the long-gone Fleer plant.

>>> Welcome America gets underway…which means we inching ever closer to next week’s Free Hoagie Day, so there’s that.

>>> What will the aforementioned World’s Largest Rubber Duck look like lit up by fireworks? Find out tonight.

>>> The Franklin Flea returns to Headhouse Square, so let the rummaging and haggling commence.

>>> BANDS! Connie’s Ric Rac is doing you a solid by presenting The Snails perfoming The Jam’s In The City in its entirety. Ably supported by Wyldlife, Flesh Panthers and Twiin, the band will make you think that, holy shit, Paul Weller is playing the Italian Market. Wouldn’t that be something?

>>> Where did the time go? Michael Jackson has been dead for six years and frankly we aren’t feeling fab ourselves. Philly Loves Michael Jackson at Johnny Brenda’s will remember the tragic King of Pop with sets from Mike Nyce, Jay Ski and The Legendary DJ Cash Money. See also: The Prince and Michael Jackson Experience at Underground Arts.

>>> More eighties! As we mentioned earlier today, the #1 Hits of the 1980s Weekend takes over the WXPN airwaves. And like Echo Beach itself, these songs all seem so faraway in time.


>>> Fucked Up play…International House? For all of your shirtless hardcore needs.

>>> The Water Works is a stunning 200 years old. Because such a milestone should not go uncelebrated, the Leah Stein Dance Company and the Mendelssohn Club are partnering for “an immersive work for singers, dancers, and instruments, featuring choreography and music shaped in response to the site’s architecture and landscape” called Turbine. This is way sold out, but you may be able to snag tickets to a rehearsal here.

Film Sweat: Hibernation Sickness

RECOMMENDED:: Is there any comedic actor right now who emotes quiet frustration better than Adam Scott? The only person we can think of is Jason Schwartzman, so it’s quite fitting that the pair are on-screen together in The Overnight. A comedy of discomfort about sex, relationships and the often-tenuous link that binds them both together, writer/director Patrick Brice has created a movie that is the spiritual successor to the works of Hal Hartley and Noah Baumbach, which, believe us, is high praise indeed. Scott and Taylor Schilling play young parents trying to find their way in Los Angeles after a move from Seattle when they encounter seemingly normal couple Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche, only to have a playdate between their kids devolve into a core-shattering night of awkwardness. A nuanced antidote to every big budget comedy released this summer, The Overnight is a weird and often unforgettable effort. Give it a stay.

ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: Ted 2 is another feather in the cap of cultural garbage renaissance man Seth MacFarlane; Max is some family-friendly counter-programming to summer blockbusters about a dog that returns from Afghanistan and has adventures that look like a cross between Benji and American Sniper, so whaaaaaaaaa?; Carol Reed’s noir classic The Third Man gets a restoration and art house revival, so if you have somehow missed its considerable pleasures you need to rectify that shit immediately; and Heaven Knows What is a heroin drama that looks like Rush minus the cloying Eric Clapton soundtrack.

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.


As Philly Celebrates Marriage Equality, It Too Must Also Mourn The Loss Of “Gay Pizza”

Lou Reed once famously sang “there’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.” That sentiment is playing out big time right now. We have been riding a high at the response that the Supreme Court’s nationwide legalization of gay marriage has gotten online all day (Mütter Museum social media person, we are buying you a very large drink), but there’s been a bittersweet development: Gay Pizza has closed suddenly. Otherwise known as 13th Street Gourmet Pizza or, as the T-shirts sold inside would have it, Homo Hut, the pizza palace located directly across the street from Woody’s was the gayborhood’s go-to late night food choice for as long as we can remember. But thanks to a Cease Operations notice citing — whoops — no actual license to serve food, it is now a memory. With that in mind, we bid Gay Pizza a very fond farewell. You fed us, you confused us and now you have left us. Here’s hoping that somewhere and somehow you find a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow.

The Vatican Disses Fishtown, Dashing Your Dreams Of Running Into Pope Francis At Johnny Brenda’s

StLaurentiusThe latest development in the ongoing attempts to save Fishtown’s Saint Laurentius Church from an uncertain fate unsurprisingly seems to indicate a disconnect from what the Vatican perceives and what is actually occurring. Earlier this week, the Spirit of the River Wards reported the following:

After learning about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s decree to re­leg­at­e St. Lauren­ti­us to “profane, but not sordid use,” a community group of dedicated individuals called Save St. Laurentius sub­mit­ted an appeal to both the Archdiocese and The Vat­ic­an re­quest­ing the decision be reversed in order to save their church. Months ago the Archdiocese told Save St. Laurentius that this appeal had been denied but the group was waiting to hear the decision for themselves.

This decision came last night in the form of a PDF rejection notice. These documents explaining why The Vatican denied the appeal were made available to The Spirit. We took a look through the file and what did we find as the #2 reason behind The Vatican’s rejection? Well, Fishtown is a shit hole, apparently.

To quote the document:

“Whereas this Fishtown section served by the former parish has suffered great demographic declines for five decades, losing population and business, and being used as an example of urban blight.”

Fishtown may have a lot of problems, but we would most definitely not cite “urban blight” as one of them. Which just makes us paraphrase the Beastie Boys by asking where the Vatican got it’s information about Fishtown from, huh. Some commenters on the Save St. Laurentius Facebook page believe that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is to blame, further hinting at a Da Vinci Code-esque mystery behind all of this. But lacking evidence to support this allegation, we’ll just go ahead and assume tradition out of touch-ness is to blame. So much for our dreams of brunching with Pope Francis at La Colombe.

You’re Not Hallucinating, There Is A #FlyingCucumber In The Skies Over Philly Today

Now that Mad Men is dead and gone, a lonely nation turns its eyes to the Internet for a reminder that advertising doesn’t have to be completely soulless and draining. The best example of viral marketing and social media that we’ve seen in some time comes to us via Hendrick’s Gin, whose blimp — nicknamed the #FlyingCucumber — is currently taking to the Philly skies. We’ve been like Henry Hill looking for helicopters with this thing all morning with no joy yet, which just makes us assume it is tucked off somewhere having a quickie with the Tall Ships duck.

Noontime Nuggetz: Kitten Commando’s Low-Fi Love Song “Little Spoon”

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, there’s a tangible feeling of happiness and euphoria flowing throughout Philly right now. This is a rare occurrence, and one we would like to commemorate here on your Philebs with a good old-fashioned love song. Consisting of Joanna Cookies and South Fellini’s Tony Trov, Kitten Commando craft delightful low-fi pop songs of bliss — the sort of which are perfect for celebrating good days like this one when everything is how it should be. (Optimism and contentment are feelings as unfamiliar as they are welcome). So here’s “Little Spoon,” a delightful ditty that will plaster a smile on your face. If one isn’t already there already today.

Recommended Reading: Ken Kalfus’ Piece On The Issues Facing Modern Book Lovers

As lovers of both reading and physical media, the hospice of corporate and independent bookstores reminds us of that Aimee Mann line about “the long farewell of the hunger strike.” The reality that booksellers are dying is nothing new, in fact as bloggers we are arguably a part of the problem here (along with the kids and their newfanged iPads and Kindles and numerous other mitigating factors). Yet for those of us who have yet to embrace non-tangible books, there remains the surprisingly under discussed issue of where is best to purchase new books, and what of those titles who have been purchased long ago but whose spines have never been cracked? These strange modern moral dilemmas have been on the mind of Philly literary royalty Ken Kalfus of late. In a New Yorker piece enititled “A Book Buyer’s Lament,” he muses on the myriad issues modern readers face:

But, really, I shouldn’t fret about the chain bookstores, which have joined with the online retailer to drive nearly all of the city’s independent bookstores out of business. Book-lovers consider the independent bookstore the true altar at which to express our devotion to literature. We believe the independent store offers more idiosyncratic selections, employs more knowledgeable and more personable staff, and maintains a more intimate relationship with the local community. Some independent shops are said to keep their doors open without profit, only because their proprietors love literature. This makes me sorry for the books I’ve purchased from every other bookseller.

My remorse enfeebles me. I recognize that I’m no longer thinking about the essence of the reading experience or the book I want to buy, which in the depths of my moral rumination has been turned into simply another form of consumption, and not even that, but rather the aspiration to consume. It takes me about a week and a half to read the typical book. I don’t know how many ten-day spans I have left. Eventually the unread books on my shelves will have to be abandoned, or they will join me on the pyre. The book I’m about to purchase may be among them. We all buy books we won’t live to read. These surplus, unexperienced books represent a sizable part of the literary profit margin, such as it is. Writers, publishers, and bookstores depend on them.

The piece also includes an exploration o the ramifications of purchasing from a Barnes and Noble versus an indie such as, say, Joseph Fox Bookshop that is hitting us very closely to home. What type of books should we get, where, why and will we ever read them all? We still feel compelled to ask ourselves these, even though we know deep inside we will never find satisfactory answers.

Breaking: The Supreme Court Rules That Gay Marriage Is Legal Nationwide

Finally. From CNN:

indexIn a landmark opinion, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, handing gay rights advocates their biggest victory yet.

The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority, with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.

The relevant cases were argued earlier this year. Attorney John Bursch, serving as Michigan’s Special Assistant Attorney General, defended four states’ bans on gay marriage before the Court, arguing that the case was not about how to define marriage, but rather about who gets to decide the question.

The case comes before the Supreme Court after several lower courts have overturned state bans on gay marriage. A federal appeals court had previously ruled in favor of the state bans, with Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals writing a majority opinion in line with the rationale that the issue should be decided through the political process, not the courts.

Congratulations to Philly’s LGBT community and its supporters. This is a huge victory that we are still taking in, but the bottom line is that equal rights are amazing, aren’t they?

The Testicle-Biting Fish Of Delran Is Proof That Living In New Jersey Is A Ballbuster

Here’s a game of Sophie’s Choice for you: What’s more disconcerting, a Chris Christie presidential bid or the prospect of having your testicles chomped on by some sort of evil nightmare fish that possesses human-like teeth? According to Dangerous Minds, that scenario is currently playing itself out at Swedes Lake in Burlington County. Usually found in South America, a Pacu fish is long-rumored to attack the genitals of male swimmmers. While you’ll be relieved to learn that the testicle gnawing is merely an urban legend and not something that residents of the Garden State have to actually worry over (their plate being already quite full), the Pacu does threaten to screw up the local ecosystem, what with it having no business being in a Delran lake and all. You can see a 6ABC news report that makes us realize that we’ve never missed Don Polec more above. Even though the Pacu’s infamous reputation is baseless, we still can’t help but feel that this story is, well, nuts. Sorry.

Reminder: WXPN To Enable Time Travel With Its #1 Hits Of The ’80s Weekend

Starting tomorrow at 10am and running throughout the weekend, WXPN will be focusing on the songs you tried to forget (Stars on 45’s “Medley” anyone?) and the ones you just get can’t over (i.e. “West End Girls“) as part of the #1 Hits of the ’80s weekend. Obviously if you are going to be taking on such a dubious endeavor, you’ll want to bring in an expert to handle all the rampant nostalgia going down. Thusly, Robert Drake will be your host for this journey from KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Please Don’t Go” to Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise.” You can see what you are in store for here. Like everything in your life, there’s a balance of greatness and shame to be found here. But we are still in agreement that “Maneater” is one of the best things to come out of the decade, right?

June 25, 2015

Half-Flaccid Duck Floating In Humid Stink On The Delaware: Today, You Are Our Spirit Animal

This duck has also told me to start drinking at 5pm.

MP3 Of The Moment: Minka, “Kids These Days”

Often, I am completely torn on the coming (or, perhaps, already in progress) war between Gen X and millennials. On one hand, as a member of Gen X, I have known to my soul that Gen X was utter bullshit since the moment I found out that it was a thing. I believe this is easily proven in hundreds of ways, from our insistence on being nice to Dave Grohl to the way Google’s slogan was “Don’t be evil” right up until they actually figured out to be evil in ways even evil itself had not heretofore grokked. Millennials, on the other hand, already have a bulging folder on my desk so covered in my worn rubber stamp “NO” that it is frankly embarrassing for me to discuss in mixed company. Put it this way: I have worries I think I don’t even really know that I have yet. So, yes, that Generation X Is Sick of Your Bullshit thing resonates with me. But something that also resonates with me are these new millennial ideas of things like, oh, I don’t know: not defining your entire persona by the music you listen to; making it safe and okay to be out of doors in cities; and very short shorts for men and women alike.

I suppose in place of this argument, which is going to go on for years to come, I wish anyone concerned could just see the recent movie While We’re Young, in which director Noah Baumbach brilliantly skewers both generations for the thing that they really have in common: The folly of ignorance. “Kids These Days,” the new track just released by the Philly band Minka, seems to implicitly understand and convey everything I’m talking about here. The track itself is a perfect — and I mean perfect — pastiche of Let’s Dance-era Bowie, which, come to think of it, was probably about the moment everyone else was noticing a new brand of dastardly stink on the Baby Boomer generation. (I feel like I can speak for both X and Millennials when I say: Jesus Christ, enough with these motherfuckers already, amirite?) But as what can only be described as a violently sexy backbeat pummels along and Minka’s poor guitarist has to ape Nile Rodgers like his very life depends on it, “Kids These Days” is something more than pastiche: It’s a party. And though the singer never quite gives away whether he actually has that “Kids These Days” feeling or, rather, is pointedly holding it up as an object of ridicule, the takeaway is the same: These children that you spit on, they will bury us. Even if by then the very word “bury” has been unmoored from its original meaning and instead turned into an Emoji that indicates “left to rot and burn in the howling, post-apocalyptic sun.” So why not make the best of it?

— Joey Sweeney

We Don’t Know How To Break This To You: Welcome America Actually Starts THIS SATURDAY

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We can’t look. But go ahead if you like. Full schedule after the jump. (more…)

Things We Love: Philly’s Lit Scene Defining Itself As Everything Jennifer Weiner Is Not

weinerAnd in the case of this alarmingly cute, possibly over-simplistic piece on Lithub celebrating Philly’s growing literary scene, one of those things is… West Philly. Over the years, we’ve ragged on Jennifer Weiner and West Philly alike, but if it ever came down to choosing sides in a “Beat It”-style knife fight, we’ll go with the Tori Amos fans (and we don’t even like Tori Amos!):

The collective house is cutely titled “Little Earthquakes,” which I guess is a reference to the Tori Amos song, and not the novel by fellow Philadelphian Jennifer Weiner. The house is decorated with thrift store furniture and posters with radical slogans. The residents we meet are that mix of punk and outdoorsy bike hipster you tend to find in Philadelphia’s outer reaches. Rittenhouse Square, where Weiner’s novels are set, is the city’s most expensive neighborhood, and a world away from Little Earthquakes. West Philadelphia is home to many such housing cooperatives, places built on ideals of community, activism, and sustainability.

While, yes, there are many things to cringe about there, the takeaway from the Lithub piece is something borne out by our own experiences over the last few years with the 215 Festival: While Weiner continues to insert herself into arguments that she is increasingly losing for reasons as transparent as air — to Franzen! FRANZEN, people! When even Franzen can set you dead to rights, well, it’s just over — in her very backyard, there’s a healthy scene growing that would seem to embody all the things she’s been supposedly campaigning for this whole time. And yet, where is she? She’s not there. Hoarse from braying, Weiner ironically has a hometown that is too cool for her. And here we cannot lie: It’s nice for someone to finally notice.

Here Are The 12 Intersections Where You Can Rely On Philly Drivers To Be Murderous Dicks


Click to enlarge.

Using info pulled from a new report by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP), WHYY’s Newsworks has mapped out the twelve intersections in Philadelphia where there have been the most crashes involving pedestrians. The report is part of a growing effort on the part of BCGP as well as other groups who love humans to push forward the initiatives of “Vision Zero,” a policy already embraced in cities all over the world to wipe out pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. For Vision Zero to work anywhere, it has to not just be about raising awareness — such as the #FourFootBerth campaign we just posted about — but also about changing the way cities handle how they handle streets, from legislation to development to enforcement.

In Philly (and plenty of other places), that amounts to nothing less than an entire shift in the way a population thinks about and treats the people on its roads. And with the massive changes in populace and how people use our streets, push is coming to shove. So the BCGP report is breaking out its info into council districts, bringing the battle to City Council’s doorstep. It’s a bold move, where already, cultures are clashing.

[Image via Newsworks]

June 24, 2015

This Evening: And We’ll Have Fine Time Not Getting There

>>> Those of you who love labels can happily categorize Jessica Pratt as a neo-folk artist, but to do so is to oversimplify her talents. We hear everything from True Colors-era Cyndi Lauper to Kate Bush in her mesmerizing songs that can easily be charming or spooky depending on what her musical whims dictate. In support of her recent album On Your Own Love Again, Pratt plays Boot & Saddle tonight for a show that should prove to be as complex and pleasing as her songs so often are.

>>> As we mentioned earlier, The Muppets Take Manhattan takes over Headhouse Square for a free screening. Will Philly boo the Muppet Babies sequence? We’re betting they will.

>>> You already know this won’t end in kisses, but Blonde Redhead’s show at Union Transfer will have plenty of the 4AD sophisticated dance pop that seems to have found its way onto every late night mood playlist on Spotify right now.

Girlpool’s New Video For “Magnifying Glass” Is 35 Seconds Of Glorious A/V Overstimulation

Remember that episode of Lost when Alex, Kate and Sawyer had to rescue Karl from that trippy room full of disorienting sights and sounds? It doesn’t matter if you don’t, just take our word for it that the new Girlpool video reminded us exactly of that trippy mindfuck — minus the botched ending that made us wonder why we spent six seasons obsessing about the minutiae of a show that lost the narrative midway through. At just 35 seconds long, the band’s clip for their single “Magnifying Glass” (from the excellent Before the World Was Big) has no filler, but plenty of head-scratching thrills and a blast of power pop sunshine that brings a smile to over overstimulated faces. Unlike Lost, we’re not going to try to figure it out. We’re just going to wrap ourselves up in its weird brevity. (Via The Fader)